2019 Reflection & Looking Ahead…

Instagram Top Nine 2019

I was not initially planning on doing a 2019 recap post; however, when I reflect on the year, I realize how big this year has been for me. 2019 has been a HUGE year of growth for me both personally and professionally. A few highlights:

  • I received my first promotion as the Brand and Events Coordinator for the company I work for in March. With this promotion comes a LOT more responsibility and much more traveling for work, which is why I have not been able to dedicate as much time as I would have liked to the blog this year. I’m working on a way to even it out for the upcoming year, as I have a ton of content planned for 2020 already!
  • My boyfriend and I officially conquered long distance, and he moved home for good this spring.
  • In June, I took a girls’ trip to France with my mom, her best friend, and her daughter. We had the best time navigating the country traveling all around from Paris to Bayeux, Normandy to Avignon, and finally Nice and Monaco. I’m still sharing photos on my Instagram from this incredible trip. 
  • In July, Ry took me on a weekend getaway to Mackinac Island (I’ve always wanted to stay on the island). I also planned a successful destination joint bachelor/bachelorette party for my best friend and her husband.
  • In August, my best friend married the love of her life, and I had the honor of standing by her side as her maid of honor.

While this year brought about many highs, it was working through the lows that really taught me what I was capable of. 2019 also came with many tough lessons that have taken me years to acknowledge, but I will never forget. Between working hard and often, adjusting to no longer being long distance, reconnecting with old friends, this has been an overall fulfilling, successful year.

Key Takeaways

Not everyone wants you to be successful; in fact, most often have their own agenda. As someone who genuinely wants the best for others and will do anything to help them attain their goals, this was a hard pill for me to swallow. There were a number of times in my life where I’ve been burned from trusting people who I thought were helping me achieve my goals, but in reality, had their own selfish objectives at the forefront of their actions. Unfortunately, it took me this long to realize this. 

In addition, I learned not to take advice from people who are not on the same path as you. I’ve always referred to myself as a knowledge sponge willing to soak up any and all information and advice I possibly can. However, I learned that this can often waste time, brain space, and energy when it comes to attaining my goals.

Work-life balance. To be honest, I completely thought this was a myth in corporate America when I started my job. However, when I was consistently getting sick for the better part of Q3-Q4 this year, I realized that I’d be “on” all the time and had my work phone attached to my hip. It was then that I truly realized that I needed to set some boundaries, including turning my phone off and leaving it at home when I’m out on vacation and saying no when my plate is overflowing with responsibility. This is still a work in progress, but I am determined to have a healthier balance in my life.

Looking Ahead…

This is actually the first time I’m going into the new year with no idea of what lies ahead of me. I’ve always approached each new year with some pre-conceived notion of what’s to come. In 2020, I’m hoping to roll with the punches a bit more and tackle one challenge at a time. Ry and I are currently lining up our trips for the year, including my 26th birthday trip to Nashville! In regards to my career, I’m excited to return to work later this week with a rejuvenated mindset, ready to crush this year. In addition to my full-time job, I’m really looking forward to creating more content for the blog; whenever I found myself in a work-based funk this year, I realized it wasn’t because I was doing the creating that I was passionate about. Be on the watch for my 2020 goals coming soon!

Happy New Year!

-K.

Top 10 Reads of 2019

As 2019 draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the goals I’ve set for myself this year. One such goal was to read more, as I’ve always been an avid reader, but have not always dedicated the time to it. this was the first year that I decided to take part in the Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge. I set my goal of 40 back in January, later changing it to 50 once I surpassed that goal in the fall. To my surprise, I have surpassed my goal of 50 just last week, and am ending the year having read a total of 53 books.

As my library continues to grow, I decided to compile my top 10 books of the year — a task that proved to be much more difficult than I anticipated. Since my to-read list continues to grow and I grow more ambitious, I’m thinking of doing a review of what I read each month, as opposed to a wrap up of the whole year in the coming years.

10. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

After hearing nothing but wonderful things about this book, I just had to read it. I was not disappointed. Evelyn Hugo was a big star, oh, and she was married seven times. She is spending her days out of the spotlight when she finally decides to give her final interview recounting her story (which turns out to be a full-blown tell-all biography) to a young journalist. Why does she pick her of all people? Well, you’ll have to find out for yourself in this exquisite story of success, and the price that comes with the celebrity guise.

9. Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

This was my first Ruth Ware read, and I cannot wait to pick up more of her books. I love a good thriller, especially a creepy atmospheric novel that takes place in the middle of nowhere Scotland. The novel follows letters that the former nanny is writing to her lawyer from prison trying to clear her name after one of the children she was looking after winds up dead. What I found to be most unique about this story was that the main character is not all that likeable and untrustworthy, which helps keep the reader guessing until the very end.

8. Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson

I adored this book and was invested all the way through; it was heartwarming & heartbreaking all at the same time. My only qualm about the book is that I was left with a ton of questions at the end that left me wanting more. I felt like I really got to know each character, and would definitely be interested in a sequel since the three main characters all seemed to have more to their stories.

7. House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

What do you get when you combine a fairytale with horror and a dash of romance? “House of Salt and Sorrows” – the book with a genre that I never knew I needed. I was hooked when I discovered that it was the retelling of a Brothers Grimm fairytale, and I was not disappointed. I absolutely adore the haunting atmosphere of the Thaumas sisters’ world Craig created.

6. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

It is important that I preface this review with a warning: this book is certainly not for everyone and is chalk-full of content that can be triggering. Initially, this book started as a slow burn, languidly enveloping me into the atmospheric world of Yale – though, not the Yale we know today. This Yale is teeming with paranormal activity, secret societies, and occult magic. Before I knew it, I was completely captivated by this dark novel. Bardugo’s rich creativity kept me hooked with each turn of the page, and I look forward to seeing what she brings to the table with the next installment of this series.

5. American Royals by Katharine McGee

This novel follows the [fictional] descendants of George Washington as Beatrice prepares to ascend the throne as the first queen of the United States, and is narrated from 4 points of view – Beatrice, Samantha – her rebellious younger sister, Nina Gonzalez – Sam’s best friend, and Daphne Deighton – Sam’s twin brother Jefferson’s ex-girlfriend who believes she is destined to be a princess. I will read just about anything with a royal plot line, so when “American Royals” came out, I knew I had to read it immediately! Drama, deception, romance, this book has it all. I cannot wait for the next book to come out next fall.

4. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

This is not your typical murder mystery, in fact, it is one of the most magnificent books I’ve ever read. Set at a private college in New England, this book begins by exposing the reader to the fact that a group of elitist Classical scholars have killed one of their classmates. The plot is that of a dual timeline — the days leading up to the murder and the days following. It is a heavy read that left me both verklempt and bewildered for days.

3. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

Literally everyone needs to read this book!! Manson presents a hilariously vulgar tough love approach to creating self-awareness and learning about what matters most in life. This book has been sitting on my “to-read” shelf for years, and now I wish I would have had the opportunity to read it at a younger age.

2. The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh 

“The Beautiful” is hands-down one of my absolute favorite books I’ve read this year. Placed in the haunting setting of 1800s New Orleans, Celine Rousseau finds herself constantly facing dangerous situations. Due to this, she surrounds herself with the mysterious members of La Coer des Lions. The problem? They seem inhuman. After being a Twilight fan in high school, I couldn’t help but be at least a bit leery on another series about vampires; however, this decadent read left me savoring every page – I did not want this story to end!

1. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

“There is a reason you glance up when you first hear a melody, or tap your foot to the sound of a drum. All humans are musical. Why else would the Lord give you a beating heart?” The remarkably alluring story of Frankie Presto left me completely enchanted and tugged at my heartstrings. As a huge music fan, I loved the connection Albom wove between Frankie and the artists of yesteryear and today, creatively narrating the story by none other than music.

Honorable Mention: The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

I’m including this because I JUST finished this before this post went live. Elegant, heart-achingly beautiful, and tragic, “The Glittering Hour” hooked me after the first few chapters. Grey seamlessly interconnects society girl Selina Lennox’s story with her daughter Alice’s in a dual timeline between the years of 1925 and 1936. I adored the thorough development of characters as Grey built the plot, though it did get a bit “wordy” at times. I didn’t love the additional forbidden love initially, as it felt overdone, but Selina and Lawrence’s romance moved me to tears in the last pages of the story.

I’m always looking for some new, challenging reads to add to my list. What was your favorite book you read this year?

-K.

Hello 2019!

Gearing up for the year ahead

Happy New Year, everyone! I can hardly believe it, but 2019 is here and I’m gearing up for a big year ahead of me. Not only do I currently already have big plans in the works, but I have some BIG expectations for 2019. I’m not usually the girl to claim that this will be “my year”, but I have a really good feeling about this year. Heading into 2019 with a positive mindset, solid goals, and enthusiasm is the formula for creating a great year for yourself.

Goals

It’s safe to say that I have the tendency to get a little too ambitious when setting goals for the year. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it doesn’t allow me to actually focus on achieving these goals, and I tend to slack on more than one (oops). As a means of holding myself accountable for these goals, I discovered and downloaded the HabitBull app on my phone. I’m using the free version that allows you to track up to five goals (there is a small fee to upgrade to the premium version that allows you to track more). It’s only been about a week, and I already feel as though I’ve progressed a lot in such a short time with these goals, so I’m excited to see how the rest of the year plays out!

  1. Be Mindful // This is my biggest priority this year. My intention with this goal is two-fold: to be conscious about what I’m putting in and on my body, as well as who and what I’m giving my energy to. Last year, despite physical and mental health being a major goal, I didn’t get where I wanted to be with it. I looked at it more as a chore, rather than a blessing that I have the ability to work out and choose what I eat. This year, I’m being hyper-conscious of what I’m eating, what workouts I’m doing, and how my body feels every day in order to be a healthier person; after all, we are only given one body, so why not take the best care of it. Additionally, in being mindful of who and what I’m giving my energy to, I plan to accomplish tasks one at a time and slow down in order to enjoy what I’m spending my time doing and who I’m with. In doing so, I’m cutting out negative people and tasks that aren’t necessary/don’t help me achieve what I need to or nourish my soul.
  2. Meditate, pray, and/or journal everyday // While I did this for the past few years, I didn’t make as much of a conscious effort as I would have liked to, and certainly didn’t go it every day. This year, I’m making it a part of my nightly routine. So far I’m finding that it is incredibly peaceful sitting down with my journal and Bible before bed and taking that quiet time for myself and God.
  3. Continue to expand my knowledge through an online class and Duolingo // I’ve said it before that if I could be a professional student, I would! Since I can’t, however, I plan on continuing my post-grad tradition of taking another online course to expand my knowledge. I adored the PRISM course by PR Couture that I took last year, so I’m debating if I want to do something similar to that, or take a different route with a field I’m not as knowledgable in. Additionally, I learned that one year is not enough time to become fluent in another language, so I’m continuing on with the Duolingo app this year.
  4. Be kind to myself // It is easy to get angry with yourself when things don’t go as planned or you’re not hitting your goals you’ve set as quickly as you’d like. I know I’m guilty of this and beat myself up about my shortcomings last year, so I’m making an effort to change that. This year, I’m not going to be as hard on myself — taking a rest day if I need it (not a rest week), eating a sweet treat on special occasions, etc. This way, I’m helping myself both physically and mentally.

Health Goals

  1. Drink more water // I’m really good about this most of the time at work; however, when I’m home and running around, this is something I’m HORRIBLE at. I’ve started carrying around a water bottle at all times so that I don’t have an excuse to not drink it. Also, I eliminated pop and most fruit drinks and cut down on (and mostly out, save special occasions) alcohol, so water, coffee and tea are really all that I have to choose from at the moment.
  2. Be active for a minimum of 30 minutes 5-6 days a week // Fun fact: I HATE working out, but I love the feeling after a good workout. I have a hard time with clear cut workout plans because I get bored with them. Plus, I do not like going to the gym so all of my workouts are done at home. Luckily, YouTube has a ton of FREE workout videos ranging from yoga to pilates to Barre and so much more, giving me the opportunity to switch up my workouts daily if I wanted to. By using this free resource, I’m saving money while still getting my sweat on.
  3. Cut out pop // This is a big one for me because I love Coca-Cola! So far, I’m doing well with this and not even craving it — then again, it’s only been a week, so we’ll see where it goes from here.

What’s Next?

As aforementioned, my calendar for this year is already filling up. I’m super excited to return to Europe this summer on a girls’ trip to take on FRANCE! This means that I’ll need to be more diligent in completing my Duolingo French course these next few months. In other exciting news, next week, Ry and I celebrate five years together, but that’s not even the best announcement… 2019 marks the end of long distance for us! Furthermore, I’ve received a few save the dates for weddings this year, plus I get to be the Maid of Honor at my best friend’s wedding this fall! My heart is soaring just thinking about how many exciting things are happening this year, and I can’t wait to share my stories with all of you for yet another year!

What are some goals/things you are looking forward to in 2019?

-K.