Happy New Year, TFD fam!

I hope you’re settling into this new decade with grace and compassion. I’ve been doing these New Year posts for a while now and it’s a nice opportunity for me to connect with ya’ll on a personal level. Because the recipes are fun and helpful, but if you’re anything like me, you crave knowing the person behind the scenes and being reminded of their vulnerability and imperfectness. Because at the end of the day even the most seemingly “successful” (however you define that), are still human and still struggle.

If you haven’t been following along the past few years, you may not know that I set a theme, intention, or word for each year, rather than setting New Year’s resolutions. 

My word or theme for 2019 was GROW. 

Growing Professionally

Kara Lydon Nutrition is growing! We expanded our team and have an awesome administrative assistant helping out with our private practice and we have a wonderful assistant supporting the blog and social media. AND we’re currently hiring a registered dietitian to join the team to provide nutrition counseling at our office in downtown Boston and assist with some marketing and blog support. I couldn’t be more excited to have another RD on board soon!

We launched a brand new website this year and it beautifully reflects my brand and business as it stands today. We also launched a new free guide to making peace with carbs! And the landing page for that free guide was recognized by ConvertKit and I won their 2019 Landing Page Challenge! It was a complete shock and I was so grateful to win. 

One of the parts of my job I love is traveling around the country (and globe!) to learn more about different products on the market or commodities and how they are produced or harvested. In March, I got to travel to Florida with the Florida Department of Citrus, which was a reprieve the Boston winter. And I was lucky enough to extend my trip for personal time and Steve met me there and we stayed with my Grandmother and got to meet my cousin’s (then few month old) baby girl!

Kara in front of a citrus tree

Kara smiling with her grandmother during a trip to Florida

Kara and Steve on the beach in Florida

Kara holding her baby cousin

I also got to head up to Maine in June (I adore Maine) to spend some time with Stonewall Kitchen, which was a blast. And if I was a fan before, that trip made me a super fan. It was one of my favorite press trips to date. I mean we made s’mores on the beach. So ‘nough said. Steve met me there and we got to spend an extra night in adorable York, Maine, and I’m hoping we’ll make it back there again this summer.

Kara posing in front of a lighthouse in Maine

roasting marshmallows over a bonfire

Kara eating a Lobster Roll Sandwich

Kara and Steve visiting Maine

The top professional highlight for me was traveling to LA to lead a sponsored culinary demo to a group of bloggers at BlogHer. It was my first live, in-person, culinary demo and it was a blast. I always enjoy public speaking (after having a mild panic attack the night before a talk) and this combined with demoing three recipes I developed was the best feeling in the world. I hope to be able to do more of these in the future! And I also enjoyed the BlogHer conference and got to hear Jameela Jamil speak, so year made.

Kara teaching a workshop at BlogHer

Growing personally

With the year came some epic highs and lows (cause, #life, amirite). The highest of highs was buying our very first home together! We knew we wanted to buy a home a few years ago because pouring your money into rent for 10 years is never fun, so we invested in a financial planner in 2018 to help us get there. At times, it felt impossible that we would ever be able to buy in Boston. In fact, we weren’t even seriously looking or ready by any means to buy when we put an offer in on our place. We went to ONE day of open houses just to see what was in our neighborhood and because it was the first nice day of spring LOL. The fourth and last home we saw was the one we are living in today. We walked through and it just felt right. It felt like us. And it checked all of our (top) boxes.

Kara posing in front of her new home

So Steve made a call the following day to a realtor that was recommended, got our papers in order and got pre-approved for our mortgage two days later. And then put an offer in the following morning (and it was accepted the next day). Within four days of searching for a home, we had a house. I realize we are extremely lucky and that for the majority of people it is a much more painful and heart-wrenching process. To be fair, we had been “looking” for years. We just weren’t ready to do the whole down payment thing lol. And one thing that really helped us is we weren’t looking for perfection with the home. It didn’t have to check all the boxes. Just the most important ones. We went with our gut instead of overthinking it. And I kept saying if it’s meant to be, it will be, and it will all work out (it did, it was).

Kara and Steve holding the keys to their new home

Our other high for the year was our trip to France – went to Nice for 4 days and Paris for one day. We try to take a big trip every year together – 2018 was Italy, 2017 was Vietnam and Laos, and 2016 was Greece. This trip was shorter than usual, cause #homeowners, but it was nothing short of amazing. Because we were only there for 4 days, we dove right into vacation mode without missing a beat. I logged out of my social media apps and didn’t check my email. It was the first time I intentionally and willingly disconnected from social media fully for an entire week since 2014 (YIKES!). I say intentionally and willingly because I did take many breaks from technology during my concussion recovery but not because I wanted to. It was GLORIOUS. And I’ve been better at taking more breaks from social media since. In fact, I took another whole week off when I went to Kripalu in November. Don’t get me wrong, I love how social media allows me to connect with and inspire people all over the world. But I’m also human and it can initiate comparison and feelings of less than or not doing enough. 

Kara visiting a restaurant in France

Kara and Steve on the beach

Kara and Steve smiling in front of the Eiffel Tower

My Women’s Week Retreat experience at Kripalu was my personal growth highlight of the year. I reconnected deeply with myself for the first time since probably my last yoga retreat in Costa Rica in 2014. I was long overdue. Through some incredible facilitated embodiment work, I was able to get out of my head (where I spend a lot of my time) and back into my body. I was able to experience profound heart opening, inner peace, and connection to my Self and others. I was reminded of our common humanity and how as women, we all share many of the same limiting beliefs or fear-based narratives. I was reminded of my inherent nature of playfulness and joy and how much I enjoy dancing and singing, being silly and weird, and exuding feminine energy. If you want to learn more about this retreat and my experience, you can read the full blog post here.

Kara visiting Kripalu 

Of course there were also profound lows for the year. January and February started with some really challenging family and relationship dynamics, uncertainties, grief, anger, fear, and anxiety. The grief and anger lingered throughout the year but I am learning to sit with those feelings (anger historically is a particularly hard one for me) and allowing them to take up space when they surface rather than burying or dismissing them. I gave myself space when needed (aka a weekend to myself in Venice Beach after my work trip in January and a week in the Berkshires at Kripalu) and I went to therapy weekly (for the most part) for the entire year! And yes, I do consider going to therapy weekly an impressive feat!

palm trees in front of the sunset on the beach

Kara smiling for a selfie

poached eggs

2020 Intentions

This year feels a little different for me. Usually, I have my entire year mapped out around one central theme. I create goals in different areas of my life for every quarter (thank you, Day Designer). But this year, I’m setting intentions and letting it unfold, one step at a time. The truth is I have so many ideas of what I’d like to do and different visions for the year so rather than decide it all right now and map it out, for now, I’m going to focus on doing the next right thing. I also want to give myself space this year to play – play with creating, with trying new things, taking new risks, both professionally with my business and personally.

So perhaps my word for this year is PLAY.

I took a yoga workshop on New Year’s Day and the teacher shared that what we pay attention to determines the quality of our lives. She invited us to reflect on what we paid attention to in 2019 that we want to pay less attention to this year, and what we want to pay more attention to in 2020.

Here are the intentions I jotted down:

  • cultivating more connection to Self, and others
  • less scrolling, more stillness
  • more play and less seriousness
  • more presence and totality
  • more gratitude and focusing on what’s good, less focus on what’s not working
  • taking more ownership of my own happiness

I’m excited to see how I can invite more play into my personal and professional life this year, and to see how my intentions steer the course of this year. I also spent some time last month reflecting on the entire last decade and looking ahead to the 2020’s using Marie Forleo’s MF Decade in Review. She shared a quote (not hers) that I thought was helpful: “People overestimate what can be done in one year, and underestimate what can be done in ten.” ~ J. C. R. Licklider. I don’t know about you but this rings true for me. I usually don’t get everything done in one year that I want to but after reflecting on the 2010’s, holy crap, I did more than I ever dreamed was possible! I became a RD, worked for one of the fastest-growing food start-ups, traveled around the country and globe, got married, started a blog, started my own business, grew my business and hired a team, presented at national conferences, became a yoga teacher, bought a home, and the list goes on. Damn, the 2010s were a wild ride. I hope the next decade is just as fun.

Now, I want to hear from you! What is your theme for 2020? Or, one of your intentions? Tell me in the comments below! And if you have any feedback for me about what you want to see more of on the blog this year, leave that in the comments too! Or email me at kara(at)karalydon(dot)com.

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