New Beginnings & Reflections - Welcome 2018!

New year, new beginnings! The turn of the year is always a little bittersweet for me. Change is not something that I like and a new year screams change. It always makes me a little sad to say goodbye to the current year and move on to the next but at the same time, I also get excited for a fresh start. Needless to say, it’s complicated. I didn’t choose a word of the year for 2017 because I couldn’t commit to one. I didn’t know what I wanted for the new year, I didn’t have good feelings about the coming year and I was all sorts of confused.

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I turned 26 in 2017 and all these thoughts came rushing through my brain. I felt that because I was now closer to 30, I should have so many things figured out. Where I should set down roots. What my 10-year financial plan looked like. At least one long-term relationship down on the books. I felt like I should have answers to so many questions and I didn’t. So for the better part of 2017, I was in a panic which caused me to withdraw from life. While this inner turmoil was happening, I also had a lot of stressful family issues going on and I seemed to somewhere along the way take on the role of rock for everyone. It caused me to take on this false sense of responsibility for so many things and it tore my life apart. I started slacking in my career, making mistakes that I never make. I took a long blog hiatus, turning away my passion and number one outlet for embracing my creativity and interests. I didn’t see friends hardly at all. I pushed family away. I was a very dark version of myself. It wasn’t until I visited family in Texas back in early November that I even realized any of this. Talking to a few older cousins who had a more objective perspective was integral to a much needed change in my own perspective.

Why is this important? I don’t normally share information so personal but a new year gives us all a blank slate. It gives us a chance to work on ourselves and reach for new goals. I lost track of my goals in 2017 and my personal conundrums were the reason why. I let things that I had no control over dominate my life. I let them damage relationships and negatively affect my health. I know that I am not the only one who had a rough 2017. It seemed to be a hard year for a lot of people which is why I wanted to share a little background to the reason I chose CHANGE and COMMITMENT as my not one, but two words for 2018.

I chose CHANGE because I need to stop being so resistant to life! I need to stop resisting every small decision and anomaly that comes up. For example, it took me almost two weeks to decide to move in with my best friend part time. I lost hours of sleep over the decision and there was no reason for it. I have delayed launching new things with the site because I was too afraid all of you would resist it. And it’s not personal, it’s 100% me! I am terrified of anything new. So 2018 will be half about CHANGE for me. I haven’t quite figured out how to incorporate change into my life on a weekly basis to become more accepting of it, but I will figure it out.

I also chose COMMITMENT because my fear of commitment has hindered me in every single aspect of my life. I cried for a week after adopting Scooby, my new pup, because the thought of having to commit myself to the care of a living, breathing animal was terrifying. My fear of commitment coupled with my fear to change just about paralyzed me. Relationships with my family and friends may as well be non-existent. It’s not conscious but I also haven’t made a conscious effort to change it. So this year, each week I will be choosing one person whether it’s a friend or family member and I’m going to reach out to them. I’ll give them a call, shoot them a text message and see how they’re doing. If they’re local, I’ll see if they want to meet up for coffee or lunch. Relationships are vital to a healthy existence and you get what you give. So 2018 is all about committing to giving more. COMMITMENT is about more than relationships though. It’s also about committing to goals. Each month, I’ll be setting one or two larger goals for myself and following through by committing to three smaller weekly goals in order to accomplish the larger goals. These might be personal goals, work goals or side hustle goals. Whatever the goal, I am committing to it and embracing the change that comes with it.

My two largest fears are CHANGE and COMMITMENT. Those fears have held me back in so many ways it makes me regretful thinking of the time I’ve wasted. I want to stop the regret this year and learn to embrace the curveballs in life. I’m going to stop giving myself a false sense of responsibility to the things that are out of my control and instead commit to my own goals, my own success, and my own relationships. If that means I have to ride out a few changes, so be it. It’s the year of the dog and I am a dog lover. That has to give me an edge to conquer 2018. Right?

Tell me about your word or words for 2018. What made you choose them and how did 2017 affect your decision?

What My Recent Trip To Texas Taught Me About Travel

Traveling is one of the best adventures you can embark on. The idea of being in a brand new place and experiencing it for the first time is a feeling you only get once. I have been to Texas in the past and I love it there. What I haven't done is explore the cities I've visited. Doesn't make much sense does it? Quick history...I have family that lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I visited them for the first time when I was 2. I have no memory of that but there is an awfully embarrassing video of me falling like a drunk baby on a trampoline. I visited for the second time when I was 11 and immediately fell in love. I went back when I was 19, life got in the way and I didn't return till the fall of 2014 when I was miserable with where my life had taken me. It was then that I made the decision to visit annually. So this fall when I took a two week trip to visit family, I also made an itinerary for several of the days I was there to explore both Dallas and Fort Worth and see what they had to offer.

To say I'm in a much better place than I was a year ago is the understatement of the century. I'm in a career that I absolutely love, I'm creating attainable goals that I'm actually excited to work on and I'm genuinely a happier person. So planning this last trip was much different than any I had planned before. I wanted to get to the heart of the cities and insert myself into daily life. I felt that I had so much time to get what I wanted done but that, my friends, is a terrible misconception. 

Something people don't tell you about traveling is that you have much less time than you realize. For example, if you plan to visit three restaurants in one day but breakfast is enormous, lunch gets skipped. If you plan to work in two coffee shops and plan little adventures in between, chances are one is going to get skipped or the adventures are going to get passed up. The fact is, you will be to busy enjoying yourself in the moment to stick to an itinerary unless you have some cranky group leader pushing you on. And that is OK!

One thing I love are schedules. I love routines, I love organization and I love to have a plan. If I'm going to travel as much as I want to, I'm going to have to let go of that a bit though. Texas taught me this. Maybe it's my amazing family down there or maybe it's just the people in general but I wanted to just enjoy everything in the moment and do things spontaneously. I feel like my experience was made ten times better by letting go of my type-A personality and just being. Thinking back on it now, I'm glad I had that experience.

It's a great things to think about as one year ends and another begins. We could all use being a little bit more present. Life is too short and sometimes we get too caught up in the big picture or the little tasks at hand to really enjoy the experience. With that said, one of my goals in 2016 is to let go of the little things and be more present. I want to stop at least once every day and appreciate whatever it is I'm doing in the moment whether it's a hard workout or nibbling on a piece of cheesecake. If this is the first lesson travel has taught me, bring on the rest. I'm ready!

Committing Yourself To Self-Care and Staying Healthy

Wellness is a hot topic right now for a lot of reasons. Obesity is at an all-time high, people are getting burned out by their mid-thirties, work hours are getting increasingly longer, jobs are more demanding than they used to be thanks to the ability to constantly be available, you name it. It's obvious that we as a society need to take better care of ourselves, quit the pill fix, stop over medicating and get back to the basics. Self-Care is needed more than ever and it's needed the most, in my opinion, by women. I am from a family where the women never put themselves first. My Noni would be sick as a dog and not go to a doctor because she has "other things to do" and my aunt is the same way. We seem to have this idea that by taking a few minutes for ourselves, scheduling those doctors appointments just to have a check up or going to the gym is selfish or something we don't have time for. Stop! Make time for it. Moms, you may think you're taking away time from your kids but you'd be taking more time away if you died before their high school graduation because you missed that gyno appointment a few years in a row. Career women, you may think that hitting the gym isn't a valuable use of your time but did you know that by getting regular exercise you increase productivity and stimulate creative thinking? Women everywhere, it's ok to take a few extra minutes to yourself every night to relax and decompress. In fact, we need it for our sanity. It's not selfish to put yourself first and make sure you are taken care of. It's necessary. You will only do whatever it is your doing better by taking that time.

There are so many things you can do to slow down, take a beat and bring it back to you. They are guilt free and good for you. A colleague of mine that I'm so lucky to have is here today to list out just a few for you. Meet Shannon Terschluse of Find Your Prana. Shannon is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, 200-hour Certified Yoga Teacher and CoreRyder (spinning) Instructor, and the Founder of Find Your Prana, a full-service health and wellness company offering holistic health coaching, seasonal wellness cleanses, customized clean eating meal plans, private yoga, corporate and group wellness workshops, and more.

Prana, a Sanskrit word often used in yoga, means the breath, the universal life force sustaining the body, the vital energy. But to Shannon, it has always meant balance, which is what she strives to provide to her clients. Here she provides 10 Tips to improve your well-being and find a better balance.

10. Before you think about that long to-do list, sit for a moment with your eyes closed when you start your computer. Even just a few moments of meditation can set the tone for the rest of your day. Try to empty your mind and take deep breaths before jumping into your day's tasks.

9. Take the scenic route. Next time you're driving a somewhat long distance - take the scenic route. Driving through open fields, mountains, or viewing a city skyline can be very relaxing.

8. Eat slower. A lot of us tend to speed through meals - missing the chance to appreciate different textures and flavors. Start to chew foods slower and distinguish new tastes, aromas, and consistencies. This will also help you be more mindful with your food choices.

7. Prioritize sleep and honor your bedtime routine. Whether it's breathing to slow the heart rate or a warm cup of tea to settle you in for the night, a simple routine can be effective for a better night's sleep to help you excel in all areas of life. Try implementing a regular bedtime. Maintaining consistency will help keep your circadian rhythms - the biological changes that happen every 24 hours - steady. Eventually, your body will naturally understand and crave sleep during these hours.

6. Fuel yourself with nutrient-dense foods. Stick to whole foods - this means foods that occur in nature and don't go through a lab or other manufacturing unit. Examples include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Pay attention to how you feel after you eat, and choose foods that will fuel your energy and not deplete it.

5. Get moving. A balanced diet is essential for a happy and healthy life, but without regular exercise no amount of kale or kidney beans will make up for a lack of locomotion. Just like certain foods protect us from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, regular physical activity has its own list of health enhancement. Without exercise, it's hard to reach your full physical and mental potential and achieve overall well-being. Shoot for at least 30 minutes of movement every day.

4. Be bad. A common myth of proper health is the obligation to always be "good." Being "good" can mean different things to different people, but equally important in finding balance is being "bad." Why? Because no one's perfect. In a way it is inauthentic to live life "perfectly." So, once in a while, indulge a little and treat yourself to something special. Have an extra glass of wine. Eat your favorite sweet. Skip that busy bus line - take a taxi. Don't set an alarm.

3. Remember your goals and aspirations. Each morning when you wake up, take a few moments to think about your life goals and aspirations. Recall the milestones you've already made in your life, and your drive to achieve new ones. Try doing this for about five minutes before getting out of bed to start your day.

2. The way you do one thing is the way you do everything. If you take care of yourself by feeding yourself beautiful food, you're much more likely to engage in self-care such as exercise, meditation, baths, massages, and other techniques that make your life rich and vibrant. When you feel great, you're able to move through your days with joy and ease, creating and nurturing relationships and a career you love.

1. When you're feeling guilty about the idea of putting yourself first, sit down, close your eyes, and trust this quote from Lucille Ball - "Love yourself first and everything else falls into line."

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Spoken like a true pro. What I love about Shannon's tips is that they are so easy. You should feel guilt-free about taking care of yourself because you have one body and one life to live. If you don't nurture yourself, you endanger your life and risk losing the quality of it. That benefits no one.

If you're someone who needs a little extra push to get started (like me), Shannon offers meal plan services that are incredible. You have a choice between Clean Eating and Healthy Eating and each lasts for 4 weeks. These are available no matter where you live. If you're in the Chicago area, Shannon also provides Health Coaching and Yoga services. I can personally attest to the fact that she is incredibly knowledgeable in her line of work. You guys know I wouldn't recommend her if I didn't think highly of what she is capable of. If you like her tips and would like to learn more, visit findyourprana.com and check out what she has to offer.