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Let’s Make a List: 2015 Goals.

2015 goals

You all already know I’m all about goal setting. Weekly, monthly, yearly, long term, all of it. So on this second Monday of the year, I’m going to set my yearly goals for 2015.

Last year, I set 14 goals for 2014. I’m pretty proud of myself for reaching all of them. However, this year, I really want to focus more on my word of the year and my work. So I’m setting 5 goals. 5 goals that I feel are important and attainable and things I really want to do. Of course, I want to accomplish and do more than these things, but these are the main goals for this year.

Goals for 2015

Word of the year: Strong

|ONE| Take a real vacation- Like, longer than a weekend. Relaxation included.
|TWO| Focus on health in all aspects. Physical, mental, emotional, all of it!
|THREE| Explore Chicago- I’m going to be in this city for at least another year and a half, so I might as well explore and find out all the best spots while I’m here!
|FOUR| Save save save. As much as possible.
|FIVE| Speak kindness into those I meet. I just feel like this is so important. I want to be a source of positivity and goodness.

So there it is. 1 word. 5 goals.

This year is going to be great! I can already feel it. I am excited to take on this year and everything it will bring. I know I need to be focusing on what is to come and not just the things I want right now. Hence the saving goal. But also the vacation goal- it’s been earned!

What are you goals for this year? What can I do to cheer you on and support you? Let’s take on this year together and make it the best one yet!

STRONG- My Word of the Year

 

Strong 2015

Oh, how I’m excited to be sharing this post today! After 2 days off of work and school because of the EXTREME cold here in Chicago, I’m ready to get back to it and see my kids! It’s still super cold and we are all buried in snow, but I’m trying to accept the fact that I’ll have to go out there sooner or later!

Last year, I grabbed onto the idea of having a word to focus on for the year. I chose THRIVE. And my, how it made a difference in my life to always have that word in the back of my mind, reminding me of my why and to keep on working hard. I was excited and ready to thrive in the new beginnings I was forming. I was taking life by the horns and running wild with it. I was taking risks that I knew would be for the best in the long run and thriving in every aspect. It worked.

This year, I’m settled into a job I love and a city that I’m learning to love. I’m sticking around for a while and don’t see too many big transitions coming my way. This year I want to grow and continue to do exactly what I am, I just want to do it better.

This year, my word is STRONG.

This whole year will be for strength. For putting down roots (at least for now) and doing everything stronger. Better. More.

I want to cement in and strengthen my skills, my knowledge, and my passions. I want to be strong in heart and soul, in my convictions and my values. I want to strengthen my confidence and love for myself.

It took me a while to settle on strong as my word this year. I had trouble deciding on one word that would encompass and improve everything I want to do this year. Then I realized that strong really does cover it all.

Strong is bold. Brave.

I will be strong in myself. Strong in my work. Strong in my school. Strong in my beliefs about myself. And of course, strong in my health. In all aspects, mental, physical, and emotional.

STRONG.

The Holidays Are Hard.

holidays are hard

The holidays are wonderful. But oh, at times they are hard.

They are hard in many ways that I know are unique to me, and in ways that I know touch many more than just me. I know I’m not alone in my grief.

Beware here, friends. I’m about to bear my heart with you for a bit.

The holidays are such a joyful time. They are a reminder of the good and light in the world and of what we have accomplished in another year. They are a reminder of love and of peace and family and close friends. They are a reminder of just how far we’ve come.

For me, they are also a reminder of my sweet sister. Of the New Years Eve we spent huddled at her bedside and sleeping on an air mattress at my brother’s house, waiting for hope, hoping for healing. They are a reminder of the phone call. The one I felt before I got, the one where I knew. 

They are a reminder of crawling into my brother’s lap and crying. Writhing with a pain I never knew possible. Hurting in places I didn’t know existed. A reminder of the moment I became 5 years old again and just needed to be held.

They are a reminder of how life can change so drastically in such a short time.

Today is heavy. January 6th.

I don’t have much more to say in this space for now, so I’ll leave it with this.

My heavy heart today is taking these reminders and pouring the intensity of what I am feeling into giving everything I’ve got to a classroom of babes that need me. I’m loving a little harder today. I am taking my sister’s strength and humor with me as I start this new year. And of course, I’m taking her love of Kenny Chesney with me as I listen to music while I get ready for work.

Remember love today, friends.

2014: A Year In Review, But Not Quite

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Today I considered writing a traditional year in review post and even began writing one out with the major events that happened within each month. About halfway through, however, I stopped and couldn’t convince myself to continue. For one reason or another I didn’t have it in me to keep going. That kind of a post just doesn’t seem to fit this year. Not because nothing happened, but because SO MUCH happened.

This has been a year of change. Of picking up and moving just because it was the next step and thing to do. A year of chasing dreams and reaching them and the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. This was a year of leaving everything behind and finding a whole new life.

moving

Obligatory moving selfie to prove it really happened, of course.

2014 was a year of moves. Into a new apartment in Atlanta. Into my summer housing with 3 other women in Chicago. Into my apartment in Chicago. I am now a complete pro at packing everything I own into my car. Now that I’ve really settled for a bit and have furniture, however, that might be a bit more difficult.

This was a year of love. Strong, real, honest love. Of losing love. Of finding it in 40 tiny souls that look to me for love and guidance every day. A love I didn’t know existed until these babes showed me.

This was a year that showed me where my strengths were. And where they definitely weren’t. It was a year of fear and joy and overcoming. A year of hard, hard, and rewarding work.

As I think about my goals, resolutions, and my word of the year (announcement coming later this week!) I’ve begun seeing more and more that this has been a year of support. Giving and receiving it right back. Abundantly. Overwhelmingly. Being able to do life with the people around me has made this a year of coming out stronger on the other side.

Though maybe this isn’t the traditional “year in review” post that you’ll see elsewhere. This is the review that I’ve needed to renew my energies and determination for the months to come. This has been a year of many things.

Thank you for being a part of it.

Weekly Wishes!

Weekly Wishes

ONE more week of work and grad school. ONE! And then I will flying home to Idaho to spend a couple weeks with my family! Clearly, I am BEYOND excited and can’t wait to see them! My mom keeps sending me pictures of all the pets at home and I’m so ready to snuggle them all.

This weekend was busy in the best of ways and totally needed to wrap up my first semester of teaching! Friday was the Teach for America holiday party. I was able to see friends I hadn’t seen since we trained together in summer and hang out with some mentors in a less serious and formal setting. It was a lot of fun! Saturday was for a haircut and dinner with friends, enjoying the lights around downtown and commiserating over one last weekend of lesson planning before break! Sunday was relaxing and I caught up on a lot of Netflix while getting work done! Today I’m excited to be back to work for this final and festive week with my kids!

Just because this is the last week before I go home, doesn’t mean I’m not setting goals to make sure I keep getting things done! This week, my goals are to:

|ONE| Finish out my grad school work strong. 2 more final assignments stand between me and being done for the semester!

|TWO| Wash every piece of laundry before I leave. I’ve just been washing a load here and there as I’ve needed clothes but I really need to just get it all done! I don’t want to come back to MORE laundry.

|THREE| Decide on and download at least 2 Audible books before I fly out. I don’t want to be caught in the air with nothing to read/listen to!

That’s all for the week! I hope you all had some fantastic weekends and are looking at a great week ahead! I’m loving seeing all the holiday cheer around and it just makes this whole winter thing a lot easier to deal with.

What are your goals for the week? Let’s cheer each other on through them!

Weekly Wishes! | Group Giveaway!

weekly wishes

Happy Monday! The Monday after a holiday always seems to be the most difficult, doesn’t it? I’ve been struggling this morning but I know once I get back into a good routine it’ll be normal again. Plus, I have only 3 more weeks until Chirstmas break so I’m at the final stretch!

Last week, my wishes were to:

1) Get some sleep, drink ALL the water, eat foods that make my body feel good. Check! I’ve been good to myself this past week and I’m hoping to continue that.
2) Finish fall assessments on all my kids. Oops, nope. But it will be done by the end of this week!
3) Build my desk/bookshelf. DONE! I am so proud of myself, they look great!
4) LAUNDRY. Mostly done. Another load probably wouldn’t hurt.

This week, I’d really like to try to:

1) Continue to be on this self-care routine. Sleep, water, and some movement will do me some good.

2) Finish fall assessments. For real this time!

3) Clear out the clutter in my room. I’ve got paperwork overload going on and I really need to take care of some of this.

And now, onto the part you’ve been waiting for- the giveaway!

It’s that time of year where a little extra cash couldn’t hurt anyone! I have teamed up with a few darlings to bring you $100 in paypal cash! Because we all know at this time of year, we all need it! This giveaway is open to international and US residents and will be $100 US dollars, transferred into whatever currency. The giveaway will run Dec 1 – Dec 8! best of luck and happy holidays!

One of the Hardest Decisions I’ve Ever Made

difficult decision

A year ago today, I packed up my car with all my things, hugged and kissed my family and pets goodbye, and got in my car to drive to Atlanta. I had no job prospects, a friend’s couch to stay on (thanks Meg!) and really just a dream and a desire to get out of small town Idaho.

This decision didn’t come lightly, though it was made quickly. I knew I’d have to leave soon to not be driving through the snow and ice of winter and I needed to move fast. So I did. Packed my car full up and that was that.

Leaving my family, and especially my father, behind, was the most difficult thing I’d ever done. Of course, I knew I could always come home, but something about this particular move felt more final, more real. And in a way, it has been.

It meant not seeing my family for Christmas. It meant going through life without the safety net of my family or college around. It meant, for the first time really, that I was on my own. At the beginning of the year, I made it my mission for the year to THRIVE. And with that in mind, I’ve done everything I could to do just that. I got a good job, an apartment that felt like home, and kept on moving.

Then Teach for America came up. I saw the opportunity and I grabbed it. I put everything I had into my application and throughout the interview process and came out with my dream job opportunity- though that again meant leaving everything behind in the life I had then created in Atlanta.

I got accepted and saw my placement- Chicago. I was, all at once, both excited and terrified for what was to come. As the horror stories came my way- so did the stories of great joy and accomplishment. I knew this was what I wanted- even if it did mean coming here to the land where there is SNOW in OCTOBER (!!!)

Moving again was not taken lightly. But it was necessary and since the day I got here there’s been no turning back for me. I 100% love my kids. I love the culture we’re still creating every day. They are absolutely the lights of my life.

And to think, it all started with a decision that where I was wasn’t getting me to where I wanted to be.

A decision to hop in my car and drive straight across the country to the unknown.

 

The season I’m in.

Season I'm In

Every day as a part of our morning routine, I ask my students what season we’re in and ask them to describe how they know. My kids are a bunch of smart cookies so this is becoming a simple task for them to figure out.

The other day, however, I began to think about a different type of season. A season I’m in. I’ve heard people describe the season I’m in and the lifestyle I live as a waiting season. A season where I have things mostly figured out, but am waiting for the next step- that great love, a child, for my life to begin. However, I just don’t feel like I fit in with a waiting season. I’m not waiting. My life is happening. I am absolutely not the kind of woman who needs a husband or child to begin my life.

There are so many other ways that I feel like describe the stage and season of life that I’m in right now.

A working season.

I am working. Hard. Every day. Mentally, physically, emotionally. This season is one of hard work and passion and doing as much work as possible while still keeping my balance.

A busy season.

This is a season where being busy is the norm for me and will be for a while. Between work, grad school, TFA commitments, and trying to have some sort of a social life, busy is the way this will be for a while.

An exhausting season.

I suppose this goes with the above. I am fully exhausted in the best of ways. So much to do, think, say, and feel!

A fulfilling season.

This life that I’m living and this season is absolutely fulfilling. i feel as though I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. My children fill my heart up so much. My friends and TFA peers are the most amazing, inspiring people I have ever met. This is hard, hard work, but it is so worth it. I find joy in my work and seeing growth in my students.

You are exactly where you need to be

Based on my word this year, I could absolutely call this-
A thriving season.

Mixing everything up together, I feel like I am truly living out my word of the year. I am growing and learning and doing my best.

I am living.

There’s no time for waiting in this season of mine!

 

Need to escape the Winter Weather? Look no further!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gulf County, Florida. All opinions are 100% mine.

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In case you missed the memo, here in Chicago, it’s COLD. Like, really cold. And life is as busy as it could ever be between work, school, and life! With the holidays coming, it seems like life is only going to get more busy before it slows down. This season just makes me want one thing- a nice, slow, disconnected vacation! I can see myself taking this vacation with just a few close girlfriends to escape from this hurried life we live for a few days!

If you’re in the same boat I am, then I have just the place for you! Come visit GCFL!

Even in the winter, Gulf County, Florida is a beautiful place to visit! From sunset cruises to karaoke nights, there’s something for everyone! Check out this page of Winter Fun Events for ideas of different things to do!

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GO OUTSIDE

Gulf County, Florida is a beautiful seaside area with 43 miles of shoreline! There are no giant high-rises or highways full of traffic- a giant change from here in Chicago where traffic is constant and big buildings make our skyline unique. I know I need to escape the city, and they’ve got bike trails, kayaks, snorkeling, and many other outdoor activities! Gulf County is like a big outdoor playground- who wouldn’t want to explore?

DISCONNECT (and connect with who’s with you)

The Wi-Fi in Gulf County may be spotty, but you’ll be able to connect with those around you in a whole new way. Take some time to unplug and look up at everything around you- there are such beautiful things to see! Have a good chat over dinner and drinks with close friends or family, take a walk to see what you can find, or find a new adventure!

SEE MORE

White sand beaches, seashells galore, and oh, the sunsets! Have a furry friend? No problem. Beaches in Gulf County are ranked in the top 10 US beaches to bring pets! Pets are always welcome on the beach and most rental homes allow them as well!

DO MORE

Seashell Collecting- St. Joseph Bay has some excellent beaches if you’re a fan of seashells! I grew up collecting shells with my family and it is still a favorite activity of mine!

Horse back riding on the beach- You can relax and ride along with experienced guides along the shoreline. You can choose a couples package, or, like me, if you’re there with friends, you can schedule a ride for up to 10 people!

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Fishing- Admittedly, I’m not much of a fisherman, but for those who are, I can’t imagine a better place! Whether salt water or fresh water is your thing- Gulf County has it all! You have the possibility of catching a shark, or heading over to the Dead Lakes where you might meet a manatee or alligator!

I’m ready to pack my bags now! Want to know more and be the first to know about different evens and happenings in Gulf County? Sign up for their newsletter and get the inside scoop!

What activity would you most like to try in Gulf County? Who are the lucky people that get to join you? Let me know below- let’s go!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Weekly Wishes!

Weekly Wishes

Well, it’s been a little while since I’ve shown up to this little space of mine. The internet went out in my house this week so it’s been a little more difficult than usual to write. This past week was a total whirlwind! My students and I have been working hard to keep learning through some administrational changes and we even went on a successful field trip to the circus on Friday! This coming week I only work Monday and Tuesday and then I’m off for Thanksgiving! I’ll be spending the holiday with a friend’s family and I’m so excited and grateful for them for adopting me into their family while I’m far from my own.

This week, I’ve got more personal than professional goals. I’m really looking forward to taking these days off to catch up on things around my apartment.

1) Get some sleep, drink ALL the water, eat foods that make my body feel good. You know, all those things I don’t do nearly as much as I should while running around.

2) My one work goal- finish fall assessments on all my kids. I really want to get them done before break so I don’t have to think or stress about them afterward!

3) Build my desk/bookshelf. I ordered them a couple weeks ago but just haven’t gotten around to being able to sit down for a while and figure out how to put them together. I’m hoping to get this all taken care of so my room is fully set up!

4) LAUNDRY. Oh my, oh my.

What are your goals this week? Let me know so I can cheer you on!