Reflection

On My Way to NC

I am heading to North Carolina for almost a week to spend time with my grandmother, dad and other extended family. I almost didn’t make this trip but sometimes your heart just tells you you need something and you are compelled to override your head. This is one of those times.

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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).

 

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 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!