Hold the phone! Last night Tom totally surprised me with an intimate birthday dinner with family and friends! I know! I was shocked. No really. Like when I first saw Kelly sitting outside I thought, “Oh my gosh look, Kelly and Mitch are here! Maybe we can join them!” It took me a hot minute to realize they were there for ME!
Apparently Tom has been scheming with them for the past month to organize this dinner. Tom is the worst secret-keeper I know, so it’s insane to me he was able to pull this off flawlessly! They all went around the table and shared things they love about me (Kelly’s brilliant idea), and even Tess sent hers to read aloud from Italy! I was floored. Just totally blown away by these incredible people and this incredible life. I am so, so grateful! It honestly feels like my years just keep getting better.
Thank you to Tom, to Kelly and Mitch, to Maya, to my parents, to Tess, and to all my family and friends who showered me with love yesterday. You all make this life the best life.
And now onto today’s post!
One year ago yesterday I turned the big 3-0. On the same day, I wrote a post detailing 30 things I wanted to do/work on/accomplish in the next year. First of all, just going back and reading that post was kind of surreal. It’s incredible seeing how much things have changed in my life in just one year, but I also really enjoyed seeing what hasn’t changed. For example, I still have an amazing husband and I still feel so lucky to be living in Chicago. But I’ve also had some big changes. For starters, I left a stable, relatively good paying job to pursue my passion of interior design. I also put myself out there and made fast friends with some really incredible people. The last year has been pretty wonderful, and looking back and seeing the progress on some of the goals I set for myself makes it even more amazing.
Click here if you want to read last year’s post. Today let’s check in on my progress.
- TALK LESS, LISTEN MORE – “What did the interrupting cow say to the farmer?” “I don’t know, wh- “Moooo”. That is solid gold, courtesy of my 8-year-old cousin. But in all seriousness, I actually think I’ve made some real progress on my goal of talking less and listening more (AKA, not interrupting). I am not perfect, but I have learned to take a pause and actively listen more often. This has definitely helped me connect with those new friends!
- DANCE LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING – I had hoped to take a dance class at some point in the last year. I haven’t yet, mostly because I’ve been trying to improve my yoga practice, but if I’m being honest, it’s also because I’ve simply got too many other priorities. That being said, we had three weddings this summer, at which I absolutely brought the house down.
- QUIET MY MIND – AKA Meditation. Woah. Did I really think year 30 was going to be the year I started a daily meditation practice? We all know “I’m so busy” is the new #humblebrag, so I will avoid that excuse and just say maybe year 31. (Backup excuse: maybe the yoga counts?)
- BREAK A BAD HABIT – My plan for myself this last year was to add five minutes for myself to get from point A to point B so I’m not always so late. This one is almost comical to think about because I don’t even remember implementing this once in the last year. Somehow I give myself two hours lead time but always end up scrambling to get out the door. At least I’m consistent, right? Old habits…
- RUN A MARATHON – I’m proud to say I absolutely nailed this one. Training for and running in the 2016 Chicago Marathon will go down as one of the best experiences of my life. In fact, it might not have been my last.
- WRITE MY STORIES – Yup, in the last year I published two novels. What? Just kidding. I had planned to set aside one hour per week to dedicate to writing. So far I haven’t written any books but I have managed to keep this blog afloat! Baby steps.
- GROW THE BLOG – I managed to keep the blog alive and also grow a pretty great network of friends and mentors along the way. I’m definitely going to keep this momentum going in the next year.
- HONE MY PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS – Turns out great photography is harder than the iPhone’s point and click. But I’ve learned a ton over the last year about taking actual photos: lighting, shudder speed, raw v jpeg, and maybe even a thing or two about flare. I’m excited to keep working on this one in the next year.
- PRACTICE DAILY – I had wanted to practice my handstand/headstand every day. I’m managing to get in a few yoga sessions every week but my handstand still needs work. My sister on the other managed to open her own yoga studio and is crushing her practice (awesome job, Tess!).
- FINISH THE PINK SWEATER – DONE.
- BE OF SERVICE – This one isn’t something one can “achieve.” My goal here is to be of service to those around me. I probably still have a lot of room for improvement, but I also think I’m doing a better job being there for others. The balance is to not go so far as to forget to put on my own life mask first.
- GO OFF GRID – My favorite days ever are those spent entirely off grid. With the new job I took in February I was thrown into a position where I am constantly “connected.” I want to be attentive to my clients but I have also been really trying to set a healthy boundary. The call during dinner on Sunday can wait.
- PUT MYSELF OUT THERE – This one is another success story. Last year I told myself I was going to network more to meet more interior designers and bloggers. It took some courage and getting used to, but I’ve become very good at putting myself out there. I’ve met a ton of people, learned so much, and actually made some pretty incredible friends along the way! It’s funny how I can’t really believe I didn’t even know Kelly, or Mitch, or Maya, or so many other new friends just a year ago! I fully intend to keep this one up during the next year.
- SEW WHAT – Ha. I had hoped to do some sewing during the cold winter months last year, but alas, I don’t think it has moved from storage a single time.
- SEE MORE ART – Like I said last year, Chicago has some amazing museums, shows, architecture, music, etc. But to be honest I haven’t done a good job taking advantage of that. We did binge ourselves on art while visiting my sister in Italy in June, but this year I hope to explore more of what my hometown has to offer.
- PARE IT DOWN – I love a good life-purge and I am confident that I purged more over the last year than acquired.
- EAT LESS SUGAR – This will be a lifelong struggle for me unless science figures out a way to curb sugar cravings. Jeni’s opening up down the street has turned this into a sometimes hourly struggle.
- COMMUNICATE BETTER – Tom always says that much of the world’s problems can be solved through proper communication. This last year I made a point to say what/how I feel and I’ve noticed my relationships have improved as a result. As long as it’s done with respect, I find that more often than not people appreciate direct communication.
- FINISH OUR HOME – Here’s what I wanted to accomplish: paint our bedroom, refinish our chairs, fill our blank walls with art, and tackle our bathroom. We got the bedroom done, added one piece of art, and made some progress on bathroom. Look out for a DIY bathroom post coming soon!
- PRACTICE COMPASSION – Compassion is not an inherent quality I possess. But if you know someone who operates mostly from a place of compassion, you know why it’s such a desirable quality. I don’t think you can have much compassion for others until you learn how to have compassion for yourself. Over the last year I’ve been trying to go easier on myself and learn to lean into the imperfections.
- APOLOGIZE LESS – For some reason I’m the kind of person who is constantly apologizing for things, things I have no business apologizing for. It’s not a big thing, but if I don’t mean it, then I don’t want to say it. I think I’ve brought the sorry’s down to a respectable level.
- QUIT PLAYING THE COMPARISON GAME – There’s a lot of science to back up the idea that our level of happiness is based on how we view our position in life relative to those around us. Which stinks because I don’t want my happiness to depend on doing better than someone else – and I don’t want to be sad just because I have a Honda Accord instead of a Range Rover. My goal here is to be content with what I have and be genuinely happy for the success of others. I’m truly grateful for every waking moment, and that’s all that matters.
- LET GO A LITTLE – I was a self-confessed control freak last year and for the most part am a self-confessed control freak this year. I like things exactly a certain way and tend to lose my mind when I’m not in control. And an unclean house is usually where I tend to get upset the most. The plot of the next Saw movie should be about a guy who breaks into people’s houses and systematically, but ever so slightly, clutters them up. That’s how you drive people truly mad. I’m cognizant of this weakness, which is half the battle. But responding appropriately in the moment is not going to be an overnight fix.
- GEEK OUT – I love learning to code and I’ve been slowly improving those skills as this blog (and my design business) expand.
- KEEP AN OPEN MIND – First of all, if you’re still reading this: you deserve a banana. This is a marathon post and the potassium will be good for your sore muscles. Anyway, like many other goals on this post, this one will probably probably take a lifetime to master. But I’ve got a lot of new and awesome things happening in my life and keeping an open mind about it all will help me succeed (and have compassion if I stumble)!
- TRAVEL MORE – My best friend from college, Hannah, moved out to California years ago and we’re still saving our pennies to go see her!
- COMPLAIN LESS – Sit down, Kira. Be humble. I think I start complaining when I get too comfortable and start taking things for granted. The complaints then are really a symptom, not the cause. As I work on being of service, having compassion, being grateful, and keeping an open mind, I find that I complain less.
- SHARE MY UGLY – We all have a lot of good in us, but there’s also some stuff that’s not so good. I love bringing it all out into the open where hopefully I can work on it with people in similar situations. My Filter Free Fridays are my current outlet and I look forward to continuing to bring those to you over the next year!
- LESSEN MY LOAD – I don’t think I’ll be slowing down anytime soon which is why instead of trying to put less on the calendar, I have been trying to schedule in free time. I might never be the kind of person who can lie on the couch and not feel a tinge of guilt, but biking around beautiful Chicago with Tom, walking aimlessly around Lincoln Park, or just grabbing ice cream on a whim with friends can all be ways of lessening the load, without trying to “do nothing.”
- STRIVE FOR PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION – If there’s a theme to this post, or this blog… or heck my entire life, I hope it’s that perfection is unattainable and the joy in life usually comes from a messy place. I hope to progress little by little, savoring every step along the way.