Health - A New Year State of Mind

The new year has finally arrived and it is only natural to start thinking about a fresh start and the changes you want to make. All of those things you wanted to do but never got around to, personal goals you wanted to reach but never did, daily habits you wanted to develop but just could not make happen, the list goes on. We are all used to seeing the flood of resolutions enter our thoughts, hoping that this time around we will do better. We will try harder. This will be our year. I think that it is a great mindset to have, whether or not we are successful. Having a positive outlook and setting goals for yourself is wonderful and you should never let anyone tell you (not even yourself) to not even bother trying.

With that being said, I do believe that true success can only come with a good attitude. If you start off your new year giving yourself a long list of things you instantly feel bad about not doing already, you could be setting yourself up for another year of the same. This is why I believe in setting intentions, not resolutions. Instead of thinking of all the things I never ended up doing, or bad habits I never quit, I am going to start my intentions with looking back on 2017 in an encouraging light.

1. What is something I accomplished that I am proud of?
For one, in 2017, I worked really hard on rebuilding my credit. And I mean really hard. I made some very bad financial decisions in my college days that negatively affected my credit score making it difficult to get through my twenties monetarily. I decided that enough was enough and only I could do something about it. Already being in my thirties, I was not getting any younger, and I had to make fixing this a priority. I knew it was going to take time, but I started using Credit Karma (not sponsored, I just love it!) and because I have been able to monitor my activity and accounts so closely, I have paid off multiple school loans (only one left, yay!) I have disputed things that should not have been on there which improved my score once removed, and I have been using approved credit cards responsibly and earning limit increases without even asking. I have brought my interest rate down on my car to a percentage I am no longer embarrassed about, and was even able to put another car purchase on my credit in an emergency situation. Staying dedicated to this behavior throughout the year has improved life greatly for us in so many ways, and I am so proud of myself for that.

I have another accomplishment in 2017 that I am proud of, and that is growing an authentic and organic  following on my Instagram brand and pushing myself out of my comfort zone on so many different levels in relation to this. Networking has always been hard for me with my anxiety, but feeling the fear and doing it anyways has truly helped me realize that it is actually fun to meet peers who are interested in the same things I am! I have become much more relaxed in event settings and look forward to seeing and catching up with all the friends I have made while I am there. I have loved connecting with the city we live in and supporting so many local businesses and entrepreneurs along the way!

2. What is one of my favorite memories?
One of my favorite memories of 2017 was meeting one of my cousins for the first time.  I had only seen her in family photos and heard stories about how great she was from my mother until then. She's a few years older than I, and moved from Florida to NYC when she was just 7. We connected online as adults and knew we had some similar interests but had never yet made the time to meet in person. She now lives in a beautiful two-story Hoboken, NJ apartment with her amazing husband and they invited us to stay a weekend with them this past April when we were planning to see a concert in NYC. The moment we arrived, it was obvious we were kindred spirits. They showed us around their favorite spots in the neighborhood that weekend and we enjoyed a lovely ferry ride to the city to explore Chinatown, Little Italy and the East Village. Since that visit, she and her husband both have been to Charlotte to visit us in our home and we showed them around some of our favorite spots here, too! I am over the moon thankful for this newfound relationship we have developed and cherish all the moments we have spent together.

3. What is something I did or tried for the first time?
This may sound silly to some of my fellow foodies, but I ate octopus and calamari for the first time in 2017! To be honest, even though both dishes were perfectly executed, I'm still not sure how I feel about it. Hey, at least I tried it! For someone who really enjoys eating (like all the time) I have very particular preferences and tons of texture issues!

4. What is something you did for someone else in 2017?
In 2017, I envisioned and organized two different charity events where I work at an animal hospital. One of them was a food drive for local pets and their families with hardships who needed help with being able to provide for their beloved pet. We not only received a ton of donations from the community, but Hill's Pet Nutrition generously donated a large amount of food to our cause as well!
I also created a charity event named "Paws-pitality" that was a way for pet families to help raise funds for the people in our community, specifically Hospitality House of Charlotte. This was an important cause to me because my family has needed this type of service many times throughout my childhood due to long hospital stays for both my brother and I. I was able to get the help of many local businesses who provided ways to give a portion of proceeds towards the charity, and donations from businesses for a silent auction held one day at the clinic. We also had a bake sale and pet photography day at the animal hospital to raise funds. In the end, we donated over $1,300 to Hospitality House! I was so thankful for all of the support and turn out with this.

5. What is something you're most thankful for in 2017?
Something I am most thankful for in 2017 is the continued growth and bond of a newer friendship we made near the end of 2016. We met our friends J & E one night leaving a local brewery, and the rest is history. We have grown so close, it's as if we've been friends our entire life and couldn't imagine one without them in it.

6. What is one thing I'm excited about for 2018 because of something that happened in 2017?
The year 2017 brought me many new friendships as I mentioned before through Instagram. One of these relationships in particular is a very special one, as we have so much in common, we have decided to start a fun podcast of our very own in 2018! The past few months have been filled with excitement for the start of something new for us, and the planning behind the scenes has given us something to look forward to together for the new year.

Just asking yourself a few questions to reflect back can be a fantastic way to remind yourself of the great year you had despite not being able to fit in some of the other things you had hoped. With that being said, now I feel I can start thinking about my intentions with a more positive outlook and connect them to my previous accomplishments and goals as a way to continue the progress I've already made. I intend to:

HYDRATE. This should not be a hard one, but somehow it always ends up being on of the top of just about everyone's list! I find it funny that I absolutely have to have my bottle of water next to me when I go to sleep at night or when I'm eating a meal, but I tend to get caught up in the day and honestly forget to drink it! This year I have already started drinking hot herbal teas for the health benefits and hydration, so I hope to continue this and only get better at drinking regular water throughout the day.

CARDIO. After a degenerative back injury in late August, I stopped all exercise completely for fear of hurting myself even more. Cardio is extremely important for me personally, because I was born with a congenital heart defect and had open heart surgery in 1994. For that reason alone, heart health should always be at the top of my list. I want to commit to doing something easy on my body like the elliptical a few times a week so that I can still get my heart rate up and release those toxins and tension, without worrying if I'm going to injure myself.

YOGA/MEDITATION. This is something I have enjoyed here and then in the past, but would like to start a more regular routine at my own pace in my own home and not feel pressured to be perfect around others. I know practicing these exercises will be great for my mental and cardio health, and I really want to start incorporating it into my weekly routine.

UNPLUG. This is a very hard one for me to say as a blogger and Instagrammer, as my life revolves around my phone and laptop. I enjoy it so much, but I want to do better at managing my time with it. Instead of constantly checking and giving all of my attention to it 24/7, I would like to work on creating a specific schedule for this purpose, only allowing myself set times to read, write and engage. This way I can be more in the moment with myself, my wife, our four-legged babies, family and friends.

READ. Walking into a bookstore gives me an instant sense of calmness. Exploring the shelves, thumbing through pages in the quiet of the surrounding space, and finding the perfect book to bring home is such a great feeling to me. I want to immerse myself in learning about new things this year (like the healing properties of crystals, more in depth astrology, essential oil benefits, etc.) and I want to try and give myself more time to do that.

WRITE. If you have not figured it out yet, I love to write. I find it much easier to put my thoughts and feelings out there this way. I can stay in the quiet of my mind, thinking about what I want to say without feeling rushed, pressured, or judged. When I am speaking, everything I am thinking just spills out and I end up overanalyzing the entire conversation, even though no one else seems to feel as awkward about it as I do. I want to continue the progress I have made on my blog and continue to write for myself even if no one else is reading.

HOST. We are very proud of how we have made our apartment more into a home over the past year, and I would love to start hosting more dinners or small get togethers with friends and family. Being able to use that time to reconnect with important people in life who you don't always get to see as much anymore, and create stronger bonds by catching up and chatting about the things you care most about in life where you are now can be so great for the soul.

EXPLORE. I am not speaking of long and expensive vacations. I simply want to make an effort to take short one day or weekend road trips to surrounding areas. For example, historic Charleston, SC is only 3.5 hours away and we've never been! These little getaways will add up to more experiences in life, even if it is close to home.

AUTHENTICITY. I am in the mental process of keeping in mind that I am not for everybody and that is okay. I need to give myself the same respect to be open about who I am that I give to others to be who they are.

YES TO ME. I want to be willing to do more of the things I know that make me happy, and not worrying if I should be doing something else instead. Declining an invitation to something so I have time for myself does not mean that I am not appreciative of the invite. I want to continue to remind myself that I don't have to be all things to all people all the time and they will not dislike me because I politely decline. If they do, those people are not meant for me, and that is okay.

Have you started thinking about your intentions? Do you despise this part of the new year transition? I'd love to hear your thoughts about them, your answers to 2017 reflections, or what you want to work towards in 2018 in the comments! 
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