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Deep Thoughts: Lessons I Learned in 2015

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I am a photographer and writer passionate about the outdoors, meaningful travel, and living deliberately. I hope to use my platform online to show the beauty and complexity of the world we live in, and to encourage genuine connection to the outdoors, culture, people and wildlife.

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This time last year, I was settling into life in Colorado. I had a new job starting in January. It was my first-ever full-time office job. I got let go from it seven months later, and took myself on a road trip around the western US before starting my freelance career.

I am amazed and grateful for how much learning I did in 2015.

Here are the most important things I learned.

1. I love dating myself.

This time last year, I was shopping for sexy New Year’s Eve dresses and somewhat obsessively texting a guy I met on Tinder. After a couple brief “things” in winter, I became Single AF (technical term) for most of 2015. And I can confidently say that my relationship with myself is now hands down the best and most fulfilling relationship I have ever been in.

I used to have an unhealthy relationship with men, and when I really recognized that and chose to own it, I dug in. I realized this year just how much validation I used to get from guys (a lot), how much value I placed on attention (too much), and how much I wanted men to like me (quite a bit). A massive amount of energy went into trying to get guys to like me, and it was hard to take accountability for that.

This year, I placed huge emphasis on moving that energy into knowing and loving myself. This year, life without the pressure of dating was calmer and more purposeful, and that is the mindset I am carrying with me into 2016. Last year on this blog, I declared that I was ready to date again. This year I am declaring that I am happily dating myself.

2. If you think you can do it, you can.

“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” -Henry Ford

When I worked at my office job, I didn’t try to make blogging or freelancing happen outside of work because I didn’t think I was prepared enough. I didn’t think I had the resources or knowledge I needed to really make it happen.

As it turned out, I had to figure things out quicker than I originally thought.

And I did. I figured out how to do social media as a job. I figured out how to find mentors and get myself in front of them so they knew who I was, so that I could ask them questions and learn from them and eventually work for them.

Most of the things I am excited to do next year are things that I have zero idea how to do. But I’m going to do them.

3. Shit happens and you can bounce back stronger.

This year, I lost my job and the world didn’t end. Actually, my world got a whole lot bigger. I went on a big trip I wanted to go on, I found new things I didn’t know I loved, and I met a lot of interesting and passionate people.

Oh yeah, and I found a new job. Several new jobs. And they are way better than the old one, because instead of building someone else’s dream, I am building my own. I am figuring out what really lights a fire under my ass to change the world, and I’m encouraging myself to be as obsessed with that as possible.

Once I lost my office job, I figured out that I didn’t want one. So I asked myself what I am good at and interested in, and I started doing a lot more of that. I now manage a few social media accounts for a friend and mentor of mine, and am working on an amazing film project. Do I know how to make films? Nope. But I’m working hard and learning. To get good at things you actually have to start.

4. There is massive value in thinking, but you have to do something too.

I spend so much time thinking. Like most of my time. And it’s exhausting. My writing process is mostly thinking. Spitting out the words doesn’t actually take me that long.

This year, a lot of things sat around on my to-do list collecting dust. A big reason for that was complacency– something that I no longer have time or space for in my life. But I would “work” on things by just thinking them through. There is a lot to be said for thinking. Thinking helps you form and develop ideas into something great. But thinking alone doesn’t get things done.

To get things done, you have to do them. As much as I would love to marinate in my thoughts forever and ever, the result of that would be nothing. Putting thoughts into actions this year was huge.

5. Love and passion accomplish far more than anger, fear, or jealousy.

My natural state of being is not At Peace With Everyone and Wanting Everyone To Be Happy Including That Asshole From The Bar Last Weekend. That mindset is one that I’ve had to actively work toward, and I’ve been doing that with a focused effort for the past year.

This year, I had a lot of things I could be bitter, angry or jealous about. And I was. I indulged in those feelings, and the only place it got me… was deeper into them.

Once I actively started kicking out negativity from my brain, I started feeling more at peace, more creative, and more happy. It didn’t happen passively; I had to kick jealous behaviors out of my head– I had to pick the stuff up and hurl it out of the window of my mind.

I filled my thoughts with love and gratitude instead. I strongly believe that love is helping me accomplish far more in my life than anger ever could. And I know how that may sound, but love simply works better than anger.


So that’s my 2015. I hope next year I learn, fail, love, dance, write, and scare myself even more. I feel lucky to have the opportunity. You have one too. Don’t waste it.

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  1. I absolutely love your pictures of adventure. Life is so much bigger than us and that is wonderful because that just leaves so much more to explore. Cheers to more adventure, joy, love and happiness.

  2. Kathleen says:

    Happy New Year Erin! I’m so happy I randomly came across your blog because I’m loving every post! I found you on Instagram, when Athleta posted a picture of you wearing the same pair of leggings I have, only you were doing something way more cooler in your leggings than what I’ve been doing in mine!

    This year, I’m grabbing life by the balls and finally getting myself into yoga teacher training. Hopefully this time next year, I’ll be blogging about how I’m able to teach yoga in different cities and countries while funding my own travel bug. Thanks again for the constant inspiration. I look forward to the day when I don’t need my day job and just live and work for myself. You are proof that it’s totally possible!

    • Hey Kathleen! Thank you so much- so cool that you found me through Athleta!
      SO great that you are doing teacher training. I am also planning on doing one at some point in the next year or two! Yoga has totally rocked my world in the past year. Can’t wait to see how your training shapes you!! xo

  3. Palinor says:

    It sounds like you had an amazing year! I really enjoy your Instagram,blog, and snapchat. Keep on being awesome and inspiring!

  4. Mariah says:

    Ahh love love love! This is probably one of my favorite posts of yours because it makes me reflect so much on my own life. Why was I so obsessed with the need to be validated? Hell, I validate myself! I also love what you said about thinking. I think and think and think, but how often do I actually do something about it?
    I feel good things coming this year and am so excited to implement a lot of these ideas into my life. Thank you for continually opening my mind to things that I never really think about! I can’t wait to continue following you on your journey!

  5. Michael says:

    Dating myself———–priceless !!! Erin, your brain works in interesting ways, positive ways. Back in my younger years I counted among my friends all kinds of characters. People who would tolerate my crazy, wild antics. Some of those were very negative influences on my life. I found that I was a positive person and wanted that kind of life position. Removing the negative from life allows the vacuum to be filled by positive energy. I enjoy your thoughts and views and want to thank you for sharing. Michael

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