2018 in Review: Change, Do, Joy

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Can you BELIEVE 2018 is pretty much over? This year flew by way too quickly but honestly, it was by far my favorite year so far. I’ve never felt so strongly about a year ending but 2018 was really one for the books so it makes me sad that we’re nearing the end.

At the beginning of the year, I chose three words to theme 2018. A lot of my New Year’s Resolutions fit under the three words: Change, Do, and Joy. Man oh man did these words truly embrace what 2018 ended up being all about. SO much change. SO much doing. SO much joy.

Take a look at my 2018 in review and comment down below what your 2018 highlights are!

Change.

Less coffee. slowly decreased the amount of coffee I consumed in a day to {on average} 16 ounces. This is truly a miracle because at the beginning of the year, I drank close to 40 ounces a day at least!

More water. One change I made in 2018 was that I told myself I couldn’t drink coffee unless I drank at least 8 ounces of water first. Doesn’t seem so hard, right? Wrong. In the morning, the last thing I wanted was to drink water first but slowly, the habit changed. I also started actively tracking my water intake with my Fitbit app and realized I wasn’t drinking as much water as I thought I was. I now consistently aim for at least 64 ounces a day and it makes such a difference! I feel healthier and more energetic.

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More reading {and audiobooks}. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read at least 25 books, and thanks to apps like Audible and Libby, I was able to achieve this! A list of my 2018 books can be found here but a few favorites included The Paris WifeThe Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Lilac Girls.

Less TV. At the beginning of the year, I realized I spent way too much of my free time watching TV and/or Netflix. I would complain I didn’t have any time but when I started to list what really was taking up my time, I realized I could make conscious decisions to truly open up my schedule. One of those changes was less TV. I watch Netflix occasionally but I wait until the rest of my to-do list is complete before I do. Fun fact: Luke and I don’t own a TV so that definitely helps!

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Less clutter. WOW. I had a LOT of stuff! I love decluttering but in the process of moving to our house, I realized I had too much clutter. I read The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up which really helped me truly take a look at what I was keeping, understand why, and if it didn’t spark joy, I tossed it!

More budgeting. #Adulting at its finest. We have a budget and we stick to it. I’m sort of a nerd but I actually love the excel document that tracks what we spend and how much we save. Highly recommend.

 

Do.

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Get married. I mean, this is the biggest DO on the list! For most of the year, I planned for our wedding day. I absolutely loved the whole wedding planning process and loved getting married (and now being married) to Luke even more. ❤

1-Second Every Day Challenge. This has been one of the BEST things about 2018! I started the 1-Second Every Day video challenge on 1/1 and never stopped! I will definitely post it once it’s completed on 12/31. It’s been such a fun way to capture all the little moments throughout the year in an easy-to-execute type of way. HIGHLY recommend downloading the app and joining the challenge in 2019!

Social Media Marketing Certification. This one has been on my goals list for a while so this year I decided to finally take the 10-week course and get certified in social media marketing and content strategy. It was a fun experience/challenge and I’m glad I finally took the time to do it!

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Run a 5K. I am NOT a runner. I’ve written blog posts about this before but running a 5K has been a goal of mine for some time. This summer I had the opportunity to run a 5K for someone who means so much to me. I was honored to run in memory of my mentor. It made the whole experience mean that much more to me.

Read 25+ books. I love to read but in years past, I never made it a huge priority. It was something I did if I had time. In 2018 I decided that not only would I make it a priority to read more, I would set a goal to read at least 2 books a month. Thanks to LibbyAudible, and the Goodreads app, I did it!

Learn to cook. This was sorta, kinda mandatory when I moved out. I received an Instant Pot as a wedding gift and it is amazing! I’m slowly but surely experimenting in the kitchen and I have a feeling that 2019 will definitely evolve my growing love for cooking.

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Travel more. I traveled to New York, Boston, and Aruba this year. All were amazing experiences in their own unique ways and I’m thankful for the memories!

Pay off student loans. GOODBYE, STUDENT LOANS! 👋🏽 As of a few weeks ago, I officially paid off the rest of my student loans and it feels sooo good.

Move into our first house. We moved into our first house! It has been a blast decorating and making it ours. I’m SO excited for our first Christmas together. Here’s a quit snapshot of our tree (before we purchased a tree skirt).IMG_9190.jpg

Joy.

Unlike Change and Do, Joy is not a list of accomplishments, achievements, and milestones. It isn’t a specific lesson or goal. It is a mindset and a way of viewing the world. Joy is not a temporary feeling like happiness or excitement.

The Lord says to “Rejoice!” and so this year, I aimed to do just that. In every situation I tried to seek out joy. Rejoice in the Lord. Consider it pure joy when we face trials. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Again and again, God reminds me that in all things, He is in control. The joy of the Lord is our strength. While Joy was my third theme word of 2018, it is never truly complete. Joy continues and so, seeking joy is never something that is finished. Finding the little joys of life, like waking up to sunshine or drinking your favorite coffee on a Saturday morning, is an every day choice. We have to CHOOSE joy. It does not come naturally. One of my favorite quotes is “You have to CHOOSE joy and keep choosing it.”

Let 2018 be a reminder of the joys you chose. Let it be a reflection of the person you grew to be this year, regardless if 2018 was good or bad. Let joy be an ever-present thing we continue to choose in 2019 and beyond. Let the joy of the Lord consume you as you live every day to its fullest. Joy is a choice so let us always, always, always keep on choosing it.

Here’s to 2019 and everything that is to come.

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What I’ve Been Reading Lately

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I’ve been on a huge reading/audiobook kick lately. I blame it on the grey, rainy days we’ve been having. They make me want to curl up on the couch with coffee and a good book for hours.

Since my evenings are dedicated to wedding planning and cleaning/organizing our house, I decided to download Scrib’d and Libby – two iPhone apps that allow you to listen to audiobooks for little to no cost. They have been life-changing (and I don’t like to use that phrase lightly).

I’m always on the hunt for a good book but don’t visit the library or the bookstore as often as I’d like to. Audiobooks have been a great compromise so I can continue enjoying my hobby without breaking the bank.

I recently added a section to my website called 2018 Bookshelf. In January, I promised myself I would read at least 25 books by the end of 2018. Reading was a huge hobby of mine in high school and college and I wanted to reignite that passion. My 2018 Bookshelf is frequently updated with books I’ve finished this year. I’m also on Goodreads so you can see what I’m currently reading there, as well!

A few recent reads:

In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It – Lauren Graham – Anything by Lauren Graham is my favorite. This was a quick read and worth every minute.

What I Know For Sure – Oprah Winfrey – This was suggested by Scrib’d so I thought I’d give it a listen. It was interesting to learn more about Oprah’s background and some lessons she’s learned from being on TV for years.

Where There’s Smoke – Jodi Picoult – I usually love anything by Jodi Picoult so I decided to listen to this short story. I will be honest, I wasn’t a fan of it for a few reasons but the beauty of an audiobook is you don’t physically own the book once you finish it!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo – It really is life-changing. While reading this, I found myself wanting to get rid of almost everything I own. It’s a quick way to get inspired and think like a minimalist. I recommend this to everyone and I might have to purchase this one because it is one I would definitely read again.

How I’m Becoming a Morning Person

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I hate to admit this because I never thought I’d say it.

I’m *slowly* becoming a morning person.

Not one of those “I wake up at 3am every day for fun” people. I’ll never be like that. I’m talking about the “I wake up at 6am” person, which may sound unimpressive but that is really early for me.

Apparently you are either a Night Owl or an Early Bird, and for years I thought I was the former. I stay awake until at least 12-1am almost every night and I thought that made me a Night Owl.

However when I started thinking about it, I’m not productive at night. I’m not inspired by or find that my prime hours of creativity are when the sun is asleep. I would rather watch a movie or read a book at night, not create something or clean my house. I realized I’m way more productive and motivated in the morning.

Now that I’ve started to embrace this realization, I love learning about others’ morning routines. YouTube is a jackpot for this. Learning what people do during their morning routines has helped me pinpoint what I can implement into my own.

If you’re like me and want a morning routine, or maybe you’re curious what I do before work, just keep reading.

{ONE} Create a to-do list the night before.

I’ve mentioned this in other blog posts but it is so important I’m telling you again. Creating a to-do list the night before helps me wake up focused and ready to conquer the day. I even add obvious to-dos like making my bed because who doesn’t like checking things off and feeling productive? 😉

{TWO} Don’t check social media.

This is a BIG one and something that is extremely difficult for me to do. I could write an entire blog post dedicated to this, but I’ll refrain (for now). I recently listened to an episode of The Date Night Diaries with Steve & Stacy Hart that was all about how the screen affects us. I was instantly motivated to change my habit of checking social media first thing in the morning. I find myself absentmindedly scrolling through Instagram and Twitter all the time. It’s insane how much time you can waste aimlessly scrolling. No one needs that kind of distraction in the morning and believe me, social media can wait a few hours! Put it aside, get things done, and enjoy being unplugged for a bit.

{THREE} Make your bed.

If you read about successful people and their habits, one theme is they all make their beds in the morning. It instantly makes your bedroom cleaner and helps start your day productive and ready to take on anything. A simple habit like making your bed can be the stepping stone to a good day ahead. As soon as I wake up, I make my bed because it also forces me to stay awake instead of crawling back between the sheets.

{FOUR} Drink water…

I have a difficult time drinking enough water most days. As soon as I wake up, I try to drink at least 16 ounces of water. Some people drink more, others less. As long as water is the first thing you consume, you’re off to a good start.

{FIVE} Then get coffee, ASAP. 

Honestly though, water’s great and all but it doesn’t have caffeine. As a “reward” to myself after drinking my morning water, I get coffee ASAP. It honestly is so nice to drink coffee while going through my morning routine instead of chugging it in the car on the way to work. There’s something about a cute mug filled with coffee that just gets to me every time.

{SIX} Straighten up.

Whether it’s putting clothes away or tossing junk mail, I also try to straighten up a bit. When my surroundings are clear, my mind is clear. It’s a pleasing sight to see that my space is already clean when I come home at the end of the work day.

{SEVEN} Read.

As mentioned before, one of my 2018 goals is to read more. One of the ways I’m fitting this into my daily routine is to read for at least 15-30 minutes in the morning. Whether it’s a few pages or a few chapters, it doesn’t matter. As long as I’m inching my way closer to completing the goal, I’m good!

{EIGHT} Start your get ready routine.

Eventually the “fun stuff” comes to an end and I have to begin by get ready routine. This isn’t as exciting as the other things, but one of the major pros to waking up earlier is doing all the other stuff BEFORE the get ready routine. By waking up earlier, I no longer scramble to fit everything I need to do within a crunched timeframe. Establishing a morning routine is helpful and ensures your day is off to a great (and productive) start.

The Year of 3 Words: A Mid-Year Update

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At the beginning of 2018, I declared this year a year of three words.

You may (or may not) be wondering how 2018 is shaping up to my three-word description. I decided to ease your minds and give you a mid-year update. It is June, after all, and the year is halfway over (whoa, that’s weird). It’s time for a little checkin.

Change. 

Change is inevitable and my Type A self can’t cope with it sometimes, but this year there has been good change, bad change, and uncomfortable change.

Changes in habits: less coffee, more water, more reading & audiobooks, less TV, less clutter, more budgeting, more time with people I love.

Changes in life: Updates at work, new house, new professional accomplishments, new friends, new perspectives.

Not to mention many changes that have pushed me outside of my comfort zone.

Needless to say, change happens pretty much every day and I’m learning how to embrace it and trust God every step of the way.

Do.

I’ve written about wedding planning multiple times this year so you know how the “Road to I Do” is generally going, but just in case I haven’t made it clear, this is the biggest “Do” of the year and I am pumped.

At the beginning of the year, a few other “do” items included: complete my social marketing certification, buy a house, read at least 25 books, and write more letters.

So far, I have completed my certification, we found a house, I have read many books, and love writing letters when I can. I’ve also traveled to places like New York and Boston, worked on a few incredible projects, and have begun training for my first official 5K (a big deal for a non-runner like myself!).

“Do” encompasses so many things, so it has been interesting to see how 2018 has unfolded this way. It’s not always about checking things off. Sometimes a “do” is a mindset, just like my third word of 2018 is.

Joy. 

This is one thing that is not a “check off the list,” so to speak.

Joy is a choice and something that takes focus and practice in order to make it a constant part of your life. I have a post-it note on my mirror that says “Joy is a choice,” and this year, in the good and the bad, I try to focus on that mindset.

An easy way to do this is instead of saying, “I have to…” replace it with “I get to…”  A mindset makes all the difference.

So that’s a bit of a recap as the year keeps flying by! What about you? How are your three words going for 2018? This week I challenge you to revisit your goals and be motivated to keep going!

6 Books I’m Reading Right Now 📚

I don’t know about you but lately I’ve been on a reading kick!

Maybe it has something to do with my 3 words for 2018 and my desire to change a few of my habits, one of which is to read more books, but whatever it is I’m loving it.

Below are some of the books I’ve either recently read or that are on my list to read this month. I’m always up for suggestions so feel free to send them my way!

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{ONE} The Magnolia Story

I mentioned this book in a recent On My Radar post, but it is a fantastic read! If you’re into HGTV’s Fixer Upper, love the Magnolia line at Target, or just hands-down love Joanna and Chip Gaines, then read this ASAP. I finished it within a few days and loved learning about one of my favorite designer couples.

{TWO} Socialnomics

Calling all the social media marketers! This book is written by one of the top social marketers in the industry, Erik Qualman. In this, Erik explores the social trends, effects and implications of social media and how businesses and marketers can use it to their advantage.

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{THREE} Yes, Please

I’ve read Yes, Please by Amy Poehler before, but this is the type of book you 1) can’t put down and 2) can’t get enough of. It contains a mix of personal stories, advice, and humor…to name a few. Plus anything by Amy Poehler is awesome in my book so there’s that.

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{FOUR} Diana: Her True Story

I’ve always loved Princess Diana and learning about her life, style, and history. I’m currently reading this and have found it to be  fascinating because it unveils a lot of things I never knew about Diana. Especially now that her boys are grown and in the media a lot, this book has helped me understand more of the Royal Family’s history. Plus when I finish, I’ll be able to update one of my 101 in 1001 Day tasks: To read 5+ biographies.

{FIVE} Talking As Fast As I Can

I’m a huge fan of Gilmore Girls and of Lauren Graham in particular. Her character in Gilmore Girls reminds me of myself a lot of the time – always drinking coffee, always talking, always trying to take care of those around her. Lauren Graham talks all about being on set of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, growing up, her life now, and more. It’s an easy read and one I definitely recommend to anyone who loves Gilmore Girls as much as I do!

{SIX} What Lies Beyond

My brother wrote a book! If you’re into horror, suspense, mystery and love a little ghost story action, this is for you. It’s based in an eery haunted hotel in Kansas and let me tell you, I couldn’t put it down and I’m not just saying that because he’s my brother. It’s really that good!

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2018: The Year of Three Words

I’m a little late on the whole “New Year’s Resolutions” trend. Better late than never, right?

A few years ago, instead of the usual list of goals, I chose three words to theme my year: First, Risk, and Joy.

Shortly after that, I (unintentionally) stopped blogging for a while and I didn’t track my progress on how that shift worked for me. I wish I had stuck with it; it kept me accountable. Generally speaking, though, I liked that way of kickstarting a new year.

This time, I sat down towards the end of December and began thinking of all that was to come in 2018. So many milestones, so many goals, so many items on the to-do list! Instead of jotting them all down, I noticed a couple of themes. I realized 2018 would not be the year of checking things off…

2018 would be the year of three words.

So I reviewed my list of goals and chose my 3 words: Change, Do, and Joy.

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Change.

Change of last name. Change of mindset. Change of scenery. Change of style.

It kind of, sort of scares me that “Change” is inevitably one of my 2018 words. Change makes me nervous because routine is interrupted and my Type-A senses have difficulty adjusting to a new normal.

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BUT it is also a good thing.

Change means growth and learning new things. It means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Adventuring into the unknown can be exciting and full of possibility and joy. For example, I’m getting married this year (!!) so that alone comes with a lot of changes like place of residence, last name, relationship status, routine, schedule, responsibilities, and it also brings a lot of love and laughter and memory-making, to name a few.

I am excited that “Change” is one of my 2018 themes, even though it does make me a bit anxious. A few other changes that I hope to conquer this year: drinking more water then coffee, updating my blog, modifying a few habits, and waking up earlier.

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Do.

2018 is the year that I do. Literally, I will say the words “I do” this year!

“Do” is action. It’s a step towards completing something. It’s a verb.

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Honestly, something about the word has always inspired me. It’s not just an idea or thought; it’s a word that takes that and turns it into something. I’ve never been much of a daydreamer and I hate procrastinating. I’ve always been a girl who wants to spring into action ASAP and do something.

This year is no different; I want to do many things like read at least 25 books, complete my social marketing certification, buy a house, and get married. I want to be more intentional with my friends and write more letters…just to name a few.

“Do” encompasses so many things; it’ll be an adventure to see how God uses this word in my life this year.

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Joy.

“Joy” was one of my words for 2015, and I loved it so much, I’m choosing it again. This is what I said in 2015 about why I picked “Joy.” I think it sums it up pretty well:

Different than “happiness,” I choose “joy.” Happiness is temporary and circumstantial. Joy is a mindset. Through the little things, I yearn to discover the joy. Choose joy and keeping choosing it — that’s what I want to do. Instead of “I have to …”, replace it with “I get to…”   A mindset makes all the difference. Through every situation, good or bad, I aim to focus on the joy of it all.

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So there ya go! My three words for 2018. What are your New Year’s Resolutions or Word(s) of the Year? Comment below; I’d love to see them as we encourage each other to live the greatest year yet.

On My Radar: 2018 Edition

Happy 2018!

I can’t believe it’s the start of a new year. In some ways 2017 flew by, but in others it dragged on. I’ve been eagerly awaiting 2018 for a while now, and it is finally HERE. Cue all the praise hands and happy dances.

So many exciting things are bound to happen this year, I can hardly wait.

Although I am still planning and finalizing my “resolutions,” I will share those with you soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share what’s on my radar lately because I’m really excited about them.

On My Radar…

{ONE} “The Magnolia Story” by Chip and Joanna Gaines

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This book! I received it for Christmas because I’m a huge fan of Fixer Upper. I was always intrigued by the husband & wife duo who flip and design houses, raise four kids, live in Texas, and keep God at the center. However, while reading The Magnolia Story, I became an even bigger fan of the Gaines’.  It’s an easy read, too, so it hasn’t taken me long at all to be almost finished it. I’ll probably finish it tonight and I started reading it a few days ago.

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{TWO} La La Land Piano Sheet Music

This piano sheet music book is another thing I received for Christmas and I *love* it. I’m always on the search for new songs to learn on the piano to challenge myself and keep my skills sharp. Since I teach piano and no longer take lessons myself, playing for fun usually does not happen on a regular basis. La La Land quickly became one of my favorite movies in early 2017, and the soundtrack is downright ah-maze-ing, so I am excited for the challenge.

{THREE} Fur Vests

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This trendy piece of clothing has stumped me. I love how it looks and received one as a gift this year. I’ve pinned a few outfits on Pinterest that includes this statement piece, but I have yet to test it out. It’s so warm and stylish, I’m excited to wear it soon.

{FOUR} Bloom Daily Planners’ Daily Calendar

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 4.10.56 PMI discovered Bloom Daily Planners a few years ago while researching the best academic planners to use during my senior year (*cough* my Type A is showing *cough*). Bloom is a Delaware-based company and their founders attended the University of Delaware, so obviously when I found this out, I was hooked and purchased my first of many products from Bloom. This year, I received the Bloom Daily Planners’ Daily Calendar and it sits proudly on my desk at work. It’s not only adorable and colorful, but every day features a quote or a challenge – two of my favorite things!

 

Those are a few things on my radar. What’s on yours?