4 Goals for 24

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The older I get, the more I frown upon the idea of resolutions. I think there’s a lot of unnecessary pressure that stems from the concept of a resolution, this gigantic thing that you have to do in a set time period. Don’t get me wrong: I respect the concept, and I know that for some people, it works really well.

It’s just not my thing.

I am, however, a big fan of goal setting. Now, I realize that some may argue that this is essentially the same thing as a resolution, and to that, I beg to differ, and I offer this counterargument: resolutions are measured by whether or not they are accomplished, whereas goals are measured by how much you have accomplished towards it. Say you set a goal to save 500 dollars, and you only save 430… you’ve still saved 430 dollars, and that’s still a pretty darn good accomplishment.

I’ll admit that perhaps it’s just a matter of perspective, but that’s how I like to look at it.

Perhaps the other reason I am not so much a fan of resolutions is because I’m not a big fan of New Years. Beyond its overhyped expectations, I guess I also never really saw January 1 as the start of a personal new year. I’ve always considered my birthday more of a time for reflection and goal setting, as opposed to the arbitrary day that the calendar changes.

So, that said, it’s time to set some goals because, in case you missed it, my birthday just passed (and if you somehow did miss that, you must be new… and in that case, welcome!)

Once upon a time, I set goals based on how I old I turned, but the older I get, the more ridiculous that sounds. I doubt I’ll want to set 98 goals when that time comes.

So, this year, I’m instating a new system, a set of goals based on four key areas in life:

Professional. Projects. Personal. Physical.

And, yes, before you ask, I did intentionally start them all with the letter P. I’m a big fan of alliteration, okay?

Professionally, I want to continue on the same track that I like to think I have been heading. Admittedly, this is the goal I am probably least public about, at least over here on the blogosphere, because those worlds are somewhat and intentionally separate. So for now, I’ll go ahead and leave it at that.

As far as projects are concerned, I want to grow this blog of mine. I’d like to put the effort in and reach one thousand Instagram followers and continue to share a message of balance between faith & life for anyone who’s interested.

Personally, I want to work on my relationship with the Lord. I’ll admit that I have fallen into a pattern of leaning on Him when things get tough, and pulling away when all is going well. That’s an unfair give and take, and that’s not how He wants us to be with Him. He wants all of us, all the time, and I recognize that – it’s just so easy to unintentionally credit your idols when life is going well. So I’m setting a goal to be more proactive and intentional about my time with the Lord in order to further strengthen that foundation.

And when it comes to physical goals, I’m a bit of a broken record. I still haven’t run my first race, and it’s still a bucket-list item. I know I physically can run a 5K – I do it regularly on a treadmill. For whatever reason, though, I’ve always held back when it comes to actually putting on a number. This year, that changes.

Four goals. Four main buckets, if you will, where there’s room for improvement.

Then again, there’s always room for improvement, isn’t there? We can always work on being better versions of ourselves, and whether it’s a birthday or a new year, or you’re one of those lucky people who is motivated to evaluate their goals and progress without a calendar reminder, it’s important to set a course for what’s to come.

Happy Birthday

My birthday is tomorrow. I close my twenty second chapter of life and embark on my twenty third, a year that will solidly place me at the end of my early twenties, on the brink of “actual adulthood,” as I like to think of it (as opposed to all that fake adulting I’ve been doing thus far).

The past few years, my birthday has been undeniably entwined with another’s – Jenny’s. Jenny was born a day before me, but two years later. And she was called home to God far too early, if you ask for my selfish opinion although, as always, I’m sure He had His reasons.

Every (recent) year, I’ve looked at the first two days of August as a chance to reflect, recharge, and redirect. It’s more of a New Year to me than the first of January, since this really marks the start of my next cycle around the sun. And I’ve begun to use these days to ask myself: am I living life to the fullest?

I don’t ask myself that in a glamorous, or cheesy way. I ask myself that in a reflective way. I ask myself that to ensure that I am doing everything I can to be the best reflection of God that I can be, to be the best version of myself.

Granted, that doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I’m inherently flawed as a human, and that means that I will, inevitably, make mistakes. Needless to say, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes during my 22nd year, and I’m sure I’ll make just as many, if not more, in my next year.

But if there’s one thing I definitely learned this year, it’s that being the best version of yourself doesn’t mean you are constantly living perfectly. It just means that, as those unavoidable mistakes come around, you learn from them. You grow from them. You recognize the error of your ways, acknowledge the lesson, and forgive yourself. If you hurt someone, you apologize. If you forget something, you do better next time. You take what happened and you embed it in yourself as a learning experience, a seed that will take root and grow and eventually, the lesson that came from the mistake will become an inherent part of who you are.

I’ve learned a lot in the past year about loyalty, love, and loss. If I had to pick three takeaways, those would be them. I learned that to be loyal, you sometimes have to do the hard thing, because otherwise, you’ll do something really stupid that will end up hurting someone even more. I learned that to love, you have to truly let your guard down, and become a person you didn’t know you were capable of being, but who might be the truest version of yourself to date. I learned that loss is a heartbreaking truth of life, but that so much love (and loyalty) are found in that season of grief.

And now, on Jenny’s birthday, I look back at those lessons and I ask myself: have I become a better version of myself in the past year? I like to think that I have. Some people may not, and probably won’t, agree with me. But they aren’t the people I’m worried about. The people whose opinions I cherish most are the people who have helped me get to this stage of life, who have been the building blocks upon which I’ve built the most rock-solid foundation I’ve ever had.

On August 1, I like to think about what I’m doing to enrich my life, and those around me. That’s what Jenny did, and continues to do. My memories of her may be brief, but they are so, so bright. She is a light in my life, and a guiding beacon of hope. She may no longer be here on Earth, but her spirit – that spunky, sassy spirit – has never faded.

Jenny didn’t get to toast her twenty first, but I sure as hell can.

So here’s to you, J. To your light, to your sparkle. Thank you for being my guardian angel, and for constantly being my motivation to do better, be better. You may not have gotten the years that you deserved, but in your honor, I pledge to continue focusing on fulfillment – of my own life, and of others.

I hope you’re eating cake for breakfast and jumping on trampolines made of clouds.

Happy birthday.

Knowing

People always tell me the same thing: when you know, you know.

But then I find myself, so naturally prone to overthinking, asking the next inevitable question: how do you know, that you know?

You know?

As I’ve navigated through my early twenties (which, yes, I did just recently realize I was in despite my 23rd birthday being only weeks away), I’ve found that a lot of life’s major decisions are rooted in that one gut feeling; that instinctive knowledge that whatever you’ve just decided, it was right.

But the most intriguing part is, that feeling is different for each and every decision. But, the more familiar I’ve become with my own instinct, the more I realize that everyone is right. It’s true: when you know, you know.

Perhaps it’s the feeling of gratification and pride at buying your first car, even if it was somewhat impulsive and not at all what you’d planned to do that day. I went into my test drive feeling entirely unconvinced that I’d be trading in my trust Honda that day, and yet, come 6 pm that night, I had the keys to a new Toyota in my hand, and it was easily the best adult decision I’ve ever made. The finances all worked themselves out, and I no longer have to worry (and neither does my mother) that I might randomly break down on the 101 in 101 degree heat.

Or maybe it’s the overwhelming sense of belonging when you walk into a new church. I was perfectly content at my college church, even if I did feel I’d grown out of it a bit with graduation. But the moment I set foot in my new church, I felt a rush of comfort, and I was led into one of the greatest communities I’ve ever been blessed with.

Maybe it’s a more delayed reaction, like a sense of stability and success from the job you took straight out of college. I didn’t look at many other options when job hunting; I didn’t feel like I needed to. And though I did initially feel a twang of, let’s face it, jealousy, as all my university friends made their way to glamorous new lives in New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco, I now feel more secure, in my job and in my lifestyle, than I ever expected to feel at twenty two. Combine that with a recent promotion officially inked onto my resume, and my continued learning experience at this job I’m beginning to feel I excel in, I can’t look at this as the wrong decision (not that I ever would because, if you haven’t heard me mention it about 5000 times before, I love my job), because it led me to so many good things in my career, and in other aspects of my life.

Then there’s the knowing that comes from loving someone. That might be the most precious knowledge of all. It’s certainly the one I’m growing most fond of.

Through discovering all of these different aspects of that same, instinctive knowledge, I’ve come across the ironic key to the whole thing: you can’t possibly know when you are going to know. One day, it will all just click, whether it’s during your third small group when you manage to make everyone laugh, or when your eyes meet in the hallway for that very first time. Sometimes, it’s immediate. Other times, it takes a while.

But no matter what happens, you have to trust the process. You have to have faith, in yourself and in something so much bigger than you, that what’s put in front of you is there for a reason. Whether it’s to overcome, to enjoy, or to love, it’s there for a reason, even if you can’t see it right away.

You’ll know what it is eventually.

 

Missing in Action, Present in Life

Hey, guys.

So, I’ve been a little MIA, at least on the blog. I remember when I started this thing that I had all of these visions of creating a brand for myself, and working to curate and promote that brand until I was up there with some of my dream blogger. (That’s probably a little embarrassing to admit, especially since it seems everyone wants to create a brand these days.)

But lately I’ve realized that I don’t really have a specific brand… and that’s okay. I am not solely a wanderluster, not just a foodie, and definitely not a fashionista. I don’t fit into those specific “boxes” of “bloggers,” and I’m not good enough at keeping up with this whole blogging thing to make any of those work if I was.

I’m just a writer.

Sometimes, that means writing little blurbs about happy trips I’ve been on. Sometimes, that means a stream of consciousness about God’s latest lesson for me. Sometimes, that means going over a month without posting anything at all.

And that’s okay. 

2017 has been quite the year for me so far. I’ve learned a lot, and we’re only two months in. I’ve also felt as if I’ve grown a lot, and that’s such a weird and wonderful feeling. I’ve taken risks and chances that I was previously so afraid to take, and they’ve been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined.

I’ve also had some tougher stuff to deal with, stuff that has kept me from posting too much on the interwebs because – well, frankly – it’s no one’s business. And that’s okay.

All of this is okay, because as I’ve been navigating through this year, I’ve felt myself become more present. I’ve taken less pictures and made more memories. I’ve cherished long mornings spent doing nothing in a way that I haven’t done for so long. I’ve gone out more, laughed more, loved more, and lived more. I feel as if I’m breaking free of what I’ve always felt expected to do, and I’m finally allowing myself to do exactly what I want to do.

And that’s okay.

Well, actually, that’s more than okay. That’s ideal.

So, while I’d like to apologize for not keeping up with this blog the way I should, I also am not sorry about that at all. I might be missing in action on the internet, but I’m more present than ever in life.

Attitude Adjustment

Have you ever had one of those moments where you just realize that you are completely, totally, blissfully content with life?

That happened to me this weekend.

I was sitting with my partner in crime, Kacie, in her kitchen. Her mother had just made us the best pulled pork sandwiches. We had spent the afternoon being the ultimate Arizona tourists, going from the candle shop to the soap shop to the olive oil shop – where, I will shamelessly admit, we spent a lot of time dipping artisan bread into exquisite olive oils that we were never going to buy.


We went for coffee at the most adorable, most Arizona-y beer and coffee shop. We sipped wine on the patio of an equally as adorable and Arizona-y wine cafe. We sipped more wine while listening to coyotes howl from her backyard.


Kacie and I were just sitting there, with her mom, talking about all sorts of things. We talked about religion, about politics, about traveling, about family, about weddings, about dresses, about future plans, about past plans, about past decisions, about literally everything under the sun.

And it struck me:

I’m happy. 

Now, I should make a disclaimer.

This is not the “I’m finally happy after the longest time” sort of happiness. I have spent most of this year extremely happy, actually. Yes, it’s been a transitional year, both personally and professionally. Yes, some decisions were not so easy and even downright heartbreaking in certain aspects. Yes, there have certainly been struggles that I’ve had to face, deal with, and move past.

Life is not a walk in the park, people.

And the happiness I am currently experiencing is because I have finally stopped expecting it to be.

I am supremely guilty of hanging on to this notion that everything has to feel good to be good. That sounds weird, but in my head it makes sense, so just bear with me.

Basically, I was convinced that I would know something was right because it would be easy. And that, my friends, was the issue.

I find myself now hanging on to a new notion: that not all things worth having come easily. I like to compare it to climbing a mountain – no one actually enjoys the physical aspects of climbing a mountain. What we enjoy is challenge, the accomplishment, and the reward of getting to the incredible view at the top with your endorphins racing and a smile beaming. We enjoy the rush. The result. It doesn’t mean we enjoyed every step of the climb.

So, no. Not everything lately has been the easiest. Working three weeks straight of overtime was exhausting. Physical therapy hurts. Breaking up with my boyfriend sucked. Being thousands of miles away from the people closest to me is hard.

But I’m still really freaking happy.

Because I’ve made the decision to be. I know I can handle anything that comes my way. I’ve handled the hardest parts of my life so far and I’ll continue to do so with whatever God feels like dealing out. Because ultimately, He knows the plans He has for me… what happens next is up to Him.

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All I get to decide is how to feel about it. All of it. Even if it’s heartbreaking, even if it’s terrifying, even if it’s hard…

I’m choosing to be happy about it. Because, you know what? Life is beautiful, trust is comforting, and happiness? Well, it’s a pretty damn great feeling.