Back to reality, huh? Just like many of you, I decided to take some time “off” (of writing) during the holidays. I had such an amazing two weeks. Saw so many family and friends, gave and received some great presents (like my new iPhone I’m writing from), went on a perfect getaway with Mike up north where we ended the trip ziplining through the trees of the white mountains and just got relaxed and rejuvenated for 2015.
Every year, people always wish me a happy and healthy new year. I say it too. But until this year, I don’t think I truly felt the importance of this wish. This saying is so often used but so rarely embraced by the one saying it. We simply say the phrase and wish it upon those around us but don’t make it a priority to ensure that we, ourselves, are “happy and healthy.” After a year full of doctors appointments, hospital stays, chemotherapy and radiation, I’ve learned what a true blessing it is to have good health. A blessing that should not be taken for granted. But while I’ve been burdened with many health issues this past year, I’ve also been reminded of the importance of “making the right choices.” These are the things in life that we have control over, like eating healthy, working out regularly, staying hydrated each day, and exploring alternative medicines like acupuncture and massage therapy. All the little decisions add up so make each day count. Take every opportunity to better your body and therefore better yourself. Things like drinking natural teas that have added benefits such as lowering cholesterol or providing your body with antioxidants. Getting that massage you’ve been thinking of— it’s not just pampering yourself, it’s helping to lower stress and better circulate your blood. Avoiding food and products that have chemicals and toxins. Exercising multiple times a week. This doesn’t have to mean wasting away on the elliptical (unless that’s your thing!), it can be so many different things like going for a long walk, doing yoga, taking a zumba class, lifting weights, or climbing the stairs in your house a few times. Whatever it is you can find time for in your day, do it! It makes a huge difference. Just recently, I was cleared to begin going to my gym again. I was amazed at how much strength and endurance I had lost since the last time I had worked out there but I also know that the body is a powerful tool and one that, with training and dedication, can do pretty amazing things. So although we do not have control over some of the big things life can hand us, like accidents, diseases, or in my case, cancer, we do have control over the little things that can add up to a lot. Being healthy is a combination of good choices, so try to make the right ones.
Now comes the second part of this wish. Happiness. Even more than the gift of health, I’ve learned the blessing that it is to feel true happiness. I’m lucky in the sense that I’ve always been a genuinely happy person; little things get me excited like winning $5 on a scratch ticket or having a 1D song come on the radio (yes, One Direction. I may be 25 but I will always get obsessive over boy bands.) So when there were days upon days that I honestly had to try hard to crack a smile, it felt off… it felt, not normal. Feeling happy doesn’t come naturally to everyone and it certainly comes and goes depending on the time and difficulty of your life at that moment. But what I have realized is that, above anything else, the power of your mind is a force that’s hard to be reckoned with— that staying positive and keeping an optimistic outlook will make all the difference, even at the worst of times. As I said, there were many days that it was extremely difficult to stay positive and felt nearly impossible to feel a sense of happiness. However, I was always able to close my eyes and remind myself that I am a strong woman, one that has been given many gifts in life and one that has an incredible support system. These things, no matter how terrible my day was, gave me a glimmer of happiness. Remind yourself of these things when you are feeling down— say out loud what you feel blessed to be or have in this life; it’ll make you feel better, even if just for a little bit. Happiness is something that is often taken for granted, I surely took it for granted before this past year. But what I’ve learned and hope to pass on to the people who read this, is to really enjoy the “ups” in life so you can show yourself compassion during the “downs.” Smile when a snowflake falls on your nose, sing out loud when your favorite song comes on, be grateful when you’re laughing with friends, close your eyes and really feel the sun beating on your face, and dance HARD whenever you damn well please.
C-r-e-a-t-e happy. C-h-o-o-s-e healthy.