It's hard to believe that 7 years ago today I began writing this blog! If you're curious where I started, here is my very first post: How to be a Classy Lady. At that time, I had many ideas I wanted to share and a vision along with goals for the site but had no idea where blogging would eventually lead down the road. I'll admit that some years have been much more active than others, instead choosing to focus on my family and sweet baby girl (and sometimes a demanding design schedule). I have a feeling that this year will involve a lot of change but it is still my intention to maintain a regular blogging schedule. I like predictability in my own life and I know firsthand as reader of other blogs, I tend to follow those who maintain that consistency of about 3-5 times per week. It's is a goal I will be working towards this year-creating new content 5x per week, however it may take me several weeks to ramp up to that point.
Looking back over all these years, I'm so happy to have met so many wonderful women from all over the world including other bloggers by starting my blog. I'm also very grateful for the opportunities I've had to partner with not only other bloggers, but to also work in collaboration with various brands, including some of my favorites such as Victoria's Secret and Macy's among many others this year. I've enjoyed creating new content here to inspire you with and I look forward to sharing fresh new content along with a blog makeover too. It's been a minute since I changed the look and feel of this site to what it currently is today and it's time again for something new. One of my goals is to make the site more organized and user-friendly by setting up various categories so you can easily find what you're looking for (bye bye post archive drop down!). Actually, some of my older posts are still my favorites to this day!
Given that we're already into the second week of the new year, I obviously didn't come out of the gates running on Jan.1st (as many did) by writing a post of my New Year's Resolutions or goals because I was still mulling over what I was most proud of, what I learned, what I worked the hardest on and where I need to improve and grow. Below I'm listing a few things that this past year taught me along with what my specific goals are for The Classy Woman this year, so I can be clear about the
direction that it's headed in and what you can expect.
WHAT I LEARNED IN 2015
1. Trust your Instincts- Over the course of the year I watched a pattern unfold (mainly in my personal life) but also in my business life. Most times I'm pretty decisive about what I want and have a good sense of the direction I want to head in but I began to notice how I would get a gut reaction that I should do something in particular but then other thoughts would creep in and take over and next thing I knew I was changing my plans along with my mind often leaving me with feelings of regret and frustration towards myself. In some ways it was FOMO (the fear of missing out), given a choice I wondered how the other path would lead and if I'd be missing out more if I chose one option over another. In the end, I realized time and time again that I wasn't listening to that specific inner voice and that gut feeling which is intended to be both a warning sign and also a guide to help, wasn't being properly utilized. In an effort to become more spontaneous (a goal I had last year) and go against the grain of who I truly am at heart (a planner, an organizer and someone who likes predictability, a clean/neat environment and as little unnecessary stress as possible), I found myself feeling a bit out of sorts and kind of all over the place without the specific focus that I once had. I realized that it's fine to try new things but ultimately we need to respect who we are, our gut never lies.
2. Peace is Everything- I've always valued peace and I love the stillness of being in nature. I enjoy solitude, quiet, rest and I especially thrive when I can work without distraction and interruption. I'm admittedly not great at multitasking. Once I get distracted, it's hard for me to revert back to what I was working on-I've noticed it over the years both at home as well as in an office environment. I admire those who can switch gears so effortlessly and remain laser focused. In trying to work among such distraction for the majority of the year as I attempted to focus on various projects while entertaining my little one and caring for her simultaneously, I realized I was getting frustrated and it was counterproductive. I was blessed to have two years at home with Lily but I realized if I was ever going to be productive and get things done, be focused and see the kind of success that I dream of, it couldn't take place during 45 minute naps and those few hours between her bedtime and mine. I ended up burning the candle at both ends and I was exhausted, unhappy and snippy at times, especially since a 3 of those months were when I was caring for her solo as my husband worked out of state. We researched daycare and school options and finally enrolled her full time in a local private Christian Academy very close to our home. Now we are all enjoying the structure that it has brought to our home, she is well loved and cared for there, it makes our time together as a family that much more precious and she is enjoying an active social life and is learning so much. As much as I wanted to have my sweet girl home with me as long as possible, I realized that the entrepreneur and creative girl inside me was starting to die inside. There is a level of peace (and quiet) that now exists that I haven't enjoyed in a long time, I felt disorganized before and now I can take a deep breath and focus.
3. Quality Sleep is Essential- You might remember how not too long ago I wrote a post on How to Get a Better Night's Sleep. I've always known this to be true, but sometimes I get a little off track. I believe this is one of the single most important factors to not only our success but our happiness in life. We weren't designed to function on 4-5 hours of sleep for an extended period of time. One of the things I learned the hard way is that even though you might have lofty dreams and feel like you can just work into the wee hours of the night and cheat time, you simply can't. Something always suffers in the end, usually our health. I had one large design project that I had to push through (thanks to a little help from caffeine which I normally don't drink much of) and once that was over I vowed to make some changes. I began napping when my daughter did-it felt like such a luxury! I started to go to bed earlier and found myself naturally waking earlier than she did instead of waking up to her crying. I stopped drinking caffeine, and instead had a serious talk with my husband about him spending more quality time with our daughter which would also help free up time when I could work during the day so I didn't have to cram it all into the wee hours of the evening. Now of course, we're on a new schedule and I do try my best to get 7-8 hours most days but realistically I get more like 6.5 hours and take little power naps whenever I can since I work from home.
4. Fear will Destroy You-As sad as this is to admit, I found myself letting fear take over in my life. This past year (and if I'm honest, the past few years), I've realized that I've let negative thoughts and fears take over to a point where I started to forget who I was as a confident woman who has already accomplished many great things. The future seemed a bit scary given certain factors and I really started to question myself in a few areas. Then, towards the end of the year, a few things happened that were completely out of my control. A few of them I tried to fight tooth and nail initially and then finally just said, "God, I'm not fighting this any more, whatever is going to happen is going to happen." It's amazing what can evolve when you release your grip of control-the fear subsides and things sort themselves out. A situation that I was both angry and frustrated about turned into a huge blessing in the end, to the point that I didn't want to go back to the old way. Even when my tripod and DSLR camera blew over in the wind and crashed onto the ground during a shoot not too long ago, I felt an unusual sense of peace come over me and somehow, even though I didn't have the budget to replace a broken camera lens right after Christmas (especially since we just invested quite a bit into various home updates and new appliances), I just knew it would all work out. Of course, it has and that last example finally showed me that I don't need to worry. God's got it under control. I am someone who likes to be in control but to be honest, it can be emotionally and mentally exhausting. It just feels right to do your best then let God and the universe take it from there an do the rest. I won't say I'm completely free from every fear but I feel like I'm in a much better place, content to be a participant in my own life but be okay with it unfolding as it will, knowing and expecting that there will always be hiccups and that's okay. Sometimes those missteps and curve balls make for a better life story that we couldn't have planned ourselves.
5. It's Now or Never! Over the years I've watched myself get excited around the first of the year as most of us do, go into the new year with the best intentions and then find myself frustrated and regretful in the final weeks of December at the time I wasted that could have been spent on my goals, and in the end not feeling very accomplished. I found an old binder that I had put together over a decade ago, filled with the goals I had at that time and some of them are still relevant today and things I still plan on doing. The only thing stopping me is my own dedication. As I turned another year older this past August, for the first time, I could really see a change in my skin. Lack of sleep, worry, motherhood and all that comes with it had aged me faster in the past year than in the last 5 (in my opinion anyway) and in looking back on my life, the last ten years seemed to just fly by. There comes a turning point in every person's life where they realize that they aren't going to be here forever-this was mine. While I'm here, I want to dream big, accomplish great things, inspire others, leave a legacy, be the best mother I can be to my sweet daughter and live without the regrets of never having gone after a dream. I've deemed this my 'now or never' year. I have a few things that are really important to me that I'll be working on this year (one is at the forefront of my mind and I'm excited to share more once it's complete). I'm still working out my game plan but I do know I can't let another year pass without getting it done. I'm blessed to work from home at the moment and have a more flexible schedule than I've had in a while, if I can't get it together now, I'm not sure if I ever will. The key is weeding out the distractions and focusing on only the necessary actions which will contribute to the overall goal.
MY BLOGGING GOALS FOR 2016
1. Fashion & Beauty Posts- As I mentioned in this recent outfit of the day post, something I'm working on this year is putting myself out there by sharing my take on classy fashion. I'll be shooting some of my outfits and sharing the details with you both here as well as my social media channels (you can follow along on Instagram where many outfits and style ideas that don't make it to the blog are shared). After years of requests and receiving numerous questions about classy style, I've decided to share my love for classic style to inspire others to use the wardrobe they have to put together new looks. While I'm no beauty expert, I'm looking forward to sharing skincare, makeup and hair tips as well as best products with a focus on natural and organic options as that is what I use and swear by.
2. Blog Makeover- As I mentioned above, a redesign has been long overdue and I want to ensure the end result is a user-friendly and organized one where you can find content quickly. I hope to have it installed by springtime in the next few months, after working out the details with a website designer. While I love the soft palette of this blog, its look and feel will be quite different-think editorial. Based on what I'm naturally gravitating towards at this time along with the type of content readers request the most, I know it will be the best fit.
3. Post Consistency-I also shared earlier that I'm working towards a more predictable post schedule. Before the holidays I was focusing on Monday (for Manners + Etiquette posts), Wednesday (lifestyle post such as travel, home decor, etc. but this day is kind of a wild card) and Friday (we'll be focused specifically on Fashion + Beauty). I'm looking to move towards 5 days per week once I iron out a few details behind the scenes (such as sourcing a local photographer) so that I'll have the time to spend on writing content instead of learning the art of photography with a tripod + self timer along with the time consuming task of photo editing-those of you who edit photos know what I mean!). I do sense this will be a year of change, so one never knows how things will unfold (or if I'll even be living in the same country), however as of right now this is a goal I'm committed to.
4. Publish Videos- I started a YouTube channel a few years ago with the intention of creating videos but also to easily follow others there too. I enjoy watching relevant videos with great content and I hope to create the same for this community. I'll formally announce and begin sharing those clips once I've finished them. My goal is always to do things with excellence so I do want to ensure that even though video editing will be new to me, that I'm producing quality content with the tools I have. If you want to add me to your own account so you can see videos as they're published, I'm at @ClassyWomanTV. I hoping to create 1-2 videos per month to start.
5. Have More Fun- I feel kind of silly admitting this, but I know I could be having a lot more fun in my life both personally and professionally. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the mundane day-to-day tasks that leave us feeling depleted. I tend to be pretty analytical person by nature and I often thrive on having a routine vs. spontaneously doing something new every day of the week. I have realized though, that sometimes spontaneous moments really shake you up and take you outside of your comfort zone in a good way and can add so much joy to your life. Sometimes I get so caught up in doing things with excellence that when they don't appear perfect, I'll abandon an idea for fear that it won't reach my standards and live up to my expectations but let's face it, expectations are overrated. So, this year I want to have more fun and not take myself so seriously in all aspects and I hope that vibe translates to my content her too. Life is just too darn short to not be having fun!
I have a feeling that this will be a great year! I hope you're as excited as I am about 2016 and the adventures that await us! I appreciate you being a part of this community. If there's anything you'd like to see more of here, please feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment for me and I'll be sure to reply. :)
I'd love to know, what 2015 has taught you and if you have any special goals or resolutions for the New Year? As always, thank you for reading!