A Fresh Start

IMG_0783-copyIsn’t it funny how much easier it feels to turn over new leaf on the first day of the month (especially when the first falls on a Monday)? I don’t know about you but I love fresh starts, and even though I’m always invigorated by the start of a new year (well, except for this year maybe), I find myself feeling rejuvenated, motivated, and inspired in a brand new way when I flip the calendar to the next month. So many of life’s bigger blessings inspire me – travel, nature, relationships, service – but so many little ones, like books and restaurants and gorgeous photos and the first day of the month, provide a surge of creativity and revitalization, too.

Early on in January, I shared a post on Darling’s blog about some resolutions that could help us find our spark this year. I wanted to write about creative ways to set resolutions instead of always defaulting to the typical, generic goals of living a healthier lifestyle, saving money, and pursuing happiness. Those are wonderful resolutions, to be sure, but I wanted to inspire readers to take a chance, do something a little different, and really push themselves to achieve the lofty dreams they have, bringing them into reality and making them happen.  I am revisiting that piece today as I’m reveling in my newfound sense of inspiration, and I am plotting out the things I can do to keep this energy flowing. Don’t feel the same way on the first of the month (especially when it falls on a Monday?). Last spring I wrote this post about being stuck in a rut, and to this day it remains one of my favorite pieces that I’ve written. I actually wrote the piece while I was in a rut myself and it was a therapeutic process that actually helped me find inspiration in a variety of ways.

So here’s to you on this Monday, February the first – whether you feel ready to embrace a fresh start or ready to dive back into bed, I salute you, friend. Keep on trucking and persevering, regardless of how you feel. Inspiration is out there just waiting for you to seize it.

Image via Madi Ellis for Darling Magazine


Things I Don’t Do

beachside-australian-wedding-75The start of a new year is so exciting, so full of promise. It’s easy to get carried away thinking about all of the fun things there are to do in a new year – all of the new habits you can make, classes you can take, projects you can start (or finish), places you can go. I personally have a long list of resolutions for 2015, and, for me, the practice of annual goal-setting hasn’t changed much over time – I love writing down goals for myself each January (and each spring and summer and fall, for that matter). But I’ve also found that there’s a necessary counterbalance to all of the resolution-making, an exercise inspired by Shauna Niequist. This year, in addition to writing down the things I hope to do, I’m starting a tradition of jotting down a list of things I don’t do. As Shauna writes,

“It’s brutal, making the list of Things I Don’t Do, especially for someone like me, who refuses most of the time to acknowledge that there is, in fact, a limit to her personal ability to get things done. But I’ve discovered that the list sets me free. I have it written in black and white, sitting on my desk, and when I’m tempted to go rogue and bake muffins because all the other moms do, I come back to both lists, and I remind myself about the important things: that time is finite, as is energy. And that one day I’ll stand before God and account for what I did with my life. There is work that is only mine to do: a child that is ours to raise, stories that are mine to tell, friends that are mine to walk with. The grandest seduction of all is the myth that DOING EVERYTHING BETTER gets us where we want to be. It gets us somewhere, certainly, but not anywhere worth being.”

So! Here goes nothing – my 2015 list of Things I Don’t Do.


Oh, this is a shameful one to admit. I love writing, clearly – whether it’s here on this blog, for Darling Magazine, or for Bungalow Magazine. I have tried journaling so many times (and I have stacks of beautiful blank journals to show how that turned out). I admire people who journal, who carve the time out to write and write and write, just for themselves. I often think about what an amazing keepsake a journal is, a place to catalogue your thoughts and fears and dreams and hopes. But this year I am saying it aloud: I don’t journal. I don’t keep up with it, going months and months without penning an entry. I channel my writing energy into other places and journaling goes to the wayside. This year I am saying that that is just fine. I have other ways of documenting my life – through photos and this blog and such – and I think it’s okay to reserve my pretty blank journals for to-do lists and recipes and other notes.

Attempt Crafting/DIY Projects

If I believed in reincarnation, I would hope to come back in another life as someone who is so effortlessly talented at crafting and successfully completing DIY projects. I see so many amazing ideas on Pinterest, making me want to invest in crafting supplies and a dedicated space in which to complete projects. However, in this very real life of mine, the closest I can get to any sort of crafting project is putting pictures in frames. So, yeah, there is no need for me to pursue this type of hobby. The only caveat is if a group of girlfriends wants to get together to do some sort of craft or activity – I can always get behind a group project (especially if a little bubbly is involved).

Check E-Mail Before Going to Work…or Before Going to Bed

I have literally zero reason to check my e-mail early in the morning before going into the office or late in the evening before turning in. I am thankful that as far as Touch A Life-related e-mails are concerned, there is nothing so urgent that it can’t be addressed during work hours – and, if there is some sort of emergency, I will receive a phone call or text. Nothing pressing will show up in my inbox, forcing me to miss out on some important bit of information before I can get to the office. The only thing that checking e-mail before work or before going to bed does is stress my little mind out. In the morning it makes me feel rushed to get into the office (even if the e-mails aren’t that urgent – just knowing that they’re there makes me fired up) and at night it keeps me up thinking about my to-do list instead of drifting off to dreamland. There is no point to that madness, so it ends now.

Say Yes to Every Event/Coffee Date/Party I’m Invited To

I have been working on this a bit over the course of the last several months, but I want to make 2015 the year that it sticks. I love a full calendar, one that’s packed to the brim with project deadlines and weekend trips and dinner dates and exercise classes. But I am an introvert at heart – I recharge best by myself, soaking in some quiet time, whether that’s by done by reading or napping or going for a jog or trying a new recipe. So I burn out easily when my social calendar is packed to the brim. I have learned that it is indeed okay to say no to things even though I don’t actually have a conflict that prevents me from saying yes. Since I truly love spending quality time with people, I  feel guilty when I turn invitations down without having a “legitimate” reason for doing so. But if I’m not refreshed and engaging, the person I’m with won’t enjoy our time together anyway – I frequently have to remind myself of that. I don’t need to run myself ragged in order to spend time with people I love.

Finish Books That Aren’t Good

There are millions of wonderful books in the world, so many that I don’t need to waste my time on reading the ones that aren’t great. This is not to say that I can decide, say, two pages in, that a book is bad – sometimes I’ve had to persevere through a tough section of a book to find out that, by the end, I love it. But if I’m over halfway through and the content or the writing style are just not improving, it is okay to put the book down and be done with it. The perfectionist in me rejects this idea wholeheartedly but I need to stop wasting time by finishing mediocre books. A plus – they can always be donated to good causes or sold at Half Price Books, majorly reducing clutter in our house.

There you have it! What do you think of a Things I Don’t Do list? Will you make one?

Image via Erin + Tara Photography for Ruffled

School Year Resolutions

Hustle + Florals

Happy Wednesday, friends! I always feel like I’m in my best rhythm on Wednesdays – does anyone else feel the same way? I seem to have an extra boost of energy that helps me be super productive, allowing me to accomplish lots of tasks on my to-do list.

I wrote about this before, but I really find the month of September to be so invigorating. Don’t get me wrong – summer is still my favorite season, but there’s something about the sentimentality of a fresh new school year that makes me want to set brand new goals for myself. So I started thinking, in lieu of (or in addition to) making New Year’s Resolutions, why don’t we start coming up with School Year Resolutions each fall? We can create new goals for ourselves, using the timeline of a school year to chart our progress. In addition to providing you with some ways that you can make some resolutions of your own on Darling Magazine’s blog, I also thought I’d share my personal School Year Resolutions with you here. This is what I’d like to do:

  • Research and register for inspiring conferences, classes, and seminars that I could participate in for work. I would love the opportunity to get out and about a bit more, pushing myself to meet new people, explore new avenues of relationship-building and fundraising, and learn lots of new and creative ways to do my job.
  • Read two new books every month – one novel and one creative/inspiring/motivational book. On that same train of thought, I need to get a library card…
  • Cook two new recipes per month and categorize them in Evernote. This is an extension of a goal I set for myself in the New Year, and while I have been testing out lots of new recipes (and sharing many of them with you here), I haven’t done the best job of recording and organizing them in Evernote. Extra challenge: memorize some of my favorite recipes.
  • Complete one house-related project per month. This can be as simple as cleaning out a closet that’s bursting at the seams or choosing a new bedside lamp for the guest room, or it can be more time-consuming, something like repainting our master bedroom nightstands or reupholstering our couch.
  • Pursue more writing opportunities.  I am so grateful that I get to write consistently for the powerhouse that is Darling Magazine and also occasionally for the beautiful Bungalow Magazine. In addition to working on pieces for these publications, I’d like to more intentionally pursue other freelance projects and also work on some essays, query letters, and writing exercises in my free time. I love to write – it’s such a life-giving creative outlet for me – but I’d like to fine-tune some of my skills and also identify my weaknesses so that I can work to improve them.

So there you have it! What do you think – will you make a list of School Year Resolutions?

Image via designlovefest