Fifteen in ’15

The talk of the town this time of year certainly revolves around New Year’s Resolutions. But what starts out as an awesome goal typically turns into a wasted wish shortly into the month of January. 15 in 2015

Gyms are packed with those looking to reach fitness goals, but that will all clear out by the close of the first month. That healthy eating you’re trying to tackle? Taco Bell will sneak in there sooner or later. Don’t get me wrong- I admire those that can stick with their plans for the full year. In fact, I’ve been known to set some lofty goals for myself.

Rather than establishing one big resolution for 2015, I’ve decided to take  step back and reflect on what I’ve learned in 2014 and put that to use. How do I want to carry out the next year? What changes do I want to make? I remind myself over and over that baby steps add up to big changes, and that’s going to help me work my way through 2015.

I’ve rounded up fifteen topics that I’d like to spend time on throughout 2015. There’s no specific goals in mind (well, not for every one), but more of a guideline of intentional living for the next year.

  1. Communicate. Admittedly, I’m not the best at staying in touch with friends, old or new. There are far too many good friends that I haven’t seen in years, and I’d like to make an effort to change that.
  2. Hydrate. Coffee runs in my veins, but there certainly is not enough water in there. What’s the recommended amount now? Eight glasses per day? That seems like so many! Regardless, you’ll see me filling up my cup more often this year.
  3. Read. The last two weeks have brought on a huge reading kick for me. I forgot how nice it feels to curl up on a rainy Saturday night and get lost in a book. I’ve got quite the stack of literature ready to go on my nightstand, and I’m ready to tackle that and more!
  4. Adventure. Sometimes you need to just take a walk on the wild side. I tend to get a little comfy in my ways, but this year I am ready to take some risks and challenge myself in tons of new ways.
  5. Exercise. Okay, so here we are with the stereotypical resolution. I always forget how great I feel after a work out until I actually make it happen. Even a quick trip to the gym over lunchtime makes a world of difference during my day. Here’s to chasing after those post-work out endorphins.
  6. Learn. I truly miss being in an academic environment, but that doesn’t mean that the education has to stop. There are so many great resources just waiting for me to take advantage of them, and I’m excited to dive into some new projects.
  7. Rest. Overexertion is just a bee-line for burnout. I’ve learned that when I’m tired, it’s better to just rest than try to keep pushing myself through. I’ll end up being more productive post-sleep anyways.
  8. Organize. I live my lists and calendars, and am going old-school with a paper planner this year. With so many projects going on, it’s nice to have a home base of my life in one bound book. I’d like to continue that organization to the rest of my projects that might be a little more off the cuff than I’d like them to be.
  9. Relax. Whether it’s with a warm bath or a yoga class, I need time for me. Fueling my introverted side is the only way for me to be really balanced throughout my day. Me time gets a front seat this year.
  10. Create. Choreography. Writing. Crafts. Goals. Making all of these things happen is on my to-do list for 2015. I need to hone in on the aspects that add fire to my creativity and go from there.
  11. Travel. My wanderlust is always in full force. Ever since I spent a semester in London, I’ve be wanting to pack my bags and head out on whatever flight is next on the list. This year, I’m hoping to cross a few destinations off of my list.
  12. Write. An obvious one. I’m off to an okay start, and am ready to challenge myself in my writing. I’ve always wanted it to become a regular habit in my life, and am hoping to increase the frequency of it this year.
  13. Love. Myself, my family, and those around me. I sometimes jump to the negative aspects too quickly, rather than taking time to reflect on all the love that surrounds me.
  14. Appreciate. With running from job to job, I sometimes forget to stop for a moment and appreciate how lucky I am.
  15. Enjoy. Even if nothing else on this list comes to fruition, at least I’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Let’s do in, 2015. I’m ready for ya!

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A Year in Music: Top Tracks of 2014

For the last Monday of the year, I figured there was no better way to close out than with an edition of Music Monday. L I S T E N

Last year, I published a playlist of my fifty favorite songs of 2013. I always love sharing my music tastes, and it made for a nice little wrap-up for me.

This year, Spotify had a feature to download a pre-made playlist with your top played tracks in the year. It shapes up to be a bit different than last years- not all of these tracks were released in this calendar year. You’ll find some tracks tucked in here that don’t typically fit in with my tastes… the downfall of using Spotify as I teach a variety of dance classes.

So sit back, relax, and have a listen. To save the playlist, simply follow me on Spotify and hit Subscribe on the playlist itself.

Cheers to more great music in 2015!

Fourteen in ’14

A whole year has flown by, and I’ve spent a lot of time in the last week or so really wondering what exactly I got accomplished in the last 365(ish) day. I don’t feel different. I don’t look different.  Many things in my life have stayed wholly consistent. I often make plans for big change, but seem to fall a little short of the ideas that I have in mind. CHEERS

The more I sat and thought about, the more I realized that it doesn’t have to be a ton of major changes that make a difference in my life. Little by little, things add up. Small adjustments lead to big changes — even if you can’t see them happening all at once.

But don’t get me wrong- 2014 hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies. For every positive that has happened, it seems like there’s another negative to knock me back down. It’s all about balancing out the two to come out strong in the end, something that I hope to improve on even more in the new year.

To help remind myself of all the little things that happened in 2014, I’ve decided to take a few minutes to highlight fourteen of my most important accomplishments. Some small. Some big. Some not quite finished yet. But in the end, all of these little bits add up to make a pretty good year all around.

Cheers to 2014, and all of the things that I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Got back into the swing of dance. I started teaching regularly at the beginning of 2014 and haven’t looked back since. Now, I’m up to classes four nights a week. It’s exhausting, but it’s nice to get back to doing something that I really love.
  2. Launched the Lehigh Valley Ale Trail. What started as just an idea back at the end of 2013 has flourished into a full-blown website, complete with corresponding social media accounts. We’ve also developed a merchandise store and a quarterly e-newsletter that goes out to over 1,200 subscribers.
  3. Moved (again). It seems that’s a trend for me over the last handful of years, but I am happy to report that I plan on renewing my lease for another year! I never have stayed in one apartment longer than one term, so it will be a treat to not have to do that annual packing of boxes.
  4. Vacationed with my family and friends. It’s always nice to be able to take some time off and get away for a few days. In the summer, Amanda and I made a weekend trek to Buffalo for some time away. A few weeks later, I joined my family for a few days in Myrtle Beach.
  5. Bought a new car. Okay, so buying a car might be the most stressful process ever, but it was worth it in the end! I chose the first car I looked at, and have been happily driving it for just over two months now. It’s a nice little upgrade from what I was driving before and it’s exciting to say that it is all mine!
  6. Came to term with student loans. I know, I know. We knew these existed, but I finally gave myself a big reality check and got to work on them this year. Little by little, I’m chipping away at that final total! Baby steps, right?
  7. Worked on some writing. This one is still a major work in progress- I’m sure if you’ve been following my sporadic posting you can see that it hasn’t quite been a success yet. As the new year rolls around, I’m going to buckle down and work towards some big goals in the blogging department. I promise, if you stick with me it’ll be worth it in the end!
  8. Learned about my own work habits. Over the last few months, I’ve been toying around with work environments, trying to figure out what works best for me. Do I work best in public places or in the quiet of my own home? It’s a trial and error process, but once I hit the nail on the head my productivity will really take off.
  9. Created gym habits. With the opening of the new arena in Allentown also came the addition of a brand-new gym facility. I hit a stride where I was consistently heading to the gym over my lunch hour, and I was feeling really great about myself in the process. As the holidays drew near, I slacked off a bit. After my little mini break from work, I’m going to get back in the swing of it and make these habits more permanent.
  10. Kicked off my third season with the Precious Metals. We’ve already established that dancing makes me happy, and this is no exception. I love getting to spend time with the girls on the team whether it be at practice or on weekends. Our season starts in April and things are looking great so far!
  11. Challenged myself in two courses. In September, I took part in the WordPress Writing 101 course. Each day, I was presented with a new blog topic, encouraging me to write every single day for 30 days straight. Let me tell you, that is not as easy as it might sound. I didn’t make it through the full 30 days, but did gain some great feedback in the process. In November, I participated in the beta group of 30 Days of Gutsy, encouraging breaking out of comfort zones and achieving goals. You’ll hear some more about this down the road, but it was definitely a great experience for me!
  12. Got organized. I’ve always been one for organization, but with everything going on in my life, it was time to take it to a new level. I’ve decided to go old school with a paper planner for 2015, and am loving the impact that it’s had so far. There’s something about a good old pen and paper that makes plans seem very finite.
  13. Launched my 101 in 1001 list. I published this list on my birthday this year, and have been crossing off some teeny tiny items throughout the year. I’ve got a long way to go still, and I’m hoping to make some big strides in the new year, including more regular updates on the progress that I’ve made over time.
  14. Found time for me. If nothing else was accomplished over the last year, I was at least able to dig down and learn a bit about myself and how I operate. I’ve learned to accept some things for how they are, and whether or not situations are worth my energy to try to change the outcome. Sometimes it’s better to be the bigger person and walk away, even if it may not seem like the easiest choice in the moment. Little by little, I’m working towards a better me.

See? 2014 was anything but a wash. Stay tuned for a list highlighting the 15 things I’m excited for in 2015. Thanks for sticking with me over the last 365 days, and cheers to another wonderful year!

Goodbye November, Hello December

November
November fun: fall leaves, coffee shop productivity, Christmas taking over the house, and a chilly day at the beach.

A Monday back from a holiday weekend and the start of a new month sounds like a pretty big breath of fresh air to me today.

Thanksgiving has come and gone. It was nice to see some family, and of course to take on the crowds of Black Friday (although they were a bit sparse this year). The holiday weekend was still packed with things to do, including the Turkey Trot 5k, a photo shoot, and more. At least we had time to put up a majority of our Christmas decorations around the house!

Now that I’m back on track with a full work week ahead, it’s time to look at some of the things that I’ve been working on over the last month, as well as some things that I’ve got planned for December.

November was a quiet month for me here, but I promise that there are some things in the works to make this project a much more regular thing.

In November, I…

  • Got down to business at the gym. Having the new facility at the arena down the street is the biggest blessing- lunchtime workouts have become my saving grace. I love coming back to the office after a quick (but efficient!) trip to the gym feeling refreshed and ready to go. This also means that I’ve been eating out a lot less and packing my lunch a lot more, making my wallet very happy, too!
  • Shot my third calendar with my dance team. This past Sunday, we headed to the shore (brrr!) to shoot our 2015 calendar. I have to say that all those gym trips had some real motivation behind them! We were lucky to get a relatively mild day with some sun, but the wind did pick up mid-way through the afternoon. The shoot went very well and it was great to spend some time with the girls outside of the studio.
  • Participated in the beta group of 30 Days of Gutsy. Jess has set up this fantastic course all about developing & achieving goals, conquering obstacles, and more. We’re just about halfway through now, and I’ve already learned a lot about how I work, what habits will better me, and how to really push myself to the next level. Stay tuned for more details on what I’ve been working on! I very much recommend giving her blog a follow, as well as checking out the course when it becomes available in 2015.

In December, I will…

  • Table a third major event for the Lehigh Valley Ale Trail. Last month, we hit up the Split Rock Beer Festival and December brings the Fegley’s Brew Works Craft Beer Festival. These events are always fun for me to attend, not only as a beer-lover, but also to get the word out about the Ale Trail project.
  • Wrap up a few big projects- at work and beyond. I’m hoping to finish out a handful of tasks around the office this month, as well as get a bulk of work under my belt at the dance studio. I’ll be taking on some additional classes starting next week, but I’m hoping to wrap up all my pieces for competition by the end of the year.
  • Take some much-needed time off! I haven’t had a real break in a few years now, and I’m really looking forward to giving myself a very needed vacation at the end of the month. I’ll be utilizing the end of my vacation days around the Christmas holiday, giving myself a solid week with nothing to do- no work, no dance classes! Actual vacation plans are still TBD, but I’m counting down the days regardless!

Happy December!

The B-Word

I am no good with money. My bank account is like a slow leak, things trickle out little by little, always adding up to a big shock when I finally get around to checking in on things.budget

This week, I’ll be purchasing my very own car (I’m pretty sure that officially makes me an adult now). With that, I’ll be tackling a slightly higher than desired monthly car payment. It’s something that had to happen sooner rather than later, and it means it’s time to tackle the b-word for real: budget.

To get in the mindset of saving, I’m kicking off what I hope to be a week-long challenge, with the idea that it’ll continue on from there in some way or another. This week, I’ll be going no-spending.

I. Know.

I’m a sucker for a nice lunch out and a coffee on my way to the office, but it’s little things like that they make a big difference. With my new-found love for a lunchtime gym session, I’ve been doing pretty good at brown-bagging my lunch from home each day.

This week, I’m going to step it up and try to go totally cold turkey on spending. Of course, there are exceptions for things like gas which are obviously a necessity to get me where I need to be.

As I start being serious about this stuff, I plan on reacquainting myself with services like Mint, which helps to track monthly spending. I was doing really well with sorting my purchases into different categories, but lost access to my account when I got my new phone. (seriously- why don’t they have a ‘forgot password’ option on the app?)

Today has been smooth sailing so far, just have to say no to my usual coffee pit stop on the way to the studio tonight… and my snack on the late-night drive home. I’ll keep you posted as the week gets moving.

Do you have tips & tricks for maintaining sanity in all of this? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!