15 days of becoming more you
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“we need to give up what no longer works and find new ways of being that keep us close to what matters” - mark nepo
the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.
We all slip naturally into patterns and routines, ways of living that become comfortable, habitual, and repeated. Sometimes nothing feels better than returning home from a long vacation to feel the familiarity of your own routine; and as creatures of habit, it’s only natural to desire the comforts of daily living. Recently while I was getting ready for work one day, I realized a few of my own tried and true habits have become hindrances and imperfections that I would like to refine (first step to change: recognizing you’re actually not as solemnly perfect as you once thought you were).
Easy to ignore, but important to recognize, I decided to tackle these habits in honour of 2015. Usually by the end of the holidays we’ve all fallen off track a little when it comes to general health, deadlines at work, responding to emails, and maintaining any sense of normalcy. I, for one, haven’t known what day it is for about two weeks, substituted regular exercise with routine eating, and got totally sidetracked when it comes to achieving any sort of progressive goal. This is all fun and games until someones pants no longer fit, or you totally forget what direction you’re heading in.
I decided to take a more honest approach to the word “resolution” (let’s be honest, these usually don’t make it past NYE), and come up with fifteen days of mini wellness challenges. Just one small act a day that will encourage me/you/us to take a few minutes to yourself, to give to one another, and/or focus your energy on becoming more of who you are. Discovering that little nook. Asking yourself a tough question. Forcing an answer. Writing a passage. Stretching a little longer. Hugging a friend. Being anonymous. Eating with intention to fuel your body. Smiling when it hurts. Manifesting your dreams.
Perhaps you’re looking for an easy way to say thank you to yourself for being you. A refreshing way to welcome a new year. A fun opportunity to try something new and connect with strangers. A fresh little start to rejuvenate your spirit and awaken your body.
...to fill your soul up with love.
Now, I know we all have varying levels of crazy lives. Kids, partners, jobs, obligations and responsibilities. This is why I have tried to keep these daily little rituals achievable and friendly, rather than annoyingly involved and hard to accomplish. I hope you can find the time in your day to sneak these little beauties in.
let’s just start now.
January 1 - easy start.
Let’s face it. You’re probably feeling all the shitty things right now. Hungover. Tired. Bloated. Headachey. Lazy. And definitely not like hopping off your comfy couch to whip up an organic salad and call Aunt Lou to catch up on all you’ve missed over the past year.
Take today to veg. Sit and chill with friends, lovers. Cuddle your dog and settle into a great movie. Drink a spicy caesar. Order the fries. Fuck it.
But, I will challenge you to write a few things down. Reflect on why you’re even reading this weird little document I’ve created. Ask yourself what 2015 will bring, and how you can do everything in your power to become a little more you.
Your challenge today: Write down three tangible goals.
Rest up so that tomorrow you begin to feel a little more human again.
January 2 - a new day!
Hopefully you’re waking up with some energy and feeling slightly refreshed this morning!
Breakfast is, as we all know by now, the most important meal of the day. Feed your body nutritious food and you will become more vibrant and effervescent! But let’s be honest, it’s winter, and cold dark mornings warrant nothing but comfort foods that fill us up and make us feel cozy and content.
Your challenge today: start your day off with a healthy start, eat breakfast! I am a pretty religious breakfast eater, only because I wake up so hungry that I can’t even string a sentence together until there is food in my belly. But, if you’re not like me and don’t really care for breaky…here are a couple good reasons to change your non-breakfast-eating-ways.
1. “A healthful breakfast jump-starts your day, provides an opportunity for nourishment and self-care and may significantly influence your moods, energy and abilities for the remainder of the day.”
2. “Break the fast. Ever think of what "breakfast" means? Your body responds to not eating for hours and hours by slowing down it's metabolic rate. By eating breakfast, you wake up your metabolism and get your engine humming, burning those calories you need to burn to lose weight.”
In a hurry with no time to cook up a gourmet breakfast? Congratulations, you’re just like the rest of us! Here are a few delicious (and quick) ideas that extinguish your excuse to skip the most important meal of the day.
1 ripe banana, mashed (the more ripe/spotty the better)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
heaping 1/3 cup rolled oats (use certified gluten-free if necessary)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup almond milk
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon ground flax (optional, see note)
For garnish: soaked almonds, pepita seeds, hemp hearts, cinnamon, toasted coconut, nut butter, spices (cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg)
1. The night before: Grab a medium bowl and mash the banana until smooth. Now stir in the chia, oats, cinnamon, milk, and water until combined. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. In the morning: Scoop the oat mixture into a medium pot. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat immediately to medium-low, and stir frequently until heated throughout and thickened. At the end of cooking, stir in flax (optional).
3. Pour oats into bowl. Garnish with your desired toppings. Get cozy!
Notes: 1) The ground flax is optional because it creates a bit of a strange texture (almost like a flax egg) in this oatmeal. I don't mind it, but some people might. So if you think you will, just leave it out or sprinkle some ground flax on top instead. 2) I love topping my oats with spices - a pinch of cinnamon, ground ginger, and allspice create my perfectly spiced bowl.
< < PS. Oh She Glows is one of my all time favourite food sites. If you're looking to change up your diet a little bit in the new year, why not try cooking one or two vegan meals a week? A wonderfully healthy option and fun to make! > >
Add coconut water for hydration and sweetness :)
Eggs, Quinoa, Tomato, Fresh Greens, and Hot Sauce
My personal favourite of all the breakfasts. I fry two eggs in Coconut Oil, warm some quinoa up with a splash of hot sauce, slice up a couple tomatoes, and toss a few fresh greens on a plate. Protein. Veg. Deliciousness. Long lasting.
January 3 - shake it off!
What are you carrying with you from 2014 that no longer serves you? Something you could do without? I don’t mean an old backpack that needs to be replaced, or a smashed up old cell phone. I mean deep down in the nitty gritty spaces between your heart and soul…what lives there? Perhaps its regret from something done or not done. A grudge you’re holding. A question. Guilt. Fear.
Any of these burdens that get carried around with you day in and day out create a heaviness in your body and the way you live, a sense of stiffness and stillness that will prevent you from moving weightless into the future. If we clear these clouds, we create room and space for new opportunities and positive things to enter our lives. You can’t drag around a heavy conscience and expect to be vibrant and light in the World.
So, do yourself (and the rest of us) a solid…and Shake it off!! Leave the dirt behind you, clearing a path for newness and growth. If you let a dead plant rot in the Earth, a new flower cannot bloom. If, however, you rip up the root and create space for flourishing soil and abundance…a new bud will blossom.
Your challenge today: Put on the song “Shake If Off” by Taylor Swift and shake the shit out of old emotional baggage you don’t need for the rest of this year…or ever again! It will feel damn good.
Click the photo for a link to TSwift's Shake It Off Video.
January 4 - stretch it out.
Now that you’ve shaken up the emotional baggage you don’t need anymore, let’s aim to keep it that way. Breaking habits - physical or emotional - requires continued training of the mind and body. This is where yoga comes in.
/ yoga /
breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, that is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
Yoga is a wonderful way of getting into the physical places within our bodies that house emotional tightness and excess that doesn’t serve our well being. Not following me? Fair enough. A great example of this is stress. We each carry stress differently, most commonly in our shoulders and hips, which creates muscular tightness and stiffness…leading to headaches, joint pain, digestion problems, insomnia…and the list goes on…(http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/effects-of-stress-on-your-body)
Yoga is a great way to release stress in your physical and mental body. Even just five minutes of connecting your breath with some simple movements will create calm in your mind, increase the flow of circulation, and steady your nervous system. You will be astonished at the benefits of yoga if you just dedicate 10 minutes each day to the following simple exercise (or something like it):
Your Challenge Today: Move your body in a simple yoga flow sequence for a minimum of 10 minutes (or longer!).
*If I were you, I would try to incorporate some type of stretching, breathing, and conscious movement into your day throughout the challenge, and beyond! This ten minutes will soon become a habitual pattern that will benefit your body, mind, and spirit in more ways than one*
Here are a few resources to help get you started:
A Yoga Practice - 10 Minute Workout - Vinyasa Flow
January 5 - phone a friend.
You know that feeling that lives deep in the pit of your stomach when you are (constantly) reminded of those (one million) friends you fail (miserably) to keep in touch with?
Phone one of them! And then if that feels good and you still have a few extra minutes on your lunch break…phone another one!
It’s all too easy to shoot out an “I love you and miss you soooo muchhhh!!!” text (all of my friends are currently rolling their eyes), but it’s less and less that we actually pick up the phone to have a conversation these days. In 2015, perhaps we can start a little phone call movement. One where we physically laugh out loud rather than typing the three meaningless letters over and over. LOL, just kidding.
Your challenge today: phone a friend or family member you haven’t chatted with in a while and reconnect through conversation.
*By penciling a phone call into your calendar, it suddenly becomes an important and concentrated task in your day. Once a week, twice a month, biannually...give it a try*
January 6 - get outside.
The fact that I picked the date January 6th to challenge you to get outside, probably means it’s -9 with a windchill of -25 and snowing sideways (brrrrr, I'm sorry!). The thing is…being outside still feels good! Feel the wind on your face, and rather than getting annoyed or bitter, enjoy how alive and human you feel. Adventure is right outside your front door. It lives on the city sidewalks and in the trees.
I don’t know this for sure, but I’m fairly certain that fresh air renews the spirit and makes you a little more thankful for each breath.
Your challenge today: GET OUTSIDE. Just walk to work. Or go skiing. Or climb a tree. Or stroll to the coffee shop to see the cute boy behind the counter. Just appreciate fresh air today. Like, really appreciate it. Maybe even say thank you.
January 7 - detox day!
I am one of those people that can pretty much always find an excuse NOT to do a detox. Birthdays, social gatherings, a Monday…all seem like great reasons to have a glass of wine and slice of cake, non!? But don’t follow my example. WHY? Because your body endures all the shit you put it through and, quite frankly, it deserves a break.
Here are the rules!!
NO ALCOHOL TODAY
(hey, it’s not like it’s the weekend, you can do it)
(yes, dark chocolate is still considered sugar)
ONE CUP OF COFFEE
Don’t look at me like that! Instead of things that clog your inside, spike your sugar levels, and provide no nutritious value…spend today respecting, nurturing, and thanking your insides.
Here’s a pretty good reference if you need a bit of direction with your one day detox : (http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/your-essential-plan-daylong-detox)
*bonus points (high five yourself) if you incorporate some yoga into this day*
January 8 - start conversation with a stranger.
It’s crazy to think we all share this big beautiful planet, and really we each only communicate with a handful of people on it. Think of all the stories there are to be heard, from the man who sits next to you on the train everyday, to the neighbour you’ve only said hello to. Sometimes all it takes is a simple, “how are you?” to integrate your World with someone else’s…and that’s a beautiful gift.
Your challenge today: Start a conversation with a stranger. A simple hello, how-do-you-do, how about this weather!?
Smile and share a moment with a new soul.
January 9 - don’t Instagram it….or Facebook it....or Tweet it...or even blog it.
I do this all the time. Guilty as charged! I instagram photos that I edit to make look incredibly awesome, and then add as many hashtags as I can think of to get likes and, if I’m lucky, a few new followers! I love instagram, and I’m not ashamed of my hashtagging tendencies…but sometimes I like to put my phone away, turn the camera off, and create a memory rather than a snapshot.
It’s a total habit. But not today!
#putyourdamnphoneaway #makeamemoryinstead #takeaphototomorrow
Your challenge today: Don’t social media your cool shit. Just enjoy it!!!
January 10 - do something different!
< < First, wake up and do ten minutes of stretching. Breathe in, breathe out. Inhale reach your arms to the sky. Exhale forward fold. Inhale lengthen your back. Exhale to plank, lower belly to the ground. Inhale, baby cobra. Exhale, lower down and push back to downward dog. Take 5 deep, BIG, awakening breaths. Inhale step both feet forward to meet your hands. Exhale, forward fold. Inhale, come all the way up, hands reach toward the sky, touch palms. Hands to prayer at heart centre. Repeat a few times until your awake and smiling. > >
It’s the weekend, yeow!! Do you find that you and your buds always kind of do the same thing? How about mixing it up today/tonight? Instead of heading to the same local bar for a few cocktails, how about catching a bus to the other side of town and exploring a new neighbourhood? How about checking out a new gym class or breaking new trail on a run? How about hitting the road for a little day trip with nothing but a map and your bff? How about strapping on your skins and heading out for a new tour?
Your challenge today: When you give the opportunity of adventure to the day ahead of you…you never know what you’re in for!! Explore the unknown, ignore the ease of repetition and welcome in something new.
January 11 - slow down.
It’s Sunday. The whole wide world knows Sundays are the best day of the week…and here’s why. Because no matter where you are, or what you’re meant to be doing, or how you feel….it’s Sunday! And Sundays are meant to refuel, rejuvinate, and relax you.
However lazy Sundays are intended to be, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the pressure of achieving and being productive. Today…just don’t. Just love yourself enough to grant you the gift of moving slow.
Your challenge today: Sleep in. Drink an extra cup of coffee in your pj’s. Call your parents and catch up. Take the dog for a long walk. Cook a meal. Take the kids to the park. Read your book. Go for a run. Write in your journal. Have a YOU DAY that will enable you to start your week off refreshed and renewed. *double challenge: read about something happening in the news*
January 12 - declutter.
Easy. Just get rid of something!! Or lots of things. We all have way too much stuff. Whether it’s the sweater you think you’re gonna wear again (but know you won’t), or the placemats that have been sitting in your kitchen drawer for four years just dyyyying to be used (sorry Mom).
Your challenge today: Donate!! Give a few of your unused belongings to someone in need. Declutter a space in your home. Your closet or your poor junk drawer.
Feeling like getting rid of one or two things isn’t gonna cut it? Check out this great article on how to Declutter your entire life (would ya do mine while you’re at it??)
Click the image to read the full article.
January 13 - do something for someone else.
Whether we know it or not, everyone around us has something going on under the surface. A fight with their partner. An illness. A fear. Afterall, part of being human is enduring experiences and collecting knowledge…which doesn’t always come in the form of rainbows and lollipops (as my husband says.)
Because, we too, often have questions and challenges that we’re independently facing, it’s easy to forget to dive into the world of friends and family and blindly reach out to offer love and support. Not only this, but maybe you’re one of the people who has a hard time asking for extra affection or for a friend to give you advice…so instead you sit silently waiting for the hard times to eventually pass.
Your challenge today: Write your partner a love note. Send a friend a card to remind them how much they mean to you. Sit down for a cup of coffee and ask someone how their world looks from the inside. Share a moment. Create an opportunity for someone to open up.
**double challenge: don’t expect anything in return**
January 14 - meditate.
A lot of people have qualms with meditating. People think it’s stupid (very hard) to sit in silence for 15 minutes and try (unsuccessfully) to sit with oneself and dive into your own mind (it’s a scary place). Many people find it difficult (and useless) to be solitary, not speak, turn off the hamster wheel, and be still. I can totally understand this! Meditating is a skill, a very difficult skill to master. But, just like everything else we take the patience to learn, there are some very beneficial outcomes to meditation. Besides, isn’t it time you really got to know yourself?
< < Depending on your experience level with meditation, you could get slightly frustrated with today’s challenge. Here are three tips for your first time meditating > >
1. Be patient with yourself. No doubt your mind will wander, but don’t get frustrated. Agitation during meditation just leads to 15 minutes of this, “Oh my God, you’re thinking, stop thinking. Am I still thinking? Namaste. Shit…did I just say namaste? Oh my god, I need a mantra. What would my mantra be? I think it should be….SHUT UP!! You’re thinking again. Stop thinking. Ooooommmmmm.” Instead of creating a (hilarious) inner dialogue…try bringing your attention back to your breath and recenter your thoughts.
2. Find a comfortable seat. Put a pillow or phone book under your bum to raise your sit bones. Lay in savasana (beware: laying down is likely to induce a nap, which is also nice, but not considered meditating). Sit with your back straight and your eyes closed. Turn off the lights and close the door so your cat, partner, or roommate can’t kill your zen.
3. Don’t give up. Even if you end up writing your entire ‘To-Do’ list rather than entering a state of enlightenment…you’re still doing yourself a solid by being still. Meditation will soon become part of your daily ritual, and you will fall in love with the tranquility and things you learn about yourself when you take the time.
Your challenge today: Sit with yourself in silence for 15 minutes (yes, this is a very long time). You can use a Transcendental Meditation video found on youtube to guide you, or just sit and focus on your breathing. Watch your thoughts float by like clouds and sink a little deeper into your own skin.
January 15 - sing.
I’m not sure why, but singing creates this beautiful release of so many good things it will change your life.
Or at least your mood.
I don’t care what you sing, or how you sing it. I don’t care if you sound like a dying cat or John Lennon, if your voice cracks, or if you make song birds jealous. Just sing. Crank the music, look up the lyrics, read along, and sing.
Your challenge today: Just sing. Turn your life into a musical if you feel like it. Lip sync. Air guitar. Just sing your little heart out and fill the World with love.
January 16 - you did it!!
I suppose this challenge of mini challenges could go on forever, and I wish I had given myself enough time to write 15 more days…but perhaps that will be my next “resolution”. Write more, do more for others, be more active in the community. There are always way to reach out, personal habits to change, small adjustments in your daily life that will enhance the world around you.
I suppose, the best thing about welcoming a new year is that it gives us the motivation and reason to start fresh.
What will you do?
How will your life change the World in 2015?
…not ready to stop?
here are TEN (okay, eleven) more days of challenges to carry you through the rest of the month…
cook a new recipe, from scratch
buy a stranger a coffee
clean your work space
say you’re sorry
read your horoscope
create a vision board
write a letter
learn something new
All my love and well wishes for the new year and beyond,