Tackle Your Goals

A new way to make New Year's Resolutions: start small.


Like any well-laid New Year’s resolution, only 2 out of 5 of may come to fruition . . . if we’re lucky.


Last year I wrote down a list of 15 goals ranging from run another half marathon, learn 52 Bible verses, and get married. OK the getting married part was a “secret” goal, but that’s the only one that I actually accomplished. There were several other goals on that list that I can’t even remember because when I moved to the new house and hung up the poster of my goals, I realized I had accomplished zero of them and quickly tore it down and put it on top of my refrigerator. I don’t reach up to the refrigerator often. It’s scary, there’s lots of loose papers, and reaching that high is just an effort I’m not interested in making – especially if it’s to see the list of New Year’s Goals from last year.

So this year I decided to switch things up a bit.

I don’t make resolutions, I make goals.

I did this last year and it really helped – for the first three weeks at least.

If you’re like me, you may find that with the new year, the prospect of new change is so exciting that you go a little overboard. Suddenly you have more goals than the 10 commandments.

So here’s what we do:

Only set 3 goals at a time.

3 realistic goals that is. I’m not going to resolve to stop drinking coffee because that’s a problem for everyone involved. But what I can do is try to drink 8 cups of water a day.

My 3 realistic goals look like this:

1 – Get my house back in order

It looks like we just moved in again. While Pai did just move in, I did not. And yet every single room in our house has boxes in it. I get one room sorted out, and then I turn around and there’s boxes in it again. I fall asleep at night dreaming of minimalism (because we just watched a documentary on it while opening wedding presents. MISTAKE.) and knowing those white walls and one little succulent plant elude me. I’m a clutter bug, and that may never change.

2 – Work out twice a week

I do like working out. I really do. But if I don’t get my butt to the gym as soon as I get off work, then I’m not going. Because if you go to the gym at say, 6:30 in the evening, then by the time you’re home, you’ve eaten dinner, and you’ve showered, it’s already time for bed. Working out is a big time waster. So that’s why I have to go asap or I’m not going at all.

Bonus Tip: Know your habits. If you are a lazy person, do the thing you don’t want to do ASAP.

3 – Read 2 books

I love books and winter time is my favorite time to read. When I’m not trying to put boxes away, I’m either cuddled up with the Netflix or with a book. Pai got the new FIFA 17 for Christmas, and so far it’s working out really well for me. We can be together preoccupied with our own thing. Ahh marriage. I’m suuuuper excited about my goal of reading 2 books because a) I know it’s possible and b) I just started a book club! So that takes care of 1 book. The only way I’m containing my excitement over starting a book club is because I’m typing, and not talking to you in person.

Now that I have my 3 goals, I know where to focus this month.If I don’t achieve all 3 of these goals, that’s ok. That is what February is for.

I’m learning to accept that I am not a Superwoman. I may be Super. I may be a Woman, but I don’t have super strength or xray vision, and I’ll just have to be ok with that.

But if I do accomplish these goals. . . then February holds 3 new exciting goals.

Do you like to set resolutions or goals?
What are some of your New Year’s Resolutions?

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The Best of 2016

learning to thrive in a world of hopelessness

My 2016 can be easily recapped into one big word: WEDDING. That’s almost all that I thought about for 7 months of the year. But before May, I still did have a life, and that life consisted of “book dates” where Pai worked on grad school homework and I got to idly read because I wasn’t in school. Yay!

Undeniably, Hugs and Lattes suffered a little bit underneath all of the wedding stress. I thought this was the year – this was the year to monetize my blog, grow my readership, and make it all happen. I realized towards the end of this year that that kind of life isn’t just me. I was putting way too much pressure on myself. Even though I hadn’t even started the process, I was paralyzed by the overwhelming thought of it all. Blogging wasn’t fun anymore; it felt like a chore.

There was a lot I wanted to do, and there was a lot I didn’t do. But most importantly, I grew. I grew in my friendships – both old and new. I grew in my relationship with the Lord, and I grew in some areas of my life that definitely needed maturity.

I learned how to be a prisoner of hope. . . and how to eat broccoli without gagging.

I accepted that I’m not a great blogger, and also, I have a lot of questions.

I faced what keeps me from inspiration. 

chili dinner

I tried to find the balance between sharing sacred moments and keeping them to ourselves. (And honestly, I’m still trying to figure this one out.)

I learned that it’s OK to be loved in the way you best receive it.

I found ways to practice contentment and endurance.

I shared the joy of what it means to date in community.

I went on adventures.

I changed my name.

And I got married. :)

the best of 2016


What was your favorite part about 2016?

Helene in Between
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New Traditions

first christmas

Last Christmas I had an emotional realization that this was the last time I would fall asleep with my sisters and wake up to do the traditional Christmas morning routine. Even though Pai had not yet proposed, I knew that we would be engaged or married by Christmas the following year, so I made sure to soak up every moment with my family that year.

This year Christmas was different. Instead of falling asleep with my sisters, I fell asleep next to my husband. Rather than sit on the staircase and take pictures with my siblings dressed in our Christmas jammies, I woke up way before Pai and made reindeer rice krispie treats for Christmas dinner, and sweet potato pancakes for breakfast.

Celebrating Christmas for the first time as a married couple can be stressful. Whose family do you spend Christmas morning with? How do you appease both sides?

Thankfully we both have families who are supporting and loving, so we were able to create a new tradition ourselves. Rather than spend Christmas morning with either family, we spent Christmas morning by ourselves. I made breakfast for us and we opened our gifts to each other, as well as a few more wedding presents. (I put them under the tree & made us wait until Christmas to open them all!) I thought I would be sad to miss out on my family time, and while I did get a little teary eyed the night before thinking about all the kids and how much I missed everyone, I loved getting the opportunity to establish our own tradition.

One of the things I love about Pai is that he is intentional in everything he does. Rather than just eat breakfast and open presents, he led us in a small devotional and worship. Christmas is such an exciting season for me. I love the anticipation. I love the holiday music. I love all the Christmas movies. But because of the commercialization, it’s easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas. So reading the Christmas story and singing worshipful Christmas songs provides the opportunity to center my heart around the Lord and practice gratitude for his coming.

The perks of being married? You get to extend Christmas by celebrating it five times over the course of four days. Even though change can be hard, change can be good. I’m thankful we have two loving families we got to spend it with.

new traditions

What are some of your family’s holiday traditions?


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Things to Look Forward to


I am well-known for my high expectations and post-holiday blues. I LOVE the holidays. I love the hustle and bustle, the Christmas music, the cheesy and not-so cheesy holiday movies, the wrapping of Christmas presents, everything smelling like spice and pine. Ahh.

This year I don’t really feel like I got to celebrate Christmas the whole season. Pai and I kept forgetting that Christmas was so soon and every time someone wished us a “Merry Christmas” on our honeymoon, we had to take pause before we realized the warm weather was just a courtesy of Florida; it was December, and not, in fact summertime.

I started to get the post holiday blues the Sunday after our wedding, – so we’ll call it the post-wedding blues – but I was determined not to let that sway me since we were on our way to our honeymoon! The Sunday after our honeymoon was over, though, the blues hit hard. I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to go to work. I didn’t want to start real life again.

But then I remembered Christmas is coming! So I have that to look forward to.

I am such a “What’s next?” person that I have to be intentional in practicing my endurance, my patience, and being present. I don’t want to let my glum “what happens when it’s all over” thoughts to steal my joy in the present moment.

The thing I’m missing most right now post-wedding is all the people who were in town.

The week before the wedding, our houses were filled with people. Much like Christmas, there is so much love and cheer and maybe a little bit of stress that once everyone leaves, you’re left to take down all the decorations by yourself and thinking, “Now what?”

One of our favorite days on our honeymoon was the day we took a food tour of Panama City (but more on that later. . . ) we both determined it’s because we spent a couple of hours with other people. We are both extroverts, so being by ourselves all week was so lovely, but by Monday morning I was ready to be around people and wanted to throw a Tacky Christmas Mug Party like nothing else. The mere thought gave Pai a “deer in headlights” look, so I quickly said, “Just kidding!” although if he had been on board. . .

That being said, there is still a lot to look forward to after the holidays are over. . . Settling into our house . . . starting to work on my creative writing portfolio. . .  getting to say “my husband” as often as I please.. . . going through all the legalities of changing my last name (lots of encouragement and Chickfila would be much appreciated as I go through this process.). . . and starting my new Purposeful Planner! Not to mention I’m super stoked to eventually get our wedding pictures and video back!

Over the next month (or year, I don’t know) or so, I will still be on my wedding high – so don’t be surprised if I backtrack and finally share more about the wedding showers, wedding planning, and the bachelorette party. While in the midst of it all, documenting everything was too crazy for me to handle. So we can add that to our list of things to look forward to – more time for blogging. :)

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Taking a Deep Breath


For the first time in months, my acne on my face is cleared. . . the week after my wedding. I haven’t decided if it has been the lack of stress, the Florida sun, or trying new things on the honeymoon – like sea food.

The past month and a half has been, by far, the busyest month of my life. I didn’t believe it when people said: “Enjoy the engagement season, it will fly by!” because every single day seemed to absolutely drag by. And then there I was. In a hotel room. In my wedding dress. All alone with a man. And we both sat there, experiencing a slight bit of FOMO because people were still partying without us. And even though we had plans of our own, we had just experienced the best day of our lives where a few hundred of our closest family and friends were all in one place for the one and only time in our lives.

Now here we are. There are no more wedding plans on the horizon, I just went on my first vacation alone with another guy, and we’ve started the unpacking process. Slowly but surely, new wedding presents will find their place, we (I) will toss away some old things we don’t need anymore, and decorations will start going on the walls. We get to start a new life together, making our house a home.

I’ve already been asked “How is married life?” And first of all, we’ve been married a week, and that first week was spent with uninterrupted quality time, the beach, restaurants, and purposefully not worrying about anything in the world. So far, married life is great! I know that’s not the reality, though. In all honesty, the only difference (other than a few things that y’all don’t need to know about 😉 ) so far is that instead of saying “goodbye” we just say “goodnight” and I roll over and fall asleep in .2 seconds and Pai plays this new hunting game he just downloaded on his tablet. There are more transition days to come, but for now, it’s just taking a deep breath and enjoying the present.


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