I don’t think I’ll ever be finished figuring out how to improve my life.
And at 47, I still don’t think I’ve “peaked” yet… I still feel have time to get it right.
I know this could either be cute or ridiculous (or both) but it’s true.
Of course, “improve” is a relative and strictly personal assessment.
What I consider to be an upgrade might sound really terrible to someone else.
This isn’t about what’s universally right, just what’s right for me.
But here, just for the heck of it, are ten changes I have made:
Some take constant maintenance (like #3), some not so much.
I used to worry a lot, second-guessing just about everything — particularly in social situations. I’d fret that I’d offended Mrs. So-and-So or that I’d really put my foot in it with Mr. Whosiswhatsits. My insecurity seemed never-ending.
I’ve heard it said (by whom I’m not sure, and Google won’t tell me) that worry is like “praying for something you don’t want to have happen,” so I have consciously worked over the years to avoid it whenever possible.
Choosing not to worry doesn’t mean you’re choosing not to care. It just means that you’re deciding to apply your creativity toward solutions instead of concerns.
I used to love a glass of Merlot (sorry Paul Giamatti in Sideways!) in the winter and Pinot Grigio in the summer (other favorites, all kinda girlie: Sangria, Saki, Sherry during the holidays, and the random Gin and Tonic).
Granted, I was never a big drinker to begin with (my last hangover was New Years Day, 1997), but I did look forward to my ritualistic glass of wine when I cooked dinner in the evenings.
For years, I had thought about giving it up, primarily because I began to realize that it wasn’t enhancing my life. It really just made me tired and I was tired enough without any extra help.
Then when I began preparing to work a professional intuitive, I knew I wanted to be clear and sharp as possible all of the time (never groggy or foggy), so I became more serious about the ol’ flesh temple.
As a result, I dropped drinking five and a half years ago and have not missed it as I feared I might.
3. Take Things Personally
In 2003, I read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It explained the tenants of Toltec wisdom and was life-changing.
I could write a whole blog just about the agreements, but for the purpose of this post, I learned how not to take things personally from this book.
According to Toltec Wisdom, we’re never meant to take anything personally, because when other people are insensitive or offend us, etc. it is always about them, not us (I’m paraphrasing but this is the gist).
This was life-changing for me because I used to take tons of things personally which often weighed me down (see #1).
Note: not taking things personally is not the same as not taking responsibility.
4. Eating Meat + Poultry + Pork
I first thought about giving up meat when I lived in Paris is 1988.
I would walk past the butcher shops and found it difficult to see the carcasses in the windows.
I respected how out there Europeans are with their animal consumption. Bunny? Bring it!
They don’t put it in a plastic tray and try to pass it off as something not once alive, the way we do in the United States.
Twenty years later, I was still eating meat and poultry, but I realized it had gotten to the point that the only way I could cook it was if they were as far removed from the animal as possible (i.e. plain white chicken breast, with no skin, fat, tendons, etc.).
Over time, I began to feel like a hypocrite because I knew that if I had to slaughter an animal, I don’t think I could bring myself to do it.
Therefore, I finally decided that if I didn’t have the nerve to kill it, then I had no right to eat it.
However, quixotically, I do think I could fish if I had to, so I still eat seafood right now (though I could decide to eliminate it too at some point).
I am far from perfect in my approach (I still wear leather and love dairy so I don’t ever see myself going vegan, but who knows?).
I never said this was an ideal system, but this is where I am with it now.
This is a tough one, more of a practice than perfection. I do think I judge way less than I used to, but I can in no way claim to be 100% judgement free.
There are times when I do have strong feelings about other people’s choices or actions and I can feel myself judging them.
Or if I feel like I’m being judged, I freak out a little, but then I remember #3, “Riiiiight, I don’t take things personally any more.”
The adage, we judge what we don’t understand, is in my opinion, the key to the whole judgement business.
I use this concept like a mantra whenever I start to feel judgy, as a cue to deepen my understanding.
Many times I get there and release judgment and sometimes I don’t, but I’m always working on it. Please don’t judge me.
NOTE: I must mention that when I’m working with a client, judgement never comes into play. This is because we’re working from the soul and the soul, in my experience, is naturally loving. The soul doesn’t judge. Only our egos do.
6. Over Apologize
Okay, I am still prone to this because I loath making other people uncomfortable in any way shape or form and in the past have been a bit co-dependent in my apologizing states.
I will still do this sometimes, because I never want to hurt or inconvenience, but I do work on it since overkill isn’t necessarily necessary. Sorry!
7. Forget to be Grateful
Once not long ago, I told my husband, “You never have to worry about me taking things for granted, because I dwell in a state of gratitude.”
It’s how I start my day and how I end it. It’s also the middle. I’m just grateful all the live long day.
This does not mean that I’m ridiculously happy every minute, but it does mean that I never complain, feel sorry for myself, or envy anyone else.
Though I used to do all of these things. Gratitude has cured me.
No matter how terrible things are — what kind of crisis we may be experiencing — gratitude can get us through.
It has absolutely carried me through the worst times in my life and it terrifically enhances the best.
8. Compare Myself to Others
I used to inhabit the illusion that other people had life figured out and somehow inexplicably, I was never issued the handbook.
Then over time, I came to understand that no one really has it figured out and the ones that claim they do, I actually don’t trust.
It’s a waste of life force to compare ourselves to other people… people who we think are living “our lives,” have “our careers” taking “our vacations” or enjoying “our stability.”
While we may not consciously think these things, if we FEEL them, then the energetic reality is the SAME.
We can’t kid ourselves that we aren’t feeling envy when we are… that just makes it worse.
In my opinion, we torture ourselves by envying or resenting what others appear to have.
If we learn to love what we have, no matter how seemingly imperfect it may be, we pave the runway for what we really want to have land in our lives.
(Please see #9, they dovetail).
9. Feel Sorry for Myself
The great news is that when I started living #8, this became much easier to cease.
Like everyone, I have experienced big disappointments, loss, hurt, and betrayals. I have had low self-esteem and felt unworthy.
When things happened in my life that caused me pain, I would feel like a victim, wondering, “Why me?”
Instead now I claim my pain — every single nasty scrap.
(This is the undercarriage for #3)
I ask “Why?” instead of “Why me?”
I look at my experiences objectively and mine the lessons in each one for each one has some gold in it somewhere.
It’s not often pleasant, but it is by far the most liberating and empowering change I have made (and continue to make).
It has shifted my life in the most powerful manner — almost more than anything else on this list (save for #10).
10. Not Listening To My Intuition
As a professional intuitive this might seem contradictory, but it took me many years to learn to trust what I feel over what I think.
Our intuition, our “little voice,” our guts, whatever you want to call it, is a powerful form of guidance whose purpose is to 1.) Protect us, i.e. Don’t go to that party. 2.) Quietly point the way towards more harmony, happiness, and personal success i.e. Apply for that job even though you’re not sure you’re qualified.
I have learned this lesson, like most people, the hard way. I have ignored my intuition much to my peril and regretted it so profoundly that I knew never to ignore it again.
Now it’s my primary method for making all decisions. It not only has never steered me wrong, it has led me to a completely gratifying career helping other people with it.
Thanks for reading!
PS: Things I will never go without: Cheese, Coffee, and TV.
PPS: Things I am still working on: Not procrastinating (I started this post while I was still 46), time management, punctuality… anyone else noticing a theme here?