Forget Those Resolutions! (It’s About Routines)

Hello dear readers, and blessings of the New Year ahead of us! Despite my best intentions, I found the end of 2021 quite exhausting, and though I spent a wonderful holiday with my family, I felt great need to take a step back from my business duties and practice a bit of self-care. I hope the holidays treated you with joy, and you were surrounded by much love and peace.

As we head into this new year, I am feeling very aware of the emotional impact the last few years has brought us during pandemic, and I take that into consideration as I write my New Years post. In the past, my excitement for a fresh new beginning was very evident in my writings, and I wrote of setting goals and making changes with nothing but inspiration and motivation in hopes that most would be feeling the same way. I realize, after speaking with friends, family, and clients, that for many, excitement for the new year has diminished to simple hopes, a sense of uncertainty, and a bit of exhaustion.

Usually, at this time of year, I encourage people to find a word to be their defining start to the new year. In recent years I have focused on yearly words like “boundaries”, “balance”, and “mindfulness”. I would choose a word to set my intention for the year, and work towards that one word as needed in all aspects of my life. (My word, when heading into 2020 was “balance”, it may have saved me, or perhaps, just simply been an impossible word!)

Although I absolutely believe in my “word of the year” philosophy, and I encourage you to give it a try, I decided to encourage another line of thought as we head into this new year. That thought is-take charge of the things you CAN control, and secondly, simply focus on finding some joy!

In this time of constant change and uncertainty, we absolutely hold the capacity to control some of the most important aspects of our being. We have the power to control how we nourish our bodies, how we tend to our physical well-being, how we manage the stress.that is placed upon us daily, and the control of our spirit-creatively, passionately, and mindfully. In the general busyness of life, it is easy to lose sight of the ability to control these things, and in turn, we ultimately pay the price with feeling and being unwell, feeling fatigued, and losing interest in the things that can bring us joy and contentment.

I encourage you to put routines ahead of resolutions this year. Creating routines in life builds habits and allows us to ease into making time for the things that bring us joy. Take a moment and consider these questions:

~What routines could you create in your daily or weekly life that would help you achieve the life you desire?

~What routines can you create that will lead you to find the health and wellness you desire? ~When approaching this new year, who do you want to surround yourself with to ensure feelings of happiness and love?

~And, lastly, what things do you want to add to your life to bring yourself joy, and how can you create a routine that brings those things into your life enough to FEEL that joy?

Taking some time to consider these questions, instead of making some huge, blanket, lofty resolution of change, can help provide some clarity, and clarity is what helps us see where/who we are, and where/who we wish to be. Once we have clarity, it’s only a matter of planning and taking the SMALL steps that can ultimately lead us to making BIG changes in our lives over time.

When exploring the prospect of finding the life you desire, consider journaling your ideas, plans and thoughts as we start this new year. In 2018, I began journaling regularly in hopes of discovering who I was going to “be” after 22 years of devoting myself to homeschooling four children. Journaling led to sketching, which led to painting, and I began to tap into the artistic and creative side of myself that had been completely focused towards educating my family for so many years. It brought me a sense of renewed joy that I had long forgotten.

If health and wellness is a focus of your upcoming year, be sure to set SMART goals for yourself. Smart goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely goals. These are small goals with reasonable objectives that can be reached without frustration or pressure, which makes them easier to achieve with many small successes along the way. Instead of making a resolution to say, lose 20 pounds or eat a cleaner diet, a SMART goal would focus on cutting out sodas or sweets, or perhaps planning your meals out for better nutrition. Adding to these small goals as you move with success will lead you to your bigger goals. It’s the small steps, one by one, that provide us with the motivation and inspiration to continue our journey towards the big changes! As you plan your small steps, create a routine to ensure that they become a part of your daily life-a HABIT! Building upon these small routines (habits) as you go will create a pathway to success.

When planning out your goals, be sure to know your ultimate WHY. Knowing your WHY will always bring you back to the inspiration you need when things seem tough. The WHY is the thing that keeps us focused as we complete the small steps along the way and is the main purpose of achieving our ultimate goals. Deciding to run a 5K is a great goal-but WHY do you want to accomplish it? How will it make you feel? How will it lead to positive changes in your life? Losing 25 pounds can better your health, get you into clothes that you love, and make you happier with the scale-but the WHY may be more important; perhaps you want more energy, perhaps it’s needed for better health, or maybe it’s because you want to feel more confident about doing activities you enjoy. Every goal has a true WHY. Be sure to find yours, write it down, keep it visible, make it a part of each day. Use that WHY to plan the SMART steps and routines you need to hit those small goals, and each small success will bring you closer to your ultimate goals.

If nutrition plays a part in your goals, be sure to start small. Cutting out ALL the foods you love only sets you up for failure. Some examples of small steps that can lead you to success would be cleaning processed snack foods out of your pantry, buying and preparing more fresh vegetables, replacing sugar drinks with water, learning more about basic nutrition, setting up a pattern of meal prep and planning or removing sugar from your diet. Pick one goal to work on each week, creating a routine, and adding another goal and routine as you find your success each week. A routine could be adding a new fruit or vegetable to your diet each time your grocery shop or making sure you start each day with a glass of water. Add to these as you go.

If adding more movement to your life is a goal, follow the same idea. First, find something you enjoy! If you hate to run, don’t pick running. If you have no access to a pool, don’t pick swimming. (seems crazy-but I’ve literally had clients do this!) If you enjoy dancing, try a dancing workout. If you haven’t worked out in forever, and have no idea where to start, try a little yoga to get you moving, stretched, and limber. Plan your choice of exercise, make sure you have the equipment needed, and physically schedule your workout times on your daily calendar. Start small-2 days a week for 20 minutes and build on days and times as you hit each goal. And, if you can’t seem to find an exercise you are comfortable with, just WALK. Add distance each day, explore new areas and routes, and just get out and move. Make it part of your daily or weekly routine, and it will be a habit that is easy to build upon.

If general wellness is your goal for the year, consider the 8 pillars of wellness and decide which one will bring you the most satisfaction first. The pillars are nutrition, movement, emotional well-being, hobbies/creativity, intellectual growth, sleep, spiritual health, and relationships. When these pillars are balanced, we find overall wellness. Which pillar feels most unbalanced in your current life? How can you grow within it? How does the unbalance affect the other pillars of wellness in your life? Discover this, and that is where you need to start. If you are lacking in sleep, you are likely too tired to get proper exercise, or maybe being tired affects how you plan (or don’t plan) your meals. Focus on your sleep routine, create a healthy sleep routine, and see how that affects your overall life. Building healthy habits in one of these areas is likely to have a positive effect on other aspects.

Find time for a little joy in your life this year. Times have been challenging and we all need a bit more joy in our lives! If you are not sure where to find joy, take some time to think about a time in your life when you had more joy. Perhaps a hobby or favorite pastime that has been forgotten over the years is waiting to be rediscovered! Spend a little time and thought and explore what it was that brought you happiness at a more joyful time of life, and bring it back-add it to your routine, and build on it!

I’m wishing you happiness and great health and wellness in this new year! If you are considering acquiring assistance with your goals, I hope that you will reach out to me to chat about how health and wellness coaching can greatly change your life. I do not sell products, and I am not salesy/pushy in my approach. My only goal is to reach, motivate, educate, and inspire others to find and live their best, healthiest, most joy filled life possible. My education, experience, training and knowledge, mixed with personal motivation and inspiration focused on YOU and YOUR life provide a path to success and great health! Please feel free to contact me to see how I can help you reach your goals.

Be sure to check out my newest freebie, The Not So Sweet Ultimate Guide to Sugar Addiction

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Meditation for Real People

I recently wrote about getting a good, quality, night’s sleep, and in that article, I mentioned meditation (something that helped me-the chronic, lifelong, insomniac) get some rest. I realized, shortly after posting the article, that the word “meditation” often gets a weird response. Some people envision dancing hippies, or cultist beings, while others just laugh in confusion and discomfort. So, today, in deep respect to the idea and concept of meditation, I’d like provide a little education and info!

Meditation has been a part of my life for a very long time. It took me a very long time to realize that, when it is a regular part of my routine, my life seems calmer and easier to navigate. When I get away from it for long periods of time, I inevitably come back to it after finding myself stressed, exhausted, and very ungrounded. Life gets chaotic, and for me, having 4 teenagers in the house, homeschooling them through graduation, and being very active in their activities and sports should have been a perfect time to practice lots of meditation-but I abandoned it in the crazy schedules! After the last child graduated, and I ventured to the beach for early pandemic, I found my routine again, and it was life changing. It is now a daily routine for me, if only for 10 or 15 minutes.

My youngest, now 20, called me inquiring about meditation a few months back, something I found to be quite fascinating because it’s so not “him”. He was having trouble turning his mind off and getting a decent amount of sleep, and had tried many of my suggestions with little relief. I had suggested meditation several times, but it was his number 1 quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, who put it into his head. Rodgers spoke about discovering yoga and meditation during an interview, explaining why meditation has become an important part of his daily routine: “Finding time, without the TV on or the phone, to sit in silence is healing”, he said. “To be able to quiet your mind and have intentions and focus on the things that are important to you and kind of drown everything away. We live in a world where we’re just constantly being distracted and we need stimulation.” This spoke to my son, and he began a journey of meditation to quiet his mind, and ultimately, better sleep and a clearer head. (Thank you, Aaron!)

Basic meditation is simply about finding stillness, quieting the mind, and calming the body-and who doesn’t need a little of that in our lives?

There are so many science-based benefits of meditation! Literally, many of the daily anxieties, mood swings, stressors, and aches and pains most people experience can be lessened or removed by a short daily practice of meditation.

Benefits include:

*Focus and redirection of thoughts

*Generates a positive mood

*Helps with habit building

*Develops discipline

*Helps with pain tolerance

*Promotes stress relief

*Controls anxiety and feelings of anger or fear

*Promotes emotional health

*Enhances self awareness

*Lengthens attention span

*May reduce age related memory loss

*Generates feelings of kindness

*Improves the quality of sleep

*Decreases blood pressure

As you can see, the benefits of meditation are varied and amazing! I have experienced just about every benefit on this list, and more. It is a practice that is easy to learn, requires very little to get started, and has immediate impact on your wellbeing.

So-if you’re ready to get started on a simple habit that will change your life quickly, I’m ready to teach you how-all you need to do is find at least 10 minutes in your daily life to follow through. Perhaps it will be when you wake, or during a work break, or even right before bedtime-but PLANNING to do it and following through is the only small obstacle keeping you from reaping ALL the benefits that await you! You can do this just about anywhere-sitting on your porch, visiting your favorite place in nature, while bathing, or simply just by putting down your phone, turning off the noise, and enjoying some peace in your day.

How to Meditate

~Setup your space and check your surroundings. Your meditation space should be quiet and peaceful, and remain that way for at least 10 minutes. Close doors, turn off your phone, and plan to be in a quiet space for the time allotted.

~Wear comfortable clothes, or loosen any clothing that may be restrictive or tight. You may want to remove your shoes, belts, hats, etc. Be as comfortable as possible.

~Relax, sit comfortably with your feet on the floor, or find a comfortable position where your legs are relaxed and at ease, or even lie down if you like.

~Breathe deeply to relax, focus on your each individual breath, breathing in through the nose, deep into your lungs, then slowly release through the mouth. Find a rhythm in your breathing, and place your focus on the sound.

~Allow eyes to close, gently. This will help you focus on the breathing, and remove distractions from the mind.

~Check in with yourself. Are you comfortable? Do you need to adjust your position? Remove your socks? Is the tag in your shirt itchy? Notice your senses, bring awareness to your body, and adjust as needed.

~Scan your body, make sure each body part is relaxed. Wiggle your toes, circle your neck if it feels tight, etc. RELAX and BREATHE.

~Simply breathe and BE. Be still, be quiet, be calm.

Upon Finishing

~Let it go, release yourself slowly, and allow yourself to sit with our thoughts for a moment.

~After completing your time, avoid sudden movements-bring your body out of this calm state slowly, be kind to your body, and gentle in your movements.

~Hold yourself with loving kindness for the positive being that you are, let go, walk forward, live with a true heart, and go on with your day.

I hope that this article has inspired you to take a few moments to meditate each day, and perhaps even start a journey into deeper, more intentional meditations to change your existence in your life. Meditation as a regular practice can have a huge impact on everything that you do, and as you learn more, and practice more, you will see amazing things happen in every aspect of your life-mentally, physically, and spiritually. If you would like to explore meditation more in depth, or are interested in finding a personal wellness plan to works for your life and goals, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to talk about your health and wellness journey!

That Simple Word for 2020

2020 has brought us a new year, a new decade, and an entirely new slate to write our lives upon! In embracing this wealth of new beginnings, there comes the typical conversation about resolutions: the new diet, the new exercise program, the kicking of a bad habit…But, often these resolutions fall quickly by the wayside, as our mouths fill with treats, our treadmill becomes a storage shelf, and those old habits continue to mindlessly find their way into our busy lives.

Instead of resolutions, I’ve taken to having a word for the year. After carefully examining all the “resolutions” I want to set, I look for the deeper picture. Last year, as 2019 came into view, I knew I needed to remove toxic people from my life, as well as find more “me” time to focus on the things that made me healthy and happy. Putting these thoughts into actual resolutions was difficult, because it was simply too vast to break down. I decided to pick an encompassing word: BOUNDARIES.

Boundaries became my mantra. Whenever I was put into a situation that felt toxic, or felt like it was against my need for “me”, I looked for the boundary that was not clear, quickly locked it into place without emotion, and found myself moving directly past the guilt or exhaustion that often came with those situations. This worked with my adult children, my employees, and with “friends” that were probably not truly friends. It also put the final nail in some past relationships that I had been desperately trying to remove myself from for years.

As I walked toward 2020, I pondered many words to express my new beginning and the days to come. My newly found “me” time had led me to a new part time home at the beach, a renewed love for painting, writing, inspiring, and a chance to once again find the person that had gotten silenced during 22 years of raising and home educating children. I was yearning to delve deeper into my journey, into my passions, and I wanted a word to reflect that. I considered several: creativity, passion, art, vision…But, being the always complex, multi-tasking type of person I am, I realized those words, right now, would only lead me to brain fog and exhaustion as they were simply, for now, too focused.

I realized that my new lifestyle-traveling from one home to another-had me living as an “on vacation, me time, undistracted” person for a period of time, only to quickly return to being a caregiver, homemaker, business person who had little time or energy for the things I loved. Week to week, month to month, my life was a little scattered and exhausting. Projects lost their vision, passion quickly got forgotten, and it was tiring.

So, I needed a word, a mantra, to grasp ALL of these feelings, to pull them together, and to make sense of all those thoughts and ideas bouncing in my mind…And I found it. BALANCE!

BALANCE will be the word that I repeat in my head when I’m making my schedules, when I’m journaling my goals, when my heart is pulling me to a new creative project, a new travel adventure, a new marketing idea for my business. BALANCE encompasses ALL I hope to accomplish-the writing, the beach walks, the exercise programs, the mentoring and inspiring of followers….BALANCE makes it all seem possible.

As you, the reader, enters this new awakening of a year, a decade, beginning, search your heart and mind for all the things you want to see in your life, and find that encompassing word that holds them together…Then repeat it. Every day, every time you have a choice to make-for life is so many choices-repeat that word, use it to lead you, to teach you, to hold you to your goals.

Blessed New Year. Make this the year of YOU!