5 steps to getting out of your own way

Recently, I was coaching a couple of studio managers.   They had complaints about their schedule; their teachers; their lives. They just didn’t feel they had enough time in the day to get things done. They felt they needed more help. Or, they were fearful that the job they have taken on cannot be done in the hours they have allotted.  Whether or not their complaints are valid or true,  doesn’t actually matter. Not that I am saying I don’t think complaints matter, or they their complaints don’t matter. Just that honestly, no job is perfect. Nobody is perfect, and no boss is perfect. Even if you work for yourself there are going to be people or things that F-up what you are trying to do.

I am going to tell you what I tell everyone who complains about life and work balance. Build your business around your lifestyle not the lifestyle around your business.  If you want to workout in the mornings, but your job is 8-5, you are either going to have to work out super early OR find a job that let’s you workout before work. If you want to be home when your kids are home, you are going to have to find work or create work that allows that. I know it sounds easier to read/say then it is to do. But, honestly, if you take the time to do it, you get to live the life you want to live.  And your job/business supports that.  Which is how it should be.  Your life shouldn’t be supporting your business; your business should be supporting your life.

See, I actually think getting upset or angry at a situation is a good thing. Get it out, say your complaints, write them down. Before you go crying on every persons shoulder that’s available, ask yourself: why are you complaining?  Is it really the co-worker who taps his feet on the wall at the desk next to you? Or is it that you just don’t like what you are doing? I listened to an interview James Altucher, author of Choose Yourself did with Gretchen Rubin…. who wrote The Happiness Project. She said that a women in her blog commented about hating her job and thinking of quitting. Before she did she asked herself some questions and her big complaint about her job was her commute. She hated her commute. Before quitting, she decided to listen to some books on tape during her commute. What happened next? She realized she really liked her job. It was just the drive in and out that drove her nuts. Now with the books on tape she was in heaven. She found herself listening in her driveway after work because she was so engrossed in the book. So, complain away if you must but again before going to friend after friend, co worker after co worker…tissue after tissue, find out why you are upset. What is truly the issue? Once you find the heart of the issue you can work on fixing that. Can you imagine what would have happened to our long commute listener if she had quit her job? She probably would have realized she left a job she loved but it would have been too little too late.

My dearest readers, I will repeat I am so ok with complaints. I listened to the managers above. I let them spend the whole time getting the “problems” off their chest. Then we got to the root of it. They had tried to fit their life, their kids their desires around their work. I challenged them to go home. Take out a blank calendar. Write in their desires first. Then create a work schedule around it. Does that mean major changes in their life? Maybe. Some clients may have to switch time slots or teachers. They may lose clients due to their new schedule and have to find clients to fit this new schedule. But, a few weeks from now when all that is put in place, they will be able to have their cake and eat it too. Will life be “happily ever after?” Can’t answer that, but I can promise that if they were honest with themselves when creating this new schedule even the bad stuff won’t seem so bad because they are living the lifestyle they desired.

Here’s how you can life your lifestyle:

1) What do you wish you had time to do each day, week, month?

2) Take out a blank weekly calendar

3) sharpie in the things you want time for each day, week, month

4) Put your work schedule in. Where their are overlaps ask yourself: “Can I move this work schedule to a different day, earlier or later?

5) If you can’t get your work schedule to jive with your hearts desires then you may have to search for another work option. Seek out something that will jive.  Don’t go quitting tomorrow but maybe you can begin to create your own business that allows for this. It will probably take time but a year from now you’ll be glad you started today.

So, tell me. What complaints do you keep repeating? Are you avoiding living the life you want to live so that you can continue to complain? Share your stories with us. Let us help you build your business around your desires.

xx~LL

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Rest IS good for you

Last week I royally screwed up at work. I missed a very important detail, that could have been extremely costly. Luckily, a co-worker caught my mistake before it left our office. I beat myself up about it. And I got a talking to by my boss.  I’m a detail person. I PRIDE myself in details!   However, I’ve been running in all cylinders for weeks, and I didn’t take the time to rest, got sick, still tried to function at my normal speed, and screwed up big time.

Whether you’re a yogi that observes savasna at the end of your practice, if its a Friday and your counting the minutes until the weekend starts, or if you’re from Europe where everything shuts down for lunch and a siesta—you know that rest is a good thing. Rest is something we should accomplish daily, but is the one thing that we push aside in our lives most. We don’t really pay attention to rest until we really need it—which is a travesty.


Currently, I’m typing this, cozied up on my sofa, Netflix streaming in the background, tissues to my right, hot tea to my left. I waited too long to rest and my body decided to shut down and make me rest. On average, I work a 50-hour week, with all of my jobs and rehearsals or performances; I’ve got a lot going on. I carry a lot of responsibility on these tall shoulders. I feel, sometimes that if I slow down to take care of myself, that everything will fall apart and I’ll have such a large mess to clean up. So, it’s best to keep chugging along. However, that isn’t the case. More often than not, “things” will keep going. I, however, will not.

It’s a funny thing, because about a week before I get sick, I get a feeling I should slow down. A very strong sense comes over me—sometimes I take heed, this time I ignored it. Instead of making sure I went to bed early, or making sure that I didn’t take on extra things, or just letting my mind go and actually resting, I scheduled extra things, and did the opposite of everything my body told me to do. Instead of taking it easy, I doubled my activities. Oof.

You can do so much more harm to yourself when you don’t rest. I’m not talking about sleep—which is also needed, but lack of rest is an epidemic in the world. People gain weight, and create more stress in their lives with the lack of rest. True you won’t get as much done immediately, but in the long run, you will save time.

Think of it this way—because I didn’t rest, and fell sick, I then had to take double the amount of time to get healthy again, that I would have if I just rested.

Mastin Kipp—founder of The Daily Love, and seemingly a man I should be friends with, because we have such similar views and insight on life—wrote an article a few weeks ago about making yourself the most important person in your life. And you can do this by simply saying “No”. When I read this article, this knowledge was refreshed in my mind. I know that I should take better care of myself. I should say “no” more often. But I don’t want to let anyone down, because I have the reputation of being dependable and resourceful. In his article about self care he talks about this same feeling, and how he put himself in the hospital because he couldn’t say no. He also goes on to say, a “no” to someone or something else is a “yes” to you.


When I read that, I had to take a deep breath. It hit my heart so deeply. (I also have to confess it took me three different tries to read this article all the way through—because instead of taking a moment for myself to read it, I did work, or helped someone else.) Ugggh! I thought to myself—I hate that he is right! I have to learn to say “yes” to myself, my health, and my resting time more regularly.

This is going to be a hard process (Mastin agrees). But I have to commit to myself, to take better care of myself by saying, no. I wrote an article a while ago about being sorry–which I say that you shouldn’t apologize, but instead think before you act, or reform your behavior, because it is too easy to commit the “crime” and then just ask forgiveness.  Taking care of yourself, and saying no, and RESTING follow a similar thought… you can’t just continue to go at full throttle, and hope that your body will forgive you.  Mine never does.  She gets pissed off at me and shuts down.  Life seems to be three times harder when I’m not well, because I’m going at half speed, or less.  It is truly agony to be sick, not just because I’m not healthy.

The silly thing is there are simple ways to rest, or shut down, if we would only take them.  I have started with the few simple habits to get me started:

1) Obviously, I am to try to get 8ish hours of sleep a night.  I make sure to think about when I need to get up and make myself aim for bed 9ish hours before, so that way when I finally get to bed, I get enough sleep.

2) I put my electronics to sleep.  I put my cell phone on “do not disturb” mode.  I turn off my computer in the hour before I go to bed.  There have been studies that say that electronics over stimulate, so by shutting them down, you allow your brain to slow down.

3) I follow Mastin’s advice and say “no.”  I need to not commit myself to everything simply because it is the right thing to do.

4) I make sure I observe rest time for myself.  I take moments on weekends, or moments of the day when I’m not working, and actually focus on myself.  Like today:  I decided to stay home and rest and clean.  And a friend asked me to go to dinner… I committed to myself first, so I’m going to honor that.  Its just as important as honoring a friend.

5) I will remember to breathe.  Deep breaths are cleansing and relieving.  They relax and open everything up.

These are the beginnings.  I’d love to hear what you do to relax.  Share below or email us!!  Remember, it is great to be altruistic, but you have to take care of yourself if you are going to be any good to anyone.

Clare

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Love the Skin You’re In 

I get it! Working out is hard. Some days are easier than others. Some days you have to drag yourself to the gym or out the door for a walk. Some days you want to throw in the towel and eat a bucket of ice cream and binge watch House of Cards. Stop! Put the spoon down. Watch an episode of HOC, not the entire season. Save some for later and get moving. Why? Because you’ll feel better.

Yes, some days are tougher than others but move anyways. If you don’t it’ll just be harder the next day. You’ll just be putting off your health. It’s a fact you rest, you rust. Move it or lose it. This year I set out to “Love the Skin I’m In”. As I wrote about in Desires,  I started out setting all my goals as Desires instead.  At the end of 2014, I decided how I wanted to feel this year. The decision I made: I want to love every inch of me. Part of that decision is feeling strong and healthy. Working out is a huge part of this desire. However, some days my alarm goes off and I have no idea what day it is or why I’m getting up. I have to fall out of bed, away from my snooze button, so that I get out the door. I may drag my feet to the corner to meet my exercise buddy for our run, but 33-35min later I’m thrilled I did. Iced coffee in hand, walking home, I’m ready to take on the day!

Since the first I’ve been holding myself accountable to difference fitness modalities. I did thirty-three days of yoga at the beginning of the year. Committed to running four times a week, Pilates three times a week, and a session with my trainer. Yes, it sounds like a lot but it’s not bad. My workouts are so important in achieving my desire that they are in my calendar already.  I schedule everything else around it. After all, not only is it good for my health but it’s key to helping me to love the skin I’m in.

I so proud and blessed to say that it’s still the beginning of the year and everyday I love the skin I’m in more and more. I’m challenging my body. I’m stronger I look and feel better. I feel sexy. All because I set a goal/desire and took action towards it. As a Pilates instructor I know so many of you hate the gym, don’t like to workout. Are super busy. I hate to break it to you. You get one body. That’s it! One. You’re in it! Would you rather drive around a clunker that has squealing breaks or bad alignment? Yeah, I didn’t think so. I urge you to find a workout that makes you happy. Challenges you from your soul, outwards.

Need an inspirational workout? Check out Sean Hayes doing his moving for the day. What? You don’t have a trampoline in your home? Here are some easy tips to get your body moving and have fun while doing it:

  1. Grab a workout buddy: Ideally someone who won’t cancel on you. Someone who wants to even work harder than you a little to hold you accountable.
  2. Join a gym, yoga studio, cycling studio: having to pay for a membership puts value on it and makes it harder to just do nothing. Similar to the workout buddy the membership becomes your monetary accountability partner.
  3. Check out local teams or meetup groups for fitness and join groups or sports teams.

No funds. No gym. NO EXCUSES! You think I am going to let you work, eat, sleep and repeat? No way. You’re too awesome for that. Besides, you rest you rust! Seriously. When I think about rust I remember this old wheelbarrow out in the back yard where I grew up. Do you really want to become and old wheelbarrow? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

  1. Download an app, join an online workout site: Pact is working for Clare. I love PilatesAnytime.com, yogaglo.com and the dailyburn.com or popsugar.com or just google! Google know’s everything and can help you find something that moves you.
  2. Start small and add in as needed. If you have not had a regular fitness routine pick something you like and try to do it a couple times this week. As you get used to adding things to the calendar add more movement. Slowly progressing into the schedule you need to hit the goals you have. Go on, get up and shake a tail feather and love the skin your in.

What’s your favorite way to workout? I love Pilates Yoga and Running.  Leave us a comment and let us know how you plan to Love the Skin You’re In!

Xx~LL

If you have a comment scroll down past the tags below (or up, if you’re on the main page), or email us at liveclarelesley@gmail.com We LOVE your feedback!! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for DAILY inspiration!

Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”

I live in New York City. There are something like 1.6 million people that live in the 23 square miles of Manhattan. That is an insane amount of people in a tiny space. New York is the only city I’ve ever been to that you can take up someone’s personal space, and they have to be ok with it, and they do so by ignoring you. People are “jerks” in this city because business moves fast here, and people have to move at the same speed if not faster. I get pushed and shoved and stepped on all the time, and no one ever apologizes. Ever. And I love it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was raised by a good southern woman who told me to be polite at all times. However, polite and apologetic are not the same thing.

I am a woman of a lot of mass. I am tall and I take up space. Genetics has made me this way. As a teenager and a young adult, I was sorry that I took up too much space. I tried to find ways to be smaller. At the movie theater, I would shrink down, just in case the person behind couldn’t see. I still don’t put my chair back in airplanes because I inevitably get my knees slammed by the person reclining in front of me, and I don’t want to do that to the person behind me. There was a point in my life that I said I was sorry to people who bumped into me, or even to walls and inanimate objects. I used to say “I’m sorry” in almost every other sentence. I used to say “I’m sorry” so much that I started saying I’m sorry for saying I’m sorry so much. Are you getting the picture? I was overusing “I’m sorry.”

I’ve heard it said that the things that annoy us most are the things that we worked hardest to change within ourselves. I undervalued myself so much that I felt the need to ask forgiveness to lower life forms and inanimate objects. Enough was enough. I didn’t really mean what I was saying. And if I was, I needed to stop apologizing for taking up space. Everyone takes up space. That is what living is. I wasn’t living, I was being sorry.

I hate, loathe, despise and abominate the phrase: I’m sorry.

In America, people are innocent until proven guilty and even then, as long as we are sorry and promise not to do it again, we can usually get off without much of a punishment. It is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission. At least this is the common viewpoint—whether you realize it or not. We take from each other, we mistreat each other, we push each other’s buttons, and we walk all over each other to fulfill our best interest. We knowingly commit crimes against each other, and then we use two weak words to ask forgiveness. Once bestowed the forgiveness, we commit the same exact crime, sometimes with amped stakes, just because we can. We got away with it the last time with only a tiny bit of humiliation and groveling. Saying “I’m sorry” is easy. Actually apologizing is not.

I’m so tired of hearing “I’m sorry” because it is so worn-out and undervalued. It is a phrase used so often, especially by women that we don’t even hear ourselves when we say it. I went out to dinner a few months ago, with friends who have been together for over 10 years. She is a hard working woman, who supports his artistic career. She too is artistic. They love each other very much and treat each other as well and as equally as you do after 10 years of growing up together. At dinner, she said “I’m sorry” either to her husband or me twelve times. Yes, I counted. Actually, I drank each time she said it, and I’d had three glasses of wine by the end of dinner—not the best drinking game… And why did she keep saying it? She wasn’t late; she didn’t hurt anyone; she committed no crimes. I think the biggest crime she committed was cutting me off just as I was finishing a thought. She kept asking for forgiveness for things that were no big deal. She was being polite, especially for the time she kicked me, but really, NONE of those things really required an apology, and they certainly didn’t need forgiveness.

Being polite and actually doing something that you need to be sorry for are two different sports. A really good friend of mine is trying to make big changes in her life. She is a divorcee that moved to New York to pursue the arts, and she is working hard at both trusting men again and hopefully finding a thriving relationship with one special one, and also making her creativity pay her.  We have major texting discussions, or sit in one of our living rooms drinking wine, discussing life. I love this woman, she is one of my best friends, but I don’t always approve of her choices. She throws herself into different situations and then is sad about it and complains about the, mostly negative, outcomes afterwards. She sits and tells me that she is so very sorry, and she should have listened to me. Here is the thing, and this is important so I’m gonna put it italics: I don’t care what choices she makes, I just want her to live her life AND BE HAPPY ABOUT IT. (please go back and re-read that sentence… just the italics. Its ok, I’ll wait.) Ok. So here is the thing: do or don’t do, just don’t be sorry for it. If you keep doing the same thing, but not listening to either your inner voice or your friends, and you keep failing and being frustrated: CHANGE YOUR CHOICE. Please stop saying “I’m sorry.”

The thing about just throwing out “I’m sorry” is that it is easy to just move on and live your life. But as thriving humans, just saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t fix everything, and usually its only a temporary fix. You can say “I’m sorry” every day you do something wrong, and the thing is, I’m not going to believe you. Its just too easy. You’ll say the words, I’ll feel that I have to forgive you to make your life easier so we both can move past it and because it’s the polite thing, and then afterwards we will go back to living like we did before the crime was committed. And then tomorrow you’ll do the same thing. I don’t want you to be sorry. I know you are sorry that I’m mad at you. I want you to fix whatever it is and move on. I really want you to be happy. If the choice you make ends up making you happy then YAY! It might not be what I thought was best, but who friggin’ cares! As my mother says: “did you kill or hurt anyone? Did you kill or hurt yourself? No? Ok, great. Then it was a good choice.” Make your choice. Be an adult and live through it. Next time make a better choice if the outcome this time wasn’t what you wanted. If you didn’t hurt anyone, no need for an apology. (Yup, its really that simple).

Now, some situations DO call for a request for forgiveness. If you’re a person like I used to be that over used “I’m sorry” or if you’re trying to help someone else break the habit, use “I apologize” instead. Something about the word, the multiple syllables, the substitution, or maybe its because the word has the letter “z” in it, but its just a heavier word, and seems to offer something more substantial. Because of this, it means more when it is said. Stop saying “sorry” and use “apologize”. Apologize is four syllables. It takes a moment to say, and even a bigger moment to think of the word. If you’re really sorry for something “apologize.” And better yet, don’t be sorry, but instead FIX WHAT WAS WRONG. Or promise to fix it for next time—and here’s the kicker with this one—FOLLOW THROUGH. (I know. I’m tough.) Stop being sorry for being late—leave 15 minutes earlier. Don’t be sorry you forgot my birthday—offer to take me for drinks on Tuesday instead. Don’t be sorry that you once again overreacted to something I said—figure out what it is that sets you off, and either fix it yourself, or lets talk it out, I might need repair too!

When you overuse the word sorry, or just apologize for your actions, you are actually belittling yourself. You’re shrinking yourself down so I’ll see how lowly you are and forgive you because you couldn’t fix it. I rarely apologize. I make it up to the person; I fix my actions; I change future plans. Ok, so be honest… the last time you said “I’m sorry” could you have fixed it or changed it before an apology was necessary? Change your actions. Become better. Stop apologizing. Also when you over use the words, you’re abusing them. You’re making the value of actually being sorry for something, less. No one wants the value of ANYTHING to shrink. So only use “I’m sorry” or better yet “I apologize” when you really mean it. When it’s something you really need to ask forgiveness for. Don’t make yourself smaller for a mistake. Don’t make the other person feel bad because of that mistake. Fix it. Most of the time, you’ll be forgiven, especially if you prove that you’re going to make it better by changing or rearranging.

Clare

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New Year, Same You. Upgraded.

January first, my beau and I decided to make our commitment even more serious.  In fact, we put it in writing.  We are now committed to a two year plan together with our phones. Yep it’s that serious.

Signing up together, and committing to two years meant that we got to get a new iPhone Six Pluses!  Oh yeah, we went for the biggest, baddest phones there were, with all the bells and whistles!!  Now, I’m not here to tell you about how to pick a “family plan.”  Instead I want to talk about “upgrades.”

When you get new technology, there is a learning curve.  There are similar apps, or programs, or options, and most work better than what you had.  Its a frustrating, but also an exciting time.  I realized a yoga app I had used before, not only operates faster, but has more options making it easier to use. Even though it was frustrating calibrating my mind to work with the technology, it turns out it was better in the long run.  So, in doing all of this I discovered that while my phone is upgraded, and it’s this great, new, fantastic version, the inherent part of the phone is still the same.  It still has all the same great qualities, however there are just some that are better, faster, stronger versions of the ones I used to have.

For 2015, I am determined to love the skin I’m in and enjoy every moment.  To practice this, I’m using my yoga classes. I started a 30 day challenge to get me in the habit of daily love and appreciation for all that my body can do. Even in yoga.  Especially in yoga.  I breathe deeply and focus on every pose.  I also make sure to take everything in, and realize while in every pose, how strong I am.

As humans, we sometimes get really pissed off at ourselves for not being able to do something we could do before, or we think we should be able to do today.   All these subjective judgments!!  We make demands on ourselves, even though we know there really isn’t a timeline, except for what we put on ourselves.  We decide when we want something to be done, and we arbitrarily pick dates and times and abilities that we think we should be able to do.  That’s A LOT of definitions and demands we put on ourselves!

In class today I just made the decision that I was going to just freaking enjoy myself and see how strong I was in everything.  For the first time in my entire tenure of yoga practice, I held a headstand for five minutes.  Five freaking minutes I was up there on my head!!  And do you know what I realized?  I always could’ve done this!  I was held back before because I was in my head about how I “should be able to do this.” I got out of my own head, out of my own way, and had the best practice I’ve ever had in my entire history of practicing yoga.  I was thrilled with everything that I was doing.  I enjoyed each pose.  I didn’t get upset when I couldn’t do something.  I just did what I could.  I had the most rewarding 90 minutes of yoga… my muscles are still shaking in the best way!

While I was laying in savasana, I decided that all this new year/new you stuff is so detrimental, and so arbitrary, and so random.  Just because it’s a new year, doesn’t mean you “should be a new you.”  Instead, what if you’re just a better version of yourself? What if you just upgraded yourself?  (I mean it would be great if we could just plug in and sit there for a moment while all the details worked themselves out.)  Kinks and bugs, bye bye!

Upgrading yourself is not as easy as doing it with a phone.  There will definitely have to be conscious decisions made and plans, every time we decide to grow and change for the better.  Instead of being upset at myself for all that I’m not, I could become the new newer version of my best self.  I’m not going to completely change who I am– I happen to love who I am.  I  am really proud of who I am, but I still have room to grow.  Sudden change of who you are shouldn’t happen just because the calendar changed, but instead because you want to become a better, upgraded version of your current self.

Note: you can not upgrade yourself or upgrade your phone several several times until things start feeling right.  I am notorious for not updating my phone operating system when a new one comes out. I prefer to wait a few days, pick an afternoon that works for me. When I have the time to plug in, upgrade and experience the change.  2014 may be gone, and the calendar says its time to start anew.  However, like a phone contract, you can start your upgrade at anytime.  Maybe we’re already a few weeks in, or maybe you’re just now reading this post and its the middle of the year.  Its never too late to upgrade, and there isn’t a time limit.  Love your current you, and find the upgrade that fits your life.

LL

How To Apologize to Yourself

“I told you so” is one of the worst things to hear. Partially because when hearing it, you know that you partially agreed when your friend or relative said it to you, or at least had the knowledge before hand, but you still sojourned into the choice and came out on the other side, as predicted. Hearing “I told you so” from yourself is even worse. Knowing that a situation will not turn out the way you think, want, or need it to, but still going in with the understanding that failure is not only possible but imminent, is tough. Maybe I’m a hopeful dreamer, maybe I’m overly positive, maybe I’m just an idiot, but I have once again found myself on the back side of a situation that I knew what the result would be, as did almost all of my friends, but I tried it anyway. Of course it was a romantic situation. I’d tell you about it, but it’s a pretty generic scenario, and it’s also not the point of this article. I want to talk about forgiveness.

Yeah, forgiveness is one of those topics right now that is bouncing around the personal growth world that exercising forgiveness allows you to grow. And it does. Gabby Bernstein is one of my favorite advocates of this. What all of these other articles and blogs are failing to mention is how hard forgiveness is and that it is a process. Its not like you can just wake up, add water, and poof, the person is forgiven. It takes time, effort, and reliving—not the incident that happened, but reminding yourself that you did, in fact, forgive the person which means that you are no longer allowed to hold the grudge. Harder than forgiving someone else is how you have to forgive yourself—and that is just as, if not more, important than forgiving someone you don’t have to live with 100% of the time.

Because this stream of consciousness comes from a failed romantic experience, I’ve been told by Lesley that this is the last I’m to write about him, so I’ll name him Lazy Musician and if I ever write about him again, you can pelt me with olives. I feel like I talk about the relationship issue over and over and over… anyway… I was given hope that a dead relationship might have a resurrection, and was given a dangling carrot. To try to achieve said carrot, I reached out for it. Picture me, the extremely tall woman that I am, reaching on one tippy-toe with both arms out, fingers flexed, tilted to the side with one leg kicked out keeping me on balance—it’s a very silly, cartoonish vision. And I’m standing like this for 24 hours. That’s not what I was actually doing… but it felt like it, mentally. My friends were telling me not to give any attention to the situation, to walk away completely. By this person, I’d been hurt before. He didn’t deserve me, and I would only be let down. Again. Twenty-four hours pass. Thirty-six hours pass. Here I am at hour forty-two. Awake in my bed on a Saturday morning. Listening to crickets—well, actually, the boom of the bass and the people outside speaking Spanish on my Harlem stoop—but the point is that he has failed, again, to reach out when he said he would. The thing that keeps running over and over in my head is: Clare, you should have known better, I told you so. Like I said, its frustrating to hear that sentence. It’s horrific to say it to yourself.

I’m the type of person that will over analyze everything from what has been to what could have been to what will be. I could lay in bed and over think this non-situation and waste my Saturday. Instead, I sat up. Moved to the edge of the bed pausing before putting my feet on the floor, and told myself I needed to take this moment to wallow. I made myself agree that that after I put my foot on the floor I needed to move on with my day. I took a breath. I took a moment. Then I put my foot on the floor and walked into my day, leaving the angry and disappointed thoughts behind me. I’d love to tell you that I’m so amazingly well adjusted that I stepped foot on my floor I left the whole thing behind me. However, spoiler alert, it was not the case. I made coffee and lasted about an hour before I had to go snuggle with my roommate to get more out it out of my system. I was fine for about an hour until she left for work. After she left, I felt myself sinking again while washing my face. I found myself staring into the mirror. I uttered the horrific words to my image: I told you so.

Ugh. Sinking lower still, I thought that I wanted to talk to someone about the whole thing. But knowing that I’d hear “I told you so,” repeatedly for the next few days from friends and myself when I chose to relive the account to explain my dull mood. Feeling a tear about to fall down my cheek, and not wanting to go back into feeling sorry for myself, I stared into my own eyes with insolence. I realized I needed forgiveness. I needed to forgive myself for taking a chance, reaching out, but getting nothing in return—just like everyone I know said would happen. With unrelenting, fiercely protective friends, I was not about to hear the forgiveness I wanted from them. I was the only one who could give this forgiveness. I squared my shoulders, looked into my own soul and said: I forgive you. I forgive you for making the choice that you know would fail. I forgive you for wanting something you knew you wouldn’t get and that wasn’t good for you. I forgive you.

It felt a bit silly at the time—talking to myself in the mirror. This isn’t the first mirror pep talk I’ve given myself, but add in the “I told you so” and the frustration I felt of sinking back into a situation that I knew better than to sink into, and it was an odd moment. But now, I feel refreshed and I’ve moved on. It was such a free feeling I felt as I walked back into my kitchen to fix breakfast. As I poured more coffee, I thought that this would be a good thing to share with the Live ClareLesley readers. I felt really silly looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself that I forgave myself. Why was this so hard? Was it looking at myself in the mirror—probably not since I do it daily. Was it letting go of the situation that has been plaguing me for the past few weeks? Maybe. If I’m really honest, it’s the forgiving. Moving past the incident and forgiving is not the easiest. If someone has committed an injustice against you, its one thing to get over what happened. Its more difficult to let it go. Its even harder to offer forgiveness and completely move on. All of these steps towards one’s self should be easier, but its not, its harder. Anything for yourself is harder than doing it for someone else. Especially when it comes to mental health and well-being. Its easier to help someone else, even to forgive someone else than it is to be vulnerable. Even to be vulnerable in the confines of one’s own bathroom. To overcome your own ego and forgive is one of the most difficult things to do. We all put up walls, even towards ourselves, for protection and self-preservation. Its an interesting thought trying to protect yourself from yourself. However, it’s a self-taught trait that we all encompass.

The thing is, forgiveness isn’t letting down the protection walls. Its more of the mental version of just releasing unneeded tension and relaxing your shoulders. Why do we hold onto things? Why don’t we forgive more easily? After the forgiveness is the moving on and feeling better; the world seems brighter; breathing seems easy again. Maybe we don’t want to forgive because we don’t want to move on. We don’t want to face Change. Is it really easier to hold onto that wall and self-preserve or is it easier to let go and move on?

Starting to forgive is an easy process. You just have to wake up and start it. Instructions are simple: figure out who you need to forgive and why you need to forgive them. You can start with a mantra to yourself that what the person did, shouldn’t have as high stakes as you are allowing. Then go to that person (or to yourself) and look them in the eye and say the words: I forgive you. You don’t necessarily have to do it out loud—in fact a daily repetition of this might get creepy—but you have to have a repetition of this. Every day, you have to remind yourself that you’re better off having let go and forgiven and moved on. If you don’t have the chance to forgive them in person, or don’t want to face them again—write it out. Write everything they did to you and how they hurt you and how you would love to shove it back in their face. Take the paper, somewhere safe, like a lake or your toilet, and burn it. Let the fire literally take away your feelings. (Again make sure that you’re doing it in a safe place that the ashes will scatter and won’t burn anything to the ground.) Don’t let this person have power over you anymore. That is actually what forgiveness truly does—it takes your power back and makes you the stronger person. Forgiveness is such a powerful thing. Harness that and not the frustrating thoughts you’ve been harboring.

Going back and reliving my moment this morning in the bathroom, I now feel silly about it, but I’m so glad I did it. It hurts to think of the choices I made to get to the point of forgiveness. I also want to think about them and rethink and analyze… but I’ve forgiven and I need to move on. Lazy Musician has no ties to me anymore. I just don’t care, and I’m giving him no more power over me. He doesn’t deserve it. I need to look forward into the future and remember that in a week or a year or five, I won’t remember this day, or any injustice I feel now, because I’ve let it go. In the grand scheme of life, the negative things of today won’t matter, but my letting go and self-forgiveness will. What do you need to forgive yourself for? Until you forgive yourself, you’ll keep reliving the same mistakes. Maybe its time to have a little one on one chat in the mirror.

Clare

Making the Bed and Other Daily Habits That Matter

I’m a Gemini, for better or for worse. I don’t religiously believe in astrology, but there are some irrefutable traits that I have that are totally and completely “Gemini:” I’m fun, out going, happy, creative. But I’m also fickle and I don’t always finish things—I can’t begin to tell you how many projects I have laying around waiting to be finished.

It is really frustrating to me that I don’t finish things. It’s even more frustrating that I seem to not be able to keep healthy habits going. I regularly berate myself for not doing some sort of physical fitness. However, I do have two daily habits: coffee every morning—and an hour of quiet time to myself, when possible; making my bed—every day, without fail. This sounds like something that is just a daily task, without a moral. But its not. I didn’t start making my bed daily until about 8 years ago when I was in my late 20s. I’d love to tell you that there was some lovely dramatic story to this, but there really isn’t. As a kid, my parents encouraged a clean room, but it didn’t always happen, and wasn’t enforced. As a teenager, I just didn’t care if my bed was made or not. In college, I was convinced I could only sleep well if I configured my blankets and pillows in a certain way. This configuration was not to be disturbed, so I NEVER made my bed. After college, I moved into an apartment, got a grown up job while still pursuing my dream on the side. I dated, and had men over. I still didn’t make my bed. It just didn’t matter.

Then one day, it just did. I read something that said if you’re stressed out in your life, you need to organize your living space. To try to channel this, I think I did everything BUT make my bed. I cleaned out my closet, organizing my shoes and putting all items by type, season, and color. I went through my drawers, and organized and refolded everything. I cleaned and organized all surfaces, my desk, my nightstand, the top of my dresser. This overhaul took a few days, and I still didn’t think about making my bed—I think I pulled up the sheets to make a flat surface for organizing, but I didn’t actually make it. Now, in my terms, “making the bed” is straightening sheets and blankets and any flat to be straight and pulled to the edges, sometimes tucked. Pillows are fluffed a bit and sat straightened. Any extraneous blankets are folded neatly at the end of the bed. I have a queen bed. This activity generally takes me no more than five minutes. I rarely do it right when waking up, its usually after I’ve been awake for a bit.

The first week I started to make my bed daily, something interesting started to happen: I was happier. Not from making the bed, but instead from randomly entering my room and seeing that my sleeping space was just waiting for me. And the opposite is very true as well: if I don’t make my bed and I walk back into my room, I’m grumpy and frustrated until I make my bed. Its so bizarre. I’ve also figured out that if I leave things on my bed, taking up its space, I am frustrated when I come back and see the mess on it. I’ve also learned that if I need to remember things, I write myself a note and leave it on my pillow—those things ALWAYS get done. And, if I need to take anything with me for the day, I put it on my bed, I never fail to remember those things.

I wish I had better daily habits. I wish I got up and did yoga, Pilates, stretching, meditation, vocal warm-ups, eating healthily, writing, even brushing my hair, regularly without fail (yeah, sometimes I walk out of the house and haven’t brushed my hair… I’ll confess that. It happens. After having super short hair for over 10 years, I forget to deal with long hair some days. But I digress…) Instead, I have my coffee and bed making. Both make me happy. Both make my day go more smoothly, and thereby make me a better person.

The point I’m trying to make here is that daily habits you have should make you healthier in some way. The gym isn’t a healthy habit, if you find you can’t live without being there for at least three hours daily and aren’t getting paid for it. The coffee intake isn’t the healthiest choice, but the time I spend with those cups (and ultimately myself) is. Taking five minutes to make my bed isn’t a lot of time, but ensures happiness. Yes, I do other things for health and wellness, but nothing else is a daily priority. Truly, I’m ok with it. So, yes, I’m a Gemini. Yes, I’m a creative. Yes, I’m a coffee drinker. Yes, I’m a bed maker. I often bemuse that I don’t have better consistency, but I’m consistent for the things that matter to me; when I need to be consistent with something, I am. What makes you happy, and how can you make it into a habit? Do you have good daily habits? Are they as good for you as you think they are?

-Clare