How to end the year without coulda, woulda, shoulda

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We are wrapping up 2014 and ’tis the season for busting out the coulda, woulda, shoulda.

I coulda worked out more this year.
I woulda found that man if I lost 10 pounds.
I shoulda stuck to my resolutions.

The end of the year is a time for celebrating, honoring, and dreaming.  It’s not a time for judging, attacking, and shoulding all over your life.  It’s important to end the year with the energy that you want to carry into the new year and I’m guessing that low vibe, self-loathing energy is not what you are seeking in 2015.

Instead of the coulda, woulda, shoulda follow my tips for ending the year on a high and feeling great about the new year.  I have one simple action for each day leading up to the ball dropping and the confetti flying.

December 21:  Read this blog!

December 22:  Commit to healthy choices for the next 10 days.  Maybe it’s more movement, more veggies, one less cookie, more sleep, less stress, more water.  Just pick one or two things and commit.  Set calendar reminders for the next 10 days so that you don’t forget in the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

December 23:  Ask for help.  Would you feel less stressed if someone else took responsibility for wrapping gifts or making dessert?  Just ask.  You will immediately feel lighter.

December 24:  Write out a list of everything you accomplished in 2014.  Nothing is too small to include.  Keep writing until you can’t think of anything else.  And then come up with 5 more things.  This should be a long list.  Read it out loud and smile.  You did good.

December 25:  Merry Christmas, if you celebrate!  At dinner tonight make gratitude your attitude.  Go around the table and ask everyone to share one thing from 2014 that they are grateful for.  Bask in the glow of all this gratitude!

December 26:  Write out your resolutions from last year and rip them to pieces (or thrown them in your fireplace and watch them burn).  Recite “I celebrate what I accomplished and release the rest.”

December 27:  Do something that you love today.  It could be anything – the only requirement is that it brings you joy.  Dinner with your hubs, call your best friend, a glass of wine and your favorite movie, a mani/pedi.  Anything that makes you smile.

December 28:  Plan something in January that you can’t wait to do.  Maybe you’re finally going to try SoulCycle or use that spa gift certificate you got for your anniversary last year.  The two rules: whatever you plan supports your self-care and you are excited about it.

December 29:  Check some things off of your to-do list today.  What are some of the small things that you’ve just been procrastinating?  Don’t let these things weigh you down as you close out the year.  Get your oil changed.  Clean your oven.  Organize your receipts.

December 30:  Clear out the clutter.  It’s time to tackle your closet and donate whatever you didn’t wear in 2014.  Toss all of the almost empty bottles you have in your bathroom.  Open up your “junk” drawer and get rid of the junk.  Make space for all of the amazing things that are going to come your way in 2015.

December 31:  It’s New Year’s Eve and time to focus on how to want to FEEL in 2015.  Resolutions don’t work.  They just don’t.  We write out of list of resolutions and suddenly the things that we actually want to do feel like homework.  And I don’t know about you but as soon as I HAVE to do something, I no longer WANT to do it.  Instead focus on your core desired feelings.  This is a life changing practice that I learned from Danielle LaPorte‘s The Desire Map.  By focusing on how you want to feel you can then create goals that will allow you to feel that way.  I’ll be ringing in the new year with a new desire map.  (And some champagne!)

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I’ll be sharing my desire map experience and core desire feelings in the new year and can’t wait to hear from you.  How do you want to FEEL in 2015?


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Spirited Eats: Blackberry Coconut Chia Pudding

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Blackberry Coconut Chia Pudding

You’ll need:

  • 1 can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey (optional but so good)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup fresh or thawed blackberries

Directions:

  • Add coconut milk, honey, vanilla, and blackberries to blender and blend until smooth.  Thin with water, if needed.
  • Divide chia seeds between two small mason jars.
  • Pour blended mixture over chia seeds and shake vigorously.
  • Refrigerate overnight (or at least an hour) – shaking the jars a few times.
  • Top with fresh fruit, granola, or raw nuts.

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What are your non-negotiables?

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Healthy habits don’t need to be so complicated.  All you need to do to feel better today is just get started.

I want you to document a week in your life without making any changes: when you go to bed and wake up, what you drink and when, what you eat and when, meditation, how much exercise you get, what you do for fun.  How do you feel throughout the day?  Now organize your habits into two lists – makes you feel great, makes you feel meh.

Choose your top two or three things from the “great” list and make these your non-negotiables.  These are the things that you commit to doing daily, no matter what.  Be sure to be realistic in your selections.  Sure, you feel great when you workout for 90 minutes but if that doesn’t fit into your daily routine, don’t make 90 minutes of activity your non-negotiable.  Maybe daily movement becomes the standard.  Treat your non-negotiables with the same level of importance that your treat work or personal commitments.  Schedule them in your calendar and be sure to do them daily.  Everything else will be fluid and come in and out but you’ll always come back to these habits.

My non-negotiables are meditation and water.  When I meditate daily I feel calm and centered, my day seems to flow, and I’m able to handle whatever comes my way.  When I don’t meditate I feel depleted, stuck, sluggish, and jumbled.  So I make sure that I meditate daily.  Sometimes it’s 20 minutes on my meditation pillow in front of my alter, sometimes it’s at my desk at work on my lunch break, in the car when I’m early for an appointment, or one minute of breathing before I get out of bed.  It looks different everyday because I make it work for my life in the moment.  But no matter how it looks, it happens.  The same is true with water.  I set out my giant glass of water before bed and don’t even need to think about it in the morning – it just happens.

Share your non-negotiables in the comments below (they will feel more “official” once you publicly declare them) and let’s support each other on the journey to Spirited Well-being.


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Stress-free Thanksgiving and two recipes

Truth time – are you already stressing about how stuffed you’re going to be on Thanksgiving?  Or restricting this week to “save room” for your Thanksgiving meal?  Or dusting off your stretchy pants for Thanksgiving dinner?  There is another way.  A way that allows you to truly enjoy the holiday without guilt, without needing to unbutton your pants mid-meal, without feeling like a stuffed turkey at the end of the night, and without needing to crash diet or obsessively workout days before and days after the big day.

There is a way to move through Thanksgiving with ease.  (And still enjoy the food!)  Here’s my three-day plan for a guilt-free, pleasurable Thanksgiving.  (It will work for any holiday.)

The day before

  • Set your intention and visualize – how do you want the day to go?  Spend time writing out your intention for the day.  For example: I will move through the day relaxed, enjoy my family, feel calm when I sit down to eat, and slowly chew my food.  After writing out your intentions, sit in meditation and visualize the day.  Play out the ideal day from start to finish in your mind.  Focus on the details: what will you wear, what will you talk about, what will your plate look like, how much will you eat.
  • Hydrate – it’s likely that you won’t drink as much water on a holiday as you normally do.  Be sure to drink extra water the day before.  Typically you want to aim for half of your body weight in ounces per day but today down a few extra glasses.
  • Have a treat – what’s your favorite indulgence on Thanksgiving?  I recommend having a small portion the day before.  We tend to overeat during holiday meals because we feel like we only get to eat the foods once a year so we should go all in.  If you love pumpkin pie, have a small slice on Wednesday.  It will still be special on Thanksgiving but you won’t feel like need to eat enough pie to last you all year.

The day of

  • Move and meditate – holidays are busy, especially if you are cooking.  Wake up with enough time to start your day with movement and meditation. Take a long walk with your dog early in the morning before the rest of the world is awake, hit your mat for a yoga session, or go for a run.  Just move.  And then spend a few minutes in quiet meditation.  Run through your visualization exercise again and then surrender your plan.  Close your meditation with this manta: I have all the time in the world today.  I am healthy.  I am happy.  I am at peace.
  • HAVE BREAKFAST – this one deserves all caps because it is so important.  Don’t skip breakfast to save room or calories.  Don’t do it.  This is just setting yourself up to binge eat later in the day.  A green smoothie with healthy fats and protein is the perfect holiday breakfast.  It is quick, doesn’t dirty a lot of dishes, and floods your system with nutrients.  Here’s a simple green smoothie:
    • 1 cup coconut water (or filtered water)
    • 1 giant handful of organic spinach or kale
    • 1/2 avocado
    • 1/2 cup frozen berries
    • 2 tablespoons chia or hemp seeds
    • Cinnamon
    • Probiotics powder (optional but recommended)
  • Eat what you love – Most people make enough to feed an army for Thanksgiving.  Just because there are three kinds of stuffing and several types of potatoes doesn’t mean that you need to eat some of everything.  What do you really love and what is just so-so?  Fill up half of your plate with veggies (as many greens as you can) and the rest with your favorite foods.  Leave the rest.  You don’t need to feel guilty about only eating what you love.  Once you sit down silently recite “I love my food; my food loves me.
  • Chew, chew, chew – You’ve selected your favorite foods so why not enjoy them?  Take small bites and chew each bite until liquid (about 20-30 chews per bite).  If you feel self-conscious about all the chewing around your family, just do the best that you can and chew slowly.  Breathe between bites.  Look up from your plate and talk with your friends and family.  Stop when you feel satisfied regardless of what’s left on your plate.

The day after

  •  Lemon water – start your day with hot water and lemon.  Lemon water helps to eliminate toxins, aids digestion, and gets things moving.  It is also alkalizing and balances the pH of your body.
  • Twist it up – gentle twists will help your digestive system.  This routine from Tara Stiles is my favorite.

  • Go green – have a giant serving of greens with your breakfast.  I’m loving greens with balsamic lately.
    • 1/2 bunch of organic chard
    • 1/2 bunch of organic kale
    • 1/4 cup of raisins (if raisins aren’t your thing use a chopped organic apple)
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Go back to normal – the holiday came and went.  Let it go.  It doesn’t matter if you followed any of these tips or ate until you were stuffed.  Let. It. Go.  Don’t carry guilt or stress with you for the rest of the holiday season.  Let yourself off the hook and resume your normal fitness, self-care, and eating habits.  One meal is not going to make or break your well-being.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love, ease, and delicious foods.


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Spirited Eats: Butternut Squash Soup

The leaves are gone, the first flakes have fallen, the clocks have turned back, and there are two things that I am interested in: squash and soup.  This time of year I become squash obsessed and am convinced that I will wake up one morning to bright orange skin.  But it will be so worth it.

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Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped (seeds discarded)
3 large carrots, scrubbed and chopped
2 sweet potatoes (I used baked sweet potatoes but you could peel and chop them)
1 medium sweet onion, rough chop
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and rough chop
3-4 cups broth (I prefer chicken bone broth), depending on how thick you like your soup
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (more to less to taste)
4 sage leaves
Olive oil

-Heat olive oil in a large stockpot
-Sauté onions and garlic until translucent (5 minutes)
-Add all remaining ingredients and bring to boil
-Lower heat and simmer until vegetables are tender (30 minutes)
-Puree soup with an immersion blender (a regular blender will also work)
-Optional: top with roasted veggies and cinnamon

What is your favorite cold weather soup?


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Yoga poses for sleep

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It’s no secret that sleep is a recurring theme in my world.  I’m a troubled sleeper (to say the least) and have found a few tips and tricks over the years to help me get quality rest.  One of the best tools has been bedtime yoga.  I love yoga anytime of the day or night but there are a few key postures that quickly ease me into restful sleep.  And the best part – you can do this yoga in your pajamas right in bed!  Casper, the makers of the outrageously comfortable memory foam mattress, asked me for my favorite poses that can be done in bed.

These poses, in particular, are sleep superstars.  They ease tension in the body and mind, release your lower back and hips, and encourage deep breathing.  This sequences includes inversions, gentle twists, hip openers, and restorative poses.

Seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana)

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Sit in bed with your legs extended and toes pointed toward the ceiling.  Inhale and lift your arms toward the sky and exhale while bending forward from your hips.  Imagine your torso moving to rest on your thighs.  If possible, hold your feet.  You can use a strap to assist in the pose or bend your knees.  On the inhales lengthen from your torso and on the exhales stretch a bit deeper, being sure that you don’t round your spine.  Hold for one minute.

Seated spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

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Sit in bed with your legs extended.  Bend your left leg and cross it over your right leg with your left foot on the mattress.  Gently twist your torso to the left and place your left arm behind your seat and your right elbow against your left knee.  On the inhales lengthen your spine long and on the exhales twist deeper.  Hold for one minute and reverse sides.

Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani)

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Sit facing the wall or your headboard.  Lie down with your knees bent and feet on the mattress.  Lift your legs straight up toward the ceiling and position your back so your legs are straight up and resting against the wall.  Place your arms at your sides with your palms facing up.  You can stay in the position, breathing deeply, for several minutes.  Optional: place a bolster, pillow, or folded blanket/towel under your seat for support.

Double pigeon (Agnistambhasana)

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Sitting in easy pose, place your right leg on top of your left so that your right ankle is over your left knee and your shins are parallel to the wall in front of you.  Inhale and length your spine tall and exhale, bending from your hips just to the point of gentle stretching.  You can rest your hands on your knees or place them on the floor.  On each inhale lengthen your spine and stretch deeper on the exhales.  Remain in the pose for one minute and switch sides.

Child’s pose (Balasana)

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Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees.  Bring your big toes together and your knees wide apart.  Sit back on your heels, place several pillows (or a yoga bolster) in front of you (optional) and extend your upper body forward so you are resting on the mattress or pillows.  Rest your arms wherever the feel comfortable and breathe deeply.  Enjoy this restful position for several minutes.

Corpse pose (Savasana)

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Lie back (making sure you move any pillows out of your way so your head is on the mattress), allow your feet to fall to either side and stretch your arms out to your sides with your palms facing up.  Optional – use an acupressure mat under your back, listen to a guided meditation or calm music, place a blanket over you, and wear an eye mask.  Stay in this position for as long as it takes!

What are your favorite bedtime yoga poses?


 

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It’s time to eat for pleasure

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{Image Credit: Thyme is Honey}

Picture this: you are all alone and surrounded by your favorite foods.  Piles and piles of the foods you love the most.  The foods that call your name.  The foods that you dream about.

Do you feel calm or are you breaking out into a cold sweat?

Cold sweat?  Yeah, I thought so.  (And I’m right there with you.)

That’s because we are eating with guilt instead of eating for pleasure.  And I am OVER IT.

Eating with guilt is standing in your pantry and shoving the last piece of chocolate in your mouth, barely chewing, and swallowing as quickly as you can so you can hide the evidence…from yourself.  Eating with guilt is ending a meal by saying “I shouldn’t have eaten that.”  Eating with guilt is passing on dinner out with your friends because you won’t be able to resist the bucket of fries.

Eating with guilt is when you feel like food is running your life.  Because it is.  You obsess over the ingredients in everything you eat.  You fear eating at someone else’s house.  You feel sick after most meals.  You frequently overeat.  Or undereat.  You “save up” your calories because you know you’re going to have a big dinner.  You celebrate being “good” and beat yourself up when you’ve been “bad”.  You search for “guilt-free” recipes.  You have one or more low-fat or fat-free item in your kitchen.

Eating with guilty is nothing to feel guilty about.  Most of us do it.  In a calorie-obsessed thinner is better world it is really hard to banish the guilt.  Hard but not impossible.  Hard but critical.

Eating with pleasure isn’t about the sugar high you get from a piece of chocolate cake.  Eating for pleasure is when you use high vibe ingredients and looking at your plate just makes you smile.  It looks like this:

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Pleasurable eating is slow, deliberate, and calm.  You savor the bites and thoroughly chew your food.  You actually taste your food.  You breathe.  And look up from your plate to engage in conversation.  Eating for pleasure is loving your food so that it can love you back.  You eat until you are satisfied and then you stop.  You digest well.  You feel energized and strong after meals.  Food is awesome and you love it but it doesn’t rule your life.  Or scare you.  You can be surrounded by all of your favorite foods and not hyperventilate.  When you infuse pleasure into your eating habits you let go of calories and don’t fear fat.

It’s time to dial up the pleasure and dial down the guilt! {Tweet me!}

While I’m still a newbie at eating for pleasure I do know that it is about two things: surrender and self-love.  Eating for pleasure isn’t about the taste of your food (although it should taste delicious!) but about how you FEEL before, during, and after the food.

Know thyself

When we think food about as pleasure our minds can quickly go to the ooey, gooey, indulgences like macaroni and cheese and red velvet cake.  It’s critical that you know your body and your digestive system.  I might feel great while eating the cheesiest mac and cheese (because it tastes amazing) I know that 5 minutes after the meal I will be doubled over in pain because I can’t digest the mac or the cheese.  Does that sound pleasurable to you?  Eating for pleasure is about eating the foods that make you feel vibrant and happy.  It’s important that you honor your body and eat the things that it loves and stay away from the things that it can’t handle.

Bless your food

Woo-woo alert.  I want you to BLESS YOUR FOOD.  Taking a few seconds to silently bless your food automatically grounds you.  You feel calmer and more connected with you food.  My go-to blessing is “I love my food; my food loves me.”

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Prepare your own food

View preparing your food as a meditative experience.  Listen to music or talk with your partner and take the time to prepare delicious meals.  You’ll feel better about what you’re eating and be more invested in the meal.  You’ll also have control over what you are and are not eating.  In order to eat for pleasure you need to remove guilt and worry.  As a beginner, it’s so much easier to do that in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Don’t be afraid of food

Fear is the opposite of pleasure.  And fear has no place on your plate.  My coach once told me that if the choice was between stressing out over kale and chia or eating the junk without worry she rather I eat the junk.  Aside from food allergies or sensitivities, stress makes you sick.  If, while eating cookies, you are telling yourself that you shouldn’t be, that the cookies are going to make you sick or worse yet – fat – you are bound to feel both sick and bloated before you finish the final cookie.  Our thoughts create our reality.  If you fear food it will take you down.  So, if you are afraid of something, don’t eat it.  Seriously.  Don’t eat it until you’re no longer afraid of it because if you do the cycle of fear just gets stronger.

Redefine treat

View all of your meals and snacks as treats.  You are treating your body to a healthy and delicious meal.  Be sure to include your favorite flavors in your diet every single day.  If you simply love chocolate, don’t let that chocolate bar that you picked up last week hang out alone in the back of the pantry.  Make a point to enjoy a few squares each day and really savor the experience.  Eating for pleasure isn’t about saving the special items for the right time because it is always the right time!  I love coconut and cinnamon – they make me feel great, taste amazing, and are comforting to me.  So I make a point to add one or both to everything that I eat and the food then becomes special.

Eat mindfully

Pleasure isn’t found in scarfing down a huge plate of food, barely chewing, overeating, and still feeling unsatisfied because you didn’t taste or acknowledge your food.  Pleasure is found in the ritual.  In sitting down and looking at your food.  Taking small bites and really chewing your food.  Tasting each bite.  Coming up for air and breathing in between bites.  Enjoying a conversation over the meal.  Allowing yourself the time to slow down.

Let go of your guilt and let’s support each other in eating for pleasure.  Share your experiences in the comments below!


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It’s never about what it’s about

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{Pinterest}

Today is my 33rd birthday and it feels quite magical.  Last year I shared 32 things that I knew to be true on my birthday and this year I learned a great lesson.

33. It’s never about what it’s about.  It’s always about you. {Tweet me!}

That’s a big one so I’ll repeat it: It’s never about what it’s about.  It’s always about you.  The thing that keeps us stuck is the obsessive focus on “it” – whatever “it” is for you in the moment.  It’s our nature to place the blame outward.  It’s the cookies fault (I’m mean, they’re just too good to stop).  It’s the driver that just cut you off.  It’s your boss that is so unreasonable.  It’s your bank account because it just won’t grow.  It’s your partner’s fault for pushing your buttons.  It’s mother nature’s fault for not paying attention to that fact that you left your umbrella at home.

So, what do I mean when I say that it’s never about what it’s about?  Let’s start with what I don’t mean.  I don’t mean that you are to blame for all of your troubles and that you should turn your frustration inward.  Our ego is really good at its job – keeping us stuck and fearful.  And one of its greatest defenses is confusing us.  Making us think that we know what’s going on and keeping us in the dark in our own lives.  It’s really easy to think that your troubles have nothing to do with you and are totally out of your control.  It’s not about you so you can’t be held accountable for making it better.

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{Kris Carr on Pinterest}

Most of my life has been spent obsessing about “it” while feeling utterly victimized by it.  I surrendered control by looking outside of myself for the problem or the solution and couldn’t move forward as a result.  I wasn’t happy or healthy but that had nothing to do with me.  It was my genetics, my job, my bank account, my surroundings.  It was everything else but me.  Give me a magical health pill, lots of money, my dream job, and the ideal setting and I will rock this life.  I’ll be the happiest girl in the world.  Until I’m alone with my own body and my own mind and realize that, even though everything has changed, nothing has changed.  I’m still exactly the same Stephanie as before.

It’s about me.  My life is about me.  My place in this world is about me.  My struggles and triumphs are about me.  It’s not about “it” at all.  “It” is just a distraction.

Your purpose is about discovering and nurturing who you truly are, to know and love yourself at the deepest level and to guide yourself back home when you lose your way. -Kris Carr

This year has been all about learning this lesson over and over again.  It’s been about going deep – shining light into all of the dark corners of my life – and healing.  It’s been about taking responsibility for my own life.  And owning my voice and my light.  This year I finally got it.  The key to health and happiness is inside of me.  It’s not about the things outside of me.  The things outside of me are my lessons and opportunities for growth.  Now, in the midst of a stressful day or irrational freakout, when my instincts are to place blame I instead ask myself what I can learn from this person, this experience, this moment.  I can’t control the world around me but I can control how I react to it, approach it, and contribute to making it a brighter place.

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{Doreen Virtue Angel Numbers 101 App}

This past year has been a pivotal year.  I’ve clarified my dreams and cultivated my confidence.  What I know to be true on my 33rd birthday is that “it” is really about me.  My opportunity to grow and learn and show up bigger and brighter in the world.  The more I live my purpose the more I will light up the world through inspiration and service.  This next year is going to be a year of action.  I feel it in my bones that things are about to change.  I’m excited to see where life takes me and what lessons I learn this year.


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