10 Things That Dramatically Changed My Life
Recently it was my 33rd birthday - it feels like a special number don't you think? I'm a bit of a "sign-from-the-Universe" kind of a girl so any sequences or patterns of numbers showing up in my life feels like a good omen to me. Each year on my birthday I have a small ritual whereby I reflect back on the changes in my life over the past year - it truly is amazing to see how much can happen in 12 short months and each year as I get older I get so excited about the possibilities ahead of me. Where will I be this time next year? Who will I meet? What will I do? How will things be different and what will stay the same?
I looked at the obvious things; I started studying, I switched career, I moved countries. But, behind these huge shifts were all the little ways my life changed; my behaviour, my thoughts, the way I reacted, my energy. To close off my birthday month celebrations (yes this exists in my world) I thought I would share 10 things that I have introduced into my life or changed that have dramatically improved the quality of my life.
10 things that changed my life
1. Went off the pill
I went on the pill when I was about 14 or 15 as a recommendation from my GP to help clear up the severe teen acne I was suffering from. Over the years I toyed with the idea of going off the pill but my fear of unplanned pregnancy and my acne returning kept me on it despite not being educated on the effect it was having on my hormones and therefore my body. I went off the pill in January 2015 and fell pregnant 6 weeks later (so never had a period). Then I breastfed for 15 months and went straight back on the pill. I decided to go off the pill 6 months ago out of pure curiosity with what happened during your monthly cycle - I had never had a period naturally before, I never knew what my body felt like when it wasn't pumped fall of synthetic hormones. I wanted to become attuned to my body and decided the first step was to stop taking the pill.
It has been so amazing feeling my body change as my period is due and what it feels like during ovulation, experiencing period pain and watching the shifts in my energy and moods unfold. Experience teaches us that periods are embarrassing or annoying but I am literally so amazed at how wise my body is and how in tune I am with it when I pay attention #flow
2. Reduced my meat intake
As a butchers daughter, I grew up on meat, eating it with almost every single meal; 3 times a day every single day. Like most people, I thought we needed meat for protein, weight loss, energy, ALL sorts of reasons. I didn't even question it. And then one day, after watching a documentary on a plant-based diet called Food Choices, I decided to try it out.
Initially, the biggest struggle for me was to think of new ways to cook the food I was used to eating. Then it was the constant criticism from others who didn't understand why I would bother. Like all things though eventually over time I just stopped thinking about how hard it was and it became a normal part of life.
I did it incrementally - small manageable chunks, first eliminating red meat, then pork then chicken. Now I limit my seafood consumption to that caught by myself or someone I know and only for 3-4 meals within a week. I am slowly reducing my dairy intake starting with black coffee.
My body feels better for it and I'm more conscious about what I put into my body (not eating meat forces you to stop and think about what you actually do want to eat). Something I never thought I'd be able to do now feels like a very ordinary but healthier way of life.
I'm the first to admit I'm proud of my brain; my logic, my intelligence, my ability to problem solve. So being able to tune out of my ego (brain) and into my intuition (inner being/truth) was made easier through meditation. It helped me to separate myself from my thinking self and see that I am not my thoughts or my mind, I have thoughts and my brain is just one tool I use to do this little thing called life. I try and meditate at the start of each day for 20-30 minutes (though some days with a toddler I take what I can get). Meditation helps you to root yourself into the moment and that awareness can create great momentum for the day ahead.
There are so many myths around meditation and people (including myself) have given up because it's too hard, too weird or they can't quieten their mind. Deepak Chopra states "Meditation isn’t about stopping our thoughts or trying to empty our mind – both of these approaches only create stress and noisier internal chatter. We can’t stop or control our thoughts, but we can decide how much attention to give them. Although we can’t impose quiet on our mind, through meditation we can find the quiet that already exists in the space between our thoughts. Sometimes referred to as “the gap,” this space between thoughts is pure consciousness, pure silence, and pure peace." I live for the gap no matter how big or small.
4. Gave myself permission to have negative emotions and thoughts
I believed that it made me a bad person to have negativity coursing through my mind whether aimed at myself or others and therefore never dealt with any of the crap that went on in my head. When things got tough I shut it down - if it didn't exist, then I didn't have to deal with it. I allowed my thoughts and emotions to control me and slowly but surely the toxicity would start to steep into the area's of my life causing me suffering, anguish and heartache.
Unfortunately, emotions (especially repressed ones) are like snowballs rolling down a mountain, they gain momentum until eventually, they are so big that they annihilate everything in their wake. If you don't deal with them, they don't go away they just get worse and start showing up in your life in other (and often) more destructive ways. They prevent you from showing up fully and reaching your highest potential.
Now when I have negative emotions/thoughts I am curious, I don't judge myself. I look at where they are coming from, explore the root cause and only then am I able to have the objectivity to reach for a different mindset. In order to have growth and change, you need to acknowledge, accept and then adjust.
5. Learnt how to say 'No'
I was a yes girl. Yes, I'll agree to something that doesn't make me happy as long as you are happy. Yes, I'll do that thing for you even though I don't have the time or resources to do it. Yes, I'll overcommit and then stress out about how I'm going to make it work later. Yes, I'll put myself out to make things easier for you.
Now people weren't asking me or forcing me to say yes (not always anyway) BUT I certainly burdened myself with the guilt, judgement and responsibility to be as available and flexible as possible. It was how I showed love, it was unconsciously how I tried to receive love (if I do this thing for you then you'll love/need me).
Learning to say no is hard. Sometimes people feel let down, hurt or even rejected and that hurts me. But as I learn more about myself I realise they are just emotions they are experiencing because of where they are at in their lives. If I say no it's not because I don't care about you, it's because I care about me. I want to do something because I want to do it, because it genuinely feels good to me and I can contribute in a way that benefits not just you but myself as well. I want to be energised in all things I do in my life including being of service to others. How you choose to respond says more about you than it does me.
6. Started saying 'Yes'
This is not contradicting the point above; I didn't start saying yes to everything but I did start saying yes to myself. Growing up and throughout my adult life, I was hesitant to try things I desperately wanted to try because I was ruled by fear. 'Oh I can't do that I'm too scared, I'm going to look stupid, I'm going to fail, it's too hard'. Although I don't really look at life in a way where I regret things, I can acknowledge now that there were a lot of opportunities I missed out on because I was afraid.
But guess what - I don't have to be the best at something. I don't have to worry what other people say or think about me. I say yes because I want to do it. I say yes because life is fun. I say yes because that's my answer to fear. I say yes because I have no attachment to the outcome. I say yes because I seek joy, confidence and maybe if I'm lucky a little bit of growth.
7. Daily rituals
Sometimes having a ritual is hard with a toddler but I don't let that stop me from trying! It can be easy to laze around in the morning and stay in bed as long as possible, but then you get up in a panic and start rushing around and this is your setpoint for the day. Morning and/or evening rituals are a vital part of my day, they help me set the tone for my day and start on a positive note, or allow me to reflect, refresh and recalibrate myself at the end of one.
My morning routine includes;
- Coffee (this goes without saying)
- Meditation (see point 3)
- Scheduling - I check my calendar, emails, and to do list for the day so I know exactly what I need to do and where I need to be, it helps me feel more focused, productive and organised
- Diffuse oils for the day depending on what energy I want to evoke
My evening routine includes;
- Meditation again if I have had something come up during the day I want to reflect on or clear out
- Tidy the house before bed - I like waking up to a clean, tidy house; it makes me feel like the day is fresh and new rather than carrying crap over from the night before
- Diffuse oils for the evening; usually Lavender or Serenity (Lavender Peace)
Do things that resonate with and feel good to you. Don't pick too many so that your morning and evening routine takes up hours in your day; the simpler the routine the more likely you are to carry on with it.
8. Conscious of my language
As a coach, I am really conscious of the words or language I use and it's easy to see with others where they're at with what they're saying and how resistant they seem to things. There is the obvious language like, "I'm useless", "I'm fat" and "I'm worthless". Then there is more subtle language like "I've always been indecisive", "I'm all over the place at the moment", "I've always struggled to lose weight" or "I'm not surprised, things like this always happen to me". These all indicate that the person believes they have no control over what is happening to them. Life doesn't happen to you, it happens for you and we always have a choice about how we respond to or take action on the things around us and the lessons we choose to learn. I'm not saying the path is easy but it's possible.
Your subconscious has no judgement, no ability to reason - that's not it's job. So whatever language you use your subconscious is basically like "OK I agree" and builds it into your physical body, creating a belief system that you live by and therefore creating more situations where that thought is proved true. If you are telling yourself the story that losing weight is a struggle then, of course, it's going to be a struggle - your body is only doing what you tell it to do after all.
Be conscious of your language; "I'm worthy", "I can handle anything that comes my way" and "I am beautiful" are all better options than the alternative. After all, you create what you send out into the world.
I worked and lived in a remote construction site for 4.5 years on Barrow Island just off the coast of Western Australia. I worked in a cramped office environment (20-40 people seated at tiny desks in a space the size of a swimming pool), I ate in a food hall surrounded by the people you work and live with and each night I went back to my tiny donger (room) with the only natural light coming from a minuscule sized window that was covered with thick mesh to cyclone proof it. It was suffocating, difficult and we jokingly called it Barrow prison because that's what it felt like most days. There was no escaping the people or the stark barren environment you lived and worked in, day in and day out.
So to me, nature is pure unadulterated freedom, I rejuvenate sitting in the sun, I like to be near the water, the ocean is cleansing and I feel at peace when I am outdoors in wide open spaces. Every moment that I am in nature I am in full appreciation of the beauty of it and the liberty I have to enjoy it.
Now I am not a Yogi, I can't do headstands unsupported or crow pose without feeling like I'm going to topple over, my chaturanga is dodgy at the best of times and I certainly won't be putting pictures up of myself on Instagram anytime soon in crop tops doing backbends out in nature. BUT I love it so much. I go to classes twice a week - more if I could, I practice at home when I can.
I love how I feel when I finish a practice; centred, aware, grounded, open. I love the expansion I feel in both my mind and body and how it connects me to my intuition (or inner being). I love learning how to breathe (conscious breath is actually SO hard). I live for Savasana at the end of a crazy busy day (to just lie still on the floor feels luxurious). I love feeling my body respond to Yoga - getting stronger and more flexible. I don't have any designs to be the best, only to be. If I get better great, but it's more important to me to learn the principles of yoga and to connect my body, mind and spirit without worrying what I look like or how good I am at it.
Once you've had a chance to read, I'd love to know:
What tools have helped you cultivate change and growth in your life?
Leave a comment below and let me know. Remember, share as much detail as possible in your reply. I want to create a space where people can come here each week for insight and inspiration, and your story may help someone else have a meaningful breakthrough.
If you have friends, family or colleagues who are wanting to make changes in their life, share this post. The world needs more happy, engaged and passionate peeps!