It’s about this time of year that inspirational quotes appear in my Instagram feed, along with photos of healthy food and fellow bloggers and friends working out (or at least committing to working out, for the new year). Every meeting or dinner out I have had so far this year, someone at the table professes to partaking in ‘dry January’ and someone else rolls their eyes and says ‘how depressing!’.
New Year’s Resolutions are funny, aren’t they. They split the crowd. Some people jump at them and others balk at them. I seem to swing from one opinion – an enthusiastic, optimistic, I-can-do-anything approach, to a slightly exhausted point of view that I have learned from years past, not to race after goals that end up, after a couple of weeks, to feel unachievable or unrealistic, and end up making you feel like a failure.
So. 2017. I’m coming for you – but – with a slightly more balanced approach. I recently read my fellow blogger and friend Lucy Williams’ piece, pre-holidays, about what matters in life, what does success really mean. I was on the train to London, fitting in a million things during the last work day before Christmas, fretting, stressing, and then – like something I already knew but needed to be reminded – her words really resonated with me (read it here, when you have a moment)
I bet you guys have all, at one time or another, put too much pressure on yourself to quit a bad habit, to lose weight, to get ridiculously fit, to be the perfect Mum, to get a promotion at work. The list goes on. It’s easy to feel like you just don’t match up to those around you, when we are consistently bombarded with images of perfection on social media. The perfect butt, the perfect mother, the perfect pair of heels, the perfect New Year’s kiss. Which is why 2017 should very much be about you. Focusing inward, rather than outward. Less comparison; more introverted, personal goals. Things that make you smile, and feel good from a calm and healthy place. One of my favorite fitness gurus, Lorna Jane, talks about ‘active living’ on her blog
What’s active living? It’s about being more mindful. Which could mean slowing down, committing to less, or just being a little more picky about what you give your energy to. Ironically, it’s the opposite to what I naturally do – usually I try to please everyone and definitely spread myself too thin. Lorna says, ‘You’ve got to create your own sunshine’. Which might sound corny, but it rings a bell for me. One of the few mantra’s I saw on Instagram and actually screen-grabbed to save, said, ‘Thoughts have energy. Make sure your thoughts are positive and powerful.’ Nobody can make you feel a certain way, or live a certain life, except you. So, the idea of active living is getting the most out of your life by taking control of your own destiny. By being present. By saving your energy for those that matter to you most. By taking pleasure in the little, everyday, ‘normal’ moments. I touched on this at the end of my book, Front Roe, in a chapter entitled ‘How to be kind to yourself’, and which I wasn’t planning to write until I’d finished the entire book and realized something was missing.
I’m all for change, and embracing it, but I also think there’s a strength to be found in contentment. Self-acceptance and self-love are two of the things I think women struggle with most. Myself included! It’s not something that comes naturally to me at all, but being surrounded by other supportive women – great friends, an amazing Mum and two loving sisters – certainly makes me remember to feel confidence and self-worth. When I was hosting Plain Jane, the makeover show, which lasted five years on MTV, I found this theme to recur, and recur. No matter the age or background of each young woman I spent the week with, learning to look in the mirror and embrace what she saw, was the absolute hardest part of the journey.
And I don’t just mean embracing the physical sight, I’m talking about the woman behind that exterior, too.
If you’re still reading this, then something has resonated with you too. It’s all very well me preaching self-love and finding balance in your life, but there need to be practical ways to implement that. So here are my New Year’s Resolutions, and why I want to keep them… do share your thoughts and your own resolutions in the comments section below!
To be a good wife.
Most of you guys know I’m a newlywed. And as much as I think I’m thoughtful and loving, I am also guilty of taking my frustrations out on my hubby and not always appreciating him as much as I should. We’re lucky enough to travel a lot together, and often go out to exciting events, but it’s the smaller, romantic gestures I want to focus on. Like cooking his favorite meal more, booking movie tickets to the film I don’t really want to see but that he will love, giving him more attention instead of being distracted by my phone, planning more adventures outdoors – he loves a hike! Mackenzie is so unbelievably supportive to me in practical and emotional ways, it’s number one to me that I pay it right back.
To take a wine tasting course.
Because I love wine, and I want to know more about what I’m ordering at dinner. And, because red wine is officially a muscle relaxant, and an anti-oxidant, ha!
To spend 5 minutes stretching and breathing deeply, per day.
No matter where I am in the world: on a plane, in a hotel, on set. Last year I committed to meditation. Which I sucked at. Even though on the few occasions I did it, I enjoyed it. But I never remembered to do it and often couldn’t calm my mind. So small steps this time, peeps. Deep breathing has serious physical effects that I had no idea about until I wrote my book. Get this: it nourishes the nervous system. It stimulates the lymphatic system, which helps detoxify the body. It actually increases pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain, to elevate your mood. Stretching does the same kind of jazz – it helps release tension, gets your circulation going and improves your posture. And it helps you sleep better, too.
To make Front Roe even bigger and better!
I feel very lucky to love my job so much. And over the course of next year I want to share more personal experiences, give more style advice, and shoot as I go. I’m hoping 2017 let’s me travel to more places I’ve yet to visit, capturing images and video along the way. There are exciting new projects coming up too, including a second book on an unexpected topic, and a huge adventure that will involve meeting and chatting to more of YOU guys, in different cities!
This resolution is linked to the tease above, but having worked with the women’s charity Step Up, for a few years in LA (where I get to spend time with under-privileged high school girls and give them career advice), I’m planning something on a bigger scale, to help young women who might have been bullied, are lacking in self-esteem, or never given the opportunities in life that they deserve.
To turn off, at the right time.
Electronics mess with your sleep patterns (stats show you should avoid too many electronics near your bed); plus emails and social media infringe on conversation and time to relax. There has to be a line drawn between work and play, but in a city like LA, the two blur constantly. So I’m making a few efforts to switch off, literally and figuratively. I’m taking the computer out of the bedroom, and buying an old school alarm clock, so that my phone doesn’t have to be near my bed. It can charge overnight in another room, because I constantly wake up in the night and check it for no reason. Also, I’m going to take more hot baths. Get this – the warm water relaxes your muscles, lowers your blood pressure and the body produces a hormone called oxytocin – which promotes feelings of security and calm – the same as when you get a hug from a loved one.
Ps. There is an array of apps to help control how long you browse sites for, to turn off email notifications etc. I find just shutting down all the open browsers on my tool bar, and ‘un-subscribing’ to the newsletters I didn’t even sign up to, unbelievably satisfying!
To make a documentary.
Sometimes, ideas are a slow burn. This one, however, was like a bolt of lightning that whizzed into my head just before Christmas. I don’t want to jinx it, so I won’t give much away, but I’m writing the proposal right now. Wish me luck!
Thank you Louise for this beautiful piece. I recognize so much in what you write! As a 24-year old I constantly read articles, see instagram posts and ideas about living a ‘level 10 life’. While it inspires me on the one hand it also stresses me out that I have not accomplished enough yet for my age. I now try to focus on myself and going at my own pace and enjoy small achievements instead of getting it all done at once.
This is an inspiring list of resolutions! Even as a non newlywed I think those ideas are wonderful! As well as the wine tasting course -especially for the benefits! 😉
Love love the blog and can’t wait for what 2017 brings! Best wishes on the documentary! Sara ?
Happy New Year dear! Your no 1 resoluton I am sure is alredy accoplished I am sure you already are a wonderful wife. Me, I have resolutions every year. This year they are so simple : eat healthy, be polite(I have to work on that one) get a job and not worry so much about things. Love you!!!! Happy New Year!!!
Inspiring list of resolutions! Love it!
You are so inspirational Louise! xx
Louise, I loved reading your piece because indeed people are very keen about resolutions, or the opposite.
One of the biggest current problems we have as society is technology and social networks; it does not only affects our habits like sleeping and getting distracted at work (especially if that is one of your working tools), but it really keeps us away from our people. I really want to be better at that like you, I want to stay away as much as possible from my phone this year, and be more attentive to my surrounding (I’m single and I’m sure I’ve lost many cool people trying to get close to me because I seem “busy”). You see, I spent 10 days during my holidays away from my iPad, and as I don’t have the Facebook APP on my phone, I did not check FB AT ALL during 10 days (un purpose), and what happened? Well nothing bad, au contraire, I did not gossip other’s people life, it really felt good! so I guess that is one simple example of what I should do with the rest of other distracting things.
But the most important thing about your piece, and I find great you share as a blogger (I’m a blogger too in a minor scale of course), is that today we see a bunch of lies because everyone shares their “inspirational” life (that hides away the real facts like sometimes you are sad, have problems, bad finances, don’t travel all the time, etc.) on their profiles, we all became “public”. I really think spreading the word is very important: to stick to real life, live and love the life you have, and don’t compare with others because of what they have, but because of what they do and the way they live. Admire someone with a message and not just shallow spirits. Please share more of your mentoring work, that will be refreshing, to see a blogger getting close to real life while keeping your feet on the ground; I’m sure you will get much more than what you give.
Your fan, Adriana.
P.S. I loved that even in your pic you are not wearing make-up as usual, you look pretty and authentic.
Your post inspired and motivated me which is exactly what I need today. Thank You Louise! Xx ?
P.S. ahh I love hot baths too! Unfortunately I have ezcema so my skin prefers short showers ?
Louise, when Plain Jane was on tv, I was an insecure girl who wanted to be invisible because of having been bullied a lot in the past. You inspired me to show myself to the world and embrace my love for colour. Thank you for this meaningful empowerment. Now I am a grown up woman who wears pink trousers to her ministry job (: Cause someone has to start the revolution…