Checking in.

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I forgot to write last week. It was a busy week, for sure, but aren't they all? For the past 2 years, my husband and I have been saying "Well, it's a little crazy right now. It'll settle down, and we'll get back to normal." But, uh, I think this is our normal.

Anyway. I forgot.

3 months in, I thought it'd be a good time to check in on some of the goals, resolutions, and "challenges" I set for myself this year.

To get the easy ones out of the way:

1. I didn't drink any alcohol for the whole month of January. Writing that sentence makes it sound like I think I'm Mother Theresa or something. I'm not. Not drinking alcohol, for someone who isn't an alcoholic and doesn't have a giant social life, isn't that hard. But it was necessary. I drank a LOT over the holidays, and cutting it out for a month was part of my plan to reset my diet and prioritize my physical health over the momentary happiness that a glass of wine, a gin & tonic, or a few fingers of bourbon brings (but oh, those moments are happy ones, indeed). Aside from the near-constant reassurance to everyone around me that no, I am NOT PREGNANT, it wasn't that difficult to choose water or seltzer, and I felt noticeably better every weekend morning that I didn't wake up dehydrated and poorly rested. I've since reintroduced booze back into my life, but in much more moderation. I wasn't a heavy drinker by any means before (VERY LOW TOLERANCE for alcohol and all of its side-effects), but that month kind of killed my taste for it. I've enjoyed a glass of wine or two, and yes, that bourbon on Sunday night tasted like magic... and actually better because I really savored it, instead of just taking it for granted and slurping down a second. I like how I feel when I don't over-indulge. I'm grateful that it isn't a problem for me to have one drink here and stop. I'm going to keep up a more reasonable "2-4 drinks a week" rule and remind myself that I prefer feeling clear-headed and well rested more than I like the taste of wine.

2. I went on a spending freeze in February. Before you tell me to jump down off my high-horse, let me tell you that this wasn't a complete spending freeze. Girl's gotta live and eat, ya know? But my absent-minded online shopping, Homegoods-browsing, and Target-adventuring had gotten really, really out of hand. If I wanted something, I bought it. Brian and I enjoy a pretty flexible lifestyle, and while we have room for discretionary spending, I never felt good after what I'm calling "spending binges." During 40-Day, I discovered that my shopping habit was probably the results of feeling bored and unfulfilled, chasing the Instagram-style-blogger life that I don't a) have or b) even really want. But without something constructive, productive, and really captivating to focus my energy into, I poured it into materialism. And this isn't new: I've been doing this for most of my adult life. Since cutting out alcohol worked to reset that habit, I tackled spending next. I was allowed to buy things that were necessary, like groceries, dinners out with friends, items that I really need for work (ie. that new printer, since my old one decided to mutiny about halfway through Feburary, and a new yoga mat), etc. And we did take a trip to Ikea to buy some new bedroom furniture, but that purchase had been a long time coming -- and was already budgeted.

Speaking of budgets... allow me a quick sidebar: Brian and I use "You Need a Budget" or YNAB, and it has completely changed our lives. We used to float around in this unknown space where we always managed to have enough in our checking accounts to pay off our credit cards each month, but we never really knew what we could actually spend. So right before our wedding, at the advice of a very dear, wise, and helpful friend (hi, Kaitlin!), we implemented YNAB. It accounts for all of our money, regardless of which of the 9000 accounts it lives in, and every dollar goes toward some bucket of spending. It started out really general, but now I have individual line items for things like the Amazon Prime membership, our AMEX fee, HOA dues, etc., that get allotted a few dollars every month so that when the bill comes, I can just pay out from that bucket and start over. But even with the budget, we didn't really do much to change our actual spending -- we made more than we spent, generally speaking, so I could just move money around the budget each month if we went over on restaurants and groceries... and clothing... and miscellaneous household items... as we usually do. BUT IN FEBURARY, GUYS: WE HAD MONEY LEFT OVER IN ALMOST ALL OF OUR CATEGORIES. I can't stress how exciting it felt to end the month without needing to pull out of "Business Expenses" to refill the "Restaurants" line item. I felt like a goddamn super hero, and not even the prettiest couch pillows or candles or shiny new hair product can compete with that. 

Reflections? The pull of online shopping is always there, but simply avoiding Homegoods and minimizing my Target runs (and sticking to a list!) was easy. I was busy, too, which always helps. And so did my decision to start a new business venture... which brings me to my last and final check-in item...

3. I committed to DO THE WORK. "Do the work" was my specific year-long resolution. It was a commitment to buckling down, getting out of the "untethered" space I'd let myself hang out in, and really focus on building the life I wanted to live. It took some soul-searching, but not very much, to realize I wasn't feeling particularly fulfilled. There was this feeling that something big was missing, and, as mentioned, I was filling it with all kinds of uninspired things. A chat with another wise, soulful mentor-friend (hi, Sona!) encouraged me to evaluate my own ideas of Dharma (one of the 7 laws of yoga) to discover what really brings me joy. I also listened to a Heidi Rose podcast about Saturn's placement in my natal chart. For me, Saturn lives in Capricorn, which means that while I'm very focused on and capable of climbing every mountain, I get to the top, look around and say "Hmm... is this MY mountain?" Simply summiting isn't enough, (though damn, it feels good) and I'm forever searching for my true purpose. Saturn, it just so happens, has made it's 29.5 year rotation and returned to Capricorn, which brings some solid ground to finding that purpose. (And a tarot reading in December also hinted at a necessary, near-future discovery and alignment of my true values and passions.)

Armed with all of this wisdom from the Universe, I revisited what it is I really love to do. Teaching is the only thing that gives me this real sense of "flow," as in time bends and warps and ceases to exist, and I am fully present and dropped in to the moment when I'm leading a class. Going a level deeper, beyond just "teaching people what to do," what really lights me up is the ability to empower others through that teaching. I imbue all of my classes with a theme of personal acceptance, that "whatever you do today is enough," and that there should be a balance between hard challenges and just doing things that make you feel good. Always giving in to the voice that tells you "it's too hard, just quit" doesn't serve you, but neither does fighting the waves and always pushing beyond your limits. 

But knowing that I also need to take care of myself, I wanted to find a way to continue using that passion for empowerment without breaking my body in the process. I want to fill my days with more of that work, but in a way that is sustainable.

I've enrolled in a "wellness coaching" course to build out a business that aims to help others lift themselves up through physical movement, meditation, and powerful self-inquiry. I'm a few weeks into the program, and even from here, it feels like I'm on the right path. I have some big plans for where I want to take it, and I'm busy getting all of my ducks in a row (as I do, a consummate doer), but I'm also really giving myself the space to learn, absorb, and allow those plans to morph and shift and grow organically. I'm having a lot of conversations with friends, mentors, and other entrepreneurs about how to do this the right way. I left the corporate world last July without a road map or guide, determined that only I knew what I really wanted... but this time, I'm allowing advice and guidance and experience to come in from all directions. The Universe has a lot to share, and I'm keeping myself open to listening. (If you're moved to find out more or collaborate on ideas, I'd love to discuss this. Email me!)

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Three months in to 2018, i'm beginning to climb another mountain. I'm taking the steps slowly to get the top, really enjoying the view, and staying on the lookout for signs that ask me to explore other trails. But, I can say with a lot more certainty than ever before, this one feels like my mountain.

(Gorgeous photos of a stunning hike to Ruby Jewel Lake in Colorado taken by my highly-talented brother-in-law, Adam Zolyak. Climbing mountains is more fun with family.)