Photo Source: Yeva
I’m not a big fan of self-improvement. First of all, because the word itself clearly indicates that there is something intrinsically flawed with our selves. And second of all, it has an uptight aura around it. When I think of self-improvement I imagine skinny, judgmental people who restrict life around them to only “healthy” choices: no to meat, alcohol, sugar, sleeping-in, yes to exercise early in the morning, tasteless tofu steaks and kombucha. I always felt that this type of “self-improvement” was lifeless and pallid. Where was the passion? the love? the full palate of colors that life gave us in such restrictions?
Then I grew older and wiser…. or rather, I grew older and took on the every-day routine of an adult life, with worries about finances, children’s well-being, and the fridge being full. And somehow at this stage, life is not the same anymore. It is still colorful, but the colors aren’t as vibrant and have more of a pastel glow to them. And through my transformation I realized that paintings can be just as beautiful when done in pastels (if not more so, since the intense hues of youth, that are almost too violently bright, are gone), but when approached in a certain way. And that certain way involves carefully listening to one’s body, emotions, and environment. To be a life-partner and a parent is to take on an enormous amount of responsibility on one’s shoulders. That responsibility is like a house and houses never hold without strong foundations, strong shoulders that gain strength from earth and don’t falter in the face of natural forces.
So I turned to Self-Improvement to help me gain strength in my shoulders that I often judge too weak. Though I still dislike the word “self-improvement” because I feel like this is just a different stage in life that demands transformation, not necessarily “improvement”. I’ve started meditating, writing, letting-go of old beliefs, all in the hopes of strengthening my foundation. And one of my last experiments involved quitting sugar for the month of March.
This sugar-less diet might seem trivial, but this month without sugar has been surprisingly insightful. I decided to stop my refined sugar consumption because I felt addicted to it and because I wanted to motivate my husband to quit smoking. He didn’t quit, but I realized that I was more addicted to sugar than I originally thought. The first week was very difficult, I kept constantly munching on something just to forget the nagging need for sugar tickling my senses. The second week was better, but by the end of it I caved in; I just couldn’t handle throwing away the organic crepe with organic chocolate spread. There were other episodes of sugar consumption that followed. The most important one was consuming honey that I have originally banned from my diet as I felt that it would have been too easy of a substitute. But despite that, I feel content with my experience. I no longer have to have sweets when I’m stressed out or at specific times during the day (I eat honey only in the morning, with my oatmeal and not constantly through out the day). And I feel empowered. I feel stronger, because now I have proof that I can control my urges, that I can listen to the whisper of my body and take steps in the right direction.
So I have decided to do another challenge in April, I have decided to lend my ear to my body and no longer ignore it. This time it’s an exercise and meditation challenge. I have decided to wake up an hour earlier every morning to do 30 minutes of Yoga and 30 minutes of meditation. Though can we call it “Self-Transformation” rather than “Self-Improvement”? I’m not becoming better, I’m just ready for something different, ready for those vibrant hues to give way to pastel shades: paler but full of grace and sophistication.