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Twenty Five

I’m 25 today. Some people call this quarter-life, but I’m a facts person and statistically speaking my life expectancy as a healthy woman (regular workouts, regular drinking, mostly healthy eating, living in Dallas county) is 80.2 years meaning, technically, I hit a third-life milestone. Third-life means you’re fine, not crazy. Right?

I’m not so much a believer in the quarter-life crisis phenomena, though I see how it could easily happen to me or to anyone around me. In addition to being a facts person, I’m also an emotions person so I totally know how the combination of nostalgia, wishes not granted, dreams come true and general length of twenty-five years behind you could pile up into a mound of feelings. And we’ve all just realized how complicated I am as a human.

Twenty five years.

When I was young, my imagination stretched only to age 21. I figured once I got to 21, the rest would be a cake walk because then I’d graduate, get a job, get a husband, get a cat, get a baby, get rich, retire and then eventually die. In that order, and that streamlined. Clearly, 16 year old’s thoughts about adulthood don’t win out in this world.

Which is fine.

Because since age 21, I’ve learned, stretched and hurt more than I thought possible. I’ve felt extreme joy, jealousy, compassion and passion. Probably all in the same week. But more than anything else, here on this day, I can finally say the feeling I feel the most is gratitude. Thankfulness for all I’ve been given and all that’s been withheld, all I’ve deserved and not deserved. Happy the way I see things, want things, isn’t always the way they go and the way things go doesn’t always work for me.

I’m also thankful my birthday is in January, when the year starts fresh. New Year’s Eve is so quick, so sparkly and I never feel like I have time between the rush of the holidays and presents and food to really take inventory of myself, my year. Those 8 days in January before my birthday, though? I use those.

So, what do I want most now?

  1. To primarily operate out of an attitude of thankfulness, because I believe only then are you joyful
  2. To get over myself and stop my jealousy
  3. To stop being jealous by starting to live out my dreams
  4. To live out my dreams
  5. To count blessings more than hurts
  6. To work smarter
  7. To lift others up
  8. To smile more
  9. To teach Jackson to stop eating walls (I mean…)
  10. To write more
  11. To notice more – the details are where you find it, I really believe that
  12. To live bigger, more uncomfortably, in the awkward places and spaces I try to shy away from
  13. To stop talking about being single, sad, or anything else not on my wish list of life
  14. To do my dishes regularly (this will be on my birthday list indefinitely)
  15. To learn a new skill
  16. To rest
  17. To stop feeling guilty about anything
  18. To pray
  19. To release expectations of others
  20. To bake more
  21. To quit Facebook
  22. To travel, far and frequently
  23. To trust in Jesus, the Universe, the plans I don’t get to make for me
  24. To savor the good days, foods, moments – to enjoy something so much I have to close my eyes to feel it
  25. To make it to 26 with love in my heart and grace in my hands

Simple, easy, straightforward. I typically don’t make resolutions or numbered goals. I’ve found in the last four or five years, my goals are similar yearly: to live gracefully, content with the items I get and share as much as possible – but twenty five is different and I felt it required a bit more intention this year.

Happy birthday to me, and happy New Year to you.

Xo,

CB

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the last month

December?

I just went back and read my blog through December 2010 – it’s funny to read each month’s post because I can remember exactly my state of mind, my location, my mood. I re-read in order to gain perspective on what goals worked best – what goals I stuck with, which ones created a better sense of happiness.

Happiness isn’t something you can create alone. I know many people say it’s how you think, what you say, that makes you happy — and to some degree, that is true. And, it’s no one else’s responsibility but your own to figure out how you can stay in happiness. But I don’t think you get to be happy all the time, and you don’t get to be happy just because one day you decide to be happy.

Throughout the past 11 months, I’ve realized that while budgeting, cleaning, exercising, laughing, singing in the morning and forgiving people have contributed to my happiness, you can’t always control it – sometimes you’re in winter and sometimes you’re in summer. You’ve gotta go through it all in order to see how you can cling to hope in the middle of anything.

For this last month, I’ve picked the goals that seemed to have the most direct impact on how I felt daily. I plan on carrying these into every month of 2012 – although I don’t plan on blogging about it or creating new ones every month.

My 2012 resolution is going to surprise you all — and probably 1/2 of you won’t believe I can do it. But we’ll get to that in January. For now:

1. Clean
When I kept things tidy and clean, so much stress was alleviated. You don’t realize how much dirty dishes or a messy closet subconsciously bothers you until you don’t have either for an extended period of time. There’s an invisible strain lifted off your to-do list and you realize…..ohhh thats why there’s so many blogs dedicated to decluttering your life. I plan to vaccum on Mondays, dust on Tuesdays, clean the bathroom on Wednesdays, the kitchen on Thursdays and use the weekend to make sure my clothes are clean and put away. I also need to clean out some junk drawers( +cabinets, +shelves) at some point.

2. Body
No brainer, but boot camp month was the best I’ve felt/looked in awhile. Working out 4x a week seems like too much, but after doing it for four straight weeks I realized how much you can actually accomplish from 5 am to 6 pm. It’s unreal and it feels so great — I was not only exercising well, I had more energy and drive for everything. I’m going back to 4x a week workouts (I’m joining a gym on Monday), and keeping a food journal. I also will not use a snooze button the entire month of December (I swear, this was the best goal I had all year).

3. Mind
Positive self-talk is still a priority and something I work on daily – as well as praying and being cognizant of my surroundings. I will continue working on my gratitude journal daily, as well as noting my prayers. I’m also going to participate in linking up to Tuesdays Unwrapped posts from my other blog.

4. Budget
…wah wah. Same as the clutter/clean bit. You never realize the worry you have about money until you don’t worry any longer. I need to save more and stop just freely spending. I wish my bank account supported that lifestyle, but sadly it doesn’t. I will start making my direct moves into savings when my check hits, and I’ll start paying attention to my budgeting app that kindly sends me alerts that I have not read since September….oops.

As for November’s goals – I think I did well. I finished my last gratitude letter tonight and they’ll all be in the mailbox in the morning. The USPS better never go under, there’s nothing that makes me happier than getting mail.

Happy last month of 2011. How was your year? Do you feel happier than you did in December 2010? I can promise you I do, by leaps and bounds. So thank you to those of you reading this who stuck with me.

xo,

CB

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the sixth month

It is the second night of the 6th month of this project and I am just now sitting down to write out my post. First of all, I made it to the halfway point! What a wonderful treat. As a refresher, I created a 12-month plan to create more happiness in my life based on Gretchen Rubin’s best-selling novel, The Happiness Project. I like to think this project has given me peace when I needed it but mostly has made me aware of the impact my own choices have on my life. Happiness is relative, after all, and that may very well be the biggest lesson I learn.

Speaking of awareness, let’s get into the goals for June.

I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention.  (Diane Sawyer)

The focus for the month of June is mindfulness. When I was digging back through the Happiness Project blog and my notes, I decided to search Twitter for “mindfulness”….this is a remnant from the day spent as an intern searching media coverage, but hey it worked. There are SO MANY tweets, blogs, quotes, programs, studios and bullet-pointed lists dedicated to the art of mindfulness. And when I say mindfulness in this sense, I’m speaking of the very broad category. There are sub-sections of mindfulness, where you focus on your body (yoga, what you eat) or your mind (meditation, prayer) or your reputation (awareness of relational situations) or any other situation in which a clear mind and sharp focus will increase your positive results or feedback.

Some websites even talked about scientific breakthroughs related to mindfulness, specifically the act of meditation. There is some proof that what is called Mindful-Based Cognitive Therapy is effective at treating depression and speeding healing time of major injuries. (This is the first month that my project seems to be backed by data and evidence – go me!) I tell you all of this to tell you that I am so thankful to remember, monthly, that I am not the only person in the world who struggles to notice and appreciate and take inventory on my life. Let’s pay attention in June:

1. keep a food diary
-well, it will begin on June 3rd considering today and yesterday were sort of glazed over. I’ll keep it as long as possible but at least until July 3rd (Promise!!). Studies have proven that if you write down your food intake, you will likely cut fatty foods or overeating out of your diet. And if nothing else, you’ll be aware of the bad stuff you’re eating! Being mindful of my choices will result in better ones daily.

2. identify my true rules
-this one is a little more complicated to explain, but basically, we all operate under concrete (subconscious) decisions daily. in June, I am going to attempt to identify (see: find a root cause) for my gut instincts. Sounds hard, huh? It’s not, once you think about it. For example, one of my true rules is SHOW UP. No matter what, if I have an obligation (verbal, written, strict, flexible, to people I like, to people I’ve never met, to someone who doesn’t care), I promise I will show up for them in at least some small way. I operate under more truths than just show up, but I’ll let you know the rest in July. 🙂

3. use my mind in a new way
-I took some time to think about this, and I can’t come up with a creative but not totally time-consuming new hobby that will use my mind in a new way. I will work on this throughout the weekend. In the meantime, if you have an idea for a new mind-enhancing hobby (puzzle, game, thinker-type project), please leave a comment and let me know: how do you use your mind?

4. meet deadlines
-as a new intern at a new job, this one is a no-brainer but I also mean in my personal life as well. I’ve noticed that working 8-5 has created some sort of procrastination Chelsie when it comes to housework or self-work (ahem, working out). Deadlines are deadlines and that includes everything from working out 4x a week to turning a project in on time.

June seems big, doesn’t it? This is a big month for the project. May was a little bit of a sidenote with this, considering all the changes, graduations, parties, etc. going on. I’m excited to dive into my new life — I have a new city, new home, new job, new friends and I think paying attention is going to be a great way to spend the first month here.

I am going to be mindful of my prayers and inner dialogue throughout the day. I figured this out in March with the goal of living with intention, but when I feel spiritually connected and in-touch, my day seems to have a calmer edge around the ups and downs.

If you’re reading this, whether it’s your first time or you’re a regular, please give me some feedback. It’s my halfway point, and while this is entirely for myself, I do like to know what you think or how you feel. I don’t want to lose steam and a little encouragement or at least acknowledgement of you faceless numbers that show up on my Stats page would be wonderful. How do you pay attention? How do you stay mindful?

I’m so grateful it’s summertime.

Xo,

CB

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the fifth month

Good morning! Happy May!

Fortunately, I followed through on my promise to play in April. I managed to do a playtime activity 10 different days in April! I planted flowers, I went to the zoo, I colored with chalk, I played a prank, I went to a baseball game, I had several happy hours, I went to my last formal and my last Island! Here’s some proof:

 

 

All in all, playtime month was a success. Not only did I make time for really cool activities, I felt more relaxed than ever. And, on the almost last day of playtime month, I GOT A JOB! So now, going into my last week of college ever, I can officially be HERE AND NOW and full of joy.

So let’s talk May!

The theme for May is PREPARE, which is appropriate.

Goals include:

1. pack wisely! I am moving to Dallas in less than two weeks and somehow need to get everything I own in boxes.
2. keep the day important. Even though I am graduating and moving, I want to stay present while I’m still in Norman
3. Do a good job! At everything — I start my job the last day of May, I’m moving to a new place and need to decorate, I’m taking one final that I need to do well on.

The first week of May sort of passed without me truly engaging on my goals. My room is a mess, for example. Also I need to start getting my stuff together. But I will!

Keep you posted.

XO,

Cb

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the third month

Onto month 3 of my happiness project! Month 2 was focused on relationships — and sort of overshadowed by a car wreck. But I think month 2 goals  went well! There are no specific measurables like there were in Month 1, where I focused on energy & exercise. I tried to follow the 80/20 rule as much as possible and had to consistently remind myself to ask more questions rather than give more answers. I should survey my friends and family to see if they noticed any marked change, but I can honestly say I did remind myself “listen” repeatedly when talking with friends and family and do think I tried harder to be invested outward rather than inward.

I spoke with Audrey today on that subject actually, and we discussed how I hadn’t really had a lot to complain about in the past month. By the way, today is exactly one month since the wreck — so it’s both amazing and graceful that I can say I have not complained a whole lot in the past month. Whether that’s because I made a mental challenge with myself to not do so or because things have been swinging more towards good for me, I can’t say.

Another success in February: I made new friends! Lindsey would be the first person I would say is my ‘new’ friend, although the friendship has been loosely there for awhile. She and I are basically the same human, and we call each other so much that we could possibly be dating. I’m very very grateful for her in my life! Also, while I was in Vegas for my Dad’s 50th birthday (I taught him how to Dougie, but that’s a completely different story….) Audrey and I made new friends with two Australians who were in America for an extended period of time just to travel cause they could. They ruled, we drank $2 margaritas with them and quizzed them on life in Australia. They were renting a van and driving from Vegas to probably New Orleans, we told them they HAD to stop in Texas. I wonder if they did? Dan and Clay, if you’re reading this — comment.

Finally, I did my best to “shower the people” I love with love. I wrote 12 notes on Valentine’s Day and give them to my people just to remind them they were loved. The funny thing is, doing things like that always makes me feel loved as well. Karma, I guess.

BUT NOW, 6 days into Month 3 I am proud to annouce that March is the month for positive movement.

During this Month, I am applying to a least one job per day. I am also creating a budget and attempting to be mindful of my money. As it turns out, I probably should have done this years ago (Sorry, Mom). Third goal is to work smarter, with attention to the task at hand. I work well under deadlines and a busy plate, but I have realized that when I multi-task too much, I don’t have as much quality in my work. FINALLY, I am going to remind myself to wait to worry. Which is good advice for all of you reading who graduate in 2 months — only worry about REAL stuff, not the stuff that might happen.

No matter how much you’re planning for the future, don’t forget to live in the moment.

This month is cut in half by Spring Break, which is a grateful relief right now. I am going to a beach house with 16 of my friends and I am thrilled for good laughs and down time on a beach. If I have any advice to give out in the next few weeks, it’s to make sure you look around and notice the colors; the world is coming back to life! I noticed green patches in the grass early last week and have since seen bigger and brighter patches. Soon, the leaves are back! I’m trying to practice the art of noticing. Nature is cool.


See?

So there’s month 3. I hope you enjoy reading my rambles — and please, feel free to leave a comment with ANYthing! I hate seeing visitors and no comments. It’s sad. And lonely.

Xo,

Cb

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