December 23, 2016

// from one of my lovely birthday dinners, surrounded by my best girlfriends. 
le sel, november 2016.//

A few years ago, I began a tradition of documenting the highlights of what I'd gleaned from this little life of mine. Some of them are lighter and silly, while others are lessons sometimes learned through such struggle that they force themselves into the intricate weave of who I am as a human being.

If you care to go recap 29 and 30, please be my guest--and here goes with 31--a year I can say was unequivocally one of my fullest, most colorful and brimming with self-actualization. Gone is the anxiety about personal timelines and expectations passing me by, and what's nestled in instead is a deep-rooted relief, awareness, and grace for who I am and what I deserve. And an overwhelming appreciation for feeling like me again, for the first time in many, many years.

That said... take it from me:

1. Break up your bananas before you freeze them for smoothies and baking.
2. Trust your gut. If there's one thing you hone in on here, just cling to your intuition. Don't ever allow anyone to cause you to doubt yourself. As a kid, I always envisioned that with adulthood came wisdom and clarity, and so much more black and white--and in actuality, the water just gets murkier, the situations grayer. The key to staying afloat is being firmly grounded in who you are, unapologetic about what you want out of life, and resolute about who you can trust.
3. So many mental blocks can be alleviated by just being outside. Extreme temperatures be damned: step out, walk around, breathe deeply.
4. Working hard is the simplest way to really pave the way to earn respect. And aside from robbing you of sleep, over-preparing will never fail you.
5. (P)leather leggings are the ultimate game-changer.
6. Social media is a glorious beast--connect away with whoever you shall choose, but please... be cautious as to what you put out there.
7. My mimi's granddaughter, through and through: I get the absolute most fulfillment out of hosting people I love. Some of my favorite nights in life have concluded with a slew of sweet, goodbye hugs and a sink full of lipstick-stained champagne glasses. My best therapy comes in the form of sharing overflowing cheese plates with girlfriends, hearing their laughter drown out the sound of my turntable fired up in my tiny living room.
8. When you have a fantastic night, date, or workday--write something down about it. Even just a couple words. Remember what made you feel so wonderful at that exact time. Later, you can snap right back to that moment, and realize everything passes (good and bad), and if you're lucky, you can learn from it. You have to go through some of the rough in order to really have appreciation for the good.
9. Nine years in, and my feisty, little maltese is still my best friend in the whole world.
10. It's good for you to know a few things by heart--specifically your blood type, what exact shade of red lipstick works for you skin, and your car's oil weight (me? O+, clinique's matte crimson, and 5w-30).
11. Be front and center when your friends have babies--don't wait to be asked to come over, just show up with food, and hunker down on the couch next to her, prepared to fold tiny laundry and listen intently to topics you haven't experienced first-hand just yet.
12. Leaving your home spotless before you embark on a vacation is so, so very highly encouraged.
13. Take the time to use email filters.
14. Upon returning from a night out, here are your priorities: make-up wipe, a liter of water, four advil.
15. Take a tiny piece of home and place it where you see it everyday. The power something so seemingly simple has to wash away homesickness will blow you away (mine is a vintage map of Waco, framed in my living room, and the candle scent my Mimi forever had burning in her living room.)
16. So much of life is about meeting people where they are--understanding that what you want out of something (be it a project, a relationship, a learning experience, a vacation, etc) maybe isn't completely aligned with what someone else is seeking is a deeply mature skill to hone... and will go far in tempering emotions too.
17. Stop being intimidated by a budget. It can be a pretty empowering thing to take charge of your money. Also? Always put just a smidge more into your 401k than you initially think you should.
18. Do what you can to ensure your people know you love them. Sometimes that means impromptu babysitting, baking a surprise, calling them out of nowhere... and sometimes that means listening silently, offering "I don't know what to say, but you know that I'm here for you."
19. Stop challenging your gas gauge. "Six miles to empty" is a lie.
20. If you program the radio station's number in your phone, you and your nimble fingers are far more likely to win the concert tickets.
21. Document the exact months of the year you traditionally have X appointments--this makes it painfully easy to schedule your eye exam, teeth cleaning, vet appointment when a new year rolls around.
22. It's okay to not always be able to identify precisely what you need at any moment. You'll get there. At the risk of sounding cliche, and while patience is one of my biggest struggles, I've learned that so much of life is about the "getting there."
23. Someone you encounter today is having a much harder day than you are. Perspective is one of the most rewarding things we can grasp. Just be kind.
24. I've changed my tune about threading--it still hurts like a bitch, but no other method is as precise and lasts quite as long, so... suck it up and just do it. I mean, you know you're onto something when guys are complimenting how great your eyebrows look.
25. Home is more about who you're with than where you are. And y'all know how much Texas is in my veins. I will forever be a small-town Texas girl, but Nashville has been so, so good to me--and so much of that is because of the incredibly magnificent people who have become my family here. I will forever be grateful for that.
26. I once read Chrissy Teigen reference how, in the midst of her crazy, hectic life, she strives to floss everyday because it gives her some semblance of consistency. I love this... and I love my weekly routine: every Sunday, I try to go to church, do my nails and a face mask, spend time outside, and bake something. I try to send at least one handwritten letter each week too... you'd be amazed about how much being a creature of habit can keep you feeling aligned and fruitful.
27. Sometimes the only way to cope is firing up Spotify and curating a playlist to reflect exactly how you're feeling in that moment. Also? This is a fantastic thing to do for your friends.
28. Stop waiting for someone to reach out to you, but also take inventory on your relationships--while friendships evolve, when they become completely one-sided, it's time to reevaluate. And that's okay.
29. Handle the blade of your Ninja blender ever so gingerly. (I continue to slice my fingertips on a weekly basis, because well, I'm impatient and the clumsiest).
30. Buy the pre-peeled garlic.
31. Stop saying yes to things and people you really don't want to say yes to. This might sound a little brash, but this opens you up to more of what you want to do. Being known as a person of resolve is admirable and earns respect. People appreciate knowing where you stand, and you'll feel more alive by being authentically attached to the choices you've made.

This portion of the year forces so much introspection... I'm fully feeling my newly-turned age, reminiscing about the memories of my mom and Mimi, swimming through the ever-reliable holiday rush. The Avett Brothers said it best: "if I live the life I'm given, I won't be scared to die." And heading into 2017, I feel so fortunate to be able to write the next page. And the one after that... and to keep learning, and loving on people and growing into who I'm supposed to be.

One little day at a time.

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