Reflecting on 2014 & Looking Ahead: Goal-Setting in 2015

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Hello, friends! It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been a bit unplugged from the blogging world, (although I’ve been hanging out a bit on Instagram), and I’m finding it slightly challenging to dive back into blog writing. So many posts in my head, but where to even start?! ;) My head is a jumble of thoughts and ideas.

But I’m taking the leap today, no matter how rusty I feel! Haha (So please forgive all the rambling that is bound to happen!)

Today, I’m going to jump into posting about the start of my 2015 goal-setting process (I’ve been following Lara Casey’s blog series and using her Powersheets again this year). I’m also currently reading Lara’s book Make It Happen (so good!).

First, let me say that setting goals has been a MUCH slower (and harder) process for me this year than it has been in years past. Last year, I finished all of my Powersheet steps and set my goals by January 1. I was raring to go and couldn’t wait to get things down on paper and make things happen! This year, my mind felt blank when it came to what goals I wanted to set and what the year ahead might look like. I didn’t feel my normal energy or passion or inspiration. I felt quieter, more reflective, and to be honest, more than a little unsure.

But, like Lara wrote in that adorable image above, there’s really nothing magical about January 1. I’m taking my time this year, knowing that my goals will mean more if they aren’t rushed.

One of the first things I did to start my goal-setting process this year was create a Pinterest board for the year. I began pinning inspiring images that captured the way I was feeling about the year ahead, as well as all the stuff that fires me up (one of Lara’s goal-setting steps). I created the vision board below as a reminder to print and paste in my Powersheet binder. I’ll probably hang it above my desk, too. It’s a great little sampling of all the loveliness I’ve been adding to my board, and seeing everything all grouped together like that just makes me smile and feel inspired.

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* all image sources here *

Then yesterday, I took a vacation day and had what I call an inspiration day. I took myself out to brunch at one of my favorite local coffee shops, and surrounded by the chatter of other people and the whir of espresso machines, I sipped on my brown sugar cinnamon latte and began working through my Powersheets. The main focus of yesterday was reflecting on 2014 — both the good and the challenging.

I’m going to share a few highlights here:

  • Community was a huge focus of my year (and one of my 2014 goals), and God definitely worked in that area. He blessed me with quality time with my church friends and family, new creative friendships, and a desire to start ministering to college students. I’ll likely be leading a women’s discipleship group for college women this spring at my church. I also hosted an online book club for my eBook An Inspired Life and connected with so many wonderful women! Thinking about hosting another one in the new year (with some new expanded content)!
  • We celebrated my grandmother’s 90th birthday and had many meaningful family gatherings this year. I often struggle with my singleness, but it has actually been a gift at times this year, because it has afforded me the opportunity to really pour into my family relationships and soak up extra special time with loved ones.
  • I’ve continued to date with a hopeful, open heart. I do believe God has marriage in mind for me, and while I don’t know why I’m 31 and still waiting, He reminds me often that His plan is always better than mine. God has me in this season for a reason, and I want to embrace it for all that it is, while still having hope for the seasons and adventures still come for me!
  • What I fill my mind with is CRUCIAL. I can choose to fill it with fear, negativity, bitterness, etc., or I can fill it with all that’s lovely, good, and true — the BEST, not the WORST.
  • Investing in my health and wellness is essential (when I said yes to fresh, good food, being active, living in community, and doing what fires me up, I was blessed).
  • Summer was a sweet time of recharging and just enjoying life…I wasn’t worried about creative deadlines or my next big project. I just focused on LIVING. I need more breaks like that and a good balance between living the stories and telling them.
  • Fall brought the chance to attend the Influence Conference again, and I loved being in the midst of that amazing community for the second time! This year’s conference was a much different experience for me than last year’s, but my heart was just in a different, quieter place this year. I think that’s sort of been the theme of my 2014! Quiet and reflective in many ways. And that leads me to my next bullet…
  • I have been less active online these last few months, but I think the break has helped me look ahead to the new year and really ask myself how I will be a part of the Internet in the coming year. I don’t know all the answers yet (although I do have some exciting plans with some fellow blogging friends), but I know that as I press into God, He will reveal each next step.

Just in doing those reflections, I started to feel some goals and hopes begin to take shape in my mind. I’m looking forward to continuing the Powersheets process this afternoon, getting more down on paper and seeing how God uses this process to point me to the path I’ll take in this new year.

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One of the other parts of the goal-setting process, and something I do each year, is choose a focus word for the year. The word I chose for the year was FIND, because I want to find God in everything. I also picked a scripture verse for my year: Jeremiah 29:13. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” 

And that’s exactly how I want to approach 2015.

I want to seek and find God in everything. And I want to do so wholeheartedly.

In the last few days, I also can’t stop thinking about the word FOLLOW. And I think for whatever reason, God has placed more than just one word on my heart this year. I want to seek and FIND God WHOLEHEARTEDLY, and I want to FOLLOW where He leads, going and doing and creating in line with His heart. So, that is my word (or words?) for 2015, and I look forward to keeping them in mind as I adventure through this brand new year of unknowns.

This was kind of a long post, so thanks for sticking with me! In my next post, I’ll be sharing more about what fires me up (and maybe another vision board), as well as what I’ll be saying YES and NO to in 2015. Just typing all of this out has given me an extra dose of joy, hope, and excitement for what 2015 could hold! :)

Are you setting goals for 2015? I’d love to hear about them! Share them here, or if you’ve blogged about your goals, or started a Pinterest board, leave me a link, so I can check them out.

And if you’re looking for some guidance in your goal-setting, I definitely recommend checking out Lara’s series. Powersheets are sold out until the spring, I believe, but remember, there’s nothing magical about January 1! If they sound like something that would fire up your heart and help you make things happen, definitely check them out! :)

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Weekending: Crafty Mart’s Mom & Pop Shoppe

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Despite the unpredictable (and mostly windy/overcast weather), I spent my Saturday surrounded by color and inspiration — eating good food, drinking hot coffee, and wandering around Crafty Mart’s Spring Mom & Pop Shoppe.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, I love the Crafty Mart events, because they bring together a unique group of local artists right in the heart of Akron. It’s such a joy to celebrate talent and creativity and support people’s passions.

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This is Ashley, the owner and creator of Truckshop. I fell in love with her creatively curated mobile fashion boutique (check out all of the bright color, sparkle, and polka dots!!). She was so much fun to meet and talk with, too. I loved hearing her business story, and talking with her further confirmed my dream to work with creators, makers, and dreamers to help them live and tell their inspired stories.

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So sad she didn’t have the polka-dotted number in my size. I was smitten!

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I did snag these sparkly earrings and fun black-and-white chevron scarf, though.

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Also, did I mention there were mini donuts?!

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I’m still regretting the fact that I passed up sampling some of these sweet treats from DonutLab. They smelled incredible! (And what’s a better pairing than coffee and donuts, I ask you!) ;)

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I also came home with this darling piece of art by Ivy Axe. It’s the perfect addition to my little gallery wall of art. Filling my home and life with beautiful art makes my heart very, very happy.

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It was a great day, and I think it was just what I needed. I feel refreshed and ready to tackle some new creative projects of my own!

5 Ways to Live More Creatively

1. Discover

Discovering new things — artists, writers, musicians, restaurants, farmers markets, shops, boutiques, etc. — is something that makes my life feel full and vibrant. To bring a sense of discovery to your everyday life, consider trying one of the following: Make a list of restaurants you’d like to try in your city, shops you’d like to visit, etc. Switch up your normal grocery shopping routine and try a specialty market, local shop, or farmers market instead. (I love to shop local, because it gives me a chance to make healthier choices and also meet the people who have grown and tended my food. It’s a pretty cool, inspiring experience.)

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2. Learn

I love to challenge myself to learn new things. (Right now, I’m learning all about hand lettering, and I’m excited to immerse myself in this new art form.) Is there something that’s piqued your curiosity? Check out your local library to see what books you can find on the subject. You can also find a lot of affordable classes online. Skillshare is a great resource on a vast array of creative topics, for example.

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3. Create

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Spending time dreaming and creating is super important to me. Think about what inspires you… Is it drawing? Painting? Gardening? Knitting? Writing? Cooking? Finding time for the things that make your heart happy is an important component of living creatively. And remember, you don’t need an entire day to devote to creating. Look for small ways to create every day. If cooking is your thing, can you try a new recipe? If you love writing, can you spend a few moments each morning or evening penning a few thoughts in your journal?

4. Add color

I am a big fan of living with LOTS of color. I find that when I surround myself with color and art and pattern, I feel happy, inspired, and creative. Even just wearing a colorful outfit can change and brighten my mood.

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5. Connect & Share

Life is so much sweeter when we share it, yes?  I love to plan adventuring dates with friends and loved ones — and sometimes just with the Lord — so we can share the experience of discovering fresh new joys together. Being in community and sharing our stories, our art, and our lives with people we appreciate and connect with on a deeper level is such a HUGE part of living fully and creatively.

:: I hope this post gets you thinking about some new ways you can bring joy, creativity, color, and inspiration to your everyday life. If you enjoyed reading about this topic, you can find more in my book An Inspired Life: Living Fully & Creatively in Every Season. ::

Happy Weekend!

When You’re Single on Valentine’s Day

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In years past, I have rolled my eyes at Valentine’s Day, wanting to ignore it completely or say something snarky and sarcastic about its arrival.

Sometimes, Valentine’s Days can harden both your heart and your hopes.

But, as silly as it sounds, God’s been redeeming my view of the day, right along with this season of life, and honestly, is it really a surprise?

How could I not delight in a day that’s filled with chocolates and sparkle, hot pink and hearts? How could I not love passing on bits of encouragement, letting all my dear ones know just how much they’re appreciated and loved? And how could I not simply enjoy celebrating every joy I LOVE about my own life, every blessing the Lord so generously gives?

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Yesterday, when I flipped the calendar page to February 14, I decided to celebrate. I wore hot pink and sparkles (thank you Ban.do and Baublebar!). I treated myself to a latte, a pastel pink strawberry macaroon (and maybe even a few chocolates later in the afternoon). ;)

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Because I do not, for one moment, believe that Valentine’s Day is a day just for couples.

Just like any other day, Valentine’s Day can be what YOU make it.

Tonight, I’ll be spending the evening with a group of girlfriends, noshing on chocolatel-y treats and celebrating everything we love about friendship. I have been so blessed in this season by inspiring friendships that add so much joy to my life, and I can’t wait to celebrate and give thanks for that tonight.

Whether you’re single or part of a couple, I hope you feel the LOVE that surrounds you this Valentine’s Day weekend, and I hope you have fun celebrating the life that’s yours with the people you’re blessed to share it with.

P.S. And just as a little reminder, even if you don’t have some sort of fancy date planned… Never forget:

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;)

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A Very Crafty Afternoon

Last Saturday, I headed down to Akron with my mom to enjoy an afternoon of browsing at the 5th annual Crafty Mart.

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We lunched at Urban Eats Cafe, which is attached to the Crafty Mart venue at Musica. (I ate probably the best sandwich of my life: a pumpkin waffle panini! It was topped with thin apple slices, honey, fresh sage, bacon, and spinach leaves. Oh.My.Goodness. Seriously, SO GOOD!

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Don’t you just love all the festive twinkly lights in this cafe? I could have stayed in this cozy space for hours with my journal, a few good books, and a very  large cup of coffee! ;)

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I came home with a blue spruce candle from Burning River Candle company and spent quite a bit of time swooning over the beautiful twig earrings made by Liza Michelle Jewelry. On my wish list for sure! My candle came in an upcycled glass bottle, too. How fun is that?!

I love supporting local artists and events like this. No matter where you live, there’s bound to be a few local gems to frequent. So, plan a Saturday date to explore! I fall in love with my city and the surrounding areas a little more after each adventure.

And speaking of adventures, I need to head out for a little coffee shop adventuring this afternoon. I’ve got a freelance project to begin and a whole stack of Lara Casey PowerSheets that are calling my name.

Happy Saturday and Happy Adventuring, friends! :)

We aren’t meant to believe alone.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of community, of being vulnerable, transparent, and really doing life with people.

When we’re in community, our belief can grow. It can be strengthened and nurtured and sharpened. Big dreams can be born out of solid community, and real change can occur.

Jon Acuff says that fear hates community. And as Lara Casey says, to name our fears is to destroy them. So, when we share our lives and our hearts with people we trust, intentionally creating community, we are destroying fears and encouraging fruitfulness.

It isn’t easy to create this kind of community. It takes risk and bravery and intentionality. It takes time and commitment and faithfulness. True community isn’t born overnight. It happens over many cups of coffee and text messages, over dinners, lunches, and brunches. It happens when we invite people into the messy parts of our lives, and they love us all the same. It happens when we pray, serve, and check in. When we learn how to speak truth in love, and when we learn how to receive hard truths with grace. It happens when we create safe places for people to grow and learn and just be.

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Even though it’s hard to come by, and even harder to build, we have to fight for this kind of community. We have to make it a priority to fill our lives with people who build us up, challenge us, and walk beside us. We have to make it a priority to invest in others and allow them to invest in us.

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Because eventually, these are the people who know our stories — the good and the bad. The people who can see the potential we carry inside — and who will push us to never stop growing. These are the people who will celebrate with us, cry with us, and act silly with us. The people who believe in our hopes and our dreams — even when we don’t.

These are the people who teach us how to love better and believe bigger.

 

::For the month of October, I’m participating in The Nester’s #31Days blog writing challenge. My topic? Big BELIEF. For the next 31 days, I’ll be writing about three main things: 1. BELIEVING in His good plan for my life, 2. BELIEVING in the dreams He’s placed on my heart, and 3.BELIEVING in who He is and what He promises. So, what do you say? Will you join me? Will you open your heart to Him and allow Him to grow your belief over these next 31 days? You can read all my #31Days posts,here.::

 

Hello, 30! (A 1920s-Inspired Celebration)

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I was blessed to spend Saturday celebrating with friends and family at an early 30th birthday party. It was quite the event! ;) We enjoyed lots of good food and plenty of delicious desserts (including a raspberry-filled cake with polka-dot candles!), great music,  much laughter, and maybe even a little dancing!

Everyone dressed up in their best twenties attire, too. I wore this dress from Ruche, my grandmother’s pearls, and a glittery headband and flower hair piece. I also carried one of my favorite vintage clutches (metallic gold with a bow on the front) — an amazing garage sale find from my college days. My shoes were even dolled up for the occasion (I added gold glitter to the heels using gel medium).

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It meant so much to me to be surrounded by the people who mean the most to me, friends and family who share life with me and know where I’ve been and where I hope to go. People who know my heart and my dreams and who encourage me to be the best version of me that I can be.

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The decorations were amazing, too: beautiful flowers, polka dots, touches of glitter, and lots of sparkling votives. My friends did an amazing job capturing the glitter and glam of the twenties and creating the perfect party atmosphere.

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And the photo booth I dreamed up with my sister was an absolute blast. If you ask me, a party isn’t a party without a little silliness — and a great deal of picture-taking. ;)

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(Ha! Outtake!!)

It was truly a special evening, and it was the perfect way to begin a new chapter and season of my life.  Here’s to new chapters, seasons, and adventures! I can’t wait to see what my 30th year holds.

P.S. In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a recap of my 29 Things and sharing my new 30 Things list.

xo

New Beginnings

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This weekend, I’m excited to celebrate exciting new beginnings.

September marks many fresh starts and new adventures for me, and I’m thankful for His hand in it all.

Here’s to living a little, dancing crazy, wearing sparkles and sequins, being with friends and family, and celebrating the new things He’s doing in our lives!

Happy Weekending, my friends!!

xo

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A California Adventure (& Learning to Live a More Vibrant Life)

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I just got back from an amazing trip to California.

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When I get back from seeing other cities and states, my heart is always full of gratitude and inspiration. We are so blessed when we step outside of our comfort zones, aren’t we — when we leave the areas and places we find most familiar and comforting? I’m learning how to do this more — not just when it comes to traveling, but also just living life. He’s constantly calling us to experience MORE.

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I fell in love with California’s sea-salt bay breezes, corner coffee shops, vibrant colors, history, and creative culture.

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I sampled chocolates at Ghiradelli Square, stood in the sparkly sand at Whiskeytown Lake (yes, it had flecks of gold sparkles in it!!), had my first Pinkberry experience (the chocolate and almond slivers do not disappoint!), and enjoyed lots of sweet moments with my sister and one of my dearest friends.

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I was inspired by clear blue skies, found fonts, vintage architecture, quirky shops and boutiques, and lots of delicious food. I left feeling thankful for the people God’s placed in my life — the family members who feel like friends and the friends who feel like family. I left knowing that His Hand is truly at work in this season, adding color, meaning, and beauty. I left knowing that He’s given me a story to live and share as vibrantly and faithfully as I can.