April 2019: Happiness Project Recap

I say this every month, but it’s honestly crazy to think that we are already at the end of April! I gave a quick recap of my month in last night’s Link Love post, but for those of you who are just catching up, April has been overall a whole lot better than March in terms of my happiness project. 🙂

If you’re new here, a quick summary: For the year of 2019, I decided to embark on a 12-month long happiness project, inspired by habits and happiness author Gretchen Rubin. Each month follows a different theme, and at the end of the month, I share my results and findings. January focused on boosting physical wellness, February focused on decluttering and creating outer order, and March focused on practicing mindfulness. You can click the links to follow along and find out how I did!

My April theme was a little different: Slow Down and Lighten Up. This goal was, in part, inspired by hyggeor the Danish concept of contentment through coziness and comfort. This month, I incorporated the following practices:

  • Enjoy a cup of tea in the morning.
  • Light candles or diffuse essential oils after work.
  • Under-react to a problem.
  • Take time to be silly.
  • Laugh out loud.

April 2019: Happiness Project Recap | Wellness & Wanderlust

So how did I do? While I fell short on some of my goals, I really enjoyed the month of April! I found myself in the practice of brewing a hot cup of tea to settle down and unwind (not always in the morning, though!), and I really enjoyed the ritual of drinking my tea and doing a little reading at home or outside when the time allowed. On days when life was busier, I stopped in the break room downstairs at work for hot water and drank tea at my desk, but I tried to incorporate that as a calming tradition as much as possible and it really did stick. Prioritizing those few minutes to unwind and refocus was truly a lifesaver in a month that otherwise included its share of burnout. I also loved incorporating aroma into my day, whether I lit a candle in the evenings or diffused some lavender or peppermint.

The other three items were a little harder, especially #3. Under-reacting to a problem felt terribly counterintuitive, but on the days I did it, it really did help. This is something that will take some practice for me. Laughing out loud and taking time to be silly were not always high on my priority list, but when things got hard, looking at a funny Instagram page (hello, Obvious Plant!) or watching an episode of Family Guy definitely helped distract from the seriousness from it all and allowed me to take a step back.

This month’s practices were much needed, and I’d like to continue focusing on lightening up and slowing down throughout the remainder of the year. One great way to do that will be through May’s theme of making time for friends, which will consist of the following:

  • Practice “reverse gossip.”
  • Remember birthdays.
  • Show up.
  • Be generous.
  • Bring people together.

What goals are you working toward? Are you doing a happiness project? Sound off in the comments below!

28 at 28: Let the Good Times Roll

Hey readers! With my birthday just around the corner, it’s time to close the books on my 27 at 27 bucket list adventures and make way for a new year. (For anyone asking, I’m turning 21 again.) Every year, my birthday bucket lists expose me to so many new experiences, and I’m excited to see what the next year brings. 🙂

IMG_2335.jpegFeel free to follow along here or by tapping that 28 at 28 link on the main menu. I’ll also share links as I blog about my experiences!

Things I’d Like to Do While I’m 28

  1. Visit the Casa Feliz in Winter Park.
  2. Tour the Oak Haven Winery in Sorrento and go strawberry picking.
  3. Take our annual mother/daughter trip.
  4. Go to Top Golf.
  5. Take a coding class.
  6. See a movie at the Enzian.
  7. Tour the Howey Mansion.
  8. Tailgate at a UCF football game.
  9. Take a class at Total Wine.
  10. Visit the Avian Reconditioning Center in Maitland.
  11. Travel to a new state.
  12. Attend a performing arts show.
  13. Take the Mr. Rogers Walking Tour at Rollins.
  14. Get my writing published somewhere new.
  15. Complete another round of Whole30.
  16. Take a Christmas tour of the Pinewood Estate at Bok Towers.
  17. Attend a non-UCF sporting event.
  18. Finish an old writing project.
  19. Hike the Shingle Creek Trail to Pioneer Village.
  20. Take a Downtown Sanford Ghost Tour.
  21. Celebrate Smithsonian Museum Day.
  22. Visit the Bronze Kingdom art gallery.
  23. Take a weekend trip to St. Petersburg.
  24. Visit the Back to Nature wildlife refuge.
  25. Take an Art Deco tour in Miami.
  26. Visit one of the local springs.
  27. Go out for Magical Dining Month.
  28. Do the annual grape stomp at Lakeridge Winery.

What are you looking forward to this year? Share in the comments section below!

27 at 27 Bucket List: Let the Adventures Begin!

Hey readers! For those who read last night’s post, you know that my 26 at 26 adventures have officially come to a close. 26 was an amazing year of self-discovery, travel, creativity, and the strengthening of old and new friendships. I have high expectations for age 27, beginning with my 27 at 27 bucket list. These experiences bring me so much joy, and I can’t wait to share my latest with you in the year ahead.


Feel free to follow along here (under the 27 at 27 tab on my main menu), as I cross off each item and provide links to blog posts throughout the year. 🙂

Happy reading!

27 Things I’d Like to Do While I’m 27

  1. Travel to New Orleans for our annual mother-daughter trip.
  2. Visit the Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge in Lake Nona.
  3. Take a class at Total Wine.
  4. Travel to St. Petersburg to visit the Salvador Dalí Museum.
  5. Visit a salt room to try halotherapy.
  6. Spend the day in Miami.
  7. Take a boat tour of Winter Park.
  8. Hang out with the flamingos at Flamingo Gardens.
  9. Graduate from my MBA program.
  10. Take a bioluminescence tour.
  11. Complete another round of Whole30.
  12. Go on a ghost tour through Downtown Sanford.
  13. Visit New York City.
  14. Host a tea party.
  15. Go kayaking in Wekiwa.
  16. Visit the Maitland Art Center.
  17. Take a post-graduation vacation.
  18. Attend a performing arts show.
  19. Visit the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey.
  20. Pursue public speaking opportunities.
  21. Take a limo cycle tour.
  22. Finish an old writing project.
  23. Get my writing published somewhere new.
  24. Take a DIY class.
  25. Stroll through the Albin Polasek Sculpture Gardens.
  26. Tour the Stetson Mansion in Deland.
  27. Visit the Orlando Eye.

What is on your list this year? Share in the comments below!

25 at 25: My Birthday Bucket List

10642782_10154513491505627_1672977676_oIt’s hard for me to believe this, but tomorrow is my 25th birthday! 🙂 The last year, with all of its ups and downs, truly flew by, and it’s so weird for me to say that I’ve been around for a quarter of a century. I still think of myself as a college student, half worried that I have an exam that I forgot about — not as a professional who has been in her career for two and a half years. Where does the time go?

In order to get a little more excited about my birthday this year, I decided to put together a bucket list of things I hope to do while I’m 25! I am looking forward to trying some new things and visiting new places in the next year, and can’t wait to share my adventures with readers. 🙂

I plan to blog about some of these experiences as they take place, but I will also be tracking them on the 25 at 25 page on my blog. Here are the things I hope to accomplish at 25!

  1. Leave the state of Florida for a vacation.
  2. Go to the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford.
  3. See a local performing arts show.
  4. Visit my sister in her new apartment once she leaves for graduate school.
  5. Go to the planetarium.
  6. Pursue public speaking opportunities.
  7. Roam around Leu Gardens in Orlando.
  8. Take a wine and painting class.
  9. Spend the day in St. Augustine.
  10. Visit the Morikami Museum.
  11. Go on a behind-the-scenes tour of Magic Kingdom.
  12. Apply to MBA school.
  13. Start a small side business for career coaching and resume writing.
  14. Ride the swan boats at Lake Eola.
  15. Take a Spanish class.
  16. Tour the Lakeridge Winery in Clermont and attend a wine tasting.
  17. Go berry picking.
  18. Attend a class at the East End Market.
  19. Try a meal from a food truck.
  20. Host a murder mystery party.
  21. Embark on another round of Whole30.
  22. Drive out to New Smyrna Beach.
  23. Watch a mob movie.
  24. Eat a macaron for the first time.
  25. Treat myself to a spa day.

What’s on your bucket list for the next year? Share your goals in the comments section below!

Link Love Wednesday: Happy New Year!

0b32ed3e28a98cf77dbc847abf7697c0Happy Hump Day, my dear readers, and welcome to the very first Link Love of the year! I hope 2015 is treating you well and that you are on track to accomplish everything you set out to achieve in the final days of 2014. I know I am! 😉

Settle into the New Year with this week’s batch of Link Love. You won’t regret it!

Link Love Thursday: Graduation Is Here!

graduate-school-masters-bachelor-useless-graduation-ecards-someecardsIt’s crazy to believe how much can happen in one year! I recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of my college graduation, and am coming up on my one-year anniversary at work. College seniors are now going through their own graduations and beginning their post-grad lives. In honor of Graduation Season, I’d like to share a few great resources for college grads (and current students as well)!

What were some of your favorite links this week? Share in the comments section below!

Living Each Day Like It’s New Year’s Day

Happy New Year to all of my lovely readers! I hope 2013 is treating you well and that your New Year’s Eve festivities were safe and memorable. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about all of the excitement that takes place in late December and early January, and I have to ask myself this: Why aren’t we this excited about new beginnings at all times of the year?

Don’t get me wrong – like many of you, I plan to reinvent myself in 2013 and take on new obstacles throughout the year. I love writing down my new year’s resolutions and yelling out in excitement at midnight as the ball drops in Times Square. I love saying “Happy new year!” to friends, family members and strangers in the supermarket in early January. But when do the New Year’s festivities truly end? Is there a cut-off date when “Happy new year!” becomes too outdated, when New Year’s resolutions are no longer relevant?

These are just a few questions to ask yourself as you dive headfirst into the new year. I challenge each of you to be your very best self this year – make your goals visual, try out one of these resolutions for bad girls and geniuses, or change your relationship habits. But don’t let your dreams come to a half in the middle of the month; instead, be passionate and live every day like it’s January 1. Don’t be afraid to set goals when the month is up – it is never too late to change what needs to be changed.

Once again, Happy New Year to each of you. What are your resolutions for the year?

Relationship Dependence: The Blair Waldorf Story

Upon first glance, Blair Waldorf of Gossip Girl may not seem like the perfect role model. After all, toward the beginning of the series, the icy Queen B of the Upper East Side is primarily known for her sinister scheming, her self-centered nature and her lack of regard for the middle class. She wears headbands as a status symbol and holds court with her minions on the steps of the Met.

But as the show progresses, Blair transforms into more than just a not-so-nice It Girl — not only does she show us her vulnerable side, but she reveals an intellectual, ambitious side of herself as well. She applies to Ivy League schools before ultimately attending NYU and Columbia, strives to become a fashion editor-in-chief and interns at a high-profile magazine in the city. Aside from Brooklyn’s Lonely Boy Dan Humphrey, Blair is arguably the only character in the series with real aspirations and a sense of purpose.

The only thing holding her back? Her heavy, often narrow-minded focus on the men in her life, especially during the past two seasons.

Whether it’s her tortured love affair with the nefarious Chuck Bass, her passionless engagement to a European prince, or  her slowly evolving friendship-turned-more with Dan, Blair’s relationships have completely taken over in recent episodes, essentially turning her into a shadow of her former self. Although her character has matured considerably, she has not focused on school or her dreams in more than an entire season. Instead, she regresses to a feeble little girl who depends on her on-again-off-again-boyfriend’s love as her only way to survive.

We’re all allowed to be a little irrational sometimes in the name of love, but when it consumes our lives so much that we have little else to think about, it has become a problem. We start to define ourselves by the relationships we enter rather than the collective experiences we have undergone and the goals we have set. We go from “Queen B” to “Chuck’s Girlfriend,” and we lose sight of our personal dreams and opportunities.

The real Blair Waldorf will stop at nothing to get what she wants… except when Chuck is in her life. This is not to say that we should avoid relationships at all costs or become completely jaded and cynical about love before we turn 30, but we shouldn’t sacrifice every original thought we’ve ever had just so that we can be with someone. Instead, we should pursue relationships with people who are just as ambitious as we are, who are entrenched in their own personal growth as well.

It doesn’t matter if you’re dating the bad boy, the prince, the bookworm, or the lacrosse captain. What matters is that you maintain your sense of self along the way and find someone who will support you even when your goals have nothing to do with the relationship. After all, aren’t you worth the effort?

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers! You know you love me. XOXO.

Commitment: It’s Not Just About Settling Down

“I think that when men hear that women want a commitment, they think it means commitment to a romantic relationship, but that’s not it. It’s a commitment to not floating around anymore. I want a guy who is entrenched in his own life. Entrenched is awesome.” – Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling


For my very first book of the new year, I dove into Mindy Kaling’s autobiography Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), which was one of the best decisions I have made so far. Not only did this book make me realize that I want to be Mindy Kaling when I grow up, but it also provided a lot of insight into the worlds of writing, self-confidence, success and, of course, relationships. One of my favorite chapters from her book, entitled “Men and Boys,” discusses the differences between “boys” and “men,” and Kaling’s preference for the latter. She argues that, unlike boys, men aren’t afraid of commitment. However, she is careful to define commitment as something more than being exclusive with someone; rather, she refers to commitment as being “entrenched in [one’s] own life.”

As someone who has always found it important to find something you love and then incorporate it into your world as much as possible, I found that this chapter really resonated with me — not in a Nicholas Sparks/Lifetime Movie/I-need-to-get-married-and-have-babies kind of way, but from a different point of view. I find myself drawn to people who are goal-driven and focused, who have something they’re passionate about and are willing to work hard to achieve their dreams. Interacting with people who are just as excited about what they’re doing as you are can be a rewarding experience.

From a more individualistic perspective, I think it’s important to round yourself out by finding something worth committing to. Rather than floating around waiting for life to happen to you, you should be out in the world, discovering who you are and settling into that role. Rather than focusing on the superficial, look for something other than a vague interest and then learn as much as you can about it, take steps to develop skills in it and then showcase that however you can. Once you start taking control of your own life and then committing to this new world you’ve created for yourself, you should look for those same types of people, ones who are passionate about something but also willing to be a responsible grown-up.

Book Challenge Results of 2011

Happy New Year, everyone!

For the first time ever, one of my New Year’s Resolutions last year was to read 50 books in 2011. Between school, life events and just plain abandonment of the really bad books, I wound up only reading 38 books… which is still an accomplishment for someone who loves to read but doesn’t have a lot of time to do so! Some of these books inspired blog entries (see links below), while others required me to open myself to genres I wouldn’t have otherwise considered. I learned a lot from last year’s book challenge, and am excited to try again in 2012.

Below are the books I read in 2011. Feel free to comment with suggestions for this year’s book list, along with any questions you have about books you’re thinking of reading, as well as your own resolutions for the coming year!


Books I Read in 2011

1. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1/6/11)
2. A Mercy by Toni Morrison (1/17/11)
3. Voices by Lucille Clifton (1/19/11)
4. Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright (2/12/11)
5. The Red Convertible by Louise Erdrich (2/17/11)
6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2/20/11)
7. My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki (3/8/11) — With Your Whole Heart
8. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (3/10/11)
9. The Latin Deli by Judith Ortiz Cofer (4/4/11) — Heartbreak and the Latin Deli
10. This Lovely Life by Vicki Forman (4/14/11)
11. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin (4/16/11)
12. Everyday Chica by Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes (4/21/11)
13. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (4/28/11)
14. For One More Day by Mitch Albom (5/2/11)
15. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (5/8/11)
16. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (5/10/11)
17. Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen (5/20/11) — Our Struggles With Either/Or
18. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (6/14/11) — The Joy Luck Club And Happiness, Meet Me Halfway (Or Elsewhere)Innocence Versus Hope
19. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin (6/20/11) – Something Borrowed: The Ethics of Boyfriend Snatching
20. What Happened To Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (6/29/11) – What’s In A Name?
21. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (7/6/11) – Eat, Pray, Be Present , Following Your Heart and Finding Your Backbone
22. Something Blue by Emily Giffin (7/7/11)
23. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (7/19/11)
24. Understanding the Psychology of Diversity by Bruce E. Blaine (7/23/11)
25. The Shining by Stephen King (7/25/11)
26. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (7/31/11)
27. Pretties by Scott Westerfeld (8/10/11)
28. Specials by Scott Westerfeld (8/20/11)
29. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (8/26/11)
30. Some Girls: My Life In A Harem by Jillian Lauren (8/31/11)
31. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (9/20/11) – Waiting By The Window
32. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (9/28/11)
33. The Princess Bride by William Goldman (10/9/11)
34. Once Upon a Quinceanera: Coming of Age in the USA by Julia Alvarez (10/24/11)
35. The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen (10/30/11)
36. Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg by Barry Williams (11/26/11)
37. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen (11/26/11)
38. Ogilvy On Advertising by David Ogilvy (12/17/11)