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I’ve always chased new experiences. Full disclosure, I crave them. ‘Change’ seldom feels threatening to me; even when it’s unexpected. Being thrown off-balance pretty quickly morphs into feeling flexible and resilient.  I know that a lot of people – maybe most – have a different perspective. Find a set of circumstances – a job, relationship, personal sitch that feels comfortable –then burrow-down into the safety and predictability of sameness and routine. The Known, vs. The Unknown. Even amid soul-killing boredom, making key Personal Upgrades challenges the comfort we’ve built through our established patterns and familiarity.

My addiction (yes, it kind-of is that) to novelty is probably down to how I was raised. So much ‘movement’ and new experience as a child. So that now I’m always on the prowl for Options. Especially those that let me shuffle my scenery. I’ve come to think of ‘change’ – whether it’s of my own volition or forced on me — as personal Upgrades and Level-ups. Big, or small, nudges that urge me to re-think and re-view how I define my own fulfillment. Am I living My Ideal Life?  If not, then why not? Upgrades come to me in many forms.

Give me the opportunity to travel to just about anywhere (I’ll be ready in five). Jolt me with inspiration to change My Look (hair, makeup, clothes). Recommend a new book or film that’s going to turn my perspective upside-down. Share new music that’s going to stir my soul. And yes – introduce me to new people, and their fresh ideas about making the world a better place. Newness (as opposed to sameness) make me feel – sometimes painfully – alive. For me, that’s the whole – the only – point of living.

And yet, I’ll admit:  sometimes a new Personal Upgrade isn’t an obvious feel-good moment. I’ve had to embrace (eventually, it comes to that) more than a few ‘forced’ leveling-up situations. Sometimes at the heart of a forced upgrade is me, spending way too much time and energy being focused externally. Making silly comparisons of my life to what others are doing, having, being. Catching myself caught up in a kind of click-bait thinking habit. Stop Viewing, return to Living. Now. Copy that.

Even tougher are Personal Upgrades that impact people I care about.  It’s one thing to say “Ok, no more junk food binges!”  But change is much trickier when it touches my relationships. Shaking up long-standing agreements we’ve had and situations we’ve endured together. It could be personal, or business-related. I’ve initiated those changes when Fate required it. But it was always a struggle to find and celebrate positive outcomes at first. Those in intimate relationships react very differently when they hear, “You’ll thank me for doing this [slaying your dreams of safety and stability] someday”. Or, “Someday we’ll look back on this moment and laugh.”

Norma Kamali – 70-plus fashion icon and (IMO) leveling-up guru – has written a new book, “I Am Invincible”. Think what you will about this (kind-of cheesy) title; Kamali offers valuable insights from her own life experience – especially for women of all ages – about making changes that involve separations. (She refers to her book’s message as “aging with power”.) The realities we choose to face (or not) when things feel “off” and more than a simple tweak is needed. She writes, “In a relationship or business deal that threatens your soul or your integrity, (walking away) signifies being in control and aware of your worth.”

Not all change-producing prompts are serious enough to feel like they threaten my soul or challenge my integrity. Few, in fact. But I know exactly what Kamali’s talking about. “Walking away” from a stale mindset, from a situation, a relationship, or a mind-numbing job that felt like it was slowly poisoning me was a two-step change process.

For me, Step One was acknowledging and accepting, “This. Just. Feels. Wrong.” Tuning-in to my body was fool-proof affirmation:  eating and sleeping changes; energy depletion from either defending, or ignoring the ‘wrongness’. Step Two was finding the courage to make the changes (personal upgrades) that were open to me. When other people were involved, being as compassionate, yet as truthful as I could be. First and foremost, with myself.

There’s no other way for me to look at Life these days. Either I’m living bravely, or I’m not. I’m asking myself the tough questions about how fully I’m ‘into’ my own life, or ‘zoning’: letting the clock run out. It’s easy to conjure up and reach for joyful, new experiences: the list is endless and always growing. But it’s also important, for me anyway, to take-on those personal upgrades that are particularly challenging. The ones that force me to look at how I treat myself, how I treat others, and whether or not my thoughts and actions each day are something I’ll happily be remembered for. For more on this topic: Time To Live Your Own Life (Find inspiration in Sophie Tucker’s “There’ll Be Some Changes Made”)

Read more about Norma Kamali: I Am Invincible – Norma Kamali

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