Like probably many of you, I’ve had a number of thoughts swirling around in my mind over the last couple of days and weeks looking back on the highs and lows of the past year. I focus on the positive takeaways, but also think it’s important to be real with myself about what didn’t go well and why I think that is. While I’m not one to make a long list of grandiose resolutions that I can’t live up to after January 7th or so, I’ve done a lot of assessing this year and wanted to share with you some of my [lengthy] ideas in the hopes that you either had similar experiences or can pick up a little gem from some of my lessons learned.
I moved out of my first apartment in Chicago that had a small gym in the building into another building with no gym—not my best move. While it was an upgrade in certain ways and I love my apartment, I pretty much stopped working out entirely with the exception of a few short lived apps and classes here and there. I felt this lack of exercise taking a toll on my mental health, honestly. I’d never gone so long without a regular regimen of any kind, and I was getting into a lazy groove that didn’t feel good at all. I recently kicked myself back into gear already and plan to continue to prioritize this change into the new year.
I’ve found a mix of things that work well for me: running outside (which I never used to like but for some reason do now), some circuit training workouts I can do at home, and I’m still on the hunt for some great classes in the city that I can start working into my schedule.
In other mental health news, I’ve started seeing a therapist for the first time in my life and I’ve been so pleasantly surprised. I had read so many self help books and listened to so many podcast that really helped in some ways, but speaking with someone face to face who is just there for you is quite different. I had a few misses initially to find the right fit, but now that I have, I’m loving my experience and it’s one of the best things I’ve done for myself all year. I’ve been able to get so much off of my body and better understand why I may have lingering feelings about various moments from my past. It’s helped me to categorize certain issues and place them in my mind in a way that I haven’t ever done. I think I’ll be writing a blog post on that subject in the near future as well because I have much to say, as per usual.
In 2018, I really delved into my freelance career (I suppose it “officially” began at the tail end of 2017) and my illustrations. and that led to a whirlwind of lessons in trust, negotiating, defining boundaries, managing and prioritizing multiple projects at once and many more. I hadn’t fully anticipated that going off on my own would be such a rocky road to find quality clients and projects, but it wasn’t easy and I had promised myself I’d stick it out for one year and reevaluate then.
I found myself in a number of situations where I had completed work and had to wait and worry about being compensated for it (the worst), trusted the hopeful outlook of excited owners of startups that were a little out of touch with reality, and underpriced projects that then took up a huge unprecedented chunk of my time, to name a few. These lessons came with many a feeling of frustration and certainly some tears, but I am proud of myself for getting through them without giving up and extracting the value from each instance.
I learned quickly to be direct and confident in broaching talks about money that would have previously made me feel nervous. I learned how to value my time and work and revisited my pricing structure over and over as the year went on. I’m continuing to learn how to determine who the “right” people are for me to work with, but I think over all it has become too difficult for me to manage and I could live a lot more peacefully with a different job. Part of my 2019 goals involves finding another path career wise that doesn’t drive me to the brink of insanity on the daily.
Without revealing too too much (I’m already rather open on here but like to keep certain things close to the vest), I walked away from a relationship that no longer served or suited me. As someone who’s always been a bit too forgiving in my romantic relationships, and had a tendency to focus on far more of the good in others than any negative points, this was a huge deal for me and my personal proudest moment of the year.
I feel that I’ve finally found the right balance of looking at love through the lens of my heart and mind in equal parts, and this was no easy feat. It was a very slow roll from being at the far end of that spectrum making all of my decisions with my heart, to this middle ground and it kind of just happened naturally alongside the rest of my emotional and spiritual growth. I feel that I’ve broken a negative cycle for myself and that makes me proud and excited for what’s next.
We are, after all, in my bellezza corner so we can’t not discuss beauty. I was fortunate enough this year to start working with a pioneer in the green beauty industry, La Bella Figura, which developed into many many projects including A Night For Green Beauty and a whole lot of learning about ingredients and what constitutes green vs. clean vs. i-dont-even-want-you-in-my-medicine-cabinet brands. I’ve been working very closely with the founders of La Bella Figura, who are also the product formulators (this is rare—most beauty brands just outsource their formulations to labs and don’t know so much about ingredients themselves) and have learned SO much.
I plan to write a full post on the exact skincare and makeup products I’ve found and use every single day, but this year was so much fun for me in establishing a skincare routine that I love with safe products that perform beautifully. Stay tuned for that post coming up, but here are my favorite brands to check out in the meantime: La Bella Figura, Maya Chia, Kahina Giving Beauty, Twelve Beauty and Saint Cosmetics.
I kind of did a 180 in a sense on the fashion side of things. I cleaned out my closet a few times and realized that I had a whole slew of pieces I had never worn in at least a year and that annoyed me. Wasted money and closet space. I decided to stop grabbing things at random and start thinking a little more seriously about what my wardrobe lacked and ways I could build up a collection of quality and versatile pieces. Less about quantity and trendy things and more about versatility and well fitting clothes that make me feel comfortable.
I stopped buying things that had any kind of caveat: “I can only wear this top with this kind of bra, and this type of skirt (that I don’t own yet, of course) and it’s a little uncomfortable but I’ll make it work…” Please tell me I’m not alone in this kind of ridiculous thought process. *face palm*
This next year feels a little more promising to me personally than the last couple. I have more specific direction in several aspects of my life than I’ve had before, and I actually feel more excited than I have for any other January 1st to date. Maybe it’s in the stars, but I think a lot of us are due for a special year and I’m eager to begin mine.
I wish you all a positive, healthy, exciting new year filled with love in every way! Stay tuned for lots more to come here and I’ll see you in 2019.