Your environment is EVERYTHING!

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Baby steps add up to become great leaps

I have to admit that I’m amazed by a lot of great changes in my life that happened since the start of 2017 through a series of small personal challenges which I’ve blogged probably a little too much about (see links below…)! In a little over 3 months , I’ve kept and built over half of my resolutions so far:

  • I started waking up consistently at 7am every morning. As an added bonus, the first thing I do every morning is drink a glass of water when I wake up.
  • I’ve been meditating daily for the past 60 days now following my 30 day Meditate or Chocolate challenge I did with a friend of mine.
  • With that same friend, we began a fitness challenge, running together at least once a week (we’ve bumped up to twice a week now and hopefully by May, we can be ready for the Brussels 20km.)
  • Other than running, I’ve started a regular home yoga practice with free yoga videos I find on YouTube (check out the Yoga with Adriene videos which are really fun and light and motivating). I still haven’t gotten around to fitting a real yoga course into the mix but that will come shortly hopefully.
  • For the month of March, I’m doing a daily writing challenge with the same friend yet again who is for her part, doing a daily drawing challenge this month.
  • You’ve heard all about my 30 day Impro and creation challenge!
  • AAAAAND as an added bonus, in the spirit of Lent, I decided to go vegetarian for 40 days.

Stop… Breathe… Ok WOOOOW!!! Sorry, I don’t want to brag but I’m truly baffled really at how many habits I actually managed to implement and for the most part, I’ve been able to stick to them up to now (hopefully fast forward 9 months from now, I’ll be able to say the same thing). How do you ask was I able to perform this Herculean task (a true first for me in my short lived life)? I’m no wonder woman believe me, but clearly, there’s something I’ve done differently this start of year and here’s what!

3 small changes in your environment to jump start your other lifestyle changes!

Physically reorganizing and creating space

After planning out the changes I wanted and writing down my New Years resolution, I simply started physically creating space in my environment to help me commit to these changes.

At first, the changes in my physical environment were barely noticeable and I wasn’t really doing it consciously. For example, when I started waking up at 7am every morning, I noticed how much I loved that snooze button on my alarm so I decided to put my phone far away from my bed to force myself to get out of bed in the morning. When starting my yoga practice, I put out yoga clothes the night before and sometimes I even went to bed in my yoga pants to be sure I would have no excuse not to do yoga the next morning… These are just small examples that really helped me.

Being inspired by my mom who was also in a cleaning and reorganizing frenzy this year, I also began to clean and reorganize my room, desk, library and space around my piano. I even ended up moving mye electric keyboard into my room. I decluttered and rearranged continuously a little at a time my whole environment and every time, I created a place for me to work on my habits.

Now, every morning when I wake up, the keyboard is the first thing I see and it reminds me of my commitment to improvising and creating daily (and it means I have no excuse not to do it because my headphone let me play at any time day or night…) Every night before I go to bed, I see also my small diary sitting on my clear desk calling for me to write even just one small line.

When you transform your environment so that it empowers you to make the important changes in your life,  you find less resistance, you find less excuses, you also make it a bit harder to fall back into your old patterns.

My room

Transforming your social environment and creating a support and accountability system

As you noticed in the list above, I haven’t really gone at it alone when making most of these small changes in habits. Making small changes for yourself is great but it often gets really hard because if you only commit to yourself, when you do slip, you are the only one that knows it. The only person you disappoint is yourself and let’s face it, we are so used to not living up to all that we say we’ll do, we usually get over self disappointment pretty easily… Especially if we just arbitrarily decide to make the commitment to ourselves and we don’t share it with anyone or we do share it with others but just occasionally act on it. Eventually we forget what we say if we don’t commit or act.

For me, the first step was putting my commitments in writing. It was already an important one because it made the changes I wanted for myself all the more real and it also allowed me to see if they were actually realistic or not. And the next most important step was committing to others if needed. For every single one of these challenges, I created some form of support and accountability system whether it be with an App, or a friend, or a family member. That way, when I did slip (and I still do quite often…),  I’d have a system that allowed to catch me and bounce back.

I use a habit Tracker App , as well as another app called Fabulous Day to track my progress and set up a motivating morning routine. I already talked about Insight Timer for meditation which is really great of course you know all about my great friend with whom I do fun motivating goofy challenges and with whom I go running out in the grey rainy parks of Brussels (yes… It almost ALWAYS seems to be raining out when we go for a run…)

On a side note, I’ve started to see that since I’ve started my new degree in music writing, I’ve also completely changed my environment in a way and met a whole new set of people(including a few young composers) which has also inspired me to create and changed my view on composing and performing.

Changing your perception of your environment

Having my environment work for me instead of against me was already a great step forward so was getting  support and accountability from friends, but it wasn’t enough because I still had to fight the biggest Block to making any personal change : the mean green, lazy, procrastinating and self destructive voice in my head telling me “you’re just not good enough”, “you don’t have time to do this”, “one hour of sleep won’t do you any harm quite the contrary”, “you really don’t feel like getting out there in the cold miserable rain for a run do you?””You’ll just do it tomorrow”… Sound familiar to anyone?

Meditating has helped tremendously to listen and notice this continuous inner critique in my mind. I dare say it helped me silence it at times but let’s be honest, it will never be silenced, at least not for long enough. Mostly, meditation helped me listen beyond that little voice of mine and pursue what was important to me despite it. It allowed me to not let myself be stopped by those thoughts when they inevitably arose.

This step in fact is probably the first and most important step of all before transforming your physical and social environment but it also happens to be the hardest… But I will leave this idea for another day another post…

Hope you enjoyed and do leave a comment to let me know how you’ve changed your environment recently what changes that’s brought to your life!

 

 

 

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Time is essence

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Today, I want to invite you to take the time to simply be. Often, we consider ourselves first to be human doings before human beings. In this day and age, we focus on getting things done, on being productive, on personal accomplishments before the experience of all these things in itself. 

We always race against time, sometimes we win, sometimes we lose letting procrastination get the best of us. We run around saying we never have time. In fact it’s true, time has us… We’re slaves to this grand clock called life and in fact, we may think we have control over our time but that is a complete illusion. We’re “granted” 24 hours everyday. No more no less. Same as everyone on this planet present and past : Albert Einstein, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Victor Hugo, Thomas Edison. We don’t have control over how much time we get but only over our actions during the time we get… But somehow this idea doesn’t liberate us the way we’d expect it to because we end up putting more stress on ourselves to accomplish more more more. “Mozart at your age had already composed symphonies, operas and hundreds of other works! What have you been doing with your time?” Says the nasty voice inside of me. 

We associate time with doing. We never have enough time to get things done and we never do enough with the time we have. And the vicious cycle goes on until we reach the end of the rat race against time, exhausted by the struggle and sometimes feeling cheated by how fast time past us by. In the end, everyone loses the race against Time.

Instead of considering time as a gift you are given to use and consume productively, efficiently as much as you can, I want to invite you to consider Time as an experience. Be present to what it feels to be alive at any given time, be present to the emotions that arise when you’re with someone or when you are doing something. In the end, it’s the raw emotions more than the accomplishments that give our lives meaning.

Getting the creative juices running!

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Enough is enough

Arrrrgggghhhh… Creating is hard. Even writing a blog post sometimes just feels like climbing Mount Everest. Some days it just flows. On other days, it feels like words and ideas are floating in my mind yet when I try to structure them into a post, even into a sentence, all these ideas float away. How incredibly frustrating! But eventually some thoughts do catch up with my slow to type fingers and a little grit and inspiration gets the work out there like this one today (Yaaaay celebrate small victories in life).  Although, Sigh… Too bad for all my other snippets of wisdom and blog posts that just didn’t take form… *Yet*

I find myself in the same situation when writing music but it’s actually much worse. Often, once a small melody or idea starts to appear in my mind, before I even try to put it into music or writing… FEAR completely shuts it down. Even before the idea is planted has time to grow and mature into a work, it gets ripped out by the mean green “I’m not good enough” conversation going on in my mind. Not only is this frustrating but it’s absolutely crushing to know you feel you have something to express, share, create  deep inside and you just let it sit there and rot inside you.

Well my dear friends, this stops NOW! That is right, I’m done with wallowing in self pity, frustration, envy and Fear! I’ve decided I’m going to bring out all that Rotten Crappy Creative energy that’s been sitting inside of me for too long!

*Pause for dramatic effect*

Okay, now if we cut out the theatrical bullcrap : by “bring out the Rotten Crappy creative energy,” I mean acknowledge all those raw ideas (both musical and other), those unedited snippets of thought and inspiration I’ve always wanted to put out but never found “worthy” to be put down on paper… *yet*… I want to at least give them a chance and at least plant those seeds of inspiration. Even if nothing comes out of them, at least I would have given them a chance instead of letting them fall into complete oblivion.

“That’s nice… But how are you going to do that?”

Simple really… By setting up another great personal challenge 😀 (I’ve officially baptized 2017 to be the year of personal Challenges!)  : 15 minutes a day of free and recorded improv’s for 30 days. Whether good or bad, I just let the ideas flow and hopefully collect as much “creative data” as possible. Test out the seeds before selecting out the potential good ones… Who knows, a new masterpiece may come out of this challenge… (hem hem…) But most likely, nothing grand really but the most important thing that I hope to accomplish with this challenge is simply to finally start creating.

If you enjoyed this post and want to support me in this little experiment, like the post or leave a comment to let me know and who knows I may share one of my grand creations with you in a few days… 😉