I pride myself on being authentic and this is one of the reasons why I’ve decided to share a personal post with you all. Life is not always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it can be extremely challenging. We all go through moments of sadness, anger, imbalance, fear, loss, etc. Even though I love beautiful things and share many of them on my blog – fashion, make-up, home decor, etc., at the end of the day, it’s not what life is about. I find true fulfillment and happiness looking inward and experiencing life’s moments with my husband, family and close friends.
A few days ago I was sitting on a massage table in Tokyo zen-ing out, reflecting on 2017 and I had an awakening – I needed to share my journey from this past year. When my treatment was finished my therapist said to me, “your energy around your throat is different than anywhere else in your entire body. You need to say/speak up about something.” This solidified what I had already concluded to say the least. Now, I’m sitting in my hotel lobby in Japan writing this post…
To be honest, 2016 was not my year. Mercury must have been in retrograde or something 😉 All kidding aside, I was feeling stuck, disconnected, clouded and not living to my fullest potential. Have y’all ever felt this way? I had a thought in late 2016, if I was going to invest so much time into my relationship, family, friends, work, etc. why would I not invest in myself?? In 2017, I woke up.
2017 was a huge year of personal and professional growth. I was ready to re-prioritize my life and finally decided to put myself first. What took me so long? I don’t have the answer but all I can say is that I started to listen to that gut feeling inside. Y’all know what I’m talking about. As I began to sit in silence, the feeling got stronger. I started to reflect, write, listen to podcasts, re-prioritize and most importantly, communicate. I see my journey in 3 phases:
 Reflecting – what was going on with me?
 Creating a plan – how was I going to move forward?
 Doing – the actual implementation of my plan.
For me, and most people, phase 3 is the hardest and scariest step – putting yourself out there and being vulnerable can be overwhelming. My internal dialogue in many situations usually went something like this… “I’m ‘fine’, It doesn’t matter, It’s not important, etc.” Sound familiar? I more often than not put others needs and feelings before my own, never rocking the boat and always looking and acting like I had it all together. Yes, you could say it was pretty exhausting. What was I so afraid of you ask? Well, to be honest… being seen, like actually seen for all of my imperfections. It’s a bit scary! What if I decide to open up to the people around me and they didn’t feel like I was good enough, worthy enough and most importantly, lovable? I soon realized it all started with ME. Once I figured out I was enough everyone and everything didn’t matter. This is one of THE most important aha moments I had this past year. Each individual is here on this planet to experience their own journey – not any two paths are the same. There is not ONE way to be or do things. Since starting this awakening and stepping into my own light, I feel more grounded and have created a deeper connection with my husband, friends and most importantly myself. I made a choice to live in my truth, be honest with myself and speak up.
One of the very first podcasts I listened to that talked specifically about vulnerability was Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations with Brene Brown. If I could recommend anything for y’all to listen to, this would be it. It deeply resonated with me – even though I already understood and felt like I knew what they were discussing, it was a moment in my journey that I decided to act on it. In my experience, God (or whatever you want to call it) puts things in front of us when we are ready. This was my time.
Ok, so what is my version of DOING?? Here are my top 5 daily practices that help me live my best life:
 Gratitude Journal – In early 2017 I purchased a gratitude journal. This helped me stay accountable. Once I began to write what I was grateful for, I found it gave my day the kick-start I needed, feeling more upbeat and ready to tackle anything! I smiled more, I was more productive at work and my overall attitude improved. I want to point out, I’m already a positive person BUT it still moved the needle – allowing me to feel even more JOY. I now think about what I’m grateful for ALL the time. When I wake up each morning I choose 3 things I’m grateful for, making sure they’re different each day. Sometimes I even say them out loud and communicate them to my husband, family and friends. I find when I do this, I feel even more connected to them. Here’s the link to a gratitude journal I started with. Why not start yours now!?
 Working Out – Being active has always been a stress reliever for me – as a soccer player and dancer in my adolescence, sports were my physical and emotional outlet. Now as an adult I make it a priority to find activities that provide me with a similar mind-body connection. It’s also important for me to do things I actually like. For example I HATE to run (ya, I said it) so guess what, I don’t run! I’ve found I love pilates, yoga, cycling or just long walks around my neighborhood. This is ME time – to be in silence and quiet my mind. It’s a form of mediation to allow my brain to have a break. Find what you enjoy and DO it!
 Saying No – This by far is one of the hardest steps I have encountered. As I mentioned above, I’m the person that never wants to hurt anyone’s feelings. I don’t have FOMO, I just didn’t want to let anyone down – or that’s what I thought I was doing if I said no. After practicing saying NO in situations I didn’t want to be apart of, I realized how empowering and healthy it was for ME. It allowed more space in my life to work on myself, my career and spend time with the people that I actually wanted to. When I hit 30, the ‘friend shedding’ as I call it, started to happen. I’d rather have 5 deeply connected friendships than 20 surface ones AND I soon realized, QUALITY over QUANTITY was key. Invest in people that invest in YOU!
 Technology Free Times – Ok, maybe this is the hardest thing I’ve added to my daily routine and something I still struggle with on a daily basis. Being an influencer, I tend to pick up my phone and look at social media ALL THE TIME… not even realizing it. Creating times when I’m not on my phone has been really important to me. When I started practicing this I realized I should probably do it more. It first started when Luke and I would watch a show at night and I realized I wasn’t retaining anything. I was mindlessly on my phone – not paying attention. I wanted to be present, SO the phone had to go bye bye. As I move forward having more technology free times will become even more important. I’ve currently implemented three tech free times; when I wake up (at least 30 min), during dinner and while spending time with my husband in the evening. I have specifically found the rituals you do in the morning will shape the day you will have ahead. This is why no phone in the morning has worked great for me! I take time for myself, think about what I’m grateful for, make coffee and sit in the silence. When I’m ready, I consciously look at my phone and open my computer. Give tech free times a try – you may start to hear the little voice inside say a thing or two…
 Communication – As I mentioned above this is the big V… vulnerability! I’m a great communicator on the surface; supporting my friends, family and husband as well as in my work-life of blogging and working with clients BUT talk about my own personal emotions, and I would freeze up! First starting with the above 4 practices of journaling, working out, saying no and tech free times has helped me quiet my mind and calm my anxiety, allowing me to communicate clearly and more effectively. I’ve found the times that are the scariest, hardest and challenge us the most are usually the greatest times for transformation and growth. Listen to yourself, come up with a plan and SPEAK up! Trust me, if I can do it, YOU can!
All of the above practices have helped me and continue to help me achieve my goals each and every day. As they may sounds simple, I’ve found the more I strip away the “things” and go back to the basics, the happier and more joy I feel. As I head into 2018 I know I will explore new ways of thinking, expand my emotional awareness and continue to ground myself using different tools. Life is about the journey not the destination.