A Fresh Start

I just love the feeling of a fresh start that January brings — I also feel this way around the beginning of September as well even though I haven’t been “back to school” since 2008. I always feel like it’s just a great time to re-evaluate your priorities, routines, and schedule. Each year, I order a new planner and enjoy setting it up with all of our activities and commitments for the year. I originally wrote the first 2/3 of this post back in early January and planned to have it published around that time but with baby arriving, blogging has been squeezed into little pockets of free time while Fletcher is napping. :) So, here we go with our yearly intentions on February 8th!

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This year, the planner that I always choose had some extra “prep” pages added to the beginning and it was exactly what I needed to work through before starting 2019. I sat down last month and really poured my heart into evaluating 2018 — processing what worked and what didn’t work.

I wanted to share some of these prep pages on my blog — even if you don’t have one of these planners, it’s something that could easily be done in a journal as you prepare for the next twelve months.

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The lists that I made in the photo above were in response to the following questions:

What worked last year?
What didn’t work last year?
Ideas for new routines
Ideas for new healthy habits

Really sitting down to think about these four areas of my life was extremely helpful. Not only did it force me to look back and evaluate 2018, it helped me to notice patterns and systems that helped or hindered my day to day life. I also chatted with a good friend of mine about a lot of my reflections since she was feeling the same way about the past year of her own life. This was so helpful because not only was there someone that could say “me too” to a lot of how I felt, but we were able to springboard ideas off of each other in hopes of making 2019 a great year.

After completing the prep pages, the main thing that stood out to me was that there was a lot of feeling "overwhelmed.” I’m one of those people that can go, go, go, until I can’t — and then the brakes come to a screeching halt and the cycle starts all over again.

Pouring over these pages helped me realize what my triggers are — clutter, lack of boundaries, overcommitting myself, and not having enough down time or social time. Another thing that made me feel drained was not having enough life-giving activities (passions, hobbies, creative outlets, things that light me up, etc.)

Some of the things that were life-giving for me included regular dates with Andy, dinners / coffee with my auntie, spending time with friends, and prepping for my work day the night before (lunch packed, bags by door, clothes laid out, etc.). Working out, eating healthy, and doing something creative on the regular also falls into this category!

So, I think that needs to happen in 2019 is that I need to do more of the life-giving activities and really focus on not letting things get out of control (too many “yes-es”, going to bed with dishes in the sink, etc.). I feel like this sounds ridiculous, but my day just starts SO much smoother when I go downstairs to make my coffee and step into a spotless kitchen instead of one that has a full dishwasher and sticky counters.

Along with this prep work, I also wanted to share my focus for this new year:

Prioritize My Health + Happiness
I feel like I’m always saying I’m going to do this but for some reason, self-care (along with my mental / physical health) always gets put on the back burner whenever life is crazy (which, newsflash — it kind of always is). I’d really like to invest in these two areas of my life even if it means making sacrifices in other areas in order to make it happen. My gym membership reactivates in a few weeks after being frozen during pregnancy and I’m really looking forward to not only getting back into a gym routine but also utilizing things like the steam room in the women’s locker room. I used to spend 10 minutes in there after almost every workout a few years ago and it was seriously like a little tropical vacation leaving me feeling calm and refreshed.

Be More Intentional
2018 was filled with so many things and I often felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants. House hunting, moving, pregnancy, starting a new job, etc. was a lot in such a short time span and I often found myself eating meals on the go, multi-tasking, and overall just not having enough rest or friend time. I want to focus on slowing down, scheduling more time with those around me, not eating in my car in-between commitments, etc. I feel like having a baby has really made me rethink some of my priorities because now there is someone looking up to me and the actions that I take each day — I want him to know me as a mom that is calm and present, not frazzled and overwhelmed. Time flies by so much faster as you get older and I’d really like to prioritize being intentional with my days and in my relationships.

Speaking of which, I also want to be more intentional with reaching out to people. So often, I think about texting a friend to see if they want to grab coffee or an impromptu HH but then rethink it and tell myself they’re probably busy and it’s snowing again so do I really even want to go out that night? Time to stop overthinking and just send the texts to spend more time with those that I love!

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Be Mindful of Screen Time
This is one area of my life that has really been on my heart lately after coming across this article. The day after I read it, someone had posted something similar on Facebook about how smartphones are becoming our priority before our children and you guys, it just broke my heart. I want to make sure that I’m being mindful of using my phone when I’m around my people, so I deleted Instagram and Pinterest off of my phone to avoid mindless scrolling out of habit whenever I have a free minute or feel bored. I'll keep the apps on my iPad but really only use my iPad when I’m on the treadmill or having some down time during Fletcher’s naps — this will help keep my time spent on social media more in check.

What are some of your intentions for 2019?
Do you monitor your screen time?

Following Intentionally

As we kick off this new year, I’ve been doing some thinking, planning, and prepping about how I can be more intentional in the months that are ahead of us. One thing that really came to mind was to really cull who I follow on Instagram — focusing on friends and inspirational accounts.

I’ve realized that following those whose feeds are made up of mostly sponsored or perfectly styled posts just aren’t what I need to soak up right now. In this season of life I’m craving that raw, real life connection and / or inspiration. Last Sunday morning, I sat down with a homemade blueberry waffle and a hot cup of coffee to really think about the accounts that I choose to follow. Since my list is under 100, it was completely manageable to sit down and write down each handle in this post (the rest of those that I follow are real-life friends and are not included in this list) — it really helped me think about whether I wanted to continue following that account or not. I figured I’d post it here as a reminder of why I follow who I follow — my hope is that you can find some new inspiration from this list!

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If you’d like to check out my feed, you may do so by clicking here. I also have a health + fitness account that will be getting a bit more love once baby is born and I’m back to my usual fitness shenanigans (right now I’m just walking and running these last few days before he is born).

Bloggers
@nicolevcole - love this girl’s heart for her family
@hungryrunnergirl - I’ve followed Janae’s blog for YEARS and love her honesty and zest for life
@sarahshaneyfelt - I started following Sarah a few years ago and feel like we are pretty similar!
@emilyanndunham - Love Emily’s blog!
@victoriastrader - Victoria is the most adorable mom to her two littles and I love her outlook on life + style
@shopvictoriastrader - I follow Victoria’s shop account now that we have a little boy on the way!
@hannahelizabethhardy - Love Hannah’s blog!
@amycotton - This pretty girl just had twins!
@kylashattuck - I love reading Kyla’s blog posts about living intentionally and living well.
@jamieleakey - Jamie’s feed is filled with her simple approach to parenting their two adorable boys
@simplybeffie - I’ve followed Beth for many years and love her handlettering style
@lauravbeck - I’ve also followed Laura for years and it’s been so fun to see glimpses of her cute little girl!
@pbfingers - Julie’s blog is one of the first I ever read!
@brittanywhitacre - I recently came across Brittany’s blog and it’s been so fun reading about her two boys
@emilyayerthomas - Emily’s blog is filled with inspiration for living intentionally
@kelseympeacock - I really enjoy Kelsey’s honest and open voice on her blog
@michaelanoelledesigns - This girl’s blog is filled with so many fun things — beauty products, style, and home design

Life + Style Inspiration
@emilyley - I order a planner from her every single year and love her mindset towards running a home
@onelittlemomma - My hair inspiration! Plus she’s a rockstar mom of FIVE adorable boys
@alysonhaley - I’ve followed Alyson for years and love her personal style
@shopalysonhaley - I’ve purchased a few items from her shop since I love her style and she’s petite
@jen.daniels.l - Another MN designer — this girl’s feed is full of real life moments with her kids
@lindsey_reed - Love this girl’s transparency and outlook on life
@ginazeidler - Another Minnesotan — Gina is a local photographer
@wisemanmemories - I’ve followed Ashley’s fitness account for awhile and love this personal acct of hers
@amikkoch - Another MN creative — love her cute style and pics of her puppy and little girl
@laurengleisberglately - I love this girl’s style and approach to life / parenting
@whitv - I just love her style and her little baby boy is the cutest thing ever!

Design Inspiration
@jessbruggink - I sit next to her husband at work and love her design aesthetic
@laura_lee_deyoung - This girl has the best illustration style
@whitneyhansenmckenzie - Whitney used to work at the company I worked at
@whitneymckenziestudio - Whitney’s design account
@petitcollage - LOVE this company and their illustrative style for kids’ products
@alyssanassner - Such a fun illustration style
@cariboucoffee - I follow Caribou since I’ve designed a lot of products for them over the past year

Health + Wellness
@amandalynne21 - This mom of twins not only rocks being a mom but she also has a great workout routine
@drmeghanbirt - Such a great resource for healthy / natural living
@ashleylwiseman - Ashley has such a balanced approach to health, nutrition, and fitness!
@allisonwollenhaupt - Love this girl’s approach to clean eating and fitness
@cobb2208 - I follow her for running inspiration — she is a beast!
@sarahdhaglund - Sarah’s my go-to gal for all things health / wellness related
@learning2loveburpees - This girl’s approach to fitness is so inspiring
@laurengleisberg - Love her outlook on nutrition and fitness

PS I’m linking up with Lindsay and Jessi today!

What are some of your favorite accounts to follow in IG?
Do you take inventory of your IG account on a regular basis?

A Life-Changing Activity

This past fall, I took a class called "LifeKeys" with my friends Jen and Monica. I originally signed up for the class because part of it helped bridge life plans with Myers Briggs, but what I got out of the class was so much more.

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The 6-week class was divided up into sections, and each evening we discussed a new topic. Oddly enough, the evening that I was least excited about ended up being my favorite (and the most applicable!) of them all.

The evening dedicated to the topic of "Values" put SO much into perspective for me. When I used to think of values, I immediately associated it with a way of living / what is important to you. Things like "honesty" came to mind -- but I never really realized how much influence our values have on our lives.

In preparation for that particular evening, we completed an activity where we chose our top 8 values out of a huge stack of cards. Below are mine, in order of importance.

1. Authenticity - Ongoing desire to honestly express who one is

2. Happiness - Finding satisfaction, joy, or pleasure

3. Achievement - Enjoying a sense of accomplishment or success

4. Learning - Lifelong commitment to growing in understanding

5. Challenge - Attracted to new problems, difficult tasks

6. Personal Development - Wanting to use one's potential and grow to the fullest

7. Self-Respect - Having pride or a sense of personal identity

8. Efficiency - Working to accomplish tasks in comparatively little time

Numbers 3-8 weren't really a surprise for me, as they directly align with my top strengths; however, numbers 1 and 2 shocked me! Looking back at my life, suddenly so many things made so much sense -- why I thrived in certain relationships and situations, while others were a struggle.

Authenticity is important when I choose jobs, friendships, and opportunities. Small talk makes me uncomfortable because it feels fake and superficial -- I prefer a smaller group of close friends than a lot of acquaintances any day. I'm an oversharer, and prefer to be "real" with people verses putting on appearances. I like the grit and raw of real life (both the good and the bad) and feel like that is what ultimately unites us in relationships. I'd also loop "honesty" into this overarching theme of authenticity, as that is important to me as well.

As far as happiness goes, this is one that also surprised me, but it's taken me a couple of unhealthy friendships and ill-fitting jobs to make me realize how important happiness is to me. Early on in my career, I chased opportunities and money instead of happiness and now it feels so good to realize that happiness is so much more important than an admirable line on a resume or an extra grand or two each year. I've also reached a point where I refuse to stay in situations that compromise my health -- no job or situation is worth it if it is stressing your body and your mind.

If you're interested in taking this assessment for yourself, you may purchase the workbook and corresponding book here.

What's a value that important to you?
Are you more private or an oversharer like me?

Make Every Day Luxurious

Growing up, I remember my mom used to always have us save old t-shirts and shorts "for working out." I remember wearing freebie tees (like the ones we received each year for volunteering at Operation Christmas Child) to our local YMCA. Later on, we joined Life Time Fitness and I remember feeling a little out of place in my cheap tees and Soffe shorts.

Once I was out on my own, I bought a few gym outfits -- just some simple workout tanks and a pair of capris and wore them for my next workout at the club. I remember feeling so much more confident about myself while out on the fitness floor. That was a defining moment that made me realize that every day can have little luxuries -- even if it's something as simple as wearing a cute outfit to the gym, using your good dishes to eat takeout food, or going out of your way to enjoy the scenic route home.

Below, I've listed some little ways to make each day more luxurious, or feel a little more fancy! I know I definitely have more of a pep in my step when I'm headed out the door in the morning while wearing my favorite shoes or accessories! 

On that note, today is my half birthday and I'm most definitely going to do something small to celebrate! :)

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Take a real lunch break away from your desk

Savor a favorite glass of wine

Curl up with a new magazine

Fill your home with classical music as you cook, clean, or relax

Wear bright colored statement earrings with jeans and a tee

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Wake up early and savor your morning coffee while reading a good book

Schedule an appointment to have your vehicle detailed. (I do this at least once a year and it is life-changing).

Get a mani / pedi or do it yourself while watching your favorite show

Wake up early and hit the grocery store before the rest of the world is awake

Wear your favorite scarf on a cold day

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Text a girlfriend to meet you for an impromptu catch-up session at a cute little wine cafe

Watch an eye makeup tutorial on YouTube and give yourself a smokey eye for your work day

Wear heels and a statement necklace with your jeans

Install a remote start on your vehicle to enjoy jumping into an already warm car on a cold night at the end of your work day

Block out an hour in your calendar to read at your local bookstore

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Take a bubble bath, complete with candles and a bath bomb

Make dinner reservations -- it feels fancier than just waltzing up to the restaurant to see if there's a table open

Step out of the office to pick up your favorite takeout meal for lunch

Book a massage at your favorite spa

Light a favorite candle -- these ones instantly make a room super cozy

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Enjoy an afternoon at the pool or beach

Create a peaceful yet energizing morning routine

Develop a relaxing yet productive evening routine

Clean out your wallet and purse -- you'll feel less frazzled when you're shopping

Wear cozy socks

What's something you like to do to add a little pep to your day?
What's one thing that you always look forward to? 

Real Life: Bad Days

I typically like to keep a happy and optimistic mindset, but it's normal (and okay!) to have a bad day every once in awhile. Yesterday, I woke up and started my day as usual but felt like everything kept going wrong -- you know, dumb little things like we were out of coffee, my hair wasn't working out, it was pouring rain, and I had a dental appointment on the calendar. I also realized halfway through my day that my leggings were on inside out, so there's that.

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Normally these things wouldn't be a huge deal, but for some reason I was just in a funk -- causing me to feel more frustrated with each little thing that went wrong. I could have easily called it a "bad day" and used that as an excuse to wallow in my misery, but instead I decided to turn it around. It was a glorious 56 degrees outside (aka my fall-aholic self was in heaven), so I dressed up in my favorite rain boots, showed up, and got on with my day.

I texted my sister to see if I could swing by for a quick brow reshaping session (my sister is the BEST with all things beauty), and after spending time with her and my nieces, I felt a million times better. Heck, I even arrived to my dental appointment with a smile on my face -- which was quite the turnaround from how I felt about going to the dentist earlier that day.

Here's what helps me turn a bad attitude or situation from turning into a bad day:

1. Remove Myself from the Situation
Even if it's just for 15 minutes, this helps me so much! Leaving for a "real" lunch break, taking a walk around the block, or running an errand helps me refocus my outlook for the day.

2. Make Plans
Sometimes alone time is great, but whenever I'm in a funk, spending too much time by myself results in overthinking things -- which makes me even more frustrated. An impromptu coffee date with a friend, scheduling a pedicure, or even just scheduling 30 minutes of your day for a workout helps so much!

3. Listen to Something
If I notice my thoughts going crazy, something that helps me is to either listen to my meditation app or to listen to music / a podcast to get my mind focused on something else.

4. Journal
There's just something about getting thoughts / feelings OUT of your head that helps so much! My mind feels clearer and it can often feel like a "fresh start." I don't typically carry my journal with me, so I like to utilize the "notes" app on my iPhone to jot down whatever is bothering me.

5. Dress Up
You guys know that I'm a huge advocate of dressing for success! Whenever I don't put effort into my appearance, I don't feel my best -- pair that with an already grumpy mindset and it's a recipe for disaster. Dressing in something where I feel confident and put together helps me to focus on being the best version of myself and immediately helps me to feel better!

P.S. I'm linking up for Tuesday Talk today! 

What's something that helps you turn your day around?
How do you handle bad days?