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48 Daily Habits to Make in 2016

| On
December 31, 2015

As I've been noodling around with the idea of New Year's resolutions, I've been considering the idea of trying to add new habits into your life. In other words, focusing on adding baby steps every day instead of focusing on some big unrealistic end goal with no thought on how to get from A to B. So I've scoured a few sites for ideas and come up with a few of my own and come up with a list of habits for you to consider. Which of these habits will you try to add in 2016?

  • Take a walk right after lunch every day.
  • Put away technology at least one hour before you want to go to bed.
  • Drink a glass of water first thing every morning.
  • Meditate for a few minutes when you wake up in the morning.
  • Take a 15-20 minute nap every day.
  • Do a few sun salutations or a few minutes of stretching when you wake up and before bed.
  • Park in a far-away parking spot for work or class.
  • Do a certain number of push-ups, sit-ups or squats every morning or evening.
  • Wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day.
  • Plan your meals for the week every Sunday or right before you go grocery shopping.
  • Brush your teeth 2-3 times a day + floss daily. 
  • Try a new food every week.

  • Keep a gratitude journal.
  • Give a genuine compliment every day.
  • Choose an affirmation to repeat to yourself every day.
  • Spend at least 15 minutes outside every day, no matter the weather.
  • Block social media during the weekdays, or even just one day a week.
  • Every night, congratulate yourself on your achievements of the day (even small ones count!)
  • Watch the sun rise or set once a week.
  • Set a certain "technology-free" hour every day.
  • Keep a daily journal.

  • Write a to-do list when you get out of bed every morning.
  • Plan your schedule for the following day before you go to bed.
  • Take active breaks every 45-60 minutes to stretch or jog in place.
  • Spend one hour a night reviewing the material learned that day.
  • Or review material every morning before class.
  • Spend fifteen minutes tidying your bedroom or workspace.

  • Read scripture for 15, 30 or 60 minutes a day.
  • Memorize one Bible verse a week (practice every day).
  • Doodle or draw phrases from scripture when you need a break.
  • Practice praying at certain times of the day (when you wake up, before bed, before meals).
  • Take meditative walks, focusing on a piece of scripture or praying as you walk.
  • Keep a daily list of prayer requests and praises.
  • Check in with an accountability partner daily to give and receive support for your spiritual goals.

  • Talk to one person you don't know every day, even if it's just small talk while waiting in line or a quick hello.
  • Call someone far away every week.
  • Text someone every day to let them know you're thinking of them.
  • Write a hand-written letter every week.

  • Give away one thing you don't need every week.
  • Make a budget and review your spending habits weekly.
  • Instead of eating out, cook at home.
  • Put a certain amount into savings as soon as you receive a paycheck.
  • Save a certain amount of money every week.

  • Spend a certain amount of time blogging every night.
  • Plan your posts for the week every Sunday. 
  • Comment on a few blog posts every day.
  • Share someone else's blog post on social media.

Let me know in the comments if you plan to work on any of these habits (or any others!) in the coming year! Or, just tell me about your goals or resolutions!

New Cheer / A New Year's Playlist

| On
December 29, 2015
alcohol, bar, drinks

I have a ridiculous love affair with Christmas music. I'm that irritating, overly-excited person that starts listening to Christmas music as soon as Halloween is over (I don't even wait for Thanksgiving!). Really, if you took a peek through my iTunes library, I have multiple playlists for Christmas music...because sometimes you want old Bing Crosby stuff and sometimes you want modern She & Him Christmas songs. 

That said, I always felt like other holidays, especially New Year's were a little lacking in the musical festivities. But I looked around last year and this year and put together a playlist of music that is (for the most part) specifically celebrating New Year's! 

Whether you're hosting a big sparkly party or just watching the ball drop on your couch writing out your resolutions, have a listen + have a lovely New Year!

How do you celebrate New Year's??

Do You Make New Year's Resolutions?

| On
December 28, 2015
light, person, woman

I love all things goal-setting related + so naturally I really love the start of something new, whether it's a semester, a year of school or a calendar year. I especially love New Year's because it usually is the start of a new semester of school and a new calendar year. Usually, I love New Year's Resolutions, making goals, "intentions", picking a word for the year, etc. 

But over the last couple years, I've become a little bit disenchanted with the idea of New Year's Resolutions, as I think a lot of people are. Forbes recently said that only 8% of people really achieve their New Year's Resolutions. And really...that's not a very good success rate. 

I don't want to give up on resolutions just yet. I don't know if that huge number of people failing is because people make unrealistic goals or don't have good motivation or what, but we shouldn't view resolutions as something that can't be successful. The new year is a great time to look back on the past year + consider how we can improve ourselves in the next one! 

Over the next few days, I'll definitely be thinking (and posting!) about how I want to go about my goals for the next year. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts on all things New Year's Resolutions related!

12 Days of Love Letters

| On
December 16, 2015

For someone who spends an unfortunately significant amount of time on the computer, largely blogging and such, I really do love returning to the simple art of letter writing. Growing up, my mom was always a huge believer that thank you notes should be written as soon as possible after birthday parties and such + I think that was the beginning of letter writing for me.

When H and I started dating in high school, I would spent summers on the other side of the country + we started writing letters. It did feel silly sometimes, half of the time we told each other the news in the letter before the letter even got there. 

But the more letters we wrote, the more special they became for me (and hopefully him as well!). I loved getting to see his handwriting and the way he leaves out apostrophes and the dots on his 'i's sometimes. We started doodling--he would draw me jellyfish or funny stick figures and I would try to write our names and addresses in a pretty way. He experimented with different fountain pens and I always love picking out fun cards and stationery. All those little details made our letters more special than just a conversation over text or on the phone. They were gifts, and they became mementos that I still save in a shoebox under my bed.

Just in the past year or two, I've gotten to expand the way I write letters. I started writing letters to my grandmother and my friends at other schools. I sometimes just write notes to friends here with me, just for fun. But one of my favorite letter-related activities is writing letters responding to the requests on

Every two weeks, a few new requests are posted on the website--people of all ages and backgrounds who for whatever reason, need encouragement. They might be recently widowed elderly women or young teenagers dealing with struggles of growing up. But wherever they are in their lives, they could use a little extra encouragement, in the form of a letter from a stranger.

This month, in honor of the holiday season, MLL has been hosting a campaign called 12 Days of Letter Writing. Instead of every two weeks, there is a new request up every single day of someone who really needs that extra support during the Christmas season. I encourage you to read through the requests and choose one (or more!) that resonates with you and take five minutes to send that person a card or a letter. It doesn't have to be fancy--notebook paper is fine!

I chose to write a letter to Vincent, the recipient from Day 1 (though you can still go back at write him!). You can go read his story a little more on the requests page, but in short, Vincent recently lost his wife to postpartum depression, just a short time after the birth of their first child. This year is Vincent's first Christmas without his wife, raising a child on his own. 

I could honestly go on and on about why you should join in on this campaign, but I think you probably understand why this is such an important thing. Lately, I've been trying to focus on giving my attention and my care to other people, even more than gifts or money, this holiday season. I hope you'll do the same.

Let me know if you end up writing a letter to one of the requests or if you have any questions about More Love Letters!

How I'm Choosing to Reframe My Failures

| On
December 14, 2015

In the past, I never would have called myself a perfectionist. Especially in high school, I was pretty successful, quite honestly, in most of the things I did. As a result, I never had to worry or stress out about messing something up. I'm not sure when exactly that changed, when I stopped forgiving myself for getting a B or taking a lazy day. But I did, and it's changed the way I treat myself.

Sometimes, we need to be real with ourselves about our failures. We can't ignore our mistakes. But at the same time, if we dwell on our mistakes so long that we don't let ourselves fix them...we're only hurting ourselves more. That's what I've been doing lately. I've been beating myself up for anything less than perfection so much that I don't have the energy left to pick myself back up and keep going.

I know some of you probably understand this feeling--especially in finals week, when emotions run high and the threat of failure is sitting in the back of our brain just reminding us that it's a possibility. With all that fear of failure, it's easy to feel like any mistake or flaw is the one that will end it all and make it impossible for us to get back on our path of success. You feel me on this? Like if I spend an hour watching TV when I should be studying, then all of a sudden, I'm telling myself that I'm not a discliplined person, that I'm not going to do well, that I don't have what it takes to have success in life.

That's just not true, none of it.

There are a few things that I've been telling myself instead.

I heard an analogy on Gretchen Ruben's podcast "Happier". On it, she (or someone else, I can't remember) compared our own failures to a chef trying out a new recipe. If a chef, even the most skilled chef in the world, wants to try a new dish, chances are, he or she will try it many times. Cooking it different ways. Trying new ingredients. Plating it differently each time. Every time the chef starts again, they are nixing the last dish they made. But...we wouldn't call that a failure, would we? Because it's a necessary and natural step of the path to making a delicious, new dish.

And it's really the same for us. If we reframe the way we look at our mistakes and failures, we can keep them from stopping us. This is my goal now. Instead of my own mental mistreatment, I try to turn things around and even if I don't believe them at first, repeating these things until I do take them as truth.

Failing means I challenged myself.

Failing means I attempted something above mediocre.

Failure gives me a chance to pick myself up and try again, doing a little better each time.

Failure doesn't not mean I won't succeed in the future.

Failure is teaching me humility and perseverance.

Failure is building a more resilient spirit inside me.

Failure makes the victories all the more triumphant.

Every time I go through this list, a different phrase will resonate with me, and it's probably the same for you. I've been writing them down on a physical piece of paper and posting them right above my desk, because those failures will inevitable continue to come.

How do you deal with feeling like you've failed yourself?

6 Time Management Tips for Finals Week

| On
December 10, 2015

First off, I feel obligated to say that I have absolutely not been using these tips nearly as much as I should be (oops). Usually, I'm very good about staying on top of tasks and motivating myself but procrastination has been hitting me hard these days. I only have two exams left, one next Tuesday and one on Thursday, but my very last one (organic chemistry) will be a doozy. SO I've started using these strategies to keep me on task with everything I have to do!

+ Split all big, scary tasks into teeny, not-scary tasks. Specifically, take vague tasks and try to make them more concrete by splitting them into individual, specific tasks. I especially like to narrow everything down to tasks that will take at most an hour at a time. For example, instead of telling myself that I have to "study for chemistry", I can split that into the tasks of reviewing notes, redoing problems missed on old exams, doing practice problems and doing a practice exam. Each of those sections can even be narrowed down even more by chapter. This method really helps me not to get overwhelmed by huge tasks by taking things one baby step at a time.

+ Be disciplined in getting rid of distractions. I feel like this is one of those easy-peasy helpers that I know I should do...but for some reason I never do. But I know that getting rid of distractions always makes me more productive. Maybe that means blocking social media and certain websites from your computer, deleting apps on your phone (or turning it off altogether) or even going somewhere else so you're not constantly tempted by the cookie dough in your fridge (and by you, I mean me). I use a great extension for Chrome called StayFocusd. I can block a list of websites for a given time (bloglovin, facebook, pinterest, etc) or go in "nuclear mode" and turn off all internet for a time. It's really helpful to force myself to get away!

+ Staying healthy is the best way to make sure you can use your time productively. I have a friend who gets sick every single semester right before finals week--it's natural! We're stressed, we're probably not taking very good care of ourselves, so naturally our body gets tired and our immune system just can't keep up. But once you're sick or super tired, none of these tips above will help you. Keep your health up by exercising every other day, eating regular healthy meals (no skipping! no late night chocolate/cookies/pizza!) and SLEEPING eight hours a night as much as possible. Y'all. I'm serious. Sleep does not make you lazy. Sleep is a glorious thing.

+ Keep a positive mindset. Sometimes my biggest stumbling block is that I'm horrible at dealing positively with my own failures. If I make a study plan and get distracted and behind, I actually get angry with myself. I get upset and frustrated. But then, I spend so much energy getting mad at myself that I don't have any left to work on that thing that I was supposed to be doing! It becomes a negative cycle. This can alllll be prevented just by reacting kindly to whatever happens. If you don't do as well as you had hoped on something, it's okay. Take a deep breath. You can't change the future but you can keep it from messing up the rest of your day.

+ Build in regular breaks. I aim to take about 15 minutes of break after every 45 minutes of work, but if I'm doing something particularly unpleasant, I might even make that 10 minutes of break for every 30 minutes of work. You can fiddle with it and try to find a ration that feels good without getting lazy. But the trick to this is that you have to be ruthless in the timing. It's just as important to force yourself to take your whole break when it's time as it is to make sure you're working hard during your work period.

+ Take intentionally relaxing/fun/rewarding breaks. When you do get to your break periods, I highly, highly recommend that you not spend it noodling on facebook unless you just really enjoy that. Most likely, it'll feel like wasted time and you'll want to take an even longer break. What I do recommend: reading, coloring, meditating, (sometimes) Netflix, cleaning, cooking, etc.

What are your time management tricks? Any finals tips? Fellow college bloggers/blog readers, come say hi!

4 Reasons to Get Up Early

| On
December 07, 2015
food, cup, mug


Just the word strikes a little bit of fear in my heart. My fellow college students reading this right now know what's up.

But amid the craziness, I've managed to make one lovely change over the semester or so: I'm getting up early. Not early early, but a comfortable seven o'clock. I'm lucky in that my first class is at 8:30am. I know it's not what most students would prefer but I've gotten in a smooth routine of productive mornings. And there's nothing that makes me satisfied quite like productive mornings.

I'm one of those people who just has to share when good things happen--I want you to feel the early morning goodness too! But in case you're just not convinced why the heck you should get up early, let me explain why I do.

+ I get alone time. As an introvert (granted a fairly social one), I loooove spending some quality time with myself. It makes me so happy to read, cross-stitch, doodle or even watch Netflix by myself. However, living with a roommates generally makes this difficult. Especially with our schedules, we find that we're often at home at the same time and even though we don't share bedrooms, there's always the temptation to go out and socialize. Which is great, don't get me wrong--I love my roommates. But sometimes, I just need a little quiet time. By getting up early, I have at least half an hour to work on stuff or get ready before anyone else is up and doing things.

+ I have time to plan out my day. The other day, on a Saturday, I made the mistake of staying in bed until 9:45, which sounds fine, until I realized that I needed an hour to shower and get ready and then 30 minutes to allow to get to campus. And to save you from doing the math, I'll tell you that I was almost late to my 10:40am meeting. When I get up early though, I can easily plan out my morning--and even my whole day! I like to write a list of my classes + to-dos for the day, and then figure out where I can fit tasks in my day. I get so much more done!

+ I feel accomplished. This sound silly, I know. BUT we all know that getting up early is hard. Really hard. But when I get up early, I've already done something awesome. It may just be a simple mind trick, but after getting up early, I feel like the rest of my day will be easy. There's something to be said for doing something challenging first thing every day just to remind yourself who's boss (YOU ARE).

+ I make time to do things that I might not otherwise get around to. I know I don't really, but getting early helps me feel like I have a little more time in the day. When I stay up late, I'm rarely productive. But early in the morning, I'm eager to get stuff done. This means I get to write blog posts, read my Bible, read blogs or listen to music. Other days, these things just don't happen + I'm a little less happy because of it.

Do you get up early? Why or why not?

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