I woke up this morning just before five. After a while of telling myself, this is Saturday, you really could sleep in, another part of me was pulsating with energy and singing at me that I could get up and work on me. I chose to get up.
I made my hot lemon water, an early morning ritual I’ve come to enjoy since I did the Conscious Cleanse. And here I am in the silence of the morning, energized, focused and happy.
Let me back track a bit, two months ago you couldn’t pay me to get up this early on a weekend. I started the new year feeling better than last New Year’s but still hungover, still foggy and still out of shape. At some point I said to myself, “forget this!” I don’t want to do this anymore. There are things that just aren’t working for me. It was time to make a change. This time it wasn’t going to be about changing where I live, changing who I’m with or changing my job, it was going to be about changing ME.
Right now, it’s the end of the first month of a new year. In a new year, many of us have a ritual of making resolutions, starting fresh, revamping or cleaning up and clearing out. It’s not surprising that January sees the most volume in gym enrollments or people donating to Goodwill or people trying all sorts of cleanses.
There is something about a new year that drives us to want to become new as well.
I had never done a cleanse before. The first week was like torture. I had a dull headache every day. I was grumpy. The food preparation was unfamiliar and time consuming and I loathed it. As the days progressed though, I began embracing my new practices: crafting delicious green smoothies, experimenting with food combinations that would take the least amount of toll on my digestive system, testing out daily action plans and journaling – lots of journaling.
My first weekend saw a turning point in me. For the first time in five days, I didn’t wake up with a headache. Hallelujah! I felt happy, really happy. I felt energized. For the fist time, I felt a sense of hope.
I clung to that feeling and guess what? It only got better. I now feel lighter, freer, happier, more energetic and clearer. Clarity is what I wanted most out of the cleanse. A light bulb has gone off in me. I’m not ready to share it with anyone yet. Soon, though, I will shine brightly exposed.
Clarity is what I wanted most.
With a cleanse, a resolution, a start of a new year or a beginning of anything for that matter, a few things help us get on that path. There is a method and, trust me, it works!
- Review the past. Where have you come from? What are the things that have made you who you are? What are the occurrences that have brought you to today?
- Get perspective. What has worked for you in the decisions you’ve made? What hasn’t? What do you like about who you are? What parts of you do you wish you could change?
- Begin journaling. How do you feel about you now? What is your work life like? Physical activity life? Relationship life? Spiritual life? Delve into the status of your energy level, immune system, sleep patterns, mood, stress level and body appearance and function inside and out. Start a practice of transferring your thoughts into the action and a routine of writing.
- Set an intention. What do you want? See yourself there. Feel how you’d feel as if you were there. Carry that vision and that feeling with you at all times.
- Work on yourself. Give some love to yourself. Pamper yourself. Learn something new. Get creative. Hone in to your spiritual side. Exercise!
- Cleaning up and clearing out. Give your home some love. A makeover in your living space will do wonders for your wellbeing.
- Give and be grateful. Offer to help someone. Volunteer. Start practicing gratitude.
Reflection is a powerful thing. When I took the time to reflect not only on the previous year, but all the years before that that have lead up to the present, I found myself focusing on my major life changes and how they have shaped me: my parents’ divorce, the move to Florida, the decision to live with my dad, college, grad school, television career start, getting engaged, getting unengaged, my six-month backpacking trip, the move to New Zealand, starting my business, my mom’s death, adopting my dog, selling my business and moving to Santa Cruz.
For me, getting perspective is one of the easiest parts of the “creating new” processes. When we’re in the moment of decision-making or in the moment of an evolution, we have no idea what will come out of it. We sort of throw our arms up and surrender that everything will be ok. When we look back though, it’s often easy to see, ah ha, there’s where I should have done this instead or why do I always do that?
Here’s the part many of us don’t do. There’s something about carving out time to write down your thoughts and feelings that both guides the “creating new” process and helps it stick and become true. Journaling is an action. It stirs up the desire to want to “do.” Doing sets the path of making change.
This is the most challenging and the most important part of the process. Often our minds are cluttered with multiple wants and wishes. We may be being pulled in a direction by our partner, boss or friend. The best thing to do is meditate for a bit each day. Get quiet within yourself and pay attention to blips that come in. Not the things like, oh I have to remember to pick up toilet paper at the store but the imagery and the light. What thoughts bring you the most warmth?
Another powerful thing to do is return to journaling and write down: “what do I want?” Then if you had that, what would you want from it? Then if you had that, what would you want from that? Write until you can’t think of anything else then stop. How do you feel imaging yourself at the last point you were at? Grasp that and set that as your intention.
Think about the word “intention.” It means you intend to do something. You intend to take action. You intend to make something happen. Making something happen is creating change. To make all of this happen, we need to carry that intention with us at all times. Cradle that vision, that goal within you. Don’t get distracted from it. Revisit it often throughout each day.
It’s true we often pay attention to our own needs last. Sure we get by making certain we have food and some sleep to function in our daily lives but we’d benefit so much more by taking the time to not cheat ourselves and tune into what our bodies and minds really need.
We are so busy these days that we use the excuse that we can accomplish more by skimping on sleep or grabbing a quick processed food meal. In the long run, this does us more harm than good. Cutting out foods that are bad for us and learning how to buy and prepare whole foods will do wonders for your sleep patterns, physical and mental health.
- Pamper yourself. We tend to feel guilty spending the money or taking the time to indulge in treating ourselves. We’d much rather spend $60 on a concert ticket than on a massage. The truth is, the act of allowing ourselves a massage, facial, pedicure, hot tub or sauna is an act of love to yourself. There’s something that goes on in our brain chemistry there where we say, “I love me.” This feels good. It brings with it self-value, self-love and self-confidence. Simple as that. Just try it.
- Learn something new. Ever tried photography, painting, playing an instrument, scuba diving, rock climbing? Again, we often think we’re too busy to do these things. Or it’s too expensive. Well, it doesn’t have to cost much, if anything. Investing the time is worth it. Many scientific studies report that learning a new skill results in increased optimism, desire and ability to get the most from life.
- Get in touch with your spiritual side. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, we all have a little Yoda inside. This often gets ignored and brushed aside. We may feel it in a blip when we recognize a moment of beauty be it nature, children, the elderly, animals. It may be what we see as a miracle, something unexplainably good. Some of us may find it in church. Wherever, however you connect with your zen side, do it. Make it a habit. Take 10 minutes at the end of the day to sit outside with your eyes closed and breathe deeply.
Cleaning and Clearing
There’s a reason many of us participate in the tradition of spring-cleaning. After the haze has lifted from the holidays, we have the urge to not only to drop some pounds from ourselves but also to rid excess from our living spaces. It feels good and freeing. Take some time to go through all the stuff you’ve accumulated and sort out what you don’t need or what isn’t good. It will have you feeling lighter.
Try on things. If they don’t fit right, lose them. Stop holding onto things that are outdated thinking they’ll come back in fashion again some day. If you haven’t used something in a year, get rid of it. Purge your fridge and cupboards of what isn’t healthy for you.
As you do the clearing out ritual, clean. Clean every nook and cranny. Save money and be healthy by using a homemade non-toxic cleaner. A simple concoction of a baking soda, vinegar with warm water works great in many areas.
Now, donate your unwanted pile of clothes and household items to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army or other charity. Non-perishable unopened foods can be donated to a local food bank. Animal shelters will happily accept blankets, towels and comforters. Make sure items are washed first.
Giving and Gratitude
You might not think these things belong on this list but they play an important part in health and happiness. I’ve talked a lot about how I’ve learned how to build a better me and get on a path to my life’s dream. It’s important to not get so self-focused that you lose touch with others in the world. Know that other people help you in ways you may not even realize. Know that others are going through the same thing you are. Some are in much, much worse states than you think you are.
• Giving a part of yourself does wonders for your soul. It connects you to other people. It brings you compassion. Compassion and connection brings us happiness. Whether you take a couple of seconds in a day or devote a day or a week of your time to help another in need, it all adds up to bettering you.
Help someone with directions. Offer to help carry someone’s shopping bags. Pay for someone’s toll. Volunteer. Donate clothes or household items. There are a lot of ways you can contribute to someone else’s happiness.
• Lastly, practice being grateful. Whether you do it at the beginning of each day, just before you go to bed or all throughout the day, acknowledging the things, the times, the people you are grateful for will make you feel better.
We tend to spend so much of our days honing in on what we think is bad in our lives and what we don’t like about ourselves. We begin from the moment we wake up and look in the mirror. “Ugh, why is my hair so boring?” “Why do I have to have these wrinkles?” “I’m so fat!” Then we move on in the day. “Why is this person driving so slow in front of me?” “Why does that person get all attention at my job?” “If I had more money, I would be happier.”
You can imagine what all this negativity building up in you can do to your self-esteem and your view of yourself in the world. Well, stop it!
What if you turned that around? I know it sounds “woo-woo” hippidy dippity but it works. Do it in your head and write it down. Start a gratitude journal. You’ll be amazed to see how many things you actually have going for yourself and how much you have to be grateful for. I promise you, that list will be a lot longer than what you think you don’t have going for you.
In summary, all of these action plans, these tools I’ve listed combine to get you on the path to a better you. It sounds like work, I know, but just think of it as gifts to yourself. Who doesn’t want a gift? And these add up to one “you” wrapped up with love and tied with a bow of happiness set to explode open to your life’s dream.
These 7 steps add up to one “you” wrapped up with love and tied with a bow of happiness set to explode open to your life’s dream!
What do you want most out of life? What do you think is stopping you from having what you want? Do you think there’s anything that would add to this list? Is there something I’ve left out? I’d love to hear from you! Please reply in the comment section below.
- Please share this post. After all, spreading the word is an act of kindness that could end up helping someone you know or someone you don’t know.
Thank you and take care.