Changing Your Life

Sitting here writing about changing my life with advice from a self-help book when I feel as if that’s an impossible task. It’s almost as if someone snatched away the me I used to be, and frankly, all I want to do is get her back. Where did the Cindy who loved yoga and writing go? When did my resolve to eat healthfully disappear? I’m reading STICK WITH IT as a last-ditch effort. The book bases its premise on an acronym SCIENCE and does claim that all the advice is science-based. Since last report I’ve read two more chapters and actually made some progress. Did some backsliding, too.

I’ve already written about stepladders and community in previous posts. This past week I felt I needed a super dose of help so I tackled “Important” and “Easy.” I can sum up those two chapters swiftly. “Important” is all about priorities. If you think the change you want to make is important, you’ll try harder to make it and keep it. Sean Young, the author, sites a study about the three most important things in many people’s lives.

Money, health, and relationships are the top three. Turns out, as long as you’re not destitute, money isn’t important to health or happiness. People with money can still get death sentence diseases or be clinically depressed. People with lots of money are often miserable in their relationships.

It’s easy to think “if I just had X amount of dollars, all would be well.” I’ve thought that myself many times. One of the changes I’d like to make is in my health. “If I hired a chef, I’d be able to eat better with less effort. I’d also be able to hire a private yoga teacher.” All true but I can see that money wouldn’t take away temptation as far as cake goes and if I didn’t feel like working out, a coach wouldn’t motivate me to do it.  I’d just cancel. Health has to be important enough to me to change my eating and exercise habits for the better.

My other goal is to finish my book. I actually did complete a writing project that was on my to-do list. To get my books on audio, I had to fill out five spec sheets, choosing a section of each story to be narrated. After weeks of procrastinating, I got it done this past week. So that’s what I mean…this self-help method is working to a point. But all the money in the world can’t conjure that spark of hot desire that compels me to tell a story and get it in great shape for my editor’s eyes. But, since it’s important to me, partly because of the writing communities I’ve been a part of for so long, I am determined to get it done this summer.

So much for “important.” Next is “Easy” and I do know that “easy” helped me start a yoga practice again. I simply loaded Gaia onto my computer and with a couple of clicks and a move from chair to floor, I’m ready to go. No special equipment or clothing needed. No trip in the car to the yoga studio. “Easy” works for me as far as exercise goes.

Eating the right food is a bit more complicated. Fast food is easy. The stocking, preparing and cooking of whole nutritious food takes way more energy. Stepladders (that first helpful hint in SCIENCE) breaks down difficult or complex tasks, which does make them easier. I’m still working with my goal of eating right. And I’m trying not to bask too long in the glory of finishing the tasks for the audio books.

I have a set of steps for completing the book project, too. Meanwhile I’m still reading. I’ve done S, C, I, and E. I can’t wait to see what the heck N is all about. Neurohacks. Hmmm. Something with the brain, I suspect. SCIE/NCE. Maybe I can get this book finished by next weeks so I’ll have all the tools necessary to implement my goals.

 

 

Do You Believe?

No secret, I have a cluster of phobic behaviors I’ve tried very hard to overcome by just about every means out there. Some of my self-help methods will be familiar to anyone who has ever been in any kind of pain, physical or mental:

As a young girl: my journal and Jesus

In my teens: cigarettes and marajuana

In my 20s and 30s: cigarettes and wine (except when pregnant) also church

In my 40s and 50s: prescription medications and self-help

I’m 60 now and realize that although I’ve done a lot of work, drinking wine has probably had the most calming effect, although it is inconvenient to drink in the morning before boarding a flight to visit the grandkids. Self-help got me further. I can get on a plane and cross a bridge without freaking or popping a Xanax, but I’m still not ready to fly in a hot air balloon.

And I absolutely dread closed in spaces. The scariest film I’ve ever watched is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, about locked-in syndrome, a condition where you are alive but trapped in your body and everyone, including doctors, think you are a vegetable incapable of thought yet your mind is screaming “LET ME OUT.”

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is based on a real-life experience and book by a French man who was able to break through the wall. It’s a triumphant and beautiful story but it terrifies me more than a Stephen King novel.

Several years ago I read a self-help book called The Instruction that posited our phobias are all past life shadows clinging to the present. This is because the soul gets confused about intense (usually traumatic death) experiences and will take on a past life phobia or three without realizing the past life is over. I thought this was interesting but wasn’t sure about reincarnation, even though, through the years, much of my self-help work has had a decidedly Buddhist influence.

So reincarnation. More people in the world are Buddhist than Christian. More people in the world believe in reincarnation than the resurrection. Surprised? I was when I found that out in all the literature that came pouring forth after 9/11 when we had such fear and loathing in this country around Muslims.

 

I made note of this fact, and that the psychic who wrote the book, Ainslie Macleod, was available for consultations where he could read your past life, then interpret the phobias in this life through past-life experiences. I thought about booking a session for a long time as I went along my journey toward healing these fears.

Eight years after first reading The Instruction, I joined a private group of like-minded seekers, led by Ainslie, as we talked about reincarnation, past life influences on current life, and the workings of the soul. After spending time with these old souls, I got comfortable with the idea of reincarnation. I wasn’t sold, but I wanted to give Ainslie a shot at helping me eradicate my phobias, all of them, even the road to Hana, for good.

When Ainslie told me my past life, and how I died, I immediately saw the connections to both my life this time (which he knew nothing about) and the phobias that followed me. I felt the truth of it down to my soul. I believed as surely as I’d once believed in the virgin birth. (My evolution from “religious” to “spiritual” happened as a direct result of all that self-help.)

And I have to ask myself is believing in the teaching of the faith I was born into (Christian, Roman Catholic to be exact) any crazier than believing the soul lives many lifetimes? No. I think they are equally absurd so therefore equally possible. Time will tell if my past life revelations will heal me in this life, but I can say that they affected me profoundly, to the point where I am committed to getting off a drug I’ve used for more than thirty years that is known to cause cognitive decline in aging people. Which would be me. I need all the cognition I can get.

So, without this panic button in pill form, how will I cope? I have a feeling I will do just fine, although I’m not reserving a seat on a hot air balloon any time soon.