2020 Goals

Happy New Year!

It’s 2020 – the only 20/20 I’ve had in my life since I was like 9 and began wearing glasses. Some say it’s the year of clarity because of that, but I like to think everyday is a day of clarity if you open yourself up to it and really make the effort to see things for what they are. More importantly, though, how was everyone’s New Year? Did you go out and have a party? Did you do something fun and unexpected? Did you have a low-key New Year?

We are low-key NYE people. We’ve had our years of going out and partying, but we really enjoy the simple NYE events the most (fun fact – I have always, always been an early to bed early to rise kind of gal – even when I was a teen. I was always in bed before 9 pm and I am most definitely not ashamed of that. A girl needs her sleep).

This New Year’s Eve was a very low key one. It’s been unseasonably warm – is that a thing? Can it be unseasonably warm in Florida given that we don’t have actual seasons? I don’t know. Whatever – in Florida. Like, 80 degrees and downright hot and miserable and really obnoxious. I dislike it, most definitely because it brings the pollen. And, unfortunately, the older I get, the more the pollen makes me suffer.

It gives me a nasty sinus headache, and I cannot sleep. Fun fact – I haven’t slept more than 2-3 hours in five nights because of it. The good news is that I can ignore the headache during the day as it’s just a dull throb with medication. I was fine to host, so we had some of our favorite people and very best friends over for the evening. My husband is an amazing cook, and he put filets on the grill, made his famous smashed potatoes and roasted some of my favorite veggies.

It was fabulous. I had a decadent bottle of red wine, the kids had fun with some imaginative art projects and outside time, and we laughed – a lot. Even better, everyone was gone by 10 pm, we put the kids to bed, showered, and rang in the new year sleeping peacefully in our bed. It was amazing. I didn’t feel great on New Year’s Day, but I spent the day resting, and that was really good for me. Craig spent the day playing with the kids and having fun with them while I rested, and I am always appreciative of that when I’m not well. I know my body, I know when I need rest, and I know what happens if I ignore that need. It’s not good.

Now that the New Year is here, I’m just excited. I’m happy to put 2019 behind me (you can read about why I thought it was the best worst year ever here) and start fresh this year. It’s a big year for us in so many ways. My husband and I will celebrate 15 years of marriage this year. Our oldest daughter will celebrate her 12th birthday, which means that it’s her last birthday before she becomes a teenager. We have so many fun things planned. We have so many amazing adventures ahead. We have so much to look forward to and to be thankful for.

That said, it’s also a new year. That means it’s time for new goals. I already talked about how this is going to be the year of quality for us. Quality over quantity in every aspect of our lives. But, it’s not the only goal I’m going to make for myself this year – obviously. So, here we go (because if I don’t share, who will hold me accountable?).

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  • Meal plan. For several reasons. Number one – because I am so tired of going to Publix 5-6 times a week because we don’t plan. We cannot go into that store without spending at least $100, and that’s on top of the big trip we take on Sundays for what we pretend is our ‘shopping for the week,’ knowing we will be back another 4-5 times. Do the math. It’s a gross waste. Number two – I’m tired of the “what do you want? I don’t know, what do you want,” conversation every night. Number three – we are already home for dinner so infrequently that we shouldn’t have to order take out because we can’t make a decision or we lack one little ingredient and can’t cook what we want when we are home. Number four – I love being organized and making lists, so I bought a meal planning calendar, and I want to use it. Five – we are healthy eaters regardless, but this will take things to the next level.
  • Find more patience. I’ll struggle with this, but I’m going to try. I’m not a people person, and it’s probably because I’m so impatient with them as a whole. It’s so easy not to be ignorant and ridiculous, yet I find myself wondering why it seems so hard for so many. Thus, my lack of patience. Being a mom of four also makes patience a thing, too, right?
  • Stop apologizing for being myself or not living up to other’s expectations. I say fuck a lot. I don’t have a lot of patience (though I’m working on that). I like what I like. I’m not easily impressed. I have strong opinions. I think wrong is wrong. I don’t have time for negativity. I think jealousy and insecurities are ugly and pointless. Some people just aren’t my type of people. I’m good with who I am, and I don’t need or want anyone’s approval – but I’m also no longer apologizing for my opinions and feelings.
  • Be more intentional. With my time, my energy, my words, and my focus.
  • Write a book. Fun fact – I wrote one in 2019, but I have this gut instinct that I’m meant to write something very specific, and I’m working on that now.
  • Tackle two of the last and biggest remodeling projects in our house. We bought our dream house in 2015, and we have two things left to do. I, however, am a Type-A perfectionist, and I’m good at putting them off because the idea of living in a construction zone with four kids while also working from home for a few weeks really gives me anxiety and makes me feel like I’m having a panic attack. But, we want them done, so we’re doing them and I’m going to suck it up and try not to be a raging nightmare bitch when my life feels like it’s out of control (fun fact – I’m an obsessive compulsive neat freak because I can control that, and I like control. I have four kids, so many things in life are totally and completely out of my control, but a clean house and great makeup are inside my realm of control. And I can be a little uptight about both.)
  • Spend more time outside. It’s good for the soul.
  • I probably have more, but I can’t think of them right now.

What are your goals for the new year? I’m not a resolution maker, but I love a new list of goals. I think goals are amazing, and I think that it’s easy to keep adding to your goals, expanding upon them, changing them up to make them more of what you’re actually looking for throughout the year. I love that.

2019: The Best Worst Year

Quality.

The degree of excellence of something.

It’s a simple word. Not even a fancy one. Regardless, it’s the word I am focusing on in my life in 2020. It’s the word I want to embody the year we’re about to live. I want to look back a year from now, and I want to feel as if I’ve made that happen.

I’m going to be honest with you. I walked into 2019 excited for the new year. I’m always excited because we have always been so fortunate to have one amazing year after another. That’s certainly not to say that we haven’t had bad days or that we haven’t been through experiences that have brought us to our knees in tears begging God to change us. We have. We’ve done it a few times – namely in 2010 when we suffered miscarriage after miscarriage trying to have our second baby.

That year brought us to our knees more times than I can count – and we’ve been so fortunate that the rest of our years have been so beautiful (sprinkled with moments that weren’t pleasant, but very, very good as a whole). We’ve been so fortunate, and that is not lost on us.

2019 was a strange year. It was a year I cannot even put into words. It’s a year that is filled with so many amazing memories – I mean, we honestly had the most phenomenal year. But it’s also a year that humbled me. It’s a year that brought me so much clarity. It’s a year that hurt me more than any other year of my life.

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We were only 7 weeks into the new year when our sweet son, only 4-years-old at the time, suffered a Grand Mal seizure. To this day, after four days in the hospital and every single test you can imagine, we have no answers. It was not febrile. It was not the result of head trauma. It wasn’t anything explainable, which is why it’s called an unprovoked Grand Mal seizure.

It was the worst five minutes of my life, followed by the worst half hour of my life when he stopped seizing and was completely unresponsive, followed by the worst four days of my life in the hospital watching his little body go through test after test, followed by the worst year of my life waking up in the middle of the night in a panicked sweat, tears streaming down my face, and fear in my heart as I raced across the house to his bedroom to make sure he was still breathing. Night after night after night.

I cannot even put into words the fear and terror in my heart every single time my phone rings while he’s at school and I see the name of the school scrolling across my phone. I just know that they’re calling to tell me he’s seizing again. I’m wrong – Thank God – every single time, but that fear never subsides. Every single time I hear a thud anywhere in the house or outside, my heart stops in fear as I race to the sound to make sure he didn’t fall and hit his head – because the chance of him suffering another seizure is increased exponentially after suffering from one.

It never gets easier.

I know we are fortunate that this wasn’t worse. I know we are so blessed that every single one of his tests came back negative and void of any complications or health problems or concerns. I know this. I also know that no answers suck because there’s no way to prevent or avoid what you don’t recognize or know to prevent or avoid.

I’ll never forget the moment, about a month after Carter was released from the hospital, when discussing his seizure with a woman when she commented, “I don’t know why you’re so panicked about it. It happens all the time to people, and it’s not that big a deal,” in the most callous, most disgusting display of ignorance imaginable.

It might not seem like the biggest deal in the world when a child is fine, but anyone who can say that it’s not a big deal and that it happens all the time and it’s just a thing has never stared at their child’s seizing body on the ground, foam and vomit seeping from his mouth while his body shakes uncontrollably. They’ve never seen their child go instantly still while turning bluer by the moment as his little body is struggling to take in air. They’ve never looked down at their lifeless child and thought to themselves, “Oh my God. This is the last time I will ever hold my baby,” because there was no breath and no recognizable pulse and you thought your baby was gone.

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To those who don’t think that this is a big deal – keep feeling that. Keep feeling that and keep feeling the bliss that comes from having never been in a situation where your baby’s life was in question. You are the lucky ones. You are the ones who don’t know the fear that grips your heart and the instantaneous nightmare that comes to mind when your child’s lifeless body is suddenly flashing before your eyes when you lie down and close your eyes at night.

You’ve never laid awake in bed for hours on end night after night after night crying yourself to sleep while your husband holds you and worries for you and shares your fears and hopes that you’ll eventually get some sleep. You’ll never know that it’s like to go through almost an entire year living in a total fog from exhaustion and sleep deprivation and worry. You are so lucky you don’t see your son’s lifeless body every single time you close your eyes. At home. In a plane. In a hotel room. When he’s cuddled up next to you on the couch on movie night. You won’t know that terror, and you are living the very best possible life because of that.

That one moment, those 5 minutes, that half hour, that four days, defined an entire year for me. In fact, it may define my entire life. I don’t know. There are aspects of it that do get a bit easier each day, but the fear never settles or becomes more manageable when you’re not with your little boy and the phone rings and it’s the grandparents who are with him, or the school where he goes, or your husband when you’re not home. That fear consumes me. It eats me alive from the inside out, and it’s affected my entire year.

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I can’t just get over it. I can’t just accept it because it happens to people all the time. I’ve had so many beautiful men and women reach out to me to share their stories so similar to ours. My heart hurts so much for each of them, while simultaneously feeling so much appreciation and love and respect for those who do this all the time, for those who live this every single day of their lives. For those who have it so much worse than we did or do. Those people are the real heroes.

That one moment, though. That one moment shaped an entire year. It took so much of the joy from my life in so many small ways while also providing me with the opportunity to learn new ways to feel joy. For example, I feel just a little less joy and excitement and pleasure when I’m away from my kids. I know I need the time away to recharge, even for a few hours on date night, but I feel a little less joy in that time because of my fear. On the same note, I feel so much more joy in the simplest of things. The moments I hear the twins bursting through the master bedroom door and running to my husband’s side of the bed at some ungodly hour where the sun isn’t even up yet on a Saturday morning asking for pancakes and bacon in their ‘inside’ voices (their inside voices are the same as their outside voices, in case you were wondering).

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The joy I feel in those moments is indescribable. They’re alive. They’re well. They’re so normal and so unaffected, and they’re so sweet. I find so much joy in those moments.

It’s amazing to me that a year filled with so many beautiful trips, so many moments that bring laughter and joy, and so many days spent with the people who fill our hearts to the top with so much love and enjoyment, and so many hilarious memories, and fun adventures, and amazing things can be a year I look back on and feel relief when I realize it’s almost over.

I know, realistically, that January 1 is nothing more than a brand-new day just like today was, and tomorrow will be, and the day before yesterday was; but it holds so much more for me this year. It holds so much promise for a better year. A year of healing and of quality.

Our lives in 2019 were filled with quality. We weren’t lacking in it at all, but it was also busting at the seams with quantity. Approximately 30 weekends in hotels. Almost 100 nights in beds that don’t belong to us. More activities and nights spent with half our family here and half there and so very few opportunities to spend just a simple evening together at home.

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None of our travel is work related, at all. The only time it’s even remotely close to work related is the weekend my husband and I spend in Tampa every December for his work Christmas party – and it’s not like that’s mandatory. We just love it. I say that because I’m sure it’s easy to wish for more time at home and less time in hotels and less time in the airport when you’re not really given a choice in the matter because it’s work-related. But, ours is not work related, which alternately makes me feel fortunate and sad at the same time. There’s a certain irony in feeling annoyed and overwhelmed and irritated about packing and traveling and being away from home when all the trips are your choice.

I don’t want to feel like that in 2020. I don’t want so much of everything in the new year. I want more quality, less quantity, and more time to focus on what is good in life. I want more lazy mornings in my own home. I want more weekends spent making spontaneous plans. I want more, but I don’t want more for the sake of more. I want more quality.

I want 2020 to be a year that I can look back on one year from today and know that quality was abundant in our lives and that we derived so much pleasure from each moment rather than simply living the motions. I want this year to be the year that moments of fear and terror are fewer and further between. Our pediatric neurologist told us that if Carter can go a full year without a secondary seizure, his chances of having another one decrease significantly.

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I want February 17, 2020 to be a day of celebration because he made it a year without a second seizure. I want it to be a day of happiness. I am putting a lot of pressure on that one day because I have this feeling in my mind that making it to that day without incident means that I will finally relax a bit, breathe a little bit easier, and maybe even sleep through the night without waking in a panicked sweat. I hope it’s the first night in a year that I don’t get up in the middle of the night and sneak across the house to put my hand on his chest and feel him breathing and still wake up the following morning with a happy, healthy, beautiful little boy to love.

2020 – I have big plans for you.

2019 – I let you own me, and I will never let that happen again.

January Goals – Accountability Post

Happy Wednesday, loves!

Can you believe January is over tomorrow? It feels like we were just ringing in the new year with our little loves and our best friends, but now it’s the end of the month. The days are long, but the years are short – right?

It’s been an exciting month in the Raiford house, but it’s also been a busy one. This past weekend was our oldest daughter’s first cheer competition of the season. They placed second – two points from first place! – in their division…and they ROCKED the mat. You have never seen a group of parents more excited or proud than our cheer parents this weekend.

It was SUCH a fun weekend. We went down to Tampa to one of our favorite hotels for the weekend with some of our favorite people and fellow cheer parents. The twins stayed home, but we took the big girls. Friday night was a date night for the adults to celebrate my sweet husband’s birthday. Saturday was a family day and dinner night with everyone, and Sunday was a family morning, coffee with friends, go home, unpack, load all four kids up in the car and head to Sunday dinner with our crew to celebrate the birth of our newest – and the very last – baby to the group.

Now it’s Wednesday, and we are headed out again.

I’m. So. Tired.

Packing. Unpacking. Repacking. Grocery shopping so our parents have plenty of choices around the house while we are gone – our parents always get together and stay at our house for us while we’re out of town, which we SO appreciate – but it’s a little more work for us.

But, it’s the end of the month – and I had some January goals. Did I meet them? Did I fail? Did I exceed them? I thought I might hold myself accountable and share them with you.

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Write and Publish 2 Blog Posts Per Week  – Exceeded

My blog is not my job. I love it, but it’s my personal page for sharing things that I love – and sometimes sharing some of the things PR agencies and companies want to work on with me that don’t work with my typical clientele and my regular ‘job’ creating web content for my clients.

However, I’m bad about putting the blog last when my schedule gets hectic, and I’m trying to put an end to that habit. So, I exceeded it by publishing three blog posts a week all month – and I am beyond proud of myself!

No Falling Asleep on the Couch – Meeting Expectations

My husband and I are so bad about this. We will put the kids to bed, shower, and lie down on the chaise to catch up on some of our favorite shows, but we get so comfortable with the recline position activated, and we always fall asleep on the couch…within a half hour of sitting down! And we will both sleep there until 11 or so. My sweet husband usually wakes up and wakes me up so we can go to bed, but it’s a nasty habit we’d like to stop. We did okay. We aren’t great at it – but we started off strong – and we are making it to bed before we fall asleep on the couch more often than not. We are a work in progress.

Two Yoga Classes A Week – Exceeded

Yoga is my favorite workout ever, but I sometimes skip one or two classes a week if I’m super busy. It’s an hour and 15-minute class, and I can run a few miles in a half hour and call it a day when I don’t have the time. I never skip my workout, but I will skip yoga in favor of something shorter, and I never fail to end up disappointed in myself. So, I made it a goal this year to make it to at least two yoga classes a week always – no matter how busy I am – and I’ve been to three a week all year. This week I will miss two because of travel – but my grandmother only has one birthday a year…and this is a HUGE one.

Be On Time – Failed. Big time failed.

I am random. I can get into the habit of being early and be excellent at it, but then I usually end up getting pulled into other things and it takes up more of my time than not. For example, when I’m early to the girls’ school, I usually end up being asked to do something that ends up taking me another half hour or so – and I don’t get home until almost 10 am. I find myself super stressed and overwhelmed when that happens.

When I get overwhelmed and stressed, I find myself sitting at my desk longer in the mornings working on ‘just one more thing’ so that I don’t feel overwhelmed if I get pulled into something else. I love to help and be active in their school, and I’m trying to find that balance. But, that means I’ve been late most mornings lately, and that’s also causing me some anxiety. I hate being late, and leaving on time with five little ones – I take my nephew to school every morning, too – means it takes only one “I have to go potty” or one quick conversation with a parent or a teacher at the twins’ school to put me three or four minutes behind – which means late.

Anyway, I suck at this one. Maybe I’ll be better in February.

Did you have goals in January to work through? Did you meet them? Or did you exceed them? Or do you need to work a little harder in February? It’s all right – there’s nothing wrong with falling short as long as you’re not giving up completely. You’ve got this!

2018 Reflections and 2019 Goals: Happy New Year

Happy Tuesday, loves!

And Happy New Year!

Want to hear something funny? This is my least favorite time of the year. Well, December 26 – August 31 is my least favorite time of the year. I live for September 1 – December 25. The rest of the year I could actually care less about. There’s something so magical and amazing about those four months, and I get a little sad when they are over.

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Of course, I love the new year and what it means. I love days each of my five loves were born. I love our wedding anniversary. I love the fun we have all year. I just don’t feel the same magic every single day the first eight months of the year. But I do the moment September 1 arrives. Every single day until Christmas is magic.

The magic that happens the rest of the year is more situational than it is every moment, and that’s where I feel I love it just a bit less. Also, I don’t care much for being hot. Ironic, for a lifelong Floridian, right?

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It’s a new year right now, and that’s significant for so many people. While I’m a firm believer in making changes and starting over any day, any time, and for any reason you feel the need, there is something so magical about starting over on January 1. It’s like the slate has been wiped clean, the new year is here, and there is just too much to be excited about.

 

Reflecting on 2018

 

What. A. Year.

Okay, so we say that every year. But it’s amazing that every year seems like the most amazing year and it cannot be topped, and yet the following year always manages to top it. That’s certainly not to say that there are not moments in which life is not the best ever or that we don’t have low moments, but we are fortunate enough that our low moments and our down moments are few and far between, and they are far outweighed by the good. We are big on choosing happiness, and that works for us most of the time.

2018 was a fun year in so many ways. It brought at least one getaway or trip every month, which was our goal.

We took the big girls to New York City for the first time. Craig and I have been going a few times a year for the past 12 or 13 years, and it’s our favorite city. But the girls have never been, and we decide they were finally old enough. And oh my goodness, did Craig make sure they had the best time. He made reservations at our favorite restaurant, Il Tinello, one night. They got to stay at our favorite hotel and meet our favorite doorman. He made sure that every dinner reservation he made was for a great filet for Ava, since it’s her favorite.

He took them to American Girl and let them go to town getting whatever they wanted. We went to Times Square and they disliked it as much as we do – so we know for certain we never have to go back there again. We took them to the Plaza for brunch. We took them to Saks to go shoe shopping because that’s my favorite pastime there. We took them to see the Statue of Liberty from the Ritz Carlton, and to tour Tiffany’s (because I can’t leave NYC without a new little blue box) and to every Starbucks and to Central Park and everywhere in between.

 

We visited my grandmother in Texas twice in 2018. She’s almost 100, and it’s our priority to spend a few weekends a year with her these days. The kids went with us for four days the first time, and Craig and I went alone to spend a whirlwind 24 hours with her – and my parents and brother and extended family – in November.

Craig and I went on a cruise with our four favorite couples for a long weekend. Cruises are not my favorite, but these people certainly are. Craig ended up definitely, totally, almost ruining night one for me when he got SO sick, but our friends made it hilarious, funny, and enjoyable, and of course, he definitely made up for it the rest of the cruise.

We spent a long weekend in West Palm, we spent a long weekend with our families in Orlando in a fun rental house doing nothing but enjoying the time we have with one another. We spent long weekends at the Omni Championsgate, at the Gaylord, at Disney, in New York, the Caribbean, Tampa, Naples, and more.

Our best friends bought a river house, and we spent so many Sundays there making memories with them and all of our kids. We celebrated our 10th year of Wednesday night dinners with them. We exceeded our goal of having 6 date nights with no kids with them (we made it to 9), and I cannot even tell you how much we laughed. We spent more time outdoors being athletic than ever before. We ran two 5k races. We went to the gym together. We had more family movie nights. Addison found a love of baking, which means she and I get to spend more time together.

We had more fun, made more memories, and celebrated so many things. We met our goals for the year much earlier than we thought we would, and then we killed them the rest of the year. We failed in some areas (I’m looking at you tiffanyraiford.com….I didn’t blog as often as I said I would simply because I put my clients first. The blog is a fun hobby for me, but the writing I do for my clients is my priority). We didn’t do nearly all the stuff around the house we wanted to do, but we did other things we didn’t plan on doing.

2018 was a fun year. It was also a year for learning – as they should all be.

One of the best things I do all year is spend some time looking back at the lessons we learned.

For example – we can do anything, but we cannot do everything.

Quality people are the best people.

Giving back is always the most important thing we do.

Quality is always better than quantity.

Forgiveness is always the answer.

What other people think of you only matters if you’re unhappy with yourself – change your life and learn to love yourself and it won’t matter how others view you.

The best times are the simplest times.

A full calendar is not my favorite.

#backtobasics is everything good in life.

We all make mistakes, and we should learn from them, take ownership of them, and move on to become better people.

Kids are kind of assholes, but they’re super cute.

Life is good, and I appreciate the hell out of that. I don’t take that for granted, and I am filled with grace and gratitude because of it.

Goals for 2019

What will this year bring? I have no idea, but I do know that there are some new goals I’d like to make. There are also some old goals I’d like to continue to live by.

I will continue to live with these goals:

  • Always say no if you’re not 100% invested in it from the start (life is too short to go about it doing what you don’t want to do)
  • Give grace
  • Practice gratitude
  • Put my marriage first
  • Spend more quality time with the kids
  • Re-evaluate anything that makes me second guess my own life and make changes as needed to get back on track if I feel off track or unhappy with anything in life.
  • We will spend at least one weekend per month traveling

 

I have set these goals for 2019.

  • Spend less time on my phone. Considering I run my business from my electronics, it’s not always easy to step away, but I’m going to do more than just put my ‘do not disturb’ on from 8 pm to 7 am. I’m leaving my phone in another room at 8 pm – and I’m not checking it at all after that.
  • I’m practicing patience. It’s not something I have much of, but I’m going to teach myself to have more.
  • I’m going to be more in the moment.
  • I’m reading more books.
  • I’m going to be better about gossiping. It’s easy to get caught up, and I dislike thinking that I’m not immune to that.
  • I’m going to surprise my husband more. He does such a good job of being sweet and doing wonderful things for me all the time, and I’d like to do more of the same for him.
  • Spend more quality time with our families.
  • Say yes to anything that sounds exciting and fun.
  • Travel at least one place we’ve never been with the kids and without the kids.
  • Relax more

 

Essentially, I like to spend my time becoming a better person. I don’t always make it in every aspect, but I am so down for trying harder and making strides anywhere and everywhere. I don’t set health goals because I work on that every day regardless. It’s not something I have to set my mind to, so I don’t set those goals. I always value my faith, my marriage, and my kids above everything else, too. I always make it my goal to focus on those things, so they’re not things I need to make goals, either.

The new year is a wonderful new start for everyone. If you’re struggling with what to do, here are some thoughts. Make it a goal to be a better person. Let go of things that bother you. Let go of anger, resentment, insecurities, and things that don’t make you happy. Trust me – when you learn to let go of that stuff, you definitely live better. Focus on the good in life, and create more of that. Make a list of things you aren’t happy about in life, and then change them. Don’t worry about what other people think. Don’t compare your story to everyone else’s. Pick your friends wisely. Grow up. Laugh more. Worry about yourself instead of everyone else. Own your shit. Be yourself. Do you, boo.

It’s a brand-new year, and that’s super exciting. Enjoy it, love it, make it yours – and always laugh more.