26 Little Lessons Learned as I Turn 26

25 was a wild and wonderful year in my life. It changed me in ways that will matter forever, and I'm so thankful. I'm excited to ring in 26 today-- birthdays feel like my New Year in a lot of ways, and I always spend a lot of time reflecting on the year past and setting intentions for the year ahead. I have a feeling big and beautiful things are in store this year, and I can't wait! But first...

Here are 26 (random) little lessons I learned in the last year:

  1. I drink way more water when I drink from a big glass mason jar with a straw
  2. God is God. God is good. And God is good at being God.
  3. This + this = my favorite face mask.
  4. Weekly counseling is a game-changer and a life-saver.
  5. This yoga mat is perfect for hot yoga classes and bad knees.
  6. A match made in heaven that I just can't/won't quit: these pens + these journals.
  7. I CAN read the Bible cover to cover in 90 days. (I used this one!) And, it is incredible to do, especially when alongside your entire church community.
  8. Kids books are beautiful and whimsical and wonderful even as an adult.
  9. Sharks are even cooler up close. (I went cage diving in Denver!) My love for them will never die.
  10. Sometimes, if something isn't a "hell yes!" then it's a "hell no." (Thank you, Hannah, for these words of wisdom!)
  11. There's very little that alone time, yoga, counseling, a long walk outside, and reading books in bed can't fix.
  12. Incense is better than candles. (But both are best.)
  13. Surprise book mail is the best kind of mail. (Page 1 Books, I'm obsessed with you! ps-- using "RADREADS" will get you 10% off a subscription! Shameless plug because I love it so much.)
  14. A change of scenery is good for your soul and your creativity.
  15. Becoming a regular makes a real difference in life. (It will get you discounts at the auto repair shop, and make you feel at home at the yoga studio, and just make you feel more connected to other humans.)
  16. Few things are more simultaneously grounding and uplifting than being barefoot in grass.
  17. Library book sales are basically the grown-up version of Scholastic book fairs and I am ALL ABOUT THEM.
  18. I can pull off things I never would have tried a year ago. (Like this, and these, and this!)
  19. It is vitally important to the health of your soul to take a step back and rest. Weekly (I love you, Sabbath) and seasonally and whenever else you feel yourself approaching burnout.
  20. Confidence is sexy. Very much so, actually. Also sexy: chivalry, intentionality, good dark jeans, making good impressions on family, strong hands, surprise love letters, vulnerability, talking Enneagram, reading the Word every day, making plans, and cooking vegan meals.
  21. It's okay to take a breather from church. The One in me felt so stinkin' guilty for taking a season away from showing up on Sunday mornings, but it turns out God doesn't just show up in sanctuaries. That time away was the very best thing for my soul and for my faith.
  22. Sometimes, the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. (Thanks to The Fray for those wise words.) Sometimes we have to make tough calls even when it will hurt like hell, all in the name of love and choosing freedom. It will be worth it.
  23. I'm not quite sure how to define my fashion style. (But it's been fun to try!) So far, I've settled on a few words as guiding lights: tomboy, simple, minimalistic, and a little boho.
  24. The best way to motivate myself to do things is to connect it to identity. (I'm a rebel according to Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies, and I resist both outer and inner expectations SO HARD.) I've only gotten motivated and excited about doing things when I can clearly define how they'll shape my identity, such as taking yoga classes because I want to be known as/seen as a yogi, taking the stairs at work because I don't want to be seen as lazy and I want to be seen as active, eating well because I'm vegan and want to be seen as a healthy and green person... etc. Whatever works.
  25. I value freedom so, so highly, even within in my commitments. And I don't define freedom as "getting to do whatever I want," but instead "having room to grow/breathe/stretch/expand, make decisions, express myself creatively, think/act/and speak freely within a clear, structured framework." It's been a game-changer to both realize and define this, and then implement it in my life.
  26. Last, but maybe most importantly, I'm learning that day by day, I'm becoming more and more of who I was created to be. I'm expressing myself more transparently and fully, I'm doing work that makes me come alive, I'm choosing to do life with encouraging and supportive people who make me better, I'm pursuing dreams I wasn't brave enough to speak out loud a year ago, I'm finding freedom in my faith, in my calendar, in my relationships, in my career, and in my very soul... I'm coming alive. I'm proud of who I am and who I'm becoming. I'm shifting, softening, yet staying strong and becoming more sure. It's a really beautiful thing to see yourself come into your own.

I'm grateful for all this past year has brought me. I'm hopeful for all this next year will bring. I hope, above all else, God is glorified in and through me. May it all be for Him.

Here's to 26!