Tagged: New Year

A Practical New Year

While I believe that each new day is an opportunity to start fresh, I think each New Year is a particularly poignant time reassess and reinvent. The first of the year is often filled with lofty goals and elaborate ideas for the months to come. I’ve set many intentions for myself in January that never came to fruition by December, but I don’t think this occasion is just a time to make plans you’re never going to keep. I still believe that the New Year is more than that.

In the last few months of 2015, the concept of focusing on the process as opposed to the end goal came up in my life repeatedly. By the third instance, I knew I really needed to pause and take in this notion. What would it be like to devote my attention to the process instead of the end result? As someone who has a very hard time being present and who is constantly thinking ten steps ahead, this sounded like a real challenge.

Process Outcome 2016 Final

I began to journal some thoughts for the New Year from this process-based perspective. I immediately found myself concentrating on how I wanted to do things as opposed to what I wanted to do. For example, I want to exude more confidence in myself and my business, and I want to work on more projects that truly interest and inspire me. After establishing how I want to do things differently, the steps toward what I need to do to make them happen began to follow. At first it felt uncomfortable and a little scary to have more subjective ideas for 2016, but a tiny spark in me felt excited about the possibilities this approach could unleash.

As you write down or at least contemplate the inevitable New Year’s resolutions, I challenge you to shift your focus to the process instead of the outcome. Consider how you want to work rather than what you want to work on. Take time to discover the potential you might have in 2016 with this process-based mindset. Happy New Year!

Creative Habit: Read (A Book)

It’s funny that I often forget about reading, considering it’s such an essential part of being a writer. I’ll go through spells where I’ll collect a bunch of books and read them one after the other, then I’ll go weeks if not months without reading. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of blogs and magazines and online articles. I read daily doing research for clients or simply staying up to date in my industry, but I mean reading (a book).

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Reading a book seems pretty self-explanatory, right? But there are a few ways you can make a habit of reading books in a more creative way.  I’ll give you a pass if you absolutely adore your Kindle or the like – they do make things quite convenient, particularly for those who travel often or commute on public transportation and need a one-handed approach. However, I encourage you to read a physical book whenever possible. We look at screens all day, and many of us are conditioned to certain habits when reading on a screen. You may associate reading on screens with work as opposed to pleasure, and you may tend to skim to get through the material more quickly. When you read a book, it should be a ritual – you should slowly slip away from the world around you and into the pages. I believe physical books help facilitate this practice – they help to ensure reading is a leisure activity, and they help you to slow down and really take in each and every word.

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What you read also impacts the creative habit of reading. I had such an “ah ha!” moment when I heard Cyndie Spiegel, a business strategy coach for creative entrepreneurs, talk about the benefit of reading fiction versus non-fiction. In one of Cyndie’s newsletters she discussed “turning down the noise” and reminded us that constantly reading non-fiction books on your industry or interests or stage of life can influence your connection to yourself. When you’re disconnected from yourself and more vulnerable to outside influences, your creativity is impacted. You may be more judgmental or less inspired. So, I love Cyndie’s suggestion to read more fiction. Escape into another universe, dive into the life of a character, and allow yourself to fantasize.

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The holiday season and end of the year is an incredibly hectic and stressful time for almost everyone. Now more than ever, we need a creative outlet, particularly one that can easily be carried in a pocket or purse. Pick up a book this holiday season. When you need a break from the bustle or family, drift away into a story without even leaving the room.

If you’re just joining the creative habit series, be sure to look back at the challenges for the past four months for more creative inspiration and learn about the book that sparked the series, Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. Finally, don’t forget to share your experience making a habit of reading (a book) using the hashtag #AOCBlogCreativeHabit.

3 Tips to Attainable New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions come with such a lofty weight. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about dreaming big and setting high expectations for yourself whether it be in your personal or professional life. However, starting the New Year with resolutions that are not attainable will only set you up for frustration and disappointment. Even worse, the wrong approach to resolutions may actually hinder you from accomplishing the real objectives you have for yourself and the next year of your life.

We’re now about halfway through January (wow!), how are your 2015 resolutions going so far?

Have you already strayed from the resolutions you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?

It’s not too late to accomplish your ambitions! While a new year is a benchmark time to set new goals for yourself and your life, you can do this anytime. Each day is an opportunity to start fresh and new.

My 3 tips to attainable New Year’s resolutions are not rocket science or some be-all-end-all solution. In fact, they’re fairly simple. Perhaps they will make you think about your aspirations for 2015 a little differently, and maybe 2015 will be the year you re-think your resolutions and actually achieve them!


1. START WITH SMALL STRIDES

You’re not going to attain your resolutions immediately, all at once, or even with one attempt. Actually accomplishing your aspirations takes time, planning, and starting with small strides. State your goals – bring them out of your mind and into existence. Sometimes simply declaring or asking for what we want for ourselves or our lives can be the hardest step. If you’re a list-maker like me, write them down, or just say them out loud and discuss them with a friend, family member, or partner. Once you’ve established what you aim to achieve in 2015, identify the first step to attaining each resolution. Not all five, ten, twenty steps it may or may not take. Begin with just the first step. When you start with small strides, it makes your resolutions manageable and more realistic to attain. After you’ve completed that initial step, repeat this process for step two and three and so on.

2. DO EVERYTHING IN MODERATION

“Do everything in moderation” is a method my mom aims to employ in every facet of her life. It’s a method she has instilled in me. When you actually approach all aspects of your life with this motto, it can truly make you a more well-rounded, fulfilled, and healthy person. There is too much of a good thing (and a bad thing at that). This year, instead of attempting to make drastic or extreme modifications to your life, try to do everything in moderation. Instead of proclaiming you’re going to – go to the gym seven days a week… cut all carbs from your diet… write a blog post every day… stop watching TV – make your resolutions more attainable with moderation: I’m going to go to the gym one more day each week… cut carbs from my diet on Wednesdays… write a blog post every other day… stop watching TV on Sundays. Yes, this may require you to reassess the goals you established in step one. Who said you couldn’t modify your resolutions? They’re not set in stone and can evolve as you do. The idea of doing everything in moderation really goes hand in hand with taking small strides. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re the tortoise not the hare. You have 365 days to slowly, steadily, methodically attain your resolutions.

3. REFLECT ON YOUR PROGRESS

I already talked a bit about reflection in my last post of 2014. I believe when used in a positive and productive manner, reflection is a key part of success. As we move forward and as we begin to attain our resolutions, we often lose sight of where we started and how far we’ve really come. We start focusing on what’s next and wanting more. This is why it’s important to stop and acknowledge the small successes, the steps that got you there, the progress made before the ultimate goal is achieved. It goes back to step one – small strides. While it would be ideal to accomplish every resolution you set forth for 2015, you might not. Even if you don’t attain a resolution in its entirety, it’s worth celebrating the progress you made toward that goal.


MY 2015 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

I wanted to share a few of my aspirations for 2015 and how I aim to apply these 3 tips to make attainable resolutions to my own goals for the New Year.

2015 resolutions numbers

1. Write at least one poem each month.

Most of you know me as a writer and blogger, but I’m also a poet. Poetry has been a more abstract way for me to express myself since my teens. Up until 2014, I used to write roughly 20-40 poems each year. When I began my career as a freelance writer and blogger, my poetry fell further and further behind my other writing obligations. In September, I completely lost this integral part of my life. So, in 2015 I want to return to my poetry by starting with one poem this month and each month after.

UPDATE: I’ve got the bare bones of two poems with the working title “The Girl With No Face” inspired by two girls who sat next to me on the subway.

2. Spend time with a girlfriend at least once each month.

Graduating college was a huge turning point for me and my girlfriends. I moved to Wisconsin and my best girls moved to Texas, Louisiana, Florida, New York, and Georgia. While I connected with some amazing fellow bloggers in Wisconsin, I can honestly say I did not make a close girlfriend in the three years I lived there. Most of the time this didn’t bother me. I never really considered myself a girl’s girl. I’ve always had a very small circle of girlfriends and a great number of guy friends. However, three years without girl’s nights, friendly closet raids, and good old fashion chats over coffee gave me an amazing appreciation for my girlfriends. In the New Year, I not only hope to make a new girlfriend in my new city, New York, but also enhance the time I spend with my girlfriends around the country.

UPDATE: I’ve got plans with not one, not two, but FIVE girlfriends in the next couple weeks! Maybe I need to reassess this goal and up the ante!

3. Read at least four books in their entirety.

It’s sad to say that I maybe read two books cover to cover in 2014. I’m also ashamed to admit I’m one of those who has a bad habit of starting a book and not finishing it. Reading is an integral part of being a writer, and if I’m being completely honest with myself (and you), I don’t read nearly enough. This month I’ll be picking up my first book of 2015 and aim to be finishing it and starting my second by March.

UPDATE: I’m two-thirds of the way through an amazing book that has been on my shelf for years – The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. I intend to write reviews for the books I read in 2015, but for this particular publication I’m developing a series for the blog! 

4. Take at least one dance class each month.

Dance was a major part of my life and identity from age three to twenty-three. When I graduated from college, I replaced dance with Pilates and yoga. While I love these practices, they are not and will never be dance. Yes, it is difficult to find adult dance classes, but now that I live in New York City, I no longer have an excuse. Booking a class in January will be step one!

UPDATE: I’m fortunate to have received a gift certificate to a local dance studio from two of my friends as a birthday present – step one is done!

5. Buy and learn to operate a serious camera.

Photography – both photographing and being photographed – are two of my biggest struggles as a blogger. I’ve avoided photography whenever possible in my first year of blogging and relied on my talented photographer friends when photography was unavoidable. In 2015 I want to face my fear of photography head-on by vowing to purchase my first camera and learn how to use it. Buying a camera is a big investment in time and money, so I know that attaining this resolution will require some discipline on my part (namely curbing my shopping habit). However, I know the long term benefits it will have for me and my blog and believe I’m up for this challenge in the New Year!

UPDATE: So far, January has been a very successful month for my freelance writing and styling business. After spending a lot on the move to NYC and the holidays, it feels amazing to be back in a place of prosperity! I’m developing an attainable system to set aside a certain percentage of my income to put toward a camera. 

Reflecting on 2014

Reflecting on the past can be an important part of moving forward. I often choose to end each year looking back at what has transpired and what I’ve accomplished. When a portion of your life is documented online – through social media or a blog – it’s easy to travel back in time through the past 365 days. Sometimes this is a blessing and a curse. There’s a point at which spending too much time on the past can hinder our journey into the future. There’s such a fine line between constructive and detrimental reflection on the past.

For me, the past year – my first year of freelancing and blogging full-time – has been a lot of learning what not to do. I’ve made a number of poor decisions as I’ve taken total and complete control of carving and shaping my career. While I know it’s all part of the learning process, it’s easy to fall into the trap of looking back with a negative mindset – the could-have, would-have, should-have mindset. Of course there are many, many things I could have, would have, should have done differently. The key to reflecting on these moments in a productive way is to acknowledge and examine what can be learned from them as I head into a new year and fresh start.

Whether it be self-imposed or a force from the universe, there’s a lot of pressure on year two of freelancing and blogging from New York City. So, I’m spending the last day of 2014 focusing on my energy – mental, physical, emotional energy – and reflecting on 2014. As cheesy as it sounds, I have this intuition that this is my year. It’s scary to proclaim in writing on such a public forum, but perhaps this is my first step in telling the universe I’m ready!


W I N T E R

1. Happy New Year 2014

2. Styling with Black & White

3. Top 5 Fashion Magazines


S P R I N G

4. Mad Men Fashion

5. A Fusion of Music & Fashion

6. Bathing Suit Guide


S U M M E R 

7. Blogger Bazaar Milwaukee

8. Midwest Style Blogger Happy Hour

9. Exploring the Adventure Issue: Eide Magazine

10. My Best Friend’s Wedding

11. Styling for Men: Amsterdam Station

12. Fan Favorite Look: Styling Singer/Songwriter Erica Bryan

13. Just Knotted ARTicles of Clothing Blog Bands

14. Level 99 Contest Winner

15. Little Black Dress


F A L L

16. Gameyday with Girly Go Garter

17. Styling for Fall ft. Encore

18. ARTicles of Clothing Blog’s First Birthday

19. Go Blog Social Conference Chicago, Illinois

20. Day to Night YouTube Makeup Tutorial with Woo Skincare & Cosmetics

21. Styling for Portraits

22. Activewear Essentials for Fall YouTube Video

23. Elizabeth & James Eyewear

24. Birthday in NYC with blogger GaBrielle Pedriani of Look Sharp, Sconnie

25. Stylish Holiday Wine Tastings at Osteria Mattone

5 Perfect Planners for 2015

We all have big plans for 2015, and we need somewhere to write them down and keep them organized. That’s why the best way to set yourself up for success in the New Year is to start with a new planner or agenda. I’ve used a number of different planners over the years in all sizes, layouts, and colors. I’ve also found that as my life has changed, my agenda has needed to change with it – from student to employed to self-employed – each has required a certain type of organization. However, the one thing that has never changed when shopping for a planner is finding one that is charming and inspiring. So, I’ve rounded up 5 perfect planners for 2015 to cater to all your scheduling needs. Plus, each planner is beautifully designed to suit your personal or professional style. Make 2015 the year you plan for success by organizing your time, tracking your progress, and dreaming big! Start the New Year with a fresh new agenda to write down your goals and aspirations for the year ahead!


1. THE BIG CALENDAR WEEKLY PLANNER, $24

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gain an outlook for the weeks and months ahead with The Big Calendar’s Weekly Planner. This hard-cover agenda with sweet floral watercolor design is sure to help you maintain an organized schedule in 2015! Includes yearly calendar, international holidays, notes pages, and monthly overviews upon request for no additional charge.


2. SARA PINTO WEEKLY PLANNER, $20

Sara Pinto

This Sara Pinto Weekly Planner is the most affordable of the planners showcased and features an assortment of three available patterns, including this unique and girly camo print. Includes three year snapshot view, monthly view, notes pages, weekly view, special days, future planning, and telephone/address section.


3. NINJ & NINJ WEEKLY PLANNER, $25

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As a writer, I’m quite partial to this Ninj & Ninj Weekly Planner, which features a Shakespeare quote from a Midsummer Night’s Dream on the front cover: Though she be but little she is fierce. It’s also perfect if you’re petite like me! Includes 12-monthly weekly planning pages with notes section, 2015 and 2016 years at a glance, monthly overviews between each month, separeate notes pages, and storage pocket.


4. MAY DESIGNS AGENDA, $22

AOC May Designs

A friend gave me a May Designs Agenda a couple years ago, and I absolutely adored it. May Designs agendas are completely customizable – the planner pattern, monogram shape, typography, colors, and inner pages. If you want an agenda that absolutely suits your style and organizational needs, look no further than May Designs!


5. SHE PLANS TO DO LIST PLANNER, $36

She Plans

I splurged on this ShePlans agenda for the New Year. If you know me, you know I’m a major maker of to-do lists, so this was the perfect planner for me to kick off 2015! Includes A LOT!

• Colorful laminated Monthly Tabs
• Notes Pocket in the back of the planner
• National holidays on both weekly & monthly pages
• 10 pages of notes (including a specific tab for notes) at the back of the planner
• A User’s Guide – great information on how I use my To Do List Planner
• Important Dates & Personal Goals for 2015, by month
• Gift Giving page to jot down ideas as they come to you throughout the year
• Holidays & Observances at a glance for 2015, 2016 & 2017
• 2015 & 2016 calendars at a glance

MONTHLY SPREADS include
• inspirational quotes & space to reflect upon those quotes
• large format calendar for maximum writing area
• national holidays

WEEKLY SPREADS include
• My MASTER LIST of things to do
• Monthly “at a glance” calendars for previous, current, and next month
• Moments that make this week special section to reflect on the week with gratitude

EACH DAY includes
• Today is Special section to note birthdays & celebrations
• Appointment times from 7:00am – 7:00pm
• Evening Plans for meal planning, late night practices, or anything you’d like to accomplish at night.

Please note:  In order to celebrate the holidays with her family, Ashley (owner of ShePlans) only has printables available Dec 20th-28th. All planners will be available for sale beginning on the 29th. Ashley is awesome to work with, so feel free to send her a message if you need additional assistance purchasing your planner.