On My Radar: 2019 Edition

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In my mind, this is the end of the first week of 2019. I don’t know about you, but the first couple of days in the new year don’t feel like a new start. My body is still in holidays-mode and it takes a few days to “wake up and reset.”

So this was the first full week back to the grind in 2019. Although a bit sad that the holidays are *officially* over since we took down our Christmas decor, I’m excited to get back into the swing of things. You know I love a good routine 😉

Here are a few things that are on my radar this week.

{ONE} Bullet Journaling

I’ve recently gotten hooked to bullet journaling. I started watching AmandaRachLee’s videos on YouTube and was instantly fascinated by how beautiful she made her planning spreads. It inspired me to try it out so I asked for a bullet journal and supplies for Christmas. It’s been fun trying my hand at being creative, and it’s also one of the goals under my “Learn” word for 2019. Let it be known I am not an artist; I cannot “doodle” to save my life. I’m still a newbie (the cover photo for this post is a snippet of my bullet journal) but it’s been fun to play around. As seen in the photo, my spreads are not as aesthetically pleasing as some of the ones I pinned on Pinterest but check out the board to get a feel for the possibilities! A few of my favorite spreads I created so far: 2019 Bookshelf, Habit Tracker, Netflix Tracker, and 2019 Goals.

{TWO} Minestrone Soup

As I noted in my Three Words for 2019 blog post, one of my goals is to continue learning how to cook healthy meals. One of my favorites that I made so far is an Instant Pot recipe for Minestrone soup that I found when searching for quick and healthy meals. It’s the perfect cozy meal for cold winter nights and only requires a few ingredients. Best part about it? It takes under 30 minutes from start to finish. Check out the recipe here. 

{THREE} Bevgo Infuser Water Bottle

I don’t know about you but drinking enough water each day is a challenge. I get bored drinking plain water and let’s be honest, coffee is way more tempting. I start out the day motivated and drink a lot of water but by the afternoon, I forget all about my water bottle. Whoops. That’s where my Bevgo Infuser Water Bottle comes into play. I asked for this water bottle for Christmas and it has changed the game. I’m not kidding when I say this: Since Christmas, I have hit my daily water goal every day! Granted, it’s only been two weeks or so but that is an accomplishment, let me tell ya. I fill the bottle with fruit (lemon slices for now) and know that in order to hit my daily goal, I need to drink the entire bottle twice since it’s 32oz. The fruit makes it delicious and I can see the progress throughout the day, which keeps me motivating to keep going. I’m telling you, it’s great and I feel so much better when I’m hydrated and healthy!

{FOUR} How I Built This podcast episode: SoulCycle

I’ve mentioned before that How I Built This is one of my favorite podcasts to listen to. Each week, the host interviews entrepreneurs of famous brands about how they got to where they are today. I love learning about how people achieved their dreams and the obstacles they faced along the way. This week I especially loved the episode about SoulCycle and I highly recommend it! It’s such a fun story about how two moms met in New York, hated the workout classes offered, and decided to do something about it. I’ve never tried SoulCycle, but now I definitely want to!

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2019: The Year to Focus, Learn + Love

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I’m a huge fan of goal setting and new beginnings. Ever since I can remember, I loved checking things off of to-do lists and brainstorming ways to create goals and achieve them. There has never been any doubt that I’m Type A, let me tell ya.

I think that’s why the new year is so exciting for me. I love that people get excited for a fresh start and have so much hope for the year ahead. In years past, I would write a long list of goals for myself and have trouble keeping them all year long. Some I would achieve, but others were dropped along the way. (Who else can relate?!)

Last year I decided that instead of creating specific “resolutions,” I would theme my year with a few key words that motivated and inspired me. In 2018, I chose First, Do, and Joy. You can read all about why in this blog post.

This time around, I struggled with choosing words that best fit my feelings going into 2019. Nothing felt as right as the words did last year so I started to really think about what I wanted to achieve in 2019 and why.

That’s when it hit me. I kept using three words over and over again to describe my 2019 goals and dreams.

Focus, Learn, and Love.

Now let me tell you why.


FOCUS

In a world of the “need it now” mentality, we don’t focus like we used it. Did you know a goldfish has a longer attention span than a human does? F’real. Look it up. It’s sad. In 2019, I want to focus on a variety of aspects in my life: personal, relationships, habits, etc. including:

  • Less time on social media so I can focus on the present. This is a huge reason why I chose “focus” as one of my words. It’s so easy to get distracted because our phones are constantly buzzing with texts, updates, and notifications. This year I want to step back from the noise and focus on the moment.
  • Focus on my relationships by removing technology and spending quality time when we’re together.love coffee shop hangouts and good ol’ fashioned game nights. Quality time is definitely one of my love languages and I can’t wait for more of these moments in 2019.
  • Spend time developing positive daily habits. It’s so easy to rush, rush, rush through each day but this year, I want to truly slow down, enjoy the moment, and develop positive habits that will help me grow.
  • More time writing. I definitely say this at the beginning of the year, but I want to spend more time writing. Whether that’s on the blog or in my journal, I want to continue writing for fun and not just for work.

LEARN

Never stop learning. In 2019, I aspire to learn so many new things, big and small. Some will come from life experience while some will come from me seeking it out. I always want to grow and learn. There are so many ways to do this! A few of the ways I want to learn this year are to:

  • Listen to more podcasts. Current favorites include How I Built This, Girls on the Go, Serial, and Date Night Diaries with Steve and Stacy Hart. I’m always on the search for new ones to add so let me know your favorites!
  • Read at least 35 books. In 2018, I read 25 books. I want to challenge myself to read at least 35 books this year now that I’m back in the habit of reading regularly again. Check out my 2018 bookshelf here. 
  • Better educate myself on the world around me. I admit I’m not always in the know when it comes to world news and politics. Tech and current events, absolutely, since it’s part of my job. One way I plan to increase my knowledge of all things news is to actually read TheSkimm emails that arrive in my inbox every day. Subscribe and join me here. 
  • Be better at cooking. I’m definitely nowhere near where I want to be so I want to better my kitchen skills and cook more healthy meals.
  • Teach myself to bullet journal (and do it consistently). I recently discovered this new form of organization and planning and I’m obsessed. I received bullet journaling supplies for Christmas and already love it. More to come on this in a future blog post!
  • Start actively playing/practicing the piano again. I don’t want to lose the skills I gained taking lessons for 15 years. It’s time to start it back up and relearn some of my favorite classics while also teaching myself new pieces.

LOVE

This may sound cliche but I want to love more this year. It’s so easy to find the negative in a situation, but it’s so detrimental to your well being. Expressing love to others does not take a lot of energy either – just a little time and effort to truly show others that you love them. A few ideas:

  • Write more handwritten notes. A text is great but I don’t want to forget about the art of handwritten, snail-mail letters.
  • Enjoy each day. Even if it’s a “bad” day, there is always something good in it. I read a quote one day that resonated with me: “Just because you had a bad day doesn’t mean you have a bad life.” One way I’ll do this is to continue the 1-Second Everyday Challenge.
  • Serve more. I don’t know what this will mean in 2019, but I know I want to serve others more. God first, others second, myself third.

So there ya go! My three words for 2019. 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.

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.

28 Healthy Habits You Can Start Right Now

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How are your New Year’s Resolutions going?

A lot of people laugh at this question nowadays because by now, many have given up on them.

Admittedly, I was this person in years past, but this year I chose three words to shape my 2018 perspective. One of those words is “Change” and the other is “Do.” You can attribute so many resolutions to these two words alone that the list is endless!

When it comes to healthy habits, I’ve struggled a bit. As I experiment to see what works and what doesn’t, I realized something.

Every little thing counts.

In my mind, I have thought of ‘being healthy’ as a series of huge decisions destined for failure. But really, that is not the case at all! I started listing out all of the healthy habits I’m already doing and looking at the list, I realized it’s not hard to be healthy.

You simply have to change little things in your life and then, as Nike says, just do it.

  1. Take the stairs.
  2. Eat an apple with your lunch.
  3. Park farther away in the parking lot.
  4. Do squats while brushing your teeth.
  5. Do squats while watching TV.
  6. Do squats basically whenever you’re standing still.
  7. Drink a glass of water in the morning.
  8. Drink a glass of water at night.
  9. Drink water more often in general.
  10. Eat a big breakfast.
  11. Don’t eat late at night.
  12. Try black coffee without tons of creamer and sugar.
  13. Do sit-ups during commercial breaks.
  14. Do planks.
  15. Laugh often.
  16. Go to bed at a decent hour.
  17. Rest when your body needs it.
  18. Get outside.
  19. Cook at home if you can.
  20. Eat more fruits & veggies.
  21. Stop drinking soda.
  22. Sit less, stand more.
  23. Don’t snack if you’re not hungry.
  24. Eat sitting down.
  25. Don’t drink your calories.
  26. Eat colorfully.
  27. Walk more.
  28. Read more.

There are so many more, but those are the ones that came to mind. What is one healthy habit you’re going to start today?

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.