At the Grand Canyon in May, 2017
Happy 2018! It’s hard to believe we are already one week into the new year. I don’t know about you, but I can’t shake the feeling that this is going to be an amazing year!
Looking back on 2017, it was a pretty busy and full-on year. I travelled to India, the States, made a quick jump over to Canada to surprise my parents, and then hit up London and Paris in the fall. After spending a couple of weeks back home in Canada over Christmas, I’m happy to be back in Belgium and getting back into my routine. It was a refreshing way to reset before kicking off 2018.
Last year I also completed my training to become a nutritional therapy consultant! I’m super excited to take this training to the next level this year; creating some fun content and continuing to learn more.
There are some exciting travels on the horizon for this year, like summer in Canada exploring the national parks and Italy in autumn soaking in the Tuscan culture and eating all the amazing food.
I’m not making any new year resolutions as such, but I am looking forward to getting myself organized and on track to get things done. I have so many projects in my mind to work on, and I am committed this year to breaking things down into small, manageable steps in the hopes of setting myself up for success more consistently than before. My Christmas present to myself was the Get to Work Book, and I’ve already started laying out my projects and tasks – it really motivates me to get organized and get working towards my goals!
One big thing I want to work on this year is cutting down on our waste. I see this two-fold; first, cutting back on food waste by meal planning and shopping more intentionally, as well as setting up a compost area in our garden. Second, decreasing the amount of plastic packaging we consume by buying in bulk with our own reusable containers and shopping from stores that don’t use packaging as much.
I also want to detox our home and ditch the harsh cleaning and personal care products. I’ve already done a lot to clean up my beauty routine, and I want to bring this into our other everyday products as well, either buying or making better alternatives to the chemicals.
These are just a couple of my intentions that I am working on this year through small steps to move towards a larger goal. What about you? Do you like to set new year resolutions? Let me know!
Making changes in your diet to support your health can be tricky. Often it involves breaking old habits and instating new ones, and most of the time this process pulls up a whole host of emotions and mental resistance. Our egos have dozens of reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t make a change, even when our intuition knows that it is necessary. We are literally blocking our own paths towards better health.
I speak from experience. As I’ve struggled with different issues over the past years, I became obsessed with getting a diagnosis. Last year, when I saw a functional medicine doctor after months of no energy, not being able to get up in the morning, anxiety, and a lost period to name a few, I was actually let down when I didn’t receive a single formal diagnosis.
I was subconsciously looking for a diagnosis to take away my own responsibility and accountability for the situation. I was looking for something to blame, and a clear-cut solution or protocol to then recover from it.
The truth was, I had to be responsible for my own health. Because diagnosis or not, I was the only one responsible for where I had ended up, and I was the only one who could turn things around again.
It was a really disheartening thought at first, until I mentally flipped a switch and allowed it to become empowering.
The problem a lot of people have, myself included, is you start identifying with your health issues. They become a part of your identity, and it can become incredibly hard to distance yourself from it. Whatever your symptoms are, they become the excuse you can use for not fully living your life.
You might not know where to start when making changes and it could all seem very overwhelming. It’s OK to not have the answers, but remember that someone out there does have the knowledge to help you. There is no excuse for not seeking out the resources, whether that’s a book or a practitioner, in order to start taking steps forward.
Don’t let your health define you, define your health yourself. The most difficult, but best thing you can do for yourself is to accept the accountability for your health. And remember, you deserve and you have the ability to live a vibrant, energetic life.
I think many of us are guilty of putting off certain things until something about our circumstances changes. Oftentimes that thing is happiness; “I’ll be happy once I lose these last ten pounds” or “I’ll be happy once I can leave this job”. How often have you thought: “I’ll be/do ‘x’ once ‘y’ happens”?
Why should we wait?
Why should living our best life wait until some arbitrary thing happens, when we could be living that life right now?
We don’t need those arbitrary events to have happened in order to feel those feelings in this moment. What can you do immediately to already tap into that emotion?
For me, that looked like going out and buying some new clothes that fit properly and made me feel good, rather than wearing old things that no longer fit well. Sure, my ego took a hit, but it was a quick band-aid to rip off and it stopped the story that went through my head each morning as I got dressed.
It also looks like trying to incorporate aspects into my routine that I was telling myself I didn’t have time for. I’d allowed obligations like work, commuting, etc. to become reasons why I couldn’t make time for other things I was passionate about. This is a story I struggle with everyday.
Convincing myself that I have an abundance of time is the hardest thing I’ve attempted to do. But if you don’t believe it, then you definitely won’t have it.
Really, it’s just easier sometimes to snooze that alarm, or watch another show on Netflix. And then suddenly your day is gone and all you’ve done is reinforced the story you have been telling yourself.
Trying to change that story is hard. This is definitely not a how-to post, because I am still trying to figure this one out.
All I do know is that I can live my best life now, there is nothing to wait for, and I’m determined not to miss a single second of it.
Back in the last week of December, I spent a lot of time reflecting and working through Danielle LaPorte’s book, Desire Map. Her philosophy is less to do with goal planning and resolution setting, and more to discovering the deep rooted feelings that you are ultimately trying to achieve. Only once these are determined, do you move forward with the planning and goal setting side of things.
I found it such an amazing, challenging, uncomfortable, and joyful experience, all rolled into one. You need to dig deep to truly find the answers and sometimes the questions (and answers) are hard. But you come out the other side feeling positive, motivated, and seeing your life in a new way.
One of my core desired feelings (as they are called) was Abundance. This was reflecting my desire for abundance in many part of my life, but the biggest one was clearly an Abundance of Energy. Over the last years, my energy levels have been on such a roller coaster, and I just want to feeling like I have endless energy again to do all the things I want to do in a day.
When exploring this deeper, I was trying to do things like sleep more (which meant going from 7.5-8 hours a night up to 9), eat as healthy as possible, manage my stress better (keep meditating) and transition back to exercising again. The last one was the hardest, how to exercise for energy when you have no energy to exercise? I was trying all these things, but I just didn’t feel any improvement.
Without this goal of abundance in mind, at the same time I was learning more about the law of attraction through one of my favourite podcasts, The Lively Show. The really basic idea is that like attracts like, and by having the mindset and experiencing the world in the same way that you would if you have already received the things that you desire, you are more likely to attract them to you. It’s totally woo-woo, but I loved it, and it really clicked for me. Definitely go and check out the podcast to dive deeper into all of this!
So I started adding envisioning into my meditations. I imagined situations in the future, maybe just the day ahead, or even future milestones in my life and career, and really let myself feel the emotions of those moments. And in doing so, a wave of peace and contentment would wash over me.
Without expecting it, I started to have more energy! Every step during my day was a step towards those things I was picturing, even though I didn’t yet understand the HOW of it. I was motivated to jump into whatever I was working on, because even if I didn’t recognize it immediately, everything had the potential to teach me something, or to provide that aha moment that might bring the HOW more into focus. I knew what I was moving towards, and every day the path ahead would become a little more clear.
In the end, it wasn’t just about making “healthy” choices in my day to day life (although these things still remain super important!). But for me it was all about mindset. You can do all the healthful things you want, but if you are dragging yourself from one to the other, you won’t get there. It’s still up and down, life throws things at you and sometimes you get pushed back further than you would like. But overall I can’t believe the difference I have felt in just the past few weeks alone. What’s clear to me know – you can’t effort your way there.
When looking to the media over the past few days, it seem pretty universal that 2016 has been a rough year. Watching the news these days can easily weigh heavily on our souls and it can be hard not to be dragged down by the current state of affairs. On my personal side, 2016 has been one of the most challenging years yet. We’ve had to say goodbye to some very special people in our lives, there have been health challenges, and a whole lot of soul searching for personal direction.
This last week has been one of quiet introspection – cozy days at home; my first real holiday where there is nowhere to go and nothing to do. As much as I spend my time looking and planning for 2017, I don’t want to discount 2016 just because it was hard. We also had some really amazing times this year; just because there were some bad times mixed in doesn’t mean the year was overall a negative one, there is also a lot to be grateful for.
It was our first full year as home owners. While we didn’t do a lot of visible renovation work, we made this place feel infinitely more like us. We got a BBQ and crafted some patio furniture from old palettes which meant summer days in the garden and lingering over dinner until the mosquitos chased us inside. We set up a home gym in our garage (because #fitgoals!) although we need to work on getting out there more often! Inside, we’ve slowly been creating a cozy space which has been amazing to retreat to these last days.
I went to some amazing new places this year and back to some old favourites as well. While the year felt overall more like nesting, the world exploring continued from our big trip to Indonesia, to destinations within Europe like Lisbon, Champagne, Manchester, and Amsterdam. Not to mention all the “local” Belgian destinations we visited to get to know our home country better.
Family and Friends
I’ve definitely enjoyed entertaining more this year, and I hope I can do even more of it in 2017. From barbecues to my boyfriend’s surprise 30th birthday, we have had a lot of fun gathering everyone in our home. We’ve had several weekend guests and my parents have visited twice to stay with us. They help us out loads during their stays, and it feels amazing to have them here now that we have the space to not trip all over each other!
The Little Things
Cozy mornings snuggling with the cat while I drink my coffee. Lazy evenings with my boyfriend as we just enjoy peace, quiet, and each others’ company. Cultivating a meditation and journalling habit (53 days and going strong!). Walks in the countryside right outside our door step and Saturdays spent in the city enjoying the best of both worlds.
This is definitely not an exhaustive list of what I am grateful for this year. But it does help put in perspective that this year was not so terrible. I think no matter how rough our year may have been, when you look really closely you will always find positivity and gratitude in there as well.
Title photo: 10am early December sunrise in Lapland, Finland (2005)