24 Before 24: Website Makeovers

website 1I’m not 100% done with sprucing up my blog design, but that’s mostly because I don’t think I’ll ever be completely finished tweaking my website to look and act the way I want it to. Every so often I’m overcome with a need to fix a million small things all at once, which means long to-do lists and even longer hours spent trying to figure out one seemingly simple thing. That happened earlier this Spring and thankfully, for now that storm has passed. Lots of things have been updated and more things will continue to be, slowly and steadily. But I think my fit of productivity has given me permission to call this item on my 24 list done!

What exactly did I do? Nothing overly dramatic, just a lot of little changes, which I’m posting about here in case you’re curious. If you usually read in a blog reader, hop on over to the site to see if you like it!

website 2So: I added pagination to the bottom of every page to make navigation easier. I created a Free Downloads page to store my e-book, my wallpapers and the occasional spreadsheet. It’s not perfect yet, but at least it’s there. I updated my Books page to include a hyperlink to every single book I’ve read for the past five years. My travel page now applies to all my travels (not just my trip to Europe) and is now more well-organized. I added new sidebar buttons for different categories and a popular posts widget. I created consistent graphics for all my sidebar sections – they’re the prettiest colour of blue! I updated my header and my Welcome photo and I changed my whole colour scheme to be less pink (though if you highlight anything you’ll still catch a glimpse).

website 4I changed the fonts to one of my favourites and I cleaned up my categories. I added an Archive page to make it easier to find things. I added better options for subscription (Feedly, Bloglovin’ and RSS) to the bottom of the site. I changed the colour of my links and added streamlined social media buttons to the sidebar.

For my personal site, I switched to a very basic theme with a design I liked. I also added a small photography portfolio and links to my social media pages. I pared it down to be very minimal but still effective for connecting anyone looking for me on the web to all the different things I do. I might go back one day and redesign it to look more like my blog, but for now it gets the job done.

website 3

I still want to make a few of my pages a little prettier, and do a bunch of other small fixes that are probably boring to anyone without a blog. Possibly this whole blog post is boring to anyone without a blog! But blog design is something that I love to do, and I find it very satisfying. I got a comment recently from someone saying that my blog was really easy to navigate, and hearing that made me so happy. While I want my blog to be pretty, I also want it to be functional and helpful. I’m happy that a lot of the tweaks I’ve made in the last few months have made it more of both.

You can see the rest of my 24 List here.

Summer Bucket List 2014

Summer BL2It’s June, so in my books it’s officially summertime! As always, I want to make the most of this wonderful season. A couple years ago, I wrote a list of lovely things I wanted to do during the summer, and the summer after that I made a summer jar full of fun ideas (though I wish I’d written them all down in that blog post because now I can’t remember any of them). This year, I want to continue the tradition. This summer is particularly special because, of course, I’m spending it as an ex-pat in Korea. That being said, my hopes for this summer spent in Busan are pretty much the same as for any summer.

Already this season there’s been sunshine, beaches, a sunset boat ride, patio beers, rooftop picnics, yoga, swimming in the ocean, plum wine, and Sunday nights spent at the spa. In a word, it’s been perfect – I’m so lucky to be living such a good life. This is a list of more things I’d love to do this summer, but really, they’d just be icing on the already-awesome cake.

Go surfing

Swim in the ocean at night

Set off fireworks

Create a new cocktail

Sleep on the beach

Celebrate happy hour every weekend

Listen to live music outdoors

Watch a sunrise

Read several great novels

Have great heart-to-heart conversations

Eat al fresco whenever possible

Drink sangria

Take another boat ride

Buy a floppy sunhat, a maxi dress and a pair of shorts

Find (& eat) chocolate soft-serve ice cream

Enjoy it all as much as I can

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No surprises there right? I just want to be outside, breathe fresh air, eat good food, spend time with friends, soak it all in. Sounds like a good life to me.

Feelings & Goals for 2014

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This year, I read The Desire Map for the first time, and I absolutely loved it. The whole idea is that whenever you set a goal, you’re really chasing the feeling that you think you’ll have once you achieve that goal. So the book argues that we should all start our goal-setting process by thinking about how we want to feel, first and foremost, and then create goals based on those feelings. Her book is great for delving into the details and walking you through the best ways to hone in on your desired feelings and avoid choosing generic feelings or goals that are prescribed by society. I would definitely recommend checking it out. I talk a lot about The Desire Map and my other favourite ways to set goals in this week’s episode of the podcast, which you can find here

Once you’ve gotten clear on how you want to feel, you’re in a much better position to set goals that are aligned with what you really truly want. I narrowed it down to five core desired feelings (after several drafts!) which have lots of different meanings for me, some of which are listed below. 

The Feelings

abundance: my word for the year! read what it means to me here

connection: meaningful conversations, reaching out to loved ones, tuned in to my body and my brain, looking at my life in a holistic way (all parts as being connected and balanced), experiencing synchronicity in my everyday life, being alert, attentive and a good listener

lightness: a sense of ease in my life, gracefulness, confidence, not eating too much, flexibility, calmness, bliss, a light tone to relationships (no drama, no way!), clean, efficient, enough/plenty, a sense of flow in my activities

expansion: growing, learning from my experiences and other people, trying new things, being a bigger person, open-mindedness, openness to new people and things, a sense of opportunity and possibility, hope, constantly improving, constantly creating

joyful: spontaneity, delight, wonder, a sense of awe, celebrations in my everyday life, appreciating the small things, appreciating everyday beauty, enthusiasm, surprises, a sense of occasion

The Goals

  • Read big: not only do I want to read 75 books again this year, I want to read more bravely. That means not shying away from long, hefty, heavy books that both intrigue and intimidate me.
  • Edit my possessions: I like the idea of owning less, but I’m such a homebody that I seem to draw extra junk to me like a magnet. In the spirit of feeling lightness, I want to throw away anything that isn’t useful or beautiful or make me feel good. 
  • More travel! Especially travel with friends or to see friends that live far away. 
  • Continue to increase my strength and flexibility (open my hips enough for full lotus and get the upper body and core strength for handstand and arm balances)
  • Move back into my own place in a vibrant city.

My goals for 2014 aren’t as specific as they’ve been in the past, but I’m okay with it. The year ahead is a great big question mark in a lot of ways, but I’m trying to think of it as a fresh page to write on instead of a big abyss to fall into (only half kidding). I’m happy to have my desired feelings to guide me, no matter what I choose to do in 2014. 

2014: Abundance

abundance

At the start of 2013, I chose the word reach as my one little word for the year. You can learn more about choosing a word here, but the gist is you choose a word to sort of guide you through the year. I think reach served me very well in 2013. I’ll be honest: my word wasn’t always on my mind, and my monthly goal setting dropped off somewhere around April (oops), but I think even the act of making the intention to reach more in 2013 shaped my choices and thinking this year. I pushed myself, I reached out, I explored the unknown and I tried my very best.

In 2014, my word is abundance. Abundance! I’ve been so into this word and concept over the last couple months that it just seemed like the perfect word to shape the coming year. I also worked through The Desire Map for the first time this December and chose abundance as one of my core desired feelings. I’ll be sharing my other four core desired feelings and what they mean for me in an upcoming post.

To me, abundance means:

  • believing that I am enough, that my choices are the right ones for me, that I’m going to be okay, and that things will work out
  • there is enough of everything to go around: love, money, happiness, adventure, beauty, intelligence
  • that life is not a competition or a zero sum game. Nobody has to lose so that I can win or vice versa. (I’m thinking about this on a macro level, not on a “who gets the job” kind of level)
  • having generosity of spirit: giving people the benefit of the doubt, being kind, giving of myself, my time, and my money, being the bigger person
  • being excited, enthusiastic and passionate about things in my life
  • being magnanimous
  • practicing gratitude for the friends, family, and fun that I have
  • believing that there is time and space to be patient and compassionate with myself and others
  • open-mindedness: there are many good, different ways to think, do, and live

I am really excited about 2014. The details are murky (where I’ll be living, where I’ll be working), but the broad strokes are exciting. I’ll be reading a lot, I’ll be practicing yoga, I’ll be keeping up with my creative projects (this blog and my podcast), I’ll be exploring and trying new things. And all the while, I hope to be remembering abundance and applying that beautiful, generous concept to every area of my life.

I’m very grateful this New Year’s Eve!

Happy New Year, everyone.