Looking back on 2013, there are so many lesson to be learned. This year was full of growth, adventure and getting comfortable with change - whether I liked it or not! Here are some of my biggest take-aways from 2013....
1) When creativity strikes, let it flow. Growing up, I was sooo not a creative person. I despised the obligatory art classes in school and grouped myself in the "definitely NOT an artist" box. But, somewhere along the way, out of the necessity of having to create all my own marketing materials for my yoga teaching business, creativity came pouring out. Sometimes, in the shower, a brilliant idea about an article would come to me. Lots of times, at 2 in the morning, I would wake up with words or images spinning in my head. For this reason, I always keep a journal on my nightstand. Whether you are in a creative field for work, or want to cultivate a more artistic side of yourself for personal reasons, whenever it strikes - don't stifle it. Often, it will come at inconvenient times, but even if its 7 pm and you should be making dinner but are being called to paint or re-decorate your bathroom - go for it! Creativity is like a snowball effect, the more you nurture it, the easier and more often it flows through you.
2) Daily wellness rituals: This year, I started to incorporate some wellness rituals into my life My favorite are: green juice/smoothies in the morning, a warm bubble bath on cold nights and occasional Thai massages. I love starting my mornings on a healthy note - it definitely shapes my entire day! Find little ways to pamper yourself throughout the day and save up for a big monthly health splurge. You deserve it.
3) Books can be your best friends. When I was little, I used to get lost in novels for hours, days at a time. I hadn't felt that way in over a decade, so I decided to get a library card and wander aimlessly down the aisles until something grabbed my attention. Pretty soon, a collection of books piled up on my nightstand and I was lost in storytelling once again. Reading so much this year has, without a doubt, made me a better writer. I have a re-inspired love for the written word and have learned so many lessons from these books. In the age of blogs, articles and 160 character twitter quips, don't be afraid to pick up a good-old fashioned book. There is so much to be learned when we sit and read and get lost in story for hours on end.
4) Be impeccable with your word. This ties right into that last bit about books. I learned this powerful affirmation from reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz at the beginning of the year and it stays in my heart almost every day. In the book, Ruiz talks about making a few very important agreements with yourself in order to create more love, peace and happiness in your life. This first agreement is pretty straightforward and to the point:
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.
5) Travel is so good for the soul. This year, I had the privilege of traveling to some beautiful places around the world. Some for work, some for play -- and all really, really amazing for my soul. In chronological order, here is where the path took me in 2013: Tulum, Mexico, New York City, Punta Mita, Mexico, London, UK, Dubrovnik, Croatia, Paris, France, Biarritz, France, Miami, Florida, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, Virginia Beach, Virginia, New York City, La Paz, Mexico.
Each of these experiences was sweetened by the wonderful people we met for the first time along the way, and by our awesome friends and family who met us along the way. In Miami, I reconnected with my childhood best friend Naomi who I hadn't seen since we were 12 years old and in Punta Mita, I met my Mexican twin soul sister Fatima - literally, it feels like we were separated at birth! While picnic-ing in the south of France with Arlene and her husband who flew from Poland to meet us, I was reminded once again how small the world really is and how important it is to explore it all. There are so many lessons to be learned on the open road and the best gift you can ever give yourself to to let yourself blow in the wind from time to time.
6) "Stress is caused by being here and wanting to be there." This quote by Eckhart Tolle is a constant reminder that while dreaming about travel and going to the next place is good, being present - right here, right now is truly the best. With a year full of global adventures and living out of suitcases, exploration was constantly on my mind. I tried to always be conscious enough to be grateful for my experiences without hoarding them or immediately planning the next one. Non-attachment, right?! :) It's a work in progress, but I keep reminding myself that being home and sitting still can be just as exciting as being on the open road.
7) Less is More. In order to travel as much as we did in 2013, we made a conscious commitment to live under our means while at home. Not only living within our means, but spending way less than we could have and saving way more than we technically needed to allowed those adventures to come into fruition. When it came time to get me a new car, we purchased a Toyota - not a Mercedes. By not buying every hot new tech gadget, purse or pair of shoes, there was money left over to play and create these wild trips to far off lands. Not only that, but our small beach house didn't fill up with unnecessary crap. "The things you own end up owning you" was pretty much our motto -- and we plan to keep this minimalist lifestyle going as long as possible!
8) Technology is cool, but nature is better. Whether we like it or not, gadgets have taken over our lives. Even as I sit here and write this on my laptop, my cell phone is nearby and buzzing with texts, my husband is watching a surf contest on the iPad and streaming it live through airplay to our TV. So much for our technology-free weekends! While we can't escape the gadgets, we can all try a little harder to unplug and disconnect more often. This year, I've tried especially hard to make sure I take long walks to the beach with my dog without my phone. It sounds so simple, but every time, like clockwork, about 20 minutes in, I see some really cool pelicans and I wish I had my phone to snap a photo. Or, I realize that there was an important call or email I could have followed up with while on my walk. But, I try to keep reminding myself that the down-time without technology is important. Not everything needs to be documented. We don't need to be plugged in, or even accessible 24/7. Some of my most creative ideas come to me on these long walks without distraction, just looking around at nature and admiring it's beauty. Inspiration is all around us. If we can unplug long enough, we can breathe in fresh, new air and view the world with newly focused, present eyes.