Hearts & Things

- 2015: Discovery -

This was my first year trying out a year of month-long resolutions. It was SO MUCH FUN. Highly recommend. I had a lot more projects in mind than there were months in the year, but that's okay. I'll get to them eventually. :)

January: Music

Goal: play or make some sort of music every single day.
- Singing
- Piano
- Guitar

Starting off the year with one of things I love most: music! The goal was to do something -- anything-- musical every single day for a month. It didn't matter how long or short I played, or which instrument I chose (piano, guitar, voice), as long as I did something. This month was a lot of fun, and successful as far as my achieving my goal went.​

Around this time is when I started really trying to learn guitar. Previously, I'd ask my friends who knew how to play guitar to teach me something every once in a while-- every few months or so, I'd pick up a new chord or a strum pattern, only to forget it by the next day. During this month, though, I tried to drill simple chords into my muscle memory and force my fingers to familiarize themselves with the foreign positioning of guitar chords. Coming from a piano background, playing guitar was very unintuitive to me, but repetition helps, and eventually I was able to play simple chord progressions (with lots of pauses) on a somewhat consistent basis.

I also started my foray into song writing. I'd been wanting to write originals forever, but they always eluded me. I didn't actually finish any song during this month, but I did start building up my repertoire to pave the way for future me. Yay!

February: Baking

Goal: improve at baking, and try out new recipes.
- Desserts galore

This month was a bit of a disaster.

​I originally wanted to do a baking challenge, in which I'd bake 2-3 times every week on a set schedule. However, I had a head start on this in January and baked wayy too much, so I decided to switch topics. I cycled through a bunch of ideas, before landing on learning MATLAB, but my approach was way too all over the place and ended up completely falling through. In short, I did not successfully complete this month.

​I’m titling this under my original goal of baking, because I did end up baking a lot during this month anyway. It just wasn't under a set plan or regiment, and I didn't achieve what I actually wanted to (ie gaining some working knowledge of MATLAB). You win some, you lose some, I guess?

March: Health

Goal: make health a priority.
- Drink more water
- Stretch every night
- Eat healthy
- Exercise
- Sleep well
- Don't buy sugar

For March, I focused on physical and mental health. More specifically, I wanted to target a few key things that I felt would improve my wellbeing: drinking more water (I'm constantly in a state of dehydration, I think), stretching every single night, avoiding sugary/unhealthy foods, and getting adequate sleep. Below, I break down each of these for the month.

Drinking more water:

  • I did... okay. Not well, but not horrible. I love water, but if I'm not doing anything extremely strenuous, I just forget to drink water. It's a little alarming how little water I can go on throughout the day, and I'm still trying to get better at this. But I did become more mindful about drinking more glasses of water this month!

Stretching every single night:

  • This was mostly successful. Only on a couple nights in which I was out of town did I skip this routine, but even then, I think I stretched somewhere during the day. It felt good to gradually get back into flexibility.

Avoiding sugary/unhealthy foods:

  • This was alright. I told myself that I wasn't allowed to buy junk food for myself, but I could eat (small amounts) if someone offered it to me. I slipped up a couple times, but I'm not mad-- during this month, I was in Australia and a local told me that I absolutely must try Tim Tams (if you're ever in Australia, you MUST try Tim Tams!), and so I had to buy them. I'm happy I did, because they are the most amazing cookie/biscuit/candy/snack goodness there is in this world. But I only bought them once that month, because I didn't allow myself another pass (it was hard to resist, though). I bought something else during that month that I shouldn't have, but I don't remember what it was right now.

Getting adequate sleep:

  • This wasn’t super, but it was more because of my external environment as compared to personal motivation. My goal was to go to bed at a reasonable hour so that I could sleep for enough time so that I'd wake up feeling not like I got hit by a bus. So I would, I'd get ready to go to sleep earlier than usual, but it was SO COLD where I was staying (no central heating), that I didn't sleep well through the nights. I'd wake up shivering several times, or I'd struggle to fall asleep from the get go, feeling like an icicle under my covers. Still, it's the thought that counts! At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

April: Beauty

Goal: try new beauty things.
- Hair
- Makeup
- Nails

I broke April down into four weeks, and each week I’d pick one beauty focus to practice.

Week 1: Hair

  • Worked on braiding, mostly

  • Watched YouTube videos on different (easy) hairstyles

Week 2: Makeup

  • Watched YouTube tutorials on makeup applications, tried to apply this on my own face with varying degrees of success

Week 3: Nails

  • I think I painted my nails once, haha. I’ll switch up nail color/style here and there, but I don’t paint my nails all that often

Week 4: I… don’t actually remember what I did this week

  • Don't remember!

May: Knowledge

Goal: learn something new every day.

This was not a very well structured month, and so it wasn’t as successful as it could have been… but that’s okay. Basically I went about this in trivia-fashion and wanted to learn random facts about things that interested me (which is a lot). I essentially Wikipedia’d random facts and read articles to learn about them. But I wasn’t super focused, so I forgot a lot of what I learned…

June: Creativity

Goal: go crazy at Hobby Lobby and craft my heart out.
- Painting
- Engraving
- Dancing/choreographing
- Jewelry-making

This month consisted of me going crazy at Hobby Lobby and doing all the arts and crafts things that I hadn’t gotten around to before. It was a bit all over the place, but suuper fun. Included: engraving metal, making keychains, making jewelry, working with wire, weaving hemp, painting shoes, and generally doing the things I found on Etsy or Pinterest that looked manageable. Heehee :)

July: No-Sugar Challenge

Goal: don't consume sugar for a whole month (did with a friend!)
- No ice cream
- No candy
- No chocolate

This was a fun one! Mostly because I did it with a friend. And it was amusing to watch people’s expressions (ranging from confused support to outright shock) when I refused anything sugar-y for an experiment.

The rules were that I couldn’t eat anything dessert-related (candy, chocolate, ice cream, baked goods, etc.), but things that were slightly sugary (cereal, granola bars, etc.) were okay.

On the last day of June, I Skyped my friend Sam from a fro-yo shop, while he did the same. We ate our last sugar-thing together as a good-bye to sugar for the next month. It was a nice send-off, and it was good to catch up for a little bit. :)

I really liked this month, a lot, actually! Often, I find myself eating things I don’t necessarily want to eat because I feel pressure (whether imagined or not) to consume it. But for this month experiment, it was nice to be relieved of that guilt (well, mostly) of saying no when someone offers me something. It felt good to be actively healthier and not consuming copious amounts of sugar that I didn’t want to put in my body.

Interestingly, at the end of the month, I ate some sort of candy bar that I LOVE, but… it didn't taste the same. Tasted less sweet, less enjoyable, which I didn't expect. Not sure if that was because I ate it past midnight and was craving it for an entire month, or just due to the fact that I had mildly conditioned myself away from sugar, but it was a surprising find.

And then from then on I went right back to eating sugar, but I like to think that this was the start of me not eating it quite so heavily.

August: 30-Day Abs Challenge

Goal: (try to) get abs.

I just googled a 30-Day Abs schedule and followed that. I did these workouts first thing in the morning, which looking back, took a lot of dedication, ‘cause I definitely do not feel inclined to do anything like that now.

It was fun! Set schedules work wonders for me. I didn’t get any abs, though. I’m okay with this. Life goes on.

September: Videography

Goal: learn about video editing and make original videos.

I… did not do this month very well. Like, at all. Aka, I did not do anything videography-related, as I aimed to. But, in subsequent months and years, I eventually did make videos! Better late than never?

October: No Facebook

Goal: don't check Facebook for a whole month.

I really liked this month too. I didn’t allow myself to check Facebook from 12:00am on October 1st to 11:59pm on October 31st. Made it through successfully! Even though I felt bad that I missed event invites and messages (“what do you mean you don’t know? I invited you on Facebook!”), but it was reeeeeeaaaaallly nice to be disconnected for a little while. I was much more productive and less distracted.

November: Writing

Goal: write something every single day.

My goal for November was to write something—anything!—every single day. I used a leather-bound journal that my friend gave me, and essentially wrote poetry or free-form pieces each day. This was fun! You get surprised what comes out of your writing when you actually take the time (read: force yourself) to write. It was also nice, because I didn’t give myself any pressure with specific writing prompts or with word-counts that I needed to hit. I just… wrote.

December: Love

Goal: write letters to friends and family to tell them how much I love them.
- Be kind to strangers
- Show affection
- Voice my feelings
- Appreciate

I intentionally saved this theme for December, because I like things wrapped neatly in a bow (both figuratively and literally). Since love is a big running theme in my life, and December is the grand finale of the year, I decided to dedicate this month to a few of the people I care about most and to generally express this emotion more vocally.

December is already a quite cheery, holiday-filled month as it is, so I wanted to tag along to these sentiments by tailoring this festivity/positivity to the people I love, or who I felt comfortable/close enough to express feelings like this.

I put together hand-written letters and sent them to dear ones (including family) along with some nostalgia-inducing photographs for good measure. The whole time, I was like, “Is this a weird thing to do? This is a weird thing to do.” But then again, I felt like it would be an appreciated thing, so went ahead with it anyway. It was really nice to voice out loud things like gratitude to people who profoundly affected my life and personhood. ‘Cause some people never know how you’ve changed their life. Let them know! Tell your loved ones!!