Consistency is key: 8 steps to become a better version of you



After 30 days of practicing mindfulness, I can honestly say: it works. Not only have I gained a deeper level of awareness of who I am and what I want to be, I’ve also discovered that consistency is key to (lasting) change. Practice these eight steps to become a better version of you:

  1. Recognize and acknowledge negative thinking; work to change your train of thought.
  2. Choose happy: every moment, each day.
  3. If you’re not happy with XYZ, pray, say and/or take action.
  4. Don’t take life too seriously: laugh at yourself. It heals, it’s contagious and it’s a free ab workout.
  5. Smile often: it’s sunshine on a cloudy day, for yourself and others.
  6. Mistakes happen: own up and rectify if possible. Then move on.
  7. Slow down; life is not a race to be run but a journey to be savored.
  8. Be kind to your neighbor, your fellow human-being: we are all in this thing together.

How do you practice consistency daily?

The fountain of youth

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Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.
Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life
is to keep your mind young. ~ Henry Ford

Who would’ve guessed that Henry Ford would not only design the Model T, but also discover the fountain of youth? For years I thought I’d know it all when I hit the mid-century mark. Funny, but it seems there’s no end to what I’m learning. And that, my friends, is the secret to staying young. Because when we stop learning, we essentially stagnate. My acupuncturist recently told me I possess a ‘youthful’ energy. What a compliment, and one I ascribe to my lifestyle—of working out and practicing yoga, taking naps when necessary, participating in writing workshops, devouring books, volunteering and stepping outside of my comfort zone. Laughter is another element that I credit for my youthful energy and which sounds good at any age. Oh, and remember: accessorize with a smile.

How do you remain youthful?

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How to boost your confidence today

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Boost your confidence

A couple months ago I was invited to byline a guest blog post for my alma mater’s literary publication. Although I’ve contributed pieces in the past that have garnered positive feedback, I agonized over this particular post for weeks. I even consulted my big sister, a freelance editor, for her expertise. While I pen my own blog, there’s something unnerving about putting myself out there where former professors and peers and other literary critics might take a peek. Perhaps it’s because my prose has been limited to on-the-job copy edits and interviews—or lack of balance in other areas of my life—but confidence in my writing ability has plummeted. Let’s be honest: No (wo)man is an island, but we must first be our biggest advocate. When I approach my day wearing a smile (even a manufactured one) and slip on a positive attitude (along with my sassiest heels), the world sees what I want it to see. And I begin to, as well.

What boosts your confidence?

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Bad news comes in threes… right?

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bad things in threes

This past week my washer died. It didn’t come as a shock because the dryer met its demise mid-to-late last year. But there were no warning signs… one night, mid-wash, a pile of towels ended up a soggy mess when the water didn’t drain. When I arrived home at lunchtime the next day, a trail of rust marked the side of the water heater. Upon closer examination, it was a fresh rivulet of colored water. I don’t have to be an expert to know that’s not a good sign. With temperatures expected to top 115 degrees over the weekend, my heart dropped when I received a text that evening from my family (while I shopped for a new washer) indicating our 18-year-old AC stopped running. Life is fun that way, isn’t it? Unpredictable, packed with surprises. But I still look for (and find) a simple pleasure every day—something that strikes my fancy, makes me smile or fills me with gratitude.

How do you approach life’s unexpected hiccup(s)?

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When life isn’t perfect

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I think I can

Whether you think you can,
or you think you can’t,
you’re right. ~ Henry Ford

My life isn’t perfect. Surprise! However, when I publicize on social media or speak to others, I attempt to post or express words of affirmation and encouragement. Because a positive, can-do attitude is one that builds up, rather than tears down. Especially when life isn’t perfect. This doesn’t suggest I’m less than genuine or true to myself, but it can sometimes be misleading. Yet I choose to speak life in a society that is consumed with hate and greed. After all, if we attract what we focus on, it makes sense to choose the good things. And that’s just it: it begins with a choice. Not only that, it’s easier to win over the people around us with a smile or kind word than with a complaint or angry look. Plus—even if it’s not a good day, there’s always something good in every day.

What kind of life do you portray to others?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Grow up, not old

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[Image credit: Rawich]

Youth is a circumstance you can’t do anything about.  
The trick is to grow up without getting old.
~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Here are some tricks to grow up without getting old that I’ve plucked from past blogs I wrote for In With Skin (Feel Younger (and Sexier) at Any Age! and You Are What You Eat).

  • Beauty and brains are always chic, so work out regularly, take a college course or read a book.
  • Quit worrying about what’s hot in fashion — dress for your unique personality.
  • Pamper yourself regularly, which means mani, pedi, massage, flattering haircut and style.
  • Smile a lot and laugh at yourself for a healthy dose of feel-good endorphins.
  • For shiny tresses, glowing skin and more, eat plenty of fresh fruit and veggies, drink at least 64 ounces of water daily and log in an adequate amount of Zzzs.  Avoid GMO and processed foods, maintain low salt intake and skip items with added sugar.

What is your secret to growing up without getting old?

Masking the heartache

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[Image credit: scottchan]

Wear a mask that grins and lies, it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes.
The debt we pay to human guile, with torn and broken hearts,
we smile … ~ Paul Laurence Dunbar

You know who you are.  The one who dons a mask to hide the pain.  Your countenance contains no clue to the misery locked behind the walls of your heart.  To the outsider looking in, your life is good.  Productivity equates to happiness and when someone inquires of your well-being, your natural response is “fine,” of course.  But fine, in your book, means breathing.  Able to function.  Equipped with skills at compartmentalizing betrayal, disappointment and shattered dreams … without self-combusting.  You believe if you pretend long enough, the difference between reality and fantasy will blur, making it impossible to discern.  So you smile and attempt to fool those who know you best.  Because if you succeed, the lies have a greater chance at becoming truth and no one will be the wiser.  Especially you.

Do you hide a broken heart behind a mask of lies?

Turning frowns up-side-down

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[Image credit: Salvatore Vuono]

Many years ago while conducting business, there was a retail store clerk I used to visit on a regular basis.  In the words of Nemo in the animated movie with the same name, she was a bona fide “grumpy gills.”  My goal quickly became trying to bring about a smile by the end of each transaction.  I can’t say I was always successful, but it provided me with a worthwhile challenge.  Fast forward to last Friday.  I needed lab work done, but decided to call first to confirm they perform the test my physician ordered.  When I couldn’t get through on the phone line, I drove to the lab during my lunch hour — admittedly, a bit hot under the collar.  Right away I came off a little feistier than I planned, but cooled down rather quickly thanks to the tech’s calming “bedside” manner.  In chatting with him during the course of my testing, I learned that for his frustrated patients, he regularly makes it his mission to turn their frowns upside-down by the end of their visit.  As for me, I walked out laughing.

Do you typically bring smiles or frowns to those around you?

Beauty is only skin deep … and then what?

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[Image credit: Ambro]

Yesterday one of the nurses at my dermatology office said I looked so good … for someone my age.  I chuckled under my breath at her qualifier.  On the one hand, it’s nice being told you look good.  On the other hand, I was reminded once again that I’m fighting a losing battle against time.  But I realized something.  The old cliché — beauty is only skin deep — doesn’t stop there.  Because when age has replaced looks, we can choose to allow our inner beauty to bubble up from within.  A positive outlook and sense of humor (no, really, acne and wrinkles are totally what I expected in middle age), a frequent smile to brighten our eyes and kind words on our lips are amazing substitutes for the fountain of youth (and don’t cost us a penny).  It also doesn’t hurt to catch at least seven hours of Zzzs each night.  Now if I could just manage that one (I typically get five to six), imagine how good I’d look … for someone my age.

What are a few of the attributes that bring out your inner beauty?