I recently turned 38 and I KNOW I say this almost every year, but this year was one of the best yet for me. While not everything is perfect (and never will be, ha), it has been a huge year of growth and change for me and I couldn’t be happier to be where I am right here, right now. It’s also a little strange to be getting older in years, but FEEL about 22 sometimes still. Who put me in charge, am I the adult here, and how on earth is time going by so fast? I see time just whizz on by, my children are growing up too fast, and I just want to slow everything down and soak it up. And I’m working on that. So, in no particular order, here is a little of what I’ve learned this year!
- You can be as happy as you tell yourself to be. We moved this past year away from friends and a location that we truly adored. It was hard, but you know what? I kept saying to myself and my kids, “we are going to be so happy in our new home! Your new best friend is out there waiting for you! We are going to love it!” And while there were some tougher times, I believe in positivity and focusing on the GOOD rather than the bad. And you know what? We are happy here, everyone has found the exact friends that they needed, and the community of people here are amazing.
- Live today like you are already in your dream life. That means eating the foods today that your dream body/self would be eating, doing tasks that your ‘ten year from now self’ would be doing, etc. You basically want to feel now how you envision your best self feeling, and act accordingly.
- Let go of criticizing yourself. Ever. For some reason, we all have a horrific running commentary going on in our heads when it comes to our bodies and actions. Once I started paying attention to what I thought I was shocked. I work on never saying negative things about myself, and the second I start I shut it down. This is the first step to body positivity. If all else fails, and you feel the need to say something about your image, repeat the phrase “I have a body,” in your head. Not, “my thighs look fat” or “look at my cellulite.” Just repeat the one true phrase there is, “I have a body.” Once that feels comfortable, branch into compliments.
- You are more than a number on a scale, a degree, a title, or a job. I think we can get so caught up in today’s society with labels. The question “what do you do” can be a hot button for me. When it comes down to it, I’m a stay at home mom and a part-time blogger, but really, there’s a whole lot more to me than a simple title, or someone’s opinion on it. There can be this mission to find something that will define us, but there is no job or number on a scale that can do that. And on another note, once I gave up weighing myself I felt so much freedom. I eat carefully, I work out often, and I FEEL REALLY GOOD in my skin for the first time really ever, so why should I let some number make me feel worse about myself? Spoiler alert: I don’t.
- Do something that brings you joy each day. I’m not saying you need endless spa days to live your best life, but there is always time to do something you look forward to. For me, reading has always brought me joy. I still found time to read when I had a newborn, or two kids under two, because it was a priority and it made me happy. Over the years I’ve had little time to myself, or a lot. I’ve worked and I’ve stayed home. But I always make time for what it is important. Working out is important to me, reading brings me joy, having my nails painted is fun, talking to friends via phone or text lights me up, or taking a nap turns me from cranky-pants to Mary Poppins, these things make me happy and I have had to make sure I had blocks of time to do them. They do not have to be massive amounts of time, but if you are running around from sun up to sun down and never take time to do even one happy thing for yourself, you will slowly break down. Start small, take five minutes a day to do what brings you joy and has nothing to do with obligation and I promise you will notice a difference.
- Pay attention to what your body is telling you. This pertains to both food and feelings. I’ve recently found out that my body doesn’t really enjoy a whole lotta dairy. I’m not allergic or anything, but it just doesn’t agree with me. The same with beans. (Ha.) I used to just not pay attention and wonder why I felt bad sometimes, but never linked it. Keep a small journal if necessary and see if you can connect the dots. The same goes to trusting your feelings and gut instincts. Start noticing what makes you feel bad and see if you can figure out why. Feelings are your body’s way of showing you that whatever is happening inside is not vibing with how you want to live. What can you do switch things up?
- Stop being so judgemental. I’m talking mostly to myself here. It’s crazy how in other people’s business we can be. (Raises hand.) This goes hand in hand with criticism, but just start noticing how much you judge other people and just say “no!” in your head to stop the thought. The world is FULL of moments where we can judge and react with fear and just be really mean, but nothing is black and white and we can do better on this. I am truly working on judging less and complaining less, because the world really need a lot less of this and I’d really like to be a shining light rather than a Debby Downer.
- Pay attention to the urges you have and try to rein them in. This can go so many ways, but a lot of my urges tend to point towards shopping when I am not feeling enough/bored, and saying things to my children and husband when I am tired/angry/hungry/etc. Most of us (ME) live moment to moment and on autopilot and don’t think before we do stuff. Taking a small second (or five minutes) to stop and find out WHY we are doing things is so important. Especially with our words. Think, “what is my intent by saying this?” If it isn’t a good one, don’t say it. Period.
- Stop “buffering” and figure out what you are avoiding. I learned this term from Brooke Castillo and her podcast, but buffering is basically any activity that we do that makes us not feel stuff that makes us feel uncomfortable. I buffer by shopping and drinking wine. Both of these are actually okay on their own, but using them to avoid feeling crappy is not good. If you are drinking 2-3 glasses of wine at night to cope with motherhood, and then feeling crappy in the morning about it, you are buffering. (Saying this from past experience!) You have to get to the real feelings inside that cause this all to happen (which is a whole other blog post, ha), and often just taking a second to identify WHY you want to buffer is the start. Now I pre plan when I do these things, because I shouldn’t be chugging wine on crappy days (because we will all find a reason to make a day crappy!), and I shop way more intentionally and don’t buy things because I think they will bring me happiness (they never do.)
- Enjoy the moment more. This is so cliché, but darn it! It is so true! I spent my birthday afternoon at the beach and purposefully didn’t bring a lot to do. I watched my kids body surf, I felt the sand on my toes, I listened to the waves, and I just tried to soak it in. I did the same thing when I went to wake my daughter up this morning. I cuddled her for a minute and really stopped to notice how her hand looked curled up by her chin, and how her hair smelled. Just try to stop and notice the small things a couple of times a day, and soak it in. How pretty is the sunset on the way home from soccer practice? Do you hear the birds chirping on the way to the bus stop in the morning? I’m not saying you have to be a Zen Buddhist here, but put your phone away for 5 minutes at a time and just really soak up right here, right now. I promise, you won’t regret it.
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