Every year I focus on a few core things towards the end of the year to set myself up for a great year ahead. One of those things is my Year End Recap which is a list of questions I created for myself to reflect on the year, celebrate my achievements, take note of where I fell short of my goals and set intentions for the coming year. My original one was around 100 questions but I found that it ended up taking me days or weeks to complete, so I've chosen the 35 most important questions and condensed it to share with you so you can have a tool that will help you reflect on the previous year and plan well for the year ahead!
The second thing I've done for over 10 years is create a Vision Board. I've found visualizing your goals and dreams makes you want to take action to achieve them! I can also tell you the years that I haven't placed my board in a location that I see every day or like in 2022 where I was in such a low place, I didn't even bother to update it... those are the years that I struggled and not many things came true, however in 2019 every single thing I placed on my Vision Board (that hung in my home office where I worked a little every day, after working at the shop), down to the dollar amount I planned to save as the down payment for our new home, happened. In 2021, the same thing and that lead to opening a location in Nashville which the year prior didn't even feel like a possibility!
Now 2022 was a challenging year, if fact I've said, "it was the worst year of my life" more than once. Covid was threatening my husband's job and he was driving 5.5 hours each round trip to work every day. Our house build was just short of disastrous due to the pandemic and lasted 18 months instead of the 8 they promised. Three days after we closed on said house, my completely paid off SUV's engine imploded and left me without a vehicle for 5 weeks while we tried to salvage it (we couldn't). Eight weeks into living in our brand new home, the builder forgot to turn the septic on and it exploded in all the bathrooms causing 70% of our flooring to be ripped up so for 286 days we walked on the concrete foundation with scorpions coming in regularly all over the house and this was only February! I was already struggling with our multigenerational living situation which was a daily hurdle for me. In April, my long time valued employee walked out in the middle of her shift. In June, my beloved soulmate Maverick died in my arms and from then on, the specifics are a little muddled for me but over the next 6 months, Simon lost his job, my back went out 3 times, the last time was in September which lasted 3 weeks and caused more than 70 clients reschedules by November, I honestly didn't know how I was going to find the strength to go on but we managed to get the shop in Nashville open and that little sliver of hope, carried me through to the new year. I had already decided that I needed to make some changes if I wanted a different outcome in 2023 but it isn't a Lifetime movie where there's a clear turn of events and everyone lives happily ever after... My growth and healing started with one thing at a time, over about 6 months. I started with my 5 Minute Journal in December because I was still reeling from the last year and not handling Maverick's death very well at all. In fact the only 3 things I seemed to be good at was work, meal prepping and my marriage and I thought if I could shift my perspective from wallowing in the year I'd had to being grateful for all the things that were going right, I might have a shot!
That February my Mom, while visiting her family in AZ fell and broke her hip. You may remember that two years prior, while visiting this same family, she fell and broke her wrist, forearm and elbow completely off, plus fractured her neck which resulted in 3 surgeries and two years of rehab. So when Simon and I got the call around midnight from the lower bowl of the Moody center at a concert, telling us she was being rushed by ambulance to the hospital again my heart sank and my stress went through the roof! To make matters worse, the sister & brother-in-law she was staying with when it happened said she was no longer welcome there via a text at 2am, explicitly telling me "this was my problem and we would have to make arrangements to get her home and prepare to care for her long term and that she couldn't come back to AZ". Because I struggle with the relationship and the living situation already, her going to AZ for these visits gave Simon and I a little break and alone time and now, not only was she coming back earlier than planned but I would have reschedule 40 client appointments to allow me to get there to help her through her surgery, find a place for her to go since she wasn't welcome with her family and figure out how in the heck we we're getting her safely back to TX. Eight weeks later in March, when she was cleared to fly home, the night before Simon flew out to bring her back, I thought I was having a heart attack. It ended up being a massive panic attack. By May things really came to a head. I was so broken by that time that I actually was considering closing my business because that seemed to be the only thing I could run away from. Can you imagine wanting to end something you've worked your whole life for? Work and my relationship with my husband are what brings me the most joys since my little boy was gone. I even went to a workshop where the topic was reinvention so I could figure out how to sell my business and essentially hide from life.
Simon had been encouraging me to speak to a therapist since Maverick's passing but I didn't think it would help, didn't feel like they would understand our bond and if I'm honest, wanted to honor him by sitting in my sadness but once I had such a scary reaction to my Mom returning and felt how nervous I was about providing the care she would now require, I did three things. I made an appointment with a therapist, started taking Ashwaghanda to help my stress and booked a 4 day trip to Civana Wellness Resort to give me the space and alone time I needed to get my feet under me again. I'd been doing my gratitude journal for 5 months at this point and it was helping more than you would imagine. Once I opened myself up to the possibilities provided at Civana with the wellness classes, the activities, the journaling for transformation, the quiet of the desert, and the alone time, I came back feeling balanced and invigorated for change. I already don't drink caffeine and haven't for 20 years but I do use drink packets to flavor my water so I swapped all the artificial flavor packets for LMNT and WOW, what a difference that made! It helped support my weight-loss journey and in 2023 by using intermittent fasting, cutting my portions, meal prepping and drinking almost completely water, I was able to get 50 pounds off (with 30 more to go)! While on the topic of drinking, Simon and I aren't big drinkers for example if we meet friends for dinner or on the weekend, he may have a couple beers a month and I'll have one or two cocktails but once I learned from my hormone doctor that the moment alcohol hits your system your metabolism slows or in some cases stops, I haven't had a drop of alcohol since June!
I continued with my therapy and read two pivotal books that were recommended to me, The Body Keeps The Score which is a heavy but impactful read and The Source which explains the neuroscience of our minds, body and spirituality in terms I could digest. It also has some wonderful tips and meditation practices that I now do a couple times a week. I re-read Living Fully by Mallory Ervin as she empowers us to live a life that is more than just fine. In fact, she says over and over that 'fine' is the new rock bottom. Next I started scheduling 'ME' days again like I did in 2021 where I would book a massage, a facial and a pedicure every 6 weeks and most importantly, I spent that day completely alone. Between my time at Civana and therapy, I learned the power of breath-work. When I feel stressed, I put my left hand on my chest with a little pressure and I breath in through my nose for a count of 4 and out through my mouth for a count of 4, unless it's a particularly tough moment, then I breath out for a count of 8. While I'm breathing I think of one thing I'm grateful for which ALWAYS helps shift my mindset. I also started incorporating a practice that my therapist recommended, which seems like such an easy thing but it my house, it is very difficult, which is, if I've had a stressful day or a terrible commute home, I come in and instead of facing my Mom's negativity head on, I go to my bedroom and sit with myself for 30 minutes. I realize this might not be possible if you have small kids but I don't so I grab the girls, sit on the bed in a comfortable position, sometimes putting a youtube video on or scrolling tik tok or sometimes lighting a candle and enjoying the silence with the girls. I now realize the importance of making some space for myself before I face others. Simon is so good about supporting this, my Mom unfortunately sees it as a personal attack BUT the benefits far outweigh the cons and I only do it about once a month, next year I hope to do it at least once a week.
As I sit here writing this I glance up at my 2023 Vision Board and see that most of the travel plans we had didn't happen because of the time I spent caring for my Mom and her care requiring her not to be alone but instead of crying over our Companion Pass being wasted, I'm dialing in where we can reasonably go next year after we get her through the cancer and those are the places I'm going to put on my 2024 Vision Board. Another quote that landed on my current board a few months ago and will carry through to next year for sure is "I love you AND your behavior is not ok." If you have a toxic person in your life that you can't get space from but still need to set some boundaries, this is a powerful statement. I also notice that my marriage and the words "I am happy." are at the center of my board and while some things didn't happen this year, the two things that I centered my whole board around are true and still the focus on my journey.
My word for this year is GROWTH. I'm not done yet but I am really proud of the steps I've taken to get to a calmer, less stressful place of gratitude and to be happy now, not later. These last two months haven't been easy navigating my Mom's cancer diagnosis and how Simon and I are going to get her to all of her appointments while providing a home for her but I can tell you when this happened a year ago with her hip, I did not stay in my own canoe. I allowed her to pull me into her canoe, be enveloped in her negativity and become so overwhelmed with all that was expected of me. Now, I have compassion for what she is going through but from my own canoe. You have to remember that misery loves company. There's a reason we all know negative people that seem to gravitate towards other negative people but it's up to us to stay above the frey... don't get sucked in by that. If you feel a negative thought creep in, immediately think of something you are grateful for - it is as simple as that and if that's all you can muster for the spot you're in at the moment, remember it's a start! My journey started with 5 minutes a day writing in my gratitude journal and now I believe I'm on a path to living the fullest life and nothing can stop me!
I hope you found some inspiring books to read, some tips that you can incorporate into your everyday and maybe a little motivation to change your course for the coming year. It's about the journey, not the destination and with every small change you make, there's a pretty wonderful bigger picture being created! At the very least, if my me sharing the challenges of my year, you feel like you're not alone in your lackluster year, than this very vulnerable post was worth it!
Keep your head up because remember, tomorrow will always be better if we make it so!
xoxo - Kara