Posted on January 14, 2016
Getting Empowered for 2016
I don’t really make new year’s resolutions anymore. What I do is review and plan and review. I think the beginning of the year is the perfect time to set back and reflect on the past and see what you would like to do in the future. Of course, we can do that at any point of our year or life, it is just convenient for me. I have both the new year and my birthday in the month of January, so it is a good time.
I sit down with my journal and if I have it handy, I read what I wrote the previous year, reflect on what I achieved and what I would like to improve on in the coming year. Sometimes that gets really detailed. For instance, if I write that I would like to improve my French, I need to know how I want that improvement to look. Do I want to read more, speak more, understand better? I need to clarify how I want that to look at the end of the year.
I want to share with you a few things that have helped me to keep improving year after year in every area I chose to focus on.
1. Embracing Minimalism-
For me, embracing minimalism was the first step in seeing the biggest changes and improvements in my life. When I decided that I could give myself permission to let go of anything and everything that was not serving a purpose in my life, let go of everything that I did not truly love, was when I began to see the most positive changes and experiences in my life by leaps and bounds.
It is amazing what mental and physical clutter take up space in our mind and lives. We truly give ourselves room to breathe when we give ourselves permission to let go. For me, the hardest thing to let go was what other people feel was good for me. One quote that I like says that if you are living a mediocre life because you have listened to other people tell you what is good for you, then it is your own fault. I have decided that other people will talk about me whatever I do. I only have one life to live. We must choose to live the life we want to live!
We can only know what life we want to live, with absolute clarity, once we let go of everything that clouds our vision. It can be too many old papers and textbooks we will never open again. It can be old clothes we will never wear again. It can be pictures of people we really don’t like very much. Whatever it is, if it does not spark joy, if we don’t absolutely love it, don’t save it for another day, get rid of it and LIVE!
2. A Simple Diet-
When I received my degree in exercise science the one thing that I remembered the most after all of my years in school, was the desire that I did not forget the importance of taking care of my health. I knew that I may not always work in the field of health and fitness, but if I do not have my health, I don’t have much. With the chemicals that are put in the food, the excess sugar, the prevalence of cheap, processed foods and rising healthcare costs, there just had to be a simpler way to take care of my health without knowing everything.
In the past, I experienced great joy when reading diet books. Strange I know, but it was fun to see the before and after of some of the authors. The one thing that I realized as I read them though was that there is no one size fits all method of staying healthy. Some people prefer to eat no meat, some people prefer to eat lots of little meals all day long, some people like to drink their daily nutrients through smoothies and green juices. In all of these choices, the best thing is to do what any minimalist would do, get rid of what doesn’t work and listen to your body to find what works for you.
Once choice I have made is to give up eating four legged animals. That cuts out a lot of junk food, fast food and processed foods. Because of my love of travel, choosing a more exclusive diet, like raw foods only, would not work for me. I have found I feel the best when I eat lots of fruit, vegetables and grains in their purest form, not a lot of processing. When I am able to eat a great big soup or salad made of a variety of vegetables, I feel very light, energetic and free in my body. It is not a recipe for perfection, but a dance of balance that I make on a consistent basis. I am free to eat foods that I like without the need to condemn or criticize myself for indulgences. I can also rest assured that moderation in all things will keep me healthy in a way that calorie restrictions do not.
I make sure to move every day. In hot weather or even the freezing cold weather that we have today, I take a walk. Bean gets out and walks with me and we both enjoy. Throughout the day, I consciously move my body so that I will be active. In this way, using natural movements throughout the day, I save myself the cost and hassle of going to the gym. It is also so simple that most anyone can do it.
3. Natural hair and makeup
K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple sister) is my motto. For the longest, I have wanted to be 100 percent natural in whatever way I can. There are just too many chemicals in our environment wreaking havoc on our immune systems. It is not appealing to me to have more chemicals in my body through my daily hygiene and personal upkeep. I have chosen to keep my skin and hair as natural as possible. My toiletries are simple and you can recognize every ingredient on the label. By engaging in this practice, I have noticed that it saves time, money and your skin. Using natural products and not loading my skin with chemicals it doesn’t need, my skin is clear, my hair is healthy and I am happy. If you haven’t tried being as natural as possible, I encourage you to take leap and give it a try, it is liberating.
4. Getting spiritual
Being spiritual to me means being in touch with my spirit, my emotions, being compassionate, grateful and realizing that I am not the center of the universe. It is taking time to quiet my mind of all of the chatter and focusing on something as simple as breathing. It is being in the moment. It is focusing on the positive. I find that if I take some time every day, and just spend some in silence, reading a book with spiritual focus, it expands my mind, my spirit. I set aside time every morning for this ritual and I find that my day goes better. If I feel the need to sleep just 30 more minutes, and I miss my quiet time, my day is often rushed. I spend time looking for the peace I can have so easily in the still of the morning. Taking a moment to follow a spiritual practice aligns my day with good.
These are the four most important things that I do every year in order to grow as an individual. When I take the time to review my year and I look over my actions, it is this list that helps me to refocus and recommit to personal growth. I hope it helps you. If you have a way of beginning your year, even if it is in the making of resolutions, I would love to hear from you. Let us help each other become better humans.