Just saying the words “twenty seventeen” brings a smile to my face. There is seldom a year I am eager to bid farewell, but 2016 needed to go. Although it was a painful time in my personal life, the transition to the New Year has brought growth and discovery. I feel revitalized, and I can see the world opening up all around, like flowers blooming and ready to be plucked. As soon as January 1 came, one word resounded loudly and warmly in my mind: rebirth. I am ready to take hold of this year and let myself become everything I want to be. And maybe that’s why I’m starting this blog. It’s time to start taking charge of my life and accomplishing the things I’ve wanted to for so long. It’s going to be a bright era in my life, and I can’t wait!
In the spirit of self nourishment and rebirth, here are my goals for 2017:
Indulge in self care
This year, I plan to really make time for me. Emotional self care is essential in helping your psychological self to thrive, and can even improve your physical health by reducing stress. Each day, I’ll take a moment to pause, get in touch with how I’m feeling, and do something for myself. Some of my favorite self care activities are making a big cup of Chai tea, treating myself to a spa night, playing a few songs on my ukulele, or writing my thoughts for the day in my journal. These moments help me to focus my mind and fill my thoughts with positivity.
I think most people have at least heard that yoga is one of the best things you can do for your mind, body and spirit. Aside from the physical benefits of increased flexibility, balancing the metabolism, improving cardiovascular health, and reducing weight, the mental benefits abound as well: reduced stress, mind and body awareness, stillness of the mind. I would definitely rate my self as a beginner, but yoga is all about accepting where you’re at and allowing yourself the permission to be as you are. I think that philosophy can be a healthy way to look at a lot of things in life. Give yourself permission to accept who are, while still aiming for the best you can do. For those interested, here are some scientific studies supporting the physical and mental benefits of yoga:
Smile more, with your face and soul
Smiling is one of the most healthy things you can do for yourself. When you smile, even if you’re just smiling for the sake of smiling, your brain releases endorphins, making you feel happier.
I used to be an incredibly creative person: I would write poetry on the daily, doodle on my free time, be involved in plays and come up with stories to tell my friends. Life has gotten so consuming this past year that I haven’t had time or mental energy to do anything creative. Creativity is like food for the soul. The more you create, the more inspired you are.
Take a trip
Travel has been something on my ‘To Do’ list for a long time. I was lucky enough to get to travel while I was in college through college programs, but when you’re in the real world it takes a little more planning, budgeting, and self sufficiency. From that perspective, I think traveling would be fulfilling not only in the sense of getting to experience other environments and cultures, but also in developing my own self sufficiency and identity as a traveler. I would love to visit Norway, or go to south France and experience French wine country!
Get more sleep
According to a Gallup poll, Americans only average 6.8 hours of sleep each night, and 40% get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation has been tied to weight gain and impaired cognitive function (in this study, sleeping less than 6 hours a night for 2 weeks resulted in the same effect as not sleeping at all for 2 nights in a row!), so you really shouldn’t skimp on that extra hour of beauty sleep! I get about 7 hours of sleep per night, sometimes less. While that just about in line with the average, I know that my body runs best on 9 hours of sleep per night (so unlucky that I need so much rest, when there’s so many things to do!). I’ve noticed in myself that lack of sleep results in lack of concentration and energy, dull skin, and feeling down. So my goal this year is to go to bed at 10:00 pm every night to try to get as close to those 9 hours of sleep I need as possible.
Pursue your passions
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the life map that society has constructed as the accepted road to success. And I get it. I SO get it. We need money to live in this world, and the way to make money is usually to get hired a 9 to 5, and these days for a lot of people it doesn’t matter what the job is as long as it pays. But you have to make time to invest in the activities that fill you up. It’s sad that we have to spend 80% of our time here doing tasks that have no purpose other than surviving societal constructs rather than living our purpose and potential as inspired beings.
Eat for Beauty
Nutrition and being my most healthy beautiful self is something that is very important to me. When we eat a diet that nourishes our interiors, our health radiates out through our skin, hair, teeth, and eyes as beauty. I used to think every day about every bite of food I put into my body and how that was going to affect my inside health and therefore my exterior beauty. But again, 2016 was a mess of year, and my diet totally slipped. In a way, this ties in with self care, because it’s a form of investing in myself. I know that if I help my body to feel good, I’ll be one step closer to making my mind feel good too.
Eat for the Environment
Being a student of biology and an environmental advocate, I know how our dietary choices can impact the Earth, and many times that impact is destructive. Not to get on a soap box, but did you know that shrimp is one of the most over fished species in the ocean? Not many people do. I have always attempted to eat in a way that that minimizes the harm done to the environment, and I intend to continue that habit. One resource I use to check my food sources is the Seafood Watch Consumer Guide. You can download the guide for your state or region to see which ocean fare is ok to eat and which ones you should avoid. They also have an app so you can check your choices when you’re out and about. Seafood Watch’s website is a great resource to get a basic understanding about how we endanger ocean species and how we can avoid harming our oceans further.
I love to read! Who doesn’t love how reading takes your imagination to other worlds and time eras and enriches your imagination? But reading has so many other benefits; expanding your vocabulary, introducing a viewpoint you didn’t think of on important issues, educating you to gain skill and knowledge for your various pursuits. Having a well stocked library is like have hundreds of professors at your disposal. One of the hallmarks of the successful is that they are always learning, and reading is a great (and in my generation, overlooked) way to accomplish that. The fictional book I’m reading right now is “The Distant Hours” by Kate Morton, and the nonfiction book I’m reading is “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
One of the lessons talked about in Big Magic is how fear blocks creativity and pursuit of our desires. I think about all the things that I’ve been prevented from accomplishing because of fear: nailing an audition, or attending an audition at all. Traveling to another country. Moving out of my parents house for fear of the financial risk. But all achievements in life require you to risk something. Sometimes they fail but more often than not, that’s how you get where you want to go in life. So my goal in 2017 is to fear less, and take the leap to get things done!
Know Your Own Strength
It’s easy to feel powerless when things build up on top of you in life. When people walk all over you, when you wait for others to approve of your opinions and plans. But you have the strength to shake those monkeys off your back and make a change, and that’s what I plan to do.
Use Your Voice
In the vein of knowing your own strength, you need to stand up and let your voice be heard. For too long, I never stood up for what I needed or for my beliefs and thoughts, because it wouldn’t be polite, and my family was dominated by a desire not to rock the boat. Well, as I learned from Meisner in one of my acting classes, F@#$K POLITE! Having tact is one thing, but you need to speak your mind and let people hear your voice if you’re going to get what you need in this world and be more than just a wallflower. And coming from a born Leo who was stifled into silence by politeness, let me tell you that being a wallflower is no fun.
Again, creativity is one of the most nourishing parts of being human! It wasn’t so long ago that music was part of everyday family life. People learned to sing, to play guitar, not because they wanted to be musicians, but music is a way to connect with people. People argue that math is the universal language, but I think music is another art form that crosses borders and culture. I’ve learned the ukulele this past year, and it has been an immensely healing and nourishing experience for me, and I’d love to keep that going.
I think one of my greatest struggles all through my young life has been the effort to be someone I’m not. Whether that was not speaking my mind because it wasn’t ‘polite,’ or trying to be the person I thought a guy I liked would want, I stifled my true self for the benefit of others, and the result was that not only did I end up stifled and devoid of confidence, but the people I was trying to please ended up not taking notice of me. I was a wallflower. Well that time is over. I’m ready to grow into my most fulfilled and positive version of my self, with no apologies. And that’s really what this year comes down to for me. I am re-birthing myself to the world, not as a transformed being, but just as purely, genuinely, me.