Ready, Set… Grow!

As you all probably know by now, I am the biggest fan of reflections there is. I write about it all the time and you’ll often find me staring off into space living it out. The New Year is a time that a lot of people decide to reflect. It’s a time of goal setting, new ideas, and self-improvement. However, the New Year is also notorious for people failing at everything they decide to tackle.

I don’t like to think of changing in the New Year. Rather, I like to think of growing. It is super important to set goals for growth in the upcoming year, but it is just as (maybe even more) important to see where you grew the previous year. You can’t set goals without realizing what you’re capable of achieving.

fullsizerender

 

A lot of times we don’t realize where we are experiencing growth. When you’re in the moment, it’s hard to see where you’re being shaped and renewed. That’s why it is important to look backward. Behind you is where you learn.

The key to doing this is not getting wrapped up in the past. I have struggled a lot with that this year. My 2016 wasn’t fabulous. I battled a lot of physical and mental health problems, I lost some people in my life who I loved a lot, and I felt like I was failing myself. I struggled with image, both physically and in what I was achieving (or not). This is the tip of the iceberg, but sums up a lot.

I have been so focused on how hard my year had been and how broken I was that I didn’t realize all the time I was also being fixed and being made better than before.

I learned how to manage stress and look for the joy in every day, I realized who God placed in my life to get me through and to appreciate the people who would no longer walk with me, and I saw that failures were opening doors for bigger successes. I am learning to love myself and working on not comparing myself to others. Through all the junk, I ended the year with my first college 4.0 semester, an officer position in my sorority, and some really incredible relationships.

And I ended it happy.

None of this would have happened if I wasn’t growing while experiencing the pain.

It has been a lot of steady reflection that has opened my eyes to this. My goals for the New Year are now clear. They’re not to change anything, but to continue the growth that has been placed in my life.

Find the beauty in the chaos.

Know where my strength comes from.

Choose to be joyful.

Build firm foundations.

Do things I love.

Be intentional.

Breathe.

These are a few of the highlights. Simple reminders I will whisper to myself when days get dark and roads get hard. They encompass how I want to continue growing relationally, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.

So, love the pain. Love how far 2016 dragged you down. Because you didn’t realize that whole time you were being prepared for something so much greater. Find that something in the New Year.


“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Advertisements

A Perfect Plan

It is the season of thankfulness and Thanksgiving is just a few days away. I think a lot of times we don’t grasp the full meaning of giving thanks. We always say we are thankful for our family, our friends, and the food on the table. Those are excellent things to be thankful for. But I think there is so much more that we forget to be grateful for.

Sure, the people and things in our lives are awesome. We should definitely be thankful for those. But we should also be thankful for the things that come from those. Such as the experiences we are afforded because of the things in our lives. Everything God has given us intertwines to give us the really rad lives we live.

For example: My mom and dad have made me who I am and have worked to give me opportunities that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t their child. The things they give me lead to experiences that mold me and introduce me to people who make life special. Those people give me other experiences and people. My parents are more than my parents, they’re my gateway to the world. I don’t know how you even begin to thank someone for that.

It is an awesome series of perfectly lined up circumstances that brings us to where we are today. It’s these circumstances that I think we often forget we should be grateful for, both the good and the bad.

Maybe you’re not happy with where you are right now. Maybe life has got you down. But there have been a lot of awesome ups to go with the downs, and we have to remember that. If anything, an awesome series of perfectly lined up circumstances are allowing you to be breathing right now. That’s pretty incredible.

I like to reflect on the series of events that get me to certain points in my life. It’s interesting to look back and see where the decisions you and others made got you to where you are. A lot of times I can see this when I go back and read my journal entries. That’s a good place to see where things that went wrong in my opinion ended up leading me to some even better things. You know, one door closes and another opens or whatever the saying is. Too often we miss how closed doors lead us to better places.

So this holiday season I encourage others to think about the people and the things in life you’re thankful for, but also the circumstances surrounding those that have made you who you are. And then take that beyond just the season. We are some lucky people to have a temporary home here on earth with some incredible experiences in store.

In the end, the plan for our lives is perfect, and we have to be grateful for that.

*Header photo courtesy of Carlie Ross

Read and Reflect

I think everyone knows by now that I am a huge advocate of reflection in order to grow. I love journaling and quiet time to work through my thoughts and seek self-improvement. However, I think there are more ways than these to work on reflection and better oneself.

Books.

That’s right. Reading.

I struggle big time finding time for leisure reading these days. My free time is consumed with college events and homework. And I hate that. When I do get free time, I often squander it on my phone or watching TV because I feel I need a break. I take for granted the type of break reading a good book can bring.

There’s something refreshing about leaving your own thoughts and entering those of someone else. It’s also a space where you can learn a lot. Seeing how someone else approaches their thoughts can boost your reflection.

I have a few books that I’ve been working on (when I have time). They’re mostly Christian literature. This genre of literature often blatantly prompts the reader to reflect, so I love them.

img_1459

Echoes of Eden by Jerram Barrs

This book is about getting in touch with art as a Christian and appreciating the world around you. The main message is that we can not boast in our art, but exemplify Christ through them. Barrs looks at popular works of art like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Shakespeare works, and C.S. Lewis and Jane Austen novels.

img_1460

Prayer by Timothy Keller

This selection goes in-depth at what prayer looks like and how to revolutionize your prayer life. This piece definitely pushes you into your thoughts as you are pushed to think about how you communicate with God. Keller teaches how to approach things like loss, love, and sadness in your prayer life.

IMG_1461.JPG

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

This book is a classic. It can either teach you about the basic thoughts of Christianity, or reaffirm your Christian foundations. Lewis makes readers rethink their moral foundations and what values have made them who they are. It’s also just a brilliant reminder of the perfect pieces that make up the Christian faith.

Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller

In this book, Keller helps readers explore where their priorities lie and what they value most in life. It’s a rude awakening to where we place our money, time, and thoughts. This is the ultimate guide to reflecting on life.

Point Of View

Camp offers the time and space to stop and change your point of view. Your perspective. Removing yourself from everyday life and taking a break lets you stop and evaluate. We all get so caught up in the crazy schedules we create that we often forget to just stop and shift our point of view on a regular basis outside of this kind of setting.

My great-grandmother passed away this past spring. She would be 99 years old soon. I often wonder what it would be like to have her perspective. Being retired and just enjoying family, it probably allows for a lot of retrospective learning. My grandma lived such a long and joyful life, I imagine she looked back and had few regrets. She was surrounded by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who loved her dearly. Her big Irish family took care of her and always checked in. Unfortunately, my grandma’s mind was not what it used to be when she was near the end of her life, so I could never ask her about this. But wow, would 99 years of life be something great to look back on.

The thing is, we can’t all wait until the end of our lives to look back and learn. We have to remember that life isn’t about the craziness. Life is about people and moments. It’s about taking time to appreciate those things. Too often we forget this. Our society is one of busy bodies that need to constantly be doing something. We stuff our time outside of school/work with sports, clubs, concerts, gatherings and so much more. This past week I barely had time to breathe between all the appointments and study hours I had to fit in. That’s not okay.

I like to make it a goal of mine to take some time to stop and reflect. To stop and learn. And sometimes that is so very hard. We often don’t give ourselves enough time to sit in our own thoughts, uninterrupted. This is the space in which we learn the most about ourselves and life. This is where we grow.

We are all so focused on the next step, high school to college to a career to a family to retirement that I don’t think we know what to do when we make it through them all. We need to stop hurrying through life and enjoy the small time we have. God gave us people here to love and experiences to shape us, so we need to allow the love and growth.

img_2761

I am an introspective person. It’s part of being an introvert. I need that time for myself, but I am often so consumed by my busy schedule that it becomes what I think about in my quiet moments.

Here is my challenge (to myself and others): Take 10 minutes each day. Sit alone and in the silence. Think about the happy memories of the day. Think about the hard moments and what you can learn from them. Think about the people you are grateful for and what they’re doing in your life.

I think if more people took time to do this we would have a less stressed and more joyful world. We are often told to get our priorities straight, usually insinuating work or school. I think personal reflection and the people in our lives should be our priorities. So, get your priorities straight. Love yourself and others the way we were intended to do.

Mindfulness for the Season

September 12th was Mindfulness Day. How exciting that there’s a day for one of my favorite topics! I’ve mentioned before how important I’ve found this topic because of time spend working on it at camps. I haven’t talked about my healthy habits for this semester much yet. I want to let you know how I’m adjusting my mindfulness practices for a new school year and season of life.

I was beyond stressed last semester. I could barely function, so healthy habits were important to find time for in my life. I am far less stressed and busy this year (so far). It’s been easy to push healthy mental habits to the side because of that. Honestly, I use my free time to watch a lot of Private Practice. This definitely doesn’t help me stay organized and stay refreshed mentally and spiritually.

I have some things in the works that I’m working on making habits and not just sporadic behaviors. First, I’m getting back to my bullet journal. I quite using it during the summer because I was at camp and just didn’t have a lot to keep track of. Getting back to the daily planning and reflection has been hard since then. I’ve made my design a bit more simplistic and also gave my calendar more space in order to better chart my many activities.

IMG_1098.JPG

September in my journal before the onslaught of events being listed.

I am also working on setting times to dedicate to friends. Coffee dates, lunches, movie nights, etc. I am working on intentionally building relationships in order to make me better  and also be a better friend. People are important in life, so I want to make sure that shows in how I spend my time.

img_3694

Kayaking at Finger Lakes State Park.

Cleaning time is a new one. This sounds icky, and I’m not a big fan of cleaning. But, clean living space means clean head space. A cluttered room can often leave your mind cluttered. I am working really hard to keep my room organized and my desk empty of junk. I also do general cleaning more often. Organizing my room daily is making my space more enjoyable to be in and easier to do homework in.

This year I have room to have my cello with me at school. For me, making music has always been far more of a stress relief than listening to music. I think music is so important in life. I’m making more effort to use free time to release my emotions through my music. Even if you aren’t a musician, set aside time to find new music to listen to or time to go see some live music. Music is just plain good for the soul.

img_3566

Hillsong United’s Empires Tour in July.

One I’ve been really terrible about implementing is photography. I think it’s great to capture moments and memories with friends, yet my camera has sat dormant for a couple of weeks. I also really love editing photos, but that’s the journalism major side of me finding that relaxing. I need to collect more beautiful photos for my walls. Creating a room full of good memories can give you the right mindset to regularly go out and make new memories.

img_3536

Table Rock Lake from a July trip.

Mindfulness is defined by Google as, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” Or, “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” I like to view it as being in tune with your feelings and habits and focusing in on them to achieve a happier lifestyle. I don’t practice mindfulness meditation, which is a real thing, but rather try to be mindful of my thoughts and actions.

When you focus on positive living, you lead a more positive life. It helps you feel better, helps people around you feel better, and allows you to achieve more. The better you feel, the better you perform. Little habits can make for big differences.

So celebrate mindfulness with the rest of the world and make some positive changes in your life!

Using the Past to Find Your Path

I’ve talked about how important reflection is in my life. Daily reflection is an important aspect of my routine. I believe analyzing your day and what went well, or not so well, is a way to put it behind you and prepare for the next. This is a habit that I learned from years of camp.

However, there are certain times I believe it is important to go beyond daily reflection and think a little deeper. This is something I’ve figured out on my own after camp.

While at camp, I usually journal my daily reflections as well as my goals for what I want life to look like when I return home. Maybe some small moral changes, or a new habit to pick up, or a change in attitude or how I relate to a certain person. Nothing too big. Now, with any goal it is important to look back and see if you attained it. (See my goal setting post from a few months ago.)

IMG_1094.JPG

 

This is where distanced reflection is key. Was it just a “camp high?” Or did you actually make the effort to apply changes? Did they stick? What change have you seen from them? These questions are important to analyzing goals.

Currently, I am working through some of this from my month of camp in May/June. It’s been a few months and I’m back at school with a new routine.

Time to be transparent: I haven’t been super successful.

Taking a few months to look back at goals gives you the distance to analyze where things went wrong. Why didn’t this happen? What stood in my way? Did I even try?

IMG_1090

And here’s the best part. With this information you now have the ability to try again. Or, if you have been successful, you can make changes or add to the goal.

Reflecting can also show you where things you thought were awful actually set you on a path that was better in the long run. That’s impossible to see without some distance between the hard stuff and where you are now.

IMG_1093

I like to keep track of my goals in my bullet journal. (See my bullet journal post.) It allows a place for yearly goals, monthly goals, and daily/weekly goals. Whether they’re long-term or short-term, I am able to see what they were and how I’ve done. Keeping track is important.

My advice to you is to keep track of your goals. When I was told to do this in middle school I thought it was crazy. Now I live by it and have learned more about myself than I ever thought I would.

IMG_1092

I know what camp taught me, and I know where those lessons need to take me. And now I have a plan.

April Organization

I am going to share my April bullet journal layout and how I adapted it based on what I learned from March. My first month of using the bullet journal system was awesome. I felt like I had it all together. My list of things to do was way more productive and fewer items slipped my mind.

IMG_3117

I kept the monthly intro page with goals. I always will, but I’m still not sure how I feel about the monthly goals part being on it. Maybe I’ll start to put memories here next month.

IMG_3118

I also left the calendar and habit tracker because they definitely worked for me. Obviously, I still don’t have time to do a lot of things I would like to. I mean, look at that April calendar.

IMG_3119

I also left the gratitude section mostly unchanged. It’s still very grounding to look back on the days and know that something good does come of every one of them, even if sometimes it doesn’t seem like it.

IMG_3120

Here is where I started switching the layout up a lot based off what I learned in March. I condensed the Waiting On section. There is no reason I should be ordering a whole page of packages, and I fail to keep track of emails and calls because I make so many. I added a Big Verses section. This allows me to kind of keep track of what was important during the month and helps me look back and re-center myself in the Word. I left the memories section, though I need to get better at using it. That’s a goal this month.

IMG_3121

I combined the Wins and Learning sections and took away the weekly reflection part of them. I didn’t need all that space and didn’t use it well for March. It might come back once I get better at using it. I also added the #RockYourHandwriting challenge in to keep track of. I am bad about doing it, but hey, baby steps.

IMG_3123

I also decided to add in the use of fun embellishments. I got these in the dollar section at Target, but they’re perfect. They allow me to keep notes that I don’t want to randomly scribble on pages.

IMG_3122

Here’s where some honestly comes in. I am not perfect at using my bullet journal. April began while I was on Spring Break, which is why I opted not to put my updated bullet journal layout on the blog. However, after I came back I learned a very important organization lesson. I had messed with the layout, but got distracted on break and didn’t necessarily need it. When I got back, I was not prepared for the week I had thrown at me.

As you can see above, I skipped a few days. Or a lot of days. I was so overwhelmed with the week that most nights I just came home really late and went to bed. Add in the fact that I had a terrible stomach virus on top of deadline week, a test, a research paper, and Greek Week and you get a disaster of a person. However, not keeping track of my tasks just made it a million times worse. (I also make mistakes, which drives me nuts. Notice the washi tape.)

I got through the week and sat and reorganized my life, almost literally. I learned that I don’t function well with no type of organization keeping me together. My past week was significantly better. I had everything organized and listed in my journal. Everyone has crazy weeks, you just have to learn how to anchor yourself. For me, it turns out I am already bullet journal dependent. Sure, I keep track of things other ways, but this made me feel unorganized. Feeling that way just added a mental mess to the physical mess that was my first week back from break.

That’s a lesson learned and some new goals set. Organization is key to a healthy state of mind.

Pinterest and Goals

Student council camp had a speaker every year who talked to us about goal setting. Now, I went for six years so I just about had this talk memorized. However, it still reminded me year after year that goal setting really is important. The speaker always talked about the acronym SMART. She encouraged us to make “smart” goals.

8165198_orig

I fully believe that these types of goals are important. I often set goals for what I want my semester GPA to be, things I want to get done each day, etc. Those are SMART goals. But I also fully believe in goals that often aren’t attainable or realistic. Kind of like a dream, but slightly more possible. This is why I love Pinterest.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 9.45.37 AM

Pinterest is a place to keep those goals that may not be attainable. They may not fall under all or any of the SMART categories, but they are things that make you happy to think about. My Pinterest is where I go if I need a quick ten minutes of stress relief. I have 13 boards (which is super minimal compared to intense pinners) where I keep a sort of list of things I would love to have in my life at some point.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 9.46.28 AM

The boards can be as simple as things I want to do to my hair someday or items I want to craft (some of which I have), all the way to crazy adventures I would love to go on and what I imagine my wedding will look like.Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 9.46.47 AM

I also have boards that simply have inspirational, motivational, and joyful words on them. It’s sometimes nice to look at when I need some encouragement. I will often doodle these phrases out on paper or in my bullet journal. Another small stress relief trick I have.Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 9.47.41 AM

The shot above is from my board for style. These are things I would love to see in my closet, but could live without. It helps me kind of lay out my personality in clothing. It ranges from beautiful dresses to quirky adventure shirts. These are definitely attainable, but maybe not realistic because I am a college student on a budget. I feel awesome whenever I can actually purchase something off of my board though. It’s the feeling of a goal achieved.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 9.49.04 AM

The next shot is from my board for my townhouse. I get my first off campus living arrangement next year, so this is where I pin what I am aiming to decorate it like. I have picked my color scheme and basic look. I pin all sorts of things that fall under them that I can combine when looking for the items over the summer. Definitely falls under a few of the SMART categories, but is more of a dream than a goal.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 9.49.44 AM

The last one I’m showing you is actually a secret board. This is my “Mindfulness” board. It is where I keep a lot of organizational items. All of my bullet journal and hand lettering pins are saved here, but also just things that bring me peace in a busy day. This is a great board because I have actually put these pins to paper. My bullet journal is great (I just designed a slightly new setup for April) and helps me set real goals and measure them.

It’s okay to have dreams. People are always telling students to set realistic goals. Set goals that will help you get ahead in life. Well sure, those are important. It’s also important to have a set of goals that aren’t realistic but that bring you joy to think about.

Music and Mood

Camp was full of singing. From silly cafeteria songs and dance parties to evenings singing Stand By Me with arms around each other or worship sessions that moved me to tears, my camp experience is highlighted by the songs I sang. For me, both student council camp and church camp helped mold me with music.

STUCO camp taught me to laugh, relax, and hold on to the people I love. The days were full of silly songs and sing-alongs and the evenings with dance parties or group singing with everyone’s arm around the next person. This helped me to learn to let go, have fun, and do it with total strangers who become best friends.

Church camp was also full of dance parties and silly songs in the cafeteria. But the evenings were filled with incredible worship sessions that brought up emotions you never realized were there. Worship caused some reflection, which helped me grow. Doing it with some of my best friends by my side made for growth in incredible relationships as well.

I still love to use music to amp up my mood or put me in a state for reflection. My Spotify account is one thing I could not live without. I currently have 32 playlists on my account, a number almost to be ashamed of. I have put hours and hours into creating playlists for every stage of life and every mood swing. From Latin pop to classical cello concertos, my playlists keep me going.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 11.30.00 AM

My Happy Heart playlist is probably the most listened to playlist on my Spotify. This is what I listen to when I’m in a good mood, or need to get in a good mood. It’s full of a type of Indie-bluegrass-pop that reminds me of sunny days and people I love.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 11.30.48 AM

For Adventuring is absolutely for what its title says. I put this on when I’m heading out to the trails or taking a long drive. It’s light and airy alternative music that makes me want to hop on a boat or in a van and just go until I can’t anymore. It also makes killer study music when I need something light to focus with.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 11.30.35 AM

This playlist is for days where I’m just not feeling upbeat. It’s ballad type alternative pieces that you might hear in a coffee-house. The mood of the playlist matches my mood when I just haven’t had a good day. I also frequently study to this one because it brings a sense of peace.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 11.31.26 AM

This is absolutely one of my favorite playlists. It is full of Christian worship music that is “off the beaten path.” Hipster Christianity is a real thing, and this playlist embodies it (I have a separate mainstream Christian music playlist). This music is peace and hope in busy world. It helps me slow down and focus while also finding joy in The Lord.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 11.31.17 AM

Here is my reflection playlist. This is what I put on while I do my quiet time. It brings me right back to the middle of worship at church camp and the moments I grew.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 11.31.02 AM

Collaborative playlists are my favorite. I share this one with my sister and we both add new songs we love. It’s a way to share something with her when I am far away. I play it when I miss her or when I need a fun random mix to listen to.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 11.31.46 AM

I also love Spotify because I can see what people I love are listening to. It lets me see what moods they’re in and also discover new music for my playlists. It’s a great way to get to know someone in a different way.

I use Spotify playlists to walk me through life. Camp taught me that there is music for the highs and the lows. Music can put you in different moods and bring different thoughts of reflection. I aim to keep that in my life daily.

Here’s my current favorite song:

 

Journaling My Way to Peace

One of my favorite habits camp helped me to develop is journaling. Camp always encourages a time of reflection, and writing down thoughts is the best way to do this. I love being able to look back at reflections/journals from past years of camp and see how I have grown and changed as a person. A few years ago I decided to take journaling beyond camp. I started journaling a few days a week with reflections of the day and things that were on my mind. It became a great way to get some things out that I tended to bottle up. It also helped me remember the things I was celebrating that day and defining moments of growth. It also forces me to reflect rather than moving on and forgetting, which sometimes it what triggers growth.

Buying new journals is my guilty pleasure. The empty pages just scream to be filled with life and memories. It’s a very uncomplicated way to document a life. I am currently working out of three journals. I have one that I write about the things I mentioned above in and one where I journal a type of notes from sermons at my church and campus ministry. My newest endeavor is my absolute favorite journal.

Bullet journaling is the busy person’s best friend. There are some incredible blogs about bullet journaling (Tiny Ray of Sunshine, Boho Berry and Pretty Prints and Paper are my favorites right now). The goal is to encourage mindfulness and reflection while staying organized. It’s a place to keep goals, gratitude, and memories while also keeping track of lists, schedules, and habits.

IMG_0534

I just started my first bullet journal at the beginning of the month and I am already in love. I tend to scribble things different places and lose track of things, but also keep meticulous lists of things I need to get done. Bullet journaling has helped me have fewer stresses in my day and reflect on how well I’m doing at getting tasks done. It is healing my terrible procrastination. It also helps me see where I have time in the day to fit in tasks I don’t have scheduled in yet, which is something I was terrible at. I am not using my bullet journal as thoroughly as some people do. Yet. I am excited to see how it changes with me through the year. So, here is a look inside:

IMG_0544

My bullet journal of choice is the Leuchtturm1917 medium dot grid journal.The grid allows me to set it up however I like but also keep it organized. At the front there is a table of contents so I can easily find what I need. All of the pages are numbered, which makes that even easier. There are two bookmarks, so I keep those on the current month and the current day.

The beginning of any good bullet journal starts with pages for the year. Above is the first set of pages in mine. I have the calendar for each month drawn out. I have the first half of 2016 filled in with events and holidays and add to it as my schedule fills up. These are big events mainly, like concerts and trips. I also have a 2016 bucket list following December where I list fun things I want to do this year.

IMG_0545

Next are my “Level 10 Life” and “Level 10 Goals” pages. Boho Berry explains this well and I made mine look a lot like hers. Basically, I have rated where I think I am on a scale of 1-10 in each of the areas in my life on the “Level 10 Life” page. On the “Level 10 Goals” page I write goals for each category that will help me work towards reaching a perfect 10. This was an interesting point of reflection. I am sure it will be even more interesting when I look at it when the year comes to a close and see how far I have come, or if I moved backwards in any area.

IMG_0546

The next page contains a “bookshelf” of things I want to read this year. So far I only have books listed that are already on my shelf waiting to be read. I will color them in as I go (you can see one is already colored halfway as I work on it). The page next to it has my 2016 goals. I stress easily, so they are mainly goals to find more joy in my life daily and stress a whole lot less. It’s a good grounding reminder when I am having a bad day.

IMG_0547

Finally, the month by month pages begin. I have a fun little heading for the month of March with a few little goals under it (check off blog at least once). Then I have a place to list memories from the month. I have the Rend Collective concert I attended with my sister on there right now. It’s a place I can go back and smile at later in the year.

IMG_0548

My March calendar is where I keep a more detailed version of the calendar at the front. I have more meetings and appointments listed here as well as sorority events. I refer to this daily so I don’t miss anything as I plan each day. Next to the calendar is my habit tracker.

IMG_0549

This is a fun way to keep track of things I do daily. I like to keep track of my sleep schedule, hydration, medication, and exercise here. These are things I aim to do most days. I also keep track of things I do randomly just to see how often I do them. It is a really cool way to evaluate how I spend my time. March has been busy, so a lot of things haven’t been on the top of my list.

IMG_0552

The next two pages are dedicated to gratitude. I find it very important to find things I am thankful for in each day, so here I list just that. It makes me realize there is no purely bad day. Some days it’s hard to find things, but the reflection helps pull me out of bad moods.

IMG_0553

I also keep track of wins and lessons learned for each week. This is just another reflection method I have to evaluate my weeks and where I need to work on things to take on the next.

IMG_0554

Finally, I have a list where I keep track of things I am waiting to receive. Right now I just have packages listed, but I hope to expand it to keep track of phone calls and emails I am waiting on to be returned. That’s it for the beginning of the month. After that, my day to day planning begins.

IMG_0555

I love doodling and hand lettering, so I love doing this daily. I have a time tracker at the top which is color coded with things I have scheduled for the day. Sleep, meals, class, and extracurriculars make up most of it. It shows me where I have free time. The list below shows tasks I need to fit into that free time. Circles denote events and appointments and dots are tasks. I check them off as I complete them, or turn it into an arrow to push it to the next day. I also have the weather listed for fun. So far, this set up is really working for me.

IMG_0556

Sitting down at the end of each day and planning out the next has been extremely beneficial to me. It lets me refocus and recenter myself to take on what comes next. It is also a huge motivator to get things done. I look forward to seeing how my entries change month by month and to see what types of pages I add. There are so many fun ideas on Pinterest and blogs that I hope to work in once I get the main journaling goals down. This is the ultimate stress relief technique for me, and I plan to update the blog as it grows and changes with me.

IMG_0558