For a lot of people, money is the biggest obstacle when it comes to getting regular massage. There, I said it. We don’t like to talk about money - it’s supposed to be private. But, I’m going to face it straight on. Regular massage is a considerable budget item, and it’s important to acknowledge that.

I am aware of this, because 1) I walk the walk and get massages on a regular basis, and 2) I have to make sure I budget time and money for them, or they won't happen.

But, if I expect you to work your budget for $95 for a massage every week, month, or quarter, it’s my job to tell you what you’re buying. So here it is, what you get from a 1 hour, $95 massage (Or technically $85 if you buy a package of 5, or $80 if you buy a package of 10 - which is an amazing deal. Read on to see why).

Clarity In Pricing
I don't add fees for a number of vital elements to getting the best possible results from your massage. Things that are already included in that $95 fee are aromatherapy, hot towels, cupping massage, hot stones, Synergy stones, Himalayan salt stones, and the FAR infrared therapy heated mat on the table.

No one wants to think they are booking a massage at one price, only to be given a far higher total when it's time to pay because they wanted a few upgrades to make the experience complete. Sometimes, those "upgrades" are desperately needed necessities. A muscle that is locked up and causing pain will often respond far better to heat and cupping along with the massage, and is the only way to get real relief. Have no fear that we can bust out a whole bad of tricks without increasing your bill.

A Full Hour
Have you ever noticed that at most massage establishments, you book an hour, but only actually get massaged for 45-50 minutes? That is an extremely common scenario, as many places will book massages every hour on the hour, so part of your hour gets used for getting on and off the table, and the time the therapist needs to change the room over.

This type of math has always really bugged me. Gosh darnit, 1 hour = 60 minutes. When a client books an hour with me, that is what they will get. The clock doesn't start ticking until the massage starts. If your appointment is scheduled for 2:00, but after intake and you getting on table we don't get started on the massage until 2:05, then your hour massage won't end until 3:05. I schedule a time cushion between appointments to accommodate variations in start and end times to ensure I am able to thoroughly discuss your needs before the massage.

In my massage studio, every session - whether 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes - will last the full amount of time indicated. (Unless you're late, then I may have to adjust accordingly.)

Ease of Scheduling
Scheduling tends to be another big obstacle to getting regular massage. We often don't think of needing to schedule during a time that is convenient to call. I don't know about you, but if I have to play phone tag for three days, I'm probably not going to be visiting that establishment.

You can schedule with me at any time online on my scheduling page. If you don't see something that works for you, drop me an email or a text message with what days and times work for you, and I will see if I can work something out. Once you are in the office, if you know when you want to come in next, we will get you on the schedule right then and there, and if you need to change it, you can still do that online anytime at least 24 hours in advance of the appointment.

If you have a specific day and time that work for you on a regular basis, you can have standing appointments already in place. Say, every other Thursday at 2:00, for example. That spot will always be yours unless you need to make a change.

Attention
You get my full attention and focus. For one hour, plus the time we spend before your session talking about your needs, you are the superstar. You are the reason we are in that room. Would you like silence? No problem. Do you prefer to chat? I'd love to.

Want me to spend the whole hour on your back, or just your feet? Sure thing. Do you need a pillow? A change of music? Not a problem.

You get my full attention, and you get your full attention. No phone, no demands. It's all about you.

Experience
I've had 7 years of full time practice and hundreds of hours of continuing education. In a field that the average practitioner only lasts 2-3 years before burnout, I am trucking along quite well. All of that time spent working and studying has been preparation for your massage. I learned a cool rotator cuff release for that time you come in with a weird pain in your shoulder when you move it like so.

I've got a great pillow propping trick to keep you comfy and cozy when you need to lay on your side if you can't lay on your belly. Or if your shoulder hurts when you are face down. Or if your knee is feeling kinda weird while you are on your back. No problem, I've got this. We will make sure you are nice and comfy so you can relax and enjoy your massage.

Clinical Prudence
I won't practice any techniques on you that are unsafe for your current health condition. For example, someone in treatment for cancer should not be getting deep massage. A client on blood thinners should not be receiving static cupping. Pregnant women should not be subjected to aggressive stretching. These are contraindications, and I don't play around them.

The only downside to this is I might have to turn you away if your condition makes massage unsafe, but that is exceedingly rare. In most cases, I am able to accommodate massage to make it enjoyable and safe for the client.

Proper Licensing
There are a number of "massage therapists" out there offering discounted rates who are not holding the proper, legally required, license to practice. In the state of Texas, a license for massage therapy requires schooling at a licensed massage therapy school, internship, passing a state-approved exam, and passing a criminal background check. It must be renewed every two years, which has a minimum continuing education requirement that must be met. The current license should always be displayed in plain view where clients can see.

If the therapist is practicing without all the proper licenses, they may not be properly trained, and their insurance, if they have it, will be voided in the event of a claim. That is a pretty scary situation.

High Quality Massage Oil
I only use the best products on your skin. I mainly use organic coconut oil, but I also have pure jojoba for those who are super sensitive, as well as a high quality arnica oil for extra muscle relief. No preservatives, no unnatural or unhealthy additives. You won't have a skin reaction because of some cheap additives or fillers. 

I don't choose my oils based on price, I choose based on quality. I have my hands in this stuff over 20 hours a week. I only want the best for us!

You Get To Support a Local Small Business
It is just me. No fancy corporate set up or big management structure, no franchise or chain organization. Just a small business owner, making a living, paying her taxes, and participating in the very community where she lives and serves. It can be hard for small businesses to stay afloat in the sea of big box stores and big chains. When you pay $95 for a massage, you can be certain that the money is supporting your local economy.

All of that, from a $95 massage.



From the studio of
Neelou Saleh
Licensed Massage Therapist
Licensed Massage Therapist Instructor

Wellness Coach
Kingwood, TX
www.spiritoflotus.com
 
 
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Oh, maaaan, it has been bad this year, hasn't it? So many viruses have been making the rounds, I can't even keep track anymore. Not only has it been rampant, but I've noticed everyone is getting way worse than usual. It does seem that way, yes? Is it just me?

I don't know, maybe that is how it feels every year, but what I do know is I do not want what everyone else seems to be getting around here. 

Most of us are too busy for that nonsense. That being said, there are some things you can do, aside from locking yourself away until spring and not letting anyone past your threshold, to decrease your vulnerability to illness. I like to focus on immune boosting and pathogen fighting, because try as we might, it's almost impossible to completely avoid exposure (though I do recommend trying your best to do that, too).

Here are 7 ways to help keep yourself from catching any of those bugs this season:

1. Elderberries - Everyone seems to be talking about elderberries! For good reason, because they are great for strengthening and supporting your immune system. You can take elberberry syrup year round, but especially when you need a good immunity boost. One I highly recommend is Nature's Answer Sambucus Elberberry Syrup, right here:


2. Turn down the temp - We sleep much better in cooler temperatures, so turn down the thermostat to no more than 69 degrees for optimal restorative sleep. Need help falling or staying asleep? Melatonin is a natural supplement to help encourage sleep.
If melatonin is too strong for you, try passionflower. This herb has been found to induce sleep and improve sleep quality, too. A lot of people will get even more benefit by adding a magnesium supplement. I would suggest a high quality passionflower extract, like this one by Nature's Answer:
3. Ditch the toxic soap - No, I'm not telling you to not wash your hands. Wash your hands, please, and frequently (but don't forget to moisturize). It is vital to avoid spreading germs, to yourself and everyone else. But, get rid of the antibacterial and scented soaps. Antibacterial soaps get rid of beneficial bacteria, and they don't make your hands cleaner than regular soap. Scented soaps usually have ingredients that disrupt hormones - which is not going to help your immunity. Look for unscented soaps, or those scented with natural ingredients like essential oils. Tea tree oil is a natural antibacterial that does not destroy the beneficial ones. A great hand soap to try is the Tea Tree natural hand soap by Jason:
4. Eat more garlic - Garlic is antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial. Nature's medicine, indeed. It's a great herb to eat year round, and definitely up your intake if you are sick or feel like you are getting sick. It's good for your heart and blood pressure, and Aged Garlic Extract has been found to improve learning disability and enhance memory.
5. Keep the apple cider vinegar within reach - Known to be quite the healing elixir for centuries, apple cider vinegar helps with a host of ailments, including digestion, blood sugar regulation, energy levels, and immune boosting. Always use the raw, unfiltered version to get the real benefits. Typically, 1-2 tablespoons are added to a glass of water and drank daily.
6. Curcumin every day - Curcumin is the active ingredient of turmeric - that yummy curry spice. It is known for decreasing inflammation, enhancing mental focus, and it also helps your liver detoxify your body more efficiently. It is important to get a curmumin supplement with piperine (black pepper extract), because without piperine involved, your body won't absorb much of the curcumin. The one I have been taking and recommend is this one by Vita Premium:
7. Probiotics - These are beneficial bacteria that we need a healthy supply of in our system to keep our immune system strong. A lot of good bacteria in our guts gets wiped out when we take antibiotics, and sometimes it gets to the point our bodies have trouble rebuilding our supply back to what it should be. There are a lot of strains of probiotics, and I like to take a good high quality probiotic that covers all of the important ones in one bottle. This probiotic must stay refrigerated, and is shipped in a refrigerated box to keep it fresh during shipping.
If you don't think you need a strong probiotic, take what will best serve your purposes. Studies have shown that certain strains can be most helpful for specific health situations.
If you have a prescription for antibiotics you must take, get a probiotic with lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and/or saccharomyces boulardii.
For international travel plans, take saccharomyces boulardii and/or bifidobacterium longum.
For lactose intolerance, try lactobacillus bulgaricus, lactobacillus acidophilus, and streptococcus thermophiles.
For irritable bowel syndrome, you can try bifidobacterium infantis, lactobacillus plantarum 288V, or bifidobacterium bifidum.
If you seem to have impaired digestive immunity, take enterococcus faecalis TH10 or bifidobacterium longum.
For vaginal infections, try taking lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, and lactobacillus reuteri.
And for a pesky cold, take lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium animalis.

Got questions or need advice? You've got me all to yourself for a whole hour (or however long you book) every time you come in for a massage. ;)


From the studio of
Neelou Saleh
Licensed Massage Therapist
Licensed Massage Therapist Instructor
Kingwood, TX
www.spiritoflotus.com

Nothing on this blog is to be taken as medical advice. Please consult your licensed medical provider before taking any new supplements or attempting to treat yourself for any health conditions.
 
 
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I happened across this meme in my news feed, and as someone who sees the sun rising as I'm working out in the morning, I had to laugh. But, at the same time, it got me thinking, ya know - it's kinda true. I previously spoke of how to get, and stay, motivated to get your body moving, and I'm gonna piggyback onto that with, what I think, is the best time of day to break a sweat. And, why, do I, as a massage therapist, keep talking about exercise? Because, keeping your muscles moving is an important ingredient to optimal muscle health. Exercise, stretching, massage, nutrition, etc.. It's a whole recipe.

So, I've tried different times of day to get my workout in, and first thing in the morning is by far my F-A-V-O-R-I-T-E. Yes, it's that dramatic. Despite the fact that I love literally everything about working out, if I have all day to think about it, I can come up with a million reasons to put it off and knock out a few other things on my to-do list instead. For whatever reason, until I am actually exercising, I do not feel like exercising. From what I gather, a lot of other people feel that way, too. That's where the whole "willpower" thing comes in, no?

This is one of the reasons an early AM workout works so well. It eliminates *some* of the need for the willpower (or maybe just redirects it to the whole getting to bed early bit). I roll out of bed, put on my workout clothes (unless I'm already wearing them, because sometimes I do that, too!), grab my gym bag and drive over there. I get everything ready the night before so I have to do as little thinking as possible when I get up, and I'm barely conscious throughout the process. It's a lot like when I went skydiving. As we climbed higher and higher in altitude in that little plane, and I knew the only way I was exiting was to jump, I kept my mind as blank as possible so as to not think about what I was about to do, so I wouldn't find myself holding onto the plane doorway like a cat in a bathtub. No thinking until I'm already there! Once I've stepped into the gym, it's like jumping off the plane. No turning back now. Just gotta go along for the ride, and have a hell of a lot of fun in the process. If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong!

I know not everyone's magical hour is going to be first thing in the morning, but find that sweet spot that makes it as effortless as possible, and you will keep it up!

Got questions or need advice? You've got me all to yourself for a whole hour (or however long you book) every time you come in for a massage. ;)

From the studio of
Neelou Saleh
Licensed Massage Therapist
Licensed Massage Therapist Instructor
Kingwood, TX
www.spiritoflotus.com
 
 
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For years I struggled finding a way to stay consistently active. I tried different activities at different times - softball, basketball, yoga, running, dancing, home workouts, gym workouts, martial arts, etc.. I would stick with it for awhile, then sooner or later would lose motivation, interest, ability to maintain the schedule,
insert stock excuse to not keep working out here...and would take six months or a year to find something else to try. Once I got into my thirties, the lack of consistent activity started to catch up with me, and I soon found myself with debilitating back pain.

Muscles were made to move. The amount of time that many of us spend not moving in today's society - sitting at a desk, sitting in the car, sitting in front of the TV - does a huge disservice to the health of our muscles, and most people end up paying dearly for that, sooner or later. Massage is a wonderful way to help take care of ourselves, but regardless of whether or not you get massages, if you are not getting up and moving, you are missing out on the number one most beneficial way to keep your muscles in the healthiest condition possible.

Everyone has a different level of comfort and ability, but most people can find a way to get moving that will work for them. There are a number of excuses we can easily fall back on to not exercise - the most common being "I just don't have the time." I am here to tell you, as a mother of two kiddos running a household and a business on my own, if I can find the time, so can you. I promise. I did eventually find the workout method and routine that I was able to stick with in the form of Crossfit. At 6 o'clock in the morning. And I have NEVER been a morning person. Sometimes it takes a significant lifestyle change, and you just do it.

It's been three years now, and I'm still at it. Sometimes there are disruptions. I had to take a few months off last year due to health issues, but as soon as I was physically able, I was back in the gym (even able to participate in our in-box competition, as seen in the photo above).
Earlier this year, my kids' school schedule was making it difficult to get to a Crossfit class, so I went running a few times a week to stay active and dropped into classes when I could. This past summer I didn't work out much due to traveling (but I was hiking on my travels), but now I'm back on my normal schedule. Sometimes life temporarily pauses my workout routine, but I squeeze in what I can and I jump right back in the moment the disruption passes, so that working out becomes the norm and not working out is only a minor blip. That is something I previously was never able to do, and I realized the reasons for the prolonged inactivity were lack of true interest in my latest chosen activity, trying to do something that wasn't practical for my life, and just not making workout out a big enough priority. Having finally overcome all the many obstacles that can make it difficult to stay active with regularity, here are my tips to get up and get moving, and sticking with it!

1. Keep an open mind
I always thought I should be the kind of person that loves yoga. It fits with my interests and personality, so I tried making yoga my main thing, again and again. But, I could never stick with it for more than a few months at a time. It turns out that, though I enjoy yoga, it's not really my "thing". I discovered by starting Crossfit classes that weightlifting is my thing. Weightlifting is something I always thought seemed kinda boring, but oddly enough, it turned out to be what I love and look forward to getting myself to the gym for. I enjoy the other types of exercises we do in Crossfit for the sake of a well-rounded workout, but the weightlifting aspect is by far my true love. I also thought I preferred working out solo, but low and behold, I love the social aspect of Crossfit, and it's another reason I find it easier to drag myself to the box before the sun is up. So, I didn't know what I liked nearly as much as I thought I did, and I never would have known without trying something that seemed an unlikely match for me. If you haven't found your perfect match - keep looking! It might be what you least expect. People are not very good at predicting what they will and won't like without trying it. When you truly enjoy an activity, it doesn't feel like you are having to "force" yourself to exercise just to begrudgingly be healthy.

2. Make it a priority
This is the most important piece of advice. If your physical activity is low on the priority list, anything and everything else that comes up in life will get in the way of it. You put it off one day for this, another day for that, and before you know it, you haven't exercised in six months, and your strength and stamina you worked so hard for has ridden off into the sunset, on the back of your motivation. Like I said, I had to change my entire routine to make working out work for me. Making sure I get to bed early enough to get up early enough to get that workout in means structure and meticulous time management, two things I always rebelled against, as well as early to bed and early to rise, which goes against my very nature. But, workouts



 
 
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Myth - "Massage releases trapped toxins in the body, and drinking lots of water will help to flush them out."

There are a number of pervading myths floating around in the massage world, and over and above all others is this one right here. The above statement is actually a two-for, as far as myths go, but because they are so often cited together I want to address both parts here. Though massage has many wonderful benefits for health and well-being, detoxing is not one of them, so let's clear the air.
A highly beneficial natural treatment like massage does not need false advertising mucking up it's reputation, after all.

Unfortunately, the myth of toxins being released by massage therapy is still taught in some schools, and therefore continues to be repeated by therapists old and new. Despite the fact that it has been debunked, it continues to persist, for a few reasons that I can tell - for one, not all massage therapists or instructors keep up with the latest research; two, it sounds good in a world where clever (but inaccurate) marketing has popularized the idea of "detoxing"; and three, clients often feel "massage drunk" after a session, and it sounds like a good explanation for that phenomenon.

Research has not found any evidence to show this supposed increase in "toxins" circulating through the body after a massage, trying to find the exit now that they have finally been let loose. Probably because our muscles don't store them up to begin with. Fat cells can hold onto certain types of toxic substances (more specifically, persistent organic pollutants, or, POPs), and heavy metals can build up in your bones, but



 
 
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Most of us don't spend nearly enough time taking care of ourselves. Self care is all about keeping yourself healthy and sane. It can be anything that contributes to your well-being and helps you avoid health issues, unhappiness, stress (#1 killer!), and all the other unpleasantness everyday life can bring. Take time every day, week, hour, whatever works for you, to do something for you.

Here is a list of ten ways to help keep you being your best self:

1. Go to bed an hour early.
Too many people are not getting enough sleep. A whopping 40% of Americans report getting fewer than seven hours of sleep per night. There is not much that is more important for our health and well-being than getting enough sleep, so do yourself a favor and get to bed early.

2. Spend twenty minutes de-cluttering.
Clutter in the house causes clutter in the mind. It's hard to think clearly when you are surrounded by mess, so spend a twenty minute focus session getting rid of that pesky pile of clutter that always builds up.

3. Soak in a hot Epsom salt bath.
Epsom salts help to relieve muscle tension and the hot tub of water will melt your stresses from the day away. Throw in some lavender essential oil if you like and play some relaxing music. Dump about two pounds of the Epsom salts into the tub and give yourself a good twenty minute soak. You are worth it.

4. Keep yourself hydrated.
About 43% of U.S. adults drink less than four cups of water a day. If you fall into that category, you are suffering from chronic dehydration. The symptoms can include bad breath, dry skin, muscle cramps, cravings for sweets, fatigue, etc.. Every single process in your body down the the cellular level requires water to operate properly, and your body is composed of approximately 60% water, so consuming enough water is extremely important. Some ways to make it easier to stay hydrated are to keep a water bottle handy throughout the day, eat lots of fruits and veggies, sip more during meals, and try a variety of (caffeine-free) teas.

5. Go outside.
It is easy to end up cooped up indoors all day. Make a point to take a walk outside for half an hour and soak up some sun. Studies have shown that being outside benefits the brain and makes us feel more alive and less stressed.

6. Pay it forward.
Helping others is an amazing way to help ourselves in a way that connects us to the greater good of all that is around us. Volunteer, do someone you know a personal favor, or commit a random act of kindness when


 
 
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Today I want to talk about something important. I see this far too often, though it is very preventable. Sports injuries. In particular, sports injuries that occur because of overly tight muscles that are continually neglected, until it is too late.

I can only assume that many people do this simply because they don't realize the impending danger, so let's change that and look at why this happens.

Why is a tight muscle so susceptible to injury during sports activities or a workout? Look at it this way: if a muscle is tight, it is basically stuck in a contracted state, even when you aren't using it. Whether it is 20% contracted or 40% contracted, even when you are not actively engaging the muscle, that muscle is holding onto a pattern that it has gotten locked into, and you are not getting the full use of it.

For one, a muscle like this is weaker than usual. If your muscle is already 20% contracted at all times, you are only getting to use 80% of its strength. A tight muscle is also a starving muscle. It is not getting the



 
 
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Most of us have known someone at one time or another who we felt tended to drag us down, rain on our parade when we are happy about something, or make us feel bad for the good fortune in our lives. In many cases, the offender does not do so intentionally, but the effect is just the same. Of course, if someone is abusive, dangerous, or particularly toxic, getting that person out of our lives is the absolutely right thing to do, including seeking help to do so if necessary.

However, I have known a number of beautiful souls who tend to be very negative, often because they suffer emotionally, but who never intend to cause anyone pain or drag them down. It is often just a side effect of being so down themselves. Sometimes, we have someone in our lives who we care about, who is good person, but who we can hardly talk to without feeling like they have inadvertently burst our bubble, yet again, for no good reason other than the depression they may be struggling with. Sometimes, we find ourselves trying to "save" someone who struggles emotionally because we can see their potential and want to help them realize it, and instead end up feeling like we are being dragged down with them. Is it better to cut these people out of our lives and get on with things? Maybe, maybe not. But, there is a way to approach how we interact with them that tends to mostly take care of the decision for us.

When you know someone who is treading in dark waters, but who isn't actually reaching out for help, first and foremost, don't try to reach down and pull them into your boat, so to speak. Trying to save another 


 
 
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"Impermanence is the nature of the human condition."

There is a Zen notion I am rather fond of called wabi sabi. It can be described as a fleeting, imperfect, accidental beauty - unpretentious, simple, and intimate.

It is the weathering of a statue, the nicks of time on furniture, the scarring of old bronze, the crawling of moss on stone, and even the natural aging process of a human being.

It is that last bit, that applies so directly to the experience of being human, that I want to focus on today. Wabi sabi embraces the natural process of growth, decay, and death. It is about accepting the impermanence of everything in life, including life itself.

It may be silly, but when it comes to everyday life, remembering the beauty of wabi sabi can do wonders for relieving stress or disappointment. When your favorite shoes start showing signs of wear and don't look quite so pretty anymore. When you lose an earring. When you look in the mirror on the morning of your 30th birthday and see the first signs of crows feet around your eyes (funny how it seems to work that way, right?). You can fully mourn the loss of what was, while knowing ultimately that it doesn't matter in the big picture, and that nothing is meant to be forever. You can live your human experience to the fullest while knowing that your suffering is not because of impermanence, but because of your reaction to impermanence.

To forget the truth of impermanence is to forget the truth of life. Life is about embracing each moment as it happens, and being able to see the beauty in each of those fleeting, beautiful, perfectly imperfect moments as they are gifted to you.

From the studio of
Neelou Saleh
Licensed Massage Therapist
Kingwood, TX
www.spiritoflotus.com

 
 
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At the beginning of every year many people create a list of goals for the year we call "resolutions." So many start off eating healthy, hitting the gym, putting themselves on a budget, etc.. But, we all know how well that goes. Most don't last more than three months, IF they make it that far. New Year's Resolutions are by and large, a huge failure. So, why do we keep making them, only to end up frustrated? Hmm, I don't know. Maybe we don't know what else to try for self and life improvement?

I have found over the past few years there is a much better way. Every year, I skip the resolutions and instead focus on a theme for the next year. There is something about having a theme that keeps me focused and continuing to take action throughout the year that fits within that theme, and at the end of the year I can look back and see how much I was able to accomplish.

What exactly do I mean by theme? Well, I look at what it is I want to improve in my life and choose a theme accordingly. I like to keep it broad enough to not be too strict about specifically what I am to be doing, but narrow enough to give me a sense of direction and focus.

Themes have been words such as Expansion or Growth, Self Care, Free Time, Create, Health, Independence, etc.. It is best to choose one word (or two if necessary, i.e. "Free Time") with an overarching theme for what area of yourself or your life you want to improve. You can create a plan for yourself within that theme to break down the steps of how you will make it happen if you like.

The reason I find themes to be so effective is that, throughout the year, if I find myself getting off track, I