Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year's Resolutions 2015 & 2014 Resolution Recap

I am a strong believer in New Year's Resolutions for many reasons. First, I love setting goals both long-term and short-term. Second, I think that we grow every day and our needs, interests, habits and even traits change over time so it's important to reflect and determine areas in our lives that might need a little more work and attention each year. Third, I love lists! So here's my lengthy list of resolutions for 2015.

Live more simply. Buy less, donate more.
Be a better friend, wife, daughter and sister. I feel that I really spent time working on myself last year and need to put some more time and energy into my close relationships in 2015
Keep a Gratitude Journal. Each day I write down a short list of the things I'm grateful for that day. Started it on Jan. 1, love it! So far it involves a lot of coffee and having my basic needs met.
Visit charitable and socially responsible restaurants like Milt's, Inspiration Cafe, First Slice, Blue Sky Bakery and Sandwich Me In.
Donate to a non profit each month. I started a spreadsheet on Jan. 2. I'm ready!
Organize important documents like a will, my parents' will, etc.
Have more fun/do more of what makes me happy and less of what I think I should be doing.

Last year I worked on complaining less, living more simply, taking more photos and flossing. I definitely have stepped up my flossing game since writing this resolution. I also made a concerted effort to complain less and be grateful for what I have. I still have room for improvement in this area. I definitely took many more photos of and with loved ones this year. I'm really happy I did because I captured some amazing moments. I'm going to keep this one up! I didn't focus as much as I would have liked on living simply. This is an ongoing effort and I'm still figuring out what that means to me exactly. Overall, I tried to establish some new habits and work on areas of personal improvement and I'd say I was successful. Hopefully I will be just as successful in 2015!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Thoughts:Part 2

Recently I posted 3 good things that happened to me everyday for a month after reading this article I enjoyed looking at the little things in life that made a big impact on my mood and happiness. I am going to do it again, but this time for things that I'm grateful for until I leave for winter break.

1. Volunteering with delightful kiddos and their moms. 2. Brief craft time with Lydia. 3. Dinner at the table with Rob.
1. Lee telling me he loved me at Bingo. 2. Time to catch up with Rob before bed. 3. Leftover mini cupcakes.
1. Fleece lined leggings. 2. The soup I made for lunches this week. 3. Mini cupcakes that were surprisingly delicious.
1. The homeless man that said "Hell yes! Thank you so much!" when I offered him one of the giant Potbelly's sugar cookies I purchased at my Chicago Cares Fundraiser. 2. The stranger that said God Bless you for helping after I gave a woman a dollar. 3. Getting home in time to watch Top Chef and craft.
1-3. BFF time at Wine night at Ryann's.
1. Not being horribly freezing today. 2. Our office's Thanksgiving potluck was really nice and I'm stuffed full of all sorts of carbs. 3. Getting new books at the library. 4. Fun comedy show at quality time with Caitlin.
1. A great ass kicking workout at PSF. 2. Lazy time with Rob. 3. Quality time with Mary.
1. A clean apartment. 2. Time to make healthy soup for lunches. 3. Craft time with Laura. 4. A healthy dinner. 5. Flowers from my husband.
1. Cozy sweatpants. 2. My bingo guys. 3. Quiet time.
1. Peaceful protests in Chicago. 2. Sunshine. 3. Amazing meal with Darcy and Frank at BoHo.
1. A day off. 2. Connie time. 3. Stef time. 4. The most amazing card from my "cousin" Grace. She's too cute!
1. Thankful for food and love on Thanksgiving! 2. Serving some really, really sweet seniors. 3. Enjoying fam time at my cousin's first Thanksgiving.
1. Burning off a small portion of the calories consumed at spin with Mary. 2. A very lazy day. 3. Spending time with Cody and seeing his band perform.
1. Getting most of my Christmas shopping done in one sitting. 2. Spring like weather. 3. Getting festive at the Christkindl market with the girls.
1. Making a couple little kids smile by making them paper crowns at Lurie's Children's Hospital. 2. Quiet time with Rob tearing it up on our puzzle. 3. Time for coffee and reading on my own.
1. Taking a new route to work and shortening my commute. 2. My gray cape to keep me cozy and comfy in my office. 3. Time to skype with the Liebls.
1. My husband getting up early to make me coffee. 2. It being sunny enough to need to wear sunglasses. 3. Free tix to a Bulls game thanks to my husband.
1. Sunshine. 2. Cheering for the women's bball team over lunch. 3. Getting make a healthy dinner and watch Top Chef.
1. Having my Grandmother's wedding band that reminds me of her when I wear it. 2. My supportive husband being there when I need him. 3. Supportive friends coming to my work event.
1. A book to read while waiting. 2. Cozy pjs for my sick day. 3. A night in with my husband.
1. Dunkin Donuts Coffee. 2. Laughter with my gals. 3. 10 hours of sleep.
1. Seeing Connie smile and tell me that she likes me a lot while coloring at a Christmas event together. 2. Getting back to the gym for a good workout and feeling strong. 3. Quality time with Lydia and movie theater popcorn.
1. Rain boots. 2. My dad. 3. Christmas lights on our block.
1. Dunkin Donuts Coffee. 2. Getting in the holiday spirit with Rob decorating our tree! 3. Access and funds for food and grocery runs whenever I want.
1. The bearable weather we've had the last couple weeks. 2. Getting everyone's Christmas gifts delivered. 3. Another amazing card from my Grandma's cousin.
1. Finding the perfect parking spot. 2. New episode of Serial today. 3. Cookie Exchange and lots of laughter at Nicole's.
1. TGIF. 2. Getting in the spirit at Christmas at DePaul with Shalva and Mary. 3. Having way too much fun out with them afterwards.

1. Free time. 2. Enjoying game night with my family. 3. Plotting and planning Christmas gifts with mom. I love gift giving!
1. A good sweat ses at Powersculpt. 2. Celebrating Grandpa's 92nd birthday with the Jensens while Rob played acoustic brunch. It was a very special way to celebrate. 3. Visiting Brookfield Zoo with Stef, Jeff and Taylor. It's one of my favorite places to visit and it was awesome to get to go with them. We saw a ton of animals too.
1. I got to have lunch with some of my Vincentian Heritage Tour trip colleagues. 2. Time to catch up on Homeland. 3. A warm bed and cozy apartment.
1. Dunkin coffee. 2. Vanessa & Tobi time! They came all the way up to the city to have lunch with me. I'm one lucky gal. 3. My husband letting me watching trashy Bravo tv shows.
12/17/14 1. My coworker brought us decadent coffee cake. Win! 2-3 Time with Ness, Tobi, Darc, Frank & Vicki and Rob.
1. Dunkin coffee. 2. A little sunshine poking through the clouds. 3. Alone time to cook and finish wrapping Christmas gifts. Felt good!
1. I'm always grateful for the security Rob and I have in life - our own apartment, food in the fridge, heat and money to pay the bills, a car, savings in the bank and each other. Feeling extra grateful for that today. 2. So grateful for to work somewhere that closes for the holidays and that Rob's office closes too. Can't wait to enjoy our break together and with our families and friends. 3. I get to celebrate Stef's birthday tonight and see lots of buds. Can't wait!

I loved looking back on this list to see the bright spots and little things that add up to make me incredibly grateful and happy. I'm so lucky to have a great group of loved ones and different opportunities around the city to enjoy. Feeling blessed and grateful heading into Christmastime! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Quotes & Mantras

I'm still obsessed with quotes on Pinterest and select one for my Gchat status each week and one for my Weekly to do list. I love making quote books, sending the pins to friends and reading them to get through my day. Here are my favorites at the moment:

"Start each day with a grateful heart"
"The day will go the way the corners of your mouth turn."
"Talk about your blessings more than you talk about your burdens."
"Give thanks with a grateful heart." 1 Thessalonians 5:8
"If you can't feed one hundred people then just feed one." Mother Teresa
"Peace begins when the hungry are fed." Dorothy Day
"There is nothing like staying home for real comfort." Jane Austen
"When words are both true and kind they can change the world." Buddha
"When I'm worried and cannot sleep I count blessings instead of sheep." Bing Crosby
"Don't let yesterday use too much of today." Will Rogers
"We can't help everyone but everyone can help someone" Ronald Reagan
"Be the change you wish to see in the world." Ghandi
"Be with those who help your being." Rumi

2014 Recap

2014 has had it's ups and downs but I like where it's ended up! Here are some highlights.

- I took some vacas this year. In January I went to Milwaukee to celebrate Mary's 30th with the gals. Rob and I visited the Carnes in Merrill, WI in March which was super fun. Also in March Rob and I went to San Francisco/Monterey which was just delightful and fun times with the Liebls. We went to Montreal in May and had the best time. Tons of great food and park naps. We went to Hunky Dory in July with the Jensens which was lovely as usual! Rob and I made several trips to SW Michigan including one to visit the Horaths at their beautiful home and a weekend in Union Pier for our anniversary that was filled with fun outdoor activities and relaxation. Lastly we made the big trip to France for Pitchfork Paris and got to hang with Ness & Tob and also visit the Auvergne region. Truly a great year of travel!

- We celebrated Ness & Tobi's Chicago wedding and Leah & Matt's wedding over the summer and Jenni & Aaron's in the fall. Love love.

- Lots of friends are pregnant so 2015 will bring lots of babies! We were asked to be the God Parents for baby boy Shaklee and we just can't wait to meet him! Stef and Jeff are expecting baby number 2 and so are Jamie and Kyle.

- I volunteered a lot. I see Connie 2x a month and we did all sorts of fun stuff this year. My favorites were the Holiday Party hosted by the park district that Connie loved! She got to pet reindeer and do lots of crafts. I also loved the fall Chicago Park District event we went to where the staff were So nice and helped us get a great pumpkin for her to decorate. Rob and I did our favorite Breakthrough Urban Ministries project a few times, New Life for Old Bags, Sunlight of the Spirit food pantry, Cardz for Kidz projects, served Thanksgiving lunch to seniors and bingo every week. I also did a lot of the DePaul alumni volunteer projects which have been really special.

- I worked out a lot. I got really into Powersculpt Fitness this year and it's been challenging and time consuming but I see the results and am proud of the work I've put into it.

- I paid off my student loans!

- Saw lots of bluegrass and folk shows. Rob and I saw Ralph Stanley, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Noam Pilkeny 2x and one time with my favorite Aiofe O'Donovan, and seeing Rob's new band The Wandering Boys a few times!

- We put an offer on a lake house! This was huge and an awesome learning experience. We ended up walking away and are still on the prowl for our perfect house.

- We moved in July! We love love love our new place. So much happier in our new home.

- Had a lot of fun with my girlfriends doing different things like summer festivals, our new monthly wine night, an electric boat ride, volunteering, seeing different shows, comedy/plays/concerts and lots of trips to the movies. I always laugh most when we're together and I'm so grateful for my buds.

- Spent a lot of time with family doing fam bbqs and dinners and playing silly games.

- Did tons of fun dates with Rob that usually involved pizza, ice cream, basketball games or Michigan. The best was the ghost tour we did though. So ridiculous.

- I did a lot for myself this year. Making sure I had enough alone time, saying no to things I didn't want to do or wasn't up for and doing my best to spend time doing the things that make me happy - volunteering, spending times with loved ones, getting enough down time, making meals at home and working out. I continue to work on investing time into the relationships that matter most to me, trying not to sweat the relationships that might not be as strong as they used to and communicating how much those VIP loved ones mean to me. This is a work in progress! I'm excited to have some time off from work over the holidays and see what 2015 has to offer.