...equals 2019.

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And just like that, 2018 was over.

Right up until the last possible moment, last year kicked my butt in all the ways, good and bad. It brought on all kinds of changes and some opportunities I never saw coming. When I think about it, there were plenty of magical things I could have never even imagined if you had told me I would be including them in the portfolio of my life last January. And for that I’m so grateful.

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I danced with some littles, tried new restaurants, participated in my first cooking class, fell in love with more and more graphic tees (and sweatshirts), learned that I really miss barre classes when I don’t have them regularly scheduled in my life and that I live for date night. But I also discovered that avocado toast is one of my favorite foods, learned that “busy” does not equal better and got even closer to my own purpose.

So I’ve decided that instead of a list of resolutions I’ll undoubtedly beat myself up over not accomplishing as fast or as well or as linear as I think I should, I’m going to share what I loved and learned most from 2018 and the same for a year that I hope is my best year yet…

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2018, you sure gave me a run for my money. I thought I knew what to expect from this wild and crazy life but you were determined to prove me wrong. And you were right. The lessons I learned are almost too numerous to count but here are my favorites:

  1. You are what you create. It can take a while to truly live and breathe your vision. If anything, 2018 was the year of being more consistent, of setting small goals that lead to big wins and asking for help. This also led to being more intentional about where and when I work. Chaotic café's were traded in for just the right amount of clamor and caffeine and also walking away from projects when they were no longer serving me so I could regroup.

  2. Taking care of yourself is not indulgent. Self-care can be defined in so many incredible ways. From living in the moment and not constantly striving for improvement to “finding your center” and countering “busy” where you can, it’s all good if it all works. I tend to not appreciate everything that I am doing which is why I’m moving forward in 2019 with a “body, mind, spirit” agenda that focuses on treating all parts of myself with good intentions.

  3. Give yourself reasons to be happy. In a world that’s constantly comparing itself to Instagram and moving at 65+ miles an hour, one of the great gifts I gave myself last year were small moments to look forward to. A mental health day, a “to do” list item carved purposefully into my schedule, a social calendar on my terms and long term goals that aren’t too much pressure and are fun to work towards are all ways to make life more enjoyable instead of feeling overwhelmed by all that life can throw at you.

  4. Allow victory in whatever form you can. Success is so often measured by getting it right the first time, every time but even the greatest actors don’t win the Oscar after their 1st, 8th or 16th attempt. Adjusting my sense of worth to be measured in things I did instead of things I did early or fast or perfectly, and just saying I tried and being proud of that is a practice I hope to carry into 2019.

  5. Never stop learning new things. While my professional arc has been unconventional by traditional standards, this year I’m committed to learning new things that serve me. From strategy to marketable lines on a resume, I’m ready to throw myself into things I’ve never tried, care for myself in ways I’ve never thought of and being my best self in all the possible ways.

  6. Always choose kindness. 2018 was the year of people teaching me how to be and how not to be. I wrapped up quite a few experiences where I was disappointed in the way I observed others or myself being treated and decided that the only real band-aid in those situations is to be the person you need more of in the world.

  7. Read more books. You Are A Badass, What Happened, Life In Motion, How To Murder Your Life and #GIRLBOSS all made the cut last year. This year my goal is six books and I’ve already decided that Eat Pretty, Wild, The Capsule Wardrobe, Power Your Happy, Capture Your Style and Scrappy Little Nobody are my priorities. From each of these books I’ve seen myself in the characters, fiction and nonfiction, and have learned from their mistakes, celebrated in their triumphs and carried on with new knowledge I have applied to my own life. So thank you, Jen Sincero, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Misty Copeland et al.

  8. Taking my own advice. As easy as it seems that it is for me to sit down and lay out my thoughts with perfectly pretty pictures, it is much easier for you as a reader to digest these words. It has taken many epiphanies, challenges and success for me to be able to articulate how I got here (wherever that is) in a coherent way. Cognitive behavioral therapy will teach you that sometimes there just aren’t words for feelings or things you want to explain. And that’s how I feel about not always knowing “the way”. And also how I feel about 2018.

And so here we are in 2019…

…Thriving despite what we tell ourselves and even better prepared to handle the curveballs, consequences and opportunities to create the life we are meant to live. Some of the lessons I hope to teach myself include:

  1. As changes come, don’t be sad about the ending. Or rather, think of it as not the end but rather a new chapter. If I’m consistent about one thing it’s my ability to be nostalgic and sentimental, even when it comes to letting go of things that no longer serve me. In this new year, I’m going to do my best not to be sad or disappointed when things don’t work out the way I planned. Here’s to new chapters, blank slates and the blessing that sometimes things don’t shake out the way we thought they would.

  2. Check in on goals and reevaluate their purpose. Similar to dreams or plans, goals can be changed when they need to. And there’s no shame if they need to be abandoned no matter how far into them I may go. 2019 is going to be a year of how I can better serve myself which means continuing to set boundaries, only doing things that will make me happy and propel my best life forward.

  3. Cherish those who show you the light. I’m not talking about your therapist (although if you have one, that’s fantastic and you do get points here). Maybe you connected with your predecessor at your job and you really appreciate the way they mentored you for success (even if you are still figuring things out), maybe there’s an unlikely co-worker who invites you to join in for lunch with their team and you’ve somehow forged a friendship, maybe there’s a friend of a friend you have a ton in common with and they seems to really get your sense of humor. (I have one of each of these and I bet you do too.) Those are your people and they remind you that you don’t have to do this life thing yourself. I am eternally grateful for the relationships I have created, in many cases, completely by accident and they have helped to push me through every part of my journey.

  4. Even when you think you can’t, you can. I try not to use this word but I hate that phrase that says, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”. You can do anything even if the final product is not what you anticipate. There were so many times over the last year that I panicked at the thought of overcoming certain things. And yet here we are. The things are done and I made it out the other side. We are all stronger than we think.

  5. Keep practicing self-care: And never stop. Now that I know this phrase “self-care”, I’m in love with it. I’ve already planned some fun things for myself this year that will contribute to a positive mental and emotional state. Any strategy that involves downtime and truly doing nothing is the ultimate victory in my book.

  6. Mistakes are part of it. Here’s a fact we all like to brush off: Everyone makes mistakes. And they do it all the time. You make no more or less mistakes than anyone else. Whether attributed to human error, circumstances beyond our control or a forgetful mind, there is no one on this planet immune to making mistakes. And in addition, no single moment defines your day, week, month, year or life. Every day is a new opportunity to chart a new course and the information we have about what works, what doesn’t, what’s more challenging for us personally to achieve, and where we excel, is all part of it.

  7. Practice gratitude. I recently saw a quote on a friend’s Instagram story that said, “You are being presented with two choices; evolve or repeat”. A habit of mine (and another thing I am trying to stay away from in 2019) is to dwell on the negative and get so stuck that I have a hard time seeing a path forward. This year, every time I am faced with something difficult I am going to ask myself what it can teach me and try to embrace whatever that is. That way, at least if I fail, I have some kind of appreciation for the challenge.

  8. Reflect on where I am often. I have come very far from where I was last year, the summer of 2015, 2013 and 2003. All the things I thought I would never be able to figure out, I have surpassed. Before I ever knew P, that period where I thought I had peaked professionally and the summer before high school did not get the best of me and the best is yet to come. I truly believe that.

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[Tank (similar) - American Eagle, Skirt (similar) - Topshop Tall via Goodwill, Bangle (similar) - Mantraband]