Do Go Chasing Waterfalls 

This summer, I enjoyed an amazing adventure with a group of friends in Valentine, NE, home to the Niobrara River. This area is the definition of a hidden gem. 


We set off in the afternoon with nine adventurous souls and their tubes roped together. Our friend’s outdoorsy pup led the way. 

The river itself was incredible. Shallow enough to walk knee-deep and sometimes shoulder-deep. It also passed by random waterfalls and beautifully colored cliffs that loomed silently as the current carried us past. 

After lazily floating for some time, we arrived at our first waterfall. It was FREEZING! Brian and I were only able to stand under it for seven seconds, but one of our friends holds the endurance record at 30 seconds! 


The icy droplets were a shocking departure from the warm river water. But you can’t stop at a waterfall and not go under it. 

A couple hours and pre-packed sandwiches later, we made it to the big kahuna. Smith’s Falls is Nebraska’s largest waterfall at 63 feet high. It was just as cold as the first fall. The water is spring-fed and falls into a shaded ravine where explorers converge to gaze upward in awe. 


After getting a picture under the roaring cascade at Smith’s Falls, we returned to the river and let the current lull us to sleep. Let me tell you, there is nothing more relaxing than napping on a gentle river, soaking up the sun’s warmth. Just look at how chill Brian is. 

Eventually, we floated past another group of tubers who pointed us in the direction of a third waterfall. This was where our exploring spirits took over. Not only did we find the falls, but we climbed them and hiked down the stream. We were completely secluded, surrounded by a canopy of green and diffused sun. 

We landed soon after this and returned to our campsite to gaze upon the river that we’d just conquered. But this time, we gazed upon it as explorers and waterfall chasers. 

Find Your Perfect Running Shoes With These 5 Questions

Did you know that the wrong pair of shoes can land you in a CAT scan machine for running injuries? Sorry for the blatant scare tactic, but this actually happened to one of my best friends. If this post spares one person from having a similar experience, it will be worth it. 

As my friend learned the hard way, hitting the road in the wrong pair of shoes can severely damage your joints and connective tissues. Each person’s feet require a specific kind of support from their shoes. Which is why it’s so important to know yourself as a runner before buying shoes. 

After years of casual running and consulting my marathoner friend, here are the questions I’ve found most helpful to guide your shoe shopping. 

How high is my arch?

Your arch takes a lot of abuse. Buying shoes that compliment it will give you better balance and support. The three arch types are: low, medium and high. 


To find out which one you are, get a sheet of paper, wet the bottom of your foot and stand on the paper. There will be a wet impression afterward that reveals your arch. 

Which way does my ankle roll?

To find the right running shoe, know which way your ankle naturally rolls to absorb shock. The roll is subtle enough that you may not notice it while running, even if you’re trying to pick it out.

  • Pronation: my ankle rolls inward
  • Neutral: my ankle doesn’t roll either way
  • Supination: my ankle rolls outward


 The easiest way to find out if your ankle rolls is to grab a pair of well-worn shoes and look at the sole. I am a supanator, as you can see from my shoe below. Look how smooth the outer sole is while the inside still has grooves. 


This means, I need running shoes with more cushioning on the outside, helping absorb the pressure as I roll my foot outward. What I’ve found work best are the Aesic gel Nimbus shoes. They have gel cushioning on the outter heels to soften my heel roll. 

Where does my foot strike?

Are you a heel, midfoot or forefoot striker? To find out, have someone watch you run. Don’t think about correcting your form, just run naturally. Ask them to watch for which part of your foot touches the ground first and last. 


Heel striker: your heel is the first thing that strikes the ground with the rest of your foot following. Sorry to break it to you, but this is probably the most inefficient way to run. When your heel strikes first, it creates a stiff impact that sends shock absorption up your leg, into your joints. This creates a natural braking effect, causing you to lose forward momentum. 

If you’re a heel striker, look for shoes with plenty of heel cushioning to help absorb shock. You may also want to consider training into a mid or forefoot strike. 

Midfoot striker: your foot strikes nearly even each time you stride. You don’t travel toe-to-heel or heel-to-toe. With this type of running strike, your feet land almost directly under you, keeping your body mass centered over your feet. 

There’s much debate over whether a midfoot strike is any better than a heel strike. My advice is to try it out yourself. If you feel continual joint tightness, change your running strike and buy shoes to help you transition. Just know, altering your stride is a long process. It’s breaking down one habit and building another. 

Forefoot striker: the front half of your foot hits the ground first, with your heel touching after. Many argue that this is the healthiest running stride. It propels you forward more than heel striking and absorbs more shock, sparing your knees. When I run long distance, I use a forefoot or midfoot strike. 

Transitioning to a forefoot strike can be painful. You’re basically switching to a calf press every step. So, you’re likely to experience sore Achille’s and calves at first. But, it could be worth it in the long run (hehe) if you decrease your time or experience less joint pain. 

Where will I be running?

What terrain do you run on? Your answer could decide which shoe you choose. Trail runners can wear shoes with less cushioning. Dirt or gravel paths offer a bouncier, more shock absorbing surface. 

You may also be looking for high traction shoes if you’re pounding gravel regularly. In this case, you’d want kicks that are labeled as trail shoes. They have higher grip soles and more durable fabric for a rugged run. 

For runners who boss concrete sidewalks, a higher cushion shoe is a better choice. Concrete won’t offer any give, so you’ll want a shoe that does. 

Do these shoes fit right?

When you run, you feet naturally swell up. This effects the size of shoe you buy. Look for a fit that allows about a thumb’s space between your toe and the tip of the shoe. But, don’t give enough space that your foot is slipping around inside. Think: “snug, not tight.” It should cradle your foot’s contours and provide balanced support. 

Make sure you actually run in the store before buying shoes. It may look kinda dumb, but you’re investing some serious money into theses suckers, so you want to be sure they’re the perfect fit!


Hopefully this post gave you some helpful pointers on choosing your next pair of running shoes. If you need more guidance, try using Runner’s World’s shoe finder. It’s a fantastic (free) resource! What are the best running shoes you’ve ever had? 

How Food Can Help Us Achieve World Peace

Food is powerful. It can turn hangry  into happy, cranky into chummy. Even biblical Esau gave up his entire future for a mouthwatering bowl of stew. You can’t deny there’s a carnal power hidden in food. So, why not use that to change the world? To achieve world peace. 

You’re not seeing the correlation? Allow me to better illustrate. 

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to attend the Ethnic Enrichment Festival. It showcased a blend of countries through performance, artisan craft and – you guessed it – food! 


With tents from more than 60 cultures, there was plenty of cuisine to appreciate. Each dish gave us a taste of life in a different country. We were transported to their world. We threw away all racial preconceptions and simply became one people. No national tensions, no stereotyping, just sharing delicious bites. It was a great way to transcend social barriers in a little United Nations, bonding over great food. 

Don’t worry, I took photos of everything I ate, like the true foodie I am. Check out this Serbian Moussaka. Yum! 




Enjoying a foreign, home cooked meal is like taking a mini flavor-cation to that country. The minute we entered the gates, my Peruvian friend was on the prowl for his country’s booth, looking for a taste of home in the form of ceviche. Which he found pretty quickly. 

Ceviche is a blend of marinated salmon, veggies and spices that create a flavor-packed dish of maritime zest. I learned that fish is a staple in Peru due to their close proximity to the ocean. We also enjoyed oceanside cuisine from the islands of Jamaica and Somoa. 

Jerk chicken from Jamaica

Somoan cuisine
The Jamaican jerk chicken was covered in spicy seasoning while the Somoan chicken had a sweeter tang. After these flavorful dishes, I was ready for a drink. My eagle eyes picked out the smoothie sign from five hundred yards away. Thank you, Vietnam, for your refreshing mango boba tea!

Even after this delicious drink, my sweet tooth wasn’t quite satiated. So, I went back to my roots with a German apricot pastry. It was delicately sweet with flaky texture. Worth lifting to the sky in celebration of such deliciousness. 


Through the whole experience, we enhanced our knowledge and respect for other cultures. It was incredible to see immigrants from so many countries joining together to share and honor their unique customs and delicacies without any judgement. It truly felt like a tiny little taste of world peace. 

 

Traveling Back in Time at The State Fair

State fairs always feel like a journey back in time to me. The celebration of agricultural successes, the “screw health!” cuisine, the historic buildings full of sweating spectators…it’s all a little nostalgic. 




Even the kids playing in street fountains makes me think of the days before AC, when water was the only way to cool down on a hot summer day. 

Walking through gardens and watching sky gliders pass over us, I wondered how much has changed since our first star fair in 1854. 

If I could travel back in time and bring a few original state fairgoers to present day, what would they say? Would they stand in awe amidst the towering carnival rides?


Or would their chests swell with pride when they saw that people are still gathering to showcase their produce, art and livestock? 

While I can’t show the future to anyone in the past, I can see echoes of their influence even in today’s fair. I watch people take part in honored traditions of times past. I see whispers of century-old influences all over. And it makes me feel oddly satisfied, knowing that such an event of local pride and camraderie can withstand the test of time. 

This Olympian Just Made Failure Look Good

Have you ever failed hard at something? With an audience. Of a couple million people. No? Well, Lithuanian weightlifter Aurimas Didžbalis knows the feeling after Saturday’s Olympic Games.

My friend and I were stuffing our faces with pizza as we watched him step up to the barbell, loaded with a whopping 491 pounds of weight, and wrap his chalky fingers around the metal. The audience collectively leaned forward, in that stadium and around the world. Even I paused my bite into a cheesy slice. Then, his face tightened. His muscles flexed. His entire body bulged with the strain of almost FIVE HUNDRED pounds of weight! Aaaand he dropped it.

I’m sure half the world reacted like my friends and I, cringing and letting out ohhh’s and aww’s. But then, Didžbalis did something unexpected. He celebrated!

After failing to earn a silver medal in the most prestigious athletic competition, he stepped back from his dropped weights, leapt into a flawless backflip and yelled at the top of his lungs, pulling at his shirt to proudly display his country’s name. And with that action, Didžbalis made a statement that echoed around the globe: celebrate your victories.

Because guess what? This man is still returning home with a bronze Olympic medal. He still competed with the strongest men alive and proved himself worthy. He still saw the culmination of thousands of hours of relentless training. That’s worth celebrating.

I wish we saw more of this attitude at the Olympics. It’s so sad to watch dejected athletes leave the stadium, eyes glued to the ground. Even after they’ve accomplished a mind-blowing physical feat, I see young competitors focusing on their shortcomings, how they didn’t measure up to someone else by .02 seconds. Well, back-flipping Didžbalis was determined to celebrate, no matter the color of his metal. He chose to leave victorious, regardless of his shortcoming.

We need more of this outlook in the Olympics and in our daily lives. Forget focusing on the ways you aren’t perfect. Stop dwelling on your downfalls. Instead,  leap with joy at every success. Celebrate your victories!

A Private Tour into My Beloved Treasure Box

There’s something enchanting about treasure boxes. They sit quietly, guarding their contents until the day a curious soul discovers them. My mother’s jewelry box was like this. I remember exploring its contents as a kid, gingerly holding each earring or trinket. I’d examine all the intricate details, smell the aged brass. 

It’s fascinating to touch the pieces of another’s life in this way. To brush fingers with someone’s most valued possessions. It’s so intimate and captivating. 

Today, I am going to take you on an unprecedented voyage into the depths of my treasure box. I hope you enjoy this little peek at some of the well-kept stories of my life. 

Love Letters

I’m a writer and poet, so of course I will forever keep my love letters from Brian. They range from emails while dating to proposal photos to wedding vows. Each paper is a cherished piece of our history. A moment forever frozen in our timeline, sealed eternally with ink on paper. 

Postcards and Souvenirs


I used to make it a goal to buy a postcard in every state or country I visited. Unfortunately, I forgot to do so while in Canada and Jamaica 😦 talk about lost opportunities! These little pieces of paper are fun reminders of all the adventures I’ve had. And check out those golden Mickey Mouse ears! I was at Disney during their 50th anniversary, nbd. 

Flower Petals

My red rose petals are from a banquet that Brian and I attended. He met me at the bottom of the stairs with a single red rose in hand. I was captivated. 

The yellow rose, Brian grew for me from a seedling. He cared for and nurtured it until it was in full bloom. It’s one of my favorite gifts I’ve ever received. 

Farmhouse Treasures


My grandparents used to live on a farm where my sister and I would visit every summer and during family holidays. I treasured my time there, disconnected from urban life. I remember playing with our pail of figurines and reading books from long before our time. And I remember ringing that metal cowbell at night, a call to grandma when I had a bad dream or needed someone to walk with me to refill my water bottle. 

Ticket Stubs

Similar to my postcards, my ticket stubs remind me of the fun expeditions I’ve had. From the admission ticket for Chicago’s glass box hanging 103 stories over the city to the concert ticket from the night of Brian and I first kissed, these are all momentos of treasured memories. 

Little Trinkets

There’s no rhyme or reason to this collection. A buckeye seed, $2 bills, a seashell, an African finger instrument: all random trinkets I’ve saved. There’s even a piece of bright orange clay stone wrapped in paper. Why? Just because.

Foreign Coins

These beauties remind me that money is just paper and metal. Here in America, none of these coins hold any value as they are. But I still think they’re pretty and strange, so I keep them. 


Do you have a keepsake box of your own? What kind of items are in yours? 

TV Shows I’m Obsessed With Lately

I’m curled up on the couch, TV screen screen flashing before me, blanket grasped tightly over my mouth. I’m poised to cover my eyes, should the faceless man appear again. He does. I gasp. Then the screen goes black. And I click “next episode.”

This has been my TV experience the past week. I just discovered Stranger Things on Netflix and have been consuming it every night. But, that’s just one of the many great TV shows I’m watching. Here are the best shows that I’m watching lately, from a child’s mysterious disappearance to a hacker revolution. 

Top TV Shows Lately

Stranger Things: 


This is my favorite Netflix original series to date. It’s a sci-fi mystery-thriller that will have you hooked after the first episode. Brian and I have the HARDEST TIME not starting the next episode after each credits screen. It’s about a mother who’s son mysteriously disappears and an even more mysterious girl who shows up with some very unique powers…

Mr. Robot: 


Last season, this show was nominated for 6 Emmys. I’m thrilled to confirm that the mind-blowing acting and cinematography continues into season two. Enter the mind of disturbed computer hacker Elliot and follow him on his dark quest to flip the world upside down. 

Community: 


Okay, this is more of a lunch break indulgence but I’ll still count it as something I’m currently watching. This is seriously one of the best comedies around! I feel like I’m friends with every member in the eccentric study group. I even have a mug in my office of Troy and Abed’s morning talk show!

Broadchurch: 


I love this cliffhanger British drama! It follows two detectives trying to solve a boy’s murder in a small town that is harboring some big secrets. You’ll have to get used to a pretty thick Scottish accent though. 

Suits:

I’m not usually into legal dramas, but this one is refreshingly humorous and has some charming characters. It’s about a young guy with a photographic memory who is trying to make it in NY as a fraudulent lawyer. The witty back-and-forth banter makes the characters even easier to like. 

The Office (round two):


 I envy anyone who’s never seen The Office because they can look forward to experiencing it with fresh eyes. This is one of my all-time favorites! The characters feel like family and their interactions make for some great comedy. They’ll quickly have you coming back for more! That’s what she said.


There you have it! The best TV shows my eyes are gazing upon lately. Are you watching any great shows?