To give you an accurate picture of where my brain is at right now, I’ve been waking up every day for the past week wide awake at 3:30am thanks to jet lag. And what I’ve learned during those especially early mornings (besides the fact that this trip to China was totally worth all the sleepiness) is that there is nothing really like Marie Kondo-ing your entire apartment before the sun rises. Sure I almost fell asleep standing at the cross walk yesterday but at least my closet is now organized by color.
These past two weeks traveling around China have been some of the most memorable of my life and while I can’t wait to share all 1493 photos with you, tales of the trip will be coming in another post because today we’re talking about BIRTH-DAYS. Well, not all birthdays, let’s not be crazy. Today we’re talking specifically about my birthday because another turn around the sun always leads to me asking some big life questions like, “Why do people like having birds for pets?” and “What would Harry Potter’s therapy sessions be like?”
On the day of my actual birthday my family and I were attempting to hold our own within the massive crowds surrounding the Terracotta Army when my mum asked me what my resolution was for my 29th year around the sun. Now, if there is anything that makes my heart beat out of my chest in a flurry of happiness, it’s a good list — bonus points if it’s a list of resolutions!
Surrounded that day by 2,000 years of history and tradition, I assumed I’d be hit with something really profound to guide my new year. But just like reaching the top of the Great Wall of China and comically finding a man in a white tank top sitting under an umbrella with a megaphone selling ice cold beer, this year I decided that instead of letting my perfectionist tendencies run rampant, I was going to keep it simple. This year my mantra is: More.
Hear me out.
Like many people — which may or may not include yourself — I naturally navigate my life using a less mindset. I need to spend less, I need to stress less, I need to be on my phone less. I want to procrastinate less, spend less time in the office, be less in my own way about writing and working out and traveling. On most days I tend to focus solely on the things I am not, or the things I’ve yet to accomplish, or habits I’d like to break, which means my waking hours contain a lot of self criticism in the hopes of self improvement. It also means I rarely appreciate who I am in the present moment and I’m sick of it people!
There is a balance here I’m hoping to achieve between appreciating the present and striving forward. And if any zodiac sign can try and figure out this contradiction, hopefully it’s the Geminis. So in celebration of turning another year older, here are the 29 things I want more of this year.
- Start more mornings taking a walk around my neighborhood with a cup of home brewed tea before heading into the office. Bonus points if it involves a friend in the neighborhood.
- More experimentation with outfits shopped from my own closet. It’s going to be the summer of skirts in the Lanning household so you’re welcome in advance.
- Befriend more dogs. I remain indifferent to their owners.
- More checking the weather app so I stop getting caught in summer rainstorms that everyone else seems to know about but me.
- More time away from screens — especially in the morning. If I’ve learned anything from jet lag it’s that everyone’s Instagram highlight reel and pre-caffeine Carly are not an emotionally compatible mix.
- More sunlight. By this I mean all the sunlight! I am leaning into this mantra big time, not only as the guide for weekend planning, but as a mantra for guiding my apartment hunt in August.
- More time spent under trees. Preferably pine trees but this is New York City so I’ll take pretty much anything green.
- Leaving my apartment with more time to spare. I hate the tightening feeling my stomach gets when I know I’m running late, especially when it could have been prevented if I had just been more prepared.
- Enjoy more downtime. I tend to overpack my days and my to do lists which leaves me stressed and frazzled before I even begin. This year I’m trying out the new habit of setting only three major goals for the day and once they’re done, shutting down work/productivity mode and engaging more with things that simply bring me joy. I’ve come to realize that without downtime to recharge I burn out really quickly and tend to feel sluggish and disengaged. By actively enjoying my downtime, I’m hoping to find more happiness in my everyday routine.
- More taking the time and spending the money to pamper myself. This means not cutting my own bangs without my contacts in and actually taking the time to walk down the street to get my nails painted. There is just something about having my nails done that makes me feel so confident and powerful. I leave the chair and immediately start yelling, “It’s be handled! Fire him! Hire her! Someone bring me a goblet filled with something cold!”
- More time with my yoga mat Alfred. Bonus points if that quality time is in sunlight under a tree.
- Inject more face-melting, side-aching laughs into my day.
- More meditation before bed. Or when I start to feel stressed. Or maybe at 11am when I’m least likely to fall asleep.
- Host more dinners/movie nights/ happy hours with friends at my apartment. Hosting is something I want to feel more comfortable with because it feels like a special form of love and increases the pride I take in making my apartment into a home.
- Even more spontaneous dance parties in my apartment. This one might be hard to believe because I dance around my apartment a bunch already — usually while singing very loudly and out of tune — but it never fails to turn around my mood or get out some nervous energy (*ahem first dates*). I also want to take more dance classes and have been putting it off with excuses of nerves and budget and time management. It’s my fall goal to sign up for a class instead of waiting for the perfect moment to come along.
- More afternoons sitting on the couch with a mug of tea reading a book. Yes, I could be doing a million errands but those afternoons with a cat on my lap and the sun kissing me through the window just feel so delicious and rejuvenating. I wish I could write “kissing me through the blinds” but I never got around to buying those after three years so …
- Enjoying the creative process more. For me this includes a whole range of things: Taking time to feed my creativity, actively engaging in social media for inspiration instead of letting it be a passive time suck, taking one project at a time, and stepping away to unplug. I’ve been pretty blue about the number of pitches I’ve sent out this year that haven’t even received responses. It often feels so out of my control and leaves me questioning: Why the hell am I doing this? So this year I’m making more of an effort to focus on the parts that I can control and reminding myself that I started writing for the same reason I keep going today: To share my story, and help others share theirs, in order to empower and inspire good.
- More doodling. Now that pottery is over I am looking for another creative outlet and bouncing around the idea of taking a cartoon drawing class or a ballet class. But until the decision is officially made, I’m drawing along with AmandaRachLee on YouTube while watching “Miss Fisher’s Mysteries” reruns and finding it deeply relaxing.
- Making more time to enjoy the social aspects of work. This probably makes it sound like I’m a work hermit which I promise, I’m friendly! But most weeks I get into the mindset that if I skip my lunch break or prioritize work over getting coffee with a coworker that I’ll get out of the office earlier — which never happens. I’m learning it’s up to me to set better boundaries around my work time and that part of enjoying my job also means making time to connect to the people around me.
- More weekends spent checking off my New York City summer bucket list and more weekends away. I never really allow myself enough time during the week to sit down and plan something beyond the next day. But when I do I always feel such a spark of joy. Whether that’s setting aside time to take a long walk through the city or trying to map out how I’m going to get to a new museum, when I plan ahead it gives me something big to look forward to throughout the week and always leaves me feeling more connected to the city.
- Saying yes to more things outside of my comfort zone. But also, trusting myself enough to know when something just isn’t right for that moment and meeting myself with kindness instead of frustration.
- Appreciating the smell of summer nights more.
- More loose leaf tea brewing. The extra minutes always feel so luxurious for some reason.
- I mean this is probably the most fun one on the list but spend more time figuring out my earring and ring game. This is pretty much a cop out and just me wanting to get new earrings for my cartilage piercings and finally splurge on that Martia Pie Third Eye ring that I have been lusting after for years now. I just want to be the cool chick with a strong ring game and I figure, why not 29!
- Break the habit of holding back on the fun stuff because I believe I need to “earn it” through being productive. More just because things please!
- Send more notes to friends letting them know how much they mean to me.
- Make my body more of a priority. I always love to move my body, whether that’s through yoga or dance or running, but I have just been putting it on the back burner lately. It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy because the less I workout, the less energy I have and the less motivated I am to get back at it. This year I want to take the things that feel impossible (running six miles, doing a yoga handstand, being able to do a chin up) and begin working towards them just to prove to myself I can. Plus I’m curious, if I can make these impossible goals happen, what else can I accomplish?
- More realistic to do lists, as well as taking the time to figure out what routines work best for me. I am a bit of a productivity junkie and after a year of trying all these productivity hacks and routines suggested by gurus, I’ve learned I need to spend time figuring out what actually works for me. Am I a morning writer? When are my peak hours? What does my night routine need to consist of? I’m no a Jocko Willink, I know that much.
- And of course, eat more pie. And lemon bars. And cake.
Even just writing this list warmed me from the inside out. So here’s to another year of more! Anything more you’d like to add?