Goals

2018 Resolutions Report Card

It is 2019. Even though I have been looking forward to the new year for weeks now, it still feels odd that we are here. Maybe it's because it seems like just yesterday I was writing my 2017 version of this post, or maybe because I have so many long term goals coming due in 2020! Either way we are here and I am going to share with you how I felt I did sticking with my theme for last year and my resolutions.

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2018 was the year of courage for me. I went on (and on) about it in my post without revealing what exactly I have been summoning courage for. Well if you've been following along with me on Instagram you probably know I started a business last year. And it was bumpy to say the least. Venturing into something brand new and public facing can shake ones confidence to the core and it took a whole lot of courage for me to stand up to my insecurities each day and plow forward.

Read My 2018 Goals

creative expression

A+ I am very proud to say 2018 was a year of creation for me. I started Two Days Off and began thinking creatively to design the clothing line and solve entrepreneurial problems. I invested my time and money into this part of my life and it feels great.

habits and routines

B I stuck to many of my intended habits this year, like hydration, meditating, and maintaining a skincare regimen (woohoo on this one!). All in all I made progress but there are a few habits (like taking time to rest and unplug each week) that could use more work.

sustainability

B+ I am probably most proud of this one because I have made lot of small but thoughtful changes in my consumption and the products I use. On the household front I have realized it isn’t as challenging as I thought it would be to reduce my waste and begin eliminating plastic. Similarly with my toiletries I started to take a pause before replacing a product to make sure it was something I did need and if there were lower-waste options available (something in glass I could buy, a dual-purpose product, or if I could buy it in bulk). I also started to reduce my dependence on Amazon because I loathe the excessive amount of packaging they use to ship products. Some of my favorite low-waste solutions I started using includes Who Gives A Crap recycled toilet paper that helps build toilets in underdeveloped places, and napkins from fabric scraps. I also started carrying reusable utensils and straws on outings and trips (although I really should just keep them in my purse all the time). Although I do think I have made great strides, I could have done better with food. Last year I began relying on Trader Joe’s pre-packaged meals much more in the past (not cooking as much was a trade-off for working full time and starting a business), and that is something I want to tackle this year hence the B+.

8 Habits I am Committing to In 2018

8 Habits I am Committing to In 2018

Habits have the power to completely transform your life. I have found that little tweaks here and there in my habits makes it easier for me to reach my goals. For instance, last year I wanted to get more sleep and realized I wasn't getting to bed before 11pm (even though I would start winding down for the day at least 2 hours earlier). After having dinner, tidying up, and prepping lunch for the next day, I still had to wash myself up before I could hop into bed. So I decided I would take my shower in the evenings as soon as I got home, before dinner, and then I had less to squeeze in after. That tiny act completely transformed my evenings, and the time where I would then take showers was no longer filled with idling time online "winding down" from the workday.

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2018 Life Resolutions

2018 Life Resolutions

I love goal setting, and I am all for new years resolutions. I think they are a great way to keep moving forward and growing. I also think any day is a great day to set one, and the ringing in of the new year is the perfect inspiration to refresh any goals that may be on the back burner. So I will stop blabbering on and get down to what you're here for, my 2018 resolutions!

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2017 Resolutions Report Card

For the past few of years I have shared both my annual travel resolutions and report cards on how I did on them. So I will give you on guess as to what today's post is about... You guessed it! I want to share how I did on my 2017 Resolutions.

Taking a moment at the  Real Alcázar de Sevilla
Taking a moment at the Real Alcázar de Sevilla

Before the grades, Read my 2017 Resolutions

Self Care

A This year I really worked on taking care of myself. I turned 30 in September and almost as if a switch was flipped I faced health issues. Self-care for me was about devoting time to my wellness. Putting my mental and physical health first. Treasuring me. This care manifested in creating relaxation habits, challenging myself to 100 days of mindfulness and meditation, saying no more often and not overstretching myself, and working in more rest when I travel (like an entire day spent on the beach instead of exploring all day).

Weekend Trips

A+ I think this resolution to make the best use of my time and explore more is where I really shined this year. In the past, I usually have one big 2-week long vacation a year and maybe a weekend trip or 2 out of state to see family. This year I spend a week in LA, a weekend in Woodstock, day trips upstate and out to Long Island, a long weekend in North Carolina, a trip to DC, many summer days at the Rockaways, and most recently a trip to Las Vegas for the holidays. Not only was I able to find the funds to make these small trips happen (hello there tiny wardrobe budget), but I also found the stamina! And one of the big reasons my partner and moved to California a month ago was to be able to take more road trips (year round) and see more of this gorgeous country. So stay tuned in 2018, this resolution is sticking around!

Human Component

A+ This resolution was all about connecting with people and using travel as a way to have conversations and expand my worldview and relationships. I had so many incredible trips that were centered around being with people I love. From a weekend in upstate New York with a group of great friends, to visiting Grandmother in North Carolina, and even traveling to Europe to meet up with my partner's side of the family that lives in different corners of the world. I even got to meet another Instagram friend while visiting LA in March, and she even helped inspire my move out west (thank you, Kristin!).

All in all, I did pretty great this year. Later this week I will share my 2018 goals but in the meantime check out some of my past goals (and my nearly not as stellar report card from last year).

 

Beach Reads 1: The Icarus Deception

I set a goal to read more this year. When I was a little girl I would prefer to spend time in front of the window on the living room carpet reading for hours. I only knew hours had passed because I would have to adjust myself back into the patch of sun leaking in through the window and moving along the carpet (talk about a low maintenance kid, you're welcome mom!).

Anyway, as adult matters have taken over so much of my everyday I don't read as nearly as much. Where I used to read several books a week, I now read only a handful a year. That's why I set this goal. I have challenged myself to read a book a month (which I am already lagging behind on).

Since I am not on the beach every month this isn't they won't really be "beach read" but hey, maybe next month!? I decided to start sharing them here to hold myself to my goal so please share and book suggestions in the comments!

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On to my first book! In January I started The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly by Seth Godin. I must fess up and say I actually listened to this book instead of actually read it. Last year (again trying to get more books under my belt) I subscribed to Audible. I liked it but didn’t love it and missed hearing the words of an author in my own mind’s voice, so The Icarus Deception was the last book on my audiobook list. This may have been part of why I only liked this book a little and didn’t love it.

Godin start’s off strong discussing the Greek myth of Icarus, a man whose father made him wings constructed of feathers and wax. Icarus was told not to fly too close to the sun otherwise his wings would melt, which they did and he then fell into the ocean and drowned. Bummer. But there was another part of the story that Godin claims society has nearly erased from the tale. Icarus's father told him not to fly too low either as the water would also damage his wings. Godin opposes the lesson that society has distorted the story as a fable against aiming too high. He says this mentality supports aiming just high enough to be safe but achieve nothing spectacular, an antiquated mentality resulting from industrialization... Be one of the masses, follow the rules, and produce. That is the way of industrialized society.

We’ve built a world where it’s possible to fly higher than ever, and the tragedy is that we’ve been seduced into believing that we ought to fly ever lower instead. “

I love the discussion of the industrial eras influence on societal psychology. I liked hearing his rationale for why we are ready to move past this model of work. I even enjoyed Godin’s assertion that work should be treated as art, an ongoing creative pursuit of not perfection but expression and connection with others. But after this very strong and compelling start Godin’s encouragement and ideas became very “bumper sticker like” as one person on goodreads put it. He spent the rest of the book discussing what it means to be an "artist." You must ignore criticism if it stops you from working. You must put yourself out there for an audience. You must allow yourself to be vulnerable. You must be willing to just keep doing work to become better. All of this is true, but it isn’t particularly innovative or new news in my opinion. 

All in all I think this book is a good beach read and especially best for creatives or quasi-creatives who are hesitant to start something or in a bit of a rut and just need a reminder of their contribution to the world at large. I am personally eager to take this perspective of post-industrialization connection into my own projects. Next for February I have been reading Big Leap, another self improvement book more based in psychological principles. Fun fun fun!

Have you read the Icarus Deception? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Ways I Lived More Intentionally in 2016

So in 2016 I got really into what the interwebs are calling intentional living. Essentially intentional living is living based on your values by making conscious decisions that design a lifestyle around what you believe. Originally, living the kind of life I truly believed in seemed unattainable for me. For me my ideal life would entail consuming less and working toward being zero-waste, eating healthier and higher quailty food, buying from exclusively from sustainable/ethical/local businesses, living slower and being more present in every moment of everyday, committing to and developing my hobbies, and the list goes on and on... For years I was under the impression I couldn't attain all that I just listed either because of finances, time, or a combination of both. Because let's be honest being "green" or buying organic is expensive, and as a twenty-something who largest expense is paying off an education she completed years ago, there isn't a lot of space in the budget for this dream lifestyle. To quote Donald Trump (the only time I ever will btw): WRONG.

There is a way to start easing toward your dream life and living more intentionally. You don't have to buy what society is selling you. Yes, it takes a lot of time self-educating to find alternatives to what is out in the mainstream. And again, yikes!, the money. But if you are like me and are looking for a different way of living, maybe a simpler, slower more conscious one? Then here are 5 ways I have begun building that intentional lifestyle I am truly proud of.

Minimalism

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In 2016 I started calling myself a minimalist out loud for the world to hear. Minimalism was the beginning of a major perspective shift for me a few years ago, but I always kept it quiet for fear of being judged as not "minimal enough". But this year I learned being a minimalist isn't about the absence of things or being able to keep a tally of every item. It is about having only what brings me value and joy and being content with just that. It means trading in things that weigh me down, for experiences that brighten my life and encourage me to grow. Minimalism is about gratitude for what I have earned, not yearning for what I must indebt myself to own.

A lot of people say this but I truly believe it, minimalism looks different for everyone because it is about your values and your choices. No one can ever tell me I am doing it wrong because, although I still have a lot of things compared to some people, I am happy and my "stuff" works for my life. 2016 was the year that I became finally became completely content with being my kind of minimalist. One with more plants that can be counted on two hands and a disorganized collection of craft supplies. And once I accepted that my way of living with less should look different from anyone else's I become more comfortable in my home and with my finances. In the past I have had times where I got the urge to impulse buy and then feel guilty later, but now even my "impulse" purchases are in line with my lifestyle leaving me regret free (if that makes sense?). Honestly I could write a whole post (or many) about my minimalist journey, but I have to say last year was a turning point that has solidified this way of life for me!

Mindfulness

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2016 was also a year where I began to recognize the importance of mindfulness and self care. I have always been the type of person who prides herself on productivity over almost all things. And fortunately up until this year I could work myself non-stop without any repercussions. But this year the stress of working too much began to manifest in physical ailments (nothing too serious) but enough to force me to slow down. I have been Buddhist for 12 years, but I took up meditation to learn about mindfulness in a different way. I wanted to learn how to listen to my mind and body (and hopefully see the warning signs of burnout before it happens!). This mindful meditation has opened my eyes to so many other things that are important to me, like being present with the people I surround myself with and taking out time in the day for myself.  And an added bonus, once I became more mindful of each days moments I took little steps to make the day more enjoyable like walking the longer but more peaceful route to work (talk about intentional changes!)!

Purposful Purchases

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A big change for me, and one I thought most unattainable, was how I spend my money. I have always wanted to be able to buy sustainable, support great brands that are doing things right but I have always though that would be out of my reach because of my budget. But with the help of minimalism and needing less I found my budget started to loosen up and I could focus on buying a good quality coat made in the US versus having several from my former favorite fast fashion chains. Same goes for household and beauty products. I began carving out time to research natural alternatives in my beauty routine and around the house. And now when shopping for groceries we cut back on meats and focus on great quality produce. To stay on budget I prepare a lot more from scratch (which again takes time), but somehow I have found the time as this became a greater priority for me. By focusing on the power of my dollar and buying things I truly love, from clothes to food, I have gained an even greater respect for what money can do. Everyday better products are becoming more accessible and that is the inertia I want to support.

Hygge Moments

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Hygge (aka hooga). I totally hitched my cart to this bandwagon and have fully committed to the lifestyle. If you have yet to hear, hygge is the Danish philosophy of coziness. Discovering hygge and prioritizing comfort has validated my inner introvert in the most beautiful ways. Last year I made it a point to embrace my moments at home to make them restorative and peaceful. And when hosting I was constantly on the look out for what would make for the most hyygelig experience! 

Hometown Exploration

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The last way that I found I lived more intentionally in 2016 was by not taking my city for granted! As a New Yorker I tend to overlook the fact that I have access to so many amazing things: culture, public spaces, food, other people! But I took notice last year and took conscious efforts to see new places and get out of my usual routine. In part I was motivated to scratch my chronic travel itch, which I realized from my meditations I shouldn't push aside. It's like they say, YOLO - you only live once so you really have to prioritize the living part! My heart has grown even wider for my city and I have so many new favorite places because of it! So to sum up this post of how I live more intentionally, I will leave you with three of my favorite places I intentionally visited in NYC during 2016!

I look forward to what 2017 brings. Tell me, what do you think of living intentionally? Are you into this concept or do you practice it in your life? I would really like to know!

2017 Travel Resolutions

I am a goal setter. That's why I love the process of looking back on the year and setting new years resolutions. Resolutions are firm determinations that I view as essential to living an intentional life. 2016 was the first year I made goals specifically geared toward travel and I found it really useful when preparing for my trips so I decided to do it again this year!

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So here goes, 3 resolutions I am making to myself in my quest for even more enjoyable travel in the years ahead...

Self Care

I set big themes in addition to my specific resolutions to hone in on characteristics I want to develop in myself. Last year's theme was hustle, a few years before that it was compassion... this year it is self care. I want to make a habit of practicing self care everyday, including when I travel. Whether it is 10 minutes of meditation, or spending more time on my cleansing my face, I want to take better care of me (I talked a bit about this in my birthday post too). This theme may be a direct consequence of my year of hustle which allowed me to see a need for it in every aspect of my life. Practicing self care when traveling is something else I have noticed I skimp on. Sometimes I trade off packing light for bringing leaving behind some of my favorite products in exchange for multi-use ones. Or I rush through meals or sleep less to fit in more activities. Or even book inconvinient flights to squeeze in the most daylight hours at my destination. I want to make sure I don't sacrifice to much comfort when I travel so that when I return home I am not craving a post-vacation vacation!

Weekend Trips

This year I did a lot of local exploration (which is another new habit I've adopted!) and I plan on expanding this in the new year to short trips around the US! Last year I made the resolution to see more of this vast country, which I did. But I realized late in the game that I could see even more by taking advantage of long weekends and holidays. These types of 2-3 day visits to nearby cities may be just the thing to stave off the lull leading up to a vacation and the post-vacation blues!

Human Component

My final travel resolution has to do with connecting with people. I am an introvert, and while not rude I generally don't go out of my way to meet new people when I travel. But that is something I want to change. On a recent trip to California I had the opportunity to meet up with a couple of instagram friends, @brownkids (Roe and Erin), and it was truly a life expanding experience (and there aren't many times you get to say that about brunch!). This showed me that although museums and architecture are fine ways to spend your time there is nothing like a conversation amongst people with a variety of perspectives on life.

That pretty much wraps up my travel resolutions (so far)! I would love to know if you have any resolutions for 2017, or if you believe in resolutions at all. And either way, how do you try to travel deeper and improve your experiences overall? Please let me know!

I hope you have a safe and fabulous time ringing in the New Year. Heres to an incredible 2017!!!

2016 Resolutions Report Card

Each year after the busyness of the holidays and just before diving into the new year I like to reflect on the year we are leaving behind. This year my reflections brought me back to the travel resolution I made last year. Looking back I am grading myself (in a way) on how well I stuck to my resolutions and if my sentiments changed about any of them.

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SEE MORE OF THE UNITED STATES 

I give myself an A. This year I made a very conscious effort to take more day trips and explore more of my city which led to discovering so many new gems in my own backyard. But in addition to that I was able to play tourist in both North Carolina and California for short weekend trips. I think this resolution is going to have to stick around and become a permanent habit!

PACK LIGHTER

A+ for sure. I have finally gotten my luggage down to a carryon alone for trips up to 2 weeks long! This even includes being able to pop my personal item in there if need be. I have also cut out the frenzied pre-vacation shopping and really utilized what I already own. I think in the new year I will start sharing more of my packing light techniques because it has revolutionized the way I travel!

DEDICATED TRAVEL SAVINGS 

A+ This was much easier than expected once I really committed to my budget. I think the next step in this for me will be to start a system for tracking my travel spending that allows me to compare trips over several years and better prepare for upcoming ones.

MAIL POSTCARDS BEFORE COMING HOME

W (for withdraw). So this year I skipped the whole postcard thing altogether. While visiting Tulum this summer sending postcards just wasn't a priority (nor was it at my domestic locales). Maybe postcard sending will become a thing of the past for me, but for now, experiences I will probably try again with this resolution this year! 

KEEP A TRAVEL JOURNAL

I give this one an A+. I document my travel experiences and thoughts here on the blog and have been pretty diligent doing so this year (yay!).

TAKE A FAMILY TRIP

A big fat F. Unfortunately, this year the timing just didn't align to take a family trip (meaning my nuclear family... brothers, sisters, parents), but I have definitely redetermined to make this happen next year!!!

After reviewing my goals for this year I am more focused on what I want to achieve for next. I have a feeling 2017 will be less action oriented and more internally driven. Look out for some 2017 resolutions in the coming days!

Read More About the Why Behind My 2016 Resolutions

New Year, Better Me!

5 Inspiring Travel Blogs

Last week I celebrated 1 year of blogging 🎉

When I started this blog I primarily wanted a place to share my ever increasing archive of photos and maybe share some of my motivations for traveling. But as I began writing over the past year I realized I have a lot more to say about the topic...

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Travel is very special to me. It’s not just the excitement of seeing a new place and getting out of the everyday routine, but it is a way for me to appreciate the world around me and learn more about myself. I frequently write about how I have become more aware of my values through going away, but through this blog I realized I can also keep developing those values by incorporating some of my travel habits and perspectives to my every day. A manifestation of that has been what I am calling my new hometown tourist mentality. I live in arguably the greatest city in the world (NYC) and although I have always appreciated that, this past year I have been far more proactive about seeing my surroundings. I feel like this is such a gift that my first year of blogging has given me.

Another gift I have discovered more recently is an entire community of like-minded travelers who inspire me. They offer such great advice and place-based inspiration. Plus when I am not traveling to a new land I can live vicariously through them! That's why in celebration of my blog I want to thank 5 bloggers (of the many) who I admire and, although they probably don't know it, truly motivate me to travel farther and deeper and continue growing here at See Soo Much. 

The Free Passport

Trisa Taro is the woman behind The Free Passport, originally from Hawaii but a NYC local her blog spans both the light and serious topics around travel. Visit The Free Passport for stunning photography and travel guides, or for thoughtful articles on issues that impact the way we travel. Some of my favorite posts include 3 Ways the U.S. Presidential Election Will Impact the Way You Travel,  Photo Diary: Hiking Cinque Terre, and Here's How You Can Turn 10 Days of PTO into 34 Days of Travel in 2016 (sounds interesting right!?)

website | instagram | twitter | facebook | pinterest

The Exploress

The Exploress and founder Nina Grace is all about empowering women to explore the globe while finding beauty in it all. The site just draws you into place you never knew should even be on your bucket list while simultaneously offering truly practical tips for travel. I really love their posts How to Travel Solo with Confidence, 10 Must Pack Tiny Essentials, and The Alaskan Frontier.

website | instagram | twitter | facebook | pinterest

Sea of Atlas

Sea of Atlas is actually a design studio created by the very talented and stylish Brittany Fabello. Her blog covers topics from lifestyle to business, but my absolutely favorite posts are their travel posts. I am smitten with the photography and absolutely love catching her in the travel act on instagram (can we stay insta-stories on fleek?). Be sure to check out A Weekend in Lisbon, Portugal and her entire Amalfi Coast series!

website | instagram | twitter | facebook | pinterest

The Travelling Light

I have followed The Travelling Light and author Katie McNoulty for quite a while and love the nonchalant and beautiful nature of her content. There is something so cool about everything she does, and now that I follow her insta-stories I am even more inspired! Explore her website by location, I am currently obsessing over her archive of Bali posts (when I am not stalking here current journey in India on social media!).

website | instagram | twitter | facebook | pinterest

We are travel girls

We Are Travel Girls (WATG) is a community of female travelers created by Becky van Dijk and Vanessa Rivers. The website is jammed packed with contributed travel tories and advice that serves as a non-stop source of inspiration. Be sure to read the post I contributed as well as follow WATG on instagram for some major wanderlust.

website | instagram | twitter | facebook | pinterest

Thank you to all of you incredible bloggers out there producing great content! I am so inspired by each one of you I encounter! 

Which travel blogs are really inspiring you right now or do you have a blog yourself? Leave them in the comments below, I would love to check them out!