Photo by Shannon Duggan Photography
I love the feeling of newness and anticipation that every new year brings. We have no idea what 2017 has in store for us, but then again, who really does? I have a lot of big hopes and dreams and aspirations for whatever may lie ahead. This past year I’ve learned more than most that it’s important to not let what makes you comfortable stand in the way of what you are called to do. Instead of making any resolutions or goals or choosing a word or a theme for this new year, I’m going to let that quote carry me through.
This has been one heck of a transformational year. It’s a funny thing when you pick up your entire life and move it to the other side of the country. It’s a transformational thing, really. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and I’ve learned a lot about us. We’ve explored and learned so much new, living in a culture entirely different than what we’re used to. I’ve read a lot and written even more. Not publicly, but personally and privately. As much as I wanted to write more on here, revamp the blog, give it another facelift (and I would love to do all of these things in this new year as well), I have continued to learn that pen to paper is still my favorite way to express my thoughts, even if I’m expressing them to no one other than myself. Maybe someday I’ll share more of those thoughts with the world, but likely not any time soon.
2016 has been a challenge in many ways but an opportunity for growth and learning and adventure more than anything else. 2016 has been a really, really great year.
We came home on Friday night from our two week trip home to STL, and while it was so so good to be home with family and friends for the holidays, it also felt good to come back to our California home too. Isn’t it the strangest thing the way that we can feel so at home in one place and equally at home in another? It’s a complicated feeling, but I think a lot of it has to do with nothing more than the people we are with. Maybe it also has something to do with the fact that the months of August – December were non-stop travel for us. Really, it seems like all of 2016 was that way, and it’s been amazing, but this little bit of ‘downtime’ at home this weekend before jumping back into the busyness of work this week has felt so good. I feel rejuvenated and ready to dive right into this New Year. I know it’s going to be another busy one, I know there will be a lot of travel, but aside from that, God only knows what more is in store. Only time will tell.
Farewell 2016, you’ve been good to us.
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” – Miriam Adeney
Photos by Shannon Duggan Photography
Six months ago on a cold January day in St. Louis, we woke up and finished packing up the car to embark on what would be seemingly the most invigorating chapter of our story yet. We were moving to California. We were leaving behind our family, our best friends, our community and so many things that we loved for the unknown. Some may call us crazy. Some don’t understand why. For us, it just seemed to fit. As the pages turned, some days much slower than others, one thing after another seemed to fall right into place. For a bit more background, you can read more about when we found out we would be moving HERE. Still to this day, I tell Tim I don’t quite know how we ended up exactly where we did, how we got the great jobs we did. And his answer, “Everything happens for a reason.” He’s right. God has played such a big role in our story (well, he’s writing it, but you know what I mean), and every piece of this just seemed to fit. Was it hard to leave our family and best friends? Harder than I can even explain. I felt more emotions on the day that we left St. Louis as we were driving away from our house, the first home that we bought together, than I even expected to have. Since we had so much time to prepare leading up to moving day, I thought that I had gotten all of my emotions out at that point, but I hadn’t. Missouri was home to us our entire lives. We always had dreams of going elsewhere, despite how much we loved the city we lived in and especially the people in it, but to experience what else this world holds. Timing just never seemed quite right to make that bold move, but I have quickly learned that I don’t think there ever truly is a ‘right’ time for much of anything, and that’s ok.
Once we got to California (you can read more from the start of our journey HERE), we of course went through that typical honeymoon phase for the first couple of months. Everything was new. We had so much to explore. So many things to see and do. But after the newness wore off, I came to realize just how hard being away from everyone, and everything, back home really was. We were so comfortable. I think that there are pros and cons to comfort. After those first couple of months here, I started to really long for that sense of comfort. A coffee date on a Saturday morning with a girlfriend, a Saturday shopping day with my mom, family dinner, weekly yoga dates with one of my best friends, inviting friends over for dinner in our home. Where were those things? Where were those people? Where was the sense of community here that I so longed for and loved? I’ll admit, after all of the new wore off and after a couple of months of being so seemingly busy with settling into my new job, I started to feel a little bit lost again. I wondered why we were here again. What brought us here? What are we doing? Everyone’s back home watching the Cardinals play at Busch Stadium, watching the Blues in the playoffs on the big screen at Ballpark Village, my family’s together for small gatherings with our new nephew, our friends were celebrating birthdays and baby showers and bridal showers together in the city. That made me sad. Really sad.
Being away from all those comfortable things truly forces you to step out, to find your own new sense of community, to make new friends. We’ve had to figure out what our new local favorites were, a new grocery store to shop at, a new church community that loves people and loves community as much as we do. That was tough. But then friends and family were starting to book flights and come to visit, and as we’ve been able to share with them the things that we’ve already come to know and love as new ‘locals’ of SoCal, I’ve realized that I do like it here. I catch myself talking less about the things that I don’t like, comparing less to the Midwest. Dare I say, dang you California for making me fall in love with you a little bit more each day. I think I’m afraid to fall in love with it here. I’m afraid that we won’t someday go back to what is home. I can sit here and say that in two years we’ll be here or there, but in all honesty, I have absolutely no idea where we’ll be. I never thought that we would be living in Southern California, less than 10 miles from beaches and the Pacific Ocean or that I would be working in a top 10 higher education institution as an associate director doing things that I love today. And somehow, that’s exactly where we are. And I love it. Yes, I still dream every single day. I can’t help the fact that I’m a dreamer, a goal-setter, a planner, and I can’t help the fact that there are so many things that I want to do and that there are so many places that I want to be. I envision us doing some big things. Some really big things. But for today, somehow after six months of trying to figure this whole thing out, I’m starting to realize that I really do believe that this is exactly where we’re supposed to be today.
My mom, who is less than fond of the fact that we live so far away (and I don’t blame her, and I promise not to live this far away from home forever. I love my mom so much!), even reminded me on the phone one day, after complaining per usual about how much I love [sense sarcasm] the traffic out here, that I live in Southern California. I live in a beautiful place with beaches all around. I live where everyone seems to want to be. Pros and cons. Always pros and cons. If you know me, you know well that I strive to be living in a big city, in the middle of it all; that’s really where my heart is. Chicago. New York City. I’ve dreamt of these things since I was a little girl. Out here, aside from being just a few miles outside of LA, it’s more commercialized and more suburban than I ever would have expected. And one thing that we want so badly to have in a place that we live is a place that we can walk everywhere and a place with a wealth of public transit options. Also not options most places around here. But, for today, that’s ok. We’re getting used to what is the new normal for us. It may not be what we expected, but it’s still an adventure unlike any other in so many ways. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from this chapter thus far, it’s that stepping out of your comfort zone is so so good for you. It may not always be easy, but it’s one of the best things that you can do for yourself.
We’re growing in so many ways out here, and it’s only been six months. We’re hiking, we’re exploring, we’re going to the beaches, taking up things like biking and surfing that you just can’t quite do in Missouri. We’re finally starting to find the community we’ve so longed for, we’re discovering our favorite local restaurants and coffee shops. We’re taking advantage of it all. And I think we’re discovering more about ourselves than we even realized. We continue to grow as individuals and in our marriage as we discover more and more what it is we truly envision our lives to be. I’m not sure what the plan for the next six months, the next year, the next five years holds. For today, we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be. It may have taken all of the last six months for me to realize it, but we live in Southern California. And I like it.
“I met a girl who kept tattoos for homes that she had loved. If I were her I’d paint my body until all my skin was gone.” -Andrew McMahon, Something Corporate
So. Getting back on a schedule with my posts hasn’t proved to be much of a success for me just yet because, well, life. We’ve been extra busy with our jobs, and since I still have events under my belt, that also means evenings and weekends too. So, every little bit of time that we have together, even if it’s Thursday nights or Sundays, we are taking full advantage to get out and explore and do something fun. We got to go home for Easter a few weeks ago and meet our new nephew, and it was SO good to be back home in a city that we love with family. It’s only/already been four months for us being out here, and that’s also the longest that we’ve been away from home and away from family, which I will definitely admit, is tough. But, let’s dive right on it…
St. Louis sports and this great little package that my parents sent in the mail last week! The Cardinals are my number one, as I believe we all already know, and I’ve been making sure that everyone out here is well aware of how great they are too. We’ve got tickets to at least one game in every series that the Cardinals play out in California starting with a game in San Diego next weekend to celebrate Tim’s birthday. I am SO excited to see those boys out here and to wear all of my Cards gear loud and proud in the stands! I am not the biggest hockey fan, but I do of course support the Blues, and hockey is really Tim’s support. It’s playoff time for them, and I am of course cheering them on as well.
Hiking! We have been taking advantage of God’s beautiful creation out here, and it certainly is nothing short of amazing. The views are phenomenal. We have been going on a lot of hikes with the dogs. We have some pretty great hills and mountains closer to us in North Orange County, we’ve done the touristy Runyon Canyon in LA (the city views were pretty spectacular here) and we’ve done some neat hikes by the ocean and the bay. I would like to do a post in the future on some of our favorites. There isn’t a ton of opportunity for hiking in MO (although there is some), but out here there are so many mountains, hills and trails to explore.
Travel! We just booked some exciting upcoming trips including Portland and Seattle for our anniversary in June (5 years!) and San Francisco in September (where we will see the Cardinals play the Giants!). We’ve also got quite a few smaller weekend trips on tap. We want to take advantage of so many great places around us while we live out here. We are working on adding quite a few pins to our map. The west coast was looking pretty sparse, but it’s starting to fill up quite nicely.
Not So Much:
Sweet tea and good BBQ are hard to come by out here. I LOVE my sweet tea, and BBQ (especially a favorite of Tim’s) are two things that we just haven’t nailed down yet. I think that these are two comforts that remind me of home too, so when we try out a new BBQ place, and it’s just not like St. Louis (not that I would actually expect it to be of course), I get a little let down. So, if you have any good BBQ recs in SoCal or any other suggestions on where I can get sweet tea aside from Chick-fil-a or the grocery store, please feel free to share
MisterWives. Just got their newest album. So good. Fun, upbeat summertime music in my opinion; it just puts you in a good mood. We’ve been listening on our record player outside on our patio.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I watched season 1 when we first moved out here and absolutely loved it. It’s just so lighthearted and funny, typical Tina Fey style. Season 2 just came out. Something light and fun to watch when you want something sort of mindless at the end of a long day.
I tend to always be reading way too many books at once, but I recently started going through Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, guiding you through 40 days of purpose. His church is actually out here where we live, so we’ve visited one of the locations closest to us a few times. We’re still on the hunt for a new church home out here (no easy feat), but more to come on that in a later post.
Tomorrow starts another Monday, but it’s also Tim’s birthday week! We are getting awfully close to 30 this time around. Crazy! We have had a lot of milestones set for ourselves early on in our marriage when we reached 30 and/or five years of marriage. We celebrate five years of marriage this year, and 30 will happen for us both next year. Never would have imagined we would be living in Soithern California right now, and I can only imagine (and hope and pray about) what the next few years will bring. God’s got plans for us, and we are living out each new page of our story one day at a time. April is a busy month of work and life, but I’m extra excited for May because my parents come to visit, we have friends coming to visit and the Cardinals will be in town!
Hope you all are enjoying a restful Sunday. And I will leave you with this quote that I stumbled upon last week – “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” -George Washington Carver
The tall, skinny palm trees along the coastline are my absolute favorite; I think they have their own quirky sense of character. I’m still in awe that these surround us everywhere here every single day.
Whoa. I can hardly believe that we have already been living in California for a month and a half now. SO many things have happened in just a month and a half! I have been meaning to write since we got here and just haven’t quite found the time to do so yet (but I update Instagram frequently with #stltosocal adventure updates so feel free to follow me there!) I started my job out here with an amazing University of California school a week after we arrived. So thankful for the way that God has provided for us on this journey. There are definite reasons as to why we are here. We’ve both been busy with our jobs and spending any and all free time exploring all things Southern California. And let me tell you. There is so much to explore in Southern California. We still haven’t quite finished unpacking yet either, but when you’re across the country in a brand new place exploring so many brand new things, that tends to fall lower on the list, even for the perfectionist. Enjoying what we can of this adventure is what’s most important right now. (I never even got to share our full travel story with you, but we left the day after New Year’s Day, drove two very long days across the country with the dogs, waited two weeks for all of our belongings to arrive and are still trying to get settled in, but hey, it’s all a part of this adventure, and it’s teaching me to let go of the things that aren’t always in my control.)
Just a few hours into our road trip from Missouri to the West Coast! Had to make a pitstop for Starbucks. Bentley and Emma did amazing on the two day trek.
Day 2 of the trip. Once we started to see signs for LA, we knew we were finally getting ‘closer.’
And once we crossed the California border we had to stop at a vehicle inspection to ensure we didn’t bring any ‘foreign objects’ into the state (just another reason why I feel like this place is a country of its own). Once we crossed the state line, we still had a long way to go. California is a massive state.
So, now to the important stuff. Everyone wants to know about California. It’s definitely quite the change from St. Louis, I will say that. It’s amazing out here, yet so different in so many ways. But do I miss home? Oh yes. The Midwest is absolutely home, and always will be so if you’re asking whether or not we will be back, the answer is definitely yes. While I don’t want to ‘plan’ too much too far ahead (and like I’ve said before, this was never particularly in our ‘plan’ either, as our plans aren’t always ours), I do know that at some point, that is definitely where we want to be. But for today? This is a fun adventure that we fully intend to take full advantage of.
Or, as I like to say, our home sweet home AWAY from home, because of course, St. Louis is definitely home.
It’s only been a little over a month, so this will change as time goes on, but in this short period of time we have already learned quite a bit about this state. The one thing that I tell just about everyone here is that I feel like California is its own country. It’s just so different and strange in a lot of ways; this state has a lot of its own quirks that I don’t fully understand, and I’m not sure that I ever will, but maybe I will start to more so as time goes on, but I’m pretty sure I will forever hold onto my Midwest ways. But a couple of thoughts right off the bat:
1. Traffic. Is. Horrible. We’re in Orange County, so we thought that maybe being a little south of LA meant that traffic would be less frequent. Wrong. A drive to work in the morning that should take me no more than 15 minutes takes an hour. Or more. I cannot seem to wrap my head around the fact that people spend so much of their lives sitting in traffic here. I don’t love that. The plus side, though, is that I use my commute to either A.) listen to podcasts, B.) listen to sermons from the Journey or C.) call my mom and dad and other family and friends so at least I am able to put all of my car time to good use.
2. I don’t see Cardinals anything anywhere like I’m so used to at home. I LOVE our Cardinals. They are of course not so well loved around here. I have spotted a couple of STL Cards license plate covers since we’ve arrived though (and I get ridiculously excited when I do!!), and I recently added a STL sticker to my car. I have so much pride over that team and refuse to ever let that go.
3. There is quite a mix of people here who are either born and raised SoCal/Orange County or who are transplants from other cities. When I meet someone who is from across the country, I instantly want to become their best friend. Everywhere I go I also find it necessary to tell everyone around me that I’m from the Midwest (not sure if I’ll ever stop sharing this fact with strangers during our time here). What I’ve quickly learned, though, (and no, I am not speaking for everyone here) is that many of the people who are born and raised here seem to take all of amazingness that surrounds them for granted, and I don’t want that to become me. Sure, there are things that are bothersome like the traffic and the higher gas prices and other little California quirks that I’m sure I will at some point share, but the fact that I drive to work and see snowcapped mountains in my rearview mirror or the fact that I can drive 5 minutes away during lunch and stare at the ocean is so surreal to me. If you know me you know my love for all things city (and yes, I am longing for that I will not lie, but luckily LA is so close), but the beauty of God’s creations that are right in front of us, in conjunction with this amazing weather, are things that I never want to lose sight of. It’s snowing back home, and here I am at the beach after church then having iced coffee outside in 75+ degree sunshine. I don’t even feel like I deserve this so I don’t want to become one who complains at 60 degrees or who sits inside during lunch or on the weekends when there’s so much to go see and do.
I’m excited to see where this adventure takes us. While I sit here with a million and one ideas and visions and dreams and goals in my mind (I swear my brain never shuts off!), I still want to work to enjoy each and every day and take this all in. Our first month and a half here has gone by so quickly, but we’ve already done so much like explore LA, hike Peter’s Canyon, visit several beaches (and even take the dogs to the beach!), visit San Diego, enjoy the Farmer’s Markets in February and so much more. So yes, although I’m currently sitting outside writing, a piece of me misses St. Louis (and of course a huge piece of me misses my family and friends) and maybe even a little bit of the snow (gasp!), but this is us today, and it’s pretty incredible. There is so much more to experience, and this is what life is all about. I think that there is something to be said about experiencing an environment and a culture so incredibly different than what we’re used to.
I had ironically found this saved in my random things box (I save a lot of random things) while we were packing. The perfect, subtle reminder.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain
The west coast is the best coast? Nah. I was conveniently wearing my favorite ‘Midwest is Best’ tee when we passed this one day and clearly had to stop to take a quick pic.
Here’s to exploring and adventure. But don’t worry, as much as I love visiting and exploring other places, the Midwest is definitely still the best. But for today, California is pretty amazing too.
(Photo taken from above Orange County as we were about to land in Santa Ana last night (not the best quality but look at that sunset and all of the city lights!). Thoughts written from yesterday’s plane ride, post actually made from cute little coffees shop marketplace thing today.) *If this post is formatted funny, I apologize in advance…sometimes these come out weird when I post from my iPad.
Last week was my last week working with The Covering House, an amazing non-profit organization in St. Louis. If you haven’t heard of The Covering House, visit their website HERE to learn more about their mission and what they are doing in St. Louis. It has been an incredible year (or just about) with this organization and group of people. The job itself has humbled me in so many ways, taught me so many things and introduced me to some truly incredible people that I otherwise would never have met. This role was such a great transition for me for so many reasons, both personally and profssionally. My last event for TCH was on Thursday evening, and although my heart felt sad to leave, I am really ready to fully focus on what the west coast will have in store. Did you miss our moving (yet again, but BIG move this time around) announcement? You can read more about it in my last post.
As I sit here on this airplane leaving home to travel to our soon-to-be new home, so many thoughts are racing through my head, as they have been for the last few months as we’ve been working through the details of making such a big life change. And boy are there ever so many details. I’m going to miss so many things about home (as in home home, St. Louis home), but gosh this is just going to be such an incredible opportunity for us in so many ways. We’ve got big goals this next week as I fly out to meet Tim in Orange County, CA. We need to find a place to live. I’ve got job interviews lined up (prayers and good vibes are so greatly appreciated). You know. Just the minor details that moving across the country entails.
I think that this whole thing is a really good challenge for me. If you know me, you probably know two things about me. I’m a perfectionist. And I’m a planner. (A blessing and a curse I tell you.) But at the same time, I crave adventure, and although terrifying, I do actually like to take risks every once in awhile and just see what happens. I say all this as I continue to mentally plan our entire next year, next five years, next ten years. Will we still be living on the west coast? Will our family finally start to grow (as in with humans)? How old will our dogs be? Will they love our future children? Where will we be working? Whoa whoa whoa. Seriously people. This is how my brain works. This can truly make someone crazy. I want so badly to take things one day at a time. I will say that right now, I have never been so unplanned in my entire life, so unknowing as to what our future holds (no home to live in in CA yet, no official moving date on the calendar (we’re looking at shortly after Christmas or the New Year as of now for those who have been asking…hoping to know for sure real soon!), and I’m currently unemployed at the moment, if you will (gasp, that sounds SO weird!). But, somehow, deep down (like really deep down here), I also feel ok. I’m freaked out, yes. But I also feel ok. Something in the back of my mind (well, basically God here) is telling me that everything’s going to be OK, and things will soon fall our way. Slowly but surely, but they will. And slowly but surely, they have been. Maybe not quite as ‘planned,’ but you get my point.
One thing that life has really taught me, especially recently, is that no matter how much we plan, there are likely other plans out there waiting for us. Just a few weeks ago, I heard this quote…I can’t remember where I heard it, but it goes like this:
“You just give up the life that is planned to get the life that has been waiting for you,” Joseph Campbell
Boom. In my face. I needed to hear that. So badly. (It’s killing me that I cannot remember where I actually heard this though…was in in church? Did I read it in one of the ten different books I’ve started in the last several months that I’ve yet to find the time to finish? Huh.) I’ve been getting small signs such as that coming my way.
So, I can sit here and plan all I want. Every single step along the way. And of course I do still think that plans and goals are good. So so good. But, I also think it’s important to go where life leads us sometimes too. Will the timing always be right? Probably not. We’ve owned our house in St. Louis for a year, and our first nephew is on his way into the world in a few short months (yay! I’m already so excited to go back home and meet that tiny new human in the spring!). But can we always let things stop us? The unknown? The what ifs? I really don’t think so. (Coming from the girl who is having an internal anxiety attack thinking about what the future may or may not hold right this very moment.) I’ve always admired the people who have the courage to make such big and exciting new changes, and I always thought at some point I too could, would, be that person, yet it always felt so far away, and I never quite knew In what capacity something like that may actually look like. And here we are.
Life is a beautiful and bold adventure. I’d be lying if I sat here and told you I’m not going to plan a dang thing anymore because, let’s just be honest here, but I am going to continue to challenge myself to take each day one day at a time and to live life for what it’s worth. I can’t wait to see what the west coast has in store for us. But in the meantime, feel free to send good vibes our way 😉
side note – I am finding that dogs can seemingly go just about everywhere around here. Bentley and Emma will love it!
another side note – again, sorry if formatting of this post is weird (it’s driving me crazy); sometimes I think that WordPress has a mind of its own…will fix when I am no longer on a mobile device.
Hi there! Long time, no write. So, over the course of the last few months, life has certainly been happening for us with so many amazing new things. I finally, officially finished grad school in May, and shortly before that, I started a new job on the next step of my career path! I officially have a Master of Arts in Marketing, and I am currently working in partnership development for an amazing non-profit organization in STL. I just did my last big wedding for the time being in June, and it feels really good to finally be starting to really narrow my focus down to a couple of things as opposed to a million so that I can truly devote myself to what I am doing (although I still haven’t quite been able to eliminate the ‘busy’ that I’ve been trying so hard to do, and I’ve still got a lot of things on my plate, but for today, it’s ok). With my new full time position, I am finally really feeling like I’m on mission, and truly doing something that matters, which is what I’ve been seeking, and I get to utilize my passion and skills in doing so (plus, I’m still planning a lot of events!). It’s amazing, it’s challenging, it’s so many things, but I’m excited to see where this next step in my career path leads.
Tim’s now officially got less than a year to go in grad school himself, and we’re taking this time to determine what the best next steps will be for us and our little (four-legged) family. So many exciting things to think about and ideas and opportunities to explore. A big part of me wishes that I wasn’t such a planner and so goal-oriented all the time, but at the same time, it’s what truly drives me and inspires me each day. As usual (while trying to really focus on living in the present), I’m exited to see what lies ahead for us. Our favorite thing to do as of late is sit down in our favorite local coffee shops and dream (real) big dreams. I heard a quote in a service a couple of weeks ago that really stuck with me that went something along the lines of, ‘Find your purpose in life, and find it well.’
In the meantime, while we’re over here dreaming big dreams, we’re also being inspired by two of our favorite couples, one who just made the move to KC, and the other who is NYC bound. For a couple that wants nothing more than to see the world, we’ve got a lot of work to do, but that’s an inspiration to me in and of itself. We finally found this perfect cork board map to hang in our home to start pinning some of our favorite places we’ve been, and the places we want to be.
Happy Fourth of July weekend, America. Hopefully I’ll be able to find more time to write again soon, but at the very least, I’ll be doing some dreaming and a little bit of travelling and taking a lot of notes along the way.
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!
This weekend was a fabulous weekend filled with very little plans (crazy, right!?) but lots of fun activities. I attempted to not check emails (a very big challenge for me) and to tune out the news, which right now is very tough to do, but I ended up with an enjoyable weekend ending with me turning 27 years old.
I had to get my license renewed on Friday afternoon which was not the most thrilling start to birthday weekend, but it had to be done. My license was last renewed three years ago, just days after we returned from our honeymoon, and I had to have my new ID with my new last name and my new signature. That ID was also two addresses ago, so an update really was necessary. I was oddly nervous about the ‘signs’ portion of the vision test (I literally studied them online before I left), but luckily, driving for over ten years now seemed to have been just enough to pass. I now have a piece of paper for an ID in my wallet. I can’t wait until the real thing comes in the mail.
Aside from my thrilling start to my birthday weekend, I treated myself to a manicure and pedicure, which I never do without an excuse of some sort, and paid a little visit to the new Tory Burch store that just opened up in Frontenac. It’s soooo pretty. They were even giving away cookies and champagne.
The rest of the weekend was filled with quality time with my husband, good food, new restaurants, local coffee shops and just roaming around and exploring some of my favorite places in St. Louis. We ended with dinner with my family last night at Mission Taco in the Loop and drinks with my mom and dad on the rooftop at the Moonrise Hotel, one of my absolute favorite places in STL and our first time taking my parents here. It was a great weekend, and I’m looking forward to celebrating with some of my best girlfriends this weekend as a few of us share a birthday only a few days a part. I think 27 will be a good year.
This is one of my favorite statements by Tiffany & Co. This weekend, I turn another year older (27 to be exact). I have always been a big fan of birthdays, and I love reasons to celebrate. I always thought it was weird when older adults don’t share their age or dread birthdays because that only means their growing older (fact – I still can never remember how old my mom actually is because she never gives me a truthful answer 😉 ). To me, a birthday is a chance to be grateful and an opportunity we’re given to have lived yet another year of our lives. They always told me that someday ‘I’ll understand.’ I still never really got it. Until last year. I’ll admit, something strange happened to me in terms of turning 26 years old. For some people, 25 seems big, for others it’s 30, and everything above that, but for some reason, 26 seemed to be a very odd turning point for me. It was the first year that a birthday was more stressful than celebratory in my mind (although Tim and I did have a really fun weekend celebrating in Chicago…ultimately taking my mind off of my age). I’m not sure if it was that hump that went over 25, suddenly putting me into the ‘upper’ or ‘late’ twenties category? Regardless, it just felt a little strange. Although, I still get carded everywhere, and when we were in Boston, our tour guide even sold me a children’s ticket (which was for 12 and under). Ha. I know I look young, yet I’m oftentimes bothered by that too, yet I’m told that someday I’ll really appreciate it. I suppose so. I just can’t seem to win here. I know the to older adults, twenties is so young (and so it really seems with so much life ahead of us), but compared to some people whom I still know in college, they seem so young, and I feel so old. Anyway, this weekend I turn 27. For quite possibly the first time ever, I nearly forgot that my birthday was so quickly approaching. Birthdays are usually a month long celebration for me, or at least a week. I assume this is just due in part to the fact that so much other stuff has been going on in life lately. I tend to focus on pretty much everything other than me. You know what though? Turning 27 isn’t bothering me one bit. Not like 26 was. I’m excited for it. I’m ready. I feel like saying I’m 27 years old sounds so adult-like, and I’m finding myself saying more and more lately that Tim and I are nearly 30 (I don’t want to jump the gun here, but still). We’ve set some pretty big goals for ourselves for 30…ie. that’s the time that we want to finally ‘settle down’ a bit (determine where it is we really want to live, where we want to be, what we want to be doing in our careers) and start to focus on family at this time. So what does that mean? We’ve got a lot more living to do in these next three years I’m excited for 27. The last few years have been interesting and exciting and pretty awesome to say the least, but I feel like as I approach this upper twenties hump, I’m starting to realize a little more what it is I really want out of life. I hear you never really know, and I’m starting to believe that a bit too, but for my life right now, I think I know where it is I really want to be, and that’s what 27 will be about. Focusing on myself, on finishing grad school, on the next step in my career and on what’s next for Tim and me. We’re ready for adventure. Now’s the time to have it.
Hi! Ironically enough, hey, for some reason, is one of my least favorite greetings, but I was outside Kate Spade Saturday in Soho early this week (hope to share photos from our Northeast adventure soon!), and these letters were staring right up at me, and I somehow even sort of liked them. But, that’s besides the point. Ultimately, I’m welcoming you (hey, you there!) to my blog. My newest blog. The first post of my newest blog. No matter what, there’s always got to be an intro, right? You can’t just dive right in? I think that’s exactly what has taken me so long to jump start this time around. I’ve had a few blogs pertinent to various times in my life from post-grad to being engaged and planning a wedding to being a newlywed. These last couple of years, I’ve been so consumed in work and grad school, I’ve lost that extra little bit of time to blog, and I guess I wouldn’t have had too terribly much interesting to actually blog about since it’s been so much work and grad school (alright there is some fun and exciting stuff in there too, I promise!). But regardless, all the ‘busy’ has gotten me to where I stand today and what lies ahead…whatever that may actually be. I’ve still got a year left of grad school and a lot of work in front of me, but I’m ready to go back to making time to write too. It may not be a lot of time, and it may not be nearly as often as I’d like, but one of my goals in this new year was to get my blog back up and running. So, what better time than the end of July?! I’ve had a bit of a ‘summer break,’ if you will, meaning that I’ve had a few weeks off from grad classes. Somehow, this seems to have given me what seems like an eternal amount of freedom. So, one of my New Year’s goals of revamping the blog turned into a summer goal and is now finally happening approximately three weeks before school starts again. (You do the math.) Anyway, I really just wanted to start this again to give myself a place to write and clear my mind outside of the small monogrammed journals I carry around, the notes section of my iPhone and Instagram. Sometimes, I need to say more than what those give me the chance to say. I just want to share thoughts, photos, adventures, plans and maybe even a little inspiration to. We’ll go ahead and call this the obligatory intro post. Now I can finally dive right in 😉 I’m finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m really looking forward to what’s to come.