Tag Archives: goals

live with intention.

Welcome to the New Year everyone – and to my new followers – welcome to my blog. I hope I can keep you interested!

Many of you have found me thanks to my most recent post: Young, Married & Pissed Off. When I set out to write it, I had no idea it would spark such a fantastic conversation – with friends, with family and with complete strangers – all who have taken the time to read and share their own experiences and stories.

As someone pointed out, views on marriage are incredibly personal, and I am so grateful for those who have shared theirs – whether we agree or disagree. That’s what makes the world so great… a myriad of opinions with no true “right” answer, but instead just thousands of different ways to look at something. I have especially loved reading all of your stories about your own relationship and marriage experiences and I am touched that you shared them with me!

Now, to catch everyone up…

Last year I set out to do something crazy. I made a list of 213 things I wanted to accomplish in the year 2013. I was feeling stuck, depressed and unmotivated. I hit the post-grad slump hard as I went from being at the top of my circles in college to starting all over again in a new city and at a new job. I didn’t like who I was becoming, so I decided to do something about it.

That one time I jumped out of a plane at 12,000 feet.

That one time I jumped out of a plane at 12,000 feet.

I sat down and curated a list of 213 things I have always wanted to do, but never did thanks to a book of excuses. Some as small as taking a painting class, others quite outrageous like jumping out of an airplane. No – I didn’t get all 213 things crossed off my list. (Probably not the smartest decision to attempt this crazy feat while saving for and planning a wedding…) But what I did accomplish was even better: I regained my confidence and my thirst for life. So ultimately, the list achieved exactly what it was meant for.

This year I’m doing something a bit different. New Year’s resolutions seem to catch quite a bit of flak because they are rarely maintained throughout the year. Others like Jess Lawlor choose to instead pick words to live by as a way of guidance for the year ahead (which I love!). Some treat the New Year no differently than they treated the last. To me… there’s just something so exciting about a brand new year and the possibilities it holds.

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Taking a page from Jess’ book…instead of making a list of resolutions, I decided that this year I want to be more strategic and focus on a theme. A guiding principle, I guess you can say that carries over from last year, just without a giant bucket list to accompany it.

This year I hope to:

Live with intention.

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What does living with intention mean exactly?

To me, living with intention is to live with purpose. To create the life you want to live, and become the person you want to be. By making every moment and each opportunity count.

I can’t tell you how many times I find myself guilty of drifting in and out of my day-to-day routine. Thanks to Netflix marathons, drifting has become EXPONENTIALLY easier. (Seriously though… getting Netflix was a terrible, terrible idea).

At the end of the day, I sometimes find myself asking what I actually accomplished. Sure, I may have knocked a few more things off of my to-do list. But did I get any closer to becoming the best version of myself? Or make any strides in reaching those pie-in-the-sky dreams of mine?

It’s easy to fall into the “routine trap.” Life has a funny little way of throwing distractions and detractors at you, from household chores to bills and debt to going through the motions at your 9-5 job.

But it’s important to continually ask yourself: what’s the bigger picture? What do you always dream of doing?

Do you want to travel more? Do you want to pursue your passions and write a book, start a blog, or take up photography? Maybe creating a big family is what you want out of life, or quitting your day job to open up that little café on the corner you’ve always dreamed of.

Living with intention is about taking the proper steps to make those dreams a reality.  It’s about loving and respecting yourself enough to dare, to try, to fail, to succeed… despite of the fear.

So, picking up from where I left off last year, it’s time I stop drifting, and start doing. I’ve got some big things I want to accomplish, and I’m excited to share them with you as I go and take those first wobbly baby steps towards them.

I’ll let this quote sum it up:

Live with intention, walk to the edge, listen hard, practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

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What about you? How goals do you have for the year ahead?

this is your life – so live it.

live the life of your dreams

All too often, we let life get in the way of living. I know I do. I see dishes that need to be washed, bills that need to be paid, to-do lists that need to be finished. I see paychecks disappearing quicker than they come in as I struggle to pay back my disheartening amount of student debt. To pay for gas and car repairs and groceries and health insurance. These responsibilities can eat you alive… if you let them.

Until the start of this new year, I was being swallowed whole by myself – my stress, my anxiety and my self-doubt. My friends and family didn’t like the person I had become. And to be honest, neither did I. Instead of trying to blame it on my job or not liking my new city or the stresses of post-grad life, I realized I needed to take responsibility for my own unhappiness. I was at the center of it. The one creating it and letting it manifest itself. I was the problem.

So I decided to come up with a solution. The 213 in 2013 Project. A list of things I’ve wanted to do my entire life that I’ve been putting off for years because I was always so full of excuses. Because I was too afraid or told myself I didn’t have the time. That it could wait. Until I realized that it can’t – because this is life. It’s happening right now. And you only get one shot to do it right.

I’m three weeks in to my project and I’ve already crossed 8 things off my list and have a queue of others already planned in the weeks and months ahead. I’m waking up every morning so excited about the potential each day holds. I’m letting the unimportant little messes like a sink full of dishes sit on the sideline while I revel in the messes that will leave a permanent mark on my life like getting paint under my nails or pizza flour all over my clothes. I’m letting my DVR fill up with TV shows I used to watch while I’m out exploring new restaurants in the city or strapping on a pair of skates to go ice skating under the stars instead.

My biggest wish for this project, besides regaining my own passion for life is that others who are experiencing similar ruts will find their passion for life again too.

Stop making excuses.

Stop telling yourself it can wait until tomorrow, or next month, or next year.

Stop letting your fears hold you back. From trying something new, chasing your dreams and achieving greatness.

This is your life and the time is now.

The time to become the best version of yourself.

To challenge, push, fail, and succeed.

To unlock your potential.

To do more of what makes you happy.

To seize the day.

To live exquisitely. Boldly. Fearlessly.

To live.

Making 2013 A Year for Living

While I’ve been making good on my promise to make 2013 my best year yet, I know I’m not the only one and I’ve been admiring other people’s goals for the year to come. My friends are planning on big changes this year — some are rightly taking the time to focus on themselves while others are looking to live by a set of values than a list of goals.

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Take some time today to check out each of their blogs and consider following them along on their own journeys.

1. Three Powerful Words for a Gutsy 2013: Jessica Lawlor (@jesslaw) writes this powerful and thoughtful blog about striving for a strategic vision for the year rather than a tactical one. I was inspired by this post because while my 213 in 2013 is very much tactical in nature, it made me think about the values I want to help guide me in my journey.

2. This Is My Now: Alex Crispino (@alexcharli), who has a heart of gold and who I have always known to put everyone else’s happiness and well-being before her own has decided to put herself first in 2013. As someone who has constantly witnessed Alex’s selflessness, I’m proud to see her making 2013 about her own happiness.

3. 13 Goals for 2013: Lauren Cox (@laurencox08) is someone who’s never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions as she writes in this blog post, but with all of the changes 2012 has brought her, she’s making this year different by setting 13 goals for herself to accomplish in 2013. My favorite on her list? Be more positive. Something I know I need to work on as well!

4. A Year for Living: One of the things I was hoping to accomplish with my 213 in 2013 project was to inspire others to chase after their own dreams and to start living their lives they way they’ve always wanted to. Katie has a list of 100 things she wants to accomplish in 2013 because as she says, “it’s time to finally start living again.”

If you’re looking to learn more about why I started the 213 in 2013 Project, check out my friend Matt’s blog post: Cool Things My Friends Are Doing: The ULTIMATE Resolutions List, and check back on his blog on a weekly basis for inspiring things that other’s are achieving this year.

TGIF everyone!

#5. make a pizza from scratch

As you read yesterday, this past weekend Mike and I knocked two things off my 213 in 2013 list thanks to the purchase of one Groupon deal for a painting and pizza making class. Since I’ve already told you all about the fun we had channeling our inner Picassos, today I’m sharing our experience channeling our inner Mario Batali.

The spread -- I had to try hard to resist eating the mozzarella before putting it on my pizza.

The spread — I had to try hard to resist eating the mozzarella before putting it on my pizza.

Immediately after drying our canvases, the painting instructor walked us across the pavilion to Oro Pomodoro, an authentic Neopolitan pizzeria and Italian restaurant. When we walked in the hostess greeted us with a cheery “Buongiorno!” and showed us to a long row of tables facing the kitchen. In front of us were all the ingredients you’d need to make a perfectly authentic Naples pizza: vibrant crushed tomatoes imported from Italy, chunks of silky, fresh mozzarella, aromatic basil leaves and the most incredible olive oil I’ve ever tasted.

Michael teaching us the secret to a good pizza dough.

Michael teaching us the secret to a good pizza dough.

The chef, Michaelo, came out from behind the coal pizza oven covered in flour and greeted us with a warm smile. In broken English, with the occasional slip of an Italian phrase or two, he began demonstrating how to make the pizza dough. I laughed as he went on a rant about Americans ruining pizza with their overly processed and enriched flour. He goes on to say that it’s the flour that is the true secret to making a fantastic pizza.

He’s truly an artist, although his medium is not paint but rather the spread of ingredients before him; sculpting the perfectly thin and round dough, caressing it as he gently molds the crust. He pours the marinara onto his canvas and begins to swirl it, painting every inch until he’s satisfied. Mike and I follow along, kneading and molding our dough. For a moment I forget I’m surrounded by others in my class and throw down a pinch of flour onto the table and yell “BAM!” as if I’m Emeril Lagasse. Michaelo just laughs.

My pizza before it went into the 800 degree coal oven.

My pizza before it went into the 800 degree coal oven.

After our dough has been sculpted and our marinara perfectly swirled, Michaelo comes over to inspect our work thus far. He nods as he walks down the length of the tables and gives me a “Brava” as he walks by my pizza. I beam with pride at his compliment. We then take the basil leaves and spread them over the sauce, followed by the mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan. Someone decides to not use all of their mozzarella, and being the opportunist that I am – I quickly grab it and spread the extra cheese on my pizza as others look at me, both envious and impressed that they hadn’t thought to do it first.

Watching Michaelo throw my pizza into the oven that he built.

Watching Michaelo throw my pizza into the oven that he built.

Michaelo walks us over, one by one; to the coal oven that cooks the pizza at 800 degrees. He smiles as he tells me that he built the oven with his own hands. He shoves my pizza into the oven and immediately I watch as the cheese begins to bubble. Michaelo is amused with how excited I am, laughing as I clap my hands in delight. The owner of the restaurant offers to take a picture of Mike and I with my pizza and tells me that if I’m ever interested, I could easily have a career as a pizza chef. Who knows… it could happen!

Mike and I with one of the two pizzas we made.

Mike and I with one of the two pizzas we made.

We rush back to our seats and I bring the first slice up to my mouth and sink my teeth in. I’m not going to even bother to try to put into words how absolutely incredible it tasted, because words honestly can’t do it justice. To put it into perspective, you know how you eat certain foods that transport you back to a particular place and time? The moment I tasted that pizza, I immediately found myself in Naples again, on the brick patio of the tiny trattoria where I had my first experience of true, authentic Neopolitan pizza. It was sensory overload… the smell, the taste, the memories, all cultivating into the perfect bite. I finished the entire thing. Not even a crumb was left over on the plate.

Bellisima... the finished product.

Bellisima… the finished product.

Call me crazy or overly sentimental… but that pizza, that moment, helped me find my appetite for life again. And I’m hungrier than ever.

#4. take a painting class

In a family full of athletes and sports enthusiasts, I have always been the “black sheep” as my parents would lovingly(?) call me. While my sister was kicking goals on the soccer field and my brother was dominating every sport he tried his hand at, I was the “creative one” writing poems, experimenting with photography, performing monologues and making pottery.

Ready to dive in and paint.

Ready to dive in and paint.

I find I am most at peace when I have an outlet to express myself, whether it’s through words, song, clay or paint. In high school I dabbled in art classes but certainly never tried to claim myself as an “artist.” But it was those art classes that were among some of my favorite. Every morning I’d come in and get rid of all of my stress about tests and drama with friends through every stroke of my paint brush and dab of my pen.

It had been more than four years since my last art class, which is why I wanted to include taking a painting class on the list for my 213 in 2013 Project.

Since the conception of the 213 in 2013 Project, I’ve been spending an increasingly amount of time on Groupon and LivingSocial (just because I want to have fun doesn’t mean I need to pay full price.) So when I stumbled across a “Painting and Pizza-making class,” Mike and I jumped on it and booked the next available session. I’ll talk about the amazing pizza-making portion of this in tomorrow’s post.

A sort-of blank canvas... I've never been known to follow the rules.

A sort-of blank canvas… I’ve never been known to follow the rules.

We showed up at VisArts in Rockville, an awesome company that offers a ton of art classes ranging from glass-making to ceramic pottery. We found our classroom and the instructor warmly greeted us and showed us to our seats while the few remaining people trickled in. After we both eagerly threw on our aprons I looked down at the painting they had chosen for us — a pizza. I felt a pang of disappointment… as much as I love pizza (and boy, do I love it), I didn’t want to paint one. Before I could ask our teacher for some artistic freedom, she opened the class by saying “paint whatever you’d like – this is all about freedom of expression – there are no mistakes here.” I immediately began try to come up with ideas of things to paint.

He makes a pretty cute artist.

He makes a pretty cute artist.

She gave us a very brief tutorial on how acrylics work, demonstrating different blending and texture techniques. Before she could even say the words “you may begin,” I had already thrown up my first strokes of paint. I decided I was going to paint over the pizza that had been previously outlined in pencil on my canvas and started channeling my inner Picasso.

Without much direction in mind, I let my brain take a backseat for a change as my hands took over, blending colors, and making large sweeping strokes with my brush as a concerto played inside my head – my own personal symphony. For the next two hours, as the sun warmed the side of my face through the large glass windows, I took joy in the messes and the mistakes, the imperfections and the freedom. I felt an old part of me come alive again for the first time in years and I loved every single minute of it.

The final product... just because I enjoy painting doesn't mean I ever claimed I was good at it!

The final product… just because I enjoy painting doesn’t mean I ever claimed I was good at it!

Once the two hours were up, Mike and I excitedly revealed our paintings to each other. While both were definitely not the best works of art in the class, to us they were perfect. Mike’s pizza painting has found a home in our kitchen and my “macaron art” is nestled perfectly into the corner of my work cubicle.

I was completely shocked that Mike's painting turned out so great!

I was completely shocked that Mike’s painting turned out so great!

Together, they both serve as a daily reminder to make more time for the things I love and take more joy in life’s little messes.

#3. make a new friend

If you recall, a few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the difficulties I was having with making new friends in my new-ish city. I’m glad I wrote it because for the longest time, I thought I was some sort of loser or weirdo for not being able to dive into the social scene and cultivate a brand new group of friends instantaneously. A lot of people reached out and shared similar stories of how challenging it can be to make new friends after college, especially when in a new city (and some in a new country! I can’t even imagine.)

With the holidays approaching and overhearing everyone talk about their “super-awesome-uber-epic” New Year’s Eve plans, from flying to Miami to dancing the night away in New York City, I felt like a total dud because Mike and I didn’t really have anyone to ring in the new year with besides each other thanks to being broke and not really knowing anyone in the area. I threw a pretty decent pity party for myself for a solid day or two, cake and confetti included, as I whined that making new friends shouldn’t be this hard.

Call it an act of ultimate desperation, but I jokingly went on to Craigslist and told Mike I was going to find my “new best friend,” knowing that I’d probably just end up having a good laugh at the usual crazies that post listings about “lady friends into Sailor Moon and anime who are into lady kisses just 4 fun timez.”

I went through about 10 – 12 of those kinds of listings… reading them out loud to Mike as we laughed that at least we weren’t THAT weird. That’s when I clicked on the last post before closing up shop for the night. Something about being embarrassed to use Craigslist (hey, me too), loving wine, blogging, attempting to cook, cats, a love for Philly, studying in Paris, etc., etc. It was weird. It sounded like I had wrote the post myself with everything we had in common. So, I swallowed my Craigslist pride and sent a response email. The worst that could happen? I wouldn’t hear back and I’d pretend it had never happened.

The ultimate boozy brunch experience: bottomless bellini bar

The ultimate boozy brunch experience: bottomless Bellini bar.

But I did hear back. And after emailing a few times, we met for brunch.  And it was awesome. Between great conversation, a never-ending flow of champagne and shamelessly taking pictures of each other’s food, it was a perfect Saturday afternoon. If you haven’t checked out Urbana’s bottomless Bellini bar yet… GO! The food is okay… but let’s be honest, people brunch for the booze, not the food.

Pumpkin spice waffle with apple butter and peach bellini.

Pumpkin spice waffle with apple butter and peach Bellini.

On Friday I’m hosting my first dinner party down here with my very, very small, albeit great group of new friends. Slowly but surely, this new city is starting to feel like home. It goes to show you that anything is possible, if you have the courage to step outside of your comfort zone and put yourself out there.

#2. ice-skating under the stars

My routine during the work week is usually pretty predictable. After packing up at the office and sitting in migraine-inducing traffic, Mike and I would usually quick throw something together for dinner and spend the next few hours sitting mindlessly in front of the television. After spending 8 – 9 hours at the office, our brains felt like mush and I’d induce a coma full of Honey Boo Boo and Desperate Housewives of Whatever while Mike played way too many games of Bejeweled Blitz on his iPhone.

Needless to say, working full-time has put me into a bit of a rut. A boring one at that. So I was beyond excited to get out of work today knowing that Mike and I would be spending the night ice-skating under the stars and neon lights in Downtown Silver Spring — something I’ve been dying to do now for months.

We're lucky to have a killer outdoor skating rink only 5 minutes from our apartment in Downtown Silver Spring.

We’re lucky to have a killer outdoor skating rink only 5 minutes from our apartment in Downtown Silver Spring.

When I was younger, I’d spend almost every weekend with my friends at our skating rink up the street. It’s where I had many of my first “puppy love” middle school dates, where cheesy N’Sync love songs would play and we’d clumsily and awkwardly fumble to hold each others hands. But I also just loved how freeing ice-skating felt… after the pain in your feet melted into numbness, there was nothing more exhilarating then whipping around the rink with the cold air biting at your face.

That’s why I wanted to include ice-skating under the stars on my 213 in 2013 bucket list.

After coming home and changing out of our business professional attire, we bundled up in scarves, hats and gloves and trekked over to the rink. I practically had to drag Mike with me after his last ice-skating disaster a few years back. Long story short, Mike surprised me with two passes to the Blue Cross River Rink in Philly for Valentine’s day. While other couples were skating figure eights, holding hands and smooching under the moonlight, Mike gave up after spending 10 minutes clinging to the side of the wall in shame and went to spend the rest of the night next to the free chocolate fountain while I was left to skate alone. Cute, right?

Getting all laced up and ready to hit the ice.

Getting all laced up and ready to hit the ice. I have giant, giant man feet (size 11).

After listening to him whimper and whine about not wanting to embarrass  himself in front of all the eight and nine year old kids, we took our first tentative steps onto the well-worn ice. My legs were a little wobbly and apprehensive at first. It’s like getting on a bike for the first time in years… you have to shake off the dust and make your muscles remember what to do. Slowly but surely, one foot in front of the other, I began to glide around the rink.

This is cry-baby Mike, making one final plea to not go out onto the ice.

This is cry-baby Mike, making one final plea to not go out onto the ice.

And to my surprise, Mike took a leap of faith, let go of the wall and was skating right beside me. We spent the next two hours laughing, (almost) falling and singing Taylor Swift songs at the top of our lungs (not by choice… it was all they seemed to want to play.) We talked about work and life and made jokes. For the first time in a long time, I felt like we were actually spending time together and not just with each other.

The hood turned out to be quite dangerous as I nearly tramped several small children due to limited visibility.

The hood turned out to be quite dangerous as I nearly tramped several small children due to limited visibility.

We traded in our skates after our feet couldn’t possibly take another lap and our lips chapped from the bitter cold and finished up the night grubbing on Chipotle while remarking on how nice it was to not be in front of the television for a change.

From cry-baby to man of confidence...Mike finally let go of the wall.

From cry-baby to man of confidence…Mike finally let go of the wall.

It just goes to show you that life doesn’t end at your cubicle. You can still have fun and be adventurous because life isn’t defined by 9 to 5 parameters. It’s our job, our responsibility to fill those hours outside of work with color and memories and laughs. I know it’s only three days in to 2013, but I’m already proud of myself for waking up and realizing the time is now.

This is my life. And I’m making every second of it count.