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Thinking About Change

Change is on my mind. Not so much that I need a change, but that change is coming. We have already started to see the weather change, it is a little bit cooler and my neighbours tree is starting to turn autumn colours. More than that though, this time of year (the beginning of the school year) has always felt like more of a new year to me than January 1st. September marks huge change for lots of us, gone are the lazy days of summer and we find ourselves thrown back into routine (whether we like it or not). I personally love the long lazy days of summer, but by September I am ready to get back to predictable patterns of wake times, eating times and sleep times. I thrive on routine.


So, I asked myself this morning, what changes I want to usher into September. What actions do I want to take to create the life I desire that is calm? What goals do I have for the fall? What habits would I like to work on?


Before I get more into that, I have to tell you that in the past I would think that I could be a whole new person in September. That I would have a huge transformation and all of a sudden be the "best version of myself". I would sit with my journal and literally write a schedule for myself for the daily routines that I wanted to include. I wouldn't just try to adopt one new habit, I would do an extreme home makeover style routine...all of the changes, scheduled to the minute. I would create this pressure on myself to maintain these new habits that I was never ever able to achieve. I would try too much at once. This also happened with me when I started taking Ayurveda and learned about the daily routine; I tried to do all of the things at once and ended up doing none of them because I was so overwhelmed and felt so much pressure to do it perfectly. I set myself up for failure.


I feel like this is taking a left turn, but stay with me.


I have to share with you that I did manage this spring and summer to change one habit of mine that was no longer serving me, and it's HUGE. I Misty Kuefler am addicted to Diet Pepsi. I was having four or sometimes five a day. My blood was carbonated I drank so much. And when I was diagnosed with Degenerative Disk Disease and Arthritis I knew I had to get the inflammation under control to help the pain; and I knew that the aspartame in the Diet Pepsi was making the inflammation worse. I managed to stop drinking anything with Aspartame. I had to learn other ways to soothe my emotions, because much like other addictions I was using diet pop to numb and not feel the difficult feelings. You may not think that a diet pop addiction is bad and for some people, maybe it isn't, but for me I knew that it wasn't healthy.


What breaking that habit taught me is that I need to be gentle with myself. In order for change to last I need to make changes one at a time. I need to not pressure myself to be prefect. I need to give myself some grace and take things slow. As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day.


Once I felt like I had the Diet Pepsi situation under control I started to work on my habit of sleeping late. I have started setting an alarm every morning and get up at a regular time, regardless of my morning schedule. This habit is difficult for me as I can easily sleep thirteen hours if I wanted. I went from waking naturally at about 9:00am to waking up at 7:30 with an alarm. My goal is to work my way backwards to 6:30. I'm taking it slow and trying my hardest to stay consistent and I am seeing changes. Now, if for some reason I should wake up before the alarm, I am able to get up and not feel like I need to go right back to sleep.


Drinking Diet Pepsi, waking up at 6:30 or anything else may not be an issue for you and you may be wondering what the hell I am talking about, but we all have something we want to change.


So as I sat thinking about the fall, I purposely practiced some self restraint and rather than writing myself a laundry list of things I was going to magically change, I considered what is the next right thing? (Thank you Glennon Doyle). It's super easy to think of a million things I want to do different, but what is the next thing, the one thing that I can focus on, that I can committ to.


I decided to continue to work on my goal of waking at 6:30 every morning and maintaining my ban on Aspartame; but I have also decided to add the goal of not eating past 7:30pm (sometimes I teach until seven and have to eat afterwards, so 7:30 is a doable goal). Why this? Well it's not because of weight loss if that's what your thinking. It's because I sleep better when I go to bed with my food digested or well into the digestive process. When I go to bed with a full stomach, then my body has to be in a wakeful state to digest the food and I am not able to rest as deeply as I need to. Or the food doesn't digest at all, and I wake up in the morning with a sick stomach. This habit of not eating at night will support my ability to wake up earlier in the morning, one habit supporting the other.


If I can make this change it will be three major lifestyle changes in less than a year. For me they aren't little things, for me they are huge things that add up to a healthier lifestyle. I know that it's possible because I have already conquered one, am on my way to achieving the second and have a clear plan to achieve the third.


Sometimes I think it's not enough (here is the perfectionism talking again), sometimes I think that other people achieve much more than that in a shorter time. But then I think to myself that if i did it the old way, the extreme way, I would eventually give up and nothing would get better. Doing this slowly, one bite at a time is creating lasting change and I am already so much further ahead than I would be if I had done it the other way.


I am proud of the way I am going about this change business, it feels rather grown up of me.


So, if you are like me and think that you can flip a switch to "be better" then fail and beat yourself up about it, try asking yourself this:


What is one thing I can add to my life to make it better? And what is one thing I can take away from my life to make it better?


Whatever you choose, remember these things:

  1. Treat yourself with kindness and grace.

  2. Be gentle with your progress.

  3. Do not expect perfection.

  4. Give yourself plenty of time to make the change.

  5. Think about how other habits can support the change you want to make (without creating more pressure on yourself).

  6. Remember that one change made in a year is better than failing to change a million little things.

  7. Be your own cheerleader.


Wow, that was a long one, but once I started thinking about it I had so much to say. I hope this helps.


Much love.

Misty



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vaxline
vaxline
Aug 24, 2023

Okay, I've got my first step. Sleep, especially a consistent (and earlier) bedtime. Since I usually get 5-6.5 hours, This one will be hard for me, but will set me up for success on my next steps. I still did a spreadsheet, but they’re not to-do's, just hopes, things I want to add more of in my life. If I do one, I get a gold star, but it’s more of a 'hey, high five!' not must do's. The only actual to do is the sleep. Bed by 11:00 latest, at least five nights a week. Wish me luck.

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barbimurray
barbimurray
Aug 24, 2023

I too totally agree that September is the “new year” Years ago I started only changing one habit at a time, thank you for the reminder. I’d love to hear how your time off aspartame has been. I use quite a bit of Splenda, 1 packet per tea and about 4-6 teas a day. (Both caff & Decaf) the odd Diet Pepsi (1-2 per week)

As I’m a person with quite a bit of arthritis & inflammation.

Thank you again for your honesty. ❤️

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Gloria Kelly
Gloria Kelly
Aug 23, 2023

Definitely encouraged me to think about one habit I can focus on changing this coming fall

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I too feel like September is a new beginning. It’s my favourite time of year! I just keep trying to treat myself with self compassion and replace judgement with curiosity in all things. I feel like as long as I keep those two guiding principles, how could I go wrong? I’m trying to stop worrying about “what I am doing”, and concentrate more on “what I am being”. The one new mantra I am adding this fall is “What is the best that could happen?” because I believe life is full of amazing opportunities if you just let yourself be open to them!

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vaxline
vaxline
Aug 23, 2023

Thank you Misty, this really resonated with me. I do that every year, twice actually, both in September, and again in January, with the lists of all twenty items…One thing I tried this year, was getting rid of "my best me" thinking. That made me feel like a project I needed to 'work' on, like a piece of furniture I found in a thrift store that wasn't good yet, and had to be fixed. I just switched it a little to being my favourite self. Slight language change that meant I was no longer 'fixing' me, but focusing on all the things I like about myself or when I feel happiest, and doing more of them. When do I feel…

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vaxline
vaxline
Aug 23, 2023
Replying to

Not originally my idea, but something I read in a health blogger's E.newsletter.

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