On Being Happy

I won’t go into all the details, but I have been struggling on a personal level a lot this year. I realized recently that I haven’t been entirely happy and that has really made me not want to do things that I usually love to do.

The important part of this is that I also realized that my happiness is 100% in my control. I have had some great opportunities and I have amazing, supportive people in my life. I have an amazing job that I really love and I live in a very beautiful place. I thought to myself, how am I unhappy with all these incredible and positive things? What is it that is making me unhappy? The problem is right there. I am way to focused on the outside factors. Happiness is something that can be influenced by outside factors but is ultimately a thing I can control. I can control my own attitudes about my situation and about life in general. This might sound intuitive to some but for me this has been a big realization. I need to take the necessary steps for myself to be happier and have a better outlook on life.

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I want to make a quick note that generally I am a very positive person and don’t usually have a problem making friends and being happy. I have gone through some big changes in the past year and I think I struggled a lot with that. It put me in a state of mind that was not as positive and I started blaming things on other people or outside factors.

A few things I have been doing to change my mindset:

  1. Lots of yoga. This is one that is probably different for everyone but moving your body is a really great way to focus on something else (not thinking too much) while moving your body and getting in touch with your physical self. I overthink things a lot and letting myself let go for an hour or two each day is such a beautiful gift. I want to be clear about this one, it is not at all about losing weight or even being physically fit, its about getting to know myself better and focusing my mind on that.
  2. The 5 minute journal. I only started this about five days ago but I spent a lot of time thinking about it and debating whether or not I should give it a try. I wanted something that puts me in a more positive mindset from the get go every morning. This journal seemed like a great way to influence my initial attitudes about the day while still being true to myself. The journal is just a daily journal with more directed prompts. The prompts are short and quick to make it a very easily attainable habit.
  3. Everyday joys. Incorporation of the things I love and am passionate about into my every day life has been a fun way to remind myself of what I do and who I am, everyday. This sounds vague so I will be more specific about what I am doing. I first made a list of things I love and care about and am trying to dedicate at least 5 minutes a day to thinking about each thing. I am trying to incorporate this into my Instagram stories because it gives me a sense of accountability to those things and it lets me shares those things that I love. One example of this is finding a cool nature video on YouTube or taking the time to explain an interesting biological concept (I think about biology all day but this gives me dedicated time to remind myself of why I love biology). It could also be sharing a trend I am into or a book I am loving. I will say that of all the things on this list, this one is the least developed, meaning I have not made it a habit yet so it might change a little over time.
  4. Intentionality with food. This absolutely does not mean that I am only eating super healthy food, it also does not mean that I previously was not eating healthily. It just means that I am focusing more on what I eat and how it makes me feel. Balance is such an important part of life and it is something I am trying to intentionally bring into my diet. A green smoothie every day has really improved my stomach problems and it has increased my vegetable intake significantly.
  5. Saying yes. In the past I have been that person that always says yes, is always overcommitted and takes every opportunity. This definitely made my life crazy busy but I like being busy, I feel like I work harder, am more productive and am happier when I have lots to do. I realized that I have been making excuses a lot lately which is very unlike me. So, I am trying to say yes to more social things and volunteer for different opportunities at school.

Being happy is a big part of creating the life I want to live. Realizing and recognizing that I have been unhappy has been a big step for me. I definitely hid my feelings and tried to convince myself over and over that everything is okay I am entirely happy with my life right now. It is okay to not be great and happy all the time. Life ebbs and flows and that is just a part of being human. I can’t always control what goes on around me but I can control how I choose to react to things. I may have a gut feeling about something uncontrollable but ultimately I can control how I feel about it in the long run. I choose to be happy with the person I am and to do more of what makes me happy.

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I hope you had a nice, relaxing February. Its already almost March, so crazy!

Erin

2018 in Pictures

I am a little later than I had hoped for this, but I wanted to do the same thing as last year and review 2018 in photos (here is the link to 2017’s year in pictures). I think this is such a fun way to look back on the year and remember all that has happened. I will sat that 2018 was filled with more challenges than 2017 but there were also some major life changes and fun adventures. I hope to do a bigger reflection post on this in the future but for now, here was my year in pictures:

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I am so thankful for all the opportunities I had in 2018 and for all the people who have been in my life (and who I met!). I look forward to continuing to grow and challenge myself in 2019.

Happy 2019!

Erin

Fun Games for Everyone

Aside from skiing, my favorite holiday activity is definitely playing board games. Games are a great way to bring people together and just have some fun. It can also be a good activity that doesn’t bring up any controversial issues at family events (make sure you choose your games wisely though). There are so many games out there these days so choosing a good one can be tough. Here I have compiled my favorites for the holiday season. All are great for larger groups and the level of competition varies from collaborative (Forbidden Island) to fairly competitive (Sushi Go!). I also threw in Cards Against Humanity and What Do You Meme? which are both hilarious card games for adults (great for dinner parties and gatherings with friends).

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Sushi Go!: I love this one because you can play with anywhere from 2 to 8 people. It involves both strategy and luck and can be on the more competitive side but is still super fun. The game changes quite a bit with numbers but that is part of the fun! It is a very fast paced game that can be difficult to learn but is quick once you get the hang of it. I recommend getting Sushi Go Party because it allows for many different variations of the game.

Settlers of Catan: This is a fun strategy game that is fairly easy to learn. The draw back of this one is that you can only have 4 players and it can take a while. Play is generally slower and moves take more careful, thought and strategy.

Forbidden Island/Desert: Both of these are fun collaborative games that require everyone to work together in order to win. They are harder to learn because there are lots of things happening and different players have different rules associated with them. There are player limits which can be a downside and it takes on average around 30 minutes to play a game. This is a great option if games easily cause too much competition. As a side note this is one of my favorite games of all time!

Balderdash: I was very reluctant to play this game but when I finally decided to play it ended up being super fun. It is a great way to really get people out of their comfort zones. It is all about improvising and making up words or stories for obscure words. Game play is longer but is not difficult to learn!

Clue: Forever a classic but I had to include it because it is another one of my all time favorite games. There is a lot of suspense and it can be competitive but I think it is generally very fun and pretty easy to learn.

Hedbanz: This is a fun one for large groups of people. There are lots of different versions (I really like some of the apps as well), it is fun way to laugh with everyone. It is also a great way to get everyone to loosen up and have fun. Game play per round is relatively short (depending on how fast people guess) but you can play for as long as you like.

Boggle: Boggle is such a fun word game! There are lots of app versions but the physical Boggle game can be a fun way to get everyone to participate. It is super easy to learn, easy to play and each round is short. I am very excited to try Big Boggle!

Telestrations: This might be my number one pick for family games. It requires little instruction and can be easily played with all generations and still be hilarious. It is kind of like the telephone game (where you whisper a word/phrase and it goes around the circle) but you are interpreting your neighbors interpretation of a statement or drawing.  You do have to be able to write and draw so its not for younger kids.

Cards Against Humanity: I probably don’t have to say much about this one. Most people are at least semi-familiar with this hysterical game. I would say the family friendly edition is Apples to Apples (this is definitely for adults).

What do you meme?: This one is actually very new to me but I am convinced that it is the best game for large groups of people. It is very similar to Cards Against Humanity but you are captioning a population meme. Seriously, so so funny. While it is great for friends, I am not sure it would be the best for families (different generations).

I hope you enjoyed this list and it gave you some ideas for what to do over the holidays! Let me know if you have any good ones that I missed!

Erin

 

Holiday Movies

Last week did a quick post on my favorite show to watch during the holidays and I also wanted to do a post on holiday movies. There are so many! Here I include several classics and several newer movies that make for a great holiday night with loved ones (or by yourself!). I have actually watched quite a few Hallmark Christmas romances, however here I am choosing my favorite holiday movies overall so I am not really going into those. Instead I chose three holiday romance movies at the end.

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Classics

Its a Wonderful Life: A true Christmas classic. This is one of my dad’s favorite movies so I had to include it. I won’t go to into detail but make sure you watch all the way through. There are some sad parts but the end is uplifting!

Home Alone: Such a classic, you really can’t go wrong with a night of ice skating, cookie baking and watching Home Alone. Although I was kind of terrified of these movies when I was younger, now they are so fun to watch at this time of year.

Elf: I don’t know why but this movie quickly became the go to in our house around Christmas. We watched it every year for at least 10 years (and probably more than once every year).

Santa Claus is Coming to Town: I highly enjoy the animations and the songs in this movie. It is a great Christmas classic, and good for kids!

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas: I have not actually watched the new one yet but I really looking forward to it. I have heard such great things. They older version is good but I always thought it was a little creepy.

Romance

Four Christmases: This romantic comedy is the perfect movie for some holiday laughs. There is family, romance and Reese Witherspoon. I highly recommend!

Love Actually: I really loved this movie. It is very heartwarming and beautiful but not naive about love. I just feel like the relationships are more realistic!

A Christmas Prince: Pretty much the definition of a cheesy christmas romance and I do have to say it is significantly better than other Netflix Christmas romance movies I’ve seen. The sequel is actually the most recent Christmas movie I watched and it was very cheesy but decent if you are looking for a feel good romance.

The Princess Switch: This movie is also very cheesy but I did end up thinking it was pretty cute. Its about a baker and a duchess who are related (and look the same) and everything that ensues when they find each other. There are some great nods to The Parent Trap which was fun.

As a side note I am really looking forward to watching The Christmas Chronicles (on Netflix) this year.

I hope you are enjoying the holidays!

Erin

Winter Wonder

Although I love fall, I am just as psyched about winter this year! I absolutely love the snow and everything that comes with it. Wintery days by the fire, holiday cheer and the new year! There are also so many fun things to do in the winter. It is strange because technically winter does not start for another week but we have had snow in Utah for several months now!

Snowflakes
Pine Trees
Sledding
Winter White
Snow Boots
New Years
Wood Fires
Fairy Lights
Christmas Trees
Puffy Jackets
Skiing
Evergreen
Baking cookies
Ice Skating

There are so many things to do this winter. I have so much planned for the holidays and then a busy spring semester starting in January!

Erin

Around the Web

This month has been a crazy one so far. I am still in such a place of transition, attempting to find my way and figure out my next steps in life. I almost definitely will be attending graduate school next year and am in the process of making some big decisions in that regard. I have been able to do tons of reading and have loved getting caught up on all the current books. I loved both the book Big Little Lies as well as the TV show, although I did not love the way the TV show did the ending (I know they are trying to set up for a second season). Anyways, here are some things that have been on my mind lately:

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Hunter for Target: I have had this marked in my calendar for the last month and was so excited when it launched on Saturday. I will start my saying it definitely will not be as high quality as Hunter, which is why I was a little surprised to hear about this collaboration in the first place. Hunter has always been about quality and while I love Target, it definitely is not normally a place to buy high quality items. Women’s tall rain boots were delayed but they have some great items. I love their kids items. They are all so cute, plus kids grow so fast that having a cheaper option for rain gear is great! I bought the yellow rain jacket which I absolutely love. I also got the bubble umbrella in pink, which is so cute. It doesn’t rain a ton where I live so I have been really wanting something cute but I don’t really need to splurge on quality since I rarely use it. I do have a nice North Face rain jacket for hiking and backpacking trips but wanted something for day use around town. I am also eying this sweatshirt. I tried it on in store and it is so flattering!

Friendships: This year one of my goals has been to focus on friendships. It can take so much time and effort to maintain relationships once they are no longer part of school or work. Since I graduated last year I have started to realize just how much more you have to work when it is not already worked into your daily schedule. Although I was already well aware of the things on this list, it served as a good reminder to reassess my goals and put some extra effort into my friendships, especially while I have the time to do so.

The Simple Sophisticate Podcast Episode: I loved last week’s podcast episode from the Simple Sophisticate. It was an interview with M.L. Longworth and I am so excited to read her books. I also just really enjoyed hearing about France from her. She also talked about some great summer sandals that am very curious about.

Get Better Mindset Talk: My dad sent me this talk a few weeks a go and I didn’t get around to it until yesterday. It is all about the mindsets most people have and how they  revolve around being good and proving ourselves. Hedi Grant Halverston introduces the “Get Better” mindset as an alternative to the “Be Good” mindset. I found it to be useful and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

Erin

Capsule Wardrobe Challenge

The last capsule wardrobe was so fun for me that I decided to do it again. I just love how it gets me to think about pieces in entirely different ways. It only took a little push to get me out of my comfort zone and start styling pieces differently.

This time I chose an entirely different color palette that is very pink and perfect for spring. For some reason I ended up with only five core pieces this time, although six is a lot easier. I also wore a pink and white scarf so much that I could probably include it in those pieces. The weather screwed me up a little this week since it rained almost the whole week. I ended up changing into better shoes a couple of times.

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Pink Dress: A versatile dress seems to be an essential part of this challenge. I wore this one four out of five days for the challenge. It can be worn as a top, skirt or dress and can be changed up with other pieces.

White Button Down: This is the other piece that is crucial to this week’s wardrobe. I also used a button down in the last challenge and I have seen just how great they can be!

White Chinos: I white pant is essential to any closet, especially in the spring and summer. Including these let me veer from traditional jeans while still keeping in season and warm.

Jean Jacket: I debated on this one for a while because I really love trench coats and wanted to include one in this challenge as well but I thought I should switch it up. I do think, however, that a jean jacket is a great piece of outwear to have especially for the warmer seasons.

Blush Heels: Blush is obviously my go to color this year. I chose these shoes because the color made for another easy color palette (white and pink) and because they are great for both the work place and home. Mine are from Aldo and are the perfect color and height.

Monday:

Day1

Tuesday:

Day2

Wednesday:

Day3 (1)

Thursday:

Day4

Friday:

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I hope you enjoyed this months capsule wardrobe challenge. It is such a fun way to update and switch up your wardrobe!

Erin

Book Round Up

About every three months I am going to be rounding up all the books I have read in that time. This will be a good way for me both keep track of everything I have read and to share what I have been reading. In that time I also have some personal goals to read a variety of different genres including at least one newer book and one non-fiction. I will go ahead and do a short verdict on each book I include.

Book Stack

Capture Your Style: For anyone interested in media/blogging etc. this is a really useful book. It helped me think a lot about instagram as a platform and how to utilize it. I really liked her approach to thinking about not just the photos you posts but your feed as a whole. You are telling a story and that should be easy to follow and understand.

The Rules of Magic: Because I did a whole review on this book I won’t go into detail but I absolutely loved this book. Read more here.

Sense and Sensibility: Jane Austin is a favorite of mine but her books can be slower since the language is a little more difficult and the pace in general is a lot slower. This is the one Austen book that I knew nothing about so it was great to read. I actually listened to it as an audiobook while driving back from South Carolina and I think that actually helped me get through it.

Reason for Hope: This is Jane Goodall’s autobiography and it was incredible. I found it to be one of the most honest accounts of life I have ever read. She goes into so much more than just her experience as a scientist. She talks a lot about spirituality and her struggle with humanity and violence.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry: Neil DeGrasse Tyson has always been so intriguing to me. I loved Cosmos and have always been fascinated by the stars. This book breaks down quite a few astrological concepts into manageable pieces and understandable language.

Everyman’s Poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: I am not big into poetry but since I loved The Psalm of life so much I decided to try some more of Longfellow’s work. I highly enjoyed it and am opening up a lot to poetry in general.

Harry Potter: I am lumping the second, third and forth together since they are all books I have read many times before. There is something so comforting about re-reading beloved classics. This time was even more special because I was listening to Harry Potter and the Sacred Text throughout. I feel like I thought about many events and characters in such different ways than how I have in the past.

During the very first week of 2018 I was finishing up Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes but I included that in my 2017 favorites so you have find that here. Thanks for reading! I am always eager for reading suggestions so feel free to comment with your favorites.

Erin