I'm Bringing Zesty Back

Hello, Friends! 

I got a lovely email from a reader asking if I had any suggestions about getting the zestiness back.  I thought I might share some of the ways I reclaimed my sanity and my life with all of you in case anyone else was interested. (I apologize ahead of time for the wordiness of the post - I did try and add awesome quotes to break it up a little.  Regular sewing posts to return tomorrow!!)

*Note: I am not a zesty guru.  I welcome any and all comments/suggestions!*

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1.  Try something new.  It could be as simple as taking a new route to work, eating a new kind of condiment on your sandwich, or doing your hair differently for the day.  Download the free iTunes song of the week, try lemon tea if you typically drink English Breakfast, find a motto for your workout (I like "This is my sexy face"), or paint your toenails a new color.

 My first full year in Chicago, I decided to write down all the new things I did.  I made an entire list, and I believe the full amount would come to about 400 new things tried in one year.  Some of the things were as basic as trying a new kind of cheesecake or taking a train line I've not been on before, and some were a little more extensive, like walking out of a job where I was being bullied (I had given notice and had another job starting the next week) or figuring out what a 401K is.  Writing everything down gave me a chance to revisit all of those memories while making me feel like I had accomplished a ton in one year. 

Whenever I feel like I am in a rut, I add new things to my schedule.  I buy a Groupon for a restaurant I haven't eaten in before, or I try a new class at the workout studio I go to, or I do some instant gratification sewing (taking in a t-shirt, putting a zipper in a bag, etc).  These little things help keep things fresh and interesting for me, and also give me new things to talk about when I come into contact with other life forms :) 

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 2.  Set goals for yourself.  Inspired by this little tidbit about Carlos Santana, the uber fabulous musician, I decided this year to set two goals for myself: learn basic French and learn to knit.  Last week, I had saved up enough money for French language classes at a French cultural center near my apartment and I sat down on Friday and taught myself to knit.  It's not pretty, and it's just the knit stitch over and over, but I am super proud of it just the same.

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I look at goals as something completely different from resolutions.  With resolutions, you are resolving to do something, and usually, it's giving something up or changing habits.  I think there is also quite a bit of guilt if you don't succeed, or I may just be speaking for myself.  In my mind, there is an overwhelming societal pressure to change myself when the New Year comes to call.  I want to start afresh, and if I somehow fail, well, then this year was no better than last.  I've already strayed from my resolution, so why not give up on it altogether?  Goals give me a little leeway - I can start eight months into the year and still have it accomplished by December - thus, reaching my goal for this year.  I like flexibility.  Goals, for me, also mean creating new habits.  I look at goals as a way to improve myself through learning and new experiences (learning French, learning how to knit), while I look at resolutions as a way to improve myself by changing what habits are already there (nail biting, procrastination, saving money, etc).

I view resolutions and goals as a hike up a hill.  With resolutions, you start out at the peak but need to remain on that peak in spite of snow, rain, honey badgers, and mosquitoes.  With goals, you are working past those things to reach the peak - there is a journey involved.  Resolutions, to me, involve arriving at the end point without having the background to stay there.  Resolutions and goals are both difficult, but not unachievable. 

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3.  Set resolutions, but only set two at a time.  I used to overwhelm myself with trying to change everything I didn't like NOW.  I wanted to be healthier, drink more water, stop biting my nails, remember birthdays, stop procrastinating, and be nicer to everyone in general.  I was defeated before I began because I was setting my sights too wide.  So this year, I have one resolution: I will not purchase manufactured clothing from a store or website (aside from running clothes); I will make/remake only.  I have pretty much stuck to this resolution aside from the t-shirt I bought for myself for my birthday ... and there was plenty of guilt involved with that.
4. Let go of the negativity in your life.  This is so much easier said than done, but once done, you may notice a difference in your life.  This one was particularly hard for me because it meant admitting that some of the relationships in my life were toxic.  I have enough negativity happening around me every day in the world that to allow it in my personal bubble was just too much.  I want to be surrounded by positivity as much as possible.

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I started by going through my Facebook friends and assessing which ones made me feel good about myself and which ones did not.  Unfortunately, the ones who did not included family members and friends who I have known for years.  I deleted these people, and then I blocked them from seeing me on Facebook again.  In my mind, it was like putting up a mental wall that said, "Your presence is not welcome in my life.  I don't need the drama or anguish anymore.  I'm starting over."  Some of the people asked why I did it, and I told them how I viewed our relationship, but most didn't notice.  And that's ok, too.

Eliminating negativity meant I had to be honest with myself.  It also meant I had to be honest with others, no matter how awkward the conversation.  Trust me, those were some pretty awkward conversations!  In the end, though, I knew I had to take care of me and my mental and emotional health.  I am important.  These are important things.

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Friends, all of these things I've listed above are what I used to improve my quality of life, to get my "zestiness" back.  I cannot say that these will work for everyone, but these were my cornerstones on my path back to happiness.

Please leave any suggestions you have, or any comments/points of view below!  I love to read about all of you and your experiences :)

Happy Wednesday!