Bring it on, 2015 [insert flexed arm emoji here]

Happy happy new year, friends!

I hope you had a lovely holiday and that your New Years was as exciting as the media tells you it should be. I did a puzzle. It was clearly really wild....

So let's chat about resolutions for a minute. I'm not a huge New Year's Resolutions kind of girl. There's some kind of unspoken pressure that usually comes with resolutions. All the resolutions I have ever made have felt like there's more at stake than just a normal goal or aspiration, which I suppose could be a good thing, but it just feels like a lot of work to me. And emotional stress. Breaking a resolution has always felt like a last-chance kind of scenario, usually accompanied with a thought like, "Well, I guess there's always next year." But a year is a long time to wait for another short-lived second (or third or fourth or fifth) try. 

That being said, I do think it's a great time to reflect on life - where we're at, who we're with, what we're doing, how much we love it (or hate it) and what it is that we could maybe work on to change our trajectory. And at least for me, it feels more natural (AKA: realistic and attainable) to locate the stresses and concerns in my life and then determine what small things I can do to eliminate those, or to accomplish the goals that are maybe associated with them.

I'll offer an example: I would like to be more financially independent in 2015. Now before you all go get your tar and feathers ready, I need to express my gratitude for my situation. No, I do not pay for all of my expenses myself. Yes, that is an incredible blessing and not everyone is this lucky. Sure, I haven't learned things the hard way (as maybe you kicked-out-of-the-house-at-18 folks have) and I realize the disadvantage I may be at at the ripe old age (haha!) of 23 having never had to fend for myself. But I want to note that I never want to mooch off my parents. I am extremely lucky to be in the situation I am in, although it's not exactly paved with gold and lined with expensive cheesecakes (I don't like caviar...) as you are probably imagining. ANYWAY, I digress. The point is, I have this deep desire to be more financially independent. And I don't think that's exactly a "resolution," as this kind of goal or aspiration is a life-changing one that will affect more than just this next year. So in my mind, I broke it down to extremely realistic alterations I can do to my lifestyle.

1. Only use my parents' card/money for gas and groceries (from an actual grocery store)
2. Celebrate/enforce what I'm calling No-Clothes-January (which I realize is more of a short term thing, but I buy sooooo many clothes. I don't know how it happens - I swear.)
3. Put at least 10% of each paycheck into my checking account when I deposit them
4. Any and all meals that I buy from restaurants MUST be paid for by me and only me. (which is implied with number one, but it's something I need to strategically remember) Of course, if you want to take me out for a nice date, I wouldn't mind allowing you to pay for my dinner. But that hasn't happened in years, so I'm not too concerned.

And that's about it. Short and sweet, but totally doable. I have already noticed a cut back in my desire to spend, as well as an increase in my desire to cook my own meals, etc. Which is honestly huge, because when am I NOT craving a Hires Country H cheeseburger, or Chinese take out. Right? Right.

What are some of the things that you want to implement or exclude from your life? And what has worked well for you in past years? I hope 2015 is full of learning and growth, and maybe a few successes. :)

Here are a few pictures from the Holidays in Oregon! It was so beautiful, and SO COLD. 

My awesome sister and I in the middle of an all-day blizzard. 

The view from my jog around Sunriver. 

My favorite dog of all time, Patches. She is SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD, y'all. This is her sitting on me as I'm packing to leave.

This photo represents what was probably my favorite place/moment from the whole trip. Tea time with sister. ❤️👭

The fortune I got on New Years' Eve. We all had a good laugh. 

My sister's cute little condo that we finally got to see in person and enjoy. Can't wait until next time!