Reinventing myself

I am here. At a crossroads. I know it, I sense it. How did I get here? Let’s go back a few months.

A year ago, I was working abroad in an enchanting South Pacific island. I am talking bathing suits, pareo, barefoot, and chilled white wine every day after work! yup, that was life for 2 beautiful years. As mesmerizing as it was, this island tore me from everything I knew: major out of the box experience! All my professional, cultural, and social references were useless. Needless to say, I struggled to feel a somewhat sense of belonging. Intense shock for the type A character I am. My stubbornness, or should I say, my survival instinct took over. I decided that since I could not control my external environment, I would control my personal experience of my surroundings. 

I delved into self-help books and podcasts. I was not new to personal development however I introduced a twist: habits. My interest was not only to develop habits, but mainly to understand the science behind habits. Several books and podcasts later,  I had trained my mind to a morning routine starting at 5A.M. I am proud to say that 3 years later, my morning routine is still kicking and active. Now that I knew how to wire my brain to any habits it was only natural that other areas of my life followed suit : I removed much processed foods from our family diet, we transferred to organics mainly vegetables and meats, and I grew into a DIY queen of beauty and cleaning products. Within 3 months, a new set of beliefs expanded. It was a major decluttering of mind, body, and spirit.

The new belief system was accompanied by L.O.V.E. Loving the most important person ; me, myself, and I. Learning to love myself has been an adventure and an eye-opener in itself. As a friend rightfully pointed out: how in the world do you know you love yourself? Her question, a valid one, caught me by surprise because you don’t wake up one enchanted morning  praising your self-love, right? More importantly, her question allowed me to step out of my head and body; like a mirror effect I observed myself. the process was a gradual and subtle one, that is to say, you must know yourself well to recognize the barely noticeable distinctions.

In my case: my laughter tone was modified from a loud polished to a loud guttural sound. I started uttering the big word: NO! and what’s interesting is that my negative answer was no longer accompanied by guilt followed by an extensive explanation as justification. In hindsight I realized how that explanation was in fact an apology of who I was.

My life thus far was a sum of too many events I did not need to attend, people I did not care to socialize with, conversations I did not fancy. Nope I was done! My time, my energy, and my money are now dispensed on things that matter to me and are aligned with my life manifesto.

Learning to say No, in honesty and politeness, allowed me to set my boundaries, which in turn, rolled into efficiency mode. Doing right the first time is a motto ruling my life. I now find myself with extra time spent at leisure: dancing classes, reading, activities with kids and hubby. Loving, forgiving, and nurturing myself is now the cornerstone of my life manifesto. One could argue that it is selfish and narcistic, to which I respond quite the opposite.  As Brene Brown puts it: you cannot love your child more than you love yourself, replace child by friends, husband, etc. That is to say only when your glass of water is full can you  pour some. 

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We, Creatures of Habits

Habits

I recently purchased several books on habits. Why the topic? Simply because one of the books purchased has been in my “must read” folder, since its publication in 2012. So naturally it was the first one I purchased. With a little help from Amazon’s suggestion tool, I added two others in my basket.
The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg, gives great insights into the relevance of habits formation and how much they shape and define our society whether we are conscious about it or not. Great introduction into the subject.

My second read: Better than Before, Rubin Gretchen, The Happiness Project author, was an eye opener as it delved into our everyday lives habits. I realized that some repetitive actions, the good and the ugly, stem from a routine I have carried around for long. An ugly one being flossing while watching a show on television. Not a very family-friendly activity.

I identified few habits I should implement to make my life easier, but more important, to be a better human in my house. How is that you ask? Well picture me arriving home from work and before I even get to the door I already have comments on the tidiness of the yard, or that one of the decorative tree is slighty higher than the other one, or asking (with scorn in my voice) my daughter if she really went to school with her hair as it is. Now enters that matron (still I) in the house and the rambling continues until my husband simply asks “Evening darling, how was your day?”. That and other gentle and subtle sentences of his always break the spell and make me come out of the trance. Only then do I sit down to hear my folks.

So enters a transition habit to switch from professional woman to mother and wife. I call it family debriefing routine where I allow a 30 minutes sit down and talk, on the patio – currently living on an island – with kids and husband before entering the house. It creates a proper and gentler transition, and most importantly, family bond is renewed.

Another great habit suggested in the book was scheduling a time slot for worry time. As the author puts it: Instead of worrying continually, a person saves the worry until the appointed time, and then worries until the time is up. How brilliant is that! All humans should adopt this habit. Here is my theory and how it could enrich interpersonal relationship: since we know that most individual worries; if those persons would schedule a worry time slot – preferably when not around another individual – they would both listen to each other . Who hasn’t been in a conversation where the end receiver is completely absorbed, not by what you are saying, but by an answer to formulate back to you? I know I have been guilty of such behaviour.
I am convinced that everyone enjoys the company of people that truly listen to them and are fully present in the conversation.
So kudos to that habit which has found a place in my schedule.