365 New Days, 365 New Chances

Today, I gave the fifth grader I tutor an assignment: to write down three things he wanted to happen in the new year. His answers were “to start a new YouTube account because the other one was hacked, make my fort better, and make my Pokemon collection bigger”- all very important goals for a fifth grader. This made me think, everyone, young and old, wishes for some sort of change in the New Year.

This also made me reflect on 2016 itself and think about how many people I have seen on Twitter saying “good riddens 2016”, “2016 was a nightmare “, etc. I can relate; some years are better than others, but this is the wonder of having a New Year. On the 365th day of the year, you can reflect on what goals you accomplished and the memories you experienced, both good and bad, and then you can come up with new goals to work toward and new memories to create. Even if the year wasn’t your best, you made it through to the end, and on midnight itlifestyleis a fresh slate. Tomorrow marks 365 new days, 365 new chances.

Tonight I reflect on what I accomplished this past year and the memories I’ve made, and I invite you to do the same for yourself. Celebrate the impact you’ve made on this world this year just by being here. 2016 was a year of milestones for me. I got my first lead role in a musical, I graduated high school among an amazing group of friends, I had the second annual race in memory of my grandfather, I got into college, began vocal lessons, was part of my first musical production outside of school, began this blog, started and completed my first semester of college, and got into an a capella group at school. Of course there were many downs to this year, every year comes with failed auditions, heartbreak, losses, and struggles, but I made it. If you’re reading this, you made it. And just making it through a year is a blessing alone.

Tomorrow I will start towards new goals.

  • Tomorrow my family together is starting to eat healthier. We will support each other in trying to not eat out as much and eat more fruit and vegetables and less junk food. We will be referring to this healthy eating grocery list for our trips to the supermarket. http://collegelifestyles.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/grocery.jpg .
  • I will continue to do yoga as I mentioned in my post Breathing&Believing ; I feel yoga has definitely helped me cope with my anxiety as well as feel more confident and at ease.
  • However, I want to take part in more physical activity to build muscle and tone up. I have found a slow and steady fitness plan to train to run a 5K race that I am striving to follow through with this year. This fitness plan is good for beginning runners and includes days for cross training and yoga  http://pin.it/UeZD96c.
  • I will continue this blog and add more posts AND pictures thanks to my new lovely photographer: Janjira Sun.
  • I will take part in new productions and audition, audition, audition!
  • I will organize and plan the 3rd annual race for my grandfather and put in the effort and hard work it deserves.
  • I will balance work with school and make sure to study extra hard for my courses.
  • I will continue to write and complete the projects I have been planning and working on this past year.
  • I will save money and work to be more frugal.

Goals I recommend all of us have:

  • Strive for happiness, not perfection.
  • Leave the past behind. (Be like Elsa, just let it go.)
  • Focus on the future, but live in the now.
  • Don’t take anything personally. There’s almost always an underlying reason why someone behaves the way they do. It’s almost never because of you.
  • Take chances that you know you’ll regret if you don’t.
  • In your decisions and with how you treat others and yourself, be the person you needed when you were younger.

And remember, at the end of the year you may not have achieved all of these things. In your day-by-day journey, you could have gotten off track, and that’s okay. This is the beauty of a year: there’s always a new one. So pop the champagne (or sparkling cider) , say goodbye to 2016. Say cheers and, with a click of a glass, welcome 2017.

Have a wonderful new year,

Hayley

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Ease into the Holiday Spirit

Fa La La La La! It’s that time of year once again. I always feel like after Halloween, Thanksgiving creeps up on us and then Christmas swoops in. I also notice that, as a student, preparation for finals and big papers collides with prepping for the big holiday. It can be so difficult to really find the time to feel and appreciate the Holiday spirit.

It seems every year now I find myself asking the famous question: Where are you Christmas?  I wish nothing more to be young again around the holidays: dreaming of sugar plum fairies, watching Christmas specials, tracking Santa, believing in holiday magic. So this year, I made a decision: to find balance between wrapping up classes and wrapping gifts. I am writing this post specifically for people like me who need to find simple ways to ease into the holiday spirit.

Hayley’s Holiday Guide:

Step 1: Play those Christmas tunes. I know in the Jasmin house, Christmas music starts playing November 1st, right after Halloween. I also realize that might be, to spare my mother’s feelings, “a little” extreme. But, as soon as you are ready to embrace the holiday season, blast those holiday tracks. Buddy the Elf says it best:raw.gif

Step 2: See at least 1 Holiday Concert. It feels weird not participating in my high school’s Christmas concert this year since I’ve graduated. That used to be my way of getting into the holiday spirit. However, I will be going to the concert. To save money, check local schools and universities for holiday concerts. There’s a good chance at least one school will have one, and by attending you’re also benefiting the school’s music program. This year, my aunt kindly brought me to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas concert. I highly recommend it to anyone. This group puts on an amazing show and all of their songs go along with a Christmas story being recited by a narrator.

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TSO performing at the DCU Center in Worcester. Photo by Nicolle Wood

Step 3: Go to a Festival of Trees. I don’t know how common these events are outside New England, but a few local towns in my area hold a Festival of Trees.Donors from multiple organizations create their own decorated Christmas trees, which are works of art, and people can enter a raffle to win one of them. With festive background music and aisles upon aisles of these beautifully crafted trees, this event is sure to get you pumped up on Christmas spirit.

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Step 4: Drink Hot Cocoa and Watch Holiday Movies. I know we are all dreaming of watching White Christmas with a mug of hot chocolate and a warm fireplace. Study hard for finals and reward yourself with this holiday treat. Don’t know what to watch? Here’s Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas official schedule: https://www.25daysofchristmastv.com/schedule. (ps. This is great to do with friends and family.)

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Step 5: Give, give, give. It’s so easy to get lost in the commercialism of the holiday season. Thanksgiving wasn’t even over yet and it was already Black Friday! I love Christmas shopping, whether it’s online or in stores. I love buying for my friends and family. However, each year I try to give to someone who isn’t as fortunate as I am around the holidays. My family always participates in “The Giving Tree” at my parish where anyone can take an ornament with the name of an item someone in need is asking for and buy the item and return it to the parish. Someone from the parish then brings the gifts to those in need of them. I have also participated in a toy drive in the past. Toys for tots bins are set up in several places locally or you can visit their website for more information. This year my campus had Sun Santa banks set up at the register to our school’s market. I placed change in their whenever I bought something. You can also donate to any local charities this season.

Step 6: Take holiday pictures. This year I decided to take on an Instagram Countdown to Christmas challenge. Each day is an assigned photo that you must post, all with different holiday themes. Below is the challenge I am taking part in. See my December in photos on my Instagram: @hayley_jasmin (Tip: Get your friends and family involved too!)

Step 7: Find a Christmas/Holiday Read! I have finally finished all of my final paper assignments and have read all of the books and sources I needed to complete these papers. Now, I can start my traditional Christmas read. Every year, I try to find a holiday book to read before Christmas. Last year, I read the Christmas class, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This year I am reading John Green’s Let It Snow. Another author to check out is Richard Paul Evans. He has multiple Christmas novels like The Christmas Box.

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Step 9: Go Ice Skating. This is just a fun winter activity in general, so feel free to do this after Christmas. Or you can be like my family and buy a refillable ice skating rink on Amazon. Stay tuned for footage of our first experience with that.

Step 10: Remember the Reason for the Season. For anyone religious, Christmas Eve Mass is a great way to truly celebrate the season. I have also been following a December Bible Quote Challenge I found on Pinterest that has helped me engage in the Advent season. img_4071

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I think Linus says it best. 🙂

For anyone who is not religious, connect to the holiday season with a grateful heart. This yoga practice from Yoga by Adriene is a great way to get some exercise and allow yourself to just breathe and be thankful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pbuvhbg7po

So wrap up those finals, wrap up some gifts and ease your way into holiday magic!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Hayley