A to Z ideas for the new year

I have so many ideas for fun, travel and making my dreams come true in 2018! You may have read that I’m not setting big goals this year, but focusing more on ensuring my days and experiences are full of three emotions – Love, Laughter, Joy (check out the blog). That doesn’t mean I don’t have some specific goals, like increasing my bike mileage goals (I can’t wait to sign up for some fun rides later in the year!), going on a few great trips, meeting new people and, simply enjoying every day I’m fortunate to be alive!

Here are a few ideas I had for enjoying the new year….and since I like to write, I thought in terms of letters. 🙂

Apples and other fruit are tasty. We know the saying, “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” Eating healthy has its perks. Apples, for example, are high in antioxidants and fiber (need help with your digestive track?). Including some fruit in your daily diet is important. And who doesn’t love fresh fruit? Kiwi, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, bananas…yum!

So grateful for bike rides!

Biking is fun! I love my bikes, especially by Specialized Ruby road bike. It’s freedom and fun, and my renewed love of the activity has brought me much delight, personal growth and improved physical health. Whether you bike a few miles around the neighbor, take on the mountain bike trails or pedal across your state, riding a bike is great for your mental, emotional and physical well-being.

Call family and friends. Believe it or not, our smartphones also can be used to….make phone calls! I love talking to my friends and family on the phone….hearing a voice and having an actual verbal conversation can be comforting, full of laughs, helpful and simply necessary for your relationship to feel connected to others.

Dream. We all have moments when our imagination flies, letting us escape the confines of society’s outlines and our own minds’ roadblocks. I think daydreaming is awesome as it often allows us to think outside of these walls to fully imagine what and we want in our life. Sure, maybe not every dream comes true, but you can use some of these dreams as foundations for what you want your life to look like, and then make it into reality!

Express gratitude. I try to make it a habit of expressing gratitude every morning that I wake and every night before I sleep. There is always something to be grateful for, even if it’s waking up and taking a breath, and making it through another day. And as a cancer survivor, I truly appreciate being alive, including the ups and downs of life. Because it’s all life. And I’m thankful to be here to experience it.

Financial savvy. Stash cash for emergencies, the future, dreams and more. Lots of articles state that Americans are horrible at saving and have very little in their bank accounts. Saving is important! My latest blog shared tips for saving money while having fun.

Garden. There is something satisfying about planting vegetables, flowers, trees and other greenery in the dirt, and watching it grow. Even if you don’t have space for a garden bed, you can grow flowers, herbs and vegetables in pots. I love plucking cherry tomatoes and green peppers from plants growing in the sun on my deck during the summer. And I don’t have a green thumb, yet I feel satisfied and proud to grow my own vegetables and flowers.

I love hiking in nature!

Hike. Being outdoors is one way I rejuvenate my soul and energy. I love nature – hearing the rustle of leaves, seeing trees and flowers blooming, watching animals play and work in their homes. Hiking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while exploring on your own legs, whether enjoying the time with friends or alone. Being in the midst of nature helps me decompress, clear my mind, breathe in fresh air and reconnect with simpler things in life. It doesn’t have to be a hike in the mountains of Alaska; a local nature center or park is a perfect setting.

Ignore the negativity. It’s often too easy to get sucked into another person’s drama or negative thoughts. And sometimes we’re the cranky one. Yes, we’re all allowed blah moments, but don’t let yourself wallow too long. Choosing to spread kindness and optimism helps your own happiness and state of mind.

Join others. Finding like-minded people can help bring happiness. What’s your interest? There are lots of ways to meet new people who enjoy what you do. Online resources can lead you to book clubs, biking groups, wine tastings, game groups, outdoor clubs and more.

Kindness matters. The phrase “treat others like you want to be treated” is important to remember. You never know what someone is going through, what happens inside four walls that you don’t live in. All the more reason to have patience and understanding. Being kind is really simple – a smile, compliment, gesture can make a huge difference to someone you know or a stranger.

Laugh and love. Do I need to write anything else with these words? I smile at the thought of what makes me laugh and who fills me with love. We all need laughter and love in our lives. Be willing to both give and receive these amazing feelings.

Are you due for a check up?

Make an appointment with your doctor. Staying updated on preventive screenings, vaccines and needed tests is critical to your health. Schedule an annual wellness exam with your primary care doctor, and any follow up appointments with specialists. Being proactive with your health can prevent or minimize serious conditions in the future.

No can be a good word. We like to be helpful and be there for others. But sometimes this leads to spreading ourselves too thin, causing unnecessary stress and even health issues (ever feel chest tightness, anxiety or stomach cramps at the thought of taking on one more task?). Setting boundaries is a positive opportunity to take care of you, recognize your own value and self-love, and have energy for something in the future.

Open your mind. The beauty of the world is that no two people are alike, meaning we think, act and feel differently. However, too often we fall into the ruts of society’s views and expectations. Take a step back to really open your eyes to the beautiful, and not so beautiful, differences of people, cultures, locations and more. Learn about the differences. Form an opinion outside of the expectations. Opening your mind to the world around you can be very fulfilling and life-changing.

Play a game. Good ‘ol fashion play time is good for the brain and body. Grab a board game, puzzle, crossword book, and cards. Let your brain have fun, whether by yourself or plan a game night with friends.

Quiet time is awesome. I believe every person should take at least 10 minutes of ‘me’ time in every day. Checking in with ourselves in a quiet, thoughtful way helps you stay attuned to your body, mind and emotional settings.

Read a book, newspaper, magazine, whatever. Reading is one of my favorite past times, no matter what it is. I always have a book on hand, as even reading for five minutes after a busy day at work can reduce my stress and calm my mind. I think it’s important for people to take time, even a few minutes, to read some sort of news. What topics do you enjoy? Do you know what’s happening in your community? The nation? World?

Sing a song. Loud and often. In your kitchen, shower, car, living room, the store, at work, wherever, whenever. You don’t have to be great. Singing can relieve stress and make you happy!

Ireland is gorgeous!

Travel to some place. While I recommend and encourage you travel outside of your community, it’s also fun to explore local places. You never know what gems are off the main road or what people and cultures you’ll encounter along the way.

Use the new year as an opportunity to finally make plans and dreams come true! Want to start a business? Find love? Get out of a not so happy relationship? Learn a new activity? Join a club? Whatever your goals and dreams, let this new year opportunity motivate you to get started on making everything happen!

Volunteer. Everyone has something to give to help others, whether helping at a one time event or volunteering regularly with an organization. There are thousands of great nonprofits that need help from people like you. Not sure where to start? Think about what you’re interested in or passionate about and search for an organization that focuses on that. For example, I’m passionate about supporting people facing cancer so I like to volunteer for cancer-related nonprofits.

Wander. Sometimes we just don’t need a plan for life. Yes, this statement can cause anxiety when you’re a planner! But take it from a planner who has learned much in the past two years about throwing plans to the wind and seeing where life takes you….sometimes it’s an awesome, unexpected journey. You may meet new people, learn new things, try new activities, discover new parts of yourself. When I’m traveling, I often start walking (my friends and I call it a walkabout) with no destination in mind, or no clear path a specific destination. You never know what you’ll come across, what experience you’ll have and new, unexpected memories created.

Xylophone is a fun instrument from my childhood. While I don’t claim to have actually played it well, it meshed with my love of music.

Youth can teach you a lot. Hanging out with young people benefits everyone. While I like to serve as a mentor to younger people, I often get much more from spending time with them. Young people remind me of the possibilities existing in the world and future, and also that life sometimes shouldn’t be taken so seriously.

Zestful. Okay this is a tough letter to start a word. But I like this word. It sounds fun! It also is defined as hearty enjoyment, which is a goal for my life.



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