progress

Just start.

How do you start to make a change?

I say, "just start". 

The starting is the hardest part. We often overthink everything into freaking ourselves out OR we put it off thinking we will have the time "someday". 

What if someday never comes? (it never does) 

The good news?? We can start today. 

 

We often sit and wait for a change to happen to us. And we fail to see that we need to become that change, we need to ignite it. 

The job will be the job until we change it.

The relationship will be the relationship until we change it.

The physical block of whatever kind will be there until we access the thing inside us that is contributing to it. 

No pill or drink or snack will make life feel better forever. Only we can do that for ourselves.

 

So, why don't we start now, if it's really that easy? For a few reasons. Often, starting to make a new change involves changing something that has become REALLY familiar, even if it's incredibly uncomfortable or not working very well. It takes a lot of energy to turn the Titanic away from even the most unhealthy habits or patterns, even when we know they aren't serving us. The mere thought of changing that and the energy it would require can be intimidating to the point that we never do it.

Sometimes the relationships we are in help keep us where we are. In fact, we KEEP people around even when they aren't who serve us the most, just so that we don't actually have to improve our lives. Or we continue patterns with them even when we know it holds us back in some way. 

How did I take on the process of changing my entire identity? One thing at a time. It happened in many phases over many years. My clothes, my hair, my name, my pronouns, my business focus, my patience, my self-expression, my inner dialogue.

How did I take on the process of improving my health? One day at a time, starting with getting my first job in a health food store in 2001. Maybe it even started back before that, when I bought my first box of couscous in Fresh Fields when I was in high school. Making my own train mix with my first girlfriend when I was 22. Becoming orthorexic, where I obsessed over the sourcing and nutrients of everything I ate, and finding a better balance to actually be able to enjoy ice cream and a hamburger again.

I planted the seeds of who I have become and what I know and do a long time ago. The habits and patterns I practice now happened as a result of me starting one thing at a time, not worrying about how it would all turn out.

I wish I could remember this when I get completely overwhelmed or freaked out at the prospect of writing my book. Instead of thinking of it one story or one chapter at at time, I get instantly overwhelmed by this massive idea of "a book". Yikes!

If you're thinking you want to change your whole damn life, that the whole damn thing isn't working for you, you might feel incredibly uncomfortable and just want everything to feel better NOW. So you try to eat healthy AND exercise 5 times a week AND meditate or pray AND change your job AND stop drinking and smoking, etc. 

Unrealistic. Completely and totally unrealistic. This will almost certainly end with you giving up, quitting and feeling like a huge failure. It's too much at once.

I always recommend people try one thing, one small thing or maybe even two. PIck two goals and hit them and anything extra is bonus. Want to change your job? Great. Start with updating your resume. Apply to three jobs you like. Take a sabbatical and experience NOT WORKING for a few months. Stop eating out all the time and you'll be amazed how much money you can find. That's how I got my client into a new job in four months when he felt stuck there for seven years.

Or how I got my client to leave her 12-year marriage. She ate really well and exercised and slept more and she felt the courage and conviction to take one step at a time. She was out and living in her own apartment within nine months of us working together. 12 years compared to nine months.

What do you want to change or alter? 

Exercise habits?

Nutrition?

Job?

Relationship?

Haircut?

Spiritual practice?

The way you allow yourself to receive help and support even if it means feeling exposed and vulnerable?

Pick one. And pick two things you can do right now.

And just start. 

 

You might find my recent post about starting anything new helpful. It was recently tweeted by the good folks at TEDxSomerville. Did you know I'm a featured speaker? Super cool. You can sign up for updates here: http://tedxsomerville.org/2015/

 

A Cleaning Meditation--Laundry Helped Me Find A Bigger Answer

As a practicing Buddhist, here's the biggest gem I've learned: the practice is living your life. Make the smallest task or lesson your greatest wisdom. Do you have piles of shit sitting around? OK. I did, too. And with everything I had on my plate at the time--the piles of shit weren't getting cleaned up, sorted or organized. The anxiety that bubbled up every time I looked at the piles (OMG, what deadlines have I missed? Who is waiting to hear back from me? What should I make for dinner? When should I move my 403B over? Did I do everything I needed to for surgery preparation? Do I tell my mom?) was increased in direct proportion to the days I spent avoiding them.

Here were my piles of shit:

Jeez

Simon the Turtle photobombing

One overwhelming pile of laundry and one VERY overwhelming piles of important papers. Important is such a relative term once the pile is sorted, eh?

Organize your piles of shit, Dillan. The answers for the bigger stuff will come.

Ok. I could do this. I felt completely overwhelmed by all the major life choices and changes happening in my life, but this is something I could do. I could sit down and sort my piles into piles and get a clearer picture of what I needed to address and what I could throw away. I could fold my laundry and put it away so it isn't wrinkled.

Life is big and scary, but these tasks were manageable. 

I took it on as a cleaning meditation. I set the time aside. I put on music I love (yes, I have multiple Pandora stations of film scores on my iPad2). I sat down on the floor cross-legged and I made sense of the chaos.

This is called progress:

Hours later. The pile of "important papers" was reduced to all fit inside one, large white mailing envelope.

The laundry? Sorted, folded. Some was donated.

Sometimes the way to take on the bigger challenges in life is to make time for the most basic of tasks. To stop and address what's right in front of you.

I think it's no coincidence that the answer of how I was going to write to my mom and tell her about my impending surgery came to the surface shortly after this day of cleaning meditation.

Today's Lunch

I am working from home today. Which is like every day: I do it when I want. Where I want. And HOW I want.

This time last year, I was begging and pleading for the chance to work from home more often (this was a "privilege" that was given out arbitrarily and often to the bewilderment of many colleagues) because I had grown to know it suited my working style best. I wanted to perform better and an office didn't work best for me to concentrate and produce. Despite the many people who were afforded this privilege, they denied my request.

A recent acquaintance said, "when it's time to move/change, the Universe sends a letter, then a package, and then you get hit by a bus"...or something like that.

It took that many clear messages from the Universe that this was not the proper work environment for me. It was time to move along. I welcomed the chance when it came this past December.

Now---I am sitting on my porch, enjoying a wonderful breeze and checking in with my student clients from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

I was so inspired by the progress three of them have made that I sat here and said, "wow, I have NOT been eating enough fresh greens lately. I can't go on like this."

I got up from my chair, rode my bike 1 mile to DAVE'S FRESH PASTA in Somerville, MA and picked up:

1) 1 bag of fresh arugula picked on a nearby farm

2) 1 bag of fresh spinach "

3) a pint of fresh blueberries "

4) a container of DAVE'S homemade honey poppyseed dressing

5) a container of their fresh crumbled goat cheese

6) two homemade chocolate chip cookies

This is my lunch.

This is my life.

:)