How to Make a Personal Yearbook (a cherished photo book that takes less than 10 mins a week to create)

Here are the yearbooks I've made for each year my husband and I have been together. 🤗It's cool to see our little collection of memories grow 🙂 :)


Why create a Personal Yearbook?

Right around the time of my birthday (which is this week!) I sit down and make New Year’s Resolutions.

Yep, I made two set of New Year’s Resolutions -- dork! I’m such a dork!...and I’m proud of it though :)

Along with my Birthday New Year’s Resolutions, I also create a Personal Yearbook, because, of course, part of any new beginning is reflecting on the past and figuring out how to be more present in the important moments.

I love my little (now 3 year) collection of personal yearbooks. They keep me grounded, reflective, and they’re awesome to bring to milestone moments (like your birthday, anniversaries, etc.).

What is a Personal Yearbook? 

Simply, it’s a photo collection for a given year. You can define that as your birthday to birthday, calendar year, or whatever milestone works for you. I like a calendar year because it feels more rounded out.

Mine includes big personal and professional accomplishments for both myself and my nearest and dearest (like my brother's graduation, my cousin’s recital, and my first You’re Already You event), because when I (and others) look back at these I want to see what was happening in both my life, but in lives of people I care most about. So, I also include mundane moments, like random selfies at our place (because as we move over our lifetime, it’s nice to see what our place looks like too), or a nice unexpected afternoon lunch with my siblings.


How to Make Personal Yearbook

I love my photo Yearbooks, but I hate making them. The first time I sat down to make one it took over a month. Ugh! But after three years of Personal Yearbooks, I’ve super streamlined the process.

So here’s the cake and recipe to making your own Personal Yearbook:


  • A weekly calendar reminder

  • The Shutterfly App on your phone (because, after all, most of the photos you take are on your phone). I use Shutterfly, but I suppose you can use another app. However, these instructions are for Shutterfly because that’s what I use.

(5-10 mins. per week + 20-30mins. at the end of the year)

A. Set up the App (2 minutes)

  1. Create a weekly calendar reminder to upload your photos.

    1. Mine is a calendar block (like an actual appointment on my calendar) each Friday from 5:00pm-5:30pm to reminder myself to select and upload photos. It’s a delightful way to cap off the week :)

  2. Download the Shutterfly App on your phone. Create an account, or login to your account if you have one.

B. Uploading Photos (~5-10 minutes per week)

  1. As you go through your day and week, as you normally would, take photos of special moments and memories.

    1. What’s great about this is that it help you be more present and aware of the joy in your life and of what makes you happy. You already take photos anyway, but now you’ll take them with the intention of printing and remembering them, which makes me feel more aware of the moments as they’re happening. I sort of think to myself, “Wow, this unexpected little lunch with my siblings is really special. Let me take 2-3 pics and then put away my phone to enjoy it.”

  2. At the time you set your weekly reminder:

    1. Open the app

    2. Select the “Upload” arrow icon

    3. Select the “All Photos” album from your phone

    4. Tap the photos you like best from that week. Don’t worry about curating them down, just select with your heart all the memories from that week that you want to remember.

    5. Select the “Upload” button

    6. Select “Add to Album”

      1. For your first Yearbook, select “Create an Album” and name after the year you’re in.

      2. If you already created an album, just tap that album and the photos will upload.

  3. Voila! You’ll do this weekly until the end of the year.

C. Creating Your Personal Yearbook (20-30mins per year)

Once you’re ready to create your book…

  1. Log onto your Shutterfly account online (not on the app)

  2. Hover over the “Photo Books” and select “Make My Book Service”

    • I *LOVE* this service. For only $10 someone saves me hours and hours and hours and hours, and their layouts are always better! It’s awesome and super quick. You also actually don’t pay for anything until after you’ve seen the book and reviewed it.  

  3. Select “Make My Book” and follow the prompts to select the size and style.

    • I always get an 8x11 in Modern White.

  4. It’ll ask you to add your photos. So from there select “My Photos” and select the albums you’ve been using to upload your photos into all year.

  5. No here is where you can curate your photos:

    • You can either do this yourself by selecting only the ones you want.

    • Or you can have the photo service do it for you and select all of them to add. You’ll then be prompted to choose if you want the best, the most, or all of them in your book. Don’t worry, you’ll get the chance to review it later.

  6. You’ll then be prompted to choose if you want few, some or many embellishments -- little designs in your book. I always choose some.

  7. Follow the prompts to choose a title and add any special instructions.

  8. In about 2-3 days you’ll get an email saying your book is ready for review. Woo hoo! This is the best part!

  9. You can then review the book, make changes, add captions, etc.

    • I usually look at it with my husband over a bottle of wine -- it’s so fun to look back on the year together and now it’s a little tradition -- and we add a caption here or there so we remember what happened then.

    • You also actually don’t pay for the book or service until after you’ve seen the book and reviewed it.  

  10. Order it :) Pro tip: Shutterfly always has mad deals on their homepage, so open a new browser to look at their homepage for coupon codes. I always get one for at least 30% off. And if you do this around holidays, they have even better promos!

Woot woot! Now you'll have amazing and cherished Yearbooks for years to come. The best is once you order your second one and you start putting together your collection. It's awesome!

Comment if you started (or created!) your own Personal Yearbook! Do you have a photo service you like that helps you be present and cherish memories (without the stress of creating the actual book)?


How I Paid off $40,000 In Student Loans in 2 Years

There I was, completely overcome with both the peaceful euphoria of eating a slowly melting ice cream sundae on a beach hammock and the paralyzing dread of a monster truck about to run me over.

On the one hand, there was a dangling carrot -- my dream job that I’d wanted for almost a decade (in documentary film), and on the other hand, I was shackled to an anchor of overwhelming student loans and only ever knowing a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle from my family’s own debt burden.

What DO I do?

Follow my dream and pursue my passion even though it would keep me in debt for the foreseeable future? Or forgo the dream for a safe road and end the paycheck-to-paycheck mentality of financial scarcity in my family

I felt like a tightrope walker at dead center, going back was just as hard as going forward.

What DID I do?

I jumped. I did both. Boom!


How I paid off my loans


1. Decided very clearly why I wanted to do this.

Yep, the first step is entirely personal. Remember, there’s a personal part to personal finance.

I grew up in a single-parent home where I was raised to believe that money was taboo, evil, and would always limit and suffocate me. I was raised to believe that the only way to live was paycheck-to-paycheck, and that there would always be scarcity. And, finally, that the more money you have the happier you are.

This deep and destructive financial mindset -- of scarcity, survival, and dependency -- haunted me throughout every major decision in my life, especially as I balanced various jobs in college, and then through graduate school where I juggled both working full-time while attending school full-time. And most profoundly, it influenced my decision to NOT pursue a career as an artist and filmmaker because of the “starving artist” myth I was so deeply afraid of. It also influenced my decision to go to graduate school because I believed that’s what I was supposed to do to be a respected professional but that wasn’t what I actually wanted to do.

For me, I’ve always known that I wanted to be an artist full-time. So, I wanted to decrease my overhead (a.k.a. my overall expenses) so that I could do that asap.

I know that I didn’t really need to pay off my loans in order to transition into a career as a full-time artist, but I knew I wanted that debt gone because I wanted to show my family it was possible to live a life where you’d not always struggling and where you don’t have to be in debt.

Mathematically, I could have made more if I kept some of the debt and used the funds for traditional retirement instead, but I simply didn’t want to do that. I wanted it gone. Simple as that. Psychologically it made me uneasy to have it hanging over my head.

Besides, the tradeoff was really asking myself: Do I want to reap the benefits of this asap or in 30 years. I went with asap!

That said, I did both -- I didn’t take the dream job, and instead looked for the highest paying job (that I still enjoyed!) to pay off my debt asap. And, at the same time, I created films and did side gigs in documentary film. It turned out to be the best choice because I was able to meet my financial goal and to keep doing what I love (I had a film in an international festival and broadcast on television) and then fully transition into documentary film.


2. Figured out how much I needed to pay and by when

At the time, I was 27, so I decided I wanted it all gone by 30.

I had 29 months before I turned 30. I divided my total debt by 29 months and it came out to about $1,400/month. So, I made that my goal.

I figured, if people can make mortgage payments and have kids (neither of which I had), then I could make a large payment towards my student loans.


3. Automated my budget

Once I knew that number, then I automated my budget (more on that here) and did everything I could to hit it.


4. Hustle hustle hustle hustle...a.k.a. Increased money coming in

I increased the money coming in as much as possible. I got the highest paying job I could, I took on extra work side gigs assisting filmmakers and doing documentary film work and photography work.

I applied and was chosen for a student loan crowdfunding platform where people could contribute to your student loans if you did community service. And, of course, I did so in film. Here’s a throwback to my crowdfunding video:

Thanks again to everyone who supported that campaign! I’m still deeply grateful to you! <3


5. Decreased the money going out.

I decreased my expenses like whoa! I got a roommate, I mostly did free things (spent a lot of time at the park and public library, in the personal finance section of course!), and I didn’t have a car (instead biked everywhere or took public transit).

I also researched like crazy ways to decrease the debt itself -- consolidation, forgiveness, refinancing, etc. -- and found a forgiveness program that applied to me so had about $2,000 forgiven.


6. This all resulted in meeting my goal one month early!





Stuff You Can Use: 2 Lessons + 2 actions + 1 Toolkit



I shouldn't have given as much of a damn about my loans as I did.

That's easy to say now, though, right? ;)

I do know that I put WAY too much stress, heartache, and sleepless nights into worrying about my student loans. It was like driving on a slippery road swerving towards a tree. I was focusing on the "tree" -- scarcity -- but should've been focusing on the "road" -- abundance.

So, dozens of personal finance books, numerous courses, and 1 speedy debt journey later, this is the best advice on student loans I've ever read: Why I Simply Don't Give A Damn About my $100k+ in Student Loans.


So, I think the best thing you can do if you're worried about money is to automate your finances as much as possible, read at least one book on the basics, and then shift your focus to abundance so you can stop worrying so much and start moving forward.



Don't make surviving your goal, make THRIVING your goal!

Move on and live for a hunger to strive, create, and live (rather than the famine of scarcity, survival, and debt anxiety -- even while you're feeling lost. Scratch that, *especially* while you're feeling lost!).

They say that people who win the lottery see a spike in feeling awesome (duh!).

But then, something happens, the diamonds lose their luster, and just a few weeks afterward they go back to feeling the same way they did before they won the lottery. If they felt lousy about their life before the lotto, they continue to feel lousy after the lotto.

Nope nope nope.

Exactly. The. Same.

If there's anything I learned from having paid off my loans, it's that it doesn't lead to happiness.

SUPER cliche with a cherry on top!  

Yes, I know. But did I really think paying off my loans would lead to happiness / relief / joy? ... ya...I sort of did.

Yes, I have more cash to free up...but now I'm just looking for something else to obsess over with the freed-up cash -- a house, so just more debt...WFT? Yes, that's right, it continues.

But this time, with the peace of mind that I understand the math and (more importantly) my goals (not just my money goals), and can add them all up... my money goals + my time (which we know is worth more than money) + my life goals and can fit them together in a nice package with a bow on top. I got this! Like a present to myself, that I have given myself; I am now equipped to climb money mountains joyously! Without fear of whether I'm doing the right thing, or if I have enough for retirement (or any other time or money worry).

Debt + stressing over it + feeling totally lost = ew!

Debt + Peace of mind = priceless.

You know what feels better than being debt free? Cookies? A new car? Winning the lotto?

Nope nope nope.

Being you.

That's right...simple, right? Well, not for those who feel worried, self-conscious, and unclear about the road before them. And what makes it worse, is that sometimes you're not even able to admit it to yourself...that you're unclear, that road is scary, and that you don't know WTF you're doing. But it's okay. Really.

Whatever you do, don't let money (or lack of it) keep you from being the awesome person you already are. Don't use it as an excuse to not move forward...like I did {phew! I said it!}. I used my debt/money as an excuse to 'not be an artist'..."I'll get my life together as soon as I get my money right," I said.

Heard that one before? Or how 'bout this classic "I'll get my life together once I lose the weight/ New Years comes around/ I pay off these loans..blah blah blah...wang wang wang."

The only one you're making excuses for is you, it's your life. Debt / money / a relationships / a clever Facebook profile...doesn't keep you (nor stop you) from living your life in the direction you want to go. Just move forward, debt or not, happy or not, whatever.

You, as you are, have everything you need to be your best self. HENCE, you're already you! :)


Write down a list of 100 Dreams (or even 10 dreams!) and empower yourself to work towards them *daily*. Or, use Shannon’s self-reflection starter kit here.


Find a Job You Actually Love

I’ve been hired for several of my dream jobs/professional experiences -- interning at the White House (Obama 2009), worked in technology consulting at an education reform organization I shamelessly stalked for years and working on several films by directors I admire.

I was reflecting on my dream job history with my dear friend Daniela last week…here’s a little Instagram love for you…

"Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper" 🐝In other words, the world is changed more by your example than by your opinion. ⚡️I boxed for an hour this morning, directed an incredible interview with a dear friend, connected with a foundation about a film I'm an Impact Producer on, and am now co-working with my biz bff (hey  @danielauslan !) 🚀In the hustle and chaos of today, what actions are proud of having taken today? How did you slay today?! ⚡️⚡️⚡️

"Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper" 🐝In other words, the world is changed more by your example than by your opinion. ⚡️I boxed for an hour this morning, directed an incredible interview with a dear friend, connected with a foundation about a film I'm an Impact Producer on, and am now co-working with my biz bff (hey @danielauslan!) 🚀In the hustle and chaos of today, what actions are proud of having taken today? How did you slay today?! ⚡️⚡️⚡️


So, how have I landed several of my dream jobs?

Here’s an outline of what I’ve done to get my dream jobs/professional experiences:


1. (2-5 min) Set the intention in your mind that you’ll only apply to jobs you actually want.

Finding your dream job -- or even just a job you feel lukewarm about -- can be insanely overwhelming.

Even before some people start applying, I’ve heard them say:

“I have to see what’s out there.”

But, instead, flip this on it’s head and think:

“I have to decide what I want, and then find it.”

You don’t have to wait to see ‘what’s out there’ -- go for what you actually want.

Set the intention that you’ll only apply to jobs you actually want and feel excited about. (ehem...like dating, only date people you actually like...but I digress).

If the thought of having that job makes you feel drained or blah, then don’t apply. Only apply to those that make you feel excited when you read the job description.


2. (10-20 mins) List the “must haves” and “nice to haves” of your dream job -- things like:

  1. Must haves:

    1. Location - What’s your ideal location? Are you looking to move or stay put?

    2. Responsibilities you actually enjoy - What would you be most excited about doing? What responsibilities give you energy?

    3. Salary - What’s your minimum salary requirement (which you can always negotiate)

  2. Nice to haves:

    1. Commute time - Do you want a short commute time?

    2. Autonomy - Do you want to work in a team or by yourself?    

Alternatively, you can also write the job description for your ideal job. Think of it as Pinterest boarding for your dream job.


3. (30-60 mins) List 2-5 organizations and/or people you deeply admire and would dream of working for. (Hint: It’s probably the first ones that came to mind right now.)

  1. For the organizations, maybe you read their publications, maybe you’ve always wanted to work there, and maybe you’re on their newsletter?

  2. For the people, maybe you know them personally, or maybe you don’t, maybe you’re on their newsletter?

  3. Decide which of these is your #1 dream organization or person to work for.


4. (1-2 hours) Do some research & rate what you find.

Start with your #1 organization or person on your list. Look at what’s on their job board, on their website. Write down 2-5 jobs that you’d love to do on your Dream Job Decision Matrix.

Include jobs you think you’re not qualified for.

Even if you don’t think you’re qualified for a job, but it excites you to think of having it, write it down. I repeat, even if you don’t think you’re qualified for them. GO FOR THE BEST PARKING SPOT.

You can even include jobs that aren’t posted.

Yes, not posted. I applied and got a job that wasn’t posted. I’d seen the job posted a year prior, but wasn’t looking at the time. A year later, I wrote an application to a recruiter at the organization (who I found on LinkedIn) asking about the job and basically pitching myself. I knew I’d be a great fit, and I knew they still had that department, and thus a need for those roles. So, I basically applied in a roundabout way. The timing and my initiative worked out. They were looking but hadn’t posted about it yet. Long story long, I got that job. So, even if they don’t have a job posted, but you know you’d be a great fit for them, list them anyway.

Write down 2-5 jobs that you’d love to do, then given them 2 points for every “must have” requirement and 1 point for each “nice to have”. As you connect with people and interview (#5) you’ll learn more about the work and the points you assign them may change.

Your bull’s eye will be the job (or prospective job) with the most points. That’s the one you want to focus all of your energy on getting. But first, search your network (#5).

5. (30-60 mins) Now that you’re focused on the bull’s eye, brainstorm connections within your network to that place/person.

Who are 2-5 people you admire in your network who may have a connection there? Who are mentors you’ve worked with in the past? What friends do you know that may have worked there in the past, or know someone who did?

These should be people you admire and actually want to maintain a relationship with. In other words, you’re being sincere -- your dream job and true heartfelt aspirations deserve sincerity. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with another job you don’t really like.

Search your LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends, and ask your personal network (past colleagues, mentors, former or current classmates, etc.) if they have a connection or know someone at the organization. Whatever you do, don’t send a mass email -- frankly, that’s in poor taste, and you’re too graceful and savvy for that.

You can send something like this:

SUBJECT: You & [Your #1 Organization/Person You Want to Work With]

Hi [Name],

How are you? How’s [insert an anecdote or memory from the last time you connected -- actually take the time to connect and catch up. This is someone you admire, don’t take their -- or your -- time for granted.]

I’m well, but looking to make a professional shift. I’m looking at working with [Your #1 Organization/Person You Want to Work With] because the work they do aligns with my professional aspirations [and any other reasons it’s your #1]. I know you [insert why you think they’re relevant like -- “I know you worked in that industry” or “I noticed on LinkedIn that you used to work there”].

Do you have any thoughts you’d be willing to share about [Your #1 Organization/Person You Want to Work With]?

Thank you,

[Your Name]


6. Follow-up

Talk to people who’ve offered their time. Ask them sincere questions and be respectful of their time, knowledge and connections. Thank them and follow-up.

I’ve recommended people to jobs, written letters, shared references, and sometimes I don’t hear how it went. I felt used. (I was guilty of not following up myself, until I was on the other end and realized how used I felt when people I shared connections and insight with didn’t follow-up to let me know how things went. I really wanted them to succeed, but them not letting me know how it turned out made me feel taken advantage of.)

Always, follow-up and thank them sincerely -- no matter what the outcome is. Let them know you appreciate them and their time. After all, this is someone you respect and admire so following-up is only the respectful thing to do.


7. Apply (to only ONE job at a time!)

See how this is #7. Look at all the work that happens before this. See how different it is to apply knowing what you actually want not the other way around and just settling for what’s out there.

Also, rather than applying to a TON of jobs, only apply to one job (to the best of your ability) at a time. In other words, treat your search as if you’re only applying to 1 job, and only one job. That way, the quality of your application is instantly elevated and you’ll apply to the best of your ability -- and I mean thee (2 e’s) best of your ability.

For example, I’ve submitted extra materials with tailored examples to show that I can do the work. I once created a video resume for a specific job (it was for a film company so it made sense). I also sent extra sample calculations and proposals that weren’t required, just to illustrate that I can not only do that work, but that I had ideas already cooking for how I’ll solve their problems. After all, to put it simply, a job is a set of problems that someone needs solving. If you show that you can solve the problems, the better.

Do that by putting together a luxury-worthy tailored application. Think of service at a place that’s “mass market” (like Walmart or Costco) versus a place that’s tailored to you (like your favorite cafe, where they know your name and your order). Be like their favorite cafe -- the one that knows their needs, hopes, fears, wants, and can solve their problem even before you start working there. In other words, be the luxury brand they must have, not the generic brand/resume that could just do the job. Show them you can excel at the job.  

In order to create a kick ass application, you need to focus on making your application steller, and to do that only work on one application at a time before moving on to the next.   

Apply to what you actually want as much as you and your circumstances can muster! You’ve worked too long and hard to get to where you are today, there is no reason you should settle for unhappiness.


8. Repeat.

Repeat #3-#6 until you’ve found a great fit.

Finding a job is like dating -- it’s not a one-way street. You both need to be happy.


9. Negotiate.

Once you're interviewing, negotiate your salary + benefits + vacation time, etc.! See this for tips.


10. Just cuz...I really just want to have a number #10 on this list because it makes it seem better than ending at #9. :)

So...let me know in the comments if this is helpful, are you looking for work, where are you stuck? Did you use this in a job search? Let me know so I can create other work to help you!

I’ve done this and earned most of the jobs I’ve sought. Otherwise, it’s been their loss ;)


What are you waiting for?

There is no such thing as “the powers that be” -- you are the power that is. You are what you are seeking and waiting for. Be and do the things that you daydream of and let yourself run wild with fear as you make them happen. Yes, fear.

It’s okay to be afraid, and then just do it anyway.

You are the manifesto you are seeking in everyone else.

Do not let anyone tell your story, do not look for it in anyone else, do not let anyone give you a doubt in what your story is or who you are. Tell your story to yourself -- in the actions you take and in the priorities you express through those actions, in the dungeonlike cavern that you keep your dreams locked in.

Let your dreams explode out into the world like a phoenix blazing with the energy of a supernova.

Be vigilant, be wild, be free within yourself. Be free within the skin that binds you and the body and mind that keep you caged. Not only do you hold the key you are the key.

The next action you take after reading this is the key.

Keep going in the direction of your dreams. No one is there to help you, but you.

You’re already you -- but you just don’t see it yet. Go go go and shine on fearless with the art, poem, book, writing, idea, innovation, philosophy, dance, love, film, design that burns within you.

One day, one lifetime, one year from now -- you decide when is right. But no matter what, it’s alright right *right now*.

Close the computer, the phone, the tablet and just let yourself be free. Let yourself be unshackled from a plan from thinking from feeling like you have to go and figure it out and be out of debt, and be a millionaire, and be skinny, and be something you’re just not right now. You don’t have to wait for any of that.

Start now.

You can be wild and aimless and “fail” or wild and aimless and “succeed” but make no mistake, only you can decide what those two terms mean. Only you can let yourself be free.

So close the facebook/twitter/instagram quote and move from consuming to creating. Create like a wild and fierce wind. Let your heart dance in that way it once did.

Stop waiting, and manifest forth the phoenix, rise above the ashes of your insecurity, and go boldly in the direction of your dreams.

After you take just one small step you will gain momentum. Just one.

You -- as you are, have everything you need to be your best self.

Where will you be one year/month/week/day from now? Still wishing you were doing that thing? Or so caught up in it that you won’t even feel the year pass?

What are you waiting for?


Don't follow your dreams. Make your dreams follow you. 

List of 100 Dreams

Whenever I have downtime online (instead of checking social media again) I look at my list of 100 dreams and make plans to work towards them. It's a list of anything I want to do with my life. It's more than a bucket list. I have everything from "sleep" to "take my mom to Hawai'i." There are no rules, just unabashed desires. Writing down the first 30 or so is easy, but then it actually becomes a bit harder. 

I also use this as a motivator for how I want to spend my time, energy and money. So, rather than trying to save time doing dishes, or optimizing all of my errands into one afternoon, or, in other words, focusing and planning around the things I don't want to do that drain me of energy or are lower priority, instead, I focus on what I do want to do and what gives me energy. Everything else just then falls into place or gets de-prioritize (as it should). 

More concretely, one of my dreams is to read a book a month. So while doing dishes I'll listen to an audio book. The $14/month subscription for audio books is worth it to me because the fee is nominal to me, and getting to hear the books I've chosen is awesome, a priority for me, and thus worth it. 

Bottom line: Proactively prioritize your time, energy, and money around your dreams (the things that give you energy and make you feel excited), rather than letting your time, energy, and money be retroactively swayed by the demands that drain your energy and excitement. 

Shout out to Laura Vanderkam, whose workshop I learned this in. Check out her List of 100 Dreams, and the course I took from her that helped me be more proactive with my time.  

My List of "100" Dreams

italics = done!
bold = in progress
plain = new/pending

  1. Get a black belt in something (I did boxing for 20 years, and tae kwon do for 4)
  2. Try Aikido
  3. Take my mom to Hawai'i
  4. go with my husband to New Zealand
  5. have a super fun wedding
  6. show in a gallery
  7. create a successful creative business
  8. inspire others
  9. buy a house
  10. have multiple streams of income
  11. take my husband to Morocco
  12. work on a feature film
  13. bake more bread
  14. teach an online course
  15. oil paint
  16. create scrapbooks from old memories
  17. shoot on analog still photography film again
  18. publish a book of my artwork
  19. speak at events
  20. lead workshops
  21. take classes at the folk school with my husband
  22. have a family day each month (rock climb, cycling around the beach, LEGO museum, jet ski/wakeboard, aqua jet pack, hiking)
  23. read a book each month
  24. organize a monthly girl's night potluck
  25. visit Chicago yearly
  26. cook 
  27. learn to throw pottery
  28. do my nails more often
  29. get a monthly massage 
  30. go shopping more often
  31. sleep
  32. scuba dive
  33. start a scholarship program 
  34. mentor high school students
  35. Learn Japanese
  36. Learn Portugues
  37. Visit Kyoto
  38. Visit Japan 
  39. Stretch canvas
  40. Attend workshop by my favorite artist
  41. learn to use a speed bag
  42. ride a bike without handlebars
  43. Eat healthy
  44. Excercise
  45. volunteer helping sea turtles
  46. visit the turtle hospital on marathon key
  47. learn to make Moroccan tea
  48. learn to ride a motorcycle
  49. learn to skateboard
  50. get over my fear of flying
  51. get a hot tub
  52. buy a house
  53. serve as a White House photographer
  54. learn to do a handstand
  55. fit into this one pair of black jeans again
  56. create work that inspires others to move their life forward
  57. mentor
  58. become a CFP
  59. watch a rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center
  60. spontaneously take a trip to Venice, Italy
  61. learn glassblowing in Venice
  62. spend more days at the beach 
  63. throw a surprise birthday party for each member of my family
  64. start a documentary film foundation that funds “studying up”
  65. meet an astronaut
  66. get up early
  67. visit Tahiti
  68. climb a volcano
  69. donate 10% of my income
  70. learn to sail from my husband 
  71. grow an online business to sustain my lifestyle
  72. host a monthly friends and family bbq 
  73. help someone get a job
  74. have someone tell me that a portrait I made of them is the best picture they’ve ever seen of themselves
  75. send a sun design into ‘Sunday Morning’
  76. visit the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville
  77. go to Morocco with my bff
  78. help someone start a business
  79. plant an avocado tree and nurture it through maturity
  80. successfully grow a watermelon from seed
  81. sustain a butterfly garden and feeders
  82. reproduce a Salvador Dali painting
  83. show at Art Basel Miami
  84. learn to play guitar
  85. give abundantly 
  86. fund clean water initiatives in developing countries
  87. publish a book of poems
  88. get a dog
  89. fund a Pencils of Promise school
  90. curate a museum exhibit
  91. kite surf
  92. get a NatGeo commission
  93. love louder
  94. go to more concerts
  95. get lasik
  96. take my husband to Chicago
  97. visit the Museum of Surgical History
  98. visit the Tate Modern
  99. see the entire Louvre
  100. visit the Art Institute of Chicago

What's Worth More than Money?

What's Worth More than Money?

There are 168 hours in a week.

If you work 50 hours a week (that's 10 hours a day from Monday to Friday), and sleep for 56 hours a week (that's 8 hours a night), then you still have 62 hours left. WHAAA?! 

When you look at it that way -- which author Lauren Vanderkam's book called 168 Hours, inspired me to do -- you have to ask, WTF am I doing with the other 62 hours?!

So, I sought out to get to the bottom of this like any good Millennial would do, I downloaded an app that's a bunch of mini stopwatches. Each one has a category (ie. a mini work stopwatch, a mini sleep stopwatch, a mini drinking stopwatch, yes drinking) and you start and stop them based on what you're doing. The trick is to always have at least one going. I've only done it for about 2 days, so I don't know exactly where the 62 are going yet, but the pie chart shows how I carpe diem-ed yesterday:

Yesterday, I worked for almost 10 hours, slept only about 6, was at a concert for about 3hrs, and was in transit for almost 3 hours too, mostly because I biked to and from that concert (because now, paying back loans > buying a car)...

As I was biking to the concert there was a line of traffic that rivaled the Macy's parade, which made me feel smart for biking (biking > car again!), but then a drawbridge went up and everyone had to immediately stop. And, all of a sudden, as if I've known her forever, a women who was also biking turned to me and just blurted out nasty complaints in my direction about how awful it was that the bridge was going up, how she didn't see a boat, how this was the worst thing ever ever ever, etc.

I think she thought I was going to reciprocate and help her spew nasty complaints all over the Macy's parade traffic. But I was just startled and told her that it's not a big deal, and it'd only be like 10 mins. She stopped talking and started spewing in someone else's direction. 

While waiting for the bridge I enjoyed the water and whether (only 78 in December in Florida!) and took pictures. 

That little 30 second encounter stuck with me. If there were a mini stopwatch on the app for 'reflecting on your life' this would be on my pie chart... Maybe I'll put it under drinking next time. But I digress...

There was a time when I was so stressed and felt so entitled that I would've done the same as that woman did; complain. And maybe even now, when I'm at my very very worst I can get there. And maybe she was in a rush, got some bad news, who knows. 

But the point is that I realize that I have grown, and learned to cherish each moment, and turned that seemingly negative situation into a time of reverie. Just as can be done with debt.

You can always make more money, but never more time. 

Spend it wisely. It is not important to spend it quickly, that goes for both money and time, but just that you're on the path you feel is right. Imagine, if the Earth rushed its rotation from 24 hours to 4 hours. Not only would my pie chart be crazy, but everything would be too. The Earth does not rush, you have 24 hours today, and more importantly you have this moment. What matters is that you're on the path/orbit you feel is right. 

Yesterday, I could've stayed home and made $60 in 3 hours from a side gig, or paid $50 to go to a 3 hour concert for a band I've been trying to see for almost 3 years (and still be in my budget this month). Ya, that was an easy one...

Bottom line, make a goal (and a budget), pick a path that's right for you, stick to it, don't let guilt rush you, be in the moment - even the ones that seem bad, and you'll get there...

May 2015 Update: I crushed my student loans (early!). What whaaa!?

May 2015 Update: I crushed my student loans (early!). What whaaa!?

Making the decision to go after something with all of your might (and write about it for all of the internet to see! eep!) is scary (even when it's not unfolding on the internet), and especially when it deals with something so personal as your own financial health. And, what I've learned is that it will be scary, at first, but it will be SO worth it, especially when you meet your goal on your own time and your own terms. Do it!


speaking of goals, time, and your own terms... the new year is coming up! I am pretty much the queen of new year's resolutions. Nov 2009, I made a resolution to loose weight and lost 20lbs even before the clock struck midnight on Dec 31st. In1998 it was 'become a vegetarian' been meat free 15 years and counting. 

This year, I'm making a financial resolution to focus on abundance more while checking off my financial to-dos before the new year.

No matter what your debt burden/financial goal is, you still have today, spend it wisely