Good-bye, 2015. Hello, 2016.
New Year, Same Me (but better).
I used to think about when my most influential year of my life was, and I would think of New York. But now, I think 2015 has got New York beat. I started 2015 with a goal to take back control of my life, and now sitting here reflecting back over the entire year, I think I did well. After a year of struggle and doubt, I turned my life around. I grew, learned, experienced so much more than I ever thought I could. And I can't emphasize enough the importance of the support and love I get from the people in my life. I wouldn't have been able to get as far without them. I'm truly blessed by them. And I'm proud to see that they all had an equally productive and successful year. I'm honestly just as excited to see them succeed in 2016, too.
Manda: Now, let's break down the 5 biggies, shall we?
1. Don't take yourself too seriously.
Seriously, this will change your life. Once you are wholly secure in yourself, you'll also find freedom in yourself again. It releases you from built up burden that is just not necessary. On the other side, all that small stuff you used to sweat over doesn't seem like such a big deal anymore. Remember that you are human and you're a constant work-in-progress and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
2. Get rid of the toxic people in your life.
I can't repeat or emphasize this enough. Anyone who doesn't lift you up or want to join you on your way up should be cut out of your life immediately. In 2015, I looked around at the people in my life and asked them, "Going up?" And if not, then get out of the elevator. I took two big steps on a personal and professional level towards fleshing out the toxicity and rearranging my priorities. It stung during the process, but I haven't had a single regret. The overall quality of my life has exponentially improved, and it's incredible how much my confidence has improved as a result from the cleanse.
3. Follow your dreams.
Okay, totally cliche, I know. But here I am, living and working in California. I made it happen. I was nervous, in the back of my head, I always thought there was a possibility that I had reached my peak in New York and would never do anything that significant again. But I proved myself wrong. I reminded myself of how capable I am this year. I set goals and achieved them. I removed the negative people from my life, I quit a job that didn't value my worth, I traveled across Europe with my sister, and I moved across the country to L.A. I've found my confidence again. And because of my previous experience in New York and the following year building Pensacon, I've learned a great deal about what I want out of life and what my dreams really are. I'm not limiting my goals anymore. I'm just going for it and enjoying the journey. When you can learn to embrace the process and not get bogged down by failure or uncertainty, it relieves so much pressure.
4. Don't forget to take care of yourself.
You are your greatest investment. The work you put into yourself should never be done, it should always be evolving and continuing. If you have a passion and a career that you eagerly want to pursue, go for it -- and good for you! But also remember that there are more aspects of yourself that need attention, as well, including your physical and emotional/spiritual health. Find an activity that you enjoy that both improves and rebuilds you. I recently read a friend's post where he shared some advice he had just received, and it was: "Work to find 3 hobbies that you love: one to make money, one to keep in shape and one to stay creative." By incorporating this practice into my life, I have found an incredible sense of balance in my well-being.
5. Be more bossy.
In 2015, I proved to myself and to everyone I worked with and who saw my work that I could be a real boss. I really impressed myself, to be honest. That was the opportunity I had been grasping for. I was 100% ready and prepared for that challenge. After walking away from that position, I actively remind myself every day that I am still that boss. In 2016, I will pave a way to continue growing professionally, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and striving to learn and experience as much as possible. I'm not stopping here. I've only begun.
Leah: "Excuse me, I'm on my way up."
That's my tagline for 2016.
This year has been filled with growth, tears, love, lessons to learn from, and true success. This was the first year in a long time that Manda and I have been able to live together in the same place for the full year. We truly took this year on together. We stood by each other, as each others number one fan, as we went through some character developing situations. We traveled Europe together and launched the beginning of our empire (stay tuned). Then to top it off, we packed up our cars together and moved across to the country.
1. I am mine, before I am ever anyone else's.
Learning to love myself was definitely the most monumental thing I learned in 2015. When I moved home to Pensacola in the summer of 2014, I was in the lowest point in my life. I didn't like myself, who I had become, where I was headed, or the decisions I had made. I blamed myself for everything that had happened to led me to where I was currently at. In 2015, I chose to take control and learn to love myself. It was truly a love story, I fell so in love with myself and gained so much self confidence. I started doing things for myself that made me happy, I spent time one on one with myself, I dug deeper then I thought I was capable of, I pushed myself past limits, I challenged myself, I set goals for myself, I treated myself with compassion. I lived by these words "I am mine, before I am ever anyone else's".
2. Therapy is nothing to be embarrassed by.
One of the best things I have ever done for myself was seeing my therapist. I was reluctant at first, thinking I didn't need that kind of help. Once I started, I became more and more comfortable, then I started looking forward to the days when I went to see her. She helped me realize how independent, strong, and powerful I am capable of being. She helped me face things that I didn't even realize I needed to deal with. She is the biggest reason I was able to fall in love with myself. She helped me move past my past and focus on building my future. Most importantly, she helped me figure out exactly who I am, why I am that way, and how to embrace myself. I have always struggled with communicating, especially concerning my feelings. Therapy pushed me beyond all my boundaries, and I am so thankful for that.
3. Pursue your passions.
After finishing a degree in something I realized I have absolutely no desire in pursuing, I felt defeated and unmotivated. That quickly changed when I found my passion for the art of culinary. It was during our travels in Europe that I truly realized how passionate I was about cooking and the restaurant industry in general. I chose to embrace and pursue my passion. Something big is in the making here in Denver.
4. Out with the bad, in with the good.
Me and my team - we are on our way up. Know who your team is and know what they value and what their goals are - and support them! I have somehow been so lucky to have influential, motivated, and talented people to surround myself with. They encourage me and I encourage them. We all have the same goals and we are pursuing them everyday. Understand how to weed out the bad in your life to make room for the good.
5. Speak up for yourself.
Stand the hell up for yourself and speak up! If you know me at all, you know I am the first the speak up and tell you exactly how I feel. This quality can have good or bad results, and sometimes even be hurtful. I have been working on filtering myself to come off less hurtful, but I think it is important for me to maintain this quality of speaking up. If you have something to say, say it! This is your one and only chance to say it, so speak up.