I’ve written or talked about TOMS a time or two before. I’ve read Blake Mycoskie’s book, “Start Something That Matters,” and I’ve done research and presentations on TOMS throughout grad school. My bio itself reads, ‘I have a passion for branding and meaningful missions.’ This very sentence is inspired by brands like TOMS.
I was excited to learn of TOMS latest mission, coffee. For every cup of coffee sold at a TOMS Roasting Co. or for every pack of coffee sold, water is provided for those in need. You can learn more about this particular mission here. I knew I just had to visit a TOMS Roasting Co. When we went up to Chicago a couple weeks ago, I did a little research to find that the newest TOMS store and Roasting Co. was located in Wicker Park. Perfect. Naturally, we went.
What I love so much about this brand is that it’s becoming more than just a product or a service, even more than a mission (which is what I love most about the brand), but TOMS is providing an experience, a sense of community, and what I recently read which describes it so perfectly, a lifestyle.
We walked in to find the perfect coffee shop setting in the front of the store. Wooden stools lined window seats, and a group of early twenty-somethings sat at a table drinking coffee and playing games. There were USB outlets everywhere perfect for a quick phone or iPad charge break. A few steps in, and you’re prepared to shop. Men and Women’s shoes line shelves to the left while eyewear (both optical and sunglasses) line the wall to the right. In the middle sits a large wooden table lined with boutique designer accessories for sale (not TOMS products). In the back of the store is the coffee bar serving delicious coffees and coffee drinks of all sorts. You can also purchase coffee mugs, packaged coffee and TOMS apparel.
Tim and I shopped (looked, but didn’t buy) and got ourselves a cup of coffee. While we sat in the store/coffee shop and sipped our coffee, we watched as we took in this experience. I was truly in awe and fascinating by what I was surrounded by. So much community taking place in one small space in different forms was taking shape. Girls with their mothers were sipping coffee and talking to the sales representatives as they shopped for shoes, twenty-somethings in the front of the store laughed and chatted, couples sat and sipped their coffee. How amazing. So many different groups of people, all in one spot, doing different things, for one particular mission. Goods that do good. A lifestyle. I’ve been in love with this brand since my first pair of TOMS Shoes in its early stages, and I continue to be fascinated by how it continues to grow before our eyes. I’ve always thought TOMS would be such an amazing and fulfilling brand to work for. I’m anxious to see what they’ve got up their sleeve next. In the meantime, I hope we can take another trip to Chicago soon (of course), but especially because I want another cup of that coffee 😉
Ah, alas. I am finally taking a moment to look back and reflect on this past year and the goals that I had set for myself and preparing for 2015 (*Fair warning – this is a long one!). If you read my last post, you understand why it’s taking me until nearly one full week into January to even remotely start thinking about these things. The end of the year got crazy, and we’re preparing to move into our new house, but I needed a minute to think. I’m so ready to get settled into this new year and start to focus on what’s ahead.
Each year, I have a tendency to end the year by sharing some sort of a post about how this was ‘the best year yet,’ etc. etc. 2014, for the first time ever, was not my favorite year yet. A lot of good happened, don’t get me wrong, but some of the good was paired with some not-so-good, eye-opening things too. Overall, it just wasn’t necessarily my favorite year ever. But, I will say this: Above all else, I learned a lot in 2014. I learned a lot about life and about the fact that it becomes very real as we grow older. Life isn’t all fantasy anymore. Real life things happen, and even to some of the best of people. Second, I learned a lot about who my true friends are and who really means the most. I’ve learned that I don’t always have to be the only one giving 100%+ effort in a relationship. I have kept and gained friends that will do the same, and that’s truly amazing. I’m really grateful for that. I’ve learned that it really is alright to weed certain people out of your life if they supply you with nothing other than negative energy. I’m really glad I’m finally acting on this. Lastly, I’ve learned how great my faith is in God. I’ve known this, but my faith has really grown, and continues to do so.
As I begin to make my list of goals for 2015, I wanted to look back on some of last year’s goals to see how I’ve done, and to see how I can relate. When I look at the goals I had set for myself last year, I realize that what I really want is to continue most of these into this year too:
Back to blogging (personally) – I’ve had so many different ‘blogs’ in many forms for what seems like years now. I absolutely love to write. When I first really started to enter the blog world (post xanga/myspace days of course), I tried blogging in many different forms. I tried having scheduled posts for specific days of the week (Wedding Wednesdays, Favorite Fridays, and so on…), I tried sharing recipes and I don’t even like to cook and I had my fair share of product reviews. I’ve also done quite a bit of blogging on a professional level for my business and others too. I’ve enjoyed it all, but I’m ready to go back to writing for myself. On my own time, when I want, about what I want to write about. Whatever is on my heart and on my mind. I was so consumed in school, work and my business last year, but over the summer when I had a little bit of ‘free time,’ I finally got back around to blogging for myself again. I still haven’t gotten to do nearly as much as I’d like, but that’s definitely one of my goals for this year. I don’t want the blog to have a theme, I don’t want to review products, I don’t want to blog about certain things only on certain days, I just want to write. So, that I will do. I’m not sure who I’m even writing for most days, if for anyone other than myself, but this is the place where I will continue to do just that. The blog still has some cleaning up and freshening up to be done, but nonetheless, it’s a place to write, and another place I can share my thoughts.
Learn new bible verses – Like I mentioned above, I’ve come to know my faith more than I feel like I ever have before, and I really want to continue to do so. I read devotions and verses daily. I really want to know the Bible because I feel like I don’t know it nearly as much as I could or should. I love learning new verses. I want to continue with this this year as well. My mom got me another new devotion book for Christmas that I’ve also started reading each day.
More time on my yoga mat – With the craziness of my aforementioned schedule, exercise is something that always tends to lie low on the totem pole, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’ve always considered myself to be a healthy, active individual though, and exercise is something that has always been important to me, not necessarily to lose weight and to be fit, but for overall health. If you know me, you know that I’ve dealt with annoying stomach problems all my life, and remaining active and eating healthy and clean has changed this for me immensely. Yogahour is a form of exercise I really enjoy, and if nothing else, I made a commitment to myself that I would allow myself one hour a week at the very least to practice. Since May (my first break from grad school last year), I have not missed this once. It may not be much, but to me, it’s certainly something. I want it to be so much more, but for today, it’ll do. I wish to keep with the same until this May (graduation!!!), and after that, I plan to revise my exercise plan to include much, much more (both time on the mat and off).
Quit rushing – With my constant ‘have to be here, there and everywhere’ mentality, my schedule has left little room for breathing, and I’m constantly rushing to get from one place to the next, oftentimes not arriving as punctual as I like to be (and for an anxiety-ridden, time-sensitive individual such as myself, this is stressful!). One of my goals last year was to quit rushing so dang much. I go back and forth on this. I’m getting better at listening to my body and knowing when it’s time to slow down. I need to take care of myself and focus on those that I’m affecting around me too. This is something that I know I must continue to work on this year too.
Be present – This goes along with the above. My mind is constantly wandering, focusing on whatever else I think I need to be focusing on. I’m trying to remind myself the importance of being present and in the moment. Life is too dang short not to be.
Know that it’s alright to say ‘no’ – I am a people-pleaser. I will thank my sales management class last spring for helping me to make this a known reality and allowing me to actually admit this to myself and to others (who would have thought that a graduate level sales and marketing class would become more of a psychological, therapy session each week?!). I will say that this year, I have finally learned to start saying ‘no’ to things, and I’m really proud of myself for taking this step. This is something that I’ve never been able to do without having some sort of a very legitimate excuse, followed by days of anxiety to boot. I’m still not awesome at it yet, but I am finally getting better at this and already feeling so excited for the places that saying ‘no’ is leading me. It almost sounds like an oxymoron of sorts, but it’s true. I’ve also been reading Lysa TerKeurst’s ‘The Best Yes’ which is very helpful and inspiring as well.
Unplug – Social media has literally become an addiction to some, myself included, and I have a love/hate relationship with this fact. I’ve been a big advocate of social media since the beginning, with it being such a big part of my life both personally and professionally and studying the awesome outcome it can have in so many ways in terms of marketing. However, I’ve unfortunately seen some of the not-so-awesome effects that it can have on individuals too. Not just businesses and bad reviews, but individuals. We’re constantly feeling the need to compare ourselves to everyone’s highlight reels and such, and even though I too love to share the amazing things in my life, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the fact that we are all constantly trying to overpower the other and only doing certain things or spending time with certain people just to share it on social media for others to see. I think that takes things to an entirely different level. As much as I love so much of social media and the positive power that it can have, I have worked and will continue to work on unplugging more often and going back to being present, and truly living in the moment. I love to document, I love to write and I love to share. That’s just my nature, and it always has been. I just want to make sure I’m doing so intentionally and that I’m not getting too caught up in the lives of others as opposed to living my own life too.
Listen to my heart – Don’t always worry about what others have to say and about what others are doing; It’s about what’s right for me and us at this point in time. This is huge. I feel like each off these goes hand-in-hand and right along with one another. Our life is about us and about serving God and living the life that he has set out for us. Just because other people are at certain peaks in their careers or because they already have children and we do not doesn’t mean that we have to be there too. We’re going at the pace that fits us and our lifestyle, and we’re honestly just working to go along with whatever plan God truly does have set out for us. I feel pressured, a lot, to already have reached certain milestones in life, but for today, what we have is enough and is physically what we are able to have and to handle.
Those are some of last year’s goals that I intend to continue to expand on this year too. In addition to all of these things, I also want to include:
Be less ‘busy’ – Upon college graduation, it seemed if you weren’t constantly sharing how ‘busy’ you were, ie. out with friends, working, always working, etc. you weren’t doing it right. I’ll be the first to admit, that I am almost always seemingly busy, but I’m working on this one. Busy actually isn’t that cool, but being productive is. Rest is also cool. Taking some time to just sit at a coffee shop and think, read a book (my favorite) or even spend an afternoon on the couch watching Netflix. I rarely do these things and sometimes feel guilty when I do, but the thing is, these things are actually good for you. I’m learning this.
Narrow my focus – I tend to do one thousand and one things and go a mile a minute. I’m learning to tame that a bit too. I’ve finally set aside some extracurriculars and said no to some additional freelance side jobs and a few other things as I’m finding that I am finally very ready to really narrow my focus. I like to give 100% to things, and that’s best when you can focus on just a few things, not one thousand and one of them. Like I mentioned, I graduate from grad school in May (can you tell I’m excited?!), and I feel that this year will bring some opportunities that will make this whole narrow focus thing a reailty. That is my hope, anyway. I’m excited for what this looks like (and don’t quite know what I’ll actually do with myself once I’m finally there…be less busy, I suppose 😉 ).
Remember what and who is most important – Lastly, I need to remember the ones that are always there for me (my husband especially) and the things that are truly important in life. Sometimes those things get pushed aside, and they shouldn’t. I need to acknowledge this more.
I don’t know what exactly this year holds, but I like to think that I may at least have some sort of an idea of the positive changes that lie ahead. Regardless, we’ll be in our new home in less than a week (bittersweet, but still very exciting), and I think this will be a good, fresh new start for the new year and my little family that is just enough for today. Graduation is ahead, and some other exciting weddings and events also await. Aside from all of that, I’m excited to see whatever else 2015 may hold for us.
Cheers to the New Year!
Photo by SHD Photography
In November, Tim and I officially became first-time homeowners, and as of next week, we’ll officially be living with our new address. We’ve got a lot of big changes in store for the new year, starting with this one. I’m excited for what’s ahead, but it’s also a little bittersweet because I’ve loved our experience of living downtown for these last couple of years. We knew that we would be making a big move of some sort this year. We would either be moving someplace else (as in, outside of this city), or, if we stayed, we would finally decide to buy a home. I still have dreams of us moving away together to someplace new. We have envisioned a move to Chicago for years now, but alas, this is what’s best for us today, and we really love STL too and are happy that we’ve found the perfect little home still within these city limits. So for the next few years, this is our new life adventure. The projects have already begun, but we’ve wanted to soak up downtown living for as long as we can. The time has finally come though, and next weekend, we’re officially making the big move.
As soon as we closed on the house, which was actually before Thanksgiving, we jumped right in with attempting to find the perfect paint colors for the walls. If it were up to Tim, he would probably be content with the first color we chose. I, on the other hand, think things through a little too deeply. We’ve gone though one entire paint party with friends helping us out to find that the colors chosen we’re nothing like we thought. We finally decided to go for the Benjamin Moore paint I initially wanted to start with. Six (or so) sample cans and paint swatches on various walls in each room of the house later, we finally have colors on the walls. All this to find the perfect neutral shades of light and dark gray and white. It’s far more difficult than one would ever think! If you’re following along on Instagram, you’ve been fortunate enough to see these escapades thus far.
The month of December became a little crazy for us, hence my lack of anything blog related. Grad school got intense with my final weeks of courses and major projects and tests loomed, I was out of town for a big trade show for work, the holidays were, well, the holidays, and very unfortunately my grandmother passed away. Life got very tough, and I’ll admit that I had more breakdowns than one during those few weeks. I had a lot I wanted to write about in that time and just didn’t get to. Nonetheless, we made it through, we celebrated the new year with a wedding with friends and we happily put 2014 behind us and are beyond ready for the new beginnings that 2015 has in store. I’ve got 2015 goals to write about and a few reflections from 2014 to share, so hopefully I’ll get to those before Valentine’s Day 😉
Anyway, back to the house. Tim and I took a couple of days off this last week to get the Christmas decorations down, start doing some packing (yup, start…and we’re moving in less than a week) and to work on some things at the house. We’ve only got one room left to be painted, and Tim has done SO much (God love him for putting up with me throughout this process). I truly don’t know where I would be without him most days. We also took a fun day trip to Chicago on Friday (see, we decide we’re staying in St. Louis and still have to make an excuse to get back up to Chi) to go to IKEA and do a little bit of shopping for the house. Unfortunately the new STL IKEA is opening a few months too late (but I’m still anxiously awaiting that grand opening too!). We’ve kept most of the same furniture and moved it around with us since our first apartment when we got married, but we’ve decided we’re ready to trade a few things in, most specifically, our bedroom furniture. We found the most perfect headboard at IKEA that we brought home, and we ordered a few more pieces online that we should have within the next few days. I love to decorate, and this being the first place that we will actually own, I’m ready to make it really feel like a home so it’s exciting, yet a bit stressful and a lot overwhelming, all at the same time. It’ll be nice having a basement for storage and not having to store things away in a storage locker two floors down, so that’s a plus anyway 😉 I’ve been making frequent trips to Home Goods, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, West Elm and more. Today we got new lamps at Target, two beautiful mercury glass lamps for the bedroom, one of which I carried in and slipped right out of my fingers and crashed all over the hardwood floor. So, yes, there’s been an awful lot of that too, hence a breakdown or two. But, it’s ok. From what I hear, it’s all a part of this thing called home ownership. Not so sure that we’re ready for this or not (he’s been far more mentally ready that I have been), but we’re in and ready to dive right into this next chapter in our journey we call life. (Oh, and our privacy fence should be finished next week too…which means Bentley will have an entire yard to himself for the first time ever so this indeed is an exciting new feature!)
New adventures await, and I know that God’s got even bigger plans for us, so for today, I’m just going along with whatever those plans may be and with what each day holds. Here’s to our new year.