Goal Writing for the New Year

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In 2017 I committed to making no New Years resolutions.

I know not only statistically, but also personally, that making New Years resolutions rarely ever  works or leads to actual results. Instead, I told myself that I was going to focus on self-growth, allowing myself to evolve naturally through the experiences of this year.

So, as with anything else, I made a giant list on a poster board of all the things I wanted to accomplish, try, or experience in 2017. I looked through magazines, Pinterest, various websites, anything that triggered any kind of inspiration and considered what would be valuable enough for me to put my energy towards. I wrote everything down and then crossed things off the list as I did them. This process turned out to be one of the best, most fun things I could have done for myself. It kept me intentional all year long, gave me things to look forward to, challenged me, and pretty much did away with any possibility of boredom because I always had ideas on hand. A lot of people follow this same concept with pictures (as you are essentially making a vision board), but I connect better with words, hence the list.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when making your own list:

  1. Write it all down – Have you been wanting to try out a new restaurant? Write it down. Have you noticed a character flaw in yourself that you’ve been wanting to improve on? Put it on the list. Are there people in your life you’ve been wanting to spend more time with? Add it to your board. My goals ranged from “Get closer to God” to “Watch all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies” and everything in between. No goal or desire is too small or too big. Just write it all down.
  2. No pressure – This list is meant to be personal. There is no right or wrong way to do it; you are doing it for you. It doesn’t matter how many things are on your list or how many things you do or do not accomplish by the end of the year. It doesn’t matter if you share it with others or keep it to yourself. It is simply a way to remind yourself of the things you want and to keep you on track.
  3. Focus – I look at my list daily and keep a picture of it in my phone for when I’m not home. This helps me to stay focused on the things I’ve written down. You will either control your day, or your day will control you. When you have something to focus on, you are more likely to better utilize your time and resources.
  4. Include things that you have no idea how you will accomplish – If you know how everything will work out, there is neither faith or adventure involved. When you include things that are your true desires and you put prayer, positive energy, and hard work into seeing them manifest, life has a funny way of conspiring to ensure that they do. I included things like “Positively impact at least 100 people” and “Find my area of competence.” I had no idea how either of those things would come to be, but as the year progressed, I found myself in positions that allowed me to spread positivity and love in both traditional and non-traditional ways. Toward the last few months of the year I started to feel like maybe I had found my thing as far as what I feel I am best at. Two of next years goals stem from these goals and are written on my 2018 board as “Positively impact at least 1,000 people” and “develop and master my area of competence (creativity, connection, and positivity). I have no idea how I will do either of those things, I just know that I will.
  5. Don’t worry about rank or order – For some people this won’t be a problem, but I feel this is important to mention for anyone who is super particular like me. The point of this list isn’t to try to get things done in any kind of order or pattern; it is more important that you let your ideas come naturally and write them down as you think of them.
  6. Leave room for the unexpected – Through this process, I found that many of the things on my list ended up being things I didn’t really care about doing, which worked out in my benefit because I was able to disregard them before doing them and instead put my energy toward something else. I also found that there were things I ended up serendipitously accomplishing in ways different than I had originally imagined. For example, number 81 on my list read “Get a new car (Maserati Ghibli).” I didn’t end up getting a Maserati, but I did unexpectedly get a new car that is not only beautiful, but works so much better for me at this stage in my life. Depending on the length and depth of your list, leave room to be okay with not crossing everything off. My 2017 list was 123 lines long- many of the things I listed did not get done. However, I still did many additional things that were not originally listed, and I know for a fact that I would have accomplished so much less had I not made a list at all. Go with the flow, this is all a learning and growing process.

 

If you’re looking to make next year full of growth, adventures, and intentionality, grab a poster board and get to writing. May the coming year, be our best year yet.

Adventure of the Week – Bagels & Brew and Chill at The Queen Mary

Unicorn Bagels we were hoping to try! (picture from Bagel & Brew's Instagram)

This week’s adventure was truly that…an adventure. We learned about planning ahead and finding what’s great about where you end up.

We set out to find Unicorn bagels at Bagels & Brew in Lake Forest. Usually I drive, but this week Julianna drove. Instead of driving to the Lake Forest location, we ended up at the Aliso Viejo location which was an extra 20 minutes away from our starting point (side note: make sure the driver knows how to operate their GPS before you actually start driving). When we finally arrived, we found out that Bagels & Brew only offers their colorful unicorn bagels Thursday – Sunday which was too bad for us because it was Wednesday. We ended up ordering a pizza bagel melt (about $5.50) to share, and it was so good that we ordered a second one. If you head over to Bagels & Brew for a pizza melt, make sure to ask for ranch because they have the good ranch (if you’re a ranch connoisseur, you know what I mean when I say “good ranch”). They also have a range of other things on their menu from salads, sandwiches, smoothies, ice cream, burgers, soup, and coffee all made with fresh ingredients.  The shopping center is cute and has several stores, a movie theater, and lots of other places to grab food if you’re in the mood for a different type of cuisine.

Pizza Melt Bagel

After dark, our family headed over to Long Beach to experience CHILL, an annual winter event that takes place aside the historic Queen Mary. CHILL showcases the food and culture of six different regions of the world.

Here’s the need to know if you plan to check out CHILL for yourself:

  1. The experience runs from December 13th- January 7th (closed on New Years Eve) from 4:30pm-11pm.
  2. Everything about it is expensive. My mom got the tickets off of Groupon, but I no longer see them available on the site. Tickets can be purchased here and cost $29.99 for adults and $19.99 for kids. Parking is a whopping $20, and to our surprise, many of the attractions inside of the event cost extra. The best attraction by far is the zip line, which cost an additional $90 for 6 of us to ride.
  3. There are free attractions once you get inside of the event such as ice skating, shuffleboard, a giant rocking horse and a tubing slide.
  4. There are plenty of places inside to get food, which feature tradition foods from different regions such as Russia, Switzerland, etc.
  5. There are several little houses where you can make crafts such as your own gingerbread house and Christmas stockings.
  6. It may be worth it if this is something you’ve really wanted to experience, but all in all, I would say that the prices are just too high when there are so many adventures out there. In calculating the cost of the full experience (entry, parking, food, and attraction tickets) for just a family of three, it would easily be at least $200. Yikes.

Until next time, adventure is out there! ♥

Do You Watch Your Language?

What kind of words come out of your mouth the most frequently?

In focusing on being keenly aware of the energy I give and receive, I’ve started paying special attention to the things I say. What I mean by this is I’ve started being consciously aware of how often I use positive words and how often I use negative words.

Take your average day into account. How often do you use the words (or words similar to) “beautiful, amazing, grateful, blessed, thankful, incredible, faith, hopeful, appreciate, wonderful, great, happy, funny, inspiring, creative, love” or any other word or phrase that has a strong association with positivity?

Now, consider how often you use the words (or words similar to) ” bad, sucks, broke, hate, poor, unhappy, never, failure, sick, won’t, can’t, stupid, ugly, worthless, stressed” or any other word or phrase that is strongly associated with negativity? Which of the those words do you most often use to describe your life? More importantly,  which of those words do you most often use to describe yourself? 

Of course there are times when certain words are indeed accurate in their descriptions ( if you have the flu, of course you are “sick”), and it is absolutely crucial that we all live our truths (if you’re overwhelmed, feeling “stressed” is completely valid). I’m not talking about the words we use to describe occurrences that happen now and again; I’m talking about the ways we habitually speak about life as a whole.

Writer Anaïs Nin said ” we don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.” How often in your day do you intentionally focus on finding something that is beautiful? How often in your day do you say “thank you” out loud? How often do you pay a compliment? It is in the average, seemingly ordinary moments that we have the power to create our own reality. Speak what you want to see.

The more positivity you speak, the more you notice it from others. My mind has become sensitized to goodness; if you’re speaking positivity, I’m automatically listening. Consequently, negativity is less able to reach me – my brain either begins to filter it in order to find the good that can be pulled from it or it just begins to tune it out. The opposite also holds true for the person whose main focus is on the negative. You get to choose which life you will live; do you want to be tuned into positivity and unavailable to negativity, or do you want to be tuned into negativity and unavailable to positivity?

We have the power to be great and add greatness into our world beginning with the things we say.  Let’s speak life into all of our situations and then go out and flourish.

 

Adventure of the Week – Dough & Arrow

Iced Guava Tea, Iced Cookie Creme Latte, Red Velvet Cookie, Smookie, and Creme Brulee cookie with our ZeroUV glasses

This week we tried the coffee and desserts at Dough & Arrow in Costa Mesa. I had originally found this spot on Instagram and was lured in by their Stranger Things inspired drinks (I rarely watch TV but cmon…it’s Stranger Things).

I had driven right by Dough & Arrow at least 50 times this year and never once even noticed it, which is further proof that some of the best places can be right under your nose!  The exterior is your average, basic strip mall store; the interior is cute, clean, and features their signature pink cookie that you see on everyone’s posts.

Dough & Arrow is known for their Ube desserts ( Philipino yams that are purple and mixed with condensed milk and butter), cookies, and edible cookie dough. They’re generous with their samples, so be sure to ask to try out the cookie dough if you can’t decide which flavor you might like. They also have a range of beverages, and they will give you a free cookie if you check in on Yelp while you’re there.

We ordered a red velvet cookie, a smookie (the cross between a smore and a cookie), a creme brulee cookie, an iced cookie cream latte, and an iced guava tea (total was roughly $12). The cookie cream latte was incredibly good, but it was also incredibly sweet. The guava tea was exceptional. They add activated charcoal to it, giving it an ombre color (this was the base of the Stranger Things drink I had originally seen online, but they stopped making it after Halloween). It is so light and refreshing, and if I had to pick one item that would cause me to return, it would be this. The cookies were also amazing. I don’t typically like creme brulee, but it was definitely the best one of the three we ordered. It was perfectly torched on the outside, yet soft and moist on the inside.

Three days later, we’re still talking about how good everything was and how we want to go back. I would definitely recommend giving Dough & Arrow a try if you are in the area!

 

Happy Adventuring ♥

I’m a Mad Scientist, Are You?

I know the thing on social media is to pretend that you have your life all together, to seem and appear as if your life flows in perfect harmony made up only of fun and good times.  I however, do not have my life all together. Not even a little bit. Nine times out of ten it’s a mess, and I am utterly and completely winging it. You could call it chaos, you could call it “learning as you go”. Realistically, it is a combination of the two along with a sprinkle of faith and a dash of hope.

I am, by nature, a “safe” person. I like predictability, I like patterns, and I like control. Even my spontaneity is typically planned, and I have to overcome a great deal of anxiety if I come up against last-minute changes. You would think that with all of the changes life poses I would instinctively be more flexible instead of having to mentally rationalize every unforeseen circumstance to prevent having some kind of breakdown, but…I can’t always help it. This is who I am.

This year, whether intentional or not, I began to see myself as an experiment. I began to realize that control is just an illusion. If we have an ounce of control in this world, it truly lies only in how we respond to the things that go on within us and around us. And if we are to respond with grace and purpose, and not out of impulse or fear or anger, we must be what I naturally am not – flexible. We must not only be flexible and forgiving with those around us, but also with ourselves. We must see ourselves as being in a constant state of evolution…of learning…of growth.

Seeing yourself as an experiment removes the pressure of expected perfection and instead replaces it with room for wonder, hope, and excitement.

No one expects an experiment to be perfect – it’s an experiment. It’s a test to see whether or not something works. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, you reformulate the experiment and try again. Consider it like those TV shows where the scientist is seen mixing the contents of random test tubes. Usually, a few blow up in his face until he mixes something that is revolutionary. The same may be true of you and your life; it absolutely is true of me and mine. A few things may result in unwanted explosions, but ultimately finding out what doesn’t work leads to the discovery of what does work. Each experiment teaches you something about yourself. Each experiment is an experience, and experiences are how we grow.

To succeed in an experiment, you need only to pay attention. Ask yourself often “What did I learn from this? What can I learn from this?” Even a “failure” is a step toward success. You can’t lose here.

This principle can be applied in all areas of our lives – from the smallest of things to the biggest of things. This year, experimentation has led me to realize that I am totally a coffee drinker. It also led me to realize that so many of the negative things I spent years believing about myself just aren’t true. It has given me a project that I am always working on and something to always look forward to.

In what areas of your life can you remove unnecessary pressure and begin approaching it using an experiment mentality?  What things have you been wanting to try but haven’t yet done so because of the fear of unexpected outcomes? If you ever find yourself in a position where you start to wonder whether or not something you’re doing is worth it or whether or not it will work out, simply tell yourself “it’s an experiment,” and continue on confidently in the direction of your goals.

My life is an experiment. Every day I am learning more about myself, evaluating where I can be more fearless, more creative, and more kind. Every day I am learning more about what I like, what I don’t like, what works for me, and what doesn’t work for me. Every day I am coming into who I truly am.

I don’t have it all figured out. Fear, hesitation, and worry still try to make their way into my mind. I am, daily, still winging it. But if there is one thing I know for sure, it is that I am the mad scientist of my own life. Can you say the same?

 

Adventure of the Week- Façade Fun House and Neat Coffee

Money Baths with Rihanna

Pop up museums are a thing of the now. This week Julianna and I scouted out the newest pop up to hit Orange County – Façade Fun House. Located in The Lab in Costa Mesa, Façade Fun House features about 8 small sets where you can let your photo loving heart run free.

You can play in a money filled tub, watch TV in the mad house, or roll around in confetti in a room that honestly has the worlds best lighting.

This pop up is small, but delivers. It delivers so well in fact, that we have decided to go again so be sure to stay tuned for more pictures from our repeat adventure!

Here’s the need to know for your trip to the Fun House:

  1. Get your tickets online ahead of time here. The tickets cost $10 (plus a $2.50 convenience fee) each. As of right now, they only have tickets available into the end of December, but the website hints at there being a change in the sets in the future instead of it just being closed.
  2. Entry is timed (as with other pop ups), but once you’re in, you can spend as much time inside as you’d like. As I mentioned above, Façade Fun House is very small inside. However, the sets are super colorful and there are so many photo possibilities. We arrived at 10 AM, were the only ones in there, spent about an hour inside, and maybe saw a total of four other people over the course of that hour. I’m not sure how it gets later in the day, but I would recommend going early if you want to avoid a lot of other people who are also there for the pictures. The Fun House is also available to be rented out for private photoshoots.
  3. The lighting inside isn’t great (except for the one room in the back), so if you have a LuMee case or a flash for your camera, I would definitely recommend bringing it.
  4. There is plenty of free parking.
  5. If you’ve never been to The LAB, it’s also a great space to get in some inspiration. Do a little shopping, grab a gourmet donut, or just sit on their outdoor swings and people watch. If you’re looking to catch lunch there, I would highly recommend eating at Habana, which is a Cuban inspired restaurant that literally makes you feel like you’ve stepped into Cuba as soon as you cross their threshold. Get the empanadas – thank me later.
  6. If you’re a macaron fan, there is also a super cute spot called Honey & Butter at The LAB that is located inside of an old school camper. They have a bunch of different flavors and designs and cost around $2 each if I remember correctly.

 

The Façade Fun House

 

The LAB

 

Honey & Butter

 

 

And would it really have been an adventure for us if it didn’t include coffee? We wrapped up our adventure with conversation and coffee at Neat Coffee, also located in Costa Mesa (approximately five minutes from Façade Fun House if you were looking to try both in one day). This little shop serves up delicious coffee along with fresh baked items. The best thing is, they share a space with FLDWRK, which is a place for entrepreneurs, adventures, students, and people of all kinds to come together to work on their ideas. The sign located at the entry sums it up perfectly:

“We are builders, innovators, & culture shakers.

We are creators, dreamers, & difference-makers.

We are mothers & fathers, sons & daughters,

neighbors & friends.

We are believers in the beauty of work & we’re committed to lives of impact.

We are advancers of the common good.”

Boom.

 

Don’t forget to share your Façade Fun House and Neat Coffee experience and pictures with me!

Happy Adventuring ♥

Holiday Gifts for Every Budget

With the passing of Thanksgiving, we can now fully step into Christmas mode. As much as the coming holiday is supposed to be about celebrating Christ, let’s be real – we’ve been programmed to associate Christmas with presents for as long as any of us can remember.

Each year, Americans spend billions of dollars on Christmas gifts, with much of that money being charged to credit cards with crazy high interest rates. On top of that, because we are all so busy, gifts are often generic and lacking thought, or they are things we won’t ever actually need or use. In case you haven’t already noticed from my previous posts, I am all about making money stretch and using things to their fullest potential.

If the cost of gifts is stressing you out or if you just need a refreshed perspective on gifting options, I’ve got you covered. Here are a few gift ideas listed according to budget:

 

Gifts that cost $0:

  1. Letters – Ironically, my favorite Christmas as a gift-giver was a year when I literally had no money to use for presents. When you’re low on funds you’ve got to get creative, so I made a list of all the people I would have given a gift to had I had the money. Then, I sat down and wrote each of those people a letter about how much they truly meant to me. I reflected on old stories, jokes, and lessons they’ve taught me; I said the things I would say if I never got a chance to speak to them again. When Christmas rolled around, everyone cried – myself included. In a world saturated with material items, the things that are heartfelt are truly priceless.
  2. Acts of Service – If you don’t have the money to spend or choose not to spend money this year, can you spare some time? You’d be surprised how many of the people you care about could use a helping hand. Maybe you can offer to help a relative clean out their garage, or hand wash a friend’s car for them. Step back to observe who and where you can serve, and then do it.
  3. The Gift of Time – If no one has brought it to your attention lately, you can always find a way to make more money, but you will never have more than the 24 hours you are gifted each day. We are all so busy that often times we forget the power in clearing our schedules for a bit to just sit, talk, and be with our loved ones.
  4. City Freebies – Look for free things your city offers. In Los Angeles, many of the museums are free to attend as long as you get your tickets in advance. In LA, Orange County, and the Bay Area, having a library card gives you access to free tickets to different attractions; I’m sure this applies to cities all over the world. Take a few minutes to see what you can find in your city, snag some tickets, and plan an adventure.

 

Gifts that cost $30 or less:

  1. Groupon and Living Social– Don’t forget about these great websites that help you get more for your money, not just during the holidays, but all year long. You can find vouchers for anything in your area from restaurants to activities to services like haircuts and massages. Why pay $50 for something you could pay $30 for? If you’re gifting a voucher, simply purchase it, print it out, and wrap it up.
  2. Memory Books with FreePrints.comFree Prints is exactly what it sounds like – a website that will print physical copies of all the pictures you’ve been hoarding in your phone or on your computer. Make a photo book of all your favorite pictures with written captions to preserve the memories for a lifetime. A 5×7 photo book with 20 pages is free- just pay the shipping which is less than $10. Free Prints offers one free book a month. If you need more than one book or you don’t have time to wait for it to be shipped to you, Walgreens offers the same type of books that will still run you less than $30 and you can pick them up in stores.
  3. Passes & Subscriptions – Keep your eyes open for deals on gifts that will keep giving past December 25th. If you want to give a pricier gift but don’t want to dish out all the money at one time, look for a fee free way to make monthly payments. I gave an example of this in a past post where I talked about how $1 a day gives you the freedom to go to Disneyland almost any time you want. If you know a foodie, Graze has amazing snack boxes that contain 8 kinds of snacks, are delivered biweekly, and cost $13.99 a box. If you know someone who loves makeup, for $10 a month, Ipsy will send them five items to try from name brands that are trusted around the world.  Again, do your research and see what kind of monthly gifts could work for your recipient and your wallet.
  4. ZeroUV – This is a personal favorite. ZeroUV makes quality sunglasses for the most affordable prices. You can pick up any of their glasses for less than $15 a pair, worldwide shipping is free for orders of $20 of more, and they have hundreds of styles.  All of my and Julianna’s glasses are from ZeroUV, and if you’re looking for an inexpensive gift that looks and feels like it costs way more than it does, I would highly recommend them.

Gifts that cost $50 or less:

  1. Themed Gift Baskets – Use your creativity to put together a personalized gift basket. Load up on snacks and cheap movies to create a Movie Night at Home basket or pick up a mini crock pot from Target or Wal-Mart and fill it with nonperishable ingredients, recipe cards, and cooking utensils. The possibilities are endless.
  2. Swell Bottles – A couple of years ago, I receieved a Swell bottle as a Christmas gift, and I have been in love with the bottles ever since. Swell bottles keep cold drinks cold for 24 hours, and hot drinks hot for 12 hours. They have so many different collections and designs, and this beautiful ombre speckle bottle reminds me of the night sky. The bottles range in size from 9-25oz and in price, with the largest bottles coming in under $50.
  3. If you’re in Southern California, GLO Nail Bar is my favorite place to get a pedicure. While they have a huge menu of amazing services, my favorite is the Bubbly Champagne and Rose pedicure- they literally wash your feet in champagne. This pedicure costs $50 at the Costa Mesa location ($60 for the Newport Beach/Corona Del Mar Location), but you can get an equally refreshing classic pedicure for only $30. All of their services include complimentary beverages (they have wine and champagne!) and candy from their candy bar. If you feel like giving the gift of pampering, Glo Nail Bar won’t disappoint.

Gifts that cost $100 or less:

  1. Interactive Scrapbooks – This gift takes a little bit of planning and time, but the final product is worth it. Grab a blank scrapbook from a craft store and put your creativity to work. I did this one year and used the theme “For when you’re feeling.” Each page featured a gift for a specific mood. For example, one page read “For when you’re feeling mysterious” and contained an envelope with tickets to a murder mystery dinner. Another featured a certificate to learn to fly a plane and was titled “for when you’re feeling adventurous.” Another featured five $1 lottery scratchers with the words “for when you’re feeling lucky.” You can make this gift fit your budget by deciding how many pages you want in your scrapbook and how much you want to spend for each page/activity.
  2. Photo Blankets – Use Shutterfly to customize your very own photo blanket. These blankets come in different sizes, materials, and can fit up to 8 different pictures of your choice (for fleece blankets). Shutterfly also has tons of other photo gifts and almost always has some kind of sale or promotion going on.
  3. Give the Gift of Ancestry – Do you know someone who’s always wondered about the origins of their ancestors? Ancestry.com has at home kits for under $100 that tell you about your ethnicity and potential relatives. Give the gift of connecting the past to the present and the present to the future.
  4. A Clutch that is also a Reminder – Gift a clutch that also serves as an inspiring reminder for your loved one. India Hicks makes a black and gold Flat Stanley Pouch that reads “The Future is So Bright,” ($68) and I am obsessed with it.

If you feeling like splurging…

  1. Encourage an Adventure – The gift of an experiences lasts so much longer than any tangible item. If you’re able to splurge this year, gift a set of plane tickets, book a private tour, or even plan a staycation. Again, utilize internet resources and look online for available experiences. One of my favorite gifted experiences was a helicopter tour around San Francisco, which included flying over and under the Golden Gate Bridge. I purchased the tickets through Viator, and each ticket cost roughly $250. There are plenty of companies that offer once in a lifetime experiences all over the world. This gift can truthfully fit under any of the previous categories, as adventures can range in price starting at free and up.  For the sake of this category, go big.
  2. Invest in their business Do you know an aspiring entrepreneur? Do they need an investor? Do they have a website yet? Is there a seminar they should attend that will propel them forward with their career goals? Websites like WIX, Shopify, and Weebly amongst others offer custom websites and domain names for a yearly price. Websites like National Seminars Training allows you to search for upcoming seminars by state and provides you with topic information, and seminar dates and prices. Give the gift of  an investment in their business and help them grow in an area they will appreciate the most.
  3. If you’re in Southern California – This is a splurge that is currently still on my list, as it is a true splurge. The Ritz-Carlton Spa in Los Angeles hosts a helipad yoga class where groups of up to 10 guests can participate in a 90 minute yoga class, and a 50 minute spa treatment for a total of $3,500. What an unforgettable gift for 10 of your friends (or for 9 of your friends and yourself)!

 

No matter what your budget looks like, there is an amazing gift you can give this holiday season.

Let me know if you’ve decided to gift any of the listed ideas!

Happy Holidays and Happy Gifting, xo.