15 Birthday Lessons from the Past Year (+ Self-Care Worksheet for you!)

As much as I love the New Year, my birthday is the time I find myself the most reflective. Fall always reminds me of the 'back-to-school' energy. My birthday lies in the middle of fall and the transition from the gorgeous (and still warm) fall to the longggg, cold winters. Usually there's snow by my birthday, but this year, I was apple picking in a tanktop last week. A year ago, I was working in an outpatient hospital setting and while I really did enjoy it, my heart wasn't in it. I needed to be free, my own boss, and feeling alive and deep-in-love with my work. On the side, I was working on my baby blog (this very one), and on my birthday, I announced my very first nutrition coaching services and saw a few local people (mostly friends).

Here's what I've learned in a year of growing, being, loving, thriving, connecting, learning (so much...mostly about me), and diving into the world of entrepreneurship.

Read to the bottom for a self-care worksheet for you!

15 Heart-Centered Lessons (+ a free self-care worksheet)

1. Be grateful.

Whatever you do, gratitude changes everything. Take time each and every day to find a few things you are grateful for. Even if it's as simple as a comfy bed to sleep in. Or being alive. Write a gratitude list, or better yet - share gratitude with those you love. If I were to write out my gratitude list today, it would be pages long. My dog, my amazing family, my loving boyfriend, a job I LOVE, this blog project of mine, clients who teach me so much, chocolate (of course)...

2. Trust in the uncertainty.

Oh yes. A big lesson, for sure. I've always been one to plan my life out on this perfect timeline. If I had just run out and grabbed up a hospital dietitian job when I wasn't getting many clients, I'd be bored and uninspired. Instead, my favorite yogi tea quote has let me know several times over the year that - "Let things come to you." When I let go of controlling my life and started trusting in the uncertainty of life (SCARY at times), things DID come. Amazing things. A center full of incredible healers, wise clients, and new opportunities. All of life will be uncertain. Start to ease into the idea of trusting, even just a little bit.

3. Prioritize self-care.

I saw a funny cartoon a few months ago making fun of health bloggers who sit at their computer for 12 hours a day. I joke, but I've been busy with my blog, clients, and life that I've let self-care fall to the side at times. I notice within a week or two and wonder why I'm feeling more anxious, sluggish, and unfocused. By now, I'm pretty good at recognizing that 'oh, you've been missing magical morning time, skipping out on yoga classes, or staying up too late.' Gotcha. Self-care is a HUGE topic of discussion here + with clients, so of course, I need to prioritize it for myself! Plus, I show up as my most creative and connected self when I'm connecting to my heart-centered self-care practices.

4. S-L-O-W down.

I've recently realized that I put some of my self-worth on my doing and productivity. I always did well in school and worked hard for my 'straight A's.' As a society, we totally pressure people into being successful, making money, and working all the time. So of course, I fell into this trap, but it's not a very fun or vibrant life if I'm always chasing new goals with endpoints. I did The Desire Map earlier this year and had a big A-ha moment when Danielle Laporte shifted my mindset from DOING and GOALS to how you want to feel during the journey. This I can get behind. I want to feel vibrant, connected, open, and in the flow...which is more important than making a certain amount of $ or having "x" number of pageviews on my blog.

By taking time to slow down - aka easing into my day, turning off my computer at the end of the day to cuddle up, or even taking time off in the middle of the week to go apple-picking - I'm living a life I love.

5. It doesn't always feel good.

Okay, this one I HAVE to mention. The Desire Map is all about building a life that FEELS GOOD, but this doesn't mean there won't be discomfort or struggles. When you start to live from your heart and connect to yourself in new ways, you'll also shine light on those parts of you with shame, guilt, and trauma that you've hidden away.

Life is about discovering all the parts of yourself and integrating them back into your system. It's not about hiding the shame away again to put on a 'life is amazing' face. You can learn to work with those parts of you + learn an incredible amount about yourself and the world along the way.

6. Business doesn't have to be impersonal and all 'professional.'

This is the beauty of blogs and businesses these days. I've pretty much gained a new marketing + business degree over the year with reading books/blogs and listening to podcasts. What I originally thought was business should be professional and all formal and stuff - but that sounds so blah to me.

I am my own brand, and I want you guys to see my personality through my writing. With my clients, I wear jeans, and we eat chocolate. Over the past few months, I've gotten away from the boring, impersonal blogposts and started sharing more about ME and my personality. It's much easier to write this way too, and you have seemed to LOVE it so much more from the comments and emails I get.

7. Be vulnerable.

Continuing with #6. Being vulnerable is freaking scary but in the very best and most powerful way. Brene Brown calls it the 'vulnerability  hangover' after you put yourself out there. I know exactly how that feels after posting certain blogposts or sharing my real voice on podcasts. I want to hide and close down at first, but then, all I get is positive comments back and THANK YOUs. So, I'll keep working on being vulnerable as way to connect with you and myself.

8. Stay open to new ideas.

Be open. Read different books. Talk to new people. Try new tools - even if they seem super weird or woo-woo. You never know what will work for you. Don't close down to unconventional ideas - like yoga, meditation, essential oils, food as medicine. They're ancient ideas (with even research behind them!).

9. BREATHE.

Your breath is your literal lifeforce. Your body is keeping you alive every single second. Use your breath to get out of your mind and into your body. Slow your breath down, or try alternate nostril breathing (my favorite way to calm down in an instant!). Just close your eyes - right now, if you'd like - and take deep breathes down into your belly. It brings me so much clarity.

10. Connect.

Connect with others. Connect with yourself. Get outside and connect with nature. As humans, we thrive on connection. We're wired for human connection, and everyone wants to feel accepted. Get rid of the ideas that you're more 'special' than others, and just connect with them. Smile at a stranger. Cuddle your dog. Kiss your lover. Connect. Connect. Connect.

I'll close with a handful of quick-fire ones + your birthday gift from me to you below!

  • 11. Read more.
  • 12. Move your body.
  • 13. Eat to nourish.
  • 14. Sleep.
  • 15. Love yourself first.

Birthday Gift to YOU: Self-Care Worksheet

Since it's my birthday, I have a little treat for you to create your own SELF-CARE plan. I made this fun little worksheet you can do daily or weekly to 'make everyday your birthday with self-care.' The first page is for you to save + print out, and the second page is an example of my personal self-care practices.

Fill it out, and most importantly, make time for YOU in your day. Add in self-care from the HEART, not the head. Your mind may tell you that 'you SHOULD go for a run, eat a green smoothie, meditate, and journal...all before 8 am.' Your heart will tell you what's right for you each day - listen. Somedays, this means you sleep in or watch Netflix all day - that totally can be self-care, depending on your intentions.

15 Ways to Practice Self-Care + Nourishment (+ grab your free worksheet)

I'd love to know the top THREE lessons you've learned about yourself in the past year or your favorite self-care practice. Just share below in the comments!