New Year, New You: Tips for living well in 2017

This blog was created by seven fantastic women who are hoping to share some practical wellness tips with you. We hope you will be able to relate and maybe even incorporate some of the suggestions into your everyday life! Many thanks to our community of advocates, volunteers and encouragers! We’ve added some encouraging picture messages for you to save to your phone and use as needed. Enjoy!

Honoring Self, by Liz Carroll

Several years ago, in what seems like another lifetime, I found myself so depressed that I didn’t care if I lived or died. I had it all, or so it appeared. I was busy managing a successful Real Estate Company, had a 20 plus year marriage, three beautiful children, everything that goes along “the good life.” So why did I feel like the light of my soul was going out?

During one of the hour long sessions I spent with a friend of a friend, who was working on her masters in psychology, we talked about the difference between selfish and self-preservation. I realized I had not been honoring myself, my needs. Everyone else’s happiness came before mine. It’s what I had been taught all my life-that my purpose was to make sure everyone was happy; My parents, my children, my husband, even strangers.

I was taught that if I put my needs first, I was being selfish. What I have learned is that I matter! By honoring my needs, that which brings me joy, serving others becomes part of that Joy. I have learned that honoring myself IS honoring others as well.

Each day ask yourself, “What makes me happy? How can I share my Joy?” Then DO IT!

Minimizing Distraction, by Carmen Joyce

Beep. Gotta check to see if that’s an email. Ding. Was that a text? Ping. Did someone just like something on Instagram? Buzz. Was that Facebook? Bing. Was that your phone or mine? The outcome of all of these noises and beeps and red dots is constant distraction, which takes away from our being in the present moment.

Distraction causes a sense of urgency and feeling hurried.  A constant feeling of urgency causes stress and takes away precious moments of our life through the risk of disease. Allowing yourself to be distracted also takes precious time away from those you love. How many times have you been at dinner with a friend and they’ve been on their cell phone? There isn’t an emergency, they are just scrolling through their Facebook feed or texting someone else while nodding and pretending to listen to you.

Retrain your brain to focus on what’s important! Spend time without your cell phone. Stop frantically checking every alert you receive on social media. Don’t eat dinner in front of the television. Sit in the silence and listen to the birds just outside your window. Take a walk and leave your phone at home. Stop answering texts or phone calls when you’re talking to a friend of loved one-show them they are important by giving them your complete attention. Those red dots will be there when you return from truly living.

Some Assembly Required, by Kristen Gasparino 

In elementary school, one of my favorite things was attending school assemblies. We saw the big kids, past teachers and friends. Sometimes we performed songs we’d practiced for weeks; other times we watched others share. Now as a teacher, I secretly dread school assemblies. All the students in one area; coordinating who sits where, how we will exit quickest, annoyed that it is taking away from our actual project.

As adult(ish) people, have we become more focused on production, time, and results? Are we missing valuable moments because we are calculating the best way of getting out?

In my case, apparently so. And I would say I love community. I love being part of something bigger; finding people who share similar interests and hobbies. I think it’s important. But what about community that we are forced into? Work meetings, interaction with kids’ parents, small talk. Shouldn’t we be living as if all our interactions matter? They make up our community, after all, and I did just say I thought that was important. This year, let’s work on being intentional in all our community experiences. Looking past the escape route and into the faces and stories of those around us. Maybe we’ll learn something. And maybe we’ll even start to enjoy the assembly. 

Practice Creativity, by Ashlie Johnson

Creativity is complicated. You likely either light up when hearing the word or feel completely daunted. For me, it depends on the day. I am often governed by creative whims that can be all-consuming for a short burst and then dissipate as quickly as they came. What I truly desire is daily creative expression, because I find it improves my emotional wellness overall.

When creativity strikes, it’s best if it finds you working. Putting creativity front and center into my daily routine is a challenge, but I’ve found a few ways that help me make room for it in my life. The first is to not be afraid to “fail.” I’ve realized that I don’t have to be good at what I’m doing to enjoy it. Success in the practice, not the outcome. The second is to not limit yourself to one form of expression. Creativity can be expressed in many ways. The third is to make creativity a daily habit. Habits form best when they start small. Check out the Tiny Habits program for ideas on how to create your own new habits. I hope creativity is one of them!

Uncluttered, by Coleen Williams

 As an artist and designer, I understand the importance of the editing process. The removing and simplifying of elements is essential to the final solution by highlighting the beauty and enhancing the effectiveness and meaning of the overall piece. Over the past year and continuing into this new year, I have resolved to apply this same editing concept to my everyday life.

I have learned that by eliminating the excess in our lives, we can make room for the things that truly matter.

For me, clutter in my home directly affects my mental, emotional and, at times, physical well-being. When my floors and closets are full of unused and unnecessary stuff, my mind feels foggy and I am unable to think and process through things clearly. Cluttered space equals cluttered mind. All the excess we allow into our homes, if gone unchecked, is detrimental to our overall health. By focusing on editing your home and removing (by donating, selling or tossing) all the excess “stuff” that you don’t love and don’t use regularly in all your spaces including your closets, kitchen cabinets, technology and devices and, yes, even those junk drawers, you can create more space for the things that actually bring joy and meaning to this life. Less time and effort buying, organizing and keeping up with all that stuff allows for more physical time and mental space for more important elements like family and friends, self-care, pursuing your passions and dreams and doing the things you love. By learning how to minimize the excess, we are able to observe, appreciate and truly be grateful for the beauty of this life we have been given.

The Benefits of Aromatherapy, by Jeanine Hoff

 Aromatherapy has changed my life. I was a terrible sleeper and lived with insomnia for many years until I added aromatherapy to my bedtime routine. Essential oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, and chamomile have also helped ease feelings of anxiety, stress, panic and depression. In addition to diffusing oils at bedtime, I have also added them to my shampoo, moisturizers, and bath. Inhaling the aromas has made even the quickest shower enjoyable and relaxing.

Another way I have incorporated aromatherapy into my daily routine is by spraying my sheets with a lavender mist and making my own hand sanitizer using a combination of oils such as cinnamon, clove and peppermint. It’s a healthy alternative to the store-bought chemicals and it smells wonderful. They even sell them already made and fairly inexpensive at natural food markets. What I enjoy most about aromatherapy is that it’s a natural way to help boost my mood and it works within minutes. 

Life’s Simple Pleasures, by Rachel Van Deusen

Life requires a great deal of endurance and effort. To continue to live in spite of this world while also growing and developing, is an achievement that requires great courage, skills and strength.  The start of a new year can bring with it a lot of mixed emotions.  Some view it as a fresh start, a clean slate, new hope….while others may view the new year with dread and discouragement, perhaps disappointment that they made it to another year. We look forward to the new year with anticipation and possibly a bit of fear and sometimes glance back with both fond memories and some regrets. Everything around us is so fast paced. Turn your head and blink twice and it will be summer.

It is hard to slow down and see what is around us. One way that I stop and take in what is going on around me is by looking for hearts, some days the hearts find me.

It is amazing to me that the heart is a hollow muscular organ that keeps us breathing and yet there is nothing empty about it.

During some of my most difficult days, hearts would just appear everywhere I looked….everything from the center of a cheerio to clouds in the sky to shells on the beach to shadows on the ground. Regardless of the day I am having, I can’t help but be filled with pleasure and contentment when I find these hearts, even if that feeling only lasts for a split second.  It then becomes a quest for me to find the next heart, seek that next moment where everything seems right with the world.  Peace and joy are out there. Finding hearts makes me feel alive, it forces me to slow down and take in the moment, to take a deep cleansing breath and to just be. Search for the little things that give you a reprieve from this busy world.

Many blessings to you all on a peaceful new year! We look forward to seeing you in the community!

-I Still Matter

P.S – If you are feeling especially inspired you can join us in the 40-Day Drawing Challenge! We have participants from all over the world! Join our Facebook page: 40-Day Drawing Challenge 2017 or use #40ddc2017 on Instagram. We are only 12 days in and you can join at anytime! You don’t have to be an “artist” to work on your drawing muscle just like you don’t have to be a trainer to know how to workout. It’s a skill and it can be learned! Take the challenge!