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“Whatever you do and wherever your life takes you,
let your heart and mind always remain open.
Serendipty doesn’t appreciate a closed soul and
hallway magic is reserved for those willing to
accept it.”

— CC Chapman

I read somewhere that if you believe that good things will happen, great and amazing things will come your way. Because most of the time, it’s all about the narratives we tell ourselves. Often, we affect and create our daily lives (and our fate) far more than we realize. We are less a victim to our circumstances and so much more the main creative force behind our destinies. Our days. Our years. Whether or not our dreams come true.

And keeping our dreams alive is what makes us feel alive. Whether that’s starting your own business (me!) growing a garden (I want that to be me!) or becoming a better, more loving friend. It’s our dreams, our hopes, and our aspirations that keep us excited to be here. Living this particular life on this particular day.

I find it so peculiar that something as simple as setting an intention for your day actually makes it happen. It’s a little practice I’m learning from my yoga classes: before you begin, know where you want to end up.

If you know me well, then you know that I love writing up New Year’s Resolutions. There’s nothing I love more than goals written down with a subset of goals needed to meet the bigger goals.

But this year, I realized that it’s not more goals I need (I still haven’t become bilingual or attended the Lobster festival in Maine). What I need is to set my intention for the year. It’s sort of amazing to me that, already, my attitude and my expectations are affecting my daily life. In one sense, the last 6 weeks of my life have been some of the most challenging. But in many other ways, they’ve been the most focused, most beautiful, and most balanced as well. Because of this, I want to share with you the intentions I set last fall for 2014. I hope that they might inspire a few people to set aspirations for their year, too — and then see great things begin to unfold in their daily lives. For all of those who have encouraged and inspired me in the last year (Nancy!), thank you!

Focus: I want to focus on three things:

(1) Growing my business & honing my photography skills: Growing my business looks a lot like investing in my current clients: giving them the best service I can, befriending them, and joining in the celebration with them on their most memorable day. Even though I can join the flow of a wedding day with ease and excitement, I believe we are all capable of learning more. And that for some reason, maintaining the attitude of a student pushes us further than we would push ourselves otherwise. This spring, I’m up to my eyeballs in homework for this History of Photography class. It’s amazing, but it’s a lot of work! However, it’s all completely worth it. I’m inspired every day by photographers pioneering the art of portraiture and documentary photography. The more I see how incredibly far I have to go in this artistic field, the more I’m encouraged to be better, strive harder, and enjoy the journey.

(2) Focus on the positive influences & voices speaking into my life and disregard the negative feedback that is not constructive; Let’s face it, there’s a whole sea of critics out there, and often times, the worst critics are in our own heads. An important intention for 2014 is to focus on maintaining the positive narrative I tell myself and focusing on the those who give me positive feedback and encouragement. CC Chapman says it best:

“Life . . . is always going to be full of seagulls. You can spot them
rather easily because they are constantly making noise, swooping
in from time to time and sh*tting on you before flying away . . .
Real seagulls will leave a white mess on your head and shoulders,
but people whom I refer to as seagulls are even more dangerous,
because what they leave behind is self-doubt and uncertainties, both
of which you must learn to ignore…”

The best thing I can do is focus on not being my own seagull and identifying the seagulls flying around me. I think this is really important, especially for women. If there is one thing I’m learning in my thirties that I failed to learn in my twenties, it’s shutting the door on other people’s clamor. And that’s the “aha moment” I want to pass on to other women: focus on creating a positive narrative for yourself and be that voice of positive support and encouragement for your girlfriends. Give what you want to receive.

(3) Investing in my friends and family: We all have limited time and resources. And as I get older, I’m even more aware of that. I mean, my goodness! Already gone are the days of staying up until 1:00 am doing homework, waking up at 6:00 for an early morning workout session . . . full day of school, then dinner with friends, then starting to study at 10:00 pm (I remember doing my end-of-term Freshman drawing session between midnight and 3:00 am). So, now that I’m lucky if I do two of those things in one day (work out and do homework!), I have to look at setting aside special time for the people most important in my life. Put it on the calendar. Make it a date. And love every minute of our time together.

Balance: I want to find balance in three main ways:

(1) I want to balance my work life with my personal life: I now schedule time to read each morning before I work; to work in specified hours (this can be difficult when you’re self-employed!); and schedule my workouts on the days I’m not out having happy hours and dinners with the girlfriends (Justin always gets my Saturday!). Also, I’ve already scheduled out my entire Spring Break for resting so that I can hit the pavement in full stride to enter wedding season!

(2) Do more things that I love for their own sake to balance out my Type-A “achiever” personality. I tend to have a hard time justifying doing something if it’s not immediately productive. Now, I want to find more tranquility and peace of mind through remembering that enjoying beautiful things is one of the most precious resources we have. Hiking, rowing, yoga, walking around the lake . . . looking at the cute puppies on South Congress. You know, all the stuff that just makes you super happy without ending in some big “goal”.

(3) Find physical balance through yoga; What can I say? Nothing makes me happier these days than being miserable trying to maintain a warrior pose for 3 minutes. As a warm up. The strength of mind and body it takes for me to push myself in yoga is a weekly reminder that it’s only through the struggle and the determination to continue that we make our way toward our dreams and aspirations. 🙂

* Beautify:

Do something every day to make my life a little more beautiful. Buy flowers. Make my bed. Call a friend. Buy a new color of lipstick. Or shoes! Send a Thank You card for friends and family who sent me birthday gifts. Anything that is intentionally brightening my day or another’s day. I’ve learned, through listening to people far wiser than I, that if you expect others to nourish you, you’ll always end up feeling empty. So one of my aspirations this year is to put into my life the things that nourish me. And constant little bits of beauty always lift my spirits and nourish me.

What are your 2014 intentions? I’d love to hear if you have any!

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