How Do You Measure Success?

What is success to you?

The last several months have been quite a whirlwind, between making the decision to quit school & also trying to find a new job that will turn into a career, it feels like I’ve been running around in circles with no progress. When I turned 26 and was feeling completely behind in life, I refused to let myself have another quarter life crisis. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the span of these days & I’ve realized I’m so much stronger in every aspect than I realized and than I ever have been before. I’m still constantly looking for something to keep me busy & no matter how hard I want to, I can’t seem to sleep late & spend the days doing absolutely nothing!

 

*UPDATE: Many of you all know, I have since found a full time job, but am definitely still not where I want to be on my own scale of success.

 

How many of you guys had a quarter life crisis? Make any crazy decisions? I know they’re real yet I know to some of you, freaking out about turning 26 seems ridiculous. I just feel like I should have myself together by this point in life!

 

It seems like so many people ultimately measure success by how much money you make or how high standing in society you are. Over the last year, I’ve realized it’s so much more than that. I admit, money sure does help when times are hard & it seems like more money would bring instant happiness. Of course we all know, sure money can aid in happiness, but it certainly does not create it.

 

Even still, it seems like so many people are worried about how much money they make or how big their house is. Lately I’ve learnned that my success can be measured by how happy I am with the life I’m living & by the steps I take every day to make the best of every moment in my life every single day. I know not every day is perfect and days at the office are often super difficult & just plain draining. But I also know there are people in this world who love their job & who love the career they’ve chosen.

 

I’ve learned that success is best defined by each individual person. To me, it’s measured by genuine happiness & a feeling of accomplishment day in & day out. It’s displayed in the way we carry ourselves from the time we wake up until the moment we fall asleep each day. I know it may be so much harder to see success so simply when you have a family to raise, mortgages to pay & a day job you’re not in love with. What if we all took a step back & revisited one the scariest words we try to live each day? What if we redefined what this word means to each of us, in hopes of easing in to simpler, more fulfilling lives?

 

What kind of advice can you all give? How did you find your passion? What is your passion & how did you know?

 

 

From my experience, success & leading a fulfilling life have so much to do with your morning routine. I used to work at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, working a 9-5, Monday-Friday & for the most part, it was pretty great. I loved getting up at 5 am to go to the 6 am Pure Barre class, walk for 3 miles, shower & head to work! I always carry teeth whitening strips, a green tea bag, my mascara & eyeliner with me & with those few things, I’m always good to go! I have at least one cup of green tea every day because something about it just helps me feel like I can conquer the world! Crazy right? But really. On days that I didn’t go to Pure Barre or the gym before work, I was sluggish and just plain irritable. Very quickly, I realized how important that ‘me time’ before work every day really was.

 

We are all constantly connected via email, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever forms of social media we like best. So that hour or so every morning completely for me is always the best way to start my day disconnected from the outside world so I’m able to get myself feeling good!

 

What are some of your morning routines that help get you going every day? What is your go to, no fail item/workout that you have to have every morning?

 

Your takeaway from this one: success is what you make it. Try not to let the neighbors next door or even your sister make you feel inferior about where you are in your life compared to theirs. Everyone is on their own path to success. Work on yourself without worrying about how you measure up to the guy next door. At least that’s certainly what I’m trying to do.

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What Are You Planning On?

Alright y’all, I’ve been working on this one for a while and I am entirely too excited to talk about it! I absolutely LOVE to plan. Plan the days, plan the weeks, plan the months. I think it’s so much fun and I absolutely love all the colorful pens and pretty stickers, along with all of the place holders, rulers, and just about any office supply you could imagine. I love notebooks, wall calendars, day-by-day planners and month-by-month planners and any kind of print-out that helps me step my game up. You name it, I’ve tried it and chances are, I love it! It’s rare that you’ll catch me without my planner, a notebook, and my daily notepad at any given time. Of course I know things come up that it’s impossible to plan for everything and I really still do love some spontaneity in my life! I just like to lay out the things I know about the week or month in advance, especially with my work and now that I’m trying my best to run this blog! I’ve also found that by putting my workouts in my planner each week, I’m a lot more likely to attend every day!

I’m going to list some of the essentials that I use and I know I wouldn’t be able to make it through the days without. These are all items I have used and continue to use and I would honestly not have them on this page if I didn’t really feel like you all could benefit from them too! *This post contains affiliate links.

Day Designer Wall Calendar
I’ve recently started to love Day Designer by Blue Sky after using their wall calendars for the last three years. Their designs are always so cute and the layouts are always perfect for my needs. Check out one of their adorable 2017-2018 wall calendars here! This one is very similar to the one I purchased here last year, with the ability to not only write in daily tasks and events, but also include monthly projects and notes in the side bar. I can’t get over how cute the floral is! They offer January through December or July through June formats.

Day Designer for Blue Sky Lined Pad, 3-Pack
This is a product that I just ordered and I can’t wait to use. After downloading a few print outs, I knew this note pad was gonna be a game changer. They’re perfect to use with a clipboard or even tear a few off, fold them up & put them in your pocket to take quicks notes on during a meeting. From there, it’s super easy to transfer any special dates and times to your planner when you have time! Plus this an awesome deal for a three pack!

May Designs Notebooks
My absolute favorite notebooks on Earth are from May Designs. They literally blow any other product out of the water. You can special order your academic planners, notebooks, and stationary from maydesigns.com and their products are gorgeous! I’m not kidding when I say I’ve purchased over 20 books from them and tons of stationary. The designs they offer are perfect for every mood you’ll experience and for each of the seasons! Plus they have excellent customer service. They also have food & exercise journals, as well as agendas and adult coloring books. Be on the lookout in the coming weeks for a giveaway and more on my Instagram page!

Only a small portion of my May Designs collection!

Erin Condren Planner
I’ve ordered a LifePlanner from Erin Condren for the last three years, and I could not be more impressed with the designs they offer and with how the inside layouts look. You can choose from vertical or horizontal layouts, and from colorful or black and white. The horizontal is nice for academics, but I prefer the vertical layout so I can break down my days by morning, day, and evening. They come with tons of stickers that already have events written on them and also some blank ones to write in your own events and appointments. Of course you have the option to order and create as many extra stickers for any events you could dream of. All orders and be placed through erincondren.com. Go order for 2018 and let me know which design you’ve chosen!

Erin Condren Life Planner

Daily To-Do List
This is another great alternative that’s similar to the one I currently carry around everywhere. It’s like the notepad version of a planner. It’s broken down into sections for the easiest daily organization possible, without the bulkiness of an actual planner. Each day is broken down by hour to list meetings or special events, there’s a to-do list section, a place to list the 3 things you absolutely have to do that day, and one of my favorite parts is the area where you can write down everything you’ve eaten and how much water you’ve had to drink! How cool?! You can grab yours here!

BIC Atlantis Original Retractable Ball Colored Pens
These are the exact pens that I use for all of my note taking and planning needs. The ink seems to last forever and the colors are so vibrant and pretty! It makes it easy to categorize different events on my calendars. Typically I use green to symbolize pay day or when bills are due, I usually use pink for social events, purple for special work events, the list continues. I also change it up when I’m getting bored of the color coordination I’ve been running with for too long. Regardless of color, these pens write smoothly and it’s like an actual ink pen instead of a marker, so there’s no bleeding through the paper or smearing like the old school gel pens do. Plus these are the perfect, fun colors!

And that’s it! These are some of my favorite things that help me get through each day without going crazy. My job keeps me busy with people telling me little details right and left so with notepads and planners always within reach, my mind is at ease and I’m able to do my work so much more efficiently.

What are your favorite brands and products for planning and organization of every day life? Anything I’ve just got to try? Can’t wait to hear from you!

*I know I’ve been referring you guys to Amazon a lot in my posts, I just think it’s awesome how much you can order and how quickly you can get it! You can literally get anything you could possibly need! Another thing that’s awesome is the opportunity for Amazon Prime. I’ve linked a 30 day free trial for Amazon Prime to get free shipping in 2 days on thousands of products on the site. I definitely encourage you to at least try Amazon Prime, if you haven’t already. There’s always an option to cancel after the initial 30 days, but the benefits are totally worth it!

Asia-Pacific Study Abroad- Australia

Part 1 of 4:

Australia Travels:

As part of my month long Asia-Pacific Study Abroad program as a student at Ball State University, I was lucky enough to go to Sydney, Australia. We spent 4 days there in 2011, and still to date, it’s easily one of the top 5 experiences of my life. During this trip, we didn’t have any classes or assignments until the very end, and as a result, we were able to be fully immersed in the cultures every day in each country we visited.
We left from Indianapolis late on July 20th, 2011 and landed in Singapore on July 22nd. I’ll share events from my Singapore visit in a different post, so be on the lookout! After spending a few days in Singapore, we flew to Sydney, arriving there on July 25th.
Everything about Australia was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
 Summer in Louisville is winter time in Sydney since it’s in the Southern Hemisphere. It was around 50 degrees the whole time we were there and we only needed a light jacket in the mornings and evenings. Coming from the humid and scorching Ohio Valley summer, this type of weather was too perfect.
We landed in Sydney and after getting over the panic of being separated from the rest of the students at the airport, we all caught the tram to check in at The Great Southern Hotel in downtown Sydney. Being lost in a foreign country by yourself is not pleasant but the hotel was beautiful!
As you could imagine, the days were packed with activities.
On the first day, we took the city bus to a ferry ride that would eventually take us to Manly Wharf. The ferry took us through the Sydney Harbor, giving us our first look at the Sydney Opera House. Once we got to Manly Wharf, I was able to take my shoes off and stand in the Pacific Ocean. How cool is it that my first time in the Pacific was in Australia? I’ve never even been to Cali! We visited several shops for souvenirs and got the best gelato I’ve ever had for lunch. There’s something about the chocolate in Australia- it’s SO much better than it is in America so we had to get plenty to bring home with us!
Before we even arrived, our instructor was raving over these delicious homemade noodles we had to get at this little restaurant two blocks from our hotel. We went for dinner on the first night and our group filled the restaurant. And it was absolutely delicious! Just simple noodles with veggies and a soy sauce based dressing made for the perfect end to our first day.
The second day was the winery day- my favorite! We visited two wineries and one pub after driving through true Australian countryside. Seeing kangaroos in the wild was incredible! I literally never thought I would ever be able to experience that in real life! We visited Tempus Two Cellars and Hunter Valley Winery, making sure to bring home a few bottles of wine from each place. Australian wineries are probably what got me started on my love of wine, to be honest. The grounds were so beautiful & the wine was even better. This was day five of being out of America and the day I made so many new friends. There were 20 people on the trip, 16 of us being girls, and to this day, these are still some of the best people I’ve ever known.
Once we got back to the hotel, our instructor went to bed and we all decided to go out for a night on the town. I will never forget using my passport to get my into a club! The drinking age was 18 in Sydney so we all went out and had the most fun! Let me tell you, this was awesome for a bunch of 20 year old kids. 
The next morning was an early one as we got up to hike through the Blue Mountains. We took a cable car up to the highest peaks to see the Three Sisters. It was foggy and cold on the way up, but worth every shiver. The Three Sisters are a strange mountain formation, named after three Aboriginal sisters, who were allegedly turned to stone in order to protect them from harm after falling in love with three men from a different Aboriginal tribe. Have any of you visited the Blue Mountains or Three Sisters? Is there more you can tell me behind the story about them?
The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains
We took a steep train back down the mountains, where I felt like I had to hold on with both hands the whole way down. From the mountains, our group went to a wildlife center where we were able to feed kangaroos and pet koalas. This was definitely an experience I’ll never forget. Ever since my aunt visited Australia when I was very young, I always wanted to visit there and bring home memories of koalas like she had. I’ll never forget the little koala she brought home that she still keeps in the chair in her bedroom. Memories like she still has make me so thankful I was able to create my own.
Later that evening, we visited Olympic Stadium and the Opera House before calling it a night after an extremely long, but definitely fun filled day.
On our final full day in Sydney, we walked to the aquarium downtown from our hotel. This aquarium was my first experience with black tip and white tip reef sharks, which are still my favorite species. Ya’ll know how much I love sharks so being able to experience them up close & personal was a dream. We had lunch in Chinatown that day and spent the afternoon shopping at Paddy’s Market, where I found some pretty pearl earrings that I’m still in love with.
On the streets, you can find Aboriginal Australians, people indigenous to the area, who play music on their handmade instruments. We were lucky enough to talk to this man for a while and he was kind enough to play us a song from his tribe. He was extremely friendly and absolutely thrilled to teach us about his family.
Aboriginese. 
 We went out to the bars one last time before saying goodbye to Sydney and we made it well worth it. I have never met so many consistently kind and welcoming people. Everywhere we went, from the moment we landed to the second we took off back to Singapore, everyone welcomed us with open arms and warm smiles. I never wanted to leave!
If you haven’t been to Sydney or Australia in general, please put it on your list. It is stunning, the people are amazing, and the experience is one you’ll never forget.
How many of you guys have been to Australia, and what part did you visit? Help me decide where I should go when I go back!! I want to hear your stories!

Simple Tips for Healthier Living.

Over the last six months, I’ve been looking at my life & my overall health from a different perspective than ever before. Making big changes & small changes in an effort to just be happy. At the beginning of May, I decided I wanted the whole month to be focused on mindfulness and creating a healthier state of mind, rather than solely working on a healthier body. I figured spending 31 days being more aware of the simple things, paying attention to my breathing and thinking, and being more appreciative of the little things would create habits to be able to continue this lifestyle long after the month ended. For so long I put my main focus on the physical aspect of healthy living and had never even considered the mental and emotional aspects. Crazy right? Unfortunately I think a lot of young people approach ‘healthy living’ this way. I don’t even pay enough attention to the things I’m eating or drinking so I especially wasn’t paying enough attention to clearing my mind.
So here we are at the end of the month and I definitely feel like an improved woman. There are a few things that I’ve been sure to do every single day since May 1st that I wanted to share with you! I know we’re all so busy these days and sometimes it’s hard to take 20 minutes out of the day for yourself, especially in addition to your workout. But you need it! Do yourself a favor and take a little more time out of each day for yourself. Your body and mind will thank you. I promise! Here are a few of the biggest things I’ve incorporated into my daily routine.

  • Start each morning with green tea. No special brand, iced or hot. Add some lemon juice to it or drink it plain. Green tea is a natural diuretic and has been proven to help your belly flatten out when you drink it regularly. It’s also said to improve brain function. The biggest reason I drink it every day is because it honestly just makes me feel better.
    • You could also add cinnamon and apple cider vinegar to your daily cup. This combo has gotten a lot of good press because it can help to lower cholesterol!
  • Exercise. Do 100 crunches, 50 push-ups, go to the gym for cardio & weight work, hit a Pure Barre class, run outside. Anything to get your heart pumping and body moving. Working out in the morning boosts your metabolism and gives you all the endorphins you need to make it through the toughest days at work. Plus, it’s out of the way first thing! No one has ever regretted a good sweat session.
  • Deep breathing exercises. Maybe it’s before you even get out of bed, maybe it’s in the car on the way to work, or it’s before you fall asleep at night. Even if you only do this for one minute, the benefit is still great! I always breathe in for 10 seconds, breathe out for 12 seconds. This helps you literally blow off some steam and any anxiety or frustrations you have about the day will dwindle away. If you’re doing these at night like I usually do, it helps clear the mind from the day’s events so we’re not thinking about everything that we still need to do or about anything that happened throughout the day.
    • This has probably been the biggest key to success for me. I used to let so many small things frustrate me & by blowing off some steam this way every single day, I feel brand new.
  • Meditate. I recently downloaded the Mindfulness app on my phone and I can’t believe how much it helps! You can set reminders each day so you don’t forget and it also sends a motivational quote. They have 3, 5, 15, and 30 minute sessions. All of them are beneficial, and with as little as 3 minutes, there’s no excuse not to! This is one of the biggest practices that has helped immensely in realizing what’s really important in life. Spending time getting to know my mind better has helped me just be happier, more motivated, definitely more upbeat through the day. I usually spend 3 or 5 minutes right before bed with one of the guided exercises. I’ve slept better this month than I have in the last six combined.
  • Call someone you love. Whether it’s your mom, sister or brother, best friend, it doesn’t matter. Just give them a call, tell them you love them and you’re thinking about them. It will not only help you feel better but it will make their day too!

And that’s it! Just five little steps that have made me happier and feel so much more content with my life. I haven’t been the most happy with my current working situation so doing these things each day has helped pull out the good things in everything I’m faced with every day. I just decided one day it was time to control all the aspects of my life that I possibly could. By doing this, the negative things that come my way that I can’t control don’t seem so bad. My shoulders are far less tense, I laugh a lot more, and my every day feeling about life is much improved.
Each step is done in no particular order but every one of them is so worth the little extra time and oh so necessary. I’m definitely in the habit of each step and on days where I forget my tea, I just feel out of whack. These habits have helped me immensely and I hope they can do the same for you!

My next goal is to start incorporating yoga into my routine! Any recommendations on where to start?
Do you have daily routines that you just cannot live without?