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Dear 2014: I Loved You Before You Arrived!

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Recently when asked what I like to do for fun besides work -- and fortunately for me I found what I love to do making my job merely an extension of myself, travel, write, run and occasionally hang out was the extent of the list. Snooze. I realized then that it is true that one can become so consumed by goals and lists that if not careful fun 'outside of what has become the routine' becomes overlooked if not scheduled. Is that really living life out loud?

My at times rigid thinking likes to keep my schedule arranged in a certain way and while it works, there's a part of me that knows there is much more to see and do and discover. My active curiosity channeled me to re-embrace exposure as my friend and welcome change as its steady partner. Clearing out the old had me write my new crush '14 a few reminder notes:

Laugh out loud more often than not. Put a pause to treating everything like the life altering moment it's not and find humour even in my own errs. Not too long ago a girlfriend of mine told me that she runs in spanx - well that's what I heard. I tried it and was in great discomfort. Seriously. That's not what she said and I am still not sure how our wires got that crossed. Safe to say I never did that again, but we all laugh about it from time to time. Hey, no one is perfect and in our strive to be, we sometimes lose 'life and laughter' in the process. Our wires get crossed; it's okay and accepted we're human. That's the joy of it all.

Be spontaneous. Don't allow the control gene to make you tremble at the thought of losing your grip on life. As our best plan will reveal, we never really have full control of how or when things unfold. We have goals and we have a plan, but things happen that we didn't write in the script. For that at times I have learned to be eternally grateful that what I wanted, when I wanted it and how, is not the way it happened.

Our day represented by a locked calendar of scheduled appointments is great at keeping us accountable of how we spend our time. But is there any wiggle room for an unplanned lime with friends or a couple days to spare for an unscheduled getaway to a B&B? Sometimes we'll find that we may be more productive when we veer off the predictable track. A little influence of the 'new' or 'different' stimulates our senses and feeds new thoughts. Pumps our adrenaline from the excitement of doing something different. This can be anything from taking Salsa lessons to going on a ski trip or taking up golf, though you've never signed up for a clinic for either. It doesn't have to be as grand as going to Bora Bora - though that is lovely as well. Putting you in an unfamiliar environment will either make you fall in love with something new or discover something along the way that piques your interest. New terrain does a body, mind and soul good and allows you to speak intelligently from experience versus something you only heard about and decided you won't enjoy.

Enough cannot be said about the power in throwing yourself in the middle of the pool and overcoming a fear of swimming. The confidence that those bold steps will fill you with will be the springboard to being a chance taker. To know you've conquered something that you once feared gives you a little more swagger to believe in the endless possibilities for you. While my fear isn't water, they exist and I've written a few of them down and plan to conquer one each month.

Have fun. Color outside the lines. Let your hair down. Relax. Your emails to friends and status updates are triple checked before pushing send, and as you lay in bed at night you ponder if there was a grammatical error or spelling mistake in your last post. Well for some of us. For others, myself included at times, disregard this point all together and if on the verge of taking it personal because well Dear Web(ster) is not your friend, insert the point about laughing even at yourself. Point: Loosen up. Note that on our goal list and a corner on your vision board. Everything is not meant to be over analyzed or require deep thought. We don't and won't know each outcome ahead of time and that brings with it a certain amount of thrill and excitement from the unknown. Shaking from the thought of releasing control? Not to worry. I'm here to hold your hand, says life. *Step away from the desire to over-question yourself out of something, or over-explaining your choices to everyone. Just live. Don't' get lost in the minutia.

Thou shall invite other pantones besides black and grey into my wardrobe. For years I've said I don't wear stripes, polka dots or patterns because at 5'3 ½, and round, it offers a lot to take in minus the height to carry it off. With 'pronounced' hips and a noticeable bottom body, let's just say there isn't much wiggle room for the bright, bold and patterned, I've told myself. While I won't rush to get clothes with horizontal stripes, I will add a pop of color periodically and give up the right to buy similar styles in different colors. I'm bracing myself this really will be a challenge.

Experiment. MAC may have over 200+ shades in their collection, don't quote me on that, but I religiously find a shade similar to the last 5 or so that I've purchased and that becomes my color until the next similar shade makes its debut. Tsk Tsk. We won't address eye shadow or lack thereof which I wear once each year when someone else applies it. This year I'll try myself. A little experimenting could go a long way or the wrong way depending on who you ask. What's a little or too much color between friends?

Balance. I will not become a slave to the scale by being overly obsessed with every morsel of food I eat. Eating healthy nutritious foods in enjoyable dishes and working my butt off in the gym with allowed rest days is what will work best for me as I map out a healthy lifestyle plan. Key words: "what will work best for me". We've often heard variety is the spice of life and if you doubt it to be true, do you notice how your body plateaus after finding itself in a set routine (whether with food intake or exercise) for an extended period of time? Our bodies reject routine as should we. Experiment a little bit more and you'll be surprised at what appeals to you.

Find and keep balance in all things. Work. Food. Fun. Life. Love. And even sneak in a few bites of that Chocolate Guinness Cake for your birthday. When the needle is tipped too far off in any one area of our lives what is it trying to tell us? Where is the imbalance and what is the real reason?

Dance even if you're rhythm less. Music is open to interpretation and not everyone will be as gifted in the area of dancing to the beat. But why let that stop you from getting on the dance floor and enjoying 4+ minutes of your favourite song? Unless you're trying out for the next video I don't think you need to be overly concerned if your steps are well, your steps. You're in great company ~ IJS.

Be happy with the way life is right now and the players selected for each scene. So often we send our thoughts into the past on how things used to be and how certain friendships were. In our minds we know the dynamics of some friendships have changed but there is a refusal on our part to face the facts that sometimes things change temporarily and sometimes the changes are final marking the end of a season. We hang on so tightly to the way things should be because they always were, that new players are forbidden to enter. Lessons, blessings, and new bonds are put on hold while we wrestle with the promise of change. Let go of your grip and go with the flow. Wherever, whomever, and however life introduces change meet it with open arms.

Dating: Take a chance, or a few. Find yourself in an unfulfilling relationship? Be honest about the state of affairs and how you contribute to the big picture, how this compares with what you need as well as what the relationship needs. Then do what needs to be done. Ssh, don't call another soul and ask what you should do or what they would do or hear yourself stuck on complaining repeatedly. Comfort zones can be a dead relationships greatest crutch and welcomes dysfunction as the norm every time. Is your growth being stifled or being stimulated? Therein lies a chunk of the answer.

For the cautiously single, could you be well protected behind firewalls of a dense defense mechanism? Breathe, be easy and let me put a bug in your ear: its okay! His blood type, social security number and mother's maiden name aren't necessarily required for a phone conversation or meeting for coffee. The awkwardness of that first conversation may exist or maybe you both will hit it off and be friends, but don't send your thoughts into paranoia by thinking many dates ahead or if he's the one. Easy does it. One step at a time.

Resist two urges:

1. To head south back to your ex, which is your comfort zone. He's your ex for a reason.

2. To bury yourself so deep in the busyness of work/life that you don't have to deal with being vulnerable or transparent, and that whole song and dance that ensues. It's meant to be fun and it can be if you allow it to be. As a friend of mine recently stated "don't let the possible opportunities with a worthy beau pass you by...". Be yourself and do not give into the pressure of "are they the one or when is the big day." Go with the flow of life, it will always answer any questions you have. Human connections are so rewarding to our spirit so even when it doesn't appear to work, its working. We're all learning, exchanging, glowing and life is moving us along. Note: You're also great company to yourself. Date yourself ever so often. Have 'me' time. There you will hear the words your heart hopes you hear each it time it beats: "you're pretty awesome, I love you".

Don't be questioned into someone else's idea of 'normal'. I at times hear myself over-explaining things to others or in my inner dialogue with myself regarding a certain decision or defending a choice because it doesn't fit into popular opinion. I've grown to realize that following your intuition requires no permission because it speaks for itself on a need to know and understood basis. There is a big difference between voicing what you will be doing and asking for an opinion on what should be done. Few things are guaranteed in this life and the opinion of others is one them. Allow your intuition to be your biggest influencer even when it doesn't make sense at that moment.

Here's to an ah-mazing...2014, I love you already!