How to Keep Your Resolutions with FW Magazine.

You guys might not know it, but I've been super motivated since Intentional October to grow my writing. Sometimes I feel like I've had nine lives of trying different things - working in different industries, from public relations and Chick-fil-A, Inc. to acting and voiceover and now writing - I have been all over the map! But I feel proud that I've tried all the things in my heart - it's forced me to be vulnerable and ask people for help and receive critiques and experience rejection. It's not an easy feeling. It's not comfortable. But I am certain that this spark in me for more must be investigated until that little spark is fully lit.

I have a feeling I'm not alone in my pursuits. So many of you have reached out and shared that your heart is to try something different, pursue your passion, and see dreams come into fruition. I am honored to be right alongside you in that journey. May we all continue to explore this wonderful life and find passion and fulfillment in all the different, winding paths of our life's journey.

Which is why I want to share this small bit of progress in my own personal life. It always encourages me when I see people pursuing dreams and actually getting some traction with their efforts, so I want to be able to do the same. It might not sound like a big deal, but for the past few months I've been contributing lifestyle articles to my county's Women's Magazine, Fayette Woman. I've had the opportunity to write a handful of articles - from parenting to wellness to home decor. I've developed, researched and contributed my own content, along with conducting interviews and doing profiles on other companies and people of interest. It has been so much fun! I've been published before, but this is a new and NOW feeling, and I feel like I am starting over again and it's so good. It's exciting (and slightly terrifying) to see your words in print - it's a little bit like feeling naked on a stage, but also super freeing, like I'm pursuing my dreams and garnering opportunities that I only could have hoped for a few months ago, because SOMEONE is publishing me! Woohoo.

Just wanted to take this quick moment to share my latest article about How to Keep Your Resolutions, which is both in print and online this month. I would love it if you checked it out! Thanks for all the support, friends. And happiest of Fridays to you! XOX

Tools & Sources for Getting Organized in 2016.

Friends! How is January going for you thus far? I have to admit, I am doing a fair amount of oscillating between being super organized and productive to being super tired and blah.  The up-and-down emotions might be due to Whole30, so we will see how things shake out over the next few weeks. But I did want to share a few planning tools that have really helped me shape some new discipline in my life. Sometimes you need to be outfitted to accomplish more, right?

My Day Planner.
I am a bit planner obsessed, and every January I am on the hunt for the PERFECT planner. Which seems to be a bit like a unicorn - something all the chic, superpower wonder women have but something I can't seem to get my hands on. I can never find the perfect planner with just the right amount of white space and just the right size. It might sound crazy to some of you, but I just have this need to write out my daily plan. I tried using my iPhone two years ago and it was TERRIBLE. So many missed appointments and I never felt like I knew what was going on. So when I heard the raving reviews about The Simplified Planner on In Honor of Design I had to know more. I compared it to a lot of similar planners on the market, and went for the splurge. It feels a little crazy to drop this much dough on a planner, but I had some birthday cash, so I went for it. You guys, I bought this gem in October (remember when I was feeling all kinds of inspired and disciplined?) This planner has been sitting on my shelf, staring down at me for 3 months, just waiting for its moment to be used. And I am LOVING it so far. It's truly my favorite day planning book. And if that makes me seem like an old lady... well, that's probably about right.

You Need A Budget.
I've talked about this before, but this app has truly become a game changer for us. When it comes to our personal finances, Stevie and I want to grow in our diligence, discipline, and ultimately, our generosity. This app, You Need A Budget (also called YNAB) is the way we sync all our income and spending, so we can see every transaction. I know that a lot of tools do this (such as Mint, which we previously used), but YNAB requires you to punch in every transaction you make. This seemed daunting to me at first, but I've actually grown to love it. Mint was too user-intuitive for me, because I never even had to lift a finger and everything was automated. Which means I just never paid attention and never really knew where we were at with our spending. With YNAB, I am required to go in the app several times a day and punch in my receipt to see where I'm at with all my budgeted categories. I really can't say enough rave things about this app - I just love it! And if you check out the site, it gives you tutorials and and a free 34-day trial!

Excel & Google Docs.
I would be lost without my lists. I use excel workbooks to keep all my writing work organized, both for the blog and freelancing - pieces I'm working on, pieces I've completed, jobs I've been paid for (and haven't been paid for yet!), pitches I've written, editors I've reached out to, brands who have reached out to me - everything! Because it's way too hard to remember all of that and try to sift through email months later. Keeping copious lists is the way that I stay on top of things and make sure I don't miss a deadline or forget to reach back out to someone. I use Google Docs and Google Sheets the same way, and I love sharing these docs with others if I have a project going. Stevie & I even keep a doc of all the home sprucing we want to do - decor ideas, furniture we want to invest in, work that needs to be done on the house. It feels good to mark a big "X" next to those items as we complete them. I even share a Christmas List Google Doc every year with my family, where we can all write what we want Santa to bring us (and then we can all purchase accordingly!) Seriously. Docs are the best. I'm sure tons of you guys use them, too, so it's not a totally bright idea - except that it is.

There are so many awesome blog posts around the web right now about how to get organized in the new year. I love January because it's the opportunity to assess everything and strategize on how to do things better. How to streamline and be more efficient and all that good stuff. I am feeling a spazzy amount of inspiration for 2016 (seriously, Stevie is confused by my vigor) and I wanted to share a few posts that have me feeling really motivated. People are so creative, you guys. I love gleaning from others' research.

Emily's Ley Preparing for a Big Year

The Private Life of A Girl 11 Productive Things You Can Do During the Holidays

Camille Styles 16 Quotes to Help You Conquer 2016

Darling 4 Resolutions to Help You Find Your Spark in 2016

DesignSponge Work-Life Balance as a Creative Entrepreneur

I hope some of these tools and sources help you get inspired for YOUR year! Happy planning to you! xox

Forgiving Yourself.

Resolutions are so fleeting, friends. Which is why I've really taken some time to think through mine this time around. And as I've been making little lists all over the house for things I need to do, buy, get rid of, replace - something kind of significant hit me.

I've been weighed down by some self-imposed guilt.

Some of you might think, well, what's new? Self-guilt is so obviously a part of our lives, as women and especially as moms.

But you guys! It shouldn't be. We shouldn't be walking around with a tally in our heads, of what we didn't accomplish for the day. It's self-sabotage. And it's working! Do any of you do that? Am I alone in this? I know I'm not. I can't be.

Dishes didn't get done.
House looks trashed.
Blog post didn't get posted.
Didn't send out enough pitch emails today.
Did I play enough with Everett? Does he feel well-loved by me today?
Didn't make a healthy dinner. Grilled cheese.
Clearly didn't exercise. Gym? What gym??
Didn't spend enough quality time with Stevie. Does he feel well-loved by me today?

Do I feel well-loved by me today??

The questions and judgements are dizzying. And they didn't come from anyone else. No one asked me those questions. No one pointed that finger at me. Except for me.

Sometimes I'm hard on myself. But that's not a cute realization. It's not a form of humility, being hard on yourself. It doesn't sharpen me into being a better person. And it certainly doesn't inform my marriage, my motherhood, my friendships or my work in a healthy way. In fact, over time, this way of thinking will drain my energy and creativity for all those entities.

So before I even think about goals, or resolutions, or dreams for the new year, I need to level with myself.

Are you ready to level with yourself?

I've been thinking a lot about this. If I'm going to make any kind of difference in my personal life this year, probably the best thing I can do is start with forgiveness. I need to be good to myself.

I forgive me. For sometimes crapping out on stuff.

I am going to try to do better this year. I might not do better, but I am giving myself permission to start with a fresh, clean slate. A clean, bright horizon for new possibilities. I am not going to be weighed down by what I "should have done better/more of/less of" in 2015. That list is long. Whatever. I am visualizing that long list. And now I am visualizing throwing that list in the trash.

Actually, I just slam dunked it. In some really fresh Nikes.

I encourage you to forgive yourself today. There is nothing that is more freeing, more illuminating, and more nourishing than being really good to yourself. Recognizing where your strengths ran out in the past. Coming to terms with the areas where you made mistakes. Understanding what held you back from being your best version of you. Gossip, love of money, lack of money, fear, fear of rejection, dreams lost, doors closed, relationships ending badly - whatever it may be, it's truly in the past now. And the best you can do for you is to see it for what it is, acknowledge its part of your journey, and say goodbye. Forgive others, if you need to. Forgive yourself, most definitely.

And now. There is nothing holding you back from running fast and strong into the rising blue-skied horizon. That horizon is yours. And you can run (in some really fresh Nikes) toward all the goals bursting forth in your heart. Without resentment. Without punishment. Without that gnawing self-sabotage lurking just behind you.

Join me. Begin this year by being really, really good to yourself.

Happy New Year - and Thank YOU.

Friends, it's the dawn of a new year. A year that has never been before. We are living in an exciting time, in almost every single way! I am breathless over the promise and possibility that 2016 brings. I know there will be joy and pain and challenge and surprise, and I am finally ready to enjoy the journey, not just the accomplishment of achieving goals. The journey! The journey is gold! 2016, bring on the gold!

I want to take a moment to thank you, yes you, from the very bottom of my heart. Some of you have been reading this little blog for a while, and some of you are new friends to this forum.

Thank you so much for reading. You are priceless.

I am grateful that you value this space enough to share a few moments here every now and then. Your time is precious and I don't take it lightly that you share your open moments foraging through these trailing thoughts of mine. I have worked hard this year to develop more compelling content more often while still allowing myself to write authentically and just be me. The blog world is saturated, and I don't want to feel like a fool in ten years if I look back and realize I allowed someone else's vision dictate this personal space of mine. However, I am always looking to the horizon, seeking to challenge myself and hoping to lend encouragement to you.

You aren't the reason that I write. But you are the reason that I share. Thanks for all the positive feedback from the past year - I value and respond to each and every blog post comment, Instagram tag, and Facebook message because I like you. I want to continue to grow the content and direction of this blog, and I would love to know what you think. Which is why I am going to offer you a reader's survey later on this week. I want your input as I plan ahead for 2016 content here :) More on that later.

This week, I am going to share a little bit every day about one of my favorite times of the year - which is NOW. I love dreaming, goal-making, reflection and resolutions. These are some of my favorite things. Along with the reader survey, this week I will also be sharing some of my own resolutions, a few tools that help me shape my organization, and some encouragement from around the web on goal-making and resolutions.

Does 2016 excite you or terrify you? Are you knee-deep in your goals already? Have your resolutions already gotten stale in your mind? Haha, I'll tell you a little secret... I haven't enacted ANY of my goals yet. That what the ENTIRE month of January is for, friends! No need to rush the goal-compiling. I would just encourage you to not look to your friends or family for whatever their goals may be this year... take some time to just ponder YOU. And see where some of that reflection leads.

Let's check in tomorrow! Love to you!