I thought a lot about what I wanted to talk about in my yoga classes around the New Year. I also thought a lot about what I wanted to discuss in my cliche “year in review” post. 2017 was truly a rough year for me. I began with huge plans to travel, start a blog, run a half marathon, and just work on self-improvement. I declared to have “no resolutions” to allow room for grace and try to embrace my daily life and small steps rather than constantly focusing on the future. Unfortunately I hit my deductible and had a poor quality of life beginning July when I started allergy shots. More on that to come.
On a positive note, I’m not sure how we did accomplish all we did. The first half of the year was super successful. I decided I would finally start a blog that I would maintain. As you can see, I have stuck with it and have no plans to stop any time soon (I renewed my domain and host membership in December). I love sharing my opinions , knowledge, observations with the world. It has been invigorating and empowering for my introspective and introverted personality. I am a people pleaser in person, but tend to not filter my writing. It has helped me be more honest with myself.
Next, I taught my first hot yoga class on January 1, 2017, so my first class in January marked my 1 year anniversary at a hot studio. I truly feel like I have come so far in my teaching. I was frankly terrified of teaching large classes because I skirted through my chemistry degree without having to take even one public speaking class. I was terrified of teaching a group of 25 in April. When my home studio of nearly 2 years closed, I moved to Soul Yoga. It very quickly became my home but was not without challenges. My class moved from Sunday afternoon to Friday evening and that small change has made my life so much easier, expectantly. More notably, I taught a class of 81 the first month I was there. I teach a $5 class, so I get many beginners and I like to make them feel welcome and a part of the community, even if they’re lost as to what is going happening. I have 35 students strong every week and it hops up and down as the year passes. These class sizes allowed me to grow confidence and get over my anxiety of public speaking. I can honestly say teaching yoga has been the source of growth for my public speaking, anxiety, and articulation.
It just so happened that a spot to teach the summer King of Pops free classes opened up near the end of the summer in September, so I taught my first public free class of 150+. That was a huge benchmark for me because I tend to work things up like that in my mind. It was a mental hump I had to cross, and I now can’t wait to teach another at the beginning of the season.
On my official one year anniversary, the first $5 Friday of the New Year, I taught a record of 89 students. It was a wonderful, satisfying way to start the New Year.
Next, Brad and I did some great traveling in 2017. In addition to 2 family beach trips to Surfside and Myrtle Beach, Brad and I traveled to San Pedro, Belize. While there, we traveled miles through ancient undisturbed Mayan caves, experiencing real darkness, sliding into water flumes, observing sacrificed skeletons and pottery from the Aztecs to spiders the size of our hands. We chased a school of Permit on the second largest reef in the world and Brad added Bonefish to his catch list. I finally went for my first scuba dive and it was magical. We saw nurse sharks, eels, schools of fish, and even swam underneath a hole in the reef. Finally, we swam with stingrays and nurse sharks.
I practiced yoga an average of 3 times a week- a little less than my 4 times a week in 2016. In its place I ran and blogged.
My Carolina Gamecocks won 9 games. Brad lost 40 lbs on the ketogenic diet. I had an anaphylactic reaction to cashew meal, was allergy tested, and received an epipen. I started and stopped allergy shots due to a severe eczema reaction I developed to the shots. We found a primary physician.
I was featured on Greenville360 and became a contributing writer. I grew my Instagram and filled collaborations with Vii Code Skincare, Jord Watches, Romwe.com, and I have over 10 collaborations in the works. I wrote over 100 blog posts and published 3/4 of them. I joined the Greenville Bloggers Union and have met some smart girls there that help inspire me. I am very eager to start back in 2018.
I wrote over 100 blog posts, taught over 75 yoga classes, worked a full-time job, attended 10+ weddings, was in 4 of them, and was MOH for 2 of them.
Next, my SAO best friend, Kristin, married her Brad Shealy, a great, country guy from Chapin. We celebrated her bachelorette in Gatlinburg, TN and it was so good to catch up with her and our SAO sister, Amy. It had been years! We snowtubed and it was a really good time. I will remember it FOREEVERRR! (inside joke)
My college roomie and best friend Claudiana married her soulmate, Hugo Arzaluz and they are the cutest couple! We went to Orlando, FL and Epcot for her bachelorette party and it was such a great time. We danced to reggaeton in the clubs until they kicked us out! They had an “hora loca” at 11 or Crazy Hour and it was one of the coolest cultural parts of a wedding we have experienced. When I say cultural I mean you would have to experience one to understand! It was also great to see Claudiana’s family again, whom I met when I went to Venezuela in 2012.
My cousin Megan wed my brother-n-laws good friend, Cliff Butler. They hit it off at our 2016 New Years Eve party! ANDDD she moved closer to me to Greenville! Their wedding was absolutely beautiful and I hope to share more pictures soon! We took her to Savannah, GA for her bachelorette and it was so much fun besides me having serious allergy issues: I will simply say that we were standing outside a cemetery for a ghost tour and I had a legit Bridesmaids tummy-ache moment. It’s fine to laugh at it now!
Finally, my little sister Tillman finally tied the knot with Mr. Blair Ingram! We took her to Orlando and Magic Kingdom and Harry Potter World for her bachelorette. I’m pretty sure we all got a total of 12 hours the entire 3 days, but I will never forget the conversations, how lucky and good we got at skipping lines by pulling the “she’s getting married!”- card, and Tillman’s face every time we got the VIP treatment. She had a wedding vision from the start and we literally planned her entire wedding in 5 months to the day- with another wedding and vacations in between!
Unfortunately, working full-time, blogging a ton, teaching and practicing yoga, all these weddings, bachelorette parties, showers, and planning slightly compromised myself and challenged my planning and time management skills.
After I received some anabolic steroids to kick my eczema that the shots had caused, I was great a week or two and felt back to myself. About a week after I ceased the steroids, I began to develop hives. The eczema had been an ordeal in and of itself as I suffered for all of August and September and a good portion of October. However, I was able to use ointments and lotions and take long baths to ease the pain. In addition, if I scratched through my skin it gave me temporary relief. I slept very little for 2.5 months which screws with my hormones and really got me down. I was right back to myself once we ceased the shots.
Then the hives began. Painful, itchy, blotches that cover my entire body. I have received 2 rounds of anabolic steroids and a steroid shot, but they keep coming back. I scratch. Exercise, one of my happy things in life, is painful and hurts. Showering exacerbates the issue. Anyone I tell or have to describe my situation to goes through the mundane obvious that I have already researched and thoroughly investigated. I tested negative for a slew of autoimmune diseases, and I avoid all my major allergy triggers. I use a mattress and pillow encasesment, take 2-3 allegra a day, and another prescribed antihistamine. I use super hypoallergenic air filters, lotions, detergents, makeup, soaps, and cotton sheets and towels.
I am to a point where the obvious has been ruled out. Hives are caused by an imbalance in the immune system. This is likely a side effect of starting allergy shots as it raises antibody levels (to eventually normalize them), but there is no “reversing” the shots. I’ve had by B and D levels tested. Like the eczema, the hives really bring me down. I am up late scratching, tossing, and turning. But itching only leaves bruises and I can’t seem to itch down to beneath my skin, where the histamines are attacking my skin because there is no allergen to attack. My body is confused.
I have seen a primary physician and my allergist more times than I can count. I am seeing a dermatologist first thing in 2018 and may try the holistic route and at worst case scenario change to a strict diet of no sugar or carbs (a very anti-inflammatory diet). I have been exhausted and can barely get up nearly all year. I am hyper fatigued due to my excessive allergies and they have only gotten worse with age. They really consumed my life from July through the end of 2017.
I was really flaky with friends as a result of this. Blog to-do’s fell to the bottom of my to-do list. It got SO BAD that I went THREE WEEKS without taking a yoga class. And I am not one to shy away from just sitting in child’s pose half the time if I feel I need it.
I had to take off work. I even got tested for Lupus and a number of autoimmune diseases. That is how bad I feel and honestly at this point, negative diagnoses are just one more step toward never finding a resolution. Although this has only been occurring since Halloween, I hardly feel I am living lately. These chronic hives could randomly disappear as easily as they started. Or, they could continue for months, or worse, years. I am exhausted of hearing suggestions and hate to complain, so I will continue to look forward and work through it.
Finally, I will talk about what I want to achieve in 2018. Brad and I have big goals as a family that are more private and I will not discuss directly here. However, if you watch my Instagram stories I am sure I will mention or talk about those things throughout the year. Although I like to share things that are relatable or may help someone else, like my battle and issues with eczema, I try to avoid being a TMI-over sharer, but rather focus on and share personal experience for posts that may be of use or improve a reader’s wellness, happiness, and self-contentment. That can mean everything from helping you find a great piece that makes you feel like a hot mama to helping you add something affordable, cute, and functional to your wardrobe. This may also mean that I share 10 tips toward happiness or to make 2018 your best year yet (coming in the next week or two!). I may simply share an embarrassing moment in hopes that someone relates and it reaches one person to help him or her realize they are not the only one getting handed tough circumstances. I want my readers to find someone real, that does not sugar-coat, or put on a façade that I am perfectly balancing my whole life- because that is not “reel” (like my play on words?) life.
So shortly, my goal for this blog is to help improve the overall happiness, wellbeing, and contentment of other women through sharing relatable content. I want to help empower you, my reader, by helping you gain confidence by finding pieces that make you happy and confident, while also staying money-content through smart and strategic spending for your wardrobe. I want you to realize that you are not in this day-to-day struggle alone. I want to be a moment or just one story swipe of positive, uplifting content. I want to make fitness, health, and mental health achievable and accessible to any of my readers. I want to help you get in-the-know about items that improve my life and make me feel successful, productive, or put-together.
I am so beyond over seeing borderline narcissistic blogs putting up a perfect life where they are either falling apart on the inside, in debt, or have so much money that it would be embarrassing if they weren’t fashionable.
If you ever have a tutorial request or a question for me, please do not hesitate to ask! If you ever see my on the street and I do not personally know you- PLEASE come say hello! My hope is that my readers can become like friends and we can create an empowering community.
To end I will share some personal goals Brad and I have for our family in 2018. First, we want to travel. We are both quickly approaching 30 and expanding our family is on the horizon. Although we imagined ourselves with 3 kids by now, we are definitely sticking to our own natural evolution and timeline. To avoid the questions, I will not tell you WHEN we plan to have kids, but we do plan to do so in the next 5 years. Since life gets harder with kids, we have a specific list of places to where we plan to travel prior to children. We also want to refinish our upstairs and to move to a new home so we can make the physical room to expand.
I want to become simply “more fit” than I was last year. Taking care of myself is the first step. I also want to improve my time management and be easier on myself in regards to what I accomplish in a day. I want to start running again.
Personally, I want to start taking better care of myself. Facials, consistent nail and hair appointments (I literally got only 4 cuts in 2017). I want to get microblading done, but most OBVIOUSLY, I want to work to get my diet perfected so that I can minimize my skin and eczema problems. This is easily the most important and notable goal for me.
In regards to money, I want to save up 5K per year for the next 5 years to account for a “rainy day” fund. We also want to save and invest more of our income. I would love to get some new furniture, but investing is our priority. I would love to snag a couple new designer pieces for my closet and spend less on trendy items. I want to focus on purchasing staples and pieces that can be worn several ways.
I have a number of career goals that are personal, but posting on this blog consistently is at the top of the career portion of my list. Next, I want to reopen my Etsy shop under a different name and attend some spring festivals at which to sell my art. To achieve that, I want to start painting weekly. I also want to see if I can expand my side hustles.
Finally, I want to have coffee with all those people I have talked about getting coffee with, rather than hiding in my bubble. I want to spend A LOT more time with my husband this year. I want more one-on-one time with my parents, grandma, and siblings. I want to continue to stay in touch with friends.
I intricately laid out my plans for 2018 and will probably share all of them with you mid-year when I reanalyze myself. I have found the DAY DESIGNER strategic planner to be of great use in helping me plan. It breaks yearly goals down into a few pages by organizing 1. MY CORE values, passions, and strengths. 2. Goals for: Myself (personal care), My People (Family and Friends), My Heart (Personal Growth), My Resources (Time, Money, Energy), and My Career (Business). Further, these sections are also broken down by quarters of the year for 2018. Finally, it has a chart to take weekly steps toward achieving those goals. You can find this beautiful planner HERE. I am loving it, the daily quote, gratitude, to-do lists for each day, and schedule, broken down by hour. There is one full page available for each weekday.
If you happen to still be with me reading, thank you for being a reader, supporting me, and being my friend! I hope you have a wonderful 2018 and wish amazing, successful things for you and your family. Thanks for staying real and I look forward to sharing my 2018 REEL.
With Great Joy,
The Audrey Reel