How I Got Here: 10 Steps to Inner Peace

Everyone wants to receive compliments, right?

Not me.  There was a time when I didn’t want the added attention and I certainly didn’t seek it. The more I remained under the radar, the better.  After all, that was a time when most comments leaned toward:

“I can tell you’re tired because your scars are showing.”
Or…
“You remind me of a caged animal.”

Not exactly confidence-boosting, right? It’s no wonder I became really good at rolling my eyes on the inside. I mean, why say anything at all if you can’t say something nice?

That was then. This is NOW.  And the huge shift that occurred in me that shook me from the days of feeling stuck and, I admit, caged in are ancient history. NOW I receive true compliments – and I welcome them – along the lines of:

“You look fantastic!”

And… “You seem so happy, you’re glowing!”

Those who knew me from before ask how I got from there to here.  They wonder what I do to feel this great.  So, I’m going to let you in on a few little secrets.  The road can be frustrating, filled with tears and obstacles that make you want to turn around and quit at times, but the end result is absolutely worth the journey. Put simply:

If the button you’re pushing isn’t working, try a different button.

Looking back, I recognized specific steps along my path and began to share my story with others who found themselves struggling with that same feeling of suffocating in a room full of air, like we’d forgotten how to breathe. I broke it down to ten small steps, some so easy it was hard to argue against them.

So here are my Top 10 steps for turning your life around from a place of feeling stuck with no energy and no growth, to having the most fantastic things happen to you all while feeling amazing.

Girls watching happy shows

Step 1:  Watch only comedies.  No violence or sadness allowed.  No exceptions until you are thoroughly and truly beyond the effects of watching any other genre, like horror or action films, and can emotionally distance yourself from those lower emotions.

Step 2:  Listen only to “happy” music. Everything is energy, including the songs we sing. When lyrics only speak off how depressed someone is after their lyin’, cheatin’ ex stole their heart, or of some gangsta that got shot, how is that serving you? Misery loves company. Soon you’ll be as miserable as the man in the video. Make like Pharrell Williams and Get Happy!

young man sitting meditating in comfy chair on white

Step 3:   Meditate.  Meditate. Meditate.  A regular meditation practice brings precious moments of quiet time to reflect upon stale habits and envision an abundant future. You may wish to enlist the help of a gentle guided meditation, go deeper with binaural beats, or simply sit in peace as you find the right style for you.  It can be for ten minutes or two hours.  Trust and listen to your intuition for insight.  Om.

fruit-vegetables color wheel

Step 4:  Boost your diet to include more fresh fruits and vegetables.  Eat a rainbow of colors and consume as many of these living, healing foods as you can. I call myself the Lean, Clean, Green Machine. Not only will your heart, arteries, and digestive system thank you, but you’ll watch your moods improve, too.

no sugar

Step 5:  Cut back on consumption of sugar, caffeine and alcohol.  Most of us know sugar is bad for us, but did you know it could be the real culprit behind vicious mood swings?  If you follow Step 4, your need for stimulants and relaxants will naturally decrease as you begin to take energy from whole, living foods. One rule of thumb: IF YOU’RE CRAVING SUGAR, YOU’RE NOT EATING ENOUGH FRUIT. Try it for at least five days and check in with yourself. Once your system achieves a stable balance without all the highs and lows of sugar and caffeine, you’ll sleep better. I don’t know about you, but when I get a good night’s rest, I’m golden!

people rebounding

Step 6: Move. Your. Body. Find an activity or exercise you like to do; one that makes the time go by faster. Better yet, dance to the song in Step 2. You’ll boost your endorphins – the “happy” hormone – and get in shape, too. I invested in a rebounder mini trampoline, because I’m not always motivated to get outside in extreme weather, I currently don’t belong to an athletic club, and it fits in my apartment. Just 10-20 mins a day provides good exercise and stimulates the lymphatic system, which benefits the circulatory and immune systems. When you’re healthy, fit, and smiling, you can’t help but feel more self-confident. Self-confidence leads to contentment. Contentment leads to peace.

Free Hugs

Step 7:   It’s an old platitude worth repeating. Be the change you wish to see in the world.  If you think the world has gotten to be a crusty place with no beauty or love in the world, do some guerrilla gardening or make a sign and give out Free Hugs. You’ll be surprised how quickly little acts of kindness can make someone’s day…. And smile more! Sure, you may be mistaken occasionally for a complete freak, smiling randomly at strangers, but I guarantee you’ll get strangers to smile back more often than not. Think of it this way: No one wants to be that first couple out on the dance floor, yet it never fails that once two daring souls start to boogie, others scramble to join in. Be that first dancer and get your groove on!

when you become grateful...Step 8:  Be grateful.  Let go and trust that everything happens for a reason. Everything you’ve gone through has gotten you to where you are today, so take a look at those relationships you thought were so terrible. Were they really so awful or did they force you to realize what it is you truly do want for yourself? When something didn’t go as you planned or hoped, did it allow for an even better, different solution than you’d imagined? If there’s a lesson in every situation we encounter, an attitude of gratitude creates opportunity. Breathe and be thankful.

follow your dreams

Step 9: Trust your intuition and follow your heart.  Life is what you make of it, I say. I’d rather make crazy decisions and fall flat on my face than live life so cautiously it passes me by. Don’t be the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” person. However large or small, be the person that follows her dreams. You’ll take peace and comfort in knowing you tried. While you’re at it, be happy for others who’ve done well with their lives. Their journey is not your journey, so don’t let envy of someone else’s success get in the way of your bliss. Keep the peace and watch life flow.

surround yourself with positive people

Step 10: As I wrote in ‘The Power to Manifest a Delicious Destiny‘, surround yourself with positive people… the kind of people who motivate you to become to type of person you wish to be. As you incorporate the nine steps above to increase your own inner peace, you may find that those individuals with whom you once had a close personal relationship no longer resonate with you.  Don’t worry. Those who insist upon remaining negative will gradually fall out of your life. One day, they’ll just be gone and you’ll realize you didn’t have to do a thing. Don’t be sad! Embrace the idea that the Universe is cleaning house for you, conspiring to bring others into your world that help you along your path.

If you follow these 10 steps, I guarantee that over time the small adjustments you make NOW will add up to big changes in your future.  How much you want to change is up to you, but I trust if you’ve read this far, you’re ready to try pushing a different button to create a more vibrant life and achieve that inner peace you deserve.  Many blessings for your journey.

In gratitude…

 

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LIVING THE DREAM

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When I tell Americans people where I live, I invariably get a barrage of responses.
“You live in Paris?”

“Did you move there for a man?”

“You’re dating someone there, aren’t you?”

“You used to date someone there, didn’t you?”

“Wow, you’re brave!”

“I always wanted to do that.”

“But we’re American.  We don’t move.”

That last one always makes me laugh.  I’d like to tell it to the thousands of expats living abroad in France, and if I had a euro for every time I heard one of these exclamations, I could buy a nice bottle of champagne to toast such a great personal achievement.

The simple truth is, I moved because I could.

During the Lance Armstrong years, I rediscovered my passion for cycling and fell in love with the spectacular scenery on television while watching the Tour De France.  And ze French, pff… they really have a knack for living well.  Their food and wine is a wonder unto itself, but they still maintain the daily niceties and rituals that many of us in the States – especially in the larger cities – often forget in our self-absorbed, electronics-obsessed culture.  (I’m guilty.)

Yes, it was a dream to live overseas.  I had thirteen foreign pen pals as a kid.  As an adult, I lived in ten different U.S. cities (more later).  It seemed only natural to take it one step further.  I’m a flight attendant now and lucky to have the opportunity to travel overseas.  Several of my coworkers commuted to foreign lands, so why couldn’t I?  Alright, my French was rusty, but I’d taken lessons throughout high school and for a hot minute in college.  Not wanting to lose my skills altogether, I began to work to Paris and get to know the city while I used creative visualization, dated a Frenchman in New York and sat on the idea of moving there for two years until I was single and found the perfect home the chips fell into place.  Et voilà!  I packed up, grabbed the cat, and left.

It was at once the most difficult and most liberating thing I did in a long time.

French bureaucracy is without a doubt legendary for good reason.  Sure, I spoke SOME French, but I had to learn “electric company” French, and “cable company” French, and “I have a leaky hose underneath my kitchen sink” French.  For months, I felt like a hamster spinning on a wheel trying to navigate the system but, through the good graces of an angel of a friend, a stubborn streak and perseverance, I now live in a fabulous studio in a desirable neighborhood with a petit view of Notre Dame and I can post this blog to you through my fancy high-speed internet machine.  Best of all, when July rolls around, you can catch me wearing yellow and exploring the French countryside as I follow le Tour.

If cycling was the first thing that got me to notice France again, then the food held my attention.

Julia Child commented in her book ‘My Life in France’ that she never knew what chicken tasted like until she moved to the gourmet capital.  Baguettes, macarons, cod fish stew and rabbit.  Yes, please!  I watch YouTube videos.  I take a class.  I make like Julia… taste every tempting morsel and attempt to recreate many in my small, deal breaker-of-an-apartment-search Parisian galley kitchen.  Sometimes I fail.  Sometimes I make something truly delicious!  I do it because I can.  I do it because it makes me feel good.

So don’t wait until you’re 80.  If you’re 80, don’t wait till you’re 90.  Treat yourself well.  Trust in the faith of your passions.  Go out and do something you thought totally beyond your reach.  You owe it to yourself to taste something delicious.  You owe it to yourself to feel good.

Meanwhile, let’s all have a macaron!

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A multitude of cooking classes await the enthousiastic foodie.  You can spend as much or as little as you can afford.  You may decide to focus on bistro style menus or spend months perfecting the simplest of baked goods.  Websites like Living Social (link) offer discounted single day lessons like the one I found for macarons at Creative Cooking Studio in the Marais.  If you can’t make it to Paris for the little hamburger cookie, that’s okay!  I’m sure they’re just as heavenly in Paris, Texas.  Don’t be afraid to seek out pastry shops and lessons in your home city, study a tutorial for how to make them on YouTube, or order macarons online.

You can live vicariously or live your dream.  Find your passion and live your Delicious Destiny.

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Order macarons online:

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Visit shops in New York City:

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OK, she may not be in Paris, but you can find Susan’s macarons in Houston, Texas:

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Order online or visit a shop in Los Angeles:

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Campy online tutorial from a Brazilian macaron goddess:

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À la prochaine…