For many, 2016 has been a nightmare, and rightfully so. But for me, 2016 has been pretty great overall. I've never felt more comfortable and confident in where I am and where I'm going.
A dear friend inspired me through her recent blog post, Lessons Learned, where she touched on her takeaways from 2016 and what she wants to work on in the new year. Upon reading this, I sat back and thought about what I learned in 2016 and how much I’ve grown in the last 12 months.
So, what have been my biggest lessons learned this year, you ask?
1. Stand up for what you believe in. I often get criticized for being so a “modern-hippie”, or just granola. Whether it is my diet, my holistic/alternative medicine ways, my anti-chemical cleaning supplies, anti-cruelty/non-toxic/no-chemical cosmetic preferences, the list literally goes on – this is me. And this is something I’ve realized I need to be unapologetic for. I became vegan this past year and I’ve realized that everyone has an opinion, comment, or biased-based question to ask when it comes to what someone else is eating. At times I would feel bad for people feeling like they have to accommodate my diet, or apologize for being “difficult”, or try to sugar coat my responses when people ask why I don’t eat meat, or dairy, or when they ask where I get my protein from.
People will criticize you no matter what you do. I’ve done my research with basically everything I do or don’t do. And that's the best I can do. I love learning and figuring out new ways to better myself. I thrive on conversations with like-minded people about health and wellness. Though it’s a struggle at times, and people will challenge your beliefs – stand up for what you believe and know in your heart is right.
2. Take care of you, 100%. I’ve touched on this often in earlier blogs, but I can’t stress enough just how important it is. An old boss often said, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.” And it's so true. If you aren’t healthy you can’t work, you can’t take care of your family, you can’t play with your kids, you can’t do anything. Take care of yourself – whatever that means to you. Take time away from your job, your phone, and your to-do list and do something for yourself. Get a massage, meditate, take a bath, take a nice walk, bake, and just relax. Anyone who spends enough time around me knows that I am not a happy person unless I’ve had some sort of physical activity during the day – running, gym, or barre. If I go too many days without sweating, I’m not a happy person. Mental health is crucial to a happy life. Wherever your find your happiness, do it for yourself and it will make you a better partner, mom/dad, daughter/son, friend, co-worker, and human.
3. Listen to your gut. Your intuition is more powerful than you think – and the more you trust it, the stronger it gets. Do you have a bad feeling about someone or something? There is most likely a reason. I’ve said goodbye to people who no longer served a purpose, tried new and scary things, become a blogger, denied Hudson to play with dogs that I didn’t get a good vibe from – you get the gist.
Your gut instinctively knows more than you realize it. Trust it and trust yourself.
4. If it interests you, try it (take chances). Too often we go through life afraid to take risks, afraid to try something because we’re scared of the unknown. Committing to blogging was something that has interested me for years but I never thought I’d have enough to say or that no one would care what I had to say. This year I finally committed to doing it as a creative outlet and it’s been fun, challenging, and a lot of work. Piggy backing from #3, listen to your gut, if it interests you and something is telling you do it – listen and do it!
5. Live a minimalistic lifestyle. This is one I am still working on, but the baby steps I’ve made thus far make me feel great. I have a shopping addiction– especially thrift shopping, and often I convince myself I need that 1960’s skirt because I’ll look like the high-end fashion model on my Pinterest board rocking a vintage Chanel skirt. Or that bright pink skirt will make me look like Oh Joy (one of my fave Instagrammers/Bloggers). This lamp is just too good of a deal to pass up. This vintage hand-held food chopper is just so cute. And so on and so on. I have purged my closet about six or seven times this year, not even including abandoning 80% of my Omaha closet. Getting rid of stuff feels good. Also, the less stuff you have, the easier it is to keep your home clean – which a clean, uncluttered home is very high on my need-to-have-to-be-a-happy-human list. I challenge you to de-clutter your home – or even just a room in the new year. I also challenge you to only buy things you need, or you really want and will be a true addition to your life or home.
You could say my takeaways are all somewhat interconnected, but isn’t that true for all things? This year has been full of ups and downs, but mostly ups. I’ve made new friends, traveled beautiful places, ran new races in new places, beat my half marathon PR, saw the Cubs win the World Series, meditated with gurus in Venice Beach, went to more Iowa football games than I like to admit, ate at a few great vegan restaurants, jumped off a cliff (literally), kayaked in the Caribbean Sea, decorated and redecorated my apartment, supervised numerous doodle dates, and much, much more. 2016 has been the year of unexpected events, 2017 has a lot to live up to. Cheers to the New Year!