9 Ways to Make Space in Your Life

It’s no secret that life has a way of testing you to see exactly what you can handle. After moments of feeling completely overwhelmed with my career, relationships, what I should be doing, what I’d like to be doing instead… I decided it was time to get reorganized. For me, that started with getting rid of all of the clutter that doesn’t serve a purpose. Making space in your life tells the universe that you are done with the old and ready for the new. Things you don’t use, people who use you, or thoughts that make noise in your head are all taking up valuable real estate in your life. To help get you going, here are my 9 ways to make space in your life. Better late than never for a little spring-cleaning!

This whole kick started by cleaning out my closet. I felt like I couldn’t even get started on the bigger, more important things until I got rid of the physical clutter. Whatever that first step is for you, here are my suggestions for making room in your physical life:

  1. Where you live. It’s important to make your space your Somewhere where you feel comfortable, experience no stress, and know where everything is. Ever have a closet full of clothes but nothing (I mean, nothing) to wear? Yeah. It’s hard to see the pieces you love when all the stuff that doesn’t even fit is in the way. If you’re like me and have 80,000 t-shirts because they’re sentimental, I recommend recruiting someone you trust to help you go hanger by hanger eliminating everything you do not need. (Thanks for hanging in there, Tricia!) It’s easy to convince yourself to hold on to certain things, but if you haven’t worn it in the past 6-12 months (weather permitting) – hasta la vista, baby! Side note: I sold what I could, donated the rest. Win, win! 
  2. Where you work. Clutter is distracting! Increase your efficiency by simplifying your workspace. Organize your papers. Shred what you don’t need. Create an environment that allows you to be productive and then move on with your day. You don’t need 73 writing utensils.
  3. Digital life. Cleaning up your computer files, social media accounts, and email inbox will be a huge weight off your shoulders. Invest in an external hard drive and keep only the files you need immediately on your computer (that includes pictures!). Not only will your computer run faster, but it will also be so much easier to navigate.

According to some random article (which was supported by some other random article) on Google, we have anywhere between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts a day. I know what you’re thinking – that’s almost as many t-shirts as you have! But with all of these ideas floating around, we need to make space in the ol’ noggin for the thoughts that actually matter.

  1. Meditate/Yoga. When I first began my yoga practice, I found Savasana, or Corpse Pose, to be the most challenging –  and all you have to do is lie on your back. It’s easy to allow thoughts to circle around while staying still. Being present is essential for making space for what’s happening right now. Incorporating some type of meditation into your daily life is the most scientifically proven way to create space in your mind, inspire creativity, and help you relax.
  2. Exercise. You don’t need me to tell you the benefits of working out. The hardest part is making the time to do it. Make it a priority. Run, dance, do yoga again – whatever is fun for you! 
  3. Write! Whether it’s to-do lists, your schedule, or any ideas you may have – free up some of the space in your mind by writing everything Especially if you sometimes struggle to fall asleep because your brain won’t turn off, try typing all of those thoughts into the notes on your phone. That’ll help you tackle everything the next day.
  4. Creating time for yourself. This might be the most important one. When we get crazy busy, we forget to take care of ourselves. Read, nap, or do absolutely nothing. Whatever it is, schedule a specific time in your day to regroup and have some alone time.

The people we interact with personally and professionally take up a lot of space in our lives. Not in a bad way – people are awesome! But you need to figure out who supports you and is willing to meet you half way.

  1. Let go. Any relationship is a two-way street. It’s exhausting to be the only person making an effort. Break free of anyone who only brings negative energy to the table. Bye, Felicia(s)! 
  2. Learn to say “no.” Say “yes” to anything and everything you want to do. But don’t be nervous to turn down an event because you feel obligated to go. See #7. Your time is precious, bb!

Once you make the decision to get organized, the most important part is sticking to it. What are some other ways you make space in your life? Keep me updated below!

xx

Resistance & Accountability

I want to start off by pointing out that it’s been almost an entire year since the last time I posted on this blog. Now, that isn’t to say I haven’t written anything, but certainly not anything worth sharing with all of you (hey, mom!). Since then, I’ve had countless conversations with close friends about our goals, things we each want to accomplish individually, things we want to accomplish together, and so on. During every one of these discussions I always say, “I need to write more. Not for money or a job, not for a class, not because I have to, but just to write.” And I never seem to do it. As difficult as that is for me to admit to myself, it’s true. During a phone call with my bestie Kirstie (rhymes way cuter in my head) who lives ~3000 miles too far away, I found myself once again telling her, “I need to write more.” Annoying, right? Like, do it already Sterling, GEEZ. I’m busy, okay? The next day I get a text from Kirst… “Did you write for your blog today?” We all know the answer: “Not yet.”

All of a sudden, the world started shaking. And not in a “I live in SoCal now” kind of way. But rather – Oh no, I can’t remember my WordPress password. Maybe in the morning, today is the only day I can go to the gym, ever. My room really needs vacuuming. I should really cut up all of my junk mail so no one steals my identity. I think there’s some laundry I could do. These are actual thoughts I had. You know it’s bad when I’m considering cleaning and exercising as potential alternatives.

Sound familiar?

If you haven’t read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, I highly suggest you do. With that said, there are times I wanted to throw it across the room. There is something so frustrating about recognizing your weaknesses, knowing you can overcome them, and then not changing. The first section of the book talks about our greatest enemy – Resistance. For me, the term ‘Resistance’ is best defined by this excerpt: “It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”

If you don’t care to read the book (but care to read this really awesome blog!!) – the greatest takeaway for me was to learn to use whatever resistance I feel as a guide toward the things I should be doing. Because the things we feel the most resistance toward are the things we know we can do, but we just don’t.

Guess what the first step of overcoming resistance is?

Sitting down and starting. Stop making excuses, and just getting to work. BOOM. Is your mind blown yet? And just look at me go…typing away on my laptop… and I’m still alive! Yes, I’m missing the season premiere of Pretty Little Liars. Yes, I still watch that show (#TeamHanna). But I’m okay! I made it! Crazy how that works.

If you’re still with me after my PLL confession, consider this last little nugget: everything you do should be moving you closer to your goals. One of the most important parts of that is building your team. Don’t have people in your life that are going to distract you, bring you down, or add to that resistance you already feel. Find the people that will remember to text you “Did you [insert goal] today?” Find the people that care if you succeed. Find the people that you care if they succeed, too. Although how you spend your time is 100% your responsibility, it doesn’t hurt to not only do life with people, but to succeed in life with people.

The 7 Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned Since Graduating College

It’s been just over a year since I left the familiarity of not only college, but of home. And it’s honestly been one of the most rewarding and challenging years of my life. Believe it or not, you keep learning after you graduate. I’ve acquired countless tips and tricks for navigating the real world, but here are the most valuable life lessons I’ve learned beyond textbooks:

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on a bigger goal. There’s something indescribable about feeling so lost but knowing you are headed in exactly the right direction. Feeling overwhelmed by a chaotic schedule, the choices you need to make, and the opportunities you should (or shouldn’t) take is a BEAUTIFUL thing! Focus on your dreams, not your worries.
  2. Spend money on experiences, not things. The determination to follow your dreams doesn’t always come with a consistent paycheck. Be okay with that, do what you need to do, and always remember your end goal. I definitely have a newfound appreciation for couponing. Saving money and budgeting is so essential in these first few years post-grad. With that said, choose the skydiving trip instead of the new pair of shoes.
  3. Keep in touch. Distance reveals who cares and who doesn’t, who is important and who used to be. And that goes both ways. Don’t be lazy when it comes to those you love, especially with your family. Call your mother! Related: snail mail matters! Getting a letter in the mail that isn’t a credit card statement is one of the greatest feelings. Who knew? Also, who needs a pen pal?
  4. Take better care of yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m not as young as I once was! Hangovers are worse, injuries take longer to heal, and sleep is more important than ever. Just when I thought I was invincible. Ladies (& gents, if you’re into that sort of thing), take your makeup off every night before bed. Wear sunscreen and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize – especially if you’re in Southern California.
  5. Be honest. Not only with yourself, but also with others. Frankly, nobody’s got time for BS. Don’t hesitate to express yourself. And as the late, great Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” If you think this is about you, it probably is. 😉
  6. Explore. These are the years of discovery! Whether it’s finding your faith, finding yourself, finding others, or even finding your favorite coffee shop – what better time than now? Just because you are in the real world doesn’t mean you have to be boring. Refer back to Tip #2. Travel. See something you’ve never seen before.
  7. Don’t be afraid to take risks. You will be faced with thousands of decisions, some big and some small. Whether it’s your job, relationships, or if you want to dye your hair pink – do what makes you happy. Related: MOVE ON. Stop dwelling and holding on to something that isn’t making you better. You’re too awesome for that.

 

“Situationships” and The Importance of Letting People Know You Care

Relationships. They can be complicated or they can be magically and wonderfully simple. This can be with anyone – family, friends, romantic interests, your pet hamster, whatever. What it boils down to is a mutual understanding of where you stand with each other, and more importantly, what you mean to each other. In this generation, we see a lot of “situationships,” where the relationship is better described as “a thing,” and no one really knows what page you’re on, and no one takes the initiative to talk about it. What’s usually happening here, and I am guilty of this, is that one person is emotionally available while the other is not. Which makes the idea of the whole (necessary) conversation somewhat terrifying. And for us Capricorns out there, we are gonna be right here waiting for that other person to finally come around. To me, this isn’t what is important. What should override anything that’s “complicated” in relationships, is the importance of being honest and present with yourself and the other person. If you miss someone, tell them. If you love or care about someone, let them know. If you’re not on the same page or even in the same book, it’s a lot less difficult to be upfront about those feelings than to be frustrated by keeping them to yourself (on both parts). It literally can only take 3 seconds out of your entire day to let someone know that you’re thinking about them and that they are appreciated. The beauty of this is that by simply being honest, someone feels [insert: happy, appreciated, loved, cared about, etc.] and you contributed, even if only a small part, to that comfort. And if someone is making you feel the negative version of any of these emotions, it is time to get to movin’ on my friend, because at the end of the day you are the only person who can choose who contributes to your happiness. If you want to be happy, BE. Whatever that means for you.

Going into the New Year, this is an aspect of my life that I am very present with, and am dedicated to making these adjustments in my own relationships. Anyway, g2g, I miss my sister right now, so I’m going to let her know by sending her this picture of a dancing pug.

xoxo

Playground of Dreams & The Gift of Giving

Back in March I wrote a post about Playground of Dreams, a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles that is dedicated to helping kids pursue their dreams and visions for our world. At that time, I was finishing up my last semester at UNC and honestly didn’t really have any idea what POD was all about aside from the event they were putting on that April. To my surprise (and great fortune) one of the co-founders stumbled upon my blog and contacted me. I mentioned that I was planning to move to LA after graduation and would love to get involved. Fast forward nine months, I am now a POD mentor and also helping them with their social media efforts. Most importantly, I am so grateful to be able to call this community of amazing people my family. Each and every member of this team exude joy, courage and passion in a way that is truly inspiring. This holiday season I am truly grateful for all of the opportunities, laughs and friendships POD has given to me, and to so many others.

In the spirit of being a less than a week away from Christmas, I wanted to share a post I wrote for the POD blog about GIVING.

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is watching people open presents – the joy and surprise on their faces, the laughter, the gratitude, the subsequent hugs, everything. Being a part of someone else’s happiness in turn makes me happy. A greater happiness than I could feel by just receiving gifts from others. I encourage you this holiday season – and throughout the entire year – to give unconditionally. Always remember the value of giving to others. After all, how awesome would the world be if we all gave without expectation? Without concern for what we receive in return?

There are countless ways to give. Whether it’s money, time, a song, a dance, or even a simple “thank you,” we all have unique gifts that are meant to be given and shared with the world. Even the most ordinary of efforts can change the world in extraordinary ways. Most of the time, it isn’t with our money but with our time, resources and creativity that builds stronger relationships with family, friends and community. We give to show someone they are loved and appreciated. We give to make a difference. We give to show that we care. We give love to get love.

 QUOTES:

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” – Mother Teresa

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

“Give freely to the world these gifts of love and compassion. Do not concern yourself with how much you receive in return, just know in your heart it will be returned.” – Steve Maraboli

 FOR YOU:

How do I want to show others they are loved/appreciated/special?

Why is giving to others important to me?

What do I say to those closest to me about why I give, especially to the children in my life?

Anna Herbert, co-founder of Playground of Dreams, helps prepare for the LAPD Youth Holiday Party Toy Drive.

To learn more about Playground of Dreams, visit the website. And keep up with us on Twitter and Facebook!

Thursday Thought: Patience

Oh hi, there. It’s been a good six months since I blogged last, and even then I was only posting every once in a blue moon. There is much to catch up on – like graduating from UNC, moving out to LA, starting my first post-grad job, etc. – but for now I just wanted to share this quote I stumbled upon (on Pinterest, obvi).

“I want to remember that no one is going to make my dreams come true for me…it is my job to get up every day and work toward the things that are deepest in my heart…and to enjoy every step of the journey rather than wishing I was already where I want to end up.”

The quote struck a chord with me, as I realized it applies to a lot of things I’ve been experiencing in this new phase of my life.  The whole process of trying to figure out exactly what I want to do with my life has really tested my patience. I am so ready to be where I want to be. I have spent most of my post-grad life thus far realizing what is not right for me and exploring new options with an open mind. I know you have to start somewhere, and I know that where I end up is where I am meant to be.  I need to focus on enjoying these in-between moments, learning as much as I can and appreciating every step of the journey. It will all work out, as it does.

I have a lot of exciting stuff coming up in October, and I plan on documenting everything along the way – for real this time. I may not know exactly where I’m going but I can promise it won’t be boring.

“So Smart and So Pretty”

For the past four years, UNC Women’s Club Volleyball has been a huge part of my life at Carolina. I remember going into tryouts as a freshmen being extremely nervous and intimidated by all the upperclassmen. Basketball was always my main sport growing up, and I started playing volleyball in high school following in the footsteps of my sister. I kind of randomly decided to continue volleyball in college and here I am, four years later with two years of being President under my belt. Needless to say, I don’t know how I’m going to adjust to not having practices during the week, tournaments every other weekend, and dealing with all of the responsibilities that are involved with being President. We recently went to Dallas, Texas for the 2013 NCVF National Championship tournament, and the whole experience just felt different as a senior from the past three years. At the end of our last game, it hit me that it was all coming to an end. It was an amazing trip, and I am so proud of how both teams performed.

Let’s be honest, managing a large group of ladies definitely has its challenges. From the varying opinions and attitudes, I have learned that it is impossible to make everyone happy all of the time. As a leader it is important to make the decisions that have to be made with the best interest of the entire organization in mind. I would not trade everything I have learned and the friendships I have gained from being a part of this team for anything.

Being a part of this team has taught me so much about being a leader, a member of a team, and a friend. I always jokingly congratulated my teammates after a good play by saying, “You’re so smart and so pretty!” But I have realized that there is so much truth in that statement. I have had the honor of getting to know the most intelligent and beautiful, inside and out, women I have ever encountered. “Volleybonding,” as we call it, with each and every one of them has been an absolute privilege and I am genuinely going to miss them on and off the court.

Tonight we are having our final team dinner and are holding elections for officers for next year. So as I step out of this role and into a completely new one post-graduation (yikes), I just wanted to let all of my “so smart and so pretty” teammates know how much I appreciate you and have enjoyed being your president, your teammate, and your friend. I hope I have made even half of the impact on you as you have me.

Wedding Bells: Maid of What?

A few weeks ago my sister got engaged, and I could not be happier for her. Needless to say she is already in full-swing wedding planning mode as the date has been set to a year from now. She has selected me as Maid of Honor, which is semi-frightening because all I know about weddings I learned from Bridesmaids and Wedding Crashers. I have received a laundry list of all of my responsibilities, highlighted and organized by priority. If any of you will be a Maid of Honor in the future, or for some strange reason are just interested, here is the list of the duties my sister sent me – which essentially amounts to doing everything and is a mild form of slave labor. LOVE YA SIS!

The maid of honor has one of the most important (and demanding) jobs out of the bridal party.Not only does she need to be responsible, she must be very close to the bride as well and be able to keep her cool, calm, and collected throughout the entire process. Duties include the following:

  • Assists the bride with all wedding related shopping: the dress, bridesmaid dresses, accessories
  • Helps organize hair and makeup for the bridesmaids
  • Plans and hosts the bridal shower and bachelorette party
  • Witnesses and sign the Marriage Certificate
  • Attends the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
  • Carries an emergency kit for the bride on the day of the wedding (although if you have a planner or day-of coordinator, they usually hold onto this)
  • Holds the bride’s bouquet during the ceremony
  • Stays by the bride’s side at all times and oversee the bridesmaids – KEY!
  • Holds onto the groom’s ring during the ceremony
  • Helps make favors and address invitations
  • Gives a speech and toast during the wedding reception
  • Acts as air traffic control for the bride, wedding planner, and family
  • Responsible for paying for her own travel, attire, and accessories
  • Gives the bride both a shower gift and wedding gift
  • Helps out however and whenever she can
  • Encourages guests to get on the dance floor during the reception (You shouldn’t have a problem with this)
  • Create and maintain wedding website

And I was like…DANG, ANYTHING ELSE? But seriously, I’m honored she chose me to stand beside her throughout this process and I can’t wait to be apart of it all.

Since I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing and my best idea so far of the Bachelorette Party in Las Vegas got rejected (what?), I turned to Pinterest. I have compiled a board of all of my favorite ideas for dresses, decor, invitations, parties, etc. Here are some of my favorite ideas:

Neutral Bridesmaid Dresses – Simple & Elegant

Little Black Dress Themed Bachelorette Party

Bridemaids Dresses

With Buoy!

For the Reception

Checklist for Bachelorette Party – 21st Birthday Style

Spa Weekend in Charleston, SC

Dancing Shoes for the Bride/Bridesmaids – VERY necessary

Reception: sweet tea, water, and pink lemonade for guests, all pre-poured into mason jars

So there you have it, you’re welcome sis!

Every Great Dream Begins with a Dreamer

Playground of Dreams (POD) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping kids pursue their dreams and visions for our world. “The most life-defining, impactful moments in a child’s life are created when they are free, safe, and inspired. POD is in the business of creating these moments.” The kids in the program are putting together “The Coolest Variety Show on Earth,” which will be hosted by Catt Sadler of E! News, and will take place on April 6, 2013 in LA. The show is an opportunity for each child to turn his or her dream into a reality. This is a truly inspirational organization that genuinely believes in the power of our youth. Kids believe they can do anything. It’s up to us to keep that spirit alive. Who knows, maybe they will help us discover our own passions in the process.

“I could bake a better cake than anyone because it has love in it.” How great is that?

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” -Harriet Tubman

Life Is But A Dream

It’s the year of Beyoncé. If you haven’t watched her new HBO documentary, I highly suggest you do so. Aside from being the 2013 Super Bowl Champion, her film debuted to 1.8 million viewers making it the most viewed documentary on HBO in almost 10 years. For the first time, we get to see a personal glimpse into the life of the pop diva. I only cried 4 (okay, maybe 5) times and that has to be a new personal best.

"That's what life is, it's the greatest show on earth." -Beyoncé

“That’s what life is, it’s the greatest show on earth.” -Beyoncé

I don’t love Beyoncé because of her 17 Grammys or her over 75 million records sold worldwide. I love her because of her passion. Under the definition of ‘woman’ it should say: Beyoncé. She has successfully managed to maintain a positive image in the media, without being tainted by scandals and court cases. I admire her ability to not give into the superficial aspects of the entertainment industry, always staying true to herself and her brand even if that requires making huge sacrifices (like firing her father in 2011).

This semester I am faced with the challenge of figuring out who I am and what it is that I want to do with my life through the J-School class “Branding of Me.” As I approach graduation in just a few short months, I want take this opportunity to take a step back and think about what I enjoy the most. As told by Queen Bey in her documentary, “The best thing is looking back and realizing how incredible life is. If you don’t take the time to think about it, analyze your life, you’ll never realize all the dots that are connected.”

Although catching up on the latest celebrity gossip is a guilty pleasure of mine, it is not the latest scandal or breakup that makes me interested in the entertainment industry. Like Beyoncé, I appreciate the art and creativity of it all. Pop culture helps define our generation, and I want to be apart of it. Through this blog I hope to learn how to develop my interests and my passions into my own personal brand.

So as I enter this next phase, all I have to say is:

bringiton

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” -Oprah Winfrey