I'm still a little bitter because my older sister got the better birthday. When we were growing up, I remember thinking she was so lucky - always got to celebrate with summer pool parties, beach trips and no school.
Although, in her defense, I almost ruined one of her birthdays.
When she turned eight, our family and friends all met up at the local pool for her party. When we got there, all of the kids who were tall enough to go down the waterslide got a wristband to show the lifeguard who was at the bottom of the stairs.
Little Jas, who would like it to be noted that most of the time she had school on her birthday, didn't get a wristband. The lifeguard told her she wasn't quite tall enough yet, maybe next year kiddo.
Little Jas was a bit of a wild child, so she snuck past the lifeguard and up the stairs to the waterslide anyway. Yiiiiikes.
Meanwhile, our mom was on the other side of the pool doing her hostess with the mostest duty: taking pictures of each kid's face as they come flying down the slide into the water. Imagine her surprise when she looks through the disposable camera shutter and sees... me.
"Wait!! No, she can't swim!" my mom yelled before jumping in the pool to save me.
Only, she can't swim either. So a giant, hairy male lifeguard had to save us both. Yiiiiikes.
Little Jas pouting that they wouldn't let her go down the slide again after the whole almost drowning thing.
A lot of times in life, we feel like we're 'drowning.' We're drowning in work, drowning in debt, drowning in laundry - you name it.
We just try to keep our heads above water while we wait for someone else to blow their whistle, jump in and pull us out.
At my sister's pool party, I was literally drowning, so a lifeguard had to jump in and save me (and my mom).
The reality is, a lot of us are not drowning... we're struggling.
Most of our problems are not life or death. Most of our problems are centered around the fact that our lives aren't exactly the way we want them to be yet.
We don't need some big, hairy male lifeguard to jump in and pull us out. What we really need is someone else who has been through that same struggle to come up beside us and say, "I know it feels like you're drowning right now, but put your feet down, you can stand here."
Think about the last big problem you had. Would it have been easier if someone else who had just gone through that same problem had helped you? Duh.
Why do we default to 'I learned this the hard way, so everyone else has to learn this the hard way too'?
I'm a firm believer that there is something that you've been through in your life that someone else is going through right now. Instead of watching them get lost in the same places you did, why not share your map?
Exactly a decade after the whole almost drowning incident, I got a shiny whistle and red bathing suit of my own!
Luckily, "Have you ever been saved by a lifeguard?" was not one of the questions on my test.
For a while, I kind of forgot about being saved by a lifeguard when I was younger. That is, until one of my last days on the job when I blew the whistle and made my first (and only) save.
We don't always have to pay it forward to society, sometimes we pay it back. So if you're feeling overwhelmed and no one has told you lately:
Put your feet down, you can stand here. I promise.
I've been a loyal Grey's Anatomy binge-watcher since college, but one thing that has changed over the years is my favorite character.
For so long, I was #TeamCristina all the way. She was smart, bold, passionate and unapologetically herself.
Have you ever heard the saying, "we like people who are like us?" Well, let's just say Cristina and I share that spit-fire, feistiness that other people hate to love. ;)
But in 2014, Cristina left the show and I felt a little lost. The character I saw the most of myself in was gone. After that, Shonda Rhimes, the show's producer, was starting to lose me a little more every episode.
I started paying less attention, I'd put the show on while doing homework or painting my nails. I didn't care as much if I had something else to do when it was on, or if I missed an episode or two.
But then, Shonda hit us with a whammy. (Spoiler alert ahead!)
Derek Shepherd died.
While every character on the show grieved differently, there was a special place in my heart for Amelia Shepherd because we now had something in common.
We had lost an older brother unexpectedly. We didn't get to say goodbye.
Watching Amelia struggle through her grief and all that followed took me back to a place I had fought so hard to get out of.
Watching her struggle with accepting her loss reminded me of the strong, bold Cristina Yang I had once been and the broken, lost Amelia Shepherd that I had become.
Grief is not a linear journey.
There are the worst days of your life and then breakthroughs and then setbacks and then rock bottom and then a glimmer of hope and then rock bottom again.
While many viewers cried along with Meredith Grey, who had just lost her husband, I cried along with Amelia, who had just lost her brother.
A brother who had a smile that made others smile, the charisma to charm the pants off pretty much anyone, and a spark that you really couldn't describe. Just like my own brother.
But what I grew to love the most about Dr. Amelia Shepherd was the path she took out of the darkness. Despite how bent, not broken, she was inside, she saved herself by saving others.
She refused to stay miserable and keep half-assing life. She chose to be brave and to take her own life back.
So did I. And no matter what you're going through right now, so can you.
Tonight, I'm doing something out of character. I'm leaving dishes in the sink.
Those who are close to me know that I'm somewhat of a neat freak. Things I like:
Things I don't like:
Long story short, I could spend my entire monthly budget on cute organizers at Target to help me pretend my life is together. Spoiler alert: it still isn't.
Normally, it would drive me crazy to lie in bed at night knowing I still need to sweep, wipe the counters and do the dishes. Many nights, I just give up and go do them.
But tonight, I'm leaving dishes in the sink. I'm lighting a candle and grabbing a book. I'm wrapping up my night of rebellion by eating Halo Top ice cream in bed and falling asleep watching Law and Order: SVU.
In the back of my mind, there are so many 'more productive' things I should be doing instead. Many of us have been taught that the busier we are, the more productive we are.
But getting out of our normal routine is productive. It gives our brain a much-needed chance to r e l a x.
According to Harvard Health, "pursuing a hobby, learning a new skill, or volunteering for a project at work that involves a skill you don't usually use can function the same way and help improve memory."
So tonight, follow my lead and leave the dishes in the sink.
Pick up a book, go for a walk, watch the sunset, do yoga, binge watch your feel-good show, call your mom.
Because we'll never think back on our lives and be grateful for the dishes we cleaned and the laundry we folded. We'll remember the times we laughed so hard we cried, the beautiful places we've seen, and the people who were with us on our best and our worst days.
And if you're like me, don't worry, the dishes will still be there in the morning.