The Power to Change (Part 1)

Fourteen months ago I developed this terribly anti-social dry cough.

Thanks to digital media, you’re lucky enough not to hear it.  But for those in close proximity, it’s not exactly the most endearing habit on earth.

After much nagging, I eventually paid a visit to the specialist (paid being the operative word) – only to be told what I already knew.

There’s nothing wrong with me!

So I guess that makes me psychosomatically insane…

In search of answers, I did a little googling this morning.  And if what they say about Louise L. Hay’s theories is correct, I am apparently resisting change.  Either that, or it’s a blatant “world, look at me!” grab for attention.

My fear is that she’s right – on both counts.   At least, it seems like an effective strategy for continued unemployment…

From my childhood, I have far too many fond memories of being doted on when sick.  Mum, tending to me in the middle of the night, with alternate hot and cold compresses, vapour rubs and lemon ginger teas.

In my memory, I was never more loved than when I was unwell.

Fast forward a few years, and suddenly you realise there’s no Mum anymore.  What was once Mum’s love is now a matter of self-love.

And that’s where it gets tricky.

A couple of years ago, I was commissioned by a local university to develop some videos on Positive Education.

It’s strange, how the universe sends you subtle messages.  During the research phase, I filled out the online survey of character strengths developed by the Authentic Happiness Testing Centre at University of Pennsylvania.

The survey creates a rank of 24 core character strengths, highlighting your top five.  But what is most revealing are the strengths that fall at the bottom.

Among my bottom five were “Capacity to love and be loved” and “Zest, enthusiasm and energy”.

Put those two things together, and what you have is someone who doesn’t love you or themselves enough to get off their lazy ass and Exercise!!

Me. The last time I had Zest, Enthusiasm and Energy.

Me. The last time I had
Zest, Enthusiasm and Energy.

But now I have this pesky cough screaming at me.  A little tell tale hack drawing the world’s attention to my self neglect.

How to change?

If, like me, you suffer from “vague and general feelings of powerlessness”, then you need to read Girl in the Hat’s “Body Talk” series, starting with this post.  Now.

There’s a video as well.  You need to watch it.

In it, the science behind a simple posture is explained, made all the more compelling by the fact that it requires no real effort at all.

Basically, anyone who can sit still for two minutes and breathe can do it, so you can see why it appealed to yours truly.

The odd thing is, the day I read Anna Fonté’s post, something clicked.

Since then, I’ve reignited my stop-start relationship with yoga. I’ve started meditating again.  And as of today, I’ve broken through a personal record by cycling for the sixth day in a row!

It’s early days, of course.  I’m almost scared to say it in case I jinx the flow.  But that’s the old me talking.

The new me celebrates achievements as they happen.  And understands that change is a process.

Sometimes it happens imperceptibly.  Like staring at an optical illusion until, suddenly, you see it and you wonder why you never did before.

Next week, I’ll explore this theme more fully.  But in the meantime, I’m curious.

Does anybody out there struggle as I do with the power to change?


  1. says

    Hey Alarna Rose! I have a secret to tell you. Everybody struggles with change. Nobody wants to admit it. I struggle mightily with all kinds of changes at least I did. I don’t so much any more because it seemed a self defeating habit to be afraid of something (change) that was inevitably going to occur anyway. Whether they had my permission or not. 🙂 I am at the point where I just have to accept that things are going to happen that are new and different. I was intrigued that you are just starting to meditate again, what stopped you before? Also about yoga. I have never tried it, but I want to because it seems like it would be great. Is it great?
    Finally I was hit by how hard you are on yourself! You seem like a intelligent woman with a good sense of humor. If you were perfect now, what would you spend the rest of your life working on?
    I learned a lot reading this, I hope you continue with the meditation and feel better about who you are, perhaps you will find the zest, enthusiasm and energy to climb mountains if you want.
    Hope you have a good day, I look forward to part two!

    • says

      What a gorgeous comment from you, Jonathan! Thank you 🙂

      You’re right, of course. Now that I think about it, I don’t hear too many people say “yay!” when it comes to change.

      Meditation is something I don’t find easy to do – my mind and body fidget a lot! So sometimes I go for easier forms of quiet – like a good TV series – it’s a vice 😉 Do you meditate yourself?

      Yoga is, again, a discipline in quietening the mind and body, but when I do it, I find it very very beneficial. Tones the body. Calms the mind. Stretches everything out. Definitely recommend you try it sometime. It’s one of those slow burn things. You don’t necessarily feel the effect straight away – but when you finally do, it’s wonderful.

      Thanks for your encouragement. I’ll put away the mea culpa’s for now and do as you say…look to the mountains! Have a great weekend 🙂

  2. says

    Oh, Alarna, what a fabulous post and an interesting question. And curiosity (like one’s body) is such a fabulous thing, if exercised.

    How does the exercise feel? Is it good yet? I ask you this because you know at first, it’s hard, but then it gets goood. That little girl in the boots and eyeglasses is so freaking cute. I keep seeing Elton John’s Pinball Wizard and giggling.

    BTW I was thinking maybe if we got superman t shirts and wore them under our clothes when we went for interviews. What do you think?

    I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.

    • says

      Anna! I really have to thank you… You’ve reached inside my mind (and I think you’re going to find yourself referenced again next week!).

      The funny thing is, in the past, my thighs would kill me when I started cycling. I always had to space it out. But I think my body really needs this. It felt great from day one! No sore muscles or anything, strangely…

      Hehe! Love the Elton John ref – had to look it up, but what an outfit! 🙂

      Superman T-shirts? What about Wonder Woman? Either way, I’m suiting up, for sure 🙂

  3. says

    You have such a way with words.

    Meditating and yoga sound perfect, and someday I may try it. Yes, I’m very resistant to change. I hate change, even if it’s for the better. I think I’m getting better at it though… I hope.

    Sorry I haven’t been commenting lately. I’ve kind of fallen out of the blogosphere, with school taking up so much of my time. :/

    • says

      Hi Heather! Always lovely to hear from you – no apologies, please… Totally get the school pressures!

      Yoga is really worth trying, especially if you’re a stressful type. Meditation… I’m yet to really grasp, but it all helps. Apparently, dealing with change and stress gets easier as you get older, and I think you’ve definitely got more zen about you this year 😉

      Hope the studies are going well for you. Look forward to hearing more (when time permits) 🙂

  4. says

    Dear Alarna, I’m waiting to see what happens with the cough before I make a comment…. I too had a cough like that…but don’t be hard on yourself… I gave up Louise Hay years ago, I found her assessments were too guilt-inducing. Every ailment in the world is caused by lack of love, and judging oneself will not make one feel loved….

    • says

      Hi Valerie 🙂 I’m always interested to hear your take on things (and I’d like to know more about your cough!). To be truthful, I don’t take Louise Hay or any of those kinds of theories too seriously. Just an interesting exercise in self reflection, really… I can be too hard on myself though, so we’ll see where this cough ends up. I promise to report back 😉

  5. says

    I so know how you feel!! Ever since I started living away from home, I go into deep depression even when I have the slightest of coughs or cold, with my mom and dad not around to pamper me and take care of me… Of course, I struggle every single day with change, hoping that things would remain as they are now for eternity… Accepting that it is not so, is one of the biggest challenges of life!!
    Do know that you are not alone in this struggle…
    Lots of love,

    • says

      Thanks so much, Sumithra! It is always encouraging to hear we’re not alone 🙂

      Sickness has got to be the worst thing ever when you leave home – no one ever warned me about that side of growing up!! I’m sure your parents would also want to be there and pamper you if they could, too…

      *Hugs* to both of us for being Big 🙂

  6. says

    Change is actually one of the few things I do well. Keeping focused over the long haul is my biggest challenge, married to the fatal flaw of chronic impatience. How these books ever come to be written is a freaking mystery.

    Good on you for pushing through your roadblocks. (And thank you Anna for the inspiration.)

    • says

      You obviously love what you do, and that’s enough incentive to keep going! Strikes me, too, that if you’re good at change, you may be less perturbed by the usual writer’s roadblocks 🙂

  7. says

    Loved the post, Alarna. Like Valarie, I don’t read or take stock in self examination that is guilt ridden. Do take care of that cough and do exercise, what ever works for you. It seems like you are breaking through the old pattern. Changes are inevitable. Embrace those that move you forward.

  8. says

    Babe, all the time. I resist my own talent because I’m afraid it’s not good enough. I resist the urge to exercise because I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep it up (perfectionist much?). And so it goes on. But here’s what I have discovered: the zest comes with the activity. Do it, even if it is the smallest bit, because that’s the match to the pilot light that will become the inferno. And don’t be down on yourself for the times you didn’t. Just do it now. In this moment. It’s all part of putting yourself out there, my dear. Hard, but so worth it!

    • says

      Thanks so much, Imelda! You’re right – in the past, I’ve been that perfectionist, too. But it turns out to be a ridiculous form of excuse (and I’m the queen of excuses). The best part is that a little effort pays off so much more than expected. And by the way, I’m always in admiration of your positivity and perseverance 🙂 xx

  9. liz says

    Congrats on jump-starting your yoga again! Hopefully it’ll help make you feel better. Personally, I find that starting to change is the worst part. Is that first step which is so hard. Wishing you luck & peace!

  10. says

    Really interesting post, Alarna. I started seeing someone who works with chakras and energy, and a lot of what you talk about here are things I’m going through also. I think there is a lot to be said about the links between spirit, mind, and body and that if we let one go, everything falls apart. I look forward to reading more about your experiences, Alarna. I hope things start getting better for you soon.

    • says

      Oh, thank you! Things are already getting better 🙂 I’ve never really explored the kind of energy work you are speaking of, but I’ve heard great things and I’m fascinated by the interplay between mind, body, soul. Hope things are on the improve for you, too!

    • says

      Hehe – yes, they’re not terribly focused on those kinds of nuances, are they? I’m going to see if there’s any improvement and then, as you say, it might be time to look elsewhere.


  11. says

    Interesting question Alarna. I don’t know how to explain it but I have a relation of love/hate with change. I love change and look forward to it but when I know or feel it’s going to happen I get scared out of my mind… It doesn’t really make sense does it? I think yoga, meditation and visualisation do help a lot with accepting changes that are happening in our life.

    • says

      No, I think you describe it exactly right! Love / hate. I’m usually ready for change well before it happens – like I’m living it mentally already. But that doesn’t make it easy. We’re a complex crazy bunch, us humans 😉

  12. says

    Alarna, I love mini you! The pic with those shoes is adorable!

    I think you are in good company Alarna. Most people are resistant to change. Change can be scary. A fear of the unknown. Some people prefer to be “comfortable being uncomfortable.” It’s all they know. So as Coleen Patrick mentioned, take baby steps. It’s a sure footed way to move forward. I hope you keep up with your new routine. It sounds fabulous.

    So now for the cough. It could be one of two things. First, I would say allergy. Second, it could be a reaction from something you’re taking. Such as a medication or food. Also coughing is a lung thing and in chinese medicine, it represent grief. So are you grieving about something. Your job maybe? 🙂

    • says

      Hi there Karen, thank you so much for your comment. I’m really very touched, and I think you may have hit upon something.

      It sounds silly, but I think maybe at the age of 35 there’s a certain amount of grief about losing one’s youth. Food for thought, though I am hardly inclined to belief my life is over yet 😉

      Your caring words and wisdom mean a great deal. Thank you.

  13. Manu Kurup says

    wonderful post, Alarna and a lot of things to think about… I used to be scared about change… going out of the comfort zone and all. But, when I understood that change is inevitable and the only way to deal with it is to cope with it, mu outlook towards it changed. 🙂
    Loved the part where you mentioned ‘being loved’. I think I have the same memory of being taken care of when sick.

  14. says

    Alarna you are such a beautiful soul, so humble. You are one of the finest friends we have met on line. The fact that you can see you need change and to view life differently shows how beautiful you are. Change is very hard for me. I hold on so tightly. My daughter (Inion) makes fun of me constantly. When we go to lunch, I always order the same thing. For ten years! Inion on the other hand loves change. I think your going to find that your on the right path. Yoga/meditation is an excellent self-improvement tool. Also doing things that you enjoy. Even things you remember from your past that you haven’t done in a while. I’ve recently started playing my guitar again. Something I learned from age ten,and something that meant a lot to me.But as I got older, add a husband and kids, well, other things got in the way of my music. Sometimes it’s those simple pleasures in life that will rekindle youthful dreams…peace…joy….harmony. Now, on another note, Inion and I have nominated you for “The Reality Blog Award.” Just head on over to our blog for the details and congrats my friend!!

    • says

      Wow, thank you so much for the nomination, and for your kind, generous words. I’ll confess, I am a creature of habit when it comes to ordering food – what those little habits say about us, hey? 🙂

      Picking up guitar again sounds like a wonderful endeavour for the soul. I’ll have to give thought to that… I’ve always been particularly bad at prioritising hobbies or leisure of any kind. But that is something that Will Change.

      The Inion N. Mathair team sound like a great match for one another 😉 Peace to you both.

  15. lynnkelleyauthor says

    I definitely struggle with the power to change. Yay for you doing yoga and cycling! I love that pic of you when you were little!

  16. says

    Change is one those characters’ you meet different ones of everyday. Some are a challenge, a few are fun, while others are like getting caught in a tidal swamp with a clan of Salties, with few ways out, other than to get up and over. Hopefully not getting caught up on anything along the way, but plenty of mud to share, converse, and laugh about after making it through to the other side. Yeah, I think it’s about what options/choices come with change, forced or the road taken, but it has to come with some reasoning to find where the fitness rests in any particular aspect, or change..

    • says

      I love the idea of change coming as different characters! That is so true – some are a riot, some are just plain painful 🙂 I think this image will stay with me, and I appreciate that you added some room for laughter. We gotta laugh about the messes we make before we get there, right? 😉 Thanks Sean!


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