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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Setting Goals for 2015: 6 Questions to Ask Yourself First.

Setting new goals at the beginning of a new year is one of my favorite things. It can be really intimidating, but it can also be incredibly inspiring and motivational. 

If setting goals for your year scares you, or if you just don't know where to start because, hello, you want to change everything, then these questions are an easy starting point.

1. What is one thing in my control that I want to be different next year?

There are probably a lot of things you'd like to be different next year, but all of them are most likely not things you can control. Focus on the things that are in your control, and pick your top one of those.

My answer: I'm still working on this's a tough one!

2. What is one thing I want to learn in the next 365 days?

This could be a skill, a virtue, a language, a hobby...anything that you want to be able to point to next New Year's Eve and say, "Hey, I learned that this year."

My answer: I really want to learn how to use the sewing machine that I got for my birthday last year. I also want to learn how to crochet for real. I realize this is two answers, but I feel like they kind of go together.

3. If there were three things I could magically change about my life, what would they be?

If you woke up tomorrow and there was a magic wand on your pillow that you could point at three things to change, what would you use it on? Your answer probably points in the same direction that your goals for this year should.

My answer: 

1. My house would always be clean.

2. I would be in amazing shape.

3. I would have a best-selling book out.

But really...who can I talk to about this magic wand thing?

4. What's one way I want to be different by this time next year?

If you're anything like me, you're going to have a hard time picking just one answer to this. But it's better to change one thing than no things, and trying to change a bunch at one time is a great way to set yourself up for failure.

My answer: I want to say yes more. It's something I've been working on, but I really want to focus on it this year.

I'm a worrier and a list maker, so sometimes when an opportunity arises, I mentally list the pros and cons and start to worry about all the things that could happen if I take it. I fret over how much sleep I may lose or how much it's going to cost or if I'm going to regret it, when really, if I would have just said yes, it would have been a much smaller ordeal.

I want to say yes to more because I want to experience more, I want to go more places, I want to learn more things, and I want to become the best version of myself. And I don't think you discover the best version of yourself by saying no to everything that comes your way.

5. What is one thing I will regret if I don't do this year?

My answer: Enjoy life more.  I want be the kind of person who enjoys life more and doesn't get so caught up on the little stuff. There are going to be things I really just don't enjoy: car troubles and sneaky bills and weeks where my husband has to work nights. But life is short, and it is good, so I want to become the kind of person who doesn't let those things make me enjoy life any less. I think that not choosing to enjoy life this year could definitely lead to regret.

6. What is a characteristic or a word that describes how I want to live this next year of my life?

I picked a word for my year last New Year's, which is something I've never done before, but I loved it. All the decisions I made, all the things I did, I thought of that word. And it really helped me accomplish what I wanted to in 2014. Pick a word that takes what you want out of 2015 and boils it down to it's most simplistic form.

My answer: Alive. 

I want to live every single day of 2015 with every part of me totally and completely alive.

"I hope that you spend your days, but they all add up. And when the sun goes down, I hope you raise your cup...
I hope when the moment comes, you'll say, I did it all, I did it all. I owned every second that this world could give, saw so many places and things that I did, with every broken bone, I swear I lived.

Monday, December 29, 2014

two years.

two years.
seven-hundred and thirty days.

three homes &
two cities &
one little fox.

so much laughter &
a few tears &
insane amounts of love.

learning &
growing &

new experiences &
so many memories.

old dreams &
new dreams &

you &

my favorite day.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Dear 2014...

Dear 2014,

You were truly marvelous.

I learned a lot from you. I learned to be brave, to work hard for what I want, and that there's a difference between being kind and being cowardly.

I learned that free time with those I love is a sweet and precious thing, and it should be treasured.

I learned that the greatest thing in this life is family and the friends that become your family.

I learned that I will always want to write, and that nothing will ever fulfill me quite like that does. I wrote a book this year, and I can't wait to write more.

I learned to say yes to more, and to not be so afraid of so many things.

I learned that life is better when you're happy to be alive.

I learned that sometimes, I will fail. But I also learned that it's not truly a failure unless I accept it as one and choose to stop trying.

I learned to always keep trying.

I want to say I loved every minute of you, but we both know that just wouldn't be true. You brought more car issues than I could have imagined, way too many health problems, and a couple of just really hard times.

But if there's one thing I've learned from you, it's that everything is going to be okay. No matter how many health issues or car troubles or giant unexpected bills happen, they'll all work out. The hard times always turn into sunshine, and if you have someone to walk through the rain with you to get there, then life is good.

I should say that I'll miss you, but I don't think that's quite true either. I will forever cherish the memories from this year, but I'm so excited to see what 2015 will bring.

You were full of laughter, full of learning, full of new experiences, and so, so very full of love.

Thank you.

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." -C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

On December 23, 2011...

I knew oh-so-little about the adventures the next three years would bring.

It's still the best yes I've ever said.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy to be Alive, Because: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

the happiest season of all

If there's ever a time that makes me over the top happy to be alive, it's Christmas time. 

1. The Macy's Day Parade at Universal. This is tradition, and whatever day we do this on ends up being one of my favorite days of the year. This year was no exception.

A small note about the above picture...I have recently discovered that if you take a picture of me A) after 10PM or B) After 8PM on a day that was full, I will look like I've had too much to drink. So that's fun. 

2. Tonight is mine & Christopher's annual Christmas date night. We go to the mall and split up so we can buy our last presents for each other. It turns into a fun game of avoiding each other and pretending we didn't buy anything. Then we have dinner and celebrate how freaking fantastic the week of Christmas is. 

So yes, I'm voluntarily going to the mall on the last weekend before Christmas. Glutton for punishment over here. 

3. My week has been full of playing Santa. Making lists and shopping and wrapping and mailing...I love buying presents!

4. Christmas music. Can't stop, won't stop. I've been going strong with the Christmas music since midnight on Thanksgiving, and I'm not even close to sick of it yet. 

5. Because Christmas is in six days. If that's not a reason to be happy, I don't know what is. 

Why are you happy to be alive this week?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fitting Christmas into One Week.

Sometimes, Christmas sneaks up on you. And that can either leave you feeling panicky over all you have to do, or leave you super bummed and feeling like you missed out on the holidays. Maybe you had plans to make homemade Christmas decorations, or throw a super sequined Christmas party, or something else to ensure this was the greatest Christmas ever.

We've got a week until Christmas--it's not too late! Here are ten things you can do to fit all the cheer of the season into one week, making sure you get your fill of celebrating.

1. Christmas movies. Nothing gets me feeling festive quite like Christmas movies. If you feel like you haven't gotten your fill of the season, watching movies that are full of celebrating the season can fix that. If you need some suggestions, click here.

2. Christmas music. Make yourself a Christmas playlist and blare it non-stop for the next seven days.

3. Make your to-do list festive. You have to buy and wrap a billion presents in the next seven days? You have to clean your house for company? So what. Make it festive. Do it while listening to Christmas music and sipping on a peppermint mocha.

4. Do a Christmas Story devotional. Take some time in the mornings to remind yourself of what Christmas is all about.

5. Make Christmas cookies. Take one night (or afternoon!) this week and make some Christmas cookies. Put on a Christmas movie or Christmas music in the background, and there's nothing more festive!

6. Buy A Christmas tree candle. This year is my first year doing this--I've always had a fake tree, but now I have a fake tree and my house smells like I have a real tree. It's hard to not feel all warm and fuzzy inside when your house smells like a Christmas tree.

7. Go look at lights. So you didn't quite make it around to decorating this year--that doesn't mean you can't go look at other people's decorations! Print off this list and go enjoy the lights! Even if you do this on your way home from running errands, it's sure to put you in a Christmas-y mood.

8. Have your own Christmas party. Miss out on Christmas parties this year? Have your own! Get dressed up and meet your friend for a drink somewhere festive, order dinner in for your family and watch Elf, or just take yourself on a coffee date. It doesn't have to be expensive and well-planned to qualify as a Christmas party.

9. Celebrate Christmas Eve. I will never understand people who don't celebrate Christmas Eve--it's two holidays for the price of one! I grew up always celebrating Christmas Eve, and I love it just as much, if not more, than Christmas itself. So if you don't normally do anything out of the ordinary on Christmas Eve, change that this year. Celebrate!

10. Do the one thing that you do every Christmas. What's the one thing you always do at Christmastime? Bake a certain kind of dessert? Decorate a tiny tree? Buy a new ornament for your tree?

No matter what it is, do that one thing. Of course you're busy--it is the week before Christmas, after all. But you do have the time to do what's special to you. It may mean staying up a little later or waking up a little earlier, but it's worth it. Do something that makes Christmas feel like Christmas for you. 

What are you doing to celebrate this week? 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Christmas Letter to You.

A Christmas Letter

Dear you,

I hope that this Christmas is one of your best yet. I hope that you spend this next week surrounded by people who love you fiercely. If you can't, I hope that memories of those people hug you tightly this week.

I hope that you take time to remember what this season is really all about. I hope that if you haven't really been celebrating this season, that you celebrate to the fullest this week.

I hope you allow some of the wonder and curiosity left over from childhood to shine through this week. I hope you allow yourself to believe that there's some magic left in the world, even if it's just for this week.

I hope that you choose to not let stress weigh you down, no matter how many presents you have to wrap, no matter how many miles you have to travel.

I hope that if this Christmas is hard for you this year because of someone you lost in 2014, that you tell someone. I hope that you choose joy over grief and precious memories over tears.

I hope that you give back this Christmas. Whether it's with your time or your money, whether it's food or a smile, I hope that you get to experience the joy of giving.

I hope that you make this Christmas special for you. I hope you don't let the pressure of the expectations of others change what you do this week. I hope you spend your time how you want to spend your time, that you see the people you want to see, and that you avoid all adult responsibility as much as possible.

I hope that your Christmas is filled with all things merry and bright, with love and joy and magic, with glitter and confetti and wrapping paper with your favorite forest animal on it.

I hope that you laugh at Will Ferrel parading around Central Park in yellow tights, that you tear up a little when Linus reads the Christmas story, and that you fall asleep each night warm, happy, and full of magic in the glow of a Christmas tree.

I hope that this Christmas is magical for you. I hope it goes down in the books as one to remember. Merry, merry Christmas, you beautiful soul.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

So You Still Haven't Bought Your Significant Other A Gift...

Some people are easy to buy for, and some are difficult to buy for. And sometimes, the ones that should be the easiest to buy for end up being the most difficult to buy for. Say, your significant other, for example.

We all know how this goes. You're convinced that this year will be the year you get your boyfriend/fiance/husband the best gift ever. But then somehow it's the week before Christmas and you still haven't bought it--nor do you know what it is.

If you find yourself in that position, here are some ideas to help you out.

christmas gifts for your boyfriend

A Year of Dates. 

Why it's a good gift: It gives him a chance to go on dates all year long without having to plan or pay for them.

How to pull it off: Buy 12 big envelopes. Think of 12 dates he'd like to go on in 2015, then pre-pay for all of them. Label each envelope a separate month, and stuff them with a note about the date and then the money or cards for the date.

For example, you could do drinks and appetizers in January, take-out and a Red Box movie in February, a movie and dessert in March, etc. So at the beginning of every month, he'll get to open an envelope that has a date already planned out, plus cash or gift cards to pay for the date!

A Scavenger Hunt. 

I did this for Chris on our second Christmas together, and it was such a fun night.

Why it's a good gift: It gives you a chance to be sentimental, plus it's an activity and not just a second of sitting down and opening up a gift.

How to pull it off: Think of all the places around you that are special to your relationship: Where you had your first date, where you had your first kiss, your favorite place to get coffee or ice cream. Make up different "clues" for all those places.

At each place, give him a small gift and a note about why that place is special to you. It makes for a fun night of reminiscing and opening presents!

A Scrapbook. 

Why it's a good gift: It's a keepsake that's special to just you guys.

How to do it: At first glance, this is no easy task. But trust me, it's not at all as complicated as you may think.

Send tons of photos to be printed at Walgreens.  Then, head to the nearest Hobby Lobby and buy a scrapbook. Next: The sticker aisle. Grab alllll the stickers you like. The more, the better. Then go down the scrapbook aisle and throw everything you like in your cart. Swing by Walgreens on your way home, and voila, you're basically finished.

Throw it all in the scrapbook and call it a day--it's impossible to make it look bad when you use fancy stickers. No one will ever know you're not a scrapbook pro.

Greeting Card Memories. 

Why it's a good gift: It's a super creative way to reminisce on the time you've spent together. 

How to pull it off: If you want a simpler alternative to scrapbooking, this is a winner. Grab cheesy greeting cards for all the holidays you guys have spent together--birthdays, Valentine's day, Christmas, all of them. Then write your favorite memories in them and put a picture of you guys inside. 

You can get really creative with this one. A happy Valentine's day card with your favorite memory from your first Valentine's day together, an "I miss you" card with a list of pros and cons of your long distance relationship, a "get well soon" card with a memory from when he took care of you when you were sick. Add in pictures and it's a super sweet, super creative gift.

Fix a Problem. 

Why it's a good gift: You know the things in your life that you are vaguely aware that you need, but you also know that the chances of you buying them for yourself are slim? Those are the kind of things I'm talking about. It makes a good gift because it's not something he would buy for himself, and it's something he actually needs--and guys are weird, they like getting gifts that they actually need.

How to do it: Think back over the last few months--what did he complain about? If he's always complaining about his computer screen being dirty, get him a laptop cleaning kit. If his shoelaces on his favorite shoes are dirty and frayed, buy him new shoelaces. If his car has black leather seats that feel like the surface of hell when he drives home from work, buy one of those windshield guards that keeps the car from getting too hot.

Alone, those don't seem like great gifts. But if you can make a little collection of gifts like that, it can be a thoughtful present that's incredibly useful.

Have you bought your significant other a Christmas present yet? 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Favorite Christmas Movies to Get You in the Spirit of Christmas!

If you can't tell by now, let me just spell it out for you: I love Christmas, and I love Christmas movies. Here are some of my favorites:


Do you get the fact that I'm obsessed with this movie yet? It's my favorite. If you've never seen it, I feel so sad for your life. Nothing says "Merry Christmas" quite like watching Will Ferrell parade around New York City in yellow tights.

Favorite quote: "You sit on a throne of lies. You don't smell like Santa, you smell like beef and cheese." 

The Grinch. 

This movie never gets old. I always forget how funny it actually is! We watched this after we decorated our tree this year, and we laughed so much. It's a must-watch every December. 

Favorite quote: "Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." 

The Holiday. 

Jack Black and Jude Law in a heart-warming movie about Christmas? Pass the popcorn and the tissues, please.

Favorite quote: "In the movies, we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason, you're behaving like the best friend."

Home Alone. 

I love Christmas movies that make me laugh--and this one never fails to do that.

Favorite quote: "Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal!"

A Charlie Brown Christmas. 

I cry every time Linus reads the Christmas story.

Favorite quote: "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Polar Express. 

I'm not a huge fan of animated movies, but this one is absolutely incredible.

Favorite quote: "Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see." 

What are your favorite Christmas movies?