Saturday, November 8, 2014

An Attitude of Gratitude

Good morning, world.

Today I'd like to talk about gratitude. it's a mindset that I've been missing out on a lot lately. Not necessarily gratitude in the sense of writing someone a thank you card, although I could do that a bit more, too. It's about slowing down and savoring what is right now; the present moment.

Over the past few days, I've been battling a sinus infection, which has kept me at home. A semi-workaholic, it was hard for me to accept the fact that I was stuck in my studio apartment without any real energy to do anything other than sleep, binge watch Season 3 of New Girl and peruse social media sites. But separating myself from the daily stresses of work allowed me to stop and just be. These were the first weekdays I spent in my new place, and for some reason, being sick at home made me connect with my surroundings more. I spent more time than usual in my kitchen, from preparing healthy meals to not-so-glamorously rinsing out my sinuses over the kitchen sink. It was normally a space that I felt awkward being in, but this experience shifted something. I felt as though my apartment was taking care of me, and it made me appreciate it so much more. In fact, I love it now. 

It has taken me a while to get used to my new neighborhood. I had moved from a very cozy town to an area that leaves a lot of room to be desired. But it's still beautiful in its own way. And I got to really notice that while I was at home. I feel truly blessed and grateful to have a place I can call my own, a place that I have taken for granted, but is truly taking care of me.

So, this leaves me thinking about the other areas in my life that I may have taken for granted. Clearly, the day-to-day grind of my day job can has worn on me, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Because of the passion and dedication required to make things run, it's an easy environment in which to get burned out, and I had come close. I believe my body became ill, simply so that I would spend some time away, not only to recharge, but to regain some perspective and clarity. The outpour of warmth and care from my colleagues was far more than I ever imagined. It made me realize that we truly are family, and they're the reason why I put my best foot forward every day. It's too easy to get caught up in the work, and forget about the WHY behind what we do every day. For me, it's to serve people. It's to make their days better, whether through entertainment, appreciation, support, or encouragement. That's what makes me come to life, and I had forgotten that. I am eternally grateful for their friendship, trust, generosity, and support. And I can't wait to get back to work and continue making movies with them. 

Being sick also forces us into the present moment. No one wants to be sick, and we try everything in our power to get well again. I have a tendency to take that to the extreme, however. I buy just about everything on the shelves of Whole Foods, in hopes of finding some sort of relief. I overload my body with vitamins, antioxidants and immunce support supplements in order to move things along. But the truth of the matter is, the body moves at its own pace. Yes, we can help it along by providing it with support, but in the end, it's up to our body. We have to sit and wait. And wait. And wait. As an incredibly impatient person, this is impossible for me. But I don't have a choice. I have to stop. I have to hand over the reins to the universal intelligence that's at work. I have to trust in my body's ability to heal itself. That's a key word: trust. 

TRUST AND GRATITUDE. Trust is the acceptance of where we are right now, knowing deep down that it's exactly where we're supposed to be. Trust, in a way, is surrendering to the present moment. Trust is knowing that there's something else in control. Call it God, the universe, energy, whatever. Trust is relinquishing our control over whatever situation we're in. This is also very hard for me. I, like most people, like to be in control. But that's the opposite of trust. Control over my body is impossible. Trust in my body creates endless possibilities. Trust in anything allows us to take a back seat, and simply watch the trees go by. It allows us to slow down, and be grateful for what we have in our lives. For our present situation. For all that we have now, and all that will be provided for us as time passes. Trust creates a warm and fuzzy feeling, like a cozy blanket in which to curl up in. 

THE PRESENT MOMENT AND GRATITUDE. When we really stop and experience our present moment - not replaying the past or visualizing the future, but being here and now - focusing on each sound, smell, sight, texture, and taste, we can't help but be grateful. If the present moment is all we ever have, then why not stop and appreciate it? This is the only time I'll be sitting down in front of my laptop writing this very blog entry. Why not savor each and every word? If this is the only time I have to enjoy and appreciate it, then why not? This moment will pass, but there's no telling of what's to come. So be grateful for what is happening now. And be present with it. 

Over the next few weeks, as the holidays roll in and out, it will feel like a whirlwind. Family gatherings, parties with friends, and other social obligations will come and go. I've gotten to the point where I look forward to the holidays being over so I can get back to my routine. What's the fun in that? (I literally laughed out loud to myself when I wrote that, but it's true!) The holidays used to be my most favorite time of the year. From the decorations, to the music, to the food and festivities, I never wanted it to end. But I've since gotten so caught up in the cost and the energy required to do such activities, that I lost sight of why we do them, and what joy they bring. So, this year, I plan on approaching the season a little differently. Each and every moment I want to savor, like a thick, sweet cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter's eve. The holidays bring with them so many wonderful moments in which to indulge in the senses. And I want to stop and appreciate all of them. And it starts with being present and grateful NOW.

I've started writing in a gratitude journal, filling out a page of 'thank you's' each night before I turn out the light. Not only does it help me reflect on the day, but it keeps my gratitude in check. It reminds me of just how great I have it, as well as inspire certain things I want to pray about. It reminds me that there's a higher power at work, and it's ready and eager to provide me with whatever I want (as long as it aligns with what I truly need). All it wants in return is acknowledgement and gratitude.

So, in the spirit of gratefulness, thank you taking the time to come across my blog reading this post. I am blessed to have a platform in which to share my experiences, thoughts, and opinions, in hopes of making your life better, too.

Here's to cultivating an attitude of gratitude.


And if you really need to get inspired, grab your Kleenex and watch this:

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Platform for Creativity

When I first learned how to add some beads to a wire and turn it into an earring, I was hooked. My aunt had been making beaded jewelry for a while, and I wanted to learn. So she taught me how to do it. It was fairly easy to do, as long as you had the right tools. I remember purchasing beads by the handful - whether they were that great or not. I just wanted to create as many as I could. I would scatter the beads out across the oversized counter of my mom's kitchen, and start making my selections.

My early works were pretty ugly. But at the time, I thought they were beautiful. And while the product of my creation would soon be replaced by better-looking results, it was the process that was clearly extraordinary. The possibilities were endless, and all I had to do was pick a bead and go.

Creating earrings from scratch was an incredibly easy and satisfying hobby. I just needed a lot of counterspace, but I could churn out dozens in one session. I would listen to my favorite Podcast, or watch my favorite TV show while making them, so it was never boring. I just kept going and going. My fingernails were usually trashed by the time I was done, but I didn't care. I was never one for keeping nail polish on for very long, anyway, as I grew up with horses and was always using my hands for something.

I've lost count of how many earrings I've made, but I do know this. Each and every pair I made was one of a kind. I maybe made a duplicate here or there after someone complimented me on a pair that I was wearing, or asked if they could have the same version. But I've only done that a couple of times. Duplicating designs isn't very exciting or rewarding for me. Yes, I could churn out several of the same design in order to have more available for customers, but just like the women wearing them, each one is unique, and brings with it its own personality and life.

But it's not about the earrings, it's what they represent.

My first job was in retail. I was 19 years old, transitioning between freshman and sophomore year of college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I was also making the transition between studying performing arts to studying cinematic arts. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, I just knew I wanted to make a name for myself somehow. Making films sounded like fun, so that's where I was headed. But I was also pretty good with people. One day, when I was strolling through our local mall, I stumbled upon a store that featured western wear from my favorite designer. I walked in and asked for a job, and I've been in customer service ever since.

I'm currently working in the film industry, helping make some of the world's greatest movies. It's a dream come true. But there's a part of me that loves creating things that I can share with an audience. I crave customer interaction, and by creating and selling my earrings, I can still satisfy that need.

Over the past few years, I've creating more and more earrings. I opened up an etsy shop called The Daily Pair: Earrings for Every Occasion, where I feature my one-of-a-kind designs. I have to admit, I haven't done a whole lot in the way of marketing or promoting my work online. It sole purpose has been a place where I can send interested prospects, but I have yet to take full advantage of what the online portal has to offer.

I've also sold in a handful of craft fairs that are sponsored by the studio where I work. They've provided an excellent opportunity to test out displays, pricing, accepting different forms of payment, sales, and more. It's given my work excellent exposure. Because of selling them to colleagues during the craft fairs, it's no longer surprising to me when I see at least one other person wearing one of my pairs on a daily basis. It's exhilarating! And it encourages me to keep on creating.

The earrings represent the act of creation. Of seeing what ingredients I have to work with, and making something from scratch. It's seeing all the possibilities, and going with my gut. Choosing based on texture, design, color, and size allows me to think outside the box. And it's one of the hobbies that I've taken up, that I've actually kept up. A lot of things I claim to do, and then I taper off after 5 minutes. Earrings provide a different experience for me. I don't know what it is, but I can't help but make them, and make lots of them.

So, through this process of making, selling, promoting, wearing, and sharing, I've learned so much about myself, as well as what it takes to run a creative business. If it weren't for these earrings, I would never have opened an etsy shop, read books about selling crafts, learned about pricing products, marketing, and more. But the exciting part is, I'm still learning on a daily basis. There is so much more to learn and gain from this experience. I want to learn how to take better product photos, how to do stop-motion promotional videos, how to create using more raw or recycled materials, how to curate what I share through my blog and my social media apps. Creating earrings is a platform for so many other experiences.

Even though there are several other interests and skills that make me who I am, using earrings (and all that encompass them) as the focus for my online exposure, I feel like I'll actually be able to express more of what makes me, me. I'm thrilled to try this out, and share with you, my audience, my experiences, challenges, ideas, lessons, and skills, in hopes to inspire you. It certainly inspires me.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Creative Inspiration

After several months on a blogging hiatus, I've decided it's time to get back on the ol' horse. But what to write about? Up comes the age-old dilemma. What's inspiring to me? And where can I find it? 

All I can say, is thank God for the internet. Actually, that statement is questionable, but what I have discovered with sites such as Pinterest (and even Instagram, on occasion), is that they help me get out of a creative rut. A rut that I've been in for several months. 

There are plenty of things that strike my fancy. Interior design, fashion, food styling, hand lettering (a new favorite), photography, art, and more, but how does one focus this inspiration enough to channel it into actual production of work? At what point does the inspiration turn into something tangible and real? 

I guess that's where I come in... 

But what is it that I'm holding back from? Is it the lack of inspiration? Well, no. There's plenty of that to go around. Is it the lack of motivation or discipline? Not really. Could it be that I just don't know where to start, and that all of the inspiration and reference I've gathered over the months has become too overwhelming? Bingo. I'm looking at work that took years to perfect, and I expect my creations to look the same. And that just isn't realistic, or achievable!

Knowing this, then what? What is it that I truly want to project onto the world? What story am I trying to tell here? Why is it that I want to share my thoughts and feelings and creativity with complete strangers?

I think it all boils down to the need to fit in. The need to have a voice, and share the struggles that I face, in hopes of inspiring someone else. Or at least to be heard. To be acknowledged. To be respected as an artist and a person. 

That being said, I'm also doing this for me. For an opportunity to open myself up creatively. To express my ideas, my passions, and my art - even though I'm still discovering what those even are. 

As a girl who grew up in the suburbs, with horses, I always had an outlet to recharge. I spent a lot of time outside, cleaning stalls, sorting flakes of hay, grooming, and riding. I didn't have time to sit in front of a computer and explore the lives that other people were living. It just wasn't an option. I had to focus on my own agendas. My own dreams. Anything and everything seemed possible. I was incredibly courageous, because I knew myself very well. 

As time went on, and the pressures of the world started to take hold, there was a part of me that remained unshakable: my ability to dream. Nowadays, my horse lives several hours away, my boots don't get used quite as much as they used to, and the courage and determination that came from the years of maintaining a ranch have slowly started to fade away. Which is why it's so crucial for me to reconnect with my inner cowgirl. In both a literal and figurative sense.

This month, I'll be moving from the suburbs to more of a urban setting. One way to hold onto that part of my sense of self is to explore it creatively. That's where this blog comes in. 

Like getting up early to feed the horses and clean the stalls, I intend to write on a much more consistent basis. I may incorporate some photography or art projects that seem to fit this new brand, but it will mostly be a place where I can come and reconnect with myself. 

The Urban Cowgirl. 


Friday, March 7, 2014

A semi-home-made gift idea

My roommate's birthday is tomorrow, and what I got her may seem a bit unconventional. She loves magazines, and I love that she loves magazines, because it means I don't have to purchase any for myself. I can just read hers... As her special day crept closer, I finally decided on this rather unusual, yet cost-effective gift for her. I bought her a year-long subscription to Marie Claire magazine.

But instead of printing out the super lame and boring receipt that ended up in my inbox, I decided to create a custom card featuring my gift to her. Here's the result. (Now, granted, I have not doodled in a LONG time, so I was a bit rusty, but I'm happy with how it turned out). Hopefully she likes it, too! :)

After creating this, I realized that this would be a super cool way of giving someone a massage, a spa day, or even an iTunes gift card. Perfect for well thought-out, or even last-minute, stay-up-really-late-the-night-before, gifts. 

All you need is a blank piece of card stock, a marker and or colored pencil, some left-over ribbon and a healthy dose of creativity! 


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Today's Discovery: Creative Block by Danielle Krysa

Today I had the privilege of meeting renowned artist and blogger, Danielle Krysa of The Jealous Curator. She visited the studio for a Q&A and signing of her new book, Creative Block. I had been across her site before, and learning that she had written a book geared toward inspiring artists to keep going, I knew I had to get it. It features 50 talented and successful artists, all sharing their experiences and how they get through creative hurdles. I just love the concept, and I can't wait to read through it!

Friday, January 10, 2014

2013: A Year of Lessons Learned

Before we get too much further into the new year, it's important to reflect on the events of 2013.

Inspired by an early-morning conversation with a dear friend, I started to think about all that happened over the past 12 months. There were some amazing highs, as well some unexpected lows, but over all it was a year filled with much-needed life lessons.

Here are some highlights that I'd like to share with you, as well as some things that I've learned along the way.

Lesson 1: Don't start a new diet during the last week of a project.

Last March, I made the not-so-wise decision of going on the 'paleo' diet a week before finishing up a project. Now, granted, I don't eat meat, so choosing to also not eat any grains made life so much more challenging. Oh, and I happened to be doing P90X at the time, as well, so I found myself ravishingly hungry. Many people refer to this feeling as 'hangry', and I was not a pleasant person to be around. Because my body was constantly craving carbs, I made several mistakes at work. Upset with myself and the choices I had made, I decided that I better be prepared next time I make that much of a change in my diet.

Or maybe next time I should just not change my diet...

Lesson 2: Have an emergency fund. You never know when you'll have to use it.

As part of the Total Money Makeover, it's important to have a small emergency fund set aside while paying off debt, so if something unexpected happens in your life, you don't have to go back to using a credit card (which - you guessed it - gets you back into more debt). Instead, if an 'emergency' occurs (the definition of 'emergency' is different for everyone...) then you'll already have the money to use. It makes life's unexpected events less catastrophic, and keeps stress levels down. If you have the funds to simply take care of them then and there, then life can simply happen.

Long story short, last March, my mom fell and broke her arm while at work. She needed to get surgery to fix the break, and the only way she could heal would be if I flew home to help her. Because I had the emergency fund, I was able to purchase the flight and travel to see her without any added stress. I was there for her surgery and helped her through recovery without having to pay myself back later.

This solidified the need of an emergency fund. It also taught me not to fall. But if you do, do it at work.

Lesson 3: It's okay to make a fool of yourself around your coworkers. The more fun you have, the more they'll love you for it.

Just be sure you're in the appropriate setting to do so. In this case, we were celebrating the completion of a project, so everyone was ready to have a good time. So no one batted an eye when I made a complete fool of myself on the dance-floor. Letting loose allows others to, as well. It's a win-win.

Lesson 4: Invite your best friend to the biggest party of the year.

It's a sure guarantee they'll continue to be your best friend. And who better to help you celebrate the completion of a film, right?

Lesson 5: Be open to working with new people. You never know what you'll learn about them, or what you'll learn about yourself.

I had the opportunity to work on a project with someone that I had never met before. Not sure what to expect, I decided to take it one day at a time. It turned out that working with them was one of the best experiences I've had so far. Not only were they completely forgiving and trusting of my abilities, but they taught me so much. About leadership, friendship, production, and just being me. They helped me prove to myself that I'm capable of so much more, and to not lose sight of the creative fire that burns within.

In other words, start a new work (or life) relationship with no expectations, and let them surprise you. You'll be glad you did. Or just surprise them by breaking out into song and dance when they're least expecting it. They'll be glad you did.

Lesson 6: Don't overindulge while vacationing in Hawaii. You'll get sick.

And especially don't attempt to walk 3 miles around the resort to make yourself feel better. It will only exacerbate the problem...

Lesson 7: Trust in God. He has a plan.

This last fall, I was in search of a new roommate. Not sure who it was going to be, or where I would end up, there was a part of me that just knew the right solution would come along. While nothing seemed to be presenting itself, I had to come to terms with the fact that that I indeed needed a roommate, as opposed to living on my own. I began to look for rooms on Craigslist, now open to the fact that I had narrower options. Literally moments before I hit 'send' on a listing reply, a friend (whom I had met in the spring at Financial Peace University) texted me asking if I was still looking for a roommate. God had a plan, and was just waiting for me to accept the fact that I needed a roommate. If she had texted me the day before, I may not have agreed to it. All I had to do was trust.

Or just hit 'send' in an email before anyone else has the chance to text you. That way, you're in control. And that always feels good.

Lesson 8: Go out of your way for your friends. Even if that means flying 2 hours, driving another 3, and enduring 105 degree heat to be at their wedding.

Even if your makeup is running from all the sweat, you'll be glad you made the effort. It means a lot to them, and it would mean a lot to you, too. Plus, despite the hassle, you'll most likely have an amazing time. Just don't take any pictures neck up, because chances are you look like a complete mess.

Lesson 9: Don't drive in fog. Unless you have no choice, in which case, pray. A lot. Or just book a hotel room.

I don't think I've ever felt closer to death than trying to drive in the fog along 1-5 between San Diego and Orange County. My mom and I were coming back from another wedding, and weren't expecting the worst road conditions. It was dark, and you could barely see 30 feet in front of us. But we were in the middle of no where at night, so pulling over offered even more of a risk. I could only drive in the middle lanes, so I could see the stripes on both sides of my car. Unable to see tail lights in front of me, it was a white knuckle experience that no one should have to endure. By the grace of God, we made it safely back to Orange County. Getting out of the car unharmed was incredibly humbling, and I just about knelt down to kiss the ground.

But I didn't because that would have been gross.

Lesson 10: Hug your pets. Their lives are short, but the immense love and joy they give will stay with you forever.

Last spring we had to say goodbye to our beloved friend, Mickey. Our first horse ever, we bought him when I was only 11 (I'm 29 now). He was 23 years old, and still going strong, so hearing that he had somehow broken his leg was a complete shock. Luckily, my brave father was able to be there with him when they put him down. Mickey had been my dad's loyal companion and weekly escape to act as horseman and cowboy. We still can't believe that he isn't around, but he served his time here on earth well, and he will be greatly missed. I'm glad I had been able to see him recently, and knowing he was happy with his herd-mates during his last days gave us peace. Just be sure to hug your four-legged friends whenever possible. They're here to give us unconditional love and to bring the best out in us. All that they ask is that we love them in return. 

Unless they hate you, then it's a little harder to love them. But do it anyway, because they're animals, and they'll forget very quickly that they hate you.

Lesson 11: Give yourself a chance.

This was a big one for me this last year. I had been slowly working through getting out of debt, but I was a little more apprehensive about getting out of my shell. Going to a class with complete strangers to talk about money was never something I would have considered before, but I knew I had to do it in order to grow as a person. This last spring, I finally gave in and enrolled in Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class. Not knowing what to expect, I had a gut feeling that I would get something unexpected out of it. In addition to inspiration, I met a new friend (who I now get to call my room-mate as well). Both of us had decided to take this class on a whim, knowing it was going to lead to something great, and it did. Doing something for yourself, even if it means going out of your comfort zone will always lead to something better that you never anticipated. I've since made a goal of doing more things that make me feel a little bit 'uncomfortable'.

Since then I have attended a weekly sketch drawing class. It's helped me to break up my normal routine at work, as well as forcing me to get back into drawing, which I've been far removed from ever since I went back to school. Surrounded by really talented artists, it's easy to feel completely intimidated and incompetent, but after getting encouragement from them, I've kept going. I'm not doing it for them, I'm doing it for myself. I'm giving myself the chance to branch out and/or honor my other, more neglected, skills and passions.

-------- /// * \\\ --------

I hope you found some of these lessons inspiring. It's been quite the year for me. I got to spend a lot of time with friends, family, pets, dance-floors, spreadsheets, and sketchbooks, which I'm very very grateful for.

I look forward to a wonderful new year, and sharing little pieces of it with you along the way.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Alternate 'January Detox' Options

It's January, which means it's time to start cleansing our bodies of all the 'bad stuff' that we consumed over the past couple months.

While I would love nothing more than to throw my body into a green-juice fast, as juicing can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience, I prefer to avoid liquid diets during the cold winter months. Plus, because it's post-holiday season, I don't typically have the budget for juicing. I do like to include fresh-pressed juice in my diet whenever possible, but I'd like to share with you some other more cost-effective and cold-weather-friendly methods I've discovered:

1. Warm water with freshly-squeezed lemon juice first thing in the morning: This does wonders for jump starting the detoxification process. For just the cost of a quarter of a lemon a day, (say 10 cents?) you can feel amazing in just a matter of minutes, so plan accordingly.
*One more thing: make sure your water isn't too hot, as heat can, and does, destroy Vitamin C, and if I were you, I'd want to get the most out of every drop of that lemon...

2. Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with water and honey: I prefer to use room-temperature water whenever possible. It's easier for your body to absorb, and keeps you from getting too chilled during the winter months. I add about 1 ounce of apple cider vinegar to 8 ounces of water. Grab a spoonful of your favorite raw honey and either mix with the liquid or take a bit of honey on your tongue before drinking the concoction. It can get bitter, and depending on your taste buds, you may opt for more or less honey. I prefer to take this with Bragg Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar at night right before I go to bed, because it always makes me want to sleep. Not sure why, but I wake up feeling amazing!

3. Dandelion and Nettle Leaf tea. Dandelion Root tea apparently does wonders at cleansing the liver, and I absolutely love its nutty taste and aromas. I prefer the Traditional Medicinals brand, and I drink it so fast that I usually run out before I can say 'dandelion'! In addition to this detoxification tea, I like to include Nettle Leaf tea, also by Traditional Medicinals. One thing to be aware with Nettle, is that some people suffer from allergic reactions to it, so please take caution, but if you can consume it, it's a definite must-have. You'll be surprised at how well it does at cleaning you out. (Man, this is quite the blog topic, eh?). I prefer to take Nettle in the morning, and Dandelion in the evening. If neither of those are appealing to you, their other Detox teas are also excellent!

4. Water: We've all heard time and time again that we need at least 8 glasses of water a day, right? Well, I don't know if you've actually tried it, but I challenge myself from time to time, and it's not as easy as it sounds. But let me tell you, you'll end the day feeling amazing. Yes, you'll probably go to the bathroom a million times that day, but if you're like me, you'll feel way more hydrated (obvious, I know...), cleansed, rejuvenated, recharged, and more focused than if you had opted out of the challenge. But again, make sure the water is at least room temperature, so it's more easily absorbed by the body. Plus, it will keep you from getting too cold!
I also sometimes like to add a spoonful of crystalized Vitamin C (I get mine from Trader Joe's) to my water for an energy or immunity boost.

5. Sleep: There's nothing quite like a good night's sleep to help your body detox, recharge, regenerate cells, etc. So be sure to get plenty. It's my first and foremost goal when it comes to maintaining my health. My body can't do much of anything if it's sleep deprived, regardless of how much healthy food I eat or how hard I exercise. And what's better than staying in bed in winter? Really?

So these are some of my favorite (and more cost effective) ways of detoxing. What are some of your favorites?

Happy cleansing!


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Thursday, January 2, 2014



2013 is long gone, and it's time to start thinking of ways to make this year better than the last. I don't know about you, but I started working on my new years resolutions about a month ago. Inspired by the book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I think I've fine tuned what goals I want to accomplish this year, and what better way to hold myself accountable than to post about them.

But before I do, here are some photos from a walk my mom and I went on yesterday with her dog, George. I've been in Las Vegas for the holidays, and the weather couldn't be more beautiful! A great way to start 2014!

Overall, my goals for 2014 range greatly. I have some specifically related to work, and others geared toward my health and happiness:


My largest goal that I've been working on the most over the past year and a half is getting out of debt. I've paid off over $6800 in consumer debt since October '12, and will be paying off my last outstanding credit card balance this month. Thanks to Dave Ramsey, his Total Money Makeover book, and his Financial Peace University classes, I have a plan, a budget, and a mission to live debt-free, build wealth and give. I would never have been on this track otherwise.

I still have roughly $7600 left in student loan debt (lesson learned is don't go back to school without a financial plan), but I hope to be done with it by the end of the year. It's going to take a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but it'll be worth it!


My second goal is to get my etsy shop off the ground. I recently attended a holiday craft fair, where I sold my hand-made earrings. I had attended this fair for two years prior, and had gained a lot of momentum through my coworkers and friends. With each passing year, I gained more confidence, experience, and exposure, and this last holiday season, I had quadrupled my sales from 2011, when I first exhibited.

The most inspiring part of selling my earrings is seeing the joy they bring to friends, colleagues, and even complete strangers! I much prefer the face-to-face interaction of craft shows. Not sure if it's because I have a background in customer service, but I love getting the instant feedback of my work, and seeing how happy people are when they are wearing them days or even years later.

I want to continue this growth, so I've decided to take my shop to a whole other level. This year, my goal is to get to a point where all of my materials are either hand-made from other artisans, or recycled materials. I love finding 'previously-loved' jewelry from second-hand stores. There's always a story behind each piece, and I really enjoy reviving them!

I'm hoping that by the end of the year, my earrings will have been featured on at least one blog. I've got a lot of work to do, but I couldn't be more excited to get going!


My third goal is to get my blog off the ground. I really enjoy the process of blogging, and there are so many amazing and inspiring blogs and bloggers out there that have set the stage for newbies like myself.

In order to promote creativity and increase traffic, I'll be striving to add a new post at least once a week, which is significantly more than I had been doing before.


I love reading, but I don't always make the time for it. With work, social outings with my friends, exercising, making jewelry, etc, it's hard to feel motivated to sit down and be 'unproductive' with a book. But it's time to start making time for it. So I've given myself the task of reading one book each month this year. My reading list is still in the works, but I'll publish a follow-up post with the names and authors, once I make my final decisions.


There's nothing like the holidays to make you feel like you're a complete failure at taking care of yourself. Parties and dinners and drinks and desserts sure make picking out clothes to wear a real chore, especially when nothing you own fits anymore. A new year means a new opportunity for self-reflection and personal care. There's a reason why the gym gets more crowded in January, right?

But instead of laboriously forcing myself to the gym each morning, I've decided to start with a goal that's a little easier to achieve, especially in the frigid month of January. I will be eating more greens. Whether in the forms of salad, grilled veggies, stir fries, or fresh-pressed juices, by incorporating greens into my diet, I'll be allowing my body to heal from the inside out.


Looking back on 2013, I realized that I hadn't taken very many photos. Every now and then I'd get in a mood and go crazy and blast my Instagram feed with an onslaught of images, but I'd like to be more consistent and selective with what I share. In order to enforce this new goal, I'll be uploading one (or more) image to Instagram every day. There's always something interesting to photograph, right? ;)


I have a bad habit of forgetting to wear lipstick. I'm more of a chapstick kind of girl, but lipstick does do wonders, and it's time to incorporate the simple, yet effective, beauty product into my everyday life. My current favorite color is Flower Fusion™Hyacinth from Origins, but I'd love to hear what some of your favorites are!


I've been yearning to take a Photoshop or Illustrator class. Definitely a business class. Maybe attend a workshop or brush up on my drawing skills. Learn calligraphy or something that I never thought possible. The blogosphere has provided me with overwhelming amounts of inspiration, and I'm more ready than ever to channel that energy into something productive. I just wanna learn! If you have any tips or tricks or sites you'd recommend, please let me know!


I'm a pleaser, so it's hard for me to say no to things that I don't necessarily feel right about. But saying no is a freeing action. By allowing ourselves to say the word 'no', it provides us the space to ask what we really want. What is our gut saying? What is our heart saying? 'No' can many times lead to a later 'yes'.


This goal may sound a bit hokey, but it's something that I've been neglecting for a while. When I say "Spend time with God", I simply mean to slow down and experience the present moment. Be still, and let the waters calm. Designate time to pray, to meditate, to ask Him for help. I notice that I'm calmer, more stable, more balanced, more at peace, when I incorporate 'spending time with God' into my every-day life. Everything else seems to fall into place. 

I feel that this goal is a good one to end on. A constant reminder that we have a larger purpose, and that God always has a plan. Trusting that everything happens for a reason. It is still our right as humans to make our own choices, but God will always be there to lead the way. 

That concludes my Resolutions post. Thanks so much for reading!

May your 2014 be filled with happiness and joy!

Best wishes,

Photos Copyright ® 2014 - Samantha Samuels