Thursday, March 06, 2014

#YEAR OF YOU! A How Bourgeois Mini-Series. 8 Little Lessons to CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Because this Year is Going to be YOUR Year!

Dear Friends, 

Something amazing happened and I just had to share with you. This is going to be a good one, are you ready!? Well, basically, I changed my life!

I really, honestly changed things in my life! Oh, it's  still a work in progress, and there's much more to learn and do and fix, but....... I finally learned how to start changing the things that weren't working for me! It's kind of like maaaaagic

I'm not talking here about New Years resolutions that start out strong and fizzle by week three. I'm mean REAL, heart-felt, life CLARIfYING change! And guess what? If there is something or some THINGS  in your life too, that niggle you in the side, that you just KNOW aren't healthy or right for you..... if you've been in a little rut and you long for something, ANYTHING just to shift and change, to bring about a bit more light and joy in your life...... then YOU CAN DO THIS TOO!!!!!!

And it all comes down to simply caring about ourselves more! 

As counterintuitive as this message seems, or even worse, as self-centered as this may sound, it is the truth. Many of us spend our lives caring for other people and other things. Our children, our spouses, our parents, the house, the job, the yard, the pets, the volunteering, the grocery shopping. We live in an EXTERNAL world that is so full and frenetic that it is incredibly easy to forget to check-in and nurture our INNER world. That's your heart, that's your thought patterns. That is the place where you hold beliefs about YOU. Thoughts on how happy or sad you are. Thoughts on how stuck or free you feel. The inner place is where you hold beliefs of how much or how little you are capable or what self-worth you hold. 

Many women (myself TOTALLY included!), we check into that inner space many times a day, but only on auto-pilot mode to say things like: "Ugh, you look terrible today. Look at your skin, it's horrible! I look so fat in jeans." And you might tell yourself: "I'm so stressed out. There is too much to get done. I can't handle this. I resent having to do (X) tomorrow. I wish life was easier."

Do you kind of get the picture? When we do turn inward to interact with ourselves, it's usually in a negative way, with only half of our attention given. I don't think I've ever met anybody who looks in a mirror each time and says: "Wow! I'm so gorgeous and perfect" or thinks: "I am so awesome that I can do everything!"

When you forget how important it is to love yourself too. When you fail to realize just how much your self-dialogue can CONTROL and CHANGE your life...... you lose sight of a powerful powerful tool for positive transformation and growth!

If we're being honest here, I'm slightly concerned that this will all sound so new-agey and turn some of my dear readers away. This isn't about a lifestyle or a set of mystic beliefs, or a religion or psychological theory. This is about being human, and coming to realize that for all the effort and caring that we put out into the world, our inside needs the same amount of attention and love. 

Today my life is beginning to finally take on some more peace in areas that I've been struggling with for years. And while nothing is perfect, I have this great, big, HAPPY and satisfied feeling of being more aware and more proactive in solving my own issues and making a more tranquil life in so many different ways.

Have you ever spent years or decades thinking about your life and wondering why certain things were the way that they were? Have you ever fretted over family you just couldn't understand, or felt completely stuck in a house or a job that didn't feel right for years and years? Do your wheels continue to spin, even though you try really hard and devote endless time and effort to figuring out HOW to get unstuck!? If so............

With just 8 magic, little "food for thought" lessons, I think that you too will have the tools that you need to "unstuck yourself" and get your life moving in a GREAT direction. Just like I did! These are fun and easy concepts. They're simple, so simple that you probably already know them! We just often forget to stop and think about them! Together though, together these short life lessons really add up and WORK! They're all based on things that you can do to care for, listen to and nurture YOURSELF.  

Wondrously, when you learn to respect and love yourself first, clarity will abound and some of your struggles just won't be struggles anymore! 

So here's the plan. This is just the introduction post to my # YEAR OF YOU series. 
Because by the way, THIS year is going YOUR year! Your year to change anything that you want. Improve anything that you want. Big or small, one tiny life detail or many!
The goal is to publish eight more posts in the series. Don't worry, they won't be long and wordy! Just small, digestible and easy to implement chunks of life healing wisdom! :)

(For example, see the photo of my desk above? That's from the "A Place to Call Her Own" post, where I will be talking about the importance of carving out and cultivating a special space for yourself. It includes a whole before & After of my writing/craft studio, and lots of usable suggestions and tricks!)

I will also be linking to books and additional resources along the way. Ones that I personally found helpful and recommend to you.

I feel like this is a bit of an interactive topic, so I would love it if you felt so inclined, to leave any bit of input or personal experience that you might want to share in the comments section! We can all learn from each other, and it's such a happy thing to hear about other's successes, even mini-successes because they absolutely count!

Ok, so to end this post, just for a bit more clarity,  I'm going to give you the quick mini-version of how I got started with change, and where this all came from. 

Two and a half years ago, when I decided to stop dying my hair,  that was the first, little "spark" of learning to care about my needs more and it began changing my life. This is because many people that I knew and most of society was all: "Don't let yourself go! Hello! Cover those grays!" But in the end, I did end up growing out my hair, because in my heart, I knew it was an important choice for ME. The right choice for ME, not anyone else. Which, being a people pleaser, was one of the first times I've ever done something like that! It was such an odd feeling but a healthy step leading in the right direction.........

Fast forward a year. I was really feeling burned out. There was a gradual five year climb of more and more volunteer work responsibilities, where eventually I was at school most days of the week instead of working on things at home. Also a house-wide renovation going on in hopes that we could sell our home and gain back some of our losses in a bad market. Which thankfully was followed by a sale and yet another complete renovation of our new home (a vacant, 150+ year old and slightly falling down kind of home). Then we moved to the new house when it was done. The point being, if you've ever lived through renovations and moves and volunteer work over-load, it's kind of easy to feel a bit burned out after a while.

By the end of it all, by the time we finally moved into our new home, I'd had enough. Things felt too out of control, too busy, too much! 
So I did something I never thought I would do......  I resigned from volunteering! I said to my friends:"next year, I'm taking a step back, and I'm taking the time I need to do my work at home and to focus on the blog."

And then I felt INCREDIBLY guilty and horrible and like the worst PTA member ever, but still. I stopped, and it was life-changing. (Volunteering is GREAT by the way! It's vital. I will continue to lend a hand where I can. I'm just saying sometimes there are points in your life when you just need stop and reorganize.) 

And then my life-improving speed really started to pick up last August when I had simply had enough of living with some of my fears and anxieties. Long story, but I decided to go have a complete physical after not having one for three years. (Which is funny because I've religiously been going to all my annual checks-ups with every other doctor for years. Teeth, OB, skin check.....etc.....)

Just facing my fears (don't ask, but medical fears), and  making an appointment empowered me. It jump started me to care about myself more, to put myself out there, to take risks and better myself. The month before my appointment, like a dork, of course THEN I start exercising and eating really well. But you know, as cheat-ish as that is, things like the exercising....they stuck! Today, eight months later, I am STILL exercising almost every single day! Later on in the series, I will tell you how I got that change to stick, but anyway, the ball started rolling!

When one area in your life improves, often times you start to look at other parts that need help. You naturally feel better and want to stop the other things that might be dragging you down. I began to think about my relationships with some of my family and friends. Which ones I came away from feeling neutral or even good after interactions, and which relationships left me feeling badly or stressed.  I thought and thought and thought. I read a lot. I tried coming from an angle of more understanding and forgiveness, but most of all, for the more "toxic" relationships that were confusing and making me feel sad...... I just wanted to let it go.  

And then in the midst of this, I stumbled onto a LIFE CHANGING BOOK that solidified and explained a lot of  EVERYTHING and changed it ALL!

(Ok, get your pen and paper!)
The book is called "The Art of Extreme Self-Care" by Cheryl Richardson.  Oh I can not, can not, can not recommend this book more, and that you pick it up for yourself TODAY!  I just went to my local library for a copy and loved it so much, that I need to purchase a copy of my own! It's a treasure box of wisdom and this is what many of the lessons in my mini-series are based on! So please know that a lot of what I know and that I am telling you here, I learned from this book. 
The Art of Extreme Self-Care helped me to understand all of the thoughts and emotions that have been swirling around my head for such a long time. The book helped me make an action plan, and brought about wonderful transformation!

Most importantly though, this book taught me that when trying to change external issues, I need to start right here at home, with ME. :)
I owe so much to this book and to Cheryl for her wisdom.  I feel as though this book is such a gift, and wanted to share with you!

So please join me my friends, as we look at 8 simple, but amazing life lessons together. Together is a key component, because with most things, having each other for support can make all the difference in the world. Please consider sharing this series if you have a friend who might also enjoy learning how to better honor their needs, and in turn craft a more gentle and joyful life!

Thank you friends. Until next time!
Lauren :)


Citronjaune68 said...

Hi Lauren,
I know how it's difficult to self care and to be attentive to our needs; it's a long long way and I'm fighting every day for more serenity ! I recognize a lot in what you write !
Thank you to share the title of this book ! Pehraps I can find a french version; i will also recommend you the books from Louise L hay and Eckart Tolle
good week-end Lauren !

Aussie Girl said...

Hi Lauren,

This sounds like another inspiring journey that I can't wait to read about.

You and your readers who like this post may also like a great website called It is full of beautiful artwork and truly uplifting and positive messages for women. You can sign up for a free daily email, which delivers a positive message to your inbox every day. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Best wishes from Aussie Girl

Lauren said...

HI Aussie Girl!

I'm so happy that you're excited about this series. Thank you for letting me know about Brave Girls Club, I'm going to go check it out right now! Their daily email sounds really nice. I'd like that.
Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate it! So nice to meet you!

Lauren said...

Bonjour Citronjaune68!!!!

Thank you very much for you nice comment. I am also looking each day for more serenity. You can never have enough! :)

Ah! Yes! I LOVE both Eckart Tolle and Louise Hay as well!!! Thank you for mentioning them to me. In fact, the book that I mention in this post, "Extreme Self-care....", it is published by Hay House publishing. Louise Hay is her mentor! A nice connection. I was planning on talking about Louise's book sometime soon.

Thank you again. I appreciate your comment and sharing your suggestions. They're great!

Take care and have a lovely weekend!!!
Lauren :)

Unknown said...

Totally just put this on hold at the library!!!! Can't wait to check it out. I am totally going through a similar transformation...just learning how to say "no" to stuff, better my time management to make more time for ME....I'm such a "yes" gal. I love doing all that but it totally kills me and stresses me out to put all that before myself. Thanks for the recommend, lady!

Lauren said...

Hey Ashlie!!! :)

Yes, yes, totally relate. It is so hard to set boundaries. I've gotten much better at it, but only in the last two years, and I definitely have to keep practicing because it doesn't come naturally! BUT....the good thing is, is that I feel 50% less stressed all the time! At least often I do. It's nice to to have more time for the things I can say "yes" to, rather than spreading one's self thin over the "yeses" and the things I wanted to say "no" to but felt guilty. :)

I hope you like the book! I LOVE it. I'm half way done with the second post, it will be out soon. More fun books to come!

Thanks for your support and encouragement Ashlie! It means a lot. :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Lauren.
I have been following your blog for a month or so. I am growing out my hair, haven't colored it since Sept. 2013. Your blog has been such an inspiration and where I come when I need encouragement.

Though,I should have known that there was more...loving your mini-series. I am so happy you are learning self-care is not selfish.

I am 51 and my life at your age sounded very similar. right now I need to go for a physical it has been a couple of years.....did I mention I am exercising and loving it. Your post made me smile

I am Learning these lessons now and looking forward to taking this journey with you.

Also. love Eckhart Tolle


Lauren said...

Hi Mary Jo!

It is so nice to meet you! Thank you for your note. It made me smile. It's so good to know that the things I think about or feel inside are relatable to other women. I don't feel alone! <3
It sounds like we have several things in common. I hope that your "gray journey" is going well so far! I just bought some new hair products and hope to do a review soon. Thank you for following along with this mini-series too. I'm honored and glad that you like it.

Thank you so much again Mary Jo. A pleasure to meet you! :)