I don’t know about you but when I don’t reflect, I get ungrateful. When I don’t look back on where I started, I miss how much I’ve grown.
A couple days into the 2016 new year, someone asked me how 2015 had been for me. With a labored sigh, I replied “In all honesty, it was a tough year.” I hadn’t told a lie– 2015 was sprinkled with unexpected let-downs and challenges. Social media has a way of compiling a highlight reel of our lives that gives the false impression of a perfect life. While I was winning awards and getting speaking engagements, I was grappling with the reality of a dwindling savings account. One day, when I’m ready, I will tell you all that story. It’s one of true friendship and God’s provision. I’ll save it for another day.
Right now I want to take you back to how I started the year. I wrote down a vision for what I wanted to see in the next 365 day. I included my ambitions, my hopes, and my motivations. I believe that the way you start (with optimism and hope) frames how you’ll approach the year, with all its good and its bad.
“Go. See. Do”
I had purposed in my mind that I wanted to take a solo trip after I graduated with my Masters degree. I was nervous and was constantly checking Google Flight alerts for tickets during my lunch breaks. My destination of choice? Copenhagen, Denmark. I love biking culture and I had heard it’s a safe place for a woman to travel alone. I caught huge a break with a roundtrip ticket for under $600. On my trip, I stayed at the Urban House in Denmark and hopped over to Germany to visit friends and learn about sustainable fashion at H&M Starting House. I’d recommend a solo trip to anyone who’s ever considered it.
Be Happy. Live Well.
Happiness to me consists of spending time with loved ones and being free to be myself. Living far away from my family and friends, the things I cherish the most are unexpected phone calls, care packages, and authentic acts of friendship. In order for me to “live well,” I had to shed dead weight that was not helping me develop as an individual. It can be difficult to let go of relationships and things that used to fit you. Once those things become a hinderance, it’s necessary to remove them from your life. As a recovering people-pleaser, I still struggle with the need to justify my actions but a dear friend challenged me to start living for an audience of one. As long as God is pleased with my actions, I don’t owe anyone anything. I have said many times before that I am fiercely protective of my happiness— as we all should be. Before you invite people, habits, and things into your life, examine them thoroughly. And let them in only if they will make you a better version of yourself.
One day, I was praying and I thought what big and specific thing could I ask of God? I declared, “I want to have 5 speaking engagements this year.” As the months rolled by, I had almost forgotten my prayer. But emails and calls started pouring in and on December 4th, I found myself on stage at an award ceremony, giving remarks about sustainable fashion. It was my fifth and final speaking engagement for the year. Sometimes, I still feel like the nerdy girl who reads articles about textile waste for fun and it’s humbling that people want to hear what I have to say. The Word says, You have not because you do not ask (James 4:2). God is not intimidated by our ambition. Ask Him for what you want and when you do, ASK BIG.
Leaders of the New Cool
I’m not shy about telling people that I want my startup Style Lottery to be the thought-leader in recycling textiles. We’ve been working with the circular economy for a couple of years and we have been changing the way consumers get rid of their old clothes. Sustainable fashion isn’t just the new cool, it’s going to become the new standard. This year, I challenged myself to be true to my convictions. I adjusted my shopping habits and now more than half my closet is second-hand. I enjoy fashion and I recognize its ability to connect and empower communities. I am an outspoken advocate for sustainable fashion. You know what qualifies us as leaders? Our closets, our wallets, and what we chose to use them for.
I dabbled in the zero waste world for a bit and learned some great ways to lower my carbon footprint. I attended SXSW Eco, tried composting, eliminated meat from my diet, and read The Zero Waste Home from cover to cover. At the end of the day, I identified the necessities and the excesses in my life. I focused on getting basic staples and timeless pieces that will last several seasons. I have chosen to adopt a minimal waste lifestyle, where I work to minimize my environmental impact. Ever since I made the switch, I have less stuff and more substance. I’m aware that not everyone can fit all their trash into a mason jar, but if we can all reduce our waste in some way, we can make the world a better place.
Writing this post was therapeutic for me. In retrospect, I can see that I had a fantastic year. Although I didn’t get all the answers I wanted in 2015, I know that God will complete the work He started. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11. It says,
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
That promise from God is enough optimism and hope to launch me into 2016. I cannot wait to see how His plans unfold in my life.
Did you make a vision board this year? Or make New Years resolutions? If so, what were your main themes for 2016? Leave a comment below :)