2020: what you should be doing.


It’s the time of year where all the yadda-yadda about goals and fitness plans get spewed all over the internet. Now, it’s fine to be “working on your summer body,” whatever that means, but there are some things that definitely need to be done. I don’t have to tell you what those things are — they’re up to you — but I can give you an idea of what to think about.

Who are you right now? Who will you be? One of my favorite exercises, as we wind down the year, is drawing my current and future self. I’m not the best at drawing, but I draw a typical outfit, hairstyle, and expression of myself at this very moment. I then list aspects of my life: spirituality, physical health, mental health, relationships, aspirations… I get brutally honest with who I am and what I want at this moment. Then, I move to the next page and draw who I will be in a year. Again, exactly what outfit, hairstyle, and expression I’ll be wearing. What do this person’s spirituality, physical health, mental health, relationships, aspirations… look like? What’s happening one year from now? Notice the wording I use. Not what I want to be. What I will be.

What is your 2020 “theme?” I did a lot of reflection to figure out what my theme will be for next year, but I’ve decided on “discovery.” I’m entering college in the fall of 2020, as some of my more avid readers know, and it’s a chance to figure out who I want to be. I’m sure every naïve college freshman says that, but it’s okay for me to want a fresh start. It’s okay that I plan to make some stupid decisions. I toyed around with “learning” or “change,” but “discovery” makes me feel like I’m uncovering a mystery this upcoming year. Like 2020 will be rare, novel, and fun. That’s what I want my life to feel like. What’s your word? If you’ve settled into the same routine for a few years, that’s alright. But what are you chasing this year? Maybe it’s more money. Maybe your word is “stability.” Or maybe you want to develop your relationships, so your word is “love.” Do some thinking.

What can you do to embody that theme? I love this part because it’s where you have to generate some kind of action! New year goals are so completely useless without action behind them. Like, yes, I can say I want to be an Olympic swimmer, but unless I make a plan to get into the pool, I’m never gonna get there. (I do not, for the record, have any interest in Olympic sports.) So for me, I’m going to create discovery by doing these things:

  • get inspired by following other writers, musicians, and other creators
  • travel to new places
  • absorb more media (podcasts, youtube, books, documentaries…)
  • spend more time in nature
  • journal in the mornings
  • meditate at night — just sit and get quiet

How do you want to feel? If you can’t answer that just yet, think about how you feel now. Go back to your current/future self. Maybe you feel unmotivated, and you want to feel excited. I wrote down that I want to feel joyful, awake, clear, and inspired. If you wanted, you could go even further to consider how you will feel that way. For example: to bring in more joy, I’m doing the 30 Days of Joy challenge by Rebecca Kochenderfer. You can find it here when you join Journaling.com.

What will you let go of? I love this question. We, as people, love to complain. This is a form of constructive complaint. Write down everything you hate and want to go. Crappy interactions with coworkers, road rage, spending too much on not-so-great coffee… Write it all down. You might write: fear, unhealthy eating, overwhelm, feeling stagnant, passive mindset… As you write it, acknowledge that you denounce those things. Throw it in the fireplace if it feels right.

What will you let in? Again, pay attention to my wording here. What are you going to allow to surround your life? What will you let give you hope, joy, inspiration, confidence? This suggests that these things are already knocking at the door of your life. You simply need to open it. When you do, you may be inviting free time, fluidity, love, rest, health… into your life. Take a deep breath and acknowledge that the only barrier (within your control) between you and your desires is your own will. What do you want?

So now, we’ve answered the hard questions. The prompt I have for you now is, will 2020 be a year of action? Or reaction?

-ellynn ❤

P.S. I’ve been using the WordPress free photo library for quite some time, but today, I’ve included an original photo! I’m still not great with photography, but I hope that I’m able to post more original visual content. Enjoy 🙂

be gentle with yourself.


Hi everyone. I don’t know who needs this message today, but I figure someone does, so I’m gonna write it for that person.

Today is hard for you. It might have been difficult to get to sleep last night or wake up this morning. It might have taken everything you had to make yourself breakfast, shower, wear clean clothes, brush your hair, and smile. Or maybe you aren’t smiling.

If not, try smiling right now. It may not feel quite right, like it doesn’t show how you feel today, but just try. Because it’ll feel just a little bit better than making a sad or angry face. Just a little bit.

Now, give yourself the space to be. Acknowledge that you are allowed to exist in your space today. Because you are. You are given your space to do what you will with it, so let it exist only for you. Fill it up.

Picture your day today. Maybe it consists of staying in bed, but maybe it means a morning commute to work or school. Perhaps it’s visiting a friend, family member. Or going on a trip to the grocery store. Whatever the tasks ahead, picture doing them gracefully. How can you go through the daily grind while still showing yourself an incredulous amount of love and support?

Breathe out any negative energy that’s sitting in your body. Breathe it all out. Then breathe in, breathe in the positive energy you deserve to feel. It should reverberate through your whole being because you know it’s what you need today.

Take a little extra time for yourself. If it needs to happen while you tie your shoelaces, do that. If you need to step out of a meeting to count to 100 before going back in, do so. What action can you take right now that would make you feel just a little more emotionally reinforced than you were five minutes ago?

Send a text to a loved one who might need a bit more love than you today. Step out of yourself and tell them you’re thinking of them because you’d like the same thing for yourself. Because you’re them today, too, and you’d want them to send you positive words of encouragement. While you’re at it, send those words to yourself.

Now sit up tall, feeling the strength in your belly and your chest and your legs. You are stronger than Wonderwoman. You have all the backbone of an alligator. You will conquer universes. Acknowledge that you have power.

Begin your day.

p.s. if you’d like, leave a comment about why you needed this today. maybe I can tell you something that would encourage you through the rest. 

habits don’t just fall in your lap.


Today’s a tough one for many. How many times have we thought about a habit or hobby we’d like to introduce, considered it for a bit, vowed to do it every day, and then forgotten about it completely? Classic promises to ourselves happen all the time, but especially around January 1st. Promising to spend more time with family. Swearing to get better grades. Being absolutely certain that you’re going to start Crossfit.

You see, the issue isn’t the habit you’re choosing. You can do anything! Yes, anything. The issue is the way you’re choosing the habit. If I think to myself, “I’m going to get really good at physics,” but never read a single physics book or take a single physics class or watch a single video about physics, I will undoubtedly fail.

Obviously, you don’t have to take a physics class to begin your first novel, but my point is, the habits are in the action plan. Think of it like an itinerary: you think about what you’d like to do, do some research on how to do it and where, and set a date and time. For everything on your trip.

Except the catch is, you aren’t planning a vacation; you’re planning a new habit. When I started yoga, I didn’t gracefully incorporate it into my life daily and at the same time and in the same place! When I had time, I’d do a few clumsy stretches I only half understood. It didn’t feel like I was doing it right, and I didn’t even have a mat at first! So finally, I resolved to learn yoga the right way. (If you’d like a more detailed post about my yoga practice, I’d be happy to write one.)

I decided that I wanted to devote thirty minutes of yoga in the evenings for four days out of a week. Why not every day? Often, if we fall off the habit track once, it can be discouraging. We may not want to get up and try it again because we’ve already failed. Four days out of a week? It’s more doable and leaves forgiveness for those days we can’t fit in the new habit.

I also inserted an insurance policy of sorts by telling my family and friends about it. When I saw them, they would ask me about my practice, and nobody wants to be asked about something they never really started in the first place . . .

So for that thirty minutes, I didn’t just fumble around anymore. I found instructional videos that showed proper form, breathing, and balance. I went to a class or two to pick up more tools and make certain I was doing the movements properly. I made playlists, finally got a mat (plus a block and strap once I really got into it), and bought leggings designed specifically for stretching. I know, obsessive, right?

But I did that all over the course of a year. Another issue we have when we start habits is expecting them to become second-nature in a two-week period (sometimes less if we’re extra impatient). Starting a business, cooking whole foods, getting straight A’s . . . these are not things that can happen in the blink of an eye. You can’t wingardium leviosa your intentions into existence, although that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

so, let’s recap:

  1. habits are in the action plan
  2. what, where, how, when?
  3. insurance policy
  4. do it properly
  5. things take time

comment below and tell me the habit you’d like to adopt or one you worked very hard to earn.

awareness.


I used to think that none of it mattered. That life would start in college, or once I got my first job, or when I got married or had kids. But I know many of you would say, “no, it starts now.” And it does.

I’ve come to the stark realization that I, no matter how invincible I might feel, will not be a seventeen-year-old girl forever. And seventeen years? How many of those years have I actually spent living, not just being alive? Because there IS a difference.

Every last one of these little things could be my last at any moment… and I don’t mean to be pessimistic here. I’m saying there’s a lot we’re ignoring, a lot we’re talking for granted. I won’t be a teenager for as long as I think, and soon I’ll be sitting in a suburban household wondering how I got there.

I want to remember how. I want to remember the steps I took.

Hey, I guess I’d like to create a few things while I’m here on earth. What does it mean to take your roots out and plant yourself somewhere else in some other grass? Don’t you know that there’s a lot more going on?

Doesn’t matter if the grass is greener on the other side. The “other side” is the side you’re on, so don’t stay there long. No need to pick any flowers; no need to do anything but fertilize the soil where you stand.

You see, the goal isn’t to assimilate or reorder. The goal is to expand, to evolve, to express, to explore. The four E’s, if you will. Hey, I guess I’d like to create a few things.

I’d like to meet a few new people who have new outtakes and outlooks on the current issues that maybe don’t make the front page. Of tabloids. Of big-time New York Times.

Show me what color your soul is, er, soil, and tell me it’s red like Oklahoma. Red like politicians crossin a red line, like read about all over, what’s black and white and re(a)d all over?

It’s all over? No, this is just the beginning. I’m only the beginning. I’m only seventeen and this is not the beginning… only a continuous story of many beginnings in the pockets of millennials or millions of stuck-on-things types of people. Continuously. Could be risky.

It did, it started a long time ago.

action breeds motivation.


It has come to my attention that New Year’s Day creates a lot of excitement about accomplishing goals. Perhaps this day is the source of human productivity? The way I’m seeing it is that every person has a multitude of goals to accomplish, but they don’t start them until the first of the year. Why? Because it’s a symbol of new beginnings. That’s absolutely fine; I have no issue with that. It simply doesn’t make sense to use a certain day to propel your motivation forward.

Think about this for a moment. I can watch a video about puppies being rescued, and I can be inspired. I can think, “Wow, what a beautiful thing to do,” and I can believe that saving puppies is something in which I’m interested. There’s nothing wrong with those thoughts, except that there is if we’re trying to be motivated. All of those thoughts of admiration are just fine until I actually do it. Nine times out of ten, I don’t get up and drive to a dog shelter. So what about the people who do?

These motivated people usually have something the average person does not. Experience. I can’t possibly know how exciting it is to work at a dog shelter, seeing the smiling faces of the adopters, until I have worked there. I can’t be pumped to take that yoga class until I have felt the rush it brings me. There are many who might doubt this, so allow me to provide with an alternative example.

So it’s the first of the year, and you’ve decided to work out. Great! But that’s not all you have to do to guarantee that you will. You aren’t motivated simply because of a thought. How will you take action? Call a friend to keep you accountable. Set up an exercise plan. Buy some new gear. And of course, among the most popular, pick up a gym membership. These are all successful actions! They get many a person to their aspirations. Taking these actions allow you to be motivated. You begin to think, “Well, Marty knows I’m doing this. I’ll go for Marty.” “Okay, so today I’ll wear those cute new leggings I bought with the rhinestones!” “I’m not just gonna waste my money on that expensive membership. Let’s go!”

There is a downside to this, in that you may realize that you are less motivated as you continue to take action. This realization is likely just that the treadmill is not for you. The upside? Maybe the track is! Maybe you’ll like Pilates or cycling or weights. Everyone has their niche, but you probably just haven’t found yours yet. So if you’re sitting there, stretch band in hand, thinking, “I’m so bored. This is annoying. Why am I doing this,” you may want to move to the Zhumba class across the hall.

The fact of life is that you can’t knock it ’till you try it. Finding your passion is much easier said than done. I didn’t discover my love for bullet journaling until I picked up the official notebook and started the damn thing. I had admired it before, but my passion for it began when I took the appropriate actions.

I suppose that’s my soapbox for resolutions, and I hope that you succeed in yours, should you make any. Always remember that your goals can be set any time you like, not just on January 1st! Good luck, break a leg, yadda yadda yadda. To our success in life!