In 2014, I won’t…


Right now, a lot of people are blogging about their resolutions or goals for 2014, or recapping 2013 highlights and lessons learned. I feel like I’ve already covered a lot of lessons learned in in the last several months on this blog, since I prepared to leave DC and move to California. (If you’re new to this blog, start here to get caught up on that story). I think most of the highlights have been covered as well. So I thought I would take a little bit of a different route this time and write about things that I won’t be doing in 2014. I wouldn’t say I am “resolving” not to do them, but I’ll at least be more mindful about these things and give it my best. After all, that’s all we can ask of ourselves, right?

In 2014, I won’t…

…limit myself to the things that I did before, because “that’s the way it was.” I won’t stay on the same path just because that’s where I started.

…put off something because it’s hard or because I’m not familiar with it. I won’t say “I don’t know how.”

…forget that going with my gut is often the right answer. I won’t ignore the things that continue to resonate with me in spite of everything else.

…let other people’s behaviors and choices stop me from being the best person I can be. I won’t change my standards or principles to win over others.

…let my past get in the way of my future, or my future get in the way of my present. I won’t let the bad “what ifs” ruin the good ones.

…stop trying to get to what I want, need, and deserve. I won’t let perceived deadlines, expectations, and pressures distort reality, or my dreams.

What won’t you do in 2014?

2013: Here’s to love

Love at midnight
Love at midnight

You blink and you miss it… 2012 is gone, and a new year is here. When I look at what others are saying about 2012, I notice a lot of things like “Good riddance,” and “2012 wasn’t good.” There were some moments in 2012 that weren’t particularly happy or positive, but what year has ever been only good things? The bad and the sad come with the good, this we know. For every destructive storm, there are people that show up to help out, together. For every person that left us too soon, there is a welcome addition to a family. It doesn’t mean that these moments of pain are replaced or easier to bear, but it’s a reminder that life can bring just as much joy as we let it, despite hard times.

So how do we start 2013 with an eye towards joy and fortune? How do we make sure that we’re loving as hard as we can, and living as hard as we can? In the past, my resolutions have been themed around mantras like “No Excuses” and bringing more happy into my life. This year, it’s all about love. Not just in the romantic sense, but in every sense of the word. What do I mean? Here’s a taste:

  • Love my current friends in the way that they deserve, and love making new friends.
  • Love my family for all that they are, no matter our past, no matter our differences. Love every moment I have with them.
  • Love my job and my team, and change paths if I don’t feel it.
  • Love my city and all that it has to offer.
  • Love the places I travel to, and the people I travel with.
  • Love my hobbies and passions, and if they don’t make me happy, find something new to love.
  • Love myself — my flaws, my successes, my failures, my quirks, my body, my dreams, my growth.
  • Love what the future holds, wherever it brings me, whatever I may do — and know that it will all fall into place.
  • Fall in love and be loved back.

And what are some other folks resolving to do? A sampling from those who answered my question on Facebook and Twitter below; add yours in the comments!

-spending/focusing more of my time and money on experiences than material things.

My sister adopted a policy of only making fun, achievable, non-self-pounitive resolutions, like “get more manicures.”

-Maybe I should try picking one thing, just ONE THING, throwing all my energy and brainpower behind it, and then letting the other chips fall where they may. So, to that end, my goal for 2013 (the year, not coincidentally, I turn 30) is to get published. Be it a short story in a journal, or a magazine article, or an agent signing, anything will count. The aim is to be fearless and take the next huge step toward my writing dreams.

Let it be said, let it be done, etc, etc, etc.

13.1 miles: done

Last fall, I said I wanted to push my limits and sign up for a half marathon. Yesterday, I ran my first 13.1 mile race, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in DC…and I will say that it easily is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done, and one of my proudest moments. To some, a half may not seem like a big deal, especially to advanced runners. But to me, it was one more step to Be Fearless this year — especially knowing that at one time, I hated running.

I’ve written before about why I run, and now a little more than two years into doing races, those days when I dreaded going out for some laps seem so long ago. Now, when I miss a couple of days, it feels like I missed a meal, or I forgot to put on my watch. When I hear that friends are signing up for running programs or races, I get excited, because I know how positive they’ll feel once they start. Case in point: my good friend Kim ran her first race, the St. Patty’s Day 8k, a couple of weeks ago, to celebrate one year of being smoke-free, and to end her Couch to 5k program. I was supposed to run it with her, but had to go out of town last minute, but nonetheless, two other friends joined her and crossed the finish line with her. I’m proud of you, Kim! That 8k was my first race two years ago. Additionally, my friend Alanna ran her first race with me, a 10k, this past fall, ran another one soon after that, and signed up for the half with me and two of her friends (that’s all of us in the picture). There was so much excitement when we all met up after finishing the race, all of us proud because we each ran the entire thing, and had inspired each other, and ourselves, to Be Fearless.

After a half of course, comes the talk about what’s next. Some say they’re ready for the next one, some say they would never do a marathon. Some say they were crazy for doing the half in the first place. Everyone has their own comfort level of course. Mine? I immediately thought of signing up for the Woodrow Wilson Half in the fall, and thought that maybe in a year, I could come back to do the full Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. You can do anything you put your mind to, of course. I’m sore, and I was tired, but it was a happy sore and tired. I had never run more than 10 miles a few times, and I went into the race wanting to run the whole thing, and although my legs were all spaghetti for a few minutes after, I enjoyed my French toast and Bloody Mary later because I deserved it!

I said I would run a half, and I did. Etc. etc. etc.

We definitely ran for brunch!

Want something? Get there with #NoExcuses.

No excuses
Photo credit:

No Excuses isn’t just the theme of this season of The Biggest Loser (although it did inspire me to cement it as my mantra this year). It’s a choice, it’s a lifestyle, an instruction guide to achieving your goals and dreams. Moreover, it’s not just about fitness, although I’m using it as strong motivation in that arena – it’s a reminder to not let anything stop you from getting to your end goal – whether it’s that new job, landing a date with someone you’re interested in, learning a new skill, or quitting a bad habit.

We’re well aware of the excuses. No time. No money. Too afraid. I might fail. They don’t like me. Not skinny enough, not tall enough. Not good enough, smart enough, athletic enough.

Well, enough is enough. It’s time to throw out the excuses and pull out all the other idioms (get back on the horse, get back on track, take a leap) that basically mean, get your act together and make something happen for yourself.

You want a promotion? Take initiative on a project and blow it out of the water. Tell your boss why you deserve a chance to go bigger and better.

You want to lose weight? Get off the couch, and start working up a sweat.

You want to eat more healthfully? Buy some fruit and vegetables, and turn down the fries at the happy hour now and then. Drink water or soda or something else instead of alcohol here and there.

You want to go on more dates? Ask people on dates. Be dateable. Make the move. Bring something to the table. Tell someone you’re interested.

You want to learn something new? Sign up for a class. It can be online, offline, alone, with a group, whatever. Read a book on it, watch a video. Just start practicing.

You want to save more money? Talk to a financial planner, make a budget, eat out less and cook more, cut down on the shopping. Start a ROTH IRA and put money into your employer’s retirement fund.

You want to travel? Figure out where you want to go, and book the trip. If you can’t find anyone to go with you, go alone. It will change your life. The money will be worth it, so will the time.

And so it goes on. I’ve talked about this before – you are the only one standing in the way of your own happiness, and your own success. Everything is a choice. From the moment you get up to the moment you go to bed, it’s your choice what you do, what you eat, who you hang out with, who you choose to love and let love you (yes, really), and where you go. Stop making excuses. Just make something happen.

P.S. What are you doing in 2012 to live a #noexcuses life? Let me know on twitter @cajunjen.

Resolving and Renewing in 2012

Into the unknown of 2012

Millions of people are writing this very same post, or will soon. Resolutions, goals, aspirations, to-dos, whatever you want to call them, we all have them. Many will not write them down or say them out loud, but they are spoken in hearts and minds, in dreams, and in prayers. And many will have similar items on their lists: to lose weight and exercise more, to eat more healthfully and to eat out less, to learn new skills and say good riddance to bad habits.

Be that as it may, our lists are sprinkled with some personal to-dos, and each has a reason for its inclusion that’s special only to the person who resolves to achieve it. So while I may want to learn Italian because I’m traveling there in 2012, someone else may want to be able to converse with their grandmother. You may see some of your own items on my list – let me know which ones we share in common! I wish everyone the best as they work towards their goals for 2012, and for life.

1.  Watch all Christopher Plummer movies
2.  Read some of the classic lit novels that have been sitting on my bookshelf for years
3.  Run a half marathon (committed to one in March); run at least five races total & set a new 10k PR
4.  Take more chances; be fearless and leap into the unknown more
5.  Finish the quilt I started working on at age 11
6.  Learn to knit
7.  Buy a keyboard and start playing again
8.  Learn basic Italian
9.  Become fluent in German
10. Keep #GoodSpotting
11. Cook one new dish a week
12. Sign up to be a Girls on the Run buddy
13. Start yoga again and do it consistently (at least once a week)
14. Find a tennis partner
15. Volunteer at a food kitchen
16. Try again, and then walk away (if I’m not getting a response)
17. Cross off at least five items on my DC bucket list (I’ll have to ignore the original deadline of February)
18. Worry less, embrace “it is what it is” (one of my least favorite sayings)
19. Let go of broken and disappointing relationships & friendships
20. Go on a lot second dates

I could go on and on, but I think 20 is a good starting place. Here’s to a new year, new opportunities, and new experiences.