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2016... What a Year!

Here we are again, at the end of another trip around the sun. Time is a crazy thing. It feels as if we just started 2016 in some moments, then others seem like this year has gone on forever. We have lost many 'greats' and endured much, both good and bad. At times it almost feels as if our world is going backwards towards racism, bigotry, and hate and all the boundary pushers and rule breakers are leaving for the "afterlife" (insert your own beliefs here). Then, there have been little (sometimes big) flickers of hope, of sunlight, of love... the people so courageously and so selflessly standing up to all those things meant to breed hate and fear. The reality is, we should all be those people! We create our world, our reality. So we decide what we allow and don't allow. We decide what our world will be. I don't know about you, but I'm not okay going backwards. I only want to be moving forward, toward peace, toward love, toward oneness. But how do we do that? How do we continue to move forward when it seems the world around us is wanting to go backwards?

First off, we start with ourselves. We turn off the news, the reality shows, the mind numbing "entertainment" and spend some time in silence. We learn how to breathe again, those deep, long, nourishing breaths. We learn how to reflect. We discover that person inside us, the one that has always been, before the world told us otherwise, that inner self who is just dying to get out. We get to know ourselves! We learn about who we really are. We learn what we like or dislike, what beauty really is, what love means to us. We test ourselves. We learn our limits, our boundaries, our intentions- not what the world is telling us we should be, not the stuff advertisements tell us we need to be a better person, not the fears constantly fed through the news and social media, but what the limits, boundaries, and intentions are for us. We get to know who we are deep inside, on a cellular level. In this journey of the self, we discover that our path will look different from everyone else, AND THAT'S OKAY! We learn that there is strength in differences and power in being who we really are. We learn that fat doesn't mean lazy, and that self-acceptance and self-love doesn't mean self-stagnation, that different doesn't mean bad, and that love can jump fences and break through barriers we've set. We learn that the self-narrative we've had in our head for so long are words we would never say to a friend, so why do we say it to ourselves? We learn that what works for one individual doesn't work for another and that's okay! We learn that we will never stop learning and discovering who we really are and that it requires a daily commitment to stop the bombardment from the outside world (advertisement, opinions, fears...). But we also realize that we are powerful! We have so much strength, grit and determination inside. We emerge more whole, more full of love, and shining so bright. We emerge ready to share our true selves with others.

Somewhere along this inner journey, we realize that the desire for connection is great, deep and one that must be fed. We realize that those we once thought enemies are actually very similar to us, that they are humans who breathe and struggle just the same. We realize that fear is meant to divide and separate and even control. (I feel the need to define what I mean by fear- I'm not talking about that intuition, that gut controlling fear that keeps you safe. I'm talking about the fear of differences, of separation, of hate- the one that is planted in our head by insecurities then fed through stories and advertisements, the fear of "not being good enough" or "not fitting in" or "being different". Quite simply, the fear of not belonging). Fear breeds hate, plain and simple. The only way I know to peacefully combat hate is through love. If I've learned anything on my few decades here on earth, it's that we cannot truly love others until we learn to love ourselves. Loving ourselves requires getting to know who we are on that deep level. Once you find that love for yourself, it doesn't matter if you fall in-line. It doesn't matter if you're different. It only matters that you are true to yourself. Let 2017 be the year that you fall in-love with yourself.

As we move into the final hours of 2016, I invite you to reflect, to go inwards, to breathe. I invite you to find what is no longer serving you- be it old thought patterns, habits that no longer fit your life, or relationships that no longer meet your needs. What emotions are you holding on to that might be causing harm instead of healing? What beliefs do you cling to simply because someone told you to believe that way? What fears are you allowing to control you that once examined don't hold weight? What self destructive behaviors are you continuing because "everyone else does"? The end of a year is a great time to let go and release that which no longer fits you and your life. How? It's really simple- you just let it go. That easy! (I know, I want to make it harder too!). Sometimes a ceremony to release can be helpful, be it writing it down and burning it, or repeating "I release ______ (fill in the blank), over and over until you no longer feel it's weight. The hard part, I've found, is not letting it creep back in. That requires a new level of awareness and focus. If you've found an old thought pattern or habit has crept back in, just repeat the steps to release. Let that shit go!

Now is the time to decide what you want in 2017. It's time to check in and see what it you want to achieve, change, embrace, love in the next year. Then, establish habits, thoughts, intentions that lead you in that direction. It's a time to listen to that inner voice, to that inner wisdom that can guide you into health and happiness if you only listen. What is it that you want in 2017? Be honest and be clear! These are just for you, no one else, so be honest to the core! The only person you'll be cheating is yourself. (Just to note, these intentions you set for the year might change as we move through 2017. That is okay! As we grow as humans, our goals and desires change too.) For me, it's acknowledging the power within, the strength I have to not only grow as a human, but to share love for each and every being. I aspire to be a life changer, starting with myself. Mr. Roger's once said to "Look for the helpers"... but I've come to realize that we must each grow into our own helpers, so that we can become the helpers for others! For me, 2017 is continuing the journey to myself. I hope you will join me on this journey.

In this new year, I invite you to view the world with a positive outlook, to speak your heart, your truth, with confidence, and listen to others as well as your inner voice. May this year be the journey to your true self, growing deep in love with all the magical beauty that is you. May this year be the year that we put aside fear and doubt and trust intuition and inner strength. May this year be the year that our world grows deeper in love, not hate.

Thank you all for spending time with me over this last year! It has been an honor to share time, be it in person or simply via recipes shared, with each and everyone of you. I wish joy, happiness and peace for each and every one of you! With my hands at my heart, "I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of light, love, peace and joy. When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are one." Namaste.

So much love!

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