Friday, January 31, 2014

Geronimo! 26 Tips to Feel Inspired By Life

I was originally going to write this post from the focus of how the songs on One Direction's new album can be applied to life, but I had a firm talking to the 12 year old girl inside of me, and we opted to leave that one for the pages of our diary. The one that my sisters will likely find and read out loud. Typical. But seriously, "Story of My Life"….I can't even.

Instead, I'm letting a project I participated in the other night guide the inspiration for this post. For those who know me, I'm not a fan of setting new resolutions at the start of a new year simply for the sake of doing so. I much prefer the ones that transcend 365 days. At the same time, there is something to be said for being actively involved in any goals, be them new ones or old ones, we set for ourselves.

The other night I got together with some friends to compile a "vision" board and it was an eye-opening experience. The point is to create something that helps you visualize and manifest your goals/dreams. Not to mention, you can appease your own 12 year old girl by creating a collage of magazine cutouts.

Beyond the fun aspect, though, it got me thinking about my future and reflecting on the past, and appreciating the moments that fill the gaps between those two. With those goals and reflections in mind, I've compiled a list of tips I find helpful to appreciating all that life throws your way. As I just celebrated my 26th birthday, we're going with that number. Brace yourself. Excessive adjectives and touchy-feely emotions ahead.

1. Seek Out Adventure

Be active in your life. Rather than letting things just happen, seek out the opportunities. Adventure can mean so many different things to different people, and it's up to you to decide how to approach it. Why give yourself a neck cramp looking over your shoulder at things that passed you by? Rather, take a deep breath and jump when the chance presents itself.

2. Balance Your Checkbook

The older I get, the more I'm grateful to my father for nagging me about this as a teenager. Seriously, do it. It's one thing to say you're on a budget and another to actually stick with it. This will help to make it happen. 

3. Read a Book that Keeps You Up Late

Get so lost in a book that suddenly it's 1AM and you realize you have an 8AM meeting. Fall in love with the characters, with the plot, and the fact that you never want it to end but you HAVE to know what happens next. Finish it and hold it close, giving thanks for the moments you've shared with the characters. Bookworm, much? Me too. 

4. Fall in Love with Your Job

I can't tell you what it's like to wake up knowing I go into an office filled with people who are my friends, as well as my colleagues. That I get to fall in love with my work everyday, learning something new in the process. You deserve the same. If you want it, fight for it tooth and nail. Don't let anyone tell you that your dream is too big, or that you don't have what it takes. Even yourself, because you do. No go and prove 'em all wrong ;) 

5. Smile, Just Because

Enough said. This is the best accessory you'll wear all day. And I have say, you're looking goooooooood. 

6. Get Lost Somewhere

Put down the map, put down the smartphone, and get a little lost. This tends to be how I discover my favorite things when traveling or wandering the streets of my own city. From what I've learned, taking time to disconnect is more of a way to connect with the sights and experiences right in front of you. Soak up what you see, how it makes you feel, and the simplicity of it all, If only for a moment.  

7. Ask For Help When You Need It

This can be hard. It can be a beating to your pride. Regardless, don't forget that there are people in your life who want to help. Trust in them, and know that when things get hard, there will be someone (or many someones) to lend a helping hand. Whether you have to ask for it or not, consider that someday you may be the person another turns to when in need. That's what I call give and take. 

8. Dress for YOU

Dreaming of wearing that fire engine red dress? How about those mint green pants or a lemony yellow necklace? Then get after it! I'm a firm believer in dressing to suit how you feel the most comfortable and ready to take on the world. At the same time, don't be afraid to also take some risks and step outside your comfort zone. Be as bold in your style choices as you are in your daily life and have some fun with it. Who said leopard prints couldn't be paired with polka dots and horizontal strips? Not this girl! 

9. More Listening, Less Talking

I like talking. Especially talking really fast about things I get really excited about (to be honest that can't be helped). As important as it is to express your feelings, though, it's just as essential to give friends/family/significant others a safe space to do the same. Simply put, close your mouth and open your heart. It doesn't matter if you don't have the "right" answers or advice. Just listening can be the biggest comfort in the world. Give it a try. 

10. Don't Run From Change

Easier said than done, right? Change can be scary, so much so that we often run in the other direction, fending it off as desperately as we can. More often than not, it's a futile effort. Change eventually catches up. As I've gotten older, I've learned that embracing what that change brings is time better spent. It's okay if it still makes you nervous -- nothing worthwhile comes without a bit of risk or caution. At the end of the day, though, the potential for change to have a positive impact on your life is boundless. Embrace it.

11. Don't Just Dream About It - Do It

Dreams are amazingly potent things. They give us hope for the future and allow us to set all manner of goals for ourselves. Don't let them be just dreams, though. In the same manner as seeking out adventure, dream as big as you can and then turn them into action. Light a fire under your bootie if you have to. Dreams don't just come true, no matter what fairytales you might be reading. At least, not without some work on your part first. If you want something bad enough, get out there and be an active participant. Be the hero to your own story, and happily ever after will take on an entirely new meaning. 

When the wine is gone, we cry.

12. Drink Boxed Wine. No, Really.

Um, stop judging me. At least until you've actually tried Black Box or Bota Box. These brands and others have turned me into a dedicated boxed wine fan, and I am far from ashamed of that. For a reasonable price, a girl can get her hands on the equivalent of four bottles of wine in ONE box. What's not love about that?? Added to that, the wine is delicious. Sorry, wine snobs, you may want to avoid my next wine and cheese party. Or not. I'm pretty damn good company, wine choices notwithstanding.  

13. Pay It Forward

I can't advocate for this enough. I had so many people (and still do) who have helped to me to get to where I'm at in my career and personal life, and I never forget how grateful that makes me feel. It's the least I can do to help others in a similar fashion. Not because it's required, or because of some agenda, but simply because it's a nice thing to do. Keep in mind those who did the same for you; it's the least you can do to pass on the favor. 

14. Network Like a BOSS

Want to make connections and stand out within your professional sector? Get out there and start making friends! Muster up some courage and walk into a conference reception with a smile on your face and ready to chat with new people. Volunteer to be a presenter, or get involved with local efforts. Maybe your career path isn't chock full of conferences or events, so get creative: research meet ups and networking events in your area using LinkedIn. I used to do this when living in San Francisco and found it be a great opportunity to expand my network. 

15. Get Glitter Everywhere

At this point, I'm pretty sure my insides are glittery considering the amount of glitter I get around my house. I mean, life is just SO much better covered in sparkles. Less is NOT more in my opinion. Get it everywhere! Fair warning, there may be those who do not approve of this (my own friends included) but I'll tell you what: there won't be any forgetting the person who trails glitter in their wake, be it metaphorical or literal :)

16. Be the Biggest Weirdo Of Them All

And be proud about it. Wallow in the quirks that make you who you are and let that freak flag wave high in the sky. It took me a long time to fully embrace this, and I'm all the better for it. I have friends and family who appreciate me for exactly who I am, weirdo characteristics included. At the end of the day, you're the one who has to live with you - why not make it the adventure it can be? 

17. Go to a Midnight Movie Showing

Fortunately, midnight movie showings now actually mean an 8PM, 10PM, and 11PM showing. Oh ya, and there's the midnight one too if you want. The point is, let that inner child out and get excited about staying out late, pumped up about a movie you've been waiting ages for. Splurge on buttery popcorn and make an experience out of it. Anything Marvel/Lord of the Rings/Jane Austen inspired always does the trick for me. And if your boss asks why you're so tired the next day, simply show them a photo of what Chris Hemsworth looks like as Thor. Boom, worth it. 

18. Host a Ladies Only Cocktail Party

This year for my birthday party, we did just this and it was amazing. Having that time to connect and get silly with the women in your life is one of the best ways to enrich your friendships. We ended our cocktail party going around in a circle mentioning one thing we appreciated about each other, and it still makes me misty eyed to recall how thoughtful and kind (and downright hilarious) the women in my life are. Make time for these moments. They're the ones worth getting nostalgic about. 

Some of the best ladies I'm lucky enough to call my friends and confidants

19. Exercise

We love it, we hate it, we love it, we hate it. Whichever side you fall on, there's no doubt that it's important all the same. Don't like running or being inside a gym? Fine, get outside and go for a walk or a hike. Give yourself that time to connect with your body, with your breath, and with the simple act of accelerating your heart rate. The endorphins and views waiting for you at the end of a strenuous eight mile hike make it well worth the effort.

20. Dress Up for a Tea Party

I'm talking gloves, a feathered hat, strings of pearls, and clip on earrings. The whole nine yards. One of my favorite ways to do this is to find tea shops that allow you to play dress up right in the shop, offering the items mentioned above to wear whilst drinking tea. Sounds ridiculous, but you know you want to try it. Added to that, the experience of high tea - from the crumpets to the petite fours - will have you wondering why you didn't try this sooner. 

21. Watch Doctor Who

You had to realize I couldn't include "Geronimo!" in the title of this post without some sort of Doctor Who reference. Or maybe you didn't notice. Either way, this is a show that has changed my life. Yes, I carry a TARDIS in my purse, yes I frequently mention time travel as it pertains to the Doctor, and no, this isn't a phase that'll be passing anytime soon. If you're a fan of British TV and interested in science fiction, I urge you to give this one a try. It runs you through a gamut of human emotions: laughter, crying, and even being a little scared now and then. At its core are the stories, providing a scope in better understanding the choices we make as humans (and aliens). Geronimo, indeed!  

22. Be There for the Big Moments

I said this last year, but I can't stress it enough: make time for your family. Be there for the moments that matter. You only get one chance in this life, and these are the people who will be there through thick and thin. Let them know how much that means by making an effort to stay connected. Our definitions of "family" are as unique as we are, so make the most of the one you call yours.

23. Have Your Heart Broken

While this isn't exactly something I would say to run towards, it's an experience in learning more about yourself. Being told "it's just not going to work out" after you've put your heart and soul into something can be painful beyond belief. Every situation is different, but there is one thing that is consistent: having one's heart broken hurts like a SOB. It can take longer than you thought to put the pieces back together, moving on but never quite forgetting. And that's okay. More than okay, I'd go so far as to say it's what makes us stronger, with a better understanding of ourselves and what we want from relationships. Learn from the pain, but don't let it make you afraid to try again someday. This is something I'm still working on. Who knows how long it will take, but I will tell you this: the experience is one I wouldn't trade for the world; how else is a girl supposed to learn to trust in and follow her heart?

24. Listen to One Direction

Anyone else a boy band fan out there? Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, 98 Degrees? Anyone?? Don't pretend you can't hear me over that latest One Direction song. We're all in this together, so turn the music up and sing out loud.  

25. Eat More Cupcakes

They taste good, and there are SO many flavors to choose from. Red velvet, almond joy, vanilla cream, chocolate on chocolate…..I could go on for days about this. Life is sweet, and cupcakes are sweeter. The two obviously go hand in hand. 

26. Be Surprised

More than anything, let life surprise you. Let it be an experience you'll never forget. Don't become so wrapped up in the day to day, or planning for what's next, that you neglect to appreciate the little moments. The ones you didn't see coming or anticipate. They're often the ones that make life such an adventure, and pass us by before we know it. I get that there are difficult and hard things we go through, but there's something to be said for having a thirst and unending curiosity for the world. Maybe it's the fatal optimist in me, but it can't be helped at this point. So drink up people, that glass you're drinking from is only half full.

Need even more touchy-feely advice? Check out my post from last year, filled with 25 life lessons in the making!