2014: My Blueprint

i love making goals that will inspire me to improve myself in many ways: small ways, big ones, or just making the day less stressful. i have thought about how i want 2014 to be for me personally, spiritually, and professionally.

many people feel like the first day of a new year brings a clean slate, but it doesn’t. you’re still you, with all your quirks and vices and goals and hopes and dreams. but as the calendar starts over we as a society will find ourselves remembering the old year and welcoming the new.

i like to think of this as a blueprint. it entails not only the classic goals (quantifiable dreams with a deadline) but also the kinds of things i want to focus on during my days in the new year. who i want to hang out with more, who i want to meet, what i want to focus on. all of these things are based on a single word that i feel summarizes the new year for me: CREATE.

i want my life to be more creative. i want to cook more. learn new recipes, try new things. master the classics. learn from the masters. i want to paint more often. i miss painting and drawing and sketching. and poetry. god, i miss poetry. and my novels. sitting on my laptop in a little file, thousands of words waiting to be finished, edited, shown to the world. i still have dreams of seeing my name on a cover of a book, to be an author. i love my job, but i want to see what else is out there. what new jobs, new positions can i learn in 2014? what promotions will i get? what twists and turns will i make on my way to my ultimate dream career? what will i learn in 2014? i want to read and watch so much. i want a house. i want to create the foundation for my future by saving money, making my body healthier (to create future children). yes.

i can’t see my life as happy without the ability to create. thus, my 2014 word is CREATE.

what is your 2014 word?

you can choose anything. focus. abundance. calm. health. growth. but make sure your goals all align with your word.

This Summer, Get Your Life Back Together

This summer is all about big and scary changes for me. What about you? What areas in your life — mental, financial, relationships with siblings or spouses, diet, etc. — need the most improvement? What makes you frustrated or unhappy is the area that needs the most work. Let summer 2013 be all about making healthy steps forward, not backward.

1. Mental Health 

Do you wish you had someone to talk to in confidence? Do you feel depressed, angry, hopeless or frustrated and not sure how to get out of this mess? Gather up your courage and locate a mental health professional. Focus on practical methods of therapy that will help you to focus immediately on the major issues and he or she will guide you to make the necessary changes in life.

  • Find a therapist at therapists.psychologytoday.com and enter your zip code.
  • Choose someone that specializes in areas you need work on (eg: anxiety or substance abuse, marriage counseling) and that accepts your insurance or offers a sliding fee scale — one of the most common reasons for putting off seeing a therapist is the thought that one cannot afford it — not true!
  • Make an appointment for next week.

2. Physical Health

Feel sluggish all the time, tired, and winded going up a few flights of stairs? Recently gained weight? Never exercise? It’s time to change.

  • Start small — 3 times a week for about 30 minutes.
  • Make it easy — take a walk after dinner. No purchases required to get fit.
  • Make it fun — involve your friends/family. Play tennis, play tag with kids, go to the beach and walk along the shore, go swimming, take Zumba, etc. Find something you like.
  • Make it last — attach the habit of exercising with something you already do everyday. Drive past a gym on the way home from work? Keep your gym clothes in your car and head there immediately before going home. Need to watch a certain show every night? Exercise during that program.

3. Spiritual Health

  • If you are religious and have been slacking on going to your church/temple/place of worship, it’s time to recommit. It’s a great place to feel a sense of community and faith like nowhere else and feel like you’re part of a bigger whole, which is comforting. Also, start reading your passages and reflecting silently, too. How can you be a better Christian/Jewish/Buddhist/etc. person today? Can you volunteer, help someone, read a new passage, pray, be closer to nature?
  • If not religious, you can still work on your spiritual health. Practice saying a mantra everyday that makes you feel empowered. Or go to a quiet place of nature and reflect silently.Take steps everyday to remain positive in your life and believe in the magick/karma/The Secret. Meditate. Do yoga. Feel more in tune with your body & soul. Align yourself — become more balanced.

4. Diet/Nutrition

  • This is an important step. Diet has a profound impact on the way we feel, think, and our ability to perform/function in our daily lives. Take this summer to practice eating habits that make you feel better. Journal what you eat, at what time, and how hungry you were. Note how it makes you feel after eating and what emotion you were feeling. Note trends in how you feel hours later or the next day, too — especially if you eat a lot of carbs (sluggish, tired, bloated). Change your habits one meal at a time and become more conscious of the calories you consume — though you don’t have to count them, it’s a good idea if you want to lose weight.
  • Eat cleaner, local, organic foods — search for local farmers markets in your area.
  • Eat more vegetables. Every meal. And try a new veggie once a week or so.
  • Drink water, not calories. An easy way to lose weight and feel better is to drink more water and replace sodas/juices/etc. with water.

5. Social Life/Happiness/Relationships

This is an important one to work on. Ask yourself honestly: How can you be a better…daughter, mother, son, father, wife, husband, friend, relative?

  • What relationships in your life are fading and need TLC? Who can you call that will brighten their face? Catch up with old friends.
  • Ditch the toxic people in your life, as well. If you feel negative when you’re around, make bad decisions like drink/smoke, or if they treat you badly, ditch them. Life is too short to hang around with awful friends. You can always make new friends that align with your goals. Seek them out.
  • Do something that makes you happy everyday. Even if it’s a little bit selfish. If you are not happy everyday, than what is the point of living — seek help if you are feeling depressed, and seek ways to bring happiness into your life on a constant basis.
  • Make an effort to be social, friendly, and confident — even if you don’t feel like it, fake it. It will get easier, I promise.

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If this article helped or inspired you in any way please let me know what you will be working on this summer. I have my own list and I’d like to see what you will be up to.

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Birthdays & Their Yearly Reminder

My birthday was June 4, making me 24 years of age, smack dab in the middle of the confusing, mind-boggling and epic world of the 20-somethings.

It also left me feeling bereft of something.

It also left me feeling panic-stricken, paralyzed that basically one quarter of my life is gone.

My Facebook timeline alerts me daily in real time: of acquaintances, ex-classmates and old friends dealing with weddings, births, moving, leaving the state/country, buying houses, and death. Life is short.

It also lerosft me feeling like the perfect time to really think about what footprint I want to leave on this world, what impact I will have. Because damnit, I want to make one.

But first, I have to start small. Little things in life are the best: my husband buying me roses and cooking me birthday dinner, a small group of friends choosing to spend time with me on my birthday, my mom leaving me a birthday voicemail and having my little brother sing happy birthday to me in the phone (I hit 9 on that one, to save forever).

Birthdays are an intense, quiet struggle of the mind. It faces the grim reality of the loss of one year of life and the gain of another. That chattering chasm in-between the minute you are 23 and the minute you are not. any. more. you are hyper-extended, teeter-tottering on the edge of time, a delicate balance.

The fresh textured white of a canvas, ready to throw paint on its stretched surface, ready for anything.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
― Nelson Mandela

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
― Ghandi

5 Things You’re Probably Wasting Money On Right Now

pouring a bucket of money into the toilet

stop wasting money.

Here are a few quick ways to catch money-pits, or easily fixable wastes of your hard-earned income. Have one I forgot? Add in the comments below!

1.Cable. Why are you spending money on cable when you can get Netflix for $8/mo? Or hulu? Or utilize the magic of the interwebs? You shouldn’t be watching much TV anyways.

2. Phone apps. There are thousands of free apps that do the job — those dollars add up quickly. Save for a small handful of truly useful paid apps, most are a waste.

3. Credit Card Interest. This one’s harder to stop, if you cannot pay off your entire balance right away. Work on paying off debt via the snowball effect — pay off everything you can towards the credit card with the highest interest rate until done, then put that money towards the next highest, etc.

4. Eating out for lunch. When you make a sandwich at home, the costs are minimal compared to buying a $5-10 meal for lunch, even for fast food. Spend a few minutes each night or in the morning to gather a balanced lunch and you’ll save money and your waistline.

5. Utilities. Are all the lights on in your house, the TV blaring with the radio and the heat turned up very high (or the AC blasting with the windows open?) Take a look around your house and see what you can do to minimize utility usage, and shave off money each month.

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4 Motivational Playlists for Working Out or Working Hard

There’s no question that amazing music lifts you up and transcends your thoughts and emotions into a new place. Here are my favorite 4 motivational playlists found for free on Youtube and for the tech-savvy, free to convert to mp3 for your iPod/listening device (like this one). Enjoy!

Get psyched!


or view on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmVZT05ySfE
Good 30-40min mix of mostly rock tracks from the likes of rise against, breaking benjamin, and even eminem plus key movie soundtracks.


or view on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmfpHP5Upx8
one hour of dance tracks with powerful hits from avicii, david guetta, and more.


or view on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYZDKRQf4ZI
one hour of mixed electro/house hits.


or view on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZuH-TNeGYk
great opening speech “Pain is Temporary” by Eric Thomas followed by an hour of rock/rap mixes (such as: the game, 50 cent, hollywood undead, and body head bangerz)

have any favorites? Post the links in the comments! I love hearing new playlists for my work outs and for general GSD!

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3 Quick Life Hacker Tips: Sunday Edition

  • It’s important to be consistent in healthy and creative habits.
  • Remain positive even if you have to force yourself: adjust your attitude.
  • Put your goals in your view everyday, all the time — write them down, think about them, be a little bit obsessed — it’s how you become great.

check this out for great positive images on Pinterest.

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That Moment When You Realize How Much You Already Have in Life

from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc4HGQHgeFE/

Sometimes it’s hard to think of everything you have to be grateful in life, and instead think about what you dont have, or think about the person you’ve yet to become, the lifestyle you endlessly desire.

Until you see a video like this.

Inspired and moved to tears..

For more see Nick’s channel. http://www.youtube.com/user/NickVujicicTV

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When Sh*t Happens, or When You’re Not Happy, Change Something

I’ve been having the most awful, cortisol-stuffed vein producing days lately. Sh*t keeps happening to me and I’m in a daze. Confusion settles around me like heavy cigarette smoke. It’s hard to feel like there’s ever a way out.

The important thing to know when you’re dealing with a day/week/month like this, is that you are never alone. There is someone who has been there, who has gotten through it, who is currently experiencing the same damn thing as you. Your situation is never 100% unique — there is always someone who has already walked in your path, overcome the sh*t and owned it.

Sometimes sh*t happens for a reason. Whether it was your fault or not, or whether you just had a stroke of awful luck and happenstance, it can bring along an unfortunate series of events. Most people will crumble. Give up. And they will never pick themselves off from being beaten down and throw themselves at whatever challenges them.

But the important thing to know is that you have the amazing ability to control the now. The present. F*ck the past, that’s spilled milk. Done. Over. Worst day of your life? Okay, but that was yesterday. It’s done, you can move on. 

Figure out what went wrong, find something you can learn from yesterday.

When sh*t happens, it’s easy to fall into an endless cycle of feeling sorry for yourself. 

Don’t. Stop right now.

The freedom that many have can be paralyzing to act — you CAN change the outcome. You CAN do something about it. It might be hard, or take a lot of courage, but there is always something you can do to make yourself happy when you’re not. 

The strategy is simple. But I didn’t say it wasn’t hard.

Not Happy? Change Something.

1. Figure out what makes you angry, upset, depressed, frustrated, and stressed.

2. Eliminate or get rid of these things. They are mentally, physically and spiritually destroying you slowly.

3. If the items in #1 require much planning, do that planning now. Need to quit your job that brings tears to your eyes every time you wake up in the morning? Establish a set of action plans to do this month, this week, and tomorrow.

4. Replace the negativity with healthier things that bring happiness. Especially if #1 items will take time to get rid of…paint, vent on the phone with a friend, go out to eat at your favorite restaurant, take a walk at the park, play with your kids or pet.

5. Establish the focus on your emotional state and stress levels, and do things to reduce it: get enough sleep. Eat vegetables and fruit. Drink plenty of water. Exercise. Meditate. Journal. Paint. See a life coach/counselor if you really need to, it truly helps. There is no stigma — help yourself.

Remember this: If you’re not working to make your life better, your life will not get better.

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Listen to Yourself & Do What Makes You Happy: Make Your Leap List

riskitall

take huge leaps for enhancing motivation. photo source

If I was given the opportunity to go back in time, I would do many things differently. I’m sure many of you will agree that you would love to do the same.

But while we sit around and twiddle our thumbs waiting for someone to invent the time machine (someone should really get on that), we’re stuck with what we’ve got — today.

So instead of having the ability to leap across increments of time, we have the ability to do something equally (if not more) amazing.

The ability to change the future.

Yes. We can do literally anything we want. This freedom is pretty scary. And hard.

It is easier to be sad than to be happy.

Being happy is hard. Being happy means listening to what YOU want to do, not what society, school, parents, friends, media, co-workers, or anyone else tells you. Being happy is ignoring the noise and doing what you want. Even if it’s atypical, weird, unlikely to succeed, risky, not what you went to college for, or frowned upon. And ESPECIALLY if it’s hard.

So today I decided to write a little list. And I called it “My Life List” because I wasn’t worrying about the title at the time, but it’s really a list of ACTIONS that I will be doing in the near future. Actions that will change my life.

It should really be called, My Leap List.

  • So pick a soon-ish time-frame. This week, This month, This quarter (3mo).
  • Write down anything, small or large that makes you happy, smile, and feel good about yourself and your life. Write down the hard decisions, the ones that took a lot of thinking, the ones you made after many hours of soul-searching and talking it out or writing about it.
  • Turn those into action steps, goals, promises to yourself.
  • Establish urgency. Commit to doing them TOMORROW. If you’re reading this in the morning, TODAY.

I can sit here and tell you to get off your butt all day, but no one can change your life except yourself. Sometimes there is a time where there is too much thought and not enough doing.

So do it. 

And if you need permission, I’m giving it to you. It’s okay to do what you want. Seriously.

Today’s post was inspired by my newest blog-crush, The Blog of Impossible Things. #boom.

How My Job Forced Me to Become an Early Riser

I hate waking up early.

There, I said it.

But there is something about waking up early for my job that gives me the kick in the pants that nothing else will. Not school. Not an appointment. Not meeting a friend or trainer at the gym.

So when my job completely switched me from mostly nights to almost exlusively early morning shifts, my first reaction was: oh shit.

How am I supposed to wake up at 5 AM, a time that I usually see from spending too much time mucking around on the internet (and too much caffeine)?

But it was surprisingly easy to switch. Why? Well, because they’re paying me. They allow me to pay rent, buy food, waste money on eBooks and other stuff.

Not only that, but the punishment of not going to work was clear: verbal warnings, written warnings, getting fired. Who wants this on their record: Can’t wake up early for a job.

Not me!

So I found it odd that after a few weeks of this new schedule, I began waking up early even on days that I didn’t have to be at work. Days that I used to easily sleep in until the late hours of the afternoon. Now waking up at 8-9 AM, like normal people do.

Moral of the story?

  • Habits are hard to change, except with a huge reward (money) or strict punishment (getting fired).

The next time you are trying to accomplish a goal or acquire a new habit, up the ante a bit. Establish a very clear reward and punishment system for your actions or non-actions, and tell all your friends or everyone in your social networks. Follow through on the rewards and the punishments.

There are some websites that help you do this by providing serious accountability, a fun-factor (apps and game-like quality), social support and pressure, and even some $ on the line: Rootein, Stickk, 21habit, beeminder. Most of these sites also have phone apps you can download for more convenience.

What habit are you going to start, either by yourself or with the help of a website or app?

My personal habits I’m working on for the month of March (and beyond):

  • exercise 4-5 times per week for one hour
  • eat less than 1500 calories per day and log calories in MyFitnessPal daily
  • wake up no later than 9 am on non-working days and be productive during that time (ie: go to the gym)

 

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