Thursday, December 27, 2018

Six Game Changers from 2018

It's hard to believe we're already approaching the start of another new year! If you're like me, you've had 2019 on the brain since about October 26th, and it's tempting to skip right to it. But one of my favorite things about this stretch of time between Christmas and New Year's Eve is the chance to reflect and prep for what's ahead.

The Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets have that built in, with lists of what worked and what didn't, and this year I was even more inspired by Lara Casey's list to look back and find the 5 biggest game changers from 2018. From daily habits to monthly appointments, here's what made the list.

1. Weekly Counseling Sessions
I first started thinking about counseling in 2014. I was in the thick of grad school, experiencing yet another major life transition in yet another new city, and my anxiety was wrecking havoc on my heart and my daily life. Time and money were my biggest excuses, so I shelved it. And I didn't think I'd gone through anything "bad enough" to need counseling.  Insert the same excuses and thought process going into my first job and next new city in 2016, only this time I looked up a counselor and bookmarked her name. Still, I did nothing. Then this summer I started experiencing weekly panic attacks and daily emotional breakdowns, feeling more stuck and lost than ever before. It was only then that I clicked the bookmark and sent this woman an e-mail.

It's been six months of meeting weekly and it has been worth every penny. Having a place to process through what I've experienced, what I'm feeling, and the thoughts that can rule and wreck my days has been so helpful. I've cried, I've sat quietly, I've worried about "getting it right", but I've kept going and I don't plan to stop any time soon. In the spring I'm switching to going every other week, but I hope to continue throughout 2019.

2. Bi-Weekly Budget Check-in
Getting my finances in order was one of my biggest goals (and challenges) in 2018. It was an area of a lot of stress and I typically operated under the "If I don't check my bank account and I don't get any alerts I'm sure I'm fine" mentality, and I swiped my credit card way too often. In August, after my summer of travels, I sat down with my mom for accountability and got a good look at everything. I now sit down and go over the budget and my account twice a month (once at each paycheck) to make sure everything is in order and taken care of.

When I ordered my 2019 GoldenCoil planner, I made sure to include monthly budget sheets to keep it all in one place. The goal is to be out of credit card debt by the end of 2019, and in order to make it happen these check-ins, too, will continue.

3. Monthly Massages
Self-care is an area of my life I all to often toss out the window to schedule in something else. Since my first year of teaching I'd talked about getting a massage after "my next show" but I never got around to scheduling it. But this summer, in the midst of a crazy season of travel and carrying the physical pain and tension of anxiety between my shoulders for too long, I scheduled one at my local Massage Envy. At the end, they talk you through their promotions and membership, and that's when I thought, "You know, I'm going to let you talk me into this" and I did.

It has been amazing! I worked it into my monthly budget and I get at least one per month, scheduling it often after a counseling session, and I try to take the night completely to myself (either at a bookstore or coffee shop afterwards). I go to the same two ladies and it's been so sweet to get to know them, sometimes we talk through it and sometimes we don't, and they are both so encouraging and AMAZING at what they do. They can tell when it's been a tougher month stress-wise and going consistently has helped the pain immensely. This is definitely a keeper!

4. Worship Music on 24/7
I listen to music ALL the time. I used to make monthly playlists on iTunes, and a single song can take me back to times in college and high school, hard heart places, too. I love country music and indie music and Broadway shows, but I came to a place early in the year where those things were no longer encouraging to my soul. I needed strength and was grasping for it wherever I could, so I made a playlist called "Rest Secure" that would fill my car, my classroom, my morning, or my breakdown with truth, even though I couldn't always sing it myself. It's still the playlist I go to again and again, and I've included it below for you, too.

5. Daily Adoration
I have been a long-time fan of Sara Hagerty, and her books Every Bitter Thing is Sweet and Unseen make the top 10 list of my favorite books with ease. She shares monthly downloads of Adoration, characteristics of God and a coordinating scripture. I use the printable in my prayer journal and sometimes when I sleep through my alarm or don't quite get my "full" quiet time, this is what I'll turn to. I've been using them for several years but most consistently in 2018.  I highly recommend them!

6. Qapital Saving App
Along with going through my budget at least twice a month, automating savings has also been super helpful! I've used the Qapital app for over a year now, and it's been great and even fun to set goals and rules for how savings increase. My favorites are the "set and forget" rule where I can tell the app to set aside $5, $10, or however much each week and the "guilty pleasure" rule where any time I go to Sonic or Chick-fil-a it moves $10 or $20 over into the designated account. So far I'm saving for a trip back to New York City, school supplies for next fall, and our family vacation this summer.  You can check it out HERE and if you set your first goal after using that link we'll both get $5 for it. :)

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

A few other favorites from the year:

  • Podcasts. Lots of podcasts! Specifically That Sounds Fun, Proverbs 31, & Cultivate Your Life
  • The Enneagram! I'm a 9w1 and it's been so helpful to know! More to come on this.
  • Meal prepping my lunches. It's a small task on Sundays but saves time and money later. 
  • Using Cladwell to get dressed in the morning! It picks my clothes for me out of what I already own! More on this soon, too.

Looking ahead, each of these things will be on repeat for 2019. Some of them were small steps toward healing, and others were what felt like big risks that are leading to breakthrough. I cannot encourage you enough to make your list. Look back find what works. Look ahead and choose a few small changes to make 2019 your best year yet.

Now it's your turn. 
What was a game-changer for you this year?

Monday, December 3, 2018

Cultivating December Goals

Gone again, here again. Sounds about right, right? I'm all over the place this year with the blog and being online, but I think that's okay. I'm still trying to find the balance, and the trying is worth it. But for December, we're back in action, and it's time for some monthly goals, don't you think?

It's the end of the school semester and the start of the holiday season, and both of those things make my heart so happy! It's also time to prep for 2019, but that will come later.

We festivized the mantle for Christmas! 5 stocking for the 5 roommates!

This month has more events than to-do's, but I think that's the way it should be around the holiday season. Lots of celebrating and gathering with community and less trying to do-do-do, go-go-go. On that note, here we go!

December 2018 Goals

Monthly Goals:

  • Close It's a Wonderful Life well Ta-da and ta-DONE! This week we closed our Christmas play so I can check it off already! We performed a live radio play at the historic movie theatre in our little downtown, and it was delightful! 
  • Finish the fall semester with gusto. Only three weeks left until Christmas break, y'all! The goal is to finish strong and not check out too early. Lucky for me we're in the midst of our musical theatre unit and doing How the Grinch Stole Christmas in class. What fun!
  • Enjoy Christmas at Pemberley with friends! Remember when I talked about filling my creative tank? I'm headed to see a play called Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley with friends this weekend and I cannot wait!
  • Clear the Extra Christmas Decor. I finished a daily decluttering challenge in November, and I want to keep the momentum going by getting rid of the excess Christmas decor that I didn't use this year. 
  • Complete 2019 PowerSheets Prep! It's PowerSheets prep week with Cultivate What Matters! I've started my new set and plan to go slow this month.
  • Finish 2018 strong + with joy. This one pretty much speaks for itself. Only one month left to finish the year well and look for joy (my word of the year) before the new year begins. 
  • Read 5+ books. I've only got a few weeks and a couple of books left to reach my 52 books goal for the year! I want to read/finish these books this month (plus a couple more):
    • The Bear and the Nightingale *in progress*
    • A Portrait of Emily Price
    • Becoming Mrs. Lewis
    • Creativity, Inc.

Weekly Goals:

  • Sabbath on Sundays. Make time to rest, dig in the Word, and prepare my heart for the week. 
  • Get active 2x's. Planet Fitness a couple of times a week. 
  • Timesheet turned in. I'm working some extra events at school and can't miss this. 
  • Blog 2 times. Just trying to get back in the rhythm here!
  • Finish a book or 2! I need to finish 6 this month to complete the challenge.

Daily Goals:
  • Study the Word.
  • Daily prayer topic.
  • Get active.
  • Drink water.
  • Read for fun.
With Christmas break on the horizon, I know full well some of these will shift, but it doesn't hurt to plan well! Writing it out, keeping the list where I can see it on my desk at school and on the chalkboard in my room, I think 2018 will come to a solid close. Wish me luck!

What about y'all? What are you going to cultivate in December? 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Cultivating September Goals

Sweet, sweet September. There's something about the shift into this ninth month of the year that has me reaching for my chunky sweaters and fall candles, despite the fact that Texas is still in the upper 90's (and will be through October...).

For three years I hosted The Blog-tember Challenge here on the blog (201420152016,), writing every day for 30 days, connecting with women and writers from across the world, but last fall I took a hiatus from the internet and put the thing on pause.

I have to admit I was tempted, in typical Bailey-fashion, to relaunch it this month, eager to dig back in at 60mph when I've blogged once in a blue moon (at best) over the past eight months. I'm an all or nothing kinda girl, so it sounded enticing... for a minute. But honestly it's pretty impractical, and that's okay.

At the start of this September, I am two weeks into my third year of teaching high school and two weeks into teaching at my new school. And at this moment I am two weeks away from opening night of my first production at this school, Peter and the Starcatcher. So... Blog-tember Challenge? Definitely not going to happen.

But a few blog posts? Definitely a possibility.

A rainbow of items fresh off the laminator? Makes my teacher heart flutter!

With that in mind, what better way to start than with my goals for the month? These, too, have been directly impacted by my teaching status and upcoming show, simplified and narrowed to suit the season. I have a habit of being too ambitious in moments like these, so this year I'm attempting to stay off that path.

September 2018 Goals

Monthly Goals:

  • Direct Peter and the Starcatcher well.  Surprise! This is number one on the list! I want to plan well, lead well, help my students have fun and make meaningful theatre, all the way through the end. September 13th will be here before we know it! 
  • Prep for and host a garage sale. The house I moved into has had a bunch of girls in and out over the years, so our garage is FULL (of my things included...) so we are having a garage sale to clear the clutter! It's time to be ruthless about what I have, what I need, and what I don't need to hang onto.
  • Implement a new fitness routine! My friend Samantha and I have started going to the gym, and my hope is to go 3x's per week! I gave myself grace when traveling this summer and transitioning into school, but I'm hoping to find a consistent schedule. And it's so much better with accountability!
  • Celebrate, savor, and protect Sabbath. During show season, my Saturdays usually hold workdays and rehearsal, so my plan is to truly treat Sunday as a day of rest. From 6pm on Saturdays to 6pm on Sundays, I will do no school related work. Instead I will rest, attend church, spend time with friends, and relax. 
  • Read 5+ books. I've only got a few months left to reach my 52 books goal for the year! I want to read/finish these books this month:
    • The Bear and the Nightingale *in progress*
    • Imperfect Courage *in progress*
    • Small Great Things
    • King's Cage
    • To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Weekly Goals:

  • Prep on Sunday evenings. Meal plan, pick out clothes, fill out my planner, etc. 
  • Get active 3x's. Planet Fitness with Sam at least 2x's after school, maybe one morning. 
  • Lesson plans in on time. They're due sunday nights, but hopefully will be in on Fridays. 
  • One night of downtime and counseling. Tuesday nights are reserved for relaxing post-counseling at my favorite coffee shop.
  • Finish a book! One book per week gets at least 4/5 books for the month!

Daily Goals:
  • Drink water.
  • Daily adoration by Sara Hagerty
  • Gratitude list before bed.
  • No spending money (besides gas or groceries).
  • Read for fun.
With something as big as our fall play on the monthly list, I'm hoping to spend more time focusing on the daily goals to keep a sustainable and healthy routine. We'll see how it goes! Also, it feels so good to be back writing in this space. I didn't put it down as a weekly goal, but I hope to pop in around 2x's each week with some kind of post, just to get back in the rhythm. Wish me luck!

What about y'all? What are you going to cultivate in September? 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Wishing on Twenty-Seven

Is it just me or does twenty-seven sound soooooooo much older than twenty-six? Anyone else? I'm a weekend away from hitting the big 2-7, and I'm really pumped to spend the remaining days in hill country with some gal pals. Relaxing, touring some wineries, and simply catching up on life is at the top of our agenda for sure!

In the meantime I thought I'd share a few things that have stumbled onto my birthday wishlist! And I may or may not have picked up two of these things for myself since making the graphic... oops ;)

One.  This is actually two-in-one because at the top of my wishlist is an Apple Watch and a fun interchangeable band from Casetify. A few teacher friends -as well as my mom and sister- have the watches and they seem really interesting! 

Two.  I heard a beautiful rendition of the Doxology when I was researching a play last year, and I found this sheet music wall sign on Etsy that would look beautiful in my new house (moving in with new roommates in two weeks)!

Three. Who doesn't love a pair of funny, comfy socks? Especially if they're bookish! 

Four. I love wearing rings on my middle, right hand finger but I've only had cheapy ones from Old Navy. I love the idea of these stackable coordinate rings, especially with how often I've moved! I think I want to get Waco, Seattle, and College Station since those have been some of the biggest seasons (and favorite places) in recent years!

Five. A friend of mine recently posted about How to Walk Away, and I've picked it up several times at Barnes & Noble. It could be a fund end of the summer read!

Six. I could say yes to just about anything Lindsay Letters, but this large creatives calendar in The Classic (24x30) would look great in my classroom or even my new bedroom! I love a paper planner but seeing things big and bold on the wall is always helpful, too. 

Seven. These actually came in the mail yesterday! I've had my eye on these Rifle Paper Co Keds, and when they had a sale-on-sale I scooped them up!

Eight.  I'm not typically a bracelet person but having a few words and phrases in front of me has been very helpful this season, and I'd love a custom bracelet that says "rest secure" or "courage, dear heart" to wear this year.

Nine. Last but not least (which I also already purchased!) was a ticket to Silobration at Magnolia Market! I have gone the past two years with one of my best friends to shop the market and see Johnnyswim in Waco, and I'm excited to go back again this year! 

Aren't those fun?! Hopefully by blowing a few candles off my cake a few more of those will appear in my closet ;) Now off to adventure with some friends to await the big day.

Any of these fit your fancy? 
Anything else I should add to my list?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Cultivate July Goals

One of these days I'll be blogging from my own home or my own state. Maybe. ;) Once again I am on the go, but I'm making time to do a little goal planning and checking in on the progress along the way. I actually sat down and filled out my PowerSheets on July 2nd (progress!) though promptly hopped on another plane to adventure in Washington, D.C. for a while.

It's another month full of travel with D.C., Detroit, Cincinnati, Austin, and Seattle on the list before August rolls around, so I tried to keep all of this in mind when planning July. It's also my birthday month which just makes everything more fun! So what's on the agenda? Let's see!

We found so many fun murals in Maryland that an impromptu photoshoot was a must! 

July 2018 GOALS

Monthly Goals:

  • Visit Washington, D.C., Detroit, and Cincinnati. In progress! I spent the last three days in Washington with a friend from my lifegroup, I landed in Detroit yesterday, and at the time this goes live I'll be on my way to Cincy! It's a whirlwind week of seeing sweet friends, for sure!
  • Have a girls' weekend in Hill Country. This is on the horizon for next weekend. Can't wait to get away with some sweet friends and celebrate a few birthdays (mine included)!
  • Celebrate turning 27! This one is one week away, and I'm SO EXCITED! Birthdays are the best!
  • Visit Seattle for a wedding. I'm so looking forward to visiting one of my favorite places to celebrate some of my favorite people!
  • Pack the house & move across town. Packing is in progress, and later this week (between trips) I'll start moving things over. I've got until the 31st to make it all happen.
  • Prep the fall semester calendar for Viking Theatre. I actually checked this one off the list with my co-teacher last week! It's going to be quite the year.
  • Join a new gym. Still to be done this month. I cancelled my old membership and have a new gym in mind.
  • Try a new budget plan for my debt snowball. Traveling has made this tough, but I hope to sit down and plan ahead for August.
  • Read 5+ books. Making progress here for sure! Two down, three to go.
    • Midnight Blue
    • Words in Deep Blue
    • The Bronte Plot *in progress*
    • Glass Sword *in progress*

Weekly Goals:

  • Call home. 
  • Invest in my gal pals! 
  • Finish a book. 
  • Financial check-in on Sundays.
  • Summer lifegroup!

Daily Goals:
  • In the Word.
  • Time in Prayer. 
  • Drink Water.
  • Read for Fun.
Keeping the daily and weekly goals the same in June and July has been SO helpful so far, even when on the go! Simple and straight forward with lots of travel on the agenda. Just the way I like my summers (and my birthday month)!

What about y'all? What did you make happen in July? 
Any fun travels coming up? 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Cultivating June Goals

Well, hello there! Six months after my last post sounds like the right time to hop back onto this space, doesn't it? One of these days I'll get into the nitty gritty of what this season of my life has held, but for now I want to pick up where I am and move forward with purpose! Sound good?

Once again I am writing from a theatre conference, this time smack dab in the middle of the country: Nebraska! Spending a week on a college campus surrounded by 4,500 high school theatre kids is equally terrifying and exhilarating. It definitely reminds me why I do what I do and makes me miss college at the same time. We're here through Sunday then it's back to the Lone Star State briefly before July takes off with even more travel!

So how do you goal set for a summer where you'll be gone 3/4 of the time? 
SIMPLY, my friends, that's how. 

Before I go further into the how, let's take a look at what I'm hoping to cultivate in June (technically what I've been working on for the past three weeks and have one more week to tackle!).

It's also my 5 year anniversary of using the Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets! Woohoo! 

June 2018 GOALS

Monthly Goals:

  • Go to Southeast Asia. Check! Two weeks serving in a new country across the world? Done.
  • Go to the International Thespian ConventionCheck/work in progress since I'm here now!
  • Pack the craft room & garage. Almost check! The garage has been organized, but my craft room is halfway finished. All of the books are packed and craft materials simplified though!
  • Enjoy the start of summer. Check/in progress as well! We're almost one month in and it's so good. 
  • Book my Detroit/Washington, D.C. ticketsCheck! I'm visiting a few friends next month and found some good, last minute deals to make it happen!
  • Research the Enneagram. Starting on this one this week! I thought I was a 2w3 but now I think I'm a 9w1! But as Ian Cron (or maybe Susan Stabile?) says, "It's a journey" and I plan to be on it for a while.
  • Catch up on e-mail inboxes: personal, school, blog. Not quite yet. I'm hoping to make progress this week! I basically stopped caring about my inbox when school ended... a month ago...
  • Read 5+ Books. Almost done! I've read these four so far:
    • Girl, Wash Your Face
    • The Mapmaker's Children
    • Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix
    • Red Queen

Weekly Goals:

  • 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs (3-5 entries weekly). I started strong but left the book at home... so this will be halfway achieved...
  • Connect with my gal pals! I'd say this is a yes! I have a handful of girl friends I'm trying to intentionally connect with each week (either in person or via text/FaceTime) and it's been so good for my soul!
  • Call home! It's a little sad  I have to put this down, but I want to be better about making the rounds (Mom/Dad, my sister, my grandmother). So far I've called or visited each week!
  • Finish a book. 3/4 weeks it's been successful so far, hoping to finish book 5 this week!

Daily Goals:
  • In the Word.
  • Time in Prayer. 
  • Drink Water.
  • Read for Fun.
As far as daily goals go, the only ones I've been hitting consistently these fairly consistently, though the times/what these look like have changed as I travel!

See? Fairly simple. I all too often complicate my monthly goals (even after five years of using my beloved PowerSheets) so I knew I had to take a good hard look at June and what could actually be accomplished when I would be traveling 3/4 weeks.  It's one reason why I include the big events on my monthly goals (trips I'm taking/events I'm attending). Even if I look back and don't see all the small boxes checked off, I can see that I had some fun and adventures along the way!

As June comes to an end, I'm already thinking about my July goals and what this space will look like in the coming months. Want to guess the theme? (You've already seen it in this post once or twice...)

Drum roll please...
Keep it simple!

From goals to schedules and even in my clothing and belongings, I'm looking to simplify pretty intentionally in the coming weeks. With that in mind, I'd love to know any ways you've simplified your life or even areas you are hoping to do so!

What about y'all? What did you make happen in June? 
And how do you keep it simple? 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Cultivating January Goals

More than halfway through the month and sharing goals? Sounds about right around here ;) January is off to a roaring start, and it's is actually about to slide in for a finish next week, how crazy is that?! Between jumping back online and kicking off the second semester at school, I'm taking complete advantage of labeling January a GRACE MONTH to get my feet wet and establish a routine.

I'm currently in Galveston for a theatre convention with teachers from across Texas, enjoying the sun and view of the beach -though it's still a crisp 60 degrees out- AND (drum roll please) I'm posting just in time to go BACK offline for a few weeks. I know, I know. Just stick with me.

One thing I haven't shared much about online is the discipleship school I am attending this year, and when I signed up I knew there would come a time for a media fast. Honestly, I'd been hoping it would happen in the fall when I was already offline, but no such luck ;) Starting tomorrow, Friday, January 26th, we'll be offline and away from media (Netflix, movies, any music other than worship music, etc) until February 15th. They've also encouraged us only to check our phones once in the morning, once midday, and once in the evening. To say it is going to be a challenge would be an understatement.

But I'm bringing you in on this with me to ask for prayers and understanding; I've loved jumping back online and connecting, but I can already feel the overwhelm of old tendencies, so I'm actually grateful we are taking this break again. And I am hoping to pray into and pursue breakthrough over the next three weeks for a few areas of my life, particularly physical health and financial responsibilities, my two primary goals for the year. Will you join me?

So before I go, here's a recap of what's been happening in January so far:


Monthly Goals:

  • Go to NYC on a Field Trip. Check! It was a blast!
  • Go to the Texas Educational Theatre Association FestivalCheck! I'm actually here now!
  • Direct our One Act Play wellCheck! We are ahead of schedule, and I'm so thankful!
  • Budget in Every Dollar. Mmmmm... not so much, but I'm working on February's. 
  • Study Prayer using the Give Me Jesus JournalCheck! I'm LOVING this journal so far!
  • Research & implement ketogenic eating. Ehhh.. yes and no. But not consistently enough to count.
  • Prep for the 3rd 6 weeks of school (all lesson plans submitted)Check! Done and done!
  • Arrange all spring field trips. So close! I'd say this one is halfway done!
  • Read 5+ Books. Check! Books read so far:
    • The Practice of the Presence of God
    • The Final Quest
    • Walking on Water
    • Victoria
    • A Court of Wings and Ruin

Weekly Goals:

  • Work out at Orange Theory at least three times. Nope. I actually froze my account for the time being.
  • Discipleship school reading (book & Bible). 3/4 weeks so far! 
  • Eat out MAX one time. Haha... well... not quite.
  • Meal prep/plan on Sundays. 2/4 weeks it's been successful! Planning to do so this weekend, too.
  • Attend church, lifegroup, and discipleship with JOY. Yes! It's been so good to be back!
  • Read/finish at least one book. Yep, yep, yep! Five books in 4 weeks!
  • Blog 2-3 times. Ah, not so much with this one either...

Daily Goals:
  • In the Word first.
  • Workout at Orange Theory. 
  • Read for fun.
  • Ketogenic eating.
  • Zero dollar day (no spending).
As far as daily goals go, the only ones I've been hitting consistently are "In the Word" (not always first sadly) and reading for fun. The others are certainly works in progress.

What about y'all? What did you make happen in January? 
And what are your plans for next month? 
See you February 15th!


Friday, January 5, 2018

2017 in Review

One of my favorite posts from last year was a year-end review of 2016. Back then, it was a much needed moment to count the gold in a very difficult 2016, and I'm pleased to say it was so much easier to trek bask through 2017 to find the glittering moments. In fact, it was hard to narrow them down!

I also thought it would be fun to give a glimpse into the past 5 months I've been offline. Now you can know what I've been up to :)

January 2017
In the first month of the year I...

  • kicked off the year with my word of the year and 2017 goals!
  • wrote the Goals with Grace devotional for Illustrated Faith (it's sold out, but find the reveal HERE).
  • rang in the New Year with Rachel, Dana, and Annie at a Fixer Upper in Waco.
  • started my second semester of my first year of teaching. Phew
  • interviewed at a local junior college in order to teach dual credit classes.
  • visited the birthplace of Baylor University: Independence, Texas!
  • attended TheatreFest in Galveston with hundreds of fellow theatre teachers.
  • watched TWO incredible films: La La Land and Hidden Figures. SO good.
  • started watching The Crown, This is Us, and Victoria. If you haven't watched yet, go now!

February 2017
In the second month of the year I...

  • started Bible journaling through the Psalms (didn't finish, but the start was fun!).
  • attended Beth Moore's LIT conference with Annie!
  • Bible journaled with some of my students after school. What a gift!
  • directed my first UIL One Act Play: Proof by David Auburn.
  • launched an online workshop with Illustrated Faith: Celebrate Your Season!
  • attended two play clinics with my students (and we all made it back in one piece)!
  • finally purchased a Letterfolk board! It's gorgeous and so fun.

March 2017
In the third month of the year I...

  • visited a local drive-through safari (yes, we have those in Texas...) and fed a giraffe!
  • competed with my first One Act Play! We didn't advance, but we got two acting awards.
  • had my sister visit for a few days of spring break to rest and relax around BCS.
  • retreated to Waco as a chaperone for another theatre group, visiting college friends and mentors.
  • took my first class at YogaPod!
  • watched and fell in love with The Amish Project at Baylor University.
  • got a little brave and started sharing more about theatre/my classroom online.

April 2017
In the fourth month of the year I...

  • joined in on an Illustrated Faith retreat with Shanna and the gang!
  • watched one of my best friends kick BUTT in a show called Bruises in Dallas.
  • went on a few dates with a great guy (adventuring around a bookstore included).
  • saw Once the Musical and was blown away multiple times!
  • found a house to rent with a new roommate for the fall! Living with Jess has been a blast ever since!
  • wrote a script and did the lights for Jess's spring dance show. 
  • took a weekend trip home for Easter and to celebrate family birthdays. 
  • took and PASSED my teaching certification test. Praise the Lord!

May 2017
In the fifth month of the year I...

  • finished my first year of teaching! Yes and amen!
  • BOUGHT A CAR! Goodbye, 2006 VW Beetle. Hello, 2017 Honda HR-V!
  • went to a recording of two sessions of Beth Moore's videos for The Quest study. Girl can preach!
  • took 12 students on a field trip to New York City. What a blast!
  • saw three shows on Broadway: School of Rock, A Bronx Tale, and WICKED!
  • got stuck at the JFK airport for 12 hours on the way back.... and got 3 hours of sleep before the first day of finals... sheesh.
  • flew to Seattle for the Illustrated Faith Creative Team Retreat!
  • collaborated with DaySpring on two gift guides: Mother's Day and Graduation.

June 2017
In the sixth month of the year I...

  • visited old friends and roommates from Seattle, including watching the sunset at 10:00pm.
  • road-tripped with Emily to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
  • saw several amazing shows including Shakespeare in Love and Henry IV, Part I.
  • met Jenna, an Instagram friend, in real life!
  • took a couple weeks off between trips to pack my apartment.
  • saw Something Rotten in Houston with 4 of my students.
  • went to California with Carissa to adventure and visit family!
  • spent 18 hours in Disneyland with Carissa (the 30,000+ steps and 13 miles were worth it!)
  • completely nerded out in the Harry Potter section of Universal Studios.
  • saw Allan Leech (Tom from Downton Abbey) and Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow from Once Upon a Time) in Constellations in LA. Dream team!

July 2017
In the seventh month of the year I...

  • spent the 4th of July at a family reunion in Texas.
  • hopped back on a plane to fly to Detroit to begin the blogging road trip of my dreams!
  • visited Mt. Vernon, Ft. McHenry, Fords Theatre, and more on the drive to Washington, D.C.!
  • adventured around the city with Dana, Annie, and Sarah, with art museums, monuments, and cupcakes included.
  • stopped in Richmond, VA to add Rachel D. to our adventures and bough way too many books ;)
  • popped over to Staunton to see Loves Labours Lost at the American Shakespeare Center. Amazing!
  • made a quick stop in Tennessee to get breakfast with Taylor S. at Tupelo Honey!
  • bounced around Nashville picking up a few new friends, plenty of sweets, and all the Instagram worthy pictures.
  • took ANOTHER plane to New York City for a week of workshops and shows!
  • saw eight Broadway shows in 6 days. AGAIN! The Play that Goes Wrong, Anastasia, Bandstand, Waitress, Aladdin, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dear Evan Hansen, and Come From Away.
  • had brunch with the incredible Jordan, another blogging friend!
  • went on a retreat to the lake with my Lifegroup and it was SO life giving!
  • had quite possibly (well, without a doubt actually) the best month of 2017!

August 2017
In the eighth month of the year I...
  • quit the internet. A hard but good decision, you can read the BEFORE and AFTER if you haven't already.
  • moved from an apartment to a house! It has been one of the best decisions of the year.
  • started my second year of teaching with a BANG! What a difference one year makes!
Now here's where it gets tricky. I took THOUSANDS of pictures over the years and documented my days on the regular, but I quit the internet and suddenly I have little record, besides my journals, of what's gone on. Seriously, I took like... 10 pictures from August to December. Okay, back to it...

  • auditioned and cast our fall show, Enchanted April! Nothing says back to school like starting rehearsals one week later.
  • got a balayage/balayaged(?) my hair for the first time. I love it!
  • started the Antioch Discipleship School through my church.
  • had days of school cancelled due to the rain from Hurricane Harvey hitting Houston.

September 2017
In the ninth month of the year I...
  • got free tickets to a Baylor football game and attended with Addison! We lost, but it was still fun!
  • went to my 2nd ever Texas A&M football game and bought my first maroon Aggie shirt... 
  • went to Houston with my church to serve families who were affected by the hurricane. We completely gutted two houses in one day.
  • dressed up for twin day with my roommate Jessica (she's the dance teacher at my school) and confused a lot of students and teachers!
  • went to the CRAZIEST costume shop in North Texas to rent our costumes for the fall play (and had lunch with my sister and brother-in-law). 

October 2017
In the tenth month of the year I...
  • opened and closed our fall play, Enchanted April! I was a little worried it might not happen, but we made it!
  • celebrated after the show at Freddy's with around 25-30 church friends who came to support me!
  • went to Silobration for the second year in a row with Rachel! Cupcakes, cute decor, and Johnnyswim for the win!
  • hosted a pumpkin painting potluck for our Lifegroup (pictured above). Mischief Managed ;)
  • went to Baylor on a field trip with the business students and caught up with some professors.
  • saw JohnnySwim AGAIN as a birthday present from Carissa. AH-mazing!
  • had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory with my family for my mom and sister's birthdays.

November 2017
In the eleventh month of the year I...
  • spent barely 24 in Indianapolis for a reunion with Dana, Annie, and Rachel! Oh so worth it.
  • helped throw an outdoor dinner party for Addison's birthday. The wind and rain wouldn't keep us away!
  • celebrated my roommate's engagement at the final football game of the year! Congrats Jess and Chuck!
  • went on a few more dates, including another bookstore adventure and ice skating. I didn't fall!
  • headed home for the Thanksgiving holidays for another family reunion and plenty of Christmas decorating.
  • wrote another script for and helped prep Jess's Christmas dance show.

December 2017
In the twelfth month of the year I...
  • decorated our house for Christmas with Jessica. It's so festive!
  • made it through the rain in the local Christmas parade with my students.
  • had an almost-snow day! It snowed in DROVES one night and was so powdery!
  • celebrated said snow by going sledding and having a snowball fight at 11pm on a school night.
  • hosted our 1st Annual Christmas Dinner Theatre Spectacular!
  • had a Young Adult Section Christmas party of epic proportions with my church group.
  • adventured around town to see ALL the musical Christmas lights at least twice.
  • went with Sam to pick up her GORGEOUS wedding gown!
  • cast and cut our spring One Act Play: Silent Sky!
  • finished the first semester of teaching and relaxed, writing this post on the first day of break.
  • headed home for the Christmas holidays.
  • went to Kansas City for the One Thing Conference by IHOP!
  • simplified my 2018 goals LIKE CRAZY (more on this to come).

And there you have it! What a year, friends! It's absolutely crazy to me that it has already come and gone, but I am full of hope and expectancy for the New Year! Hope you enjoyed the highlights :) I sure enjoyed writing them!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Cultivating My 2018 Goals

I am not a gardener. I never have been, and I don't know that I intend to be. I think the issue is that I don't like to get my hands dirty, and maybe that says more about me than I realize ;) My grandfather had a garden, and I remember perching against the fence while my sister dug holes in the red dirt to play in, fresh grown corn and tomatoes sprawling in the background.  But gardening was never for me.

I'm more the kind to wander a farmer's market and admire someone else's blooms, paying the $5-$20 to enjoy those blooms in my own home, rather than to take the time to tend to my own plot of land and wait, wait, wait for the harvest to come.

Last year Lara Casey, one of my role models, published Cultivate: A Grace Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life and I promptly picked it up off the shelf, read three chapters, then lost it in the flurry of beginning the new year. I picked it back up again in December and decided to dig into it  -alongside my beloved Powersheets- to plan 2018, and it has made all the difference!

*The yearly workbooks pictured above are sold out, BUT you can still sang your own PowerSheets HERE

Truth be told, I wrote this post twice. Once with 8 major goals and then, after a few chats with friends and working through the Goal Setting Series on Lara's site, I narrowed it down to three. THREE goals for 2018. It felt pretty scary at first but now it feels oh so good.

My three goals came from Proverbs 31:25, a verse I had already chosen to be part of the vision for the new year. Verse 25 says, "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she laughs without fear of the future." So, with that in mind and without further ado:

My 2018 Goals

1. Cultivate STRENGTH. The dictionary definition of strength includes "the quality or state of being strong; bodily or muscular power; mental power, force, or vigor; an inherent capacity to manifest energy, endure, and resist." In 2018, I want to make positive changes to my physical health and tend to some unhealthy habits and thought patterns. This one is #1 because progress here will set me up for success in years to come, and it will allow me to say a ready yes to opportunities and dreams that God brings along the way. I also want to strengthen my heart in the Word and by spending daily time in His presence and prayer.

Cultivating STRENGTH looks like:
+ dedicating daily time to prayer, scripture, and seeking God.
+ implementing a sustainable, healthy way of eating.
+ committing to an active lifestyle.
+ take 100 Orange Theory classes in 2018.
+ creating simplified routines.
+ practicing self control to break unhealthy habits.

2. Cultivate DIGNITY. The dictionary definition of dignity includes "the state or quality of being worthy of honor; a sense of pride in oneself or self respect; a composed or serious manner of style." When I think of cultivating dignity this year, the primary way is by practicing financial responsibility. I want to get out of credit card and personal debt, managing my money more wisely instead of stressing from paycheck to paycheck, as well as be able to adventure in the summers and give generously. Things begin with cultivating financial responsibility. Also, I want to make my work meaningful, which means preparing well, not overcommitting myself to good but unnecessary things, and approaching what commitments I do have prayerfully.

Cultivating DIGNITY looks like:
+ Reading Dave Ramsey's Total Money Make Over.
+ Beginning his 7 Baby Steps to Financial Freedom.
+ Use EveryDollar to track spending and Qapital to begin saving.
+ Prepare well at work, cutting out procrastination.
+ Honor what commitments I have and prayerfully limiting any I might add.

3. Cultivate LAUGHTER. It felt a little silly to include the dictionary definition of laughter, so instead I will share with you my definition of this word in the context of goal setting. When I think of laughter, I think of cultivating joy and gladness, taken from 2017's verse of the year, Isaiah 51:3. Joy makes me think of cultivating contentment, but also doing more of those things that fire me up. Gladness makes me think of savoring my season, digging into local community, and being a positive presence online. All of those things had been worked into my original list of 8 goals, so it seems fitting that they fall under the laughter category here.

Cultivating LAUGHTER looks like:
+ scheduling things that bring me joy into my week.
+ cultivating contentment in my season, with my belongings, and when online.
+ blessing and encouraging others whenever possible.
+ digging into my local community.
+ doing more of what fires me up.
+ reading 52 books in 52 weeks.


Voila! Ohh, it feels strange and scary and exciting to only have three goals this year! Honestly, I think simplifying it to three categories will set me up for more success in goal setting than I've ever experienced. At least that's what I'm hoping.

You'll notice that I included a couple of numbered goals in there, too, namely reading 52 books in 52 weeks and taking 100 Orange Theory classes. I wanted to be sure to include my book challenge, bringing it down from last year's 75 books (missed it by 10!) since reading is one of those things that both fires me up and inspires me creatively.

I also added the 100 classes goal as a non-scale-victory in the category of physical strength. Instead of saying X number of pounds lost, making myself dependent on the scale to see if I've been making improvements, a class count will mean that I have been utilizing my somewhat pricey gym membership and after 100 classes I can almost guarantee to see a difference in strength! Both of these things excite me very much.

What are your goals this year? 
How do you plan to make what matters happen in 2018?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Away and Back Again | My Social Media Break

The internet is a funny thing, isn't it? A still relatively new resource, it has consumed our daily lives and dependencies like rapid fire, and while a blooming garden of inspiration and encouragement, it can just as quickly turn into a black hole that strips us of time, confidence, and contentment.

Don't get me wrong, I love it and am deeply grateful for it, but in the first half of 2017 I found myself hurtling through the time warp rather than strolling down the garden path. Returning from a month of travels, phone in hand, wrist aching as a clear sign of over-attachment, it was finally time.

If I'm being honest, I felt the pull to step away from the internet last May, and I didn't do it until August. Even then, I didn't do it perfectly. I spent the last two months ghosting (glancing on line, scrolling without posting or engaging), willing away the time until I could jump back online.

My "break" was hardly what I planned or expected. 

Even so, It wasn't a waste. 

And that sentence right there is evidence of a heart shift that's happening. It's still a work in progress, but there's forward movement.

I'm a perfectionist. A procrastinator. A people-pleaser. A pre-planner. 

I tout my affinity for pretty goal planning pages and checklists, while in reality I weigh myself down with guilt for things left unfinished or hurried at the last minute. I post framed prints of "Progress not Perfection" while running myself ragged with reprimands for mistakes, or throwing goals out the window entirely when the first smudge of ink smears the edge of the page.

These last five months have shown me that I need a heavy dollop of grace atop the mess of my life, and they've taught me that the mess doesn't have to be shelved neatly (or shoved away in a closet) for growth or progress to be made.

Yes, I'd love things tightly ordered.
Yes, I'd love to tackle a project perfectly.
Yes, I'd love to return to the internet with a laundry list of accomplishments and blessings.
Yes, I'd love to say that I'm a completely changed woman and the internet is best left alone.

But God.

But God taught me that He is at work in the mess.
But God revealed that He is pleased by my faithfulness rather than my forced fruit.
But God isn't a blessing vending machine and instead is a faithful, forgiving, fun-loving Father.
But God did change me and God CAN use the internet to do so.

But God didn't do it in the way I expected.

It's true, I'm back on the internet and glad to be so. I'm excited to write and share and connect with all of you all over again. I stepped away for a while, and it was good for my soul, even though I "failed" the commitment more than once and scrolled away a day or two.

I'm not entirely sure what's next, but I'm excited to see.
I'm excited to share, but I'm excited to keep some things close to my heart, too.
I'm grateful for you who've cheered me on and stuck around.
I'm thankful for you who are finding this space for the first time.
I'm praying you see more of Jesus here than of me, and I'm anticipating a pretty big learning curve.
I'm saying thanks in advance for the grace as I make a mess, and I pray we embrace the mess together.

I've gone away, and I'm back again, and I can't wait to see what's up for us next. 
Love Bailey Jean. All rights reserved. BLOG DESIGN BY Labinastudio.