Scoot a Doot’s 6th Blogaversary (+giveaway!)

We are so pumped to be celebrating 6 years of Scoot!

We’ve got a vlog, we’ve got our four pillars: fitness, food, friends, and fun… AND we’ve got a sweet, sweet giveaway! Watch the video to see what’s in the prize pack for one lucky winner (trust us, you’ll want to win).

After you watch us chat with you, click on the image below to enter! We’ll check to make sure the entry is legit and then announce the winner via social media channels on 2/6/19: Facebook, IG stories, Twitter.

 

 

Chick Chat – Where We Play

Growing up in Alaska taught me a lot. Primarily that being outside is better than being inside about 98% of the time. Like, inside is literally only better when its so cold outside your body parts freeze, but even then… just put on warmer clothes. I don’t know.

Alaska is full of so many cool things.

Consequently, I enjoy being outside for nearly all of my fun activities. Hiking, running, working out – you name it. If I can be outside, I’m a happy camper, in some cases literally. There’s really not a better place to start a conversation about where we play than The Great Land. In Alaska, I was lucky to have a mountain to climb literally out my front door and plenty of other trails to explore just minutes away.

In fact, one of my favorite training runs ever was back home. I did a 20-miler around Eklutna Lake, a glacial-fed body of water not far from my parents’ old home and a frequent recreational area for us. The park has a campground, biking trails, hiking trails, cabins, kayaking… you name it. I did my run in late August (early Fall in Alaska) and the weather was absolutely perfect. Sunny and cool but not cold. My parents rode their bikes alongside me. I put my feet in the icy water when I finished.

20 miles around Eklutna Lake? #AlaskaFTW

In Virginia, I tried to take advantage of our proximity to Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge mountains. Clay and I went hiking as often as we could when we still lived out east.

Having recently moved cross-country to Southern California, I’m finding myself taken by how beautiful this area is. We are maybe 15 minutes from the beach and I can see the coastline from our house. We haven’t been able to get out and hike here at all yet, but we have gotten to workout outside, which is something new!

Lifting barbells and doing burpees outside in the sunshine (when it’s not oppressively hot) is pretty amazing! I’m looking forward to exploring more of what SoCal has to offer in the years to come.

As a born and raised Florida girl there are a ton of places where I love to workout and play in, but also a lot of places I’ve yet to see! Most days I tend to be a homebody. I like the comfort of my couch, books, and cats. When I’m training or need to go for a run, my neighborhood works pretty well. I lived in an apartment for over ten years, but bought my first house almost two years ago. My neighborhood is a quiet little place that’s perfect for late afternoon runs. It’s fun getting to know new routes and waving to all my neighbors. And also meeting new friends.

I love this guy.

I spend a lot of time at school, teaching and coaching, and the rest of the time commuting. I live in Southwest Florida and, well, snowbirds. A lot of the time I get home too late to run so I like to find little parks or areas to pop into for a quick couple of miles. It’s fun and gets the job done. Also, when I’m out in “in the wild” I can’t just walk home. I’ve got to finish what I started.

  

 

Palm trees and sunshine for days.

School is definitely another place I workout and play. I play everyday with my students, but also with my Girls on the Run girls. They keep me young and I get to yell at them and pretend it’s motivation!

My classroom is one of my favorite places.


I try to always be on the lookout for new places in the area to workout or play in. My family frequents Disney and Universal parks, too, though most of the working out there is walking, dodging other park goers, and standing in line. Oh, and eating ice cream. Obviously. (Okay, and posing for silly pics.)

With Grete in Epcot.

I try as hard as I can to take advantage of all the amazing places to play near me. The Intermountain West has SO MUCH TO OFFER that it’s sometimes hard to choose where to go. Whether I’m running or hiking, I’m all about scenery and luckily scenery isn’t a problem here in Colorado. Most recently, I hiked a few miles of the Sourdough Trail with my sister as part of our #52HikeChallenge goal.

It was a perfect day for a hike. The temp was around 42, and the trails were not too snowy, icy, or crowded. Even though I had my microspikes sitting by the door I forgot to grab them, but I was fine with snow shoe poles.

The view from the top.

It is always so quiet and peaceful, and that is what I love about being on the trails. All you can hear is the wind blowing through the tops of the pine trees. It’s incredibly therapeutic. So much so that I forgot to turn on my GPS until we turned around, so double this and reverse it. Technology seems out of place here.

I love playing in the mountains because sometimes you also see cute animal butts and jaw-dropping sunsets.

When we first started discussing this “where we play” post, I was excited! During the warmer months, you’ll find me outside more often than not. I’m a fan of fresh air and the wind in my hair.

In my neck of the woods, New Jersey, I’m really lucky to live in a development that’s surrounded by farmers fields. If you walk out my door and head down the road a quarter of a mile during the warmer months, we have corn, squash, and a variety of other crops.

Not even two miles away is a vineyard. I have yet to run there but that is on my bucket list. (Maybe I’ll Uber home.) Good Day for a Run holds a Run the Vineyards race there each spring and I either run or volunteer each year. With it being so close to home, how could I not?

Last winter and this one, I’ve been hibernate. I actually love running in the cold weather and one of my favorite places to run is the boardwalk. But I’m still a bit of a Nervous Nelly with winter and ice after breaking my arm last January.

So yeah, lately where I play has mainly been inside. I’ve been sticking to treadmill running in my basement and training at the gym. It doesn’t produce nearly as interesting Instagram photos as the great outdoors but it works for me!

Tell us about where you love to run/hang out!

Racing Into the New Year

Last week Mer posted some of her favorite races that she’ll be running this year, so I thought I’d shared mine this week! One of my goals for the new year is to enjoy running again so I thought that signing up for a few races would make that happen. Sounds legit, right?

 

My first race of the year is a 5K next weekend through Home Base Southwest Florida.

The mission of this company is simple: “The Southwest Florida arm of Home Base was created to empower local Veterans and Warriors to take control of their physical well-being, provide tools to help manage stress and provide a portal for more complex care for those in need of treatment for the Invisible Wounds.” 

The finish line to this race is at home base at the JetBlue Park at Fenway South, so that’s pretty cool if you’re a Red Sox fan.

 

In February I’m returning to Gasparilla in Tampa after taking a year off to run the runDisney Princess Half this year. Michelle and I ran the 15K in 2017 and liked it so much we’re going back for another one. It’s a fun course and I like the 15K distance. If I remember right, there were also donuts on the course. that’s always a plus!

 

Something NEW that I’m super excited about is the 305 Half Marathon that I’ll be running in March with BibRave. I’ve never run this one before, but I’m really looking forward to it! I haven’t done a half marathon in the Princess Half last February (and I don’t count those long training runs, either). I’ve already started looking up training plans, since the race is kind of close and I’m ready to get back out there! This race looks like a ton of fun as it goes through Miami and has some scenic beach views. I’m also stoked for this because it will the the third race Mer and I will be at together, and the first one we will be running together! It was pretty easy to talk to her into the race, so if you’re looking for a fun, full-Florida experience you should definitely check it out, too! You can use the code BIBRAVE305 and take $10 off the half or $5 off the 5K!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to 305 Half Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

 

In April I’ll be finishing up my second season of Girls on the Run and we’ll end that with a 5K (you’ll hear all about it!). I’m excited about the upcoming season and getting new girls in to learn about themselves and all they can do. This 5K is definitely going to be one of my favorites of the year.

Also in April, and this is a long shot, but I’d love to do the runDisney Star Wars Half. It’s the only race weekend I haven’t participated in yet and I’m kind of dying to. I’m thinking of starting a GoFundMe, just for it. Kidding, but seriously. I love Disney races, but my bank account doesn’t. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

I’m feeling pretty good for the beginning of the year and definitely looking forward to what everything else brings. I usually do some traveling during the summer, so it’s hard to nail down a race I like to do. I hope you’re getting ready for some great races!

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year! Are you tired of people saying that yet? I didn’t leave the house yesterday, so I only said it through various text messages. I’m going to be annoying right now, though. I’m going to talk about goals for 2019. Which is now, by the way.

I started 2018 getting ready to start training for the Chicago Marathon, something you all know about, obviously. I also started with a wellness program because I wasn’t happy with my body and how it looked. Marathon training and WW made me feel so much better about myself, let me tell ya.

Now? Ugh. I’ve hardly done anything physical since Chicago (okay, I’ve done three races, but they’ve been little ones) and with the holidays here, my healthy eating has gone out the window.

I know it’s typical to start the new year with health and fitness goals and a lot of people don’t stick to them. This is really about trying to make a lifestyle change to make myself feel better. I have purely selfish motives here! Here are some things I want to do:

Love running. When I first started running almost six years ago I loved it. It was something that helped me get rid of stress, it was fun to see what I could do, and I never worried about my pace or anything. This year running felt like a chore. I say chore and not job, because I love my job. Those 4AM wake up calls for training runs were the worst. I started to dread it. I started to dislike having to run with Girls on the Run. Running just wasn’t fun anymore. I want to love running again. I want to sign up for silly races that don’t mean anything or just get out there and go when I come home from work on on a weekend.

Less comparing. For me to love running again I need to stop comparing myself to others. It’s the same, I feel, about my teaching career. I just have to do what’s best for me. Stop comparing times, body types, how often someone runs. This is going to be a tough one for me.

Eat. Obviously this one. What I mean is: eat well. Eat the expensive groceries we buy every week. Try new recipes and keep leftovers. Meal plan. Don’t eat out, don’t waste money. Eat the good stuff. (But maybe sometimes order pizza.)

Be active. As much as I love to sit around and read, I also really love the outdoors. Florida has so many parks and nature preserves that I’ve yet to explore. I want to take the time to do this in 2019, kind of like Jenn’s Hike Challenge.

Grow spiritually. My faith has been a huge part of my life for the past fifteen years. One thing I want to focus on this year is doing more devotional and journal time. My mind is always going a mile a minute, so sometimes when I sit down to read or think I’m thinking about a hundred different things. The new year feels like the right time for some spiritual growth.

Rest. I thought I was pretty good at getting enough sleep since I usually have an early bedtime when school’s in session. Wow, was I wrong. I was texting a friend yesterday after I woke up from nine hours of interrupted sleep. (And I didn’t even drink on NYE!) and she commented how we teachers just kind of bank our sleep deficits. I am loving this extra rest time during winter break, but I need to figure out how to do it when I get back to real life.

Okay. That feels like enough goals for right now. I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee yet because I’ve been working on that rest thing. I’m looking forward to getting started with all of these other things, too! If anyone is looking for an accountability partner, hit me up!

What are some of your goals for the new year?

 

2019 Goals – 52 Hike Challenge

A few weeks ago, my sister texted me a link to the 52 Hike Challenge and asked if I wanted in. Being one to take on huge challenges without much forethought, my first instinct was to immediately reply with a HECK YEAH! For once, I paused and realized this sounds like a hike a week thing, which, if we’re honest, can be hard to accommodate schedule wise. Intrigued nevertheless, I clicked on the link to learn more.

The 52 Hike Challenge is what I suspected, it’s a yearlong challenge to hike 52 times with intention to connect with our environment, and others who share a passion for outdoor sports. This spoke to me because I want to transition from running to hiking in 2019. Running has become monotonous for me, and frankly, I’m horrible at training diligently. Because I’m fortunate to live where I do, there are tons of hiking trails literally at the end of my residential road, and I need/want/should take advantage of them.

All of these trails are an 8 minute drive from my house. I literally have zero excuses.

My biggest question was what do they consider a “hike”? I was happy to learn their definition is lax. To count toward the Challenge, a hike must be at least a mile, and can be done in any setting from urban bike paths and parks to snowshoe hikes and full on mountaineering expeditions. There are three different levels of Challenge depending on fitness level and if you’ve participated in the Challenge before. The tracking is done on an honors system using social media posts and hashtags, and there are different levels of swag you win based on registration level.

I want to see views like this in 2019!

You don’t have to pay to register, but there are three levels of paid participation that get you additional stuff. The “Starter Package” for $11.95 gets you a 52 Hike Challenge Patch, and 4 stickers, as well as access to the resources on their website such as tips finding trails, and the Challenge Guide. The “Standard Package” at 52.00 gets you all their resources plus a Finisher Medal, and the “Ultimate Package” gets you all that plus discounts from their sponsors: REI, Mountain House, Sawyer, and Arc’Teryx.

After mulling it over, I texted my sister back and said I’m in! I’m excited to connect with this community to help me stay motivated to get outside. I’m determined to see more of my beautiful state of Colorado this year, and to strengthen my bond with my sister. All around, this is going to be a win/win for 2019!

Race Recap: Girls on the Run 5K

At the end of last school year a friend approached me about bringing the Girls on the Run program to our school and, before school let out, the plan was put into motion. I discovered early on that a new teacher that was coming to my school was also a coach and, soon enough, our plan became a reality!

When we started in September, we weren’t sure how many girls would sign up, but we actually ended up having TOO MANY and had to turn a few away until next season. Needless to say, it’s been a great experience for me as a first time coach. Some of our girls have grown tremendously in their confidence and athletic ability. They also (hopefully) learned a lot about themselves and different ways to deal with the things around them.

This past Saturday was the culmination of all of their hard work and it was amazing!

We’ve been prepping for weeks for the girls to run their final 5K. Girls on the Run isn’t a “running club” as much as it’s a way for young girls to feel empowered. There were some days where we didn’t run or days where we only ran a little. We did a practice 5K and, though it was around our track at school, the girls did really well. For the actual 5K each of the girls was assigned a running buddy. This buddy was a friend, teacher, or parent who was willing to support them in their run. Myself and Coach Randee, my awesome co-coach, paired ourselves with girls and we’re also lucky enough to work with some amazing women who partnered with girls as well.

I’m so thankful for amazing coworkers that support our girls!

The energy at the venue on race morning was unlike any race I’d seen before. I’ve done plenty of family races and large races, but this was so different! Our GOTR team is the only one in our county (which is kind of cool), so our meetup was with the neighboring county. Hundreds of girls, coaches, and buddies out in the early morning to run and have fun!

There were craft stations, hair stations, hot chocolate, and just lots and lots of giggles. It was so much fun to watch, not only our team, but all the girls run around before the race and just be with each other!

We got together for some silly pics at the start line and soon we were off! I ran the practice 5K with my run buddy, a 3rd grader who is a little kindred spirit to me, so I knew we were going to take it easy.

 

She did great for the first half mile, then we started to slow down a little. The course was fun and full of girls going at a lot of different paces. We passed a couple of our own girls (and had them pass us back a few times) but kept a pretty decent pace. I was probably an over-encourager, but I wanted my buddy to know that she was awesome. Everyone once in a while, she’d take off at a sprint and I’d have to catch up, but we managed to make it the whole way. Once we rounded the track and she saw all the people cheering for her, she was off! (And I had to do the catch up thing.)

At the finish line were plenty of our other girls, families, and our school principal taking pictures and cheering everyone on to finish strong. I got to watch a few more girls cross the finish line before our whole team was through. Seeing them all after, congratulating and hugging each other, made me feel so proud.

I remember when I started running and ran my first 5K. I was 30. THIRTY! These girls are in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade and they crushed their runs. (We also had a few buddies running their first 5K, which was amazing!) This season has been such a learning experience for me and I’m so glad I got to do it. Encouraging girls to not only incorporate fitness into their lives, but also kindness and self-respect, has been so uplifting for me. It wasn’t always easy, as working with kids (especially pre-pubescent girls) never is, but man was it fun.

I’m looking forward to what the next season has in store for us and our girls.

Until next time: Girls on the Run is so much fun!

Holiday Traditions (Running and otherwise)

What I like best about the holidays are the traditions that come along with them. This year, as I’ve done for the past few, I joined in The Light Run.

Although it nearly did not happen.

My son, Lucas, and I registered for this way back at the beginning of October. At only $14 (and the request for unwrapped toys), this untimed fun run is great and supports local charities.

That said, I think both Lucas and myself were feeling a little overwhelmed with all the stuff we’ve got going on. He had a few tests in school coming up, a band concert to rehearse for, and he was voicing his concern about getting it all done. (He is his mother’s son, for sure.)

Rather than getting stressed about it, I asked him what he would like to do. Between you and I, I wasn’t really feeling it but I also didn’t want to SAY that to him. This is a good hobby that we both share so if he wanted to run, we’d run.

A few years ago it was bitter cold and there was a 5k route and a 1-ish mile route. That year we ran the shorter route. He asked if we could recreate that this year and of course, I was happy to oblige. Since it was a fun run, there was no added pressure about what we did or did not accomplish.

While the rest of the runners went off straight at the beginning to do the first larger loop, we peeled off on our own journey. We were completely solo but thankfully we’d printed out directions and there were signs along the way to mark where we needed to turn.

Soon enough we came to the main event, the Hagerty Lights display. Lucas loves it, I love it, and naturally Santa and Mrs. Claus love it too. Santa asked Lucas what he wanted and when he told him he was asking for a weight set, Santa actually took some time to talk to him about weight lifting and making sure he makes smart choices. It was very sweet.

Notice how I say that everything is our favorite? Um, yes. We just love to love and it’s easy at to do at this lavish display.

You can tell how much hard work and effort this family and their neighbors put into hosting this free show each year. They have an area set up for donations so I made sure to bring money (and a little extra, because I’ve forgotten during past years!).

Once we finish our quick jaunt through the streets of Pitman, Lucas and I both agreed that we were really happy we decided to do it. No regrets!

Creating new traditions is always fun too. I’m currently doing the “no rain dance” because tomorrow I’m volunteering at the Elf ‘n Coca Run representing Healthy Kids Running Series. I’ll be handing out medals at the finish line of the kids mile race and I am very excited for that!

Tomorrow evening we are going on a train ride through a light show with my extended family. This is a new to us activity as well but I’ve heard good things so we’ll see what it’s all about.

And next weekend (right before Christmas, omg), Rachel is coming back for round two of baking with the Daniels! Will my cookie design reign supreme over all the land? We shall see!

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Self Care Stuff

Self care Monday! I don’t know if that’s a thing, but for the sake of this post, let’s just roll with it, okay? Since I started marathon training in the spring (you knew that, right?) I feel like life has been pretty busy. The summer flew by and once school started it was work and training and that’s about it. It’s been over a month since Chicago and it finally feels like things are starting to slow down a little.

This weekend was the first weekend in a long time, I’m talking months, that I actually got to do absolutely nothing.

And it was amazing.

Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t have household chores or papers to grade, because I definitely did those things. But here are some other things that helped me relax this weekend that may help you out over the holiday break. Or just a weekend if you don’t get a few days off.

Read a book. Yeah. A whole book. You can do it. Turn off everything, get a cup of coffee, and read. Don’t get up until you’re done.

Go to a movie. My sister and I saw Crimes of Grindelwald this weekend and, while it definitely left a lot of questions unanswered and had some obvious plot holes…Jude Law as Dumbledore. That’s all.

Make that Yumbledore.

Sleep in. Full disclosure: I never sleep in. I’m a single, childless woman, but I have an internal alarm clock that makes sure I’m up before 7AM on the weekends. I have to drag myself out of bed on the weekdays, of course.

Workout. I actually didn’t workout this weekend, but I hear it’s nice to do.

Binge watch TV. I’ve finished with season four of Gotham, so now I’ve got to wait until January for the new season to start. This week of break will give me time to catch up on my regular weekly shows. Anyone else feel like Netflix judges them when they watch for too long?

Quality time. I live with my sister and two cats and we do spend a lot of time together. The weekends are a good time to catch up, though. To talk about stuff other than work or school. It gets tiresome and sometimes it’s nice to just hang out.

WriteI have a couple of personal blogs I write for so I tried to work on those this weekend. I like to write book reviews and I also write about my teaching experience. Both are great outlets to let me get my feelings out concerning my other passions.

Cook. Okay, fine. I ordered pizza this weekend. But I also made banana bread. From scratch! I even used a recipe book.

Nap. I accidentally fell asleep while binging TV today. It happens.

As we begin to move into the holiday season, where many of us will be in high demand and our lives are going to get even more busy…remember to take some time for yourself. Take care of you and be the best version you can. We don’t always do it. Sometimes we’re too busy taking care of others to even notice that we need a break.

So. Read the book. Take the nap. Go for the run. Take care of yourself.

Girls on the Run is So Much Fun!

At the end of last year I was out on a run (and probably complaining about it on Instagram) when I got a message from a parent from my school. She mentioned that students in her class at the local university were coaching Girls on the Run as part of a class project and thought it would be something I’d like to do at our school.

I had heard about GOTR through social media and a few other things, but hadn’t really thought much about coaching or getting involved. I coached Cross Country at my school last year and that was my first experience with coaching anything, so I was interested to see what GOTR was all about.

We got in touch with the director, met with my principal, and applied for our school to become a site for GOTR over the summer. I also learned that a new teacher we’d hired was previously a coach and would also be interested in coaching…and Girls on the Run was born at my school.

Coach Ashley and Coach Randee in our matching shirts!

There were some logistical things to work out (still are) but we wrapped up our first week on a positive note and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season!

If you’re wondering what Girls on the Run even is, here’s a little information for you about their core values:

  • Recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making
  • Embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness
  • Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions
  • Nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health
  • Lead with an open heart and assume positive intent
  • Stand up for ourselves and others

Now, I’m a second grade teacher and the program is for 3-5 and 6-8 grade girls. I love these values and everything GOTR stands for. I believe it’s something my school tries to instill in all of our students and I’m so glad we got to bring this program in to help empower some of our girls.

I was nervous about whether or not we would have girls sign up, but we actually had so many that we had to bring in another coach and waitlist some girls for next season. A lot of these girls I’ve known since they were either in kindergarten or second grade, and some of them are my former students. I love the fact that some of my girls signed up because I was the coach, but I truly hope that they learn and grow from this program. What we’ve seen so far has been a lot of fun. The girls are eager to learn and participate in the lessons (even if I’m still learning them too!), they are already helping us problem solve (because it rains in Florida every afternoon), and they are learning how to encourage others. They had fun running inside last week when we had to move for rain and made the most of it!

It’s been one week. Two days! I am so looking forward to seeing these girls grow. I know there are some who will only enhance themselves and their own values, but there are also those that struggle. The older girls are getting to points where everyday is a challenge and there’s always something new to discourage them. Some of these girls are doing a lot of activities and are already learning to make choices about what they are good at and what they want to do. Some of them just need to know that someone is there for them to lend them a positive outlook on life.

The program allows girls to set their own running goals each week as they increase their time spent running and build up their stamina. So far our running has been minimal, but the girls are still having fun and setting goals for themselves.

Kyndall kept us (me) entertained while running and exceeded her run goal.

Presley set a goal and exceeded it. She’s a rockstar!

I’m already loving seeing these girls and their passion for running and fitness, and it’s only been one full week. Like I said, I can’t wait to see what these girls can and will do. I feel privileged to be their coach.

Some of My Favorite Things

You guys. Since Clay has been away, I feel like my life is very routine. This is a good thing – I like routine, I thrive in it, I enjoy knowing what my life is going to look like day to day and I really like going to bed early.

That said, my routine means that I’m not doing anything toooo exciting. Work, gym, home, food, bed. The gym is probably the most exciting part of my day. (Because whats NOT exciting about the gym?!) I’m not training for anything specific right now – though the CrossFit Team Series just started and I am participating in that… standby on how much that effs me up.

Since my routine is pretty well set, I’ve been hermiting hardcore. But in that hermitage, I’ve been able to dig in to some of my introverted interests. So, I figured I’d pull an Oprah and share some of my current favorite things with you!

Listen

My Favorite Murder – Murderino here. If you’re like me and you’ve harbored a seemingly taboo interest in the slightly macabre, serial killers, or true crime, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are the gals you want to listen to. Every week they share… you guessed it… their favorite murders. They are hilarious and sassy and advocates for mental health, among a great many other things. Dark humor abounds. SSDGM, fam.

Serial – Season three is live y’all! This time, Sarah Koenig and crew head to Cleveland: “A year inside a typical American courthouse. This season we tell you the extraordinary stories of ordinary cases. One courthouse, told week by week.” I’m two episodes deep and it is SO good to be back. I’m ready for more.

Read

The Hate U Give – This might be the most genuine story I’ve ever experienced. I say experienced because it so accurately captures what America has been living through – not just recently, but for a long time.

This book should be required reading. Like “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” are required reading for students because of their literary merit and important social and racial commentary, so too is Angie Thomas’ story of race, poverty, gun violence, and learning to use our greatest weapon: our voice.

If you read one book this year, read “The Hate U Give.” I have a copy – borrow mine. It’s too relevant/important/beautiful/horrifying to ignore.

WatchThe Good Place – Holy forking shirtballs. I’m a huuuuge KBell fan, have been since Veronica Mars, and you guys, this show is so good. Creator Mike Schur (of The Office and Parks and Rec) puts Bell’s Eleanor Shellstrop (who is dead) in The Good Place. But is she really? Hilarity ensures.

This show has filled the void Parks and Rec left – it’s hilarious and smart and creative. And Kristen Bell is delightful, per usual, and Ted Danson is Ted Danson. If you’re not watching this, there are two seasons on Netflix, so quit wasting your time and get on it!

The Great British Baking Show – The most pleasant reality competition show to ever exist. There are five seasons on Netflix and each one is just delightful. Not to mention these home bakers create some of the most incredible and delicious-looking bakes. I’m so impressed by their skills and jealous of their kitchen space. And I want Mary Berry to be my grandma.

So, that’s where I’m at these days. When I’m not at work or at the gym, I’m embracing my introvertedness. Fortunately, there are a lot of things to do when being around people is exhausting. What are some of your go-tos?