The “Halfway” Check-In!

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I had a wonderful couple of days that were spent both within Boston where I hosted my 12-4 Saturday show on Indie617– but also out in the Pioneer Valley with my best friend who came to visit through yesterday afternoon. The weather held up nicely until a series of thunderstorms rolled through last night- so I made sure to take him to a couple of great outdoor locations so he could drink in the scenery and the atmosphere.

A full recap of the adventures (with photos) will be up on Wednesday!

Before that, though- early June is typically when I like to “check in” on myself and note my progress since New Year’s Eve. The official start of Summer is just around the corner, 2019 is halfway over- and now seems like just a good time as any to reassess the goals/aspirations I laid out for myself back at the very end of December. I like to take pride in myself on anything I accomplished- and push myself a little harder on the things that I haven’t yet!

I copied my 2019 Resolutions list from my “In a Nutshell: 2019” post from December 31, 2018. Let’s take a look:

Get Healthier/Get Into Better Shape: As someone who loves food and enjoys a good “veg-out” session on the couch while I binge-watch Netflix and Hulu series- this one was admittedly a little harder to get into the swing of after the start of the year. But, now that I’m living in my own place and within a community that both values and encourages wellness, staying healthy and being active- it’s been a lot easier for me to find the time and motivation to make smarter choices about what I’m eating and to exercise regularly.

And honestly- with the views I’ve found in and around the Pioneer Valley since moving here- exercising outdoors is *SO* much more enjoyable!

Stop Putting Up With Bullshit – And Command Respect: I had started the momentum on this resolution near the end of 2018 after a disastrous trip to San Diego in the Fall and and on/off/on again relationship that left me more drained than happy. I began cutting people out of my life who were detrimental to me, my emotional/mental well-being and who were holding me back from achieving my goals- and I didn’t look back.

I’m happy to report that six months later, I’ve surrounded myself with truly wonderful friends I can count on and a guy I might not always see eye to eye with- but whom I’ve built a strong and trusting friendship and connection with and who I care for very deeply. The people who had hurt me, dragged me down, or tried to take advantage of me have all but faded into obscurity and it’s a huge weight off of my shoulders.

Hit Up Some of The Places on My Bucket List: I admit that this resolution is not one I’ve particularly accomplished or have been actively working towards. It’s been placed on the back burner, what with my recent move and everything- however I *have* been able to do some traveling to places like New York and most recently- Las Vegas and San Diego.

I’ve still got another few months to take that unexpected and impromptu trip to New Orleans or Memphis- so here’s hoping I’m able to pull it off!

Get Back Into the Arts: I’ve achieved this goal with a very enthusiastic “oh hell yes!” Between my work with Indie617 and PaintBox Theatre here in the Valley- I have been fully immersed in art, theater, music, creativity and self-expression. It’s been such a beautiful and inspirational journey and I find myself wanting to create my own work more and more with each passing day!

I’m sure living in such a diverse and creative atmosphere will keep me going strong with this resolution, too!

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Obviously, I still have some work to do to reach all of my goals- but I’m really happy with my progress so far. Between some of the completed/near completed resolutions and moving into a beautiful new apartment within this first half of the year- 2019 has been the year of big dreams and even bigger changes these past few months!

Additionally, I like to use the first few days of June for some serious self-care and reorganization. I scrub and dust my living space from top to bottom, make sure everything is spotless and fresh- indulge in a deeply moisturizing hair or face mask (or both if I’ve got the time!) and do some major clean-out of my email and social media inboxes.

I’ve found that with unsubscribing or blocking gratuitous e-mails from companies I had purchased something from months and months ago (and who have been contacting me non-stop ever since. Looking at you- Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret!) as they show up in my inbox- I feel so much better and less anxious whenever I check my e-mail because I can get right to the important stuff I *want* to read without having to worry that it was buried amid the coupon codes, advertisements for new merchandise, etc.

Overall, June is a month of self-reflection, self-improvement, and self-care- be it revisiting goals for the year, getting organized, or simply deleting a bunch of emails to de-clutter your inbox. Whatever and however you choose to “check in’ with yourself halfway through the year is completely up to you- and now is the time to do it so you’ll have more space in your schedule for fun Summertime activities!

And now that just about does it for me today, guys. I’m off to work!

Here’s wishing us ALL a safe, stress-free and laid-back Monday. To the work week ahead!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: January 2019!

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday, everyone!

I know it’s early on in the week- but I hope it’s going well for you all so far! I’ve been working (of course) and enjoying a couple of warmer-than-expected days with friends in the outdoors- but February is just a few days away and it’s time for me to compile the things, products, odds and ends that I absolutely adored and was otherwise obsessed with this past month!

It’s a new year- and I’ve got some new followers- so I’ll just give a quick explanation. At the end of every month- I always, without fail- share two posts. One, which falls on the very last day of the month- is a recap of the previous days/weeks. The highs and lows, miscellaneous adventures and photos that didn’t quite fit in with any of my other scheduled content, etc. That post (which will be up this Thursday!) is my “In a Nutshell” post.

Before that, though- I photograph and do a little write-up of all the things I bought, found, was gifted, discovered, etc. that made the month all the more sensational. That would be this post you’re reading right now- and it’s my “Favorites” of January 2019!

But perhaps just simply showing you all the things I loved this month would be a little easier than trying to explain the process. So, without further delay…

First things, first- 2019 is all about keeping organized- and I turn to this lovely little teal and gold sparkly weekly planner from Orange Circle Studio! I write everything in here- my appointments, due dates for bills, meetings, scheduled blog content, plans with friends/family, and goals for each month.

This planner is the perfect size where it fits right into my purse- which means I can take it with me wherever I go in case anything comes up while I’m on the road- and the bright colors and shimmer stand out if I have it on my desk and need to find it in a flash. It definitely doesn’t get lost in the shuffle!

Speaking of staying organized- now that I’m working with my favorite theater company in the Pioneer Valley- there’s a lot of meetings and lot of information I need to keep track of! Not wanting to carry around a flimsy notepad or cover my space with post-it notes- I treated myself to this faux-leather bound Kate Spade notepad and binder.

The motto on the front, “Let’s Talk Shop”- is a nice touch that *I* think makes me look like I’m all business.

I mean, it does- right?

The lining in my wallet I’ve had for a few years now was finally starting to tear/shred and fray- and I decided that for the new year I’d treat myself to a new one. I am absolutely, head-over-heels in love with this New England Harbors-themed one from Spartina 449. It’s like a cute map of home and reminds me of some of my favorite places here in New England no matter where I travel.

The wallet has a ton of space, too- and it holds all of my cards, money, ID, etc. and then some. It’s definitely a welcomed upgrade!

As a belated-Christmas/early-Birthday present this year, my cousin Paige surprised me with this portrait of Oliver- done by the tremendously talented Tami Draws Stuff. It’s so accurate and so adorable and is presently hanging in my office next to an actual photograph of Oliver.

My co-workers absolutely love it. I linked to Tami’s Etsy shop above, so if you or someone you know has a fur-baby you’d like to get a personalized portrait of- either for yourself or as a gift- definitely check her out! Her work is really impressive and oh so cute!

Another Christmas present that I’ve been using pretty much non-stop lately is this gray/black pom-topped beanie from Crane Clothing Company my sister-in-law had given me. I have a collection of beanies (I do live in New England, after all-) but not too many of them have the poms on them so this is such a fun addition to my assortment and one that matches pretty much everything in my Winter wardrobe.

Also, it’s super comfortable and doesn’t move around when I have it on. There’s nothing worse than a beanie that keeps slipping down over your eyes when you’re trying to get things done!

Finally, to close out this month’s collection of items I was able to snap photos of- I’ve been indulging in some serious LUSH treatment throughout January. Specifically, their chocolate lip scrub (which works amazing and tastes delicious)– and their Oatifix mask/facial cleanser. I really love using this mask every few days- not only because it makes my skin smell like an oatmeal cookie- but because it clears out my pores in my oily areas while simultaneously hydrating and calming my dry areas.

This mask is perfect for combination skin- and even more perfect for combination skin during the Winter! It’s a lifesaver for me!

That’s it for the products- but a couple of other things made my list for January ’19, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

‘Surviving R. Kelly’ – The Lifetime Network, notorious for bad biopics and tantalizing thrillers for bored housewives, delivered a knockout punch to disgraced R&B singer R.Kelly earlier this month with their six-part docu-series detailing the singer’s troubled past, his multiple victims, and the people in his camp who enabled and assisted him with his abusing underaged girls and the subsequent cover-ups and payoffs.

The series is gripping, heartbreaking, and at times- difficult to watch- but it’s a story that needed to be told and was long overdue. I really hope that within the fallout from it’s premiere- R.Kelly finally gets put in jail and his victims find closure and peace.

– GAMES/APPS –

‘Resident Evil 2’ – The remake of one of my all-time favorite classic horror video games I’ve been waiting months for dropped last week and I have to say that it’s AWESOME so far. Between the graphics, the gameplay, the jump scares and the story (lightly altered but still pretty true to the original)– this is a huge win for Capcom and for the ‘Resident Evil’ franchise as a whole- which has sort of gone off the rails in recent years.

I can’t wait for the weekend so I can keep playing it without being interrupted by anyone or anything!

And there it is- my Favorites from January of 2019! A decent collection of things, if I do say so myself!

My recap of the month will be up on Thursday (and there’s so much to talk about!) but until then- I’m off to get some work done and make some dinner plans!

If you’d like to drop me a line or leave a comment to tell me some of your favorite things from January- feel free! I’d love to hear about them!

And there’s still some time to enter my BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY BY CLICKING HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY!

See you all soon!

xx

– Ashley –

Dinner Parties and Resolutions…

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone!

I hope you’re all having a fabulous week so far. I, personally, have been enjoying a little downtime following last week’s insane amount of work, hustle and back-to-back commitments! It’s nice to have a little time to catch up on some of the things on my “to watch” list on Netflix, curl up with a good book of magazine, play some video games- or mix all three with friends during a bundled up dinner party and game night like I did this past weekend when it was too cold to go outside- so we opted for some indoor fun, instead!

Our menu was simple but filling- wheat linguine with chicken and vegetables tossed in a cream sauce with some garlic bread. It was just so nice to stay warm and toasty and eat together, goof around, and catch-up with one another since it’s been undoubtedly crazy and non-stop movement since the holidays!

Which brings me to the point of this post- staying organized and sticking to goals! I know we all go into the New Year with the best of intentions, big goals/aspirations and earnestly plan to fully commit to achieving them- but by mid-to-late January we might pause and ask ourselves “wait, I have to do this for the whole year?”

I know I certainly get like that- which was a contributing factor to my not reaching some of the resolutions I had set for myself in 2018… And 2017…. And maybe 2016…

… You get the picture.

But while I’m usually holding my head in my hands and sighing in disbelief at my own lack of commitment by this time every year- I’ve actually found a lot of success by implementing one or two different techniques into my daily routine these past couple of weeks- and also by making just a few small, minor changes in how I do/approach things and which don’t disrupt my life in any capacity.

I figured I’d list them here- in the hopes they may help someone else reach their goals, too!

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Invest in a planner- and note it daily. We’re all digital these days- and everything we need to do/want to do is made even more convenient with the click of a button or an app- but I’ve found that writing things down in a planner (and picking out a pretty one is half the fun!) not only keeps me from forgetting important dates/times/due dates/plans that I may otherwise overlook while navigating through multiple applications I have open on my phone/computer at any given time- but there’s something really satisfying about crossing off the things I’ve accomplished each day as I go!

Additionally, I set small goals for myself at the beginning of each month and write them down in my planner, as well. It can be something as simple as renewing my passport before my birthday to something a bit more challenging- like running for a longer distance than what I’m used to when I go for a jog or doing 100 more squats- but having them in writing is a daily reminder that I have something to work towards. And, if I don’t want to have to do them the following month on top of other things I end up jotting down- I’m more inclined to accomplish them!

Build and commit to a schedule and a time frame that boosts your productivity: My job can get absolutely crazy sometimes- i.e., the holidays- and throughout 2018 I found myself getting overwhelmed, irritable, and coming into the office earlier/staying later than I or anyone else should ever have to do because I wanted to get things done. It ended up burning me out and really wearing me down- until I tried a trick a friend (who also has a pretty hectic office job) taught me.

I developed a time frame for every work day and dedicated certain tasks to fit into those time frames. They are the only things I focus on/get done until time is up and I move onto the next designated block of time/tasks. For example, I go into work at 7:30 a.m. From then until 9 a.m. I am drafting legal paperwork (and listening to music) since it’s the only time of day where my phone isn’t ringing off the hook and I can focus.

From 9 until 11, I am making calls and responding to e-mails, and from 11-1 I’m going through tasks, cleaning up files, etc. until I take a lunch break at 1- return at 2- and close out the last couple of hours of my day finishing up anything I didn’t get to in the morning. Since I started adhering to this semi-strict time allowance- I’ve been able to leave on time and not have to worry about things not being done- and it’s been amazing,

Factor in self-care and healthy choices, too: Of course, setting specific times and tasks for those times doesn’t just include work or office duties- but good choices for my body/mind, as well! During work I always make it a point to get up and stretch/take a quick walk and drink plenty of water- and after I leave the office for the day and have a light dinner- I allot a period of time to get some yoga/cycling/cardio in.

It may be Winter, but that doesn’t mean I can’t work out from the comfort of home or the gym!

It’s also crucial for me to schedule in some self-care. Be it catching up on a couple of episodes of a show I’m watching on my couch, taking a bubble bath, coming up with content for the blog, etc. My schedule may not be as strict when I’m not in the office- but it’s important for me to find that time where I can just take a deep breath, unplug from the world, relax and re-center myself.

Don’t beat yourself up- and allow yourself cheat days/days off: Listen, life happens- and things can come up without a moment’s notice that disrupt our schedules and plans- and that’s okay. If a day gets muddled up- it’s not the end of the world and you can start fresh the next day. If I were to say this plan has been implemented perfectly day in and day out without the occasional hiccup or setback along the way, I’d be lying- because sometimes I can be impulsive and run off to do something “just because”- that conflicts with my schedule or things I need to get done- but it hasn’t stopped me and I haven’t given up.

More importantly, you have to give yourself some “cheat days” or some time to indulge- especially those of us looking to be healthier or get into better shape. Don’t deprive yourself of the good, even gluttonous things in life- because you shouldn’t have to be miserable while you’re working hard to achieve your goals. Moderation is key- and if you reward yourself from time to time- it’ll be easier to get back on track than it would be if you didn’t stop to smell the roses (metaphorically, of course) at all.

For me, my “cheat days” or days to do whatever I want are reserved for the weekends- where I’m free to go wherever I want, stay out late without wearing myself out, etc. Then, come Monday- it’s back to work and back to focusing on the things I want to accomplish that month/this year.

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I know it’s still very early on in 2019, but those are the things I’ve been doing as of late and I’ve already seen wonderful results in regards to reaching my goals, better managing my time, increasing my productivity- and cutting down on stress!

I feel if I keep going forward with these tips/tricks and maybe implement new ones along the way- I will remain on top of my game and make 2019 a really successful year!

But, time is money- and I’m at work- so it’s off to get things done and prepare for my half day tomorrow (where I’m cooking up something really delicious for Friday!) and finalize some pre-birthday plans for this weekend!

If you’d like to share some of your own tips/tricks for sticking to your goals, staying organized, and time management- I would absolutely love to hear them! Please feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment.

Have a great rest of your Wednesday, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –