31 Birthday Loves

I turned 31 last week.

I love birthdays, and this one was no different… Only it was so different in many ways.

I wanted to celebrate with a brunch!… So we did. While we were dumped on with 30 inches of snow! (Winter and I have a long history of hatred for one another)

My sister came to visit, and we had a blast. – She will never know how much I love her and cherish her. It amazes me that she is truly 12 1/2 years younger than me because our relationship is so sweet and fun and funny!

My sister, a friend and I went on a whirlwind trip to NYC, and it was one of the best days! Exhausting, but so much fun!

I had to work long hours on my birthday and the day after (thankfully I very much like my job), but we still found time to do so much celebrating with breakfast with the roomies, dinner and an amazing and intense movie (13 Hours), another surprise dinner the day after with SO many of my favorite peoples, and then yet another surprise of going shooting at a gun range… Which means I can now cross off Revolver from the guns I want to shoot list!

So much love, but what made it truly amazing was the hundreds (and I truly mean hundreds without exaggeration) hugs, happy birthday songs, phone calls, e-mails, text messages, pictures, and social media posts wishing me a happy birthday.. Sweet notes, full of love, encouragement, and prayers… Not to mention the cupcakes, edible arrangements, flowers, gifts, and cards.

Overwhelming in the absolute best way possible.

Never in my life have I felt such a consistent outpouring of love and excitement.

So, while I think I was able to respond to everyone and thank them, I want to be sure and let you all know how grateful I am…

Thank you for loving me, speaking into my life, seeing the best in me, celebrating me, praying for me, and for all of the big and small ways that you choose to do life with me!
Thank you for laughing with and at me, encouraging me, helping to make me better each day, and for caring so much about me!

What an amazing birthday completely overflowing with love, 31 is going to be an amazing year!

Thank you for loving me on my 31st birthday week!

#NeverDull2016

 

Journey Towards Health

So, I turned 30 a couple of weeks ago, and since my birthday falls so closely to the beginning of the year, I tend to take on both the year and my goals combined as though they are one.

So, this year, I have a plethora of goals and things I would like to accomplish, but, more than previous years, I am creating this year as a course correction of sorts for the future.

I have begun to budget meticulously, so that I can pay off large chunks of debt this year… Plus I am excited to take a class through work that will help me be successful even more.

Through a friend and co-worker I’ve discovered MindMeister.com and am mind mapping goals for this year… All of them, big and small.

I have finally stepped out and contacted a cousin for guidance on my diet and exercise… I also bought new shoes (cause my others were broken a long time ago).. and I will be joining a gym this week.

I have also started reading my Bible and actually studying it.. not just reading it for informational purposes.. Or worse, to get my time “in” with God in order to move on, but, instead genuinely to focus and spend time with Him to grow and be cultivated.

 

I feel like it is time to pull myself together on multiple fronts at the same time. Up until now, I have slowly been learning to budget, and slowly monitoring and focusing on my health. However, I have also sort of just done it in a bit of a loosey goosey kinda way.

Already, six(ish) weeks into 2015 and a few weeks into 30, I am beginning to feel better. More stabilized and balanced with significantly less worry in my heart on multiple levels. Some days still being full of worry and stress, others not at all, and then the rough back and forth between stress and peace.

I think when I stop and look at the things that are causing me the most stress, it almost always boils back to finances. I find myself every so often begin to spiral into worry with questions like:
Should I spend the $20 a month on a gym membership or apply that to debt?
Should I budget for going out or put that into savings?
Should I put money into cheaper foods to save, or spend more on the healthier foods I love?

Then, a few weeks ago it dawned on me… I didn’t get myself into debt¬†quickly, so I must give myself the space to live well (meaning healthy, not in abundance) in order to create joy and refreshing that can counteract the stress and worry for the long haul of paying off debt. Especially since, the primary debt I have is educational.. And the rest is mostly a carry over from being unemployed for so long.

I have been intensely purposeful lately about letting go of my anxieties and relaxing the stress that I have been holding onto every day.

You see, my theme for this year is health… I haven’t been able to come up with a good rhyming hashtag since “thirtyflirtyandthriving” just doesn’t quite hit the mark for this year. But, thirty really does seems like a great year to gain my health back on every front in order to move forward in a new decade!

Sweet, sweet health. I am so looking forward to walking in your direction consistently this year, and creating healthy habits moving forward. Physical, emotional, and spiritual health, those are the things I am aiming towards this year.

Looking Ahead: 2015

So, I do a year in review every year, and it is my favorite blog post to do annually because it forces me to pause and reflect on where I have been, what I have done, and the people and things that have changed me. I also have found that taking time to remember tends to cause and overwhelming feeling of gratitude to God for all the things He has done and ways that He has once again proven his faithfulness. You can read about the 2014 review here, 2013 here, and 2012 here.. Beyond that, if you’re still interested you can look in my December archives for each year ūüôā

My second favorite post of the year is the one where I look ahead, make goals, resolutions, plans, and share the things I can see (or not see) coming, as well as any thoughts or insights into what it feels like God is up to in my life.

This year I turn 30!

I am stoked.

It may seem odd that I am so excited, but for some reason I am.
I am looking forward to starting a new decade of my life.
I am looking forward to feeling like there is less pressure at 30 to prove yourself.
I am looking forward to enjoying life in a new way.

  1. The year I was 29 was incredibly difficult, but it has only caused me to resolve to create healthy habits across every aspect of my life.
  2. This year I am excited about starting a new job and continuing my consulting work, learning, growing, experiencing, helping others, and leading well.
  3. I want to read like crazy this year. I want to learn from other people’s experiences and then figure out how to apply them to what I am doing.
  4. I need to get new running shoes (my other one’s are broken), but, as soon as I do I want to get back to running and weight lifting.
  5. I want to eat healthy and properly hydrate myself. I feel like I made significant progress over the last six months, but I still need make better choices moving forward, so I plan on it.
  6. I am looking forward to walking. I am within walking distance of work, have a dog who needs exercise, and live in a highly active city.. I want to experience and take full advantage.
  7. I want to dance often. I miss Salsa dancing (or latin dancing in general) immensely whenever I do not get to do it regularly… So, now that I have returned to a city that has a great dancing scene, I plan on jumping back in regularly!
  8. I want to be better at mailing letters and cards. I plan on making it a weekly habit to mail at least one letter or card, whether long or short… (That being said.. send me your address if you would like to get added to my list!)
  9. I need to get back in the habit of praying regularly and for extended periods of time for friends, family, and situations of others… So, my mirror 3×5 cards are going back up!
  10. I took a significant break from blogging many times throughout last year. I just felt like I had nothing of value to share, so I said nothing at all. But, I missed it, a lot. So, regularly weekly blogs are getting put back into the rotation of schedule.
  11. I want so badly to travel internationally this year!
  12. I have 5 years to pay off a stupid ridiculous amount of debt, but I am determined to keep my focus there. Even if I do not attain my goal (which, at this stage, I’m not sure how I would) focusing on it will ensure that I am being diligent and making wise choices.
  13. I want to put money in savings!
  14. I want to add to and cross things off my before I die bucket list year!
  15. I need to carve out space in my schedule to read and actually study scripture.
  16. I am going to keep a jar full of daily things that were blessings, positives, good moments, things I was thankful for that day. — I did this for about 5 months of last year, this year I aim for the whole year.

I think this year is going to be jam-packed and I am so excited about it. I cannot wait to look back at the year and marvel at how many things I crammed into each week.
I feel as though this year I am going to be trying to drink out of a firehose all year. I am looking forward to the laughter and ridiculousness of things that are surely going to happen in the process of trying to absorb it all.
I have a feeling that I will get really good this year at owning up to mistakes and apologizing for the things I dropped the ball on.

As I start 2015, I am at a place of marvel and wonder. I am totally amazed at where I find myself after having moments of wondering if the difficult and painful things would ever end.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the marvel and wonder won’t go away for a while, and I’m totally ok with that.

 

Love of Traveling…

I love traveling.

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Seriously, short or far, driving, the train, or flying, I love traveling. Even the obnoxiousness of delays, weather, unforeseen obstacles, I love the unknown adventure that comes with traveling.

I think my love for traveling is why I miss Europe so terribly every day. Seriously, I think about my two-week trip to Europe every single day.

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I replay conversations had with one of my best friends…
Cable car of death

I remember amazing food… and some.. not so fabulous food.
Pizza Venice Cafe Dessert Clams1

I laugh to myself about funny conversations, signs, experiences, reactions etc…

Falling Sign

I miss exploring, and walking until I have cankles, and getting to just play and experience something entirely new that I had no idea existed, or had on my bucket list to cross off.
Effiel Tower and UsPutting Ankles Up

I love seeing things that take my breath away.
High ceiling

I miss having nothing to do but talk about anything that comes to mind whether serious, silly, ridiculous, precious, touching, memories, heartaches.. all of it.
Venice

I even miss the crazy adventures that were inadvertently created trying to lug everything around from city to amazing city.
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Every single day I miss it.

But, mostly, right now I think I miss how my heart felt traipsing around Europe. I felt full, excited, loved, like God and I were connected, and as though my partner in crime understood me perfectly. For the very first time in my adult life, I had the chance to take a real vacation and just relax and let my mind not think about work or school for an extended period of time. I was able to just focus on the things in front of me, not the things I had to do tomorrow or checking things off my to-do list… I was able to use the time to process through hurts and bounce thoughts off of someone repeatedly as I worked through them over the course of the couple of weeks. I had the chance to look through my camera lens and be creative and see beauty.

Taking Pictures

Barcelona sunrise

Life just looks different when you purposefully look for beauty.
I want to do better at purposefully looking every daily.

Classic Paris

And, we laughed. All the time, every day.

I will often find my heart suddenly transported back to the feelings I had when I see pictures of (any of) my trips… Such as, I will once again find my heart full of thankfulness to God for allowing us to see the sunrise on a completely cloud covered morning.

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While I realize, that sometimes it may just be that it is easier to miss something purely because it was fun and great, and I am in full on hatred mode of winter right now… (since the snow pile in the driveway is taller than me…) But, in reality most of my sentiments are not really a new feeling, every single day since getting back, I have thought about my trip to Europe. I will find myself going about normal activities, and things I learned will bubble to the top of my mind to be mulled over again, conversations we had will replay in my head, people we talked to will spring to mind, and all of the time we were able to just be together and be friends; it was exactly perfect.

I think that the beauty I see in traveling, the experiences that follow me for the rest of my life, and all of the things that I find myself learning and going back to for such a long time add to my love of it all.

I could talk endlessly about all of the things I have learned and the ways that traveling has changed me, but it would be better conveyed over a cup of coffee in person.

Although, in reality, sometimes the learning takes place while you travel will show up in the form of just fun trivia… Like seeing a scene in a movie (Now You See Me) and knowing that the place does NOT actually look like it is depicted on the movie.. therefore it is a set.Lock.KiraLock.MeLock.Both

And, like the one time I was thumbing through a¬†“100 things you must see before you die” book and seven¬†of them I saw on my¬†trip ONE trip to Europe, and three others I had seen on other trips… (And, I even think that some of my pictures were better than in the book!)

I have now experienced two types of travels: Travels to help others, and travel for the sake of fun. Either one is great and honestly life changing in different ways, but both serve a wonderful and unique purpose. I love each type of trip.

All of these things, and so many more are what continue to grow my love of traveling, and why it will always hold a special place in my heart unlike anything else.

Getting Started…

I created a list of 29 things I wanted to do this year because I turn 29 in a couple of weeks, and I figured it gave me something to do and work towards that is not just the typical “new years resolutions”.

Check out my 29 Things While Being 29 post.

So, getting started in 2014:

5. I have started saving a few dollars every week, despite my unemployed status.

11. I am currently looking at things I want to add to my Life Goals bucket list.

13. I am reading through my first book Victory of Eagles¬†(and I’m already halfway through it), only have 11 more to go!

19. My first section of scripture I’m memorizing is Titus 3:4-8a.

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29.¬†I have created a jar for daily notes of good things I am thankful for. Although, it is actually too small for a year’s worth of¬†notes, but it works even still.

 

What are you doing to get into accomplishing your goals for this year?

 

29 Things While Being 29…

Venice Lunch.2I do a year-end review each December, which is probably my favorite post annually, but, my second is a looking ahead to the coming year.

This year’s post however, is a different version of my typical looking ahead/New Years post.

I have been doing quite a bit of thinking about this upcoming year, and I have realized a few things:
First, I have no idea what this year holds. Sometimes, I have a sense, an idea of what to expect, a feeling that God is going to head in a particular direction… this year, nothing. No idea.

Second thing, this year, I will have my “golden birthday” I will be turning 29 on the 29th of January. I do not really think a “golden” birthday holds any particular luck or added blessings, but, since I love birthdays, this gives me a reason to focus on fun things instead of just talking about the year to come.

So, I wanted to share my 29 things to do while being 29 bucket list (in place of a New Years Resolution). And, I would like to highlight real quickly that, most “30 before 30” lists or “29 while I’m 29” lists are fairly lame.

(Trust, I did a lot of google searches for ideas) The lists I looked at for ideas were mostly along the lines of:
fall in love (because we can decide these things),
get married (rude),
learn to cook a meal (who doesn’t know how to at 30?!),
have a kid (are you crazy?),
forgive (ok, a good idea, but why does it need to be on a list of things to do before you’re 30?)…
Mine are much more active and intentional…

Please join me by either making your own 2014 list, participating with me on any of my items, or checking up on and praying for me throughout this year to accomplish these goals!

(I would love for them all to be numbered 29.. but that’s just not realistic so only a few of them are aptly numbered)

So, 29 things that I would like to do or accomplish while being 29 (in no particular order):

  1. Travel out of the country at least once in 2014.
  2. Visit 5 places in-country this year that are not where I live (will live or have lived also do not count).
  3. Take a road trip. – A legit “get in the car and go” trip with a few friends.
  4. Pay an additional $2,900 this year above my regular student loans payment.
  5. Build a solid savings.
  6. Go to the beach (any beach) 29 times. – What can I say, I’m a water and sun baby!
  7. See the sun rise or set at each beach I go to (weather permitting).
  8. Re-adjust 20lbs of my body from fat (yes it is there) to muscle¬†– Although probably clich√©,¬†I’m not saying I want to lose 20lbs, just re-adjust/build it.
  9. Run a half marathon.
  10. Finish the first draft of the book with my dad.
  11. Revise and add to my Life Goals bucket list.
  12. Check 29 things off my Life Goals bucket list.
  13. Read 12 new books this year (at least).
  14. Do at least one thing (spontaneously) that¬†I’m a little (or a lot) afraid of.¬†– This will remain open-ended cause I feel like pre-planning it would defeat the purpose.
  15. Be open to dating. – This one sounds odd I suppose, but I want to be intentional about being open to dating… instead of killing it in my head before it even starts.
  16. Learn West Coast Swing. РThis one was added for me by a friend haha
  17. Go Salsa dancing regularly. – Unlike learning a new type of dance, this one is more just going and dancing frequently since I love it.
  18. Create a list of 29 things to pray for, and then¬†pray for them regularly all year-long. – Feel free to send me things you would like me to add (this is on top of my 3×5 cards).
  19. Memorize 29 new scriptures. – I just feel like this is something I tend to neglect, and I do not think that is an ok thing to let continue.
  20. Finish reading the entire Bible. РI started last year and have only gotten half way through.
  21. Take 29 days this year and fast. РLikely a fruits and veggie fast since my body does well with those.
  22. Snail-Mail 29 hand written letters/cards this year.¬†– Who doesn’t love getting notes in the mail?!
  23. Send 6 care packages. РI just really feel like I need to focus on being intentional about loving others better in ways such as this one.
  24. Draw or Paint a large piece of art to hang in my place. – I have neglected painting and drawing for years and miss it terribly.
  25. Go camping or backpack for a weekend with friends. – I don’t think my friends realize how many things they’re gonna have to do this year with me!
  26. Throw a themed house party. – I have always loved the Murder Mystery parties… So, maybe something similar to that.. or just a fun themed party!
  27. Pay for a stranger’s order 29 times throughout the year. – This will probably get difficult to keep track of, but I like the idea of having to consciously think of this type of stuff repeatedly.
  28. Make my t-shirt quilt. – I have been intending to do this for more than 5 years!
  29. Collect a daily note of something I’m thankful for/memorable moment and collect them in a jar all year. – I got this idea from my sister-in-law and loved the idea.

I am excited to do all 29 of these things on this list in 2014! Please join me in any (or all) of these items. At the very least, I hope that you get inspired to make your own list of things to do in 2013.

Let the fun commence for the year I’m 29!

Revised Bucket List…

When I was in high school, I decided I wanted to be the type of old person who had so many ridiculous and crazy stories of things I have done, places I have been, and people I have met that the only question that would make sense is: “How did you have time to do everything?” When I settled on that as a huge goal in life, I began crafting a bucket list of sorts… Only, it is more of my “life” goals, but the meaning is essentially the same I suppose.

So, regularly I revise my bucket list because I think it should be ever-growing and molding; plus, I must replace the items I have accomplished with new ones!

A couple of years ago, I re-organized my list and created categories which has made it easier to manage, follow, update and honestly just be really excited about. So…

It is time to update my Life Goals list again!

Experiences:

  1. Watch the sunrise AND sunset from each side of every ocean or sea (a = Sunrise, b = Sunset): 1. Pacific (b), 2. Atlantic, 3. Indian, 4. Arctic, 5. Southern, 6. Mediterranean Sea (a), 7. Caribbean, 8. South China Sea, 9. Bering Sea, 10. Gulf of Mexico (b), 11. Okhotsk Sea, 12. East China Sea, 13. Hudson Bay, 14. Japan Sea, 15. Andaman Sea, 16. North Sea, 17. Red Sea, 18. Baltic Sea
  2. Have a croissant at a French cafe 
  3. Ride a gondola in Venice
  4. Stay in a hostel
  5. Attend Loy Krathong, the sky lantern festival in Thailand
  6. Attend La Tomatina in Spain
  7. Be in Spain for running of the Bulls (but not participate)
  8. Move somewhere new alone
  9. Participate in a giant food fight
  10. Drink whiskey at a pub in Ireland
  11. Ride a helicopter
  12. Ride an elephant
  13. Ride a camel in the desert
  14. Ride through the Panama Canal
  15. Horseback ride through a coffee plantation
  16. Jump off a waterfall
  17. See the Pyramids at sunset
  18. See a glacier in Antarctica
  19. Visit the church made entirely of bones
  20. Visit ancient ruins
  21. Stay in the ice hotel
  22. Stand on the Great Wall of China
  23. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  24. Stand inside the Taj Mahal
  25. Tube down a river
  26. Learn to roll in a kayak
  27. Learn to snowboard, and ski
  28. Learn to wakeboard and water ski
  29. Drive a sports car over 100mph
  30. Go parasailing
  31. Go paragliding
  32. Go dog sledding
  33. Go on a Safari in Africa 
  34. Go rock climbing
  35. Go to the Kentucky Derby
  36. Go white water rafting
  37. Go Sky diving
  38. Go on a multi-day biking trip
  39. Go on a cruise
  40. Go wine tasting
  41. Wine taste at a vineyard in Italy
  42. Climb a volcano 
  43. Climb a glacier 
  44. Climb a mountain
  45. See and/or climb Mt. Kilomanjaro and Mt. Everest
  46. Hike the Inca Trail 
  47. Watch the sunrise or sunset over the Grand Canyon
  48. Watch the Northern Lights 
  49. See a shooting star 
  50. See Bioluminescent Plankton 
  51. Ring a church bell
  52. Choose fifty favorite places to relax and connect with God
  53. Attend the entire summer Olympics
  54. Zip line through a canopy
  55. Drink lemonade on the front porch swing on warm summer night
  56. Live in a house with a window seat and wrap around porch
  57. Christen a boat
  58. Learn to surf
  59. Learn to paddleboard  
  60. Dive with Manta Rays in Hawaii
  61. Swim in the Dead Sea
  62. Swim with a whale
  63. Snorkel the great barrier reef in Australia
  64. Swim with bioluminescent plankton in Puerto Rico
  65. Scuba dive 
  66. Tango in a milonga 
  67. Spend a night in a treehouse
  68. Have a big wedding celebration with everyone I love

Travel:

  1. Set foot on all seven continents: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.
  2. Set foot in all fifty states:Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
  3. Cross the Canadian border 
  4. Go to Cuba
  5. Go to Spain
  6. Straddle the equator on two continents
  7. Take a road trip across the U.S.
  8. Have an adventure in Greece
  9. Take a month-long vacation without computers
  10. Live in another country for a year
  11. Go to Fiji
  12. Spend a summer touring Europe
  13. Go to Hawaii
  14. Go to South America with my sister

Personal:

  1. Attend a Ball
  2. Learn Latin dances: Argentine Tango, Salsa, Cumbia, Merengue, Cha cha, Bachata, Rumba, Mambo,
  3. Learn to West Coast Swing
  4. Be a published artist
  5. Get art in a gallery
  6. Write a book or novel
  7. Finish and publish ‚ÄúFacts of Life‚ÄĚ
  8. Throw a block party
  9. Blog consistently for 10 years
  10. Go a day without speaking
  11. Organize a retreat
  12. Start and run my own business
  13. Get my second degree black belt
  14. Get a tattoo (I have two)
  15. Do two pull ups 
  16. Own a very large dog 
  17. Be conversational in two languages: 1. English 2. Spanish
  18. Learn a least enough in three additional languages to semi-understand
  19. Make my own list of the hundred best things to eat
  20. Plant a tiny orchard
  21. Grow vegetables in my own garden
  22. Go berry picking
  23. Make completely homemade pies 
  24. Make butterscotch from scratch (I have a recipe, now I just need to get all the ingredients and do it!)
  25. Run a 10k
  26. Run a half marathon
  27. Shoot every major gun: Pistol, Shotgun, Rifle, Muzzleloader, Revolver
  28. Start a fire without a match
  29. Build a house from start to finish
  30. Own a Beach house with friends

Giving:

  1. Help someone get through college
  2. Do something for someone they can never repay
  3. Tithe my whole life
  4. Start a non-profit or help run one
  5. Buy stock on my own
  6. Do one grand loving gesture a year
  7. Be debt free by 35
  8. Use my work to improve lives
  9. Remove money as a concern from my life
  10. Gift 1 million dollars to missions (not tithing)
  11. Help my family become debt free
  12. Give people in ministry free vacations at the beach house

Total, there are 124 things on my bucket list so far, which realistically is more than that due to the sub points. And, since this is an ever evolving Life Goals, things will likely be crossed off and added to this year.

In 2013, I crossed off 12 things from my list!.. In 2014, I aim to cross off more than double that!

I am currently working on a list of 29 things I want to do in 2014 because I am turning 29 on the 29th of January! One of the things I have discovered as I compile this “29 Things” list is, most “30 things to do before you’re 30” lists are lame, and almost all of the “29 things to do when you are 29” lists I have found are stupid. So, I will attempt to create an actual solid list of things to do in a year, and leave out things such as, “Forgive” “Fall in love” or “get married” as key points on my list… My list will be much more active and intentional.

I cannot wait to share my 29 things I want to do in 2014!