If you know me at all, you know I LOVE birthdays. Whether it’s my own, family or friends, birthdays are a wonderful excuse to shower the ones you love on their special day. It feels SO crazy to think I’m two years shy of 30, but to be honest, I am really excited to see what this year has in store. Looking back, 27 feels like it lasted FOREVER, in the best way possible! I started a new job that I love, traveled to wine country (twice), moved into the cutest apartment, and most importantly, started truly living life for me. It’s definitely something I’m working on, but one of my biggest takeaways this year was that it’s okay to say no. The first time I said “no” to a plan, was an eye-opening experience. Lesson learned: saying no really isn’t that scary, yet you’d be surprised at how many 20-somethings struggle with it.
I was inspired by a birthday post from Maya, the voice behind Charmingly Styled and thought I’d put together 10 lessons I learned before turning 28 to share with all of you.
- Buy yourself flowers – Ever since I moved into my “new” apartment (I can’t really say new anymore, I’ve officially been here for almost three Chicago “seasons” already), I can’t even begin to explain how much flowers brighten my day, week and in some cases, my entire month. So go ahead, treat yourself to some fresh flowers! Whether they’re from your local farmers market or the grocery store – do it and watch your week instantly feel brighter.
- Family is everything – I am guilty of putting my friends before most things in my life, sometimes even before myself. This past year, I’ve also learned how important it is to carve out time for family. Sometimes saying no to plans with friends in exchange for staying in on a Friday night to hang with your parents, can leave you feeling refreshed and restored (and not hungover).
- Not taking my thoughts personally – This one is sort of deep, but if you really sit down and put it into perspective, our thoughts (the good, bad and the ugly) do not have to be taken personally. A friend of mine shared this quote pertaining to our thoughts, from a book she was reading by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness for Beginners: “We do not have to believe them. We do not have to even think of them as ours. We can recognize them as thoughts, as events in the field of awareness, events that arise and pass away very rapidly, that sometimes carry insights, sometimes enormous emotional change….” So be kind to yourself! If you slip up, don’t take it personally!
- TRAVEL – This is something that I actually picked up on the tail-end of being 26, but if you get the chance to travel, do it! 2016 was a big travel year for me and I couldn’t be more thankful that I was able to explore different cities around the country. My favorite of them all had to be Austin. Most of you probably thought it was Napa, and although it was a close second, the food and all around atmosphere of Austin just got me!
- Be Nice – I’d like to think this has been ingrained in me for most of my life, but you’d be surprised what going out of your way for others can do for the goodness of the world. Just the other day in the midst of Chicago’s first “real” snow since December, I witnessed three separate acts of kindness on the CTA where one person got up, following another person getting up for that person, it was like this amazing ripple effect that made you see the good in people all over again.
- Handwritten Cards – I’ve probably sent handwritten cards for almost all major (and Hallmark) holidays this year. I feel an overwhelming sense of positivity come over me when I drop the cards in the mail. Plus at the end of the day, there’s nothing better than sending an unexpected “just because” card to a friend when they least expect it! Tip: you can find great cards here!
- Get up and get moving – After moving about 20 minutes closer to my office, this past summer and fall I attempted to walk to work every day that I could. Although 40 minutes to and from can seem like a lot; I was able to cut down on my Uber and CTA expenses, as well as start and end my day with “me” time. Even if you’re unable to make a time commitment like that daily, try a new workout class, walk instead of Uber once in a while!
- Dry Shampoo – Try it. Buy it. It’s life-changing. I’ll even link my favorite one for you.
- Take up a new hobby – Big or small, hobbies can make life more interesting! This past year, I made it a goal of mine to explore a new coffee shop in different neighborhoods of Chicago. I even wrote about my favorites here.
- I’ll leave you with this, my favorite quote from this past year and of all time really: There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you learn to take nothing personally.
Cheers to a great year ahead!