If you didn’t change this year, would you still like yourself?

My penchant for self-improvement goes as far back as middle school, when I got it in my head that reading the whole dictionary would be a great way to enhance my vocabulary. I figured one page a day for a couple of years was all it took, so I dutifully sat on my floor and opened my dictionary every day – no one made me or probably even knew about it before now. And there I sat, a 12-year-old girl reading the dictionary for fun (I was obviously very cool).

Eventually I lost my place in the dictionary, but the combination of being an introspective, goal-oriented learner / dreamer means I’m constantly thinking and reading of things I want to do, learn or improve. The new year is usually no exception (see 2015, 2014)!

After a lot of life changes and challenges though, I spent the last year asking a lot of questions about myself – how I think and am made, what my skills and talents are, what my purpose and passion is, how all this looks professionally. While all this was incredibly helpful at the time (Clarity on Fire!), I now feel like I’m at a point where more self-analysis really isn’t going to get me anywhere new…except maybe a little crazy.

I was driving one day, listening to the Jess Lively Show as always, and out of nowhere, something inside me very clearly asked, “If you never changed again, would you be happy with yourself?” My initial response was resistance, with excuses like “well, if I never changed again literally, I’d eventually be a pretty bad wife and employee.” And “that’s ridiculous, life always changes so I couldn’t help but change with it at some point.” But this clear thought pushed back against the discomfort, until I had to admit that my answer right now was really, NO. I don’t really ever like myself right now, I like the future version.

So this year, instead of goals, I have a word: Acceptance.

I want to accept myself so I can just be me instead of obsessing about what the best version of me looks like. I want to accept myself so I can be confident in my worth personally and professionally, which I think will take care of the wife and employee bit. I want to accept situations I’m in, instead of feeling like I’m constantly fighting everything around me – myself, time, traffic, other people, my own expectations. So it feels like the world isn’t ending every time something doesn’t go perfectly, because it never will. 

And that’s it. No list of goals, no calendarized steps. Just being, accepting, appreciating.

Here’s to 2016!

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Good intentions for 2015

About those New Year’s resolutions I promised…

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The detailed list below might seem a bit ambitious, but every item really comes down to one (or more) of these three things: I want to get back to my healthy lifestyle values, invest in relationships and use my time wisely.

Last year was a whirlwind and mostly not a fun one. While some good things happened, every area of my life experienced upheaval – leaving me perpetually overwhelmed, exhausted and questioning everything. It seems the quarter-life crisis is real, and I’m feeling those mean reds.

But 2015 has me feeling hopeful. In 2014 it felt like I was constantly drowning, and recently I’ve felt like I’m mentally and emotionally starting to slowly rise to the surface. So without further ado, here’s some steps I’d like to take in the coming year (or at least the next 11 months):

Workout. I’ve missed my weekly yoga classes and the ability to run (or even taking the stairs) without dying. I’ve since been making a concerted effort to schedule in workouts, ideally hitting Flybarre, yoga and a run outside once a week.

Food. Tackle the elimination diet in February. Say no to spontaneous sugar – baking and event indulgences are A-OK…the morning commute pit-stop to eat an entire chocolate bar at Whole Foods, not so much. Stop wasting food. Host dinner parties.

People. Write (and remember to mail) a card to someone once a week. Stay in touch. Make plans.

God. Start with a morning devotional or Bible reading sesh. Commit to pursuing God more as a couple (and figuring out what that looks like).

Travel. Go to New Orleans, Marfa, Maine and Sweden. It’s all happening.

Creative. Blog again. Actually use our social networks. Take the A Beautiful Mess photography and editing class. Start (and finish) a Pinterest art project.

Time. Give meditation a try. Schedule and don’t cancel me-time. Allocate cushion time in my daily plans.

Work. Meet deadlines. Arrive and leave ‘on time’ (office hours are a gray area, so I need to set myself some). Plan ahead. Be nice and patient.

 

So there you go! How are your resolutions coming?

 

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?

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Next up, 2014

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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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