Monday, 3 February 2014


2013 was a bit of stressful year.

Okay, it was the most stressful year of my adult life. There, I said it. From trouble in paradise to the serious illness of loved ones, to the death of multiple family members within weeks of one another...and to work stress, which quickly led to financial stress. In the end, I'm screaming into pillows while I experience yet another mini life crisis, just the way Torontonians seem to freak out every year when it snows for the first time. I really just have to calm the heck down. It's just snow, not acid.

But, there comes a time when we realize just how dramatic we've been (and, indeed, how lucky we are). It is then that we must collect ourselves and (re)learn to appreciate everything that we have. To be grateful for all that those troubles in paradise have taught us, to be humbled by the fortitude of those dear to us, and to be grateful for everyday we have to live and breathe (as hokey pokey as that might sound).

As we enter the new month of February (I like to ease into my past reflections and new year's resolutions...), here are the top three lessons from 2013 that I have learned and relearned about gratitude, the relationship between self-care and caring for others, and living in the now.

Appreciate the simpler things, like time spent with loved ones (and your cat).
Whether or not you live in a city, so many of us are part of this race. We're trying to get ahead and we're moving so fast, we've lost any and all sense of direction. We're ambitious, but we're greedy. We've lost any and all sense of gratitude. It's times like these when we need to stop and appreciate the simpler things. Take a breath, take a walk. Reconnect with old friends, get to know new friends. Find gratitude in the simpler things: a good meal shared with family, your ability to conquer that 5-mile race for which you've been training, or being able to sleep in on the weekends.

Take care of yourself and you'll take care of others.
We like to help others. So much so, in fact, that we often neglect ourselves. When we fail to take care of ourselves, however, we can only make so much of an impact in helping others. Whether it's your health, your career, or your personal relationships, it can be just as valuable to satisfy your own needs as it is to satisfy the needs of others. After all, what good are you to those around you if your health is suffering, your professional life is wavering, or your personal relationships are in shambles? Are you one who criticizes others before conquering your own challenges? Find the time to take care of yourself, and you might just find that you're also able to make a world of difference in the lives of others.

Let go of the past, worry less about the future.
It's not that we want to forget the past, but more of us need to learn to move on from the past. Dwelling on the past can be toxic. It serves no purpose in the present, except to be remembered. Living in the past includes holding grudges. It includes using past experiences as excuses for current actions or experiences. Discover ways in which you can live in and appreciate the present. Unplug from your smartphone (this one totally applies to me!) and immerse yourself in the present with activities such as exercise, spending quality time with family or friends, unguided walks in nature, or if you can dig it, meditation. Particularly for those of us who have experienced traumatic events, it can take a lot of courage and maturity to move forward from the past. But, that's not to say it can't be done.

What lessons did you take away from 2013 and in what ways are you looking to improve in the upcoming year?

image via some notes on napkins

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.

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