Favorite Finds

The weekend is here. FINALLY! It’s been an exhausting week with plenty more to come, but taking this weekend to be grateful and simplify my life. Exciting things are happening. But first, time to kick back and search the web. Here are some of my favorite finds from this week:

 

 

The Brightside

Oops it’s already Monday evening, but here’s my bright side for today:

It’s the first Monday of the year! Some people may be depressed by this fact, but I see it as a day full of hope, potential, and productivity to come. Let’s start off the year right. 

Happy New Year!

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2016 is here! Woo-hoo!

I (like many other people in the world) am awful at New Year’s resolutions, which is funny because I love lists and I love improving myself and my life. Maybe it’s because I write goals so often and make lists regularly — new year’s resolutions just start to feel like this “big deal” version of things I already do pretty consistently. And then I end up building them up so much that it only leads to disaster.

So here is my anti-resolution list: things I do regularly or have been meaning to do. It’s basically a compilation of all the goals I’ve set or started or planned to start throughout the year. Let’s not call them resolutions, though.

  1. Meditate daily
  2. Exercise at least three times a week (which is three times more than I currently do)
  3. Keep a work log
  4. Learn Italian
  5. Take a class for fun
  6. Pray often
  7. Consistently write in my five minute journal
  8. Say thank you every day
  9. Cook a slow cooker meal at least once per month
  10. Learn a new recipe every other week
  11. Always be reading a book
  12. Simplify the amount of stuff I have and buy
  13. Don’t complain
  14. Speak up
  15. Read every day
  16. Blog regularly
  17. Say I love you often
  18. Play ukulele every week
  19. Listen to podcasts daily
  20. Never leave dishes in the sink overnight
  21. Text my parents every day
  22. Say yes to family
  23. Keep in touch
  24. Volunteer
  25. Don’t be afraid of adventure

 

Favorite Finds

Happy new year! It’s been a crazy week, to say the least. I’m not quite sure I’m ready for the first Monday of 2016, but like it or not, it’s coming. Here are a few links I liked around the web this past week:

  • 6 Unexpected Ways to Recharge for 2016
    Love this list of practical, manageable things to try this year. Can’t wait to color my stress away with the two coloring books I received for Christmas!
  • Your NEW New Year’s Resolution
    Since I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, I am definitely on board with the idea of New Year’s agreements. They seem more attainable and take away the “big deal” factor of resolutions.
  • 23 Things To Do To Improve Your Mental Health In 2016
    I think it’s pretty obvious that BuzzFeed is almost always on point, and this list is no exception. I personally am hoping to focus more on my mental health in 2016, and hope others realize the importance of it as well.
  • “30 Things I’m Happy I Tried and Learned Before 30″
    I still have a few years to go before I reach this milestone birthday, but I loved reading this list by Amanda Slavin. There’s some that I’ve done and some that I have yet to experience, but all were so insightful for me at this point in my life. It’s always nice to read something that makes you remember you are never alone.
  • 19 Totally Manageable Goals to Set for 2016
    This list is another breath of fresh air among all the intimidating goal-setting lists floating around this time of year. Because really, these are totally manageable.

 

New Year’s Traditions

2015 flewwww by. And it was a good one.

I love the idea of a new year for a lot of reasons: I like the number one. I like fresh starts. I like new beginnings. I like reflecting. This has somehow become one of my favorite holidays, and I think it’s primarily because a few year-end traditions I’ve come up with. And no, they do not involve getting drunk and blacking out. Here are my favorite new year’s traditions that I’ve done for the past couple of years.

1. Eat at a Michelin rated restaurant.
This tradition started as an accident, but now I always look forward to it. A few years ago when I lived in Chicago, I saw an article for next year’s Michelin starred restaurants and spontaneously made a reservation at Blackbird. It was a couple of days before the new year started, and the boyfriend (now husband) and I had the most amazing meal. And so began an annual tradition. I love the thought of saving the best meal of the year for the very end. It’s just the perfect way to cap off another year because you can never go wrong with good food.

We went to Longman & Eagle last night so the tradition lives on!

2. Do laundry. All laundry.
One of many things in my life that I got from my mama. I always remember my mom frantically loading and unloading the washer and dryer in the days leading up to the new year (including new year’s eve, of course). Now that I’m out on my own, I’ve decided to follow in my mom’s footsteps and wash anything and everything that can be washed before the clock strikes midnight. Dryer noises are murmuring in the background as we speak. 2016 can’t start without fresh sheets.

3. Write a letter to myself.
This is my favorite tradition for the new year, maybe even out of all holiday traditions I’ve ever had. I started doing this awhile ago, but I’d have to some serious digging to figure out exactly when. Every year on December 31, I write a letter to myself. It can be about anything and everything, and often is. It’s a reflection about the year and who I am in that moment of time, and it’s probably the most honest I ever am with myself. Then I seal it in an envelope, not to be opened until January 1st of the following year (not the next day…). It is always a surprising, humbling, and inspiring experience for me to read those letters on the first day of each year. I’m excited to see what’s in store tomorrow as I read last year’s letter.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year, full of adventure and love and everything good in life.

 

21 Day Challenge: Phone Down

I’m almost embarrassed to share this, but it must be done. I’ve been using the Moment app to track my phone usage for awhile, but I’ve been ignoring it recently because well…

  
Oops.

The Moment app is such a simple but effective concept: it tracks your iPhone usage. I downloaded it earlier this year and noticed I was spending a ridiculous amount of time on my phone. Then I tucked that thought in the back of my mind and consciously forgot about it. Until today. Then I saw above. And thought… new challenge!

So begins Day 1 of my 21 Day Challenge: Phone Down. Less than an hour on my iPhone per day for 21 days. Can it be done?

Well, Day 1 is obviously a fail. See you tomorrow for Day 2.

The Brightside

Happy Monday after the long Christmas weekend! It is an icy, winter storm morning here in the Midwest, but on the bright side:

I’m working from home today. Working remotely has got to be one of the greatest things about this day and age, am I right? 

The Brightside

It is a rainy, gloomy Monday, which is especially hard to handle after a long weekend in Southern Cali. But here’s my bright side for today:

This is the last full work week in 2015! Woo hoo! Gotta love the holidays.

Zoo Lights

To get into the  holiday spirit, I decided we should do something festive each weekend in December. This past weekend we headed downtown to Lincoln Park Zoo for our first ever Zoo Lights.

I love the zoo because a) it’s free and b) animals, duh. Zoo Lights, however, was a bit of a different experience than your typical summertime zoo outing. 

The weather was unseasonably warm for a December night in Chicago, so it seemed like everyone had the same idea as us. We headed to the city around six and parking was a nightmare, so we sucked it up and paid the ridiculous $25 lot fee for the sake of our friend’s baby.

Once inside, it was what I expected: the zoo. With lights. Glowing animals and trees everywhere. Real animals? Not so easy to find. It did do its job to put me in the holiday mood though. Here are some pics so you can join me in the Christmas spirit: