To set or not to set…New Year’s resolutions

Target party banner for New Year's Eve decorations

I used to not be a fan of New Year’s resolutions. They seemed gimmicky and definitely not effective. Luckily, my “I-like-to-think-I’m-hipster” side had a solution for this and decided to start making goals instead. “Goals” seemed actionable and just sound smart. (And are essentially the exact same thing as resolutions, I know.)

But lately I’ve found myself referring to resolutions a lot. Talking with my husband about how we should really start to workout again… “Now I see why people always make these healthy New Year’s resolutions. Maybe ours should be, too.” Opening the fridge to find that all our holiday party and birthday leftovers have gone bad in the week we were away for Christmas… “Our New Year’s resolution should be to stop wasting food.”

It seems I’ve subconsciously come around to this whole resolution thing.

In setting resolutions (or goals), finding the balance between self-berating perfectionism and self-improving optimism is always a struggle. But I’ve realized, for me at least, the point isn’t necessarily to either complete everything or resign to failure. I just like the spirit of the thing – taking time to reflect, to think about what my priorities are and where I’m, and now, we are going.

So what are my resolutions for 2015? I’ll be thinking through that tomorrow and will hopefully write about it here. Procrastination strikes again.

Maybe I’ll resolve to procrastinate less, too?

Facebook year in review_finding tiffany's_sarah

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It’s time to summer

I’ve lauded summer before on Finding Tiffany’s, especially given that the Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. Any time I’m encouraged – no – expected to eat plenty of hot dogs and light things on fire I’m all in.

But what does this summer hold? I feel some goal-setting coming on…

More pool days at FOE. It’s basically the epitome of the neighborhood pool in every quirky, indie movie, which is awesome. And as the husband said, it’s a place where the poolside currency isn’t abs, but tattoos.

Photo by Jason Acton, D Magazine
Photo by Jason Acton, D Magazine

More walks to our new Design District neighbors. I’ve been meaning to walk down the Hi Line shops, try the Taco Stop and bike on the Trinity Strand Trail.

I've got some exploring to do.  Photo by International Business Times
I’ve got some exploring to do.
Photo by International Business Times

Nesting the new home. We comfort ourselves with the knowledge that we’re New-York-in-training, as we’re already spending more than we wanted to on not enough space. Despite the fact that this leaves my Target shopping spree decor budget waning and Ikea nearly broke us up, we’re now the proud owners of some new boxes of furniture and a whole lot of ideas.

Photo by Buzzfeed
Photo by Buzzfeed

Hosting a housewarming party. I can only hope we complete the apartment in time to throw a summer housewarming party. I love to plan and host, the husband loves to cook…we may have found our real life calling.

paperless post new address card
Photo by Paperless Post

Pineapple nail art from Ms. Patty. I’m not too worried about not completing this one. Ms. Patty is the best, and Beauty Bar’s deal for $20 nail art + cocktails by day is only rivaled by their epic dance parties by night. Also, I’ve decided pineapple prints will be the next summer trend. You heard it here first.

wondrously polished - pineapple nail art
Photo by Wondrously Polished

 

 

Allieology

Next up, 2014

cheers banner

live life quote

Last year I decided on themes from 2012 and set ones for 2013, and it turned out to be one of my favorite posts. From time to time, I would look back to see how I was doing at my resolutions or if, most likely as I feared, I had forgotten about them entirely. I’m probably way too proud to say I really did accomplish last year’s goals, so I decided I would do the same style this year.

2013 was the year of…

Creativity. I made great strides as a budding amateur photographer and even won the Innovator Award at my agency’s annual peer-voted awards ceremony for the most creative strategies, ideas and campaigns (and tights, due to my daily variation of colors and patterns).

Relationships. Last year I was excited to announce the return of one of my best friends (now roommate). This year I had another lifelong friend move to the DFW area and managed to make some pretty huge strides in my romantic relationship. November 2012 I was sure I was on the brink of a break-up, yet somehow we grew together in a way I didn’t see coming, leading up to our engagement November 2013. Crazy! No offense meant to the rest of you guys, but I’m pretty sure I’ve locked down the most caring, intelligent, witty, handsome guy out there.

Travel. My real goal, if you haven’t caught on yet, is to make every year the year of travel. In 2013 I visited El Paso, Washington D.C., Austin, Chicago, Wisconsin, Tulsa, New York (twice!), Istanbul and Atlanta. What a great year!

Health. After battling what appears to be food allergies in the form of super swollen eyes and lips, I finally have the uncomfortable issues and itchiness under semi-control. I reached a pretty low place when my physical issues were leaving me ugly and sleep deprived, but I have been so blessed with a loving boyfriend, compassionate boss, tireless parents, understanding friends and the BEST DOCTOR EVER (aka Dr. Crawford). I also got to experiment with new recipes and restaurants in line with my new gluten, dairy, soy, egg, nut, bean – free diet.

2014 will focus on…

Engaging. Recently I realized that my natural inclinations to keep my head down in the grocery store and zone out to the tune of my to do list at work are just not what’s important. Life is not at all about me, and I want the way I live to reflect that. Some ways I plan on doing that include smiling more, asking questions, complimenting others, inviting people to coffee and lunches (heck, actually taking lunches) and dedicating one night a week to catching up on message replies, texts, maybe even a “hey, how’s life” phone call or snail mail note. I’ve let far too many close friendships grow distant and opportunities to connect with strangers fall by the wayside. No more.

Using time intentionally. This looks like lining up podcasts for my daily commutes to hear from Ben Stewart, the Bible app, TED talks or Italian lessons. This also looks like using my nights and weekends to pursue others and my interests, rather than pick up dinner at Whole Foods only to waste away on Netflix (no matter how good Sherlock, Parks & Rec and White Collar are). For instance, I have been promised a trip to Italy once I become fluent. Motivation, secured. I came across this quote the other day by H. Jackson Brown Jr.:

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.

Rediscovering reading. When I was younger I read multiple books a week. Now, the same length book takes me at least a month. This year I want to read more, in turn increasing my appetite for even more books. Reading also has the side effects of inspiring creative juices and providing much needed rest, both of which I can always stand more of. I also really, really want to start a book club. I’ve been talking about this for at least a year, and enough is enough. If you’re in the Dallas area and love books and brunch, you should probably think about joining. More info coming soon as I figure out just what this looks like, but I’m très‎ excited.

Traveling. Up next is a road trip to Marfa, a leisurely beachfront long weekend in Maine, Austin for SXSW (and most likely my bachelorette party), another trip (or two, or three) to New York City and of course, our honeymoon. Right now, Italy’s Amalfi coast and Naples or Spain’s islands and Barcelona are in the lead.

That’s it! I could go on and on when it comes to goals and to do lists, but hopefully these themes give you a good idea of where I’ve been, where I’m at and where I’m going.

What have you got planned for 2014?

Moving forward successfully

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They say how you spend New Year’s Eve is how you’re going to spend the rest of the year. Okay, “they” might be The OC, but I’m not ashamed to admit that the show has impacted my life beyond its awesome soundtracks, Seth Cohen’s wit and Misha Barton’s great hair. I could go on about my love for all things OC (range rovers, bunnies and bagels to name a few), but this post is supposed to be about looking forward not back.

While I don’t go in for the superstitious side of this theory, I do think there is something to be said about starting the year with intentionality and resetting priorities to continue becoming a better friend, employee and self.

And I have to say, I happen to be entering 2014 the most organized, driven and ready I’ve ever been. It all started with a workbook my Bible study picked out called Moving Forward Successfully. Now, things like this typically strike me as pretty cheesy and forced. But with a good Songza playlist, some coffee and a little time, I really got into it and feel like I got a lot out, too. It was really fun and helpful to actually stop and think about everything that has happened this past year and my passions, plans and dreams for the future.

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But wait, there’s more! (Infomercial reference, intended.) The workbook is only part one of a full month reading plan to get my head and heart ready for the year.

Next up, The Happiness Project. I read this book every year. It is chock full of information and inspiration for goal setting. My hope in starting with this book is to reawaken my interests and ideas for self improvement during the year. If you haven’t yet, this is really a must-read.

Book 2 is called TrueFaced. It is all about embracing and sharing your true self for authentic community. While these are always good things, I know especially with an upcoming wedding and marriage that both knowing and sharing my emotions are going to become necessities. My current emotional response consists mainly of sarcasm, so I’m hoping this book helps me broach my uncomfortableness to better connect with others and at least try to have some fun with the whole wedding thing.

Lastly is Torches of Joy. This book is about international missionaries. While not necessarily a personal interest, this book has a key reason for being on this list – life is not all about me! I’m reading this book to widen my perspective, try to be less selfish and serve others more.

That’s it! I’m excited to get going. Not to brag, but I also have a completely clean and organized bedroom, not one but two planners purchased and all my annual doctor appointments booked.

Hello new year and happy 2014!

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A writer’s insecurities

levo league

This morning as I was absentmindedly scrolling though Facebook and sipping on my new favorite tea in an effort to pull myself out of the Monday morning haze, I was greeted with a new article from Levo League. Despite acknowledging the now bordering on cliche title about how someone figured out their twenties, I couldn’t help but think “Twenty-something? That’s me, an article about me, I wonder if this applies to me! Figuring out, I’m figuring things out, maybe this will help me figure things out!” in between more cynical judgments of my own sucker-ism that “These words are an over-used ploy for clicks and ‘figured out’ seems a little presumptuous don’t you think”…I clicked anyways and told cynical Sarah to go back to sleep. Or so I thought.

Because after clicking I found misplaced commas. Misspelled words. Misused tenses. Missing apostrophes completely changing meaning from possessive to plural. More misplaced commas.

It is hardly the standard of quality I’ve come to expect from Levo League, and even though I think the content was pretty good, the fact that it came with one glaring grammar fault after another completely distracted me from that value and shattered all assumed credibility. So I kept judging. I judged her age. I judged her alma mater.

I continued clicking through to her blog, reading a recent post that included a well-written anecdote about her public humiliation from a misspelling due to lifetime struggles with dyslexia…

Oh.

Whoops. I don’t think I’m the only one so quick to judge others, and I’m certainly not free of my own misplaced commas or worse, misspellings (ha…too soon?). It made me think about why I had such a strong reaction of snowballed judging. She seems like a perfectly nice, driven girl with whom, upon further blog investigation, I have an awful lot of shared interests.

And then this thought happened. “Is it because she’s published? Because you’ve wanted to submit writings for almost 2 years and haven’t tried even once? Because…you’re…jealous?”

Well there’s an uncomfortable thought.

So it’s time. I’ve been gathering online publications that accept submissions for so long, it’s time to actually send something to some of them. I’m not sure what this something will be or when, but I’m putting this goal out there so I have to do it. So there it is. On the screen. Being real.

For the record, my morning wake-up efforts didn’t work. I’m practically sleep-walking in heels, which is not an easy feat for someone just a little lacking in coordination. My high school choir teacher always said, as someone tripped up a riser or a fell off the top one for the umpteenth time, “Someday you’ll be graceful.” …Someday is not today, folks.

Time for something new

tips for time management

Unless you count the obsessive speed with which I can power through two seasons of Sherlock in one weekend (in addition to a full social calendar, a movie and six episode of House of Cards), I can’t really boast “efficient” and “productive” as two words consistently high on the list for how I spend my personal time.

For instance, continuing my Italian education has been a goal of mine since college. My old textbook and verb tense flash cards taunt me from my bedroom bookshelf, but somehow seem to require far too much effort to actually pick up when the time to do so presents itself. The next How I Met Your Mother episode on the other hand? My Netflix’s placeholder at the end of Season 6 speaks for itself.

But with a glass of Turkish wine in hand and the glowing Bosphorous Bridge in the distance, I turned to my roommate during our trip and told her I knew what my next Big Goal is…making time for getting back to really learning Italian. Now, I’m fully aware the likelihood of me knowing Italian in Texas isn’t exactly going to break down language barriers anytime soon. For me, it’s more about the personal achievement and the satisfaction of *finally* following through. And if planning another trip to Italy becomes the ultimate reward for my efforts…well I think I can live with that.

Most people have way more free time than they think they do (according to Fast Company) and I’m guilty, too. These three words (also from Fast Company – are you picking up on my other obsession?) have gone a long way in inspiring me to re-evaluate how I spend my time and how I can make more of it or just feel like I do: Protect, Delegate, Automate.

  • Protect your time. My parents always told me as I rushed out the door breakfast, make-up bag and shoes in hand that I don’t give myself enough time for anything I do, resulting in over-scheduling and chronic late arrivals. After experiencing a pathological amount of “really bad traffic,” I had to admit that maybe there’s a tiny bit of validity to their observation. While all this running about is great for calorie burning, saying no every now and then and allocating more time for everything can go a long way in building in both more free time and more energy to make the most of that time. Another Fast Company article held advice from a CEO who never schedules meetings or plans to do any work on Fridays, therefore building in plenty of availability for when things pop up or get shifted. Interessante.
  • Delegate. I place a lot of responsibility on myself in the form of personal tasks, work and guilt, which don’t always need to be mine to take. Asking myself, “Do I really need to be doing that or can someone else excel at it, handle it or learn from it?” has gone a long way in helping my work team to succeed, my stress to subside, my trust in others to grow and finally, my to do list to shrink along with the time spent thinking about it.
  • Automate. What do you do often that can be streamlined to free up actual time and/or mental time? For me, this means setting up automatic bill payments, text reminders about non-automatic payments, email rules, calendar reminders on my phone for everything from taking out the trash to replying to an email…I think you get the idea.

Now all that’s left is to finally do it! I think I’m going to commit to one Italian session a week through the end of the year…that’s only 10, which is totally do-able. Google searching “learn Italian for free” has led to a few helpful resources, and of course, I always have those trusty flash cards waiting patiently.

Keeping up with the times

time time is now quoteWhile some blogging days I like to just sit down and see what comes out, I can’t deny the fact that ultimately, I’m a planner at heart. So all week long I’ve planned to rant reflect about how absurdly fast this past month disappeared and look ahead to the current one. It’s a testament to just how fast last month really did go by in that I didn’t even realize until just now that my to do list has read all week: “Saturday: July Beginning blog post.”

…Yeah.

Given my apparent obliviousness to the entire month of July, I decided to explore this phenomenon a little further, which a Brain Pickings article deems ‘mind time.’ Titled Why time slows down when we’re afraid, speeds up as we age, and gets warped on vacation, the article presents some interesting theories for our perception and memory of time.

When I was eight, for example, I remember long summer and weekend days spent building houses in the woods behind my best friend’s house, scavenging for cool sticks and empty bottles to ‘decorate’ our houses, being quite sure we were the very first to discover a creek there, feeling so dangerous for secretly swimming in it…and yes, this PG definition of ‘dangerous’ did persist throughout much of my life to probably my parents’ relief, but that’s a different blog post.

The article points out that the reason days seemed so long when I was eight is because at that point, that year was a whopping 1/8 of my entire life. Now my years make up comparatively less and less of my entire life, making them feel shorter and faster with every passing day, month and year.

For me, all this does is emphasize how important it really is to be making the most of every moment I can…and it’s probably a little hard to be practicing living in the present if I don’t even know when that is. August is bringing plenty of notable things my way, too:

My first pizza in four months. My homemade (ish) attempt at a gluten-free, vegan pizza to be exact.

A housewarming party! I love hosting all my favorite people under one roof, so in addition to being a great incentive to finish all our DIY projects and stock our bar cart, enjoying the place with friends and family will be the final touch to really making our house a home.

New ‘neighbors’. The aforementioned best friend and I have maintained a long distance friendship since I was nine years old. She just accepted a job in the DFW area, though, so we will finally get to see what spending time together is like minus the plane ticket or multiple hour car ride.

What are you looking forward to this month?

UPDATE: I just read Lydia’s post about August’s surprising arrival…after publishing my own. Somebody needs to tell this time to slow down! Who’s with me?

Whoop-dee-do let’s get cookin

So I have a pretty big goal for myself to establish. I, Lydia, want to get into cooking.

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The other day I was at Kroger with my boyfriend to get stuff to make dinner. And by make dinner I mean we bought veggie pasta and an overpriced $9.50 bottle of marinara sauce made locally…at least we branched out a little? Anyhoo, I was dilly daddling contemplating a Burt’s Bees purchase while my boyfriend debated over a parmesan cheese decision. I’m in a “no cheese, please” phase so was mostly disinterested in this 5 minute struggle over store brand vs. the “expensive” one, but for whatever reason I had this strong urge to find some fresh parmesan and grate it by hand for ultimate freshness. Who even am I.

And then, I popped over to Are your twenties a joke and totally related to her post on her new found love for cooking. The idea of going to farmers markets and trying a new, fresh and healthy meal sounds just amazing. Add a bottle of red wine to the cooking process and I am totally there.

I don’t expect that I’ll turn away from my fruit protein shakes Monday – Friday any time soon, but I think I could make Sunday or Saturday nights a cooking night where I try to make something fun. It might just be that a new whole foods market opened just a few streets away and all the yogis I’m stalking on Instagram with all their healthiness is getting to my head, but as part of my new healthy lifestyle, I’d like to work some cooking into the mix. Now, someone get me a cute Anthropologie apron and this kitchen. Stat.

And well, at the very least, I know some friends, mothers and boyfriends who will likely enjoy this revelation (that, or I’ll accidentally poison them, who knows).

Oh hellooo July.

So I originally wrote this post with the intention of posting it abouuuuttt 10 days ago. And well, now that we are 11 days into July already, this post may have a mute point. But I still like the idea of reflecting on June, so here it goes.

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July really crept up on me, it feels like just yesterday I was saying the exact same thing about June, so forgive my broken record whining. In the interest of slowing time down, I’m taking this first post of July to reminisce.

I visited with family. My brother got hitched in mid June and as a reward, we all got to spend 4 days in Florida. I love my extended family. Most of the fam lives on the East coast, and my mom, dad and brother and I all moved to Texas in ’97. As life got more and more expensive and busy, we visited less and less. But my brother pointed out in a speech during an engagement party in Maryland that no matter how much time has passed, whenever we come back to visit we are always welcomed with hugs and love, and it’s like we never left. It’s such a beautiful thing. Now we’re all just on the lookout for the next wedding till we can drink get together again.

Back to the wedding thing. Did I mention how beautiful it was? I was on the phone with my Grandma the other day and she pointed out what a beautiful couple my brother and his wife made. The whole night, the venue, the people and the couple we were there to celebrate all combined to make for one perfectly lovely affair.

My soul sista returned. My very best friend is a wanderlust and she’s been living in Spain since we graduated. She’s back for about a year and it’s just so wonderful. My enthusiasm for introducing my boyfriend to my best friend was borderline creepy, but they both handled the pressure with poise. Having her back in my state has been a blast. Although it will be short lived since she is sure to be off again in no time, I’m soaking up all the time I can get.

I saw Portugal, the Man and it rocked. Those guys are sickly talented. They played Atomic Man and my heart melted.

I spent a lot of June talking about working out and changing up my lifestyle a little bit. Soo I’m happy to say that I also lost 5 pounds and I’m pretty stoked about it. It’s just nice to see healthy eating habits and workout routines actually pay off.. am I right? Although I’m still working on getting my butt out of bed to throw on running shoes, there has definitely been progress!

So what’s next for July? What goals can I accomplish? I want to continue my efforts in healthy living, read more (broken record again, I know I know), strive for new professional goals, teach Westley not to pull on the leash when he sees a squirrel because they are literally EVERYWHERE, and continue to focus on living in the present. And to better focus on living in the present, I want to re-take up journaling.

Hmm why is that many of my goal’s (falling asleep journaling and reading, getting up to work out) biggest obstacle is my bed? Perhaps I need to make my bed less amazing…nahhh never mind. I’m not a miracle worker.

More sleep

Warning: This entire post is going to make me sound about eighty years old. I’d also like to say you’re welcome in advance to my parents for all the “I told you so” joy they will be experiencing during this read after countless teenage arguments about going to bed early, giving myself more time in the mornings and probably so much more.

Here we go.

These past two weeks have reminded me how desperately necessary sleep is for me to carry on as a (most of the time) sane, functioning human being. It’s hard not to fall into the trap of thinking, “I don’t have time for sleep!” and blame it for taking me away from people I love and my growing stack of to do lists, which I also kinda love. But the truth is, sleep actually helps me be more productive, think clearly, be nicer…all these good things and more that make my life more stress-free and frankly, me much more fun to be around.

It’s not like I’m even accomplishing that much by staying up until 1 a.m. every night. Half the time I just end up tiredly second-guessing myself about life’s important questions, like should my bookcase be angled a little more to the left…or to the right? (#movingproblems)

So this week, I’m setting some challenging goals for myself.

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1. I will be in my room (I have a room!) by 11 p.m. When I’m up piddling the night away, I feel like I’m not sleepy when the truth is I’m exhausted. Chilling out with a book or blogs, lights dimmed, will be a great use of my self-imposed curfew to relax and start listening to my natural body clock, all while getting some long-awaited reading time to boot!

mornings drinking tea

2. I will wake up at 6:45 a.m. – no snoozes! I started June with this goal in mind, but with every passing day (and late night) 6:45 becomes one, two and even three snoozes later. Invariably this leads to oversleeping completely and feeling more tired than I did waking up originally. I’m becoming an increasingly huge fan of starting my mornings slowly, and building in more time for journaling, devotions, running (we’ll see), drinking tea and more is such a great way to not only start, but feel ready for, the day.

I’m excited to get started on these goals that will help me on so many levels – more energy, more relaxation, more time for reading ( = more knowledge and inspiration), more slow starts, more time for self-reflection, more (potential) exercise, more…sleep.