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New Year, Fresh Start

I believe that every journey begins with an intention.

Unlike resolutions, intentions are soft, qualitative, and compassionate. They embody a certain quality felt in the body before reaching the thinking brain. Intentions aren't easily measured; they embrace energy and sensation more than the physical, measurable aspect of a goal or resolution.

Where we direct our focus, energy follows.

As we initiate the year with intentions, here are some of my favorite tools for a fresh start:

Setting Intentions: Rather than jotting down goals and resolutions, reflect on the past year. Consider Ariana Huffington's wise words: "we can have it all, but not at the same time." Focus on specific areas like family, career, mental health, or new projects. Choose no more than three areas to mindfully set intentions for the coming year—soft aspects to be aware of in your new cycle.

Personally, I'm placing attention on my physical health as I approach my 49th birthday, aiming for more energy and vitality. Acknowledging the importance of self-care, I'm dispelling limiting beliefs and understanding my resistance. Simultaneously, I plan to transition from LBC to MAP, organizing my schedule to extend my impact globally.

What areas do you intend to focus on in 2024?

Practicing Gratitude: Shift your mindset by practicing gratitude. Beyond listing life's positives, feel the sensations and emotions of gratitude. Reflect on the past year, listing everything you're grateful for—consider writing or drawing on paper for a more meaningful experience. Focus on three things to get started.

I'm grateful for my creative community, my health, and my family. The simple pleasures, like a warm nightly bath, clean sheets, my dog, and moments in nature, bring immense gratitude. Make this a family activity, especially powerful with tweens/teens at home.

Be Silly: Life is meant to be enjoyed; don't take it too seriously. Create moments for fun and enjoyment in your busy life. Try Family Dance Parties—let each family member be in charge of the playlist or create a "silly dance" playlist together. Sing, move, and laugh; the sillier, the more in tune with yourself.

Hugs! Prescribe yourself hugs; they're a powerful tool. Hugs release happiness hormones, lowering stress and promoting a sense of safety. If physical contact isn't your preference, consider other forms like holding hands, therapeutic massages, or self-hugging. Embrace the opportunity for self-love and self-compassion.

Nutrition, Sleep, Exercise, Time in Nature: While we know the importance of these aspects, common sense often eludes common practice. Small, consistent steps make a significant impact. Remember Mel Robbins' mantra: "I don't feel like it, but I am doing it anyway."

Embrace changes gradually; during the pandemic, I stopped drinking alcohol for better immunity and felt the positive effects after some initial resistance.

Smile: Put on a Mona Lisa-style smile; even a fake or posed smile can alter your emotions. "Fake it until you make it" holds truth, as demonstrated by a global collaboration led by Stanford University researchers.

Welcoming the New Year: Be patient and gentle with yourself as you transition into a new phase. The aim isn't perfection but a gentle expansion of your comfort zone. Replace the idea of self-care with fostering a loving relationship with yourself.

In summary, have fun, be silly, dance, hug, and don't forget to smile!

Flavia Nazareth - is a mom of a teen, an art therapy Practitioner, Jai Certified Parent Coach and trauma-informed coach for teens and adults. She has trainings and certifications in youth anxiety and depression, including child's grief and loss. She is the founder and owner of Little Blank Canvas Art Studio and MAP - Mindful Art Practices/Mindful Art of Parenting.

Flavia lives with her husband, daughter and her adorable dog Sparky in North Carolina. When she is not at the Art Studio or working at MAP, she is traveling, reading, or hanging out with her daughter Olivia.

To learn more about Flavia and her work at MAP, click here or email her at and check out her Parent Coach page 

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