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Fresh Start for A New Year

Happy Healthy New Year my friends! Have you made your resolutions and set your goals for this new year? We all know how that goes. We have good intentions but often no real plan. I read someone said “a goal without a plan is just a wish”. I have made a lot of wishes. Most of them never really panned out. 

I've learned a few things from living my life and from the many people I have interviewed on the Happy Healthy You! podcast. Here’s the thing about goals; goals are like trees. Stay with me here.

In my backyard the county has planted a tree farm as part of a restoration project. From our back deck we see rows of plastic tube things sticking up out of the ground. After a couple of years some of them still have live trees growing inside but many of them just didn't make it. I guess the logic was to plant as many as possible and see what happens. Many of the trees never took root. Some were surely eaten by deer. Those that are still growing must have had an advantage and it wasn't just the protective plastic tubes that the county provided. Those growing baby trees are my inspiration for my New Year.

To flourish and grow trees (and us with our best laid plans) need the advantage of intentional planning. They (we) need balance. They (we) need nourishment, the opportunity to grow roots and something to reach for. I am sorry for those trees that didn’t make it, but maybe they have something to teach us. 

Those trees were planted with the best of intentions. But left to chance only some will survive. I guess if we throw enough of our resolutions out there maybe a few will take root. But wouldn't it be great to be a little more conscious and intentional about our resolutions in 2018?

Most of us, myself included, have areas we wish to improve in body, mind and spirit. This balance has been key to my well-being and happiness and also healing from grief and loss as I have written about in my book Back to Happy. For our seeds to take root and grow, they need conscious intention and attention.

Here are some of my best thoughts for a fresh start as we begin this new year for our bodies, our minds and our spirits. I offer them up to you with love and gratitude and my best “wishes” for your happiest, healthiest year ever.

Body
Want to get in shape this year? Start with a check up. Know your numbers; blood pressure, cholesterol. etc.
Go to your local track and time fifteen minutes of running or walking. Get down in a low plank position (elbows under your shoulders, spine and legs in a straight line, ankles bent at 90 degrees, toes on the floor) and see how long you can hold it. How many push-ups can you do in a minute? How many crunches can you do in a minute?
Sit on the floor. Can you move to a standing position without using your hands?
Now you have your starting point. Everyday this year you know what you have to do. Go out and do a little bit better. Chart your progress. 

Mind

Sit tall, eyes open or closed and follow your breath.
Now we move to our meditation practice. How long can you sit in the morning and/or evening to meditate? Try it today. See how long you can sit with your spine erect, your eyes closed or just slightly open, and follow your breath as it enters and exits your body. Meditation is simple. Meditation is hard! As soon as you notice a thought, come back to your breath. Use a timer this first day and chart your progress. There is only one rule, no judgment! Judgment defeats the whole dang purpose of meditation. The reason I love yoga is it prepares me to sit in meditation for longer periods without thinking about my grocery list or my cramped legs. Maybe try a yoga class this year. You've got a starting point. Meet yourself where you are. You can have a goal of twenty minutes in the morning and evening if that works for you. 

Yoga is everywhere nowadays. Find a class you love.
Spirit

Now for the best part, our spiritual life - our connection to the divine. This is what gives meaning to our existence and helps us live happier, more emotionally stable, beautiful and love-filled lives. Spirituality is harder to measure but there are tools given to us through the ages that work. We should consider them.
Prayer: Find a favorite prayer and pray it everyday upon getting out of bed. I like The Lord’s Prayer, given to us by Jesus. It’s really the perfect prayer because it has everything that we need - devotion, supplication, confession. But you can choose another that works for you like The Serenity Prayer or The Prayer of St. Francis. The important thing is to acknowledge and make that connection to a higher power.
Forgiveness: Who do I need to forgive today? Can I let go of resentments and past hurts? Can you face this person and personally forgive them? If not, can you write a letter or make a phone call. If not, can you write the letter and burn it, symbolizing the end of the resentment. If it is difficult, ask for help from your higher power, a therapist, counselor, or spiritual advisor or a trusted friend.
Gratitude: What am I thankful for this day, this moment? Write it down. Sit with this feeling of gratitude and let it permeate your being. Gratitude is powerful stuff.
Beauty: Where can I bring more beauty into my life?
I love flowers. I like to see fresh flowers in every room. Beauty feeds the soul and enlivens the spirit. Get up early and watch the sun rise. I dare you to not be in awe. See a play, read good poetry, listen - really listen to a beautiful piece of music, admire art or even better, create your own!
Love: Love is everything. Take a moment to reflect on where and how well you give love and where and how well you are able to receive it. If one is out of whack, make it your goal to bring that back into balance. It can be as simple as letting your spouse finish the dishes while you read a good book or take a long hot bath. How about volunteering? If you’re craving companionship, there are a lot of options out there but you have to take action. There are animals to rescue, church communities to join, dating sites. Your prayer and meditation will help clear that connection to your soul and will guide you to the right place to fill your love tank.
Retreat: Remember, we cannot offer our gifts and our love to others if our well is empty. it’s important to stay replenished. Sometimes that means pausing to take time to reconnect to God and ourselves. You can go away to a seminary, an ashram, a retreat center, or stay in your own home by creating a sacred space for yourself to be quiet, to rest and reflect. It is in the stillness that we are restored. Turn off your technology. Read sacred literature.
Create regular pockets of peace for yourself and you will be happier and healthier for it.

I haven't mentioned nutrition in this blog but my feeling is that with attention to balance in mind, body and spirit, nutrition naturally falls into place. We eat what our body needs and are guided to healthier choices. Bad habits fall away with attention to our fitness, our peace of mind and our spirituality. Of course, if you find yourself needing help to quit any habits, bravo to you! Go for it! You are my favorite tree of all.

I also did not mention organization, time management, career aspirations or financial goals in this blog about balance. Again I suggest to you, when we get our minds, bodies and spirits in order, the rest falls neatly and almost miraculously into place. You'll see.


Well, that’s my two cents for starting off the New Year with a fresh start. Balance in body, mind and spirit is a pretty sweet resolution. Just beware of the side effects: joy, health, contentment, peace. 

Happy Healthy New Year!
XO,
Connie

Connie Bowman is an actress, author of the book Back to Happy and host of the podcast Happy Healthy You! Join us on our Facebook page for podcasts, more info about living a whole life in mind body and spirit and even special offers like podcast sponsor Blue Planet Eyewear offering 20% off purchases with Code: Connie20. Click here for their site.

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