Washington Post: “People who marry young are happier, but those who marry later earn more.”

Interesting article today on WashingtonPost.com discussing studies on earnings, happiness and perceived quality of life based on if couples were married in their early, mid- or late-twenties.

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Happy Valentine’s Day, to muh-self.

One of my best friends has a blog about love and life, and each year she celebrates Valentine’s Day by having friends and followers write Valentine’s to themselves which then get posted online. Below is mine. So nice to wake up to. You can check out all of the Valentines, here!

“It’s funny, last year my Valentine opened with how appreciative I was of your faith in God’s plan, and this year I want to start the same way–even though so many things are vastly different. The past year has brought you so many changes that you chose, and some you didn’t. But all of them have made you an even more fiery and brave woman than you were on the last 14th of February. You’ve embraced your independence and you’ve learned to love the things about yourself that you can’t ignore when it’s quiet–and there’s no one else to distract from your flaws. You’ve learned the value of solitude. And you’ve come to appreciate the beauty of being on your own, and being happy, whole and peaceful. You’ve turned to God when you were lonely. And you’ve trusted God when you were anxious. The last nine months of singledom could have been terrifying, but instead you grew in your faith and spirituality and you’ve entered 2013 with the clearest picture of what you want and need than you have ever had before. You are doing things instead of just talking about them; and for once, pretty girl, you’re following through! But of all the growing pains and changes you’ve endured and conquered in the past year–perhaps the best? The most beautiful? Is that you’ve healed a heart to the point of brand new. And you’ve remembered that love is magical. And you’ve believed that love can come again. You’ve learned that you’re not broken. And you’ve found that your heart is very capable. This Valentine’s Day, it could be so easy to look at what hasn’t come yet. But instead celebrate that this Valentine’s Day can be one of the very most true to date. Love will come. And until then, love the fact that, right now? Right here? These friends? This family? This is all very, abundantly enough.”

– Ashley, Winston-Salem, NC

Thoughts for a Tuesday.

My mind is swirling this evening, with an eclectic collection of desires, motivations and fixations. And it’s been going on all day.

What’s that, you ask?

25 by 25 List

After accomplishing so many in January with my travels I’ve now moved on to other more easily accomplishable 25 by 25 items to check off. It’s probably a combination of focus on working through the list paired with a genuine freaking obsession with simplifying my life. What am I working on?

Learn how to actually keep a personal budget.

This starts week one of the personal budget. I’ve created pretty aggressive savings goals and we’ll see how the first few weeks go. My biggest pitfalls? Bar tabs and weekly restaurant outings. If the envelope system doesn’t help (plus the spreadsheets and Mint.com); maybe Lent will. This year? No spontaneous eating out. No. Only events planned well in advance. That includes drinks! We’ll see how that helps me learn to say “No.”

When you see family members are calling, answer it. When you see long-distance friends are calling your phone, answer it. When you don’t want to call, don’t underestimate the power of sending the unexpected letter.

There’s a lot to be said for some pretty personal stationary. Starting in February, I want to mail a letter to a friend or family member to share some love and maybe some encouragement. Maybe appreciation. Or maybe just a bit of inspiration. This month I’ll send two since I missed January. You really can never underestimate an unexpected piece of mail.

Simplify. Purge the belongings I don’t need. Space, memories and people are more important than things. 

Oh my gosh, I cannot wait for this weekend. Spring cleaning mood has officially hit. I’ve been simplifying gradually for a while now.

– Haven’t used it, worn it or needed it since I moved to Winston-Salem three years ago? See ya.

– Friends who aren’t even really acquaintances anymore on Facebook? It’s been real.

– Email subscriptions that always get the automatic delete? Thanks, but no thanks anymore.

– Disorganized closets and desk drawers? I can’t handle it.

– Investing energy in projects, people or situations that aren’t building me or putting positive energy in my life? I can’t go there anymore.

Must, must simplify. And this weekend I am psyched to do some deep, deep cleaning to check this off.

Creating

Maybe it’s residual from this spring cleaning fix that’s making me want to also nest and craft a little.

How fun would it be to do some porcelain crafts like below? Maybe not polka dots, but the possibilities are endless. All it takes is a little oven time and a gold Sharpie.

Relationships

It’s no secret that I’m a happy single. But. The past few weeks a “but” has been percolating again. Darn that “but.” That’s all you get today, though.

Politics

Maybe it’s all of the “House of Cards” that I’ve been watching; but I can’t help but fixate on the ways that the Democratic party was leveraging and ensuring focus on their plans for gun control policies at the State of the Union Address tonight. I agree that these atrocious violent acts committed with firearms has to have more preventive regulation–but I can’t help but still question what is being done for mental health concerns and the other issues that contribute to the violence outside of the actual. It’s amazing the focus on violence tonight.

Random thoughts as I watch: “I wonder if I’ll ever get to see this in person one day?” and “Geeze, I’ve forgotten a lot of these faces since the election. Time to brush up.”

Lastly, Brian Williams makes me swoon when it comes to the news. He is the picture of what I think of network news. That voice. Can’t wait to go see to him speak at Elon University this spring.

There. I felt like I hadn’t written my ramblings in a while. Just a piece of  my mind.