And Set The Course For A Dynamic Decade
Hello and Happy New Year peeps!!! Can you believe that another year, AND A NEW DECADE are upon us?! I've done a lot of thinking and soul searching recently and I've come up with a great many plans and goals for myself (as well as plans and goals hubby and I have come up with for our family and our future). I am hoping that 2020 is the start of something super FABULOUS!! 2019 had its share of ups and downs for my family and I and to be honest, it ended on a bit of a downer. But we're looking to bounce back and be better than ever heading into the roaring 2020's. WOW! Still seems unreal when I say (or in this case, type) it out loud.
So with all my personal reflecting I've been doing lately I have come up with ten things/ways in which I would like to live my life from this point forward, and I thought I would share them with you:
Regular time with loved ones: Whether that is your immediate family, your extended family, your best and closest friend(s), or just your spouse and/or children, time with loved ones is good for our psyche and our hearts. For most of us, it always feels better to be among those that care for us and support us, rather than going it alone. Sharing your troubles with a loved one makes those troubles less upsetting and daunting and hearing feedback from an outside perspective can often put things into a new perspective to help you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. Sharing your successes with a loved one makes those successes even more celebratory and can often have a follow on effect of good vibes all around. Even without taking into consideration sharing our ups and downs, is there anything better than just spending quality time with those that you hold dear and just knowing they are near? It nurtures the heart and the mind and makes all those responsibilities, tasks, and challenges life can throw our way, seem less overwhelming (at least for the moment). Unfortunately, with the hustle and bustle that is life these days it can become increasingly difficult to get that time with our loved ones. That is why it is more important now to make sure that we are carving out that time to spend with those that we love, in whatever capacity we can. Tomorrow is never guaranteed to us so hold your loved ones close, get the time with them while you can and live, love, and laugh together.
Be more active: As I am sure we are all aware, it is super easy to be a bump on a log and chill out. Trust me, I love being a couch potato and sleeping in as much as the next person. In fact, ever since I've become a mother, and especially now that I'm a working mother, I would give anything for more mornings where I don't have to be up at the crack of dawn and run around like a chicken with its head cut off getting this, that, and the other thing for everyone before I even think about dealing with myself. So when I do get the opportunity to be lazy I usually take it and run with it. However, with that I also find I tend to enjoy and relish in those moments a bit too much and it makes it really difficult to get back to the grind when I have to. Also, when I get into those lazy moods, not only do I become increasingly inactive but motivation and effort go out the window too: I'm not as present with my children and my husband as I would like to be; meal prep and grocery shopping become almost non-existent which leads to lots of ready-made meals or take-out & delivery (which is not as healthy but also is often more expensive); and I start to reach for the snacks and over eat out of boredom in a lot of cases which then amplifies the whole unhealthy aspect and leads to a whole other rut and slump. Basically, it's a snowball effect and it's all downhill! Being regularly active allows me to avoid most of that and keep those major slumps at bay and in control. We know regular physical activity is just plain good for us. As cliche as it might seem though, if I can get into a regular rhythm of physical activity I truly do feel better, physically and mentally. Not only are you keeping your body regularly moving and burning regular calories but it keeps your mind clearer and stronger. I honestly have much less emotional overload and less hormonal mood swings when I'm active and in a healthier state versus when I'm lazy and not doing much of anything for any period of time. It also helps me to silence all those little negative thoughts that creep into my mind that undermine my confidence or authority. The activity doesn't have to be anything hardcore or rigorous. It can be something as simple as taking a walk around the block daily or every other day. Or perhaps you really like music and dancing...so crank the tunes and just DANCE. You could go to a park or something with the kids or your pets and toss around a ball or run around a playground and play tag. Maybe find yourself a nice little at-home-wokout routine and do that three to four times a week or if you are so inclined, get a gym or pool membership and hit that up three to four times a week. Whatever the right activity is for you just make sure to carve out regular time to accomplish it and STICK WITH IT. They say it takes approximately two months before a new behaviour becomes automatic so put it in your calendar, set your alarms, start an accountability group with family/friends or find one on social media, and make those new active behaviours a habit!
Eat healthy & wholesome foods, practice moderation: This one pretty much goes hand in hand with the previous one but does need to be kept in mind. I for one am terrible for giving into the munchies and snacking (on junk I might add) and I have a massive sweet tooth. Those things combined will not help my eating habits nor will they support the exercise I'm trying to achieve. It's one thing to be active but if you're eating terribly and not fuelling your body properly then all the activity in the world just won't matter. So this year I am making an effort to consume less sugar, especially refined and processed sugars. When I do consume candy, and I will, I will NOT consume an entire bag of Squish gummies in one sitting. There is no point restricting Squish gummies from my "diet" completely because in case you haven't figured it out for yourself yet, restriction only leads to more cravings for the things you aren't allowing and when you do allow it it leads to binging. The old adage of "everything in moderation" is true and it works. So I will allow myself Squish gummies ONLY IN MODERATION. And as for snacking, I plan to have the house stocked with healthier options for our snacking needs and when we sit down to a movie I will reach for things like freshly popped popcorn with olive oil instead of butter and lightly seasoned instead of an entire bag of Cool Ranch Doritos for instance. Again, it's not about restricting but rather choosing better options and keeping things moderate and not binging or continually eating the junkier options. I also plan to be more organized with groceries and meal planning so that we have healthy options for recipes in the house. This means we will go out to eat less, order take out & delivery less, which in turn not only is more friendly on the bank account but also in most cases is friendlier on our calorie intakes and overall health.
Consume less: I'm not talking about restricting calories here. I personally am not actually a fan of restricting calories. I would rather live my life eating when I want and what I what but again keeping things mostly health conscious and other things in moderation. When I say consume less, I'm actually talking about things like animal products, preservatives, hydrogenation, etc. I think we are all becoming more and more aware of the effect that preservatives and artificial substances can have on our bodies and our health so why wouldn't we want to eliminate, or at least limit, our intake of these things? I am not a vegan or vegetarian but with the way the world is going and the way animals' homes are rapidly decreasing due to natural disasters and human population, animals are getting less and less of a fighting chance and we may not be able to rely on them for food sources as regularly, if at all at some point. I also want to include more plant-based items simply to add more variety to what we already consume and for the additional health benefits that are constantly coming out of research these days. It takes away the emphasis of animal products but also broadens our horizons for options, taste, and benefits. This also opens the opportunity to have conversations with our children about current events and the impact we as humans have had and continue to have on our earth and teach our children some very important life lessons. My husband and I have already started having these little conversations with our sons here and there during meal times. We of course discuss things in very appropriate terms and on their level but it's nice to hear them acknowledge the information and even contribute their thoughts on the subject (for reference, our boys are 7 & 10 years of age).
Be more environmentally conscious: This again is another tie-in to the previous topic(s) above but is definitely something I believe we should all aim to be better at. The overall "health" of our beautiful planet is steadily decreasing. Whether you believe in climate change & global warming or not, there is no denying the world is changing and there are some very dramatic changes taking place, most of which are not so positive. The thought of the future of the human race actually scares me and creates anxiety for me if I think about it enough, especially when I think of what kind of world my children, and their children etc. will be left in when my husband and I are gone. I have actually stopped watching the news for the most part because it gives me nothing but anxiety listening to all the terrible things going on and what all the researchers say about the future of our planet and there just isn't enough POSITIVE news reported. I had to adopt a mentality that if the "news" didn't directly affect me or my family in that moment I just shouldn't concern myself with it. It simply got in my head too much and would just overwhelm me with worry and anxiety about our lives and futures. I want to be happy and present with my husband and children and not constantly worried and bombarded with concern, especially for things that our behaviours didn't have any direct results on. What I do want to concern myself with are the seemingly little things that I (and my loved ones) can do as individuals that if everyone followed suit and also did WOULD begin to have an impact and make some POSITIVE CHANGE. So I am deciding to do the following:
Recycle better ~ we already do our fair share of recycling in this house but there are things that we do end up tossing in the garbage out of laziness or convenience which could otherwise be recycled.
Use/buy less single use plastics ~ I already have a water bottle that I take pretty much everywhere with me so I don't have to buy water when I'm out and about. If I do happen to buy a beverage that does come in a plastic bottle I will either bring it home with me to put into our collection that I take to the bottle depot once I've gathered enough, or I will make sure to put it into a recycling bin if there is one nearby. I am also going to try to remember to bring a travel mug with me if I plan on stopping at Starbucks so I can have them make my drink directly in my travel mug so I save the use of yet another disposable cup
Use reusable containers for packed lunches ~ I already do this with my kids lunches for school but I wanted to add it here because I plan to continue doing so but I also wanted to put it out there in case some of you need some extra ideas about how to pack meals for on the go. I'm pretty sure the days of paper bag lunches are pretty much behind us. Obviously my kids have lunch kits they take their food to school in and within those lunch kits I very rarely use disposable packaging. If there is disposable packaging its the food wrappers themselves (eg. fruit snacks, granola bars) or ziplock bags. In the case of ziplock bags though I actually have the kids bring the empty bags back home and I continually reuse them over and over again, rinsing and washing them out if necessary, until they literally split at the seams or the closure doesn't close anymore. Sandwiches and the like are always in reusable plastic containers that the kids obviously always bring back home and I wash and reuse.
I am going to make a very conscious effort to use less of the disposable cotton pads for doing things like cleaning my face and applying my skincare and either use a reusable tool like a silicone pad, use my fingers/hands, or use a good old fashioned face cloth that that can be laundered and used again. Being a beauty enthusiast I see the massive amounts of packaging and waste that can come from all those products and how we apply them. With the beauty industry becoming more and more popular and new products constantly being developed and launched almost daily, the use of reusable applicators, tools, and refillable and/or recyclable components should be more and more important.
I'm certain there will be other things I can come up with throughout the year to be even more environmentally conscious about but I think this is definitely a good start and I feel like these are simple things that don't require much effort but if everyone did at least this much it could make a large and positive impact.
Be positive!! Now this is something that I actually used to be really good at and everyone always used to comment on how I could always put a positive spin on a situation no matter what. I will admit though that over the years this has actually become more of a challenge for me and at times I can find myself being quite negative. When I catch myself doing this or if my husband calls me out on it I'm horrified and I can't believe it's come to this. I really really want to get back to the positivity, the affirmations, and thinking the best about situations (or even life in general) instead of always preparing for or expecting the worst or not-so-desirable. The last little while my husband and I have been faced with some very challenging times and a lot of ups and downs. I have struggled personally with the woman I am becoming or want to become as I approach the next stage of my life. I struggle as a mother constantly wondering if I'm doing the right things or if I should be doing something better or trying harder (which I think is common and all mothers feel that way a lot of the time, but that doesn't mean it's easy to comprehend or deal with). I recently lost two family members that meant the absolute world to me and their loss shook me to my very core. To this day, nearly two years later, I still miss them terribly and am constantly reminded they are no longer here. One of them was probably my biggest cheerleader and supporter (other than my mother and husband) and no matter what I was going through she always knew what to say, how to make me feel better, how to boost my confidence, and just being near her was like experiencing pure love and joy. A piece of me went with her when we lost her. We've also received a lot of crappy news about health issues in various members of our extended family the last couple months. All these things, combined with the way of the world nowadays, I feel has made me almost cynical in some aspects and I HATE it. I am a firm believer of "positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative". However, something in me has shifted more towards the negative spectrum over the years and I'd really like to swing back to the positive side:
I have started to focus more on what my heart tells me and listening to my gut. I have revamped my instagram and facebook feeds so that I only see things I find joyful, positive, and inspiring.
I've begun listening to various podcasts that I also find joyful, positive, inspiring, or just plain fun.
I've started reading a couple of "Boss Babe"/self-improvement books (just light-hearted things, nothing too heavy or massively transformational).
Basically I'm going forth with this year and the whole Marie Kondo method of simplifying and organizing my life (physically, mentally, and emotionally) and if something does not bring me joy or serve me well I'm getting rid of it!
Self love: This is something that ties in to the whole positivity aspect. I've struggled with my body, my appearance, and my confidence over the last few years which, as I'm sure you can imagine, has also affected the whole positivity aspect. It's a vicious circle you can get trapped into feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, leading to feeling bummed out and negative in general, leading to no desire to do or eat anything healthy and just wanting "comfort", all leading to feeling even worse about yourself and in some cases even hating yourself. When all along I've actually had no real reason to "hate" my body. There's nothing "wrong" with my body, I'm healthy, I'm mobile, I'm pain/discomfort free for the most part (I do have days here and there with some back or hip discomfort from my minor scoliosis, depending on what I've been doing). Am I carrying some extra weight and "fluff"? Yes. Are my clothes fitting differently or have I had to go up a size in a few things? Yes. Have I lost some muscle definition? Yes. Have I been or felt healthier or stronger than I currently feel? Yes. But none of it is terribly drastic or anything I haven't been through before. I had a bit of an epiphany during the last few months of 2019. Was feeling "bad" about myself or disliking myself or my appearance doing me any favours? Absolutely not! And again, I had nothing really to feel all that bad about. I'm not perfect, but I NEVER was and NEVER will be. Even models on the covers of magazines aren't perfect. They are photoshopped and edited and yet these are the mainstream standards for what society has deemed beautiful and acceptable. I say enough of that and I've been really into the whole movement that's been happening on social media these days about normalizing "normal" bodies and practicing self love. Hate never gets a person anywhere and never leads to anything positive, so why hate certain parts of my body? My body has done incredible things. It's created life and brought a child into this world. It's been correcting itself from degenerative scoliosis without the need for any evasive surgeries or appliances (just chiropractic manipulations). A few years ago I accomplished a massive transformation over nine months of working out six days a week (Bikini Body Mommy) and lost nearly 15 inches overall and completely toned my muscles to a point they had never been before. And just recently during the two week Christmas break I set myself a fitness goal, worked out every day (except for 2 rest days) and lost two whole inches overall in just two weeks. So I've decided to simply accept my present form, the things I love and the things I dislike, and just love it for what it is and what it does for me every day and what I'm capable of. It doesn't mean that I don't want to be in better shape but it does mean that I am no longer going to be negative towards myself in any aspect. I will celebrate the things I love and for the parts I don't particularly like at this moment I will celebrate what they've done for me and what they've accomplished. I'm choosing to have a positive outlook on myself and with that I will feel more confident, willing, and able to do something about the things I would like to improve.
Be authentic: In another "self improvement" type of effort I want to be sure that from this moment forward I am being 100% my true and authentic self. I don't ever want to come off as fake or doing something that I don't actually believe in or feel good about. If I'm not feeling something or I don't believe in something I will not support or promote it. I think this is especially important in the type of social media/influencer genre that blogging and instagramming are part of. I personally am not a fan of those sites or individuals that just seem to promote anything and everything just because they'll get a paycheque, commission, or followers out of it. We all know those types of accounts and they are fairly easy to figure out and spot. I want to only be involved with things I honestly love, enjoy, and personally use regularly because I believe in it and it works for me. That's not to say I won't try new products for the purposes of a review but I will only try it if I honestly believe it fits my lifestyle and I can achieve a positive outcome from it. And if by chance I do try something and it simply does not work for me I will be completely honest and transparent about that. Further to that, I also want to take my social media more in the realm of documenting versus "staging". I'm not the type of person to set things up for some big photo shoot with props and a whole concept. I love those types of photos and concepts from others but that's just not who I am. I'm more of a realist, plus I just don't have the time, resources or budget for that type of content. I am a working mom (human and fur babies) and wife. I want show my real life and what I do and use day to day. I want to share tips and tricks that help me and that I hope will help others that share my kind of lifestyle and background. None of my content is contrived or even all that pre-meditated, it's pretty on the fly and I figure it out as I go, depending how may day/week unfolds.
Self care: While we are focusing on ourselves, another important factor is making sure we are regularly carving out quality time to spend by ourselves, taking care of ourselves, doing things for ourselves. This will look different for each and every individual as it comes down to our own personal preferences in how we like to calm our minds and ease our tensions. It is a very busy, hectic and stressful world we live in these days and it is easy to become overwhelmed and overworked. Without that regular "me time" we don't properly recharge our batteries so we can be the best versions of ourselves. This time also allows our minds to unclutter and process our thoughts or feelings so we can prepare for upcoming events/situations. Some examples of self care could be:
regular candlelit bath nights
regularly going to the gym or exercising at home
doing makeup for fun
scrapbooking or other crafting
The key is doing it regularly and doing something you fully enjoy. So many people feel guilt around taking time away from family or friends to do things simply for themselves. There should be no reason to feel any amount of guilt for taking time to take care of yourself, decompress, and quiet your mind. When we do this regularly we can think clearer and be more logical, we have more patience, and are generally in a more positive mood/outlook which leads to better productivity and efficiency when we are working or going about our daily tasks.
And lastly, but certainly not least! I would actually go so far as to say the most important of all things to remember throughout the years, the decade, your life...
YOU ARE WORTHY.
No matter where you are at in your life. No matter how you feel about yourself or how successful you may be or think you may not be. Remember, you are worthy! You are worthy of respect. You are worthy of love. Never underestimate your self worth. Believe in your self worth. If you can truly believe and embrace your self worth that is when wonderful and beautiful things happen.
I truly hope that this helps set some of you up for a wonderful year and gives you ideas of how you can improve your way of life. Just coming up with this list I felt an immense amount of satisfaction and pride. Starting to work on this list and bring these practices into my everyday life I feel much more at peace with myself, positive, confident and balanced. I can't wait to see how this year/decade unfolds for me and my family.
What sort of goals and plans have you set for yourself for this coming year or decade? I'd love to hear! Let's support one another. Let's fill each others' cups while also filling our own.