2018 Intentions and my tools for success
I have always struggled with the idea of New Year’s Resolutions. The concept always came with the feeling that I need to resolve some problem with (or within) myself. That first and foremost requires the willingness to take a serious look in the mirror and the ability to say, “what is up?” And let’s be honest, that is hard and real.
Pause. I am not talking about the magazine covers that shout “New Year, New You” or “You 2.0”; seriously, forget the how to’s on losing 10 lbs, surgery-less facelifts, and the adaptogens you should be using for glowing skin and overall radiance. (ProTip: all you really need is sleep, water, moderate exercise, meditation, and real (read unprocessed) food.) And personally, I can’t wait until the beauty, health, and “wellness” industry resolves to stop age shaming and body shaming us into believing that’s what our resolutions should be about. But that’s probably fuel for a different kind of blog post…
Let’s be real. The extra softness I carry around my middle, my parched wintery skin, and my expressive forehead are not the obstacles standing in the way of my enlightenment, general contentment, and my financial, or marital success. It is way deeper than that. For a long time the problem was the fear of really getting to know myself. There was a deep unwillingness to see the reality of myself, my ego, and the perceived obstacles vs. the real obstacles (and an inability to know the difference).
After a 6-month bout with depression in the fall of 2016 that rocked me to my core, I made the life changing decision to get sober in May 2017. I had quit drugs and cigarettes many years before, but I knew it was time to go the extra step and sober up completely. I’m not preaching sobriety for everyone, it was just something I had to do for myself to get the clarity I needed for where I wanted and needed to go next. Waking up hungover all the time and teaching yoga at 7:30am was starting to not be a good look. The need for change seems obvious.
In the months that followed I started to get intimate with feelings. The theme for 2017 became feel and flow. Let it in and let it out, without defining feelings as being good or bad, but getting familiar with the very full spectrum of emotion that is the human experience. For me, that was a majorly new concept. It is an experience that over and over again softens my rigidity, my need to control the plan and the outcome based on how I believe things should be.
There was an exploration and uncovering of feelings and revelations about why I act and react in certain ways, feelings about myself and others, an understanding of where I fit in (or don’t fit in), a shift in perspective on the “cool” crowd, the measures by which I define success changed, and perhaps most importantly I started to look in the mirror and say “I am here to support you.” not “Why aren’t you good enough?”.
Closing out 2017 with an epic California road trip with my husband Dooner was an incredible and on theme gift that we gave each other. It was most certainly beyond both our comfort zones and helped to illuminate further the places that we need to work on (individually and together). We had many long stretches in the car as we drove up the PCH that gave us time for silence and reflection as well as many hours to talk and share what we were discovering.
On the way back home rolling it all through my mind I realized I didn’t need to establish resolutions for 2018. I am not a problem that needs to be resolved. Nor is there anything wrong with me that needs fixing. But rather, I started to outline some intentions or themes that I could invite into my life to help guide me, not towards anything in particular, but to keep me in alignment with myself. As well as a few tools to keep me on track.
1. Don’t let anyone dim your flame. You are enough and you know your stuff!
2. Don’t judge others. Just because you believe in yourself doesn’t make you better than anyone else.
3. Recognize your limitations. Start with awareness. Move on with compassion, patience and grace, or overcome obstacles with study and hard work.
4. Know your boundaries. Don’t be afraid to say no, but also don’t be afraid to say yes (classic introvert struggle).
Tools to help (in no particular order)
1. No devices in the bedroom. This has created a divine shift in my sleep experience and general happiness. Every night after dinner Dooner and I move to the living room to mediate for 10-20mins. Afterward we get ready for bed and get in bed to read or journal. What started as no devices in the bedroom transformed on its own to no devices after dinner. This one’s got legs.
2. Go to bed earlier. Because of #1 this one was a natural transition. As a result of not bringing my phone to bed, I am not staring at a screen or mindlessly scrolling through social media. I am in bed by 9 or 9:30pm and happily reading until my eyelids get heavy, usually not long after getting cozy.
3. Read before bed. This is another that sprung from the no devices in the bedroom tool. Without the distraction of the Internet I am able to read more. My goal is to read a book a month. Right now I am re-reading the Yoga Sutras for guidance and inspiration.
4. Meditate everyday. I have drifted in and out of a constant meditation practice over the years. I notice a dramatic shift in my ability to handle stress when I sit regularly and this year I am making a commitment to sit every day for 10 minutes (20 if I can). Since the New Year this has manifested as something that I do after dinner. It has been a nice way to digest, melt the stress of the day away and clear my head for restful night’s sleep. I subscribed to year of HeadSpace and it helps me to stay committed with a variety of guided meditations. There are a bunch of apps out there that offer guided meditations. I definitely recommend starting there to develop the habit.
5. Buy more plants. Back in September we went on vacation for 2 and half weeks and almost all of our plants died while we were away. Household plants are great for purifying the air in your home and increasing humidity, they are shown to help improve recovery rates and even sharpen focus. With everything I am juggling this year, I can use all the help I can get.
6. Dry brush. Is one of the simplest things you can add to your routine to start feeling better. It is a potent practice for stimulating the lymphatic system, promoting better circulation, removing dry dead skin, and some say can reduce the appearance of cellulite! (I’ll let you know).
7. Drink water. Another simple and free tool that promotes feeling awesome. I usually only have one caffeinated beverage per day, but then I might only have 1 glass of water while I’m out for the day and then get home dying of thirst and crush water until dinner. This year I want to always carry my reusable water bottle and make it a habit to drink water throughout the day.
8. Work out everyday. While also changing my relationship with what it means to workout. I don’t mean run 3 miles, lift, and a 60-minute yoga practice everyday. I mean take 20 minutes to move my body mindfully in a way that nurtures and supports me – be it yoga, cardio, or strength training. It is important to explore movement in any amount that creates balance in strength, flexibility, stamina, and stability. For many years I looked at cardio as punishment or as a balance to eating. I don’t want to think of exercise as being for weight loss, but a tool for my overall wellness. Most importantly I want to prioritize a movement practice that promotes longevity.
9. Breakup with sugar. When I got sober sugar quickly became my replacement addiction. I was regularly eating a pint of ice in one sitting or over the course of one day and I would feel horrible. Horrible both about myself and my lack of self-control, but also horrible because of the inevitable sugar crash and the feeling of anxiety that it then produced. For a while I felt like I needed to give myself a vice, but I have definitely taken sometime to think about why I felt that way and realized that it wasn’t true. As of right now (1/20/18) I am 20 days off of refined sugar and feeling pretty good about it. (I feel a spin off blog post here..)
10. Stay Sober. This is a big one. And has a whole sub set of tools. Which, again, I might elaborate on one day in a future post. But for now, this is the tool itself. I made the decision back in May and have now been sober for over 6 and a half months. It is by far the best decision I have ever made in my life. Sure, I miss a margarita or a glass of red wine. Like a lot. But for me there is no such thing as just one drink. 1 Margarita turns into 3 or 4, plus a tequila shot and a Tecate. A glass of wine turns into a bottle or two… and so on. You get the picture. The point is that I really don’t miss being hungover. I woke up on New Years day without a hangover for the first time, in 17 years (minus 1 time, the first time I got sober in 2005/06). And that felt amazing. Sobriety comes with a clarity I never could have imagined and I am ready for it in a way that I never was before. So this is a big one, and served in many ways by the tools that are listed before it, but is critical for me to stay aligned with my intentions and myself.
I have some work related goals and tools for 2018 as well, but I will hold back on sharing those until I am a little closer to announcing some of the big things I have planned for this year. I am feeling pretty on track right now and 2018 is promising to be a good one.
I hope that some of the tools I have shared inspire you to take a look at where you might need a little extra support in order to stick to your goals. Maybe it is dedicating 15 minutes a day to go for a walk outside, or waking up a little earlier to have some time to yourself. One important distinction that I made for myself was to refer to these changes as tools, versus rules. There is nothing here to break, if I lose a tool for a little while, thats OK. I can pick it up again when I need the support. I have never really done well with rules, however now that I am looking for ways to support myself I am open to gathering all the tools I can so that I can keep moving toward the vision.
Feel free to email me with questions or let me know if any of these tools are helpful to you too!