Tag Archives: LIfe Lessons

How to Pick a Theme for 2016

Photo: Devon A. Aragona

The theme of 2016: Purposeful. The list of the things I want to do keeps growing. (Photo: Devon A. Aragona)

Wow…This first week in January has flown by, and to be honest, it was just stressful.

I was so excited for the new year! It meant new beginnings, new outlooks, and a great time to start some new things so naturally, a lot of new projects. It is a fresh start to do wonderful things.

But old habits die hard. My Not To-Do list had very quickly become my need to-do list. I was overwhelmed with all my ideas and trying to figure out how I was going to get everything done that I wanted to accomplish in 2016… and it was only like six days in. I felt overwhelmed and frustrated by everything.

In the midst of all this, I read a recent blog post that one of my best friend’s, Lauren , wrote about taking back your life in 2016 . In it, she talked about something I said to her in a recent conversation. It that went something along the lines of this: “But you have to find a way to look at life differently, in a more joyful and grateful way. Yeah, what you’re fighting is awful and scary, but you’re alive and you get to deal with it.”

As we talked to about how as bad as the bad stuff gets, I thought it was important to remember that we were still alive and had the opportunity to deal with all of the uncertainty and overwhelming parts of life. In her post, she talked about how much this statement She vowed that in 2016, she was going to change her mindset and take back her life.

I sat back and laughed at myself. I needed to take my own advice!

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It is time to start something new and wonderful.

I had learned so much in 2015. I had been faced with a lot of tough questions: What do I want to do with my life? What did I want to get out of life? What was I willing to sacrifice? What were my priorities? What can I not live without doing in life. What do I enjoy? I felt pulled in a lot of directions. There were also a lot of life lessons and tough realizations. So I decided it was time to start applying  my new found knowledge to 2016.

The two things I determined were the biggest lessons:

  • Not letting myself get overwhelmed: More specifically, not being overwhelmed y what I didn’t know, what I wanted to learn, and how much there was to know and grow. I was excited about it and needed to know it all. Right now. But Rome wasn’t built in a day.
  • Being purposeful: I realized that everything I did, even the smallest things, had an impact on my time and on my life.

I have so many interests and ideas and things I want to see and do in life. It is hard to know where to begin sometimes and feel as if I am not accomplish anything fast enough. So I try and do everything at once. That doesn’t work.

In Mark Zuckerberg’s New Year’s post, he talks about a theme for the year. I really liked that idea.

So I decided that my theme of 2016 is purposefulness.

I need to be conscious of being purposeful about things in my life: the people I see, the decisions I make, and what I do in my everyday life.  The biggest  battle of all is I have to make decisions about my time. I have become more aware of that than ever. It is so easy to simply blink, and my day is gone. Having become aware of how much I wanted to accomplish in life was a fact that was quite overwhelming once I started trying to make time for it all. Prioritizing rather than fantasizing and becoming overwhelmed is an important skill to develop if I want to put my ideas into action.

I started making a list of what I wanted to accomplish or work on in 2016. I also started mind mapping what I wanted both short term and long term in life. It helped seeing everything; even getting the scrawniest of ideas or dreams out so I could start doing something wonderful to work towards learning and doing all these things.

So I ask you now: what is your theme this year? What is the intention behind what you are doing right now?

I encourage you to take some time this weekend, make make a list, mind map, journal, and figure out what it is that you want to accomplish this year and in life. Now, is what you are doing getting you to were you think you want to go? Figure out what you need to do to accomplish those things. How can you be more purposeful about what you are doing in your life? Don’t just promise yourself you are going to do something, start figuring out how you are going to do it.

It’s only week one, you still have plenty of time to start something wonderful.

If you would like to share how you are changing in 2016, want to share your theme of the year, or want to share however you may be taking back your life, feel free to use the hashtag Lauren at Making Life Sweet started for the year: #ABrighter2016. Who knows, maybe you will help someone else find their theme too.

My Not-To-Do List

T’was the Monday before Christmas and all through my mind, nothing  was stirring, but a panicked need to scream.

I was sitting at my desk, staring at a mess of post-it notes, a computer screen full of open tabs, a blank look and this oncoming feeling of anxiety.

I had a jumbled list of projects that I wanted to work on in my head, each one trying to yell louder than the other for attention. I was working on developing a calendar for social media at work, I had helpful blog articles to read, coding lessons waiting, an inbox to clean out. There were photos to edit, new photography equipment to test out. The list goes on and on. All I could see were all of these projects, accomplishments, and ideas that I wanted to get done in 2015, but how was I going to get everything done?Where had my year gone?!?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get so many ideas and goals that I loose track of everything and don’t even know where to begin.

My internet browser was suddenly a scary representation of my head and I was so overwhelmed that I just wanted to run away from it screaming. It isn’t that I wanted to give up and not accomplish anything, it was more of a need to not feel overwhelmed.

That is when I stopped and grabbed a piece of paper.

I began writing about everything that was going on in my head. My ideas, my frustrations about not knowing where to begin, a broad list of areas that I had projects in. Suddenly, that piece of paper was my best friend, and I was having a vent fest to it. I got a majority of my frustrations out. I sat back and was like ok… that helped me feel better, but now what am I going to do about it all?

Realistically, I have maybe four more days this year where I can plan to get much of anything, besides wrapping my Christmas gifts, accomplished; The rest is going to be family and travel filled. So I took a moment to be disappointed in myself for not being more diligent about certain things, and to recognize the areas I needed to work on. I recognized that I need to focus less on being scared about what I am doing with my life and more focused on just getting certain things accomplished.  Then I forgave myself and thought “you will do better next time.”


Next, I made a list of things that I was not going to accomplish this year. A list of things I’m going to set aside until 2016:NotToDo

  • Coding: Yes, I have been slowly trying to teach myself to code. Nothing fancy, just a basic understanding so that I can do more with designing blogs and website. I want to be able to make them look exactly how I want them to. (There are actually quite a few tools out there if you want to learn.) I had started this awesome class called CS50 from Harvard through  EdX.com but had failed to keep up with it as I had planned.I thought I had let this great opportunity slip through my fingers but that was my own fault. I knew I couldn’t teach myself to code in four days so, I promise I would put that aside coding for now. To my happy surprise, I found out that the class started January 1st again.
  • My Blog Redesign: Yes! I have been itching to do this! As much as I love my blog now, I built it when I was first learning about blogs, web design, and I was younger. I have grown up a lot and with that my taste has changed. I got a bee in my bonnet some months back to do something different but for anyone who knows what it is like trying to do a redesign, it can be hard. Picking colors, fonts, deciding on a new theme, should I go Genesis frame work, what host to use, the list goes on! I had really wanted to start off 2016 with a new look, new post-college me. But at this point, I could either get it done, or wait and really do it right. Also on that list, figuring out how to make a mood board.
  • My car getting cleaned: Yes, I am going to get my shoes out, but the vacuuming and detail work, that just isn’t happening before next year. I am traveling and going to be all over of the next couple weeks. Sorry pumpkin.*
  • Some Christmas gifts: I’m not a terrible person I swear, but some people I won’t see till after New Year’s anyway. So for those of you who I don’t see till January, you will get it when I see you and not a moment sooner. My apologies now.
  • Various projects: Whether it is photos I want to edit, or ideas for other projects I want to try, some of them I am simply going to have to sketch for now and make later.

This time of year can be stressful. We feel this need to accomplish all of these things, and we look back and see what we didn’t do.


What are some things that you could really say, “I’m going to accomplish these next year and that is ok.” Make a list somewhere and then put it away until 2016. If that doesn’t sound appealing, make a list of things that you have accomplished in 2015.

However you choose to do it, give yourself permission to relax and enjoy the rest of 2015.

*My car is fondly referred to as pumpkin.

Quote of the Week

Quote Coner

During the holiday season,  it is easy to feel like a kid again. That isn’t a bad thing. Always keep your inner child alive.

Tis the season where age doesn’t matter, and traditions remind us of years past. Go ice skating, build a snow fort, bake a pie, do something that you enjoy and is an outlet for you to express yourself and have a little fun!

A Graduates Not-So Freak Out Moment

Graduation may be coming, but I am going to enjoy each day as it comes and try not to rush anything.

So as I sit here, trying to study for one of the last two finals I have remaining in my undergraduate career, I was sitting in a quiet house, all by myself, and couldn’t help but start to reflect… on the last four years, on my friends, on the future, on what Saturday (when I walk for graduation) would be like.

My life is far from what I thought it would be like when I graduated college. But as I look back at the friends I have, the lesson’s I have learned, and the experiences that I have had, I realize that there are very few things that I would change. I also realized something else: this was the last Wednesday afternoon I would be sitting here, in my house, with it decorated with all of our college photos and memories and knick knacks. I sat back and took it all in for a moment. I also promised myself something:

That I would ENJOY the last few days that I had here, with these people, at this time in my life.

Yes, I am freaking out about jobs, and the future, and my finals, but at this point, that isn’t going to get me anywhere. I could run away so that I began to sever the ties that I will miss. But I have plenty of time to miss them.

Right now, everyone is here, and I have plenty of time to be an adult. I am going to enjoy the last few days of being a college student.

For Desire or for the Dough?

What Do You Want To Do With Your Life?

Today I was doing the daily Facebook check-in. That one where you don’t post anything, you just sort of look around and see if anyone has posted anything interesting lately. Well I stumbled across a link that one of my best friends, Keren, had just posted from Zen Pencils, a website that gives inspiration through the form of cartoons. 

For all of the college students our there, or even high school seniors, we all know that one question that has this strangely irritating way of always being brought up: “What do you want to do with you life?”. Personally, I have been in the position with every answer of “I have no idea” to “Well… I think I would really like to do…”. 

As a college student, I finally understand the long standing joke “poor starving college student”. A  majority of people begin feeling the pains that come with fiscal responsibility. The real world experience of being on ones own can begin to cloud the thoughts about what someone REALLY wants, what they are passionate about. Instead, a sort of panic takes over, and makes a person worry more about how they are going to pay for this or for that. How will they afford to travel, or to buy that dream car. The list goes on. Students all too often do not consider what they really want to do with their lives. Instead of considering what a person may enjoy or be gifted at, as humans we automatically ask that question “well can I make a living doing that?” or “How much do you make?”.

Well how about this: What if money wasn’t an issue? What if you could do whatever your passionate about? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Well Alan Watts decided to ask and give you some logic as to why you should do what you want for once. 


Mr. Watts points brings up a very good question: What do you REALLY desire?

To me you have to have desire in order to have passion about something, and vice versa.

I am passionate about my horses, that is why I had the desire to go to school for them. I also have a passion for the written word, leading to my desire to become a better writer. I have a passion for knowledge leading to my desire to always try knew things. I can not imagine walking through life not doing anything that I had a passion for. My desire to live life to its fullest would be gone.

So what is it you are passionate about? What do you desire to accomplish? Do you want to more about a subject? Then learn about it! Find an expert. Read. Google. One day you may just find yourself knowing enough to actually do something with it. Who knows what may happen. The first step though is figuring out what you desire to have or do most in life, despite the obstacles that lie in your path. 

The Thought That Counted

​It was a cold and blustery Tuesday afternoon. The weather was very much reflecting my current mood and outlook on life. The morning had begun at the predawn hour of 5:30, and with only 4 hours of sleep for the second day in a row I was running on fumes. This pre-finals week was testing me both emotionally and mentally in every way possible.

After my last class I happen to walk past the mailroom on the way back to my house. I had received an email earlier that day that notified me that I had a package waiting for me. So naturally I ducked in to pick it up. Before walking to the pick- up window, I stopped by my mailbox that I had neglected for sometime because generally, I do not receive mail.

As I turned the lock, I was met with a pleasant surprise. I had an envelope inside!! The return addressed was one of my dear dear friends Miss Lauren Hardy. Puzzled, I began opening it right there. Inside I found a bright pink piece of paper.

I got the feeling of being back in elementary school, having received  a piece of inter-school mail again. Acrostic poem included. It was this simple pink piece of paper, with neatly curling handwriting on it, that  brought a little light back into my life.​
This piece of mail not only made me start tearing up where I stood it was so touching, but it filled my heart up with joy.

The pick me up was better than any night’s sleep that I could have gotten. It was a true blessing from God that reminded me that I had people in my life who loved me unconditionally and that I was not alone. I had a cheering section in my corner. It was just the wake up call that I needed.

As I picked up my package, and headed back out the door, I was a completely different person then when I had walked in. I didn’t see a blistery and miserable Tuesday afternoon anymore. I saw the people laughing in a coffee shop through the windows. I saw the happy memories being made. I started thinking of all the things that I had to be thankful for. I suddenly felt the need to tell the whole world and all the people in it that everything would be ok because I loved them. All it took was a reminder that I was loved, and suddenly, I could love again. In fact I was brimming over with it! All because one person sat down and took the time to write me a note.

So I ask now, what does it take to remind you that you are a loved person. That no matter what you may think or feel, there is someone in your corner cheering for you? Also, how can you remind others in your life that you love them? What can you do for others that reminds them that they have someone who loves them. That they are not alone in this fight we call life.

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