Lara Zielin’s newest book, “Author Your Life,” comes out Tuesday
Editor’s note: My friend Lara Zielin has written several books in recent years, but the one coming Tuesday is her most personal. “Author Your Life” shares what Lara experienced by writing the story of her life in third person, and giving the character of Lara joy, abundance and all manner of wonderful life experiences.
Lara flew to join our women’s goal-setting day in 2018. She says our gathering gave her the courage to keep going with Lara’s Life and helped her believe she was onto something special. I’m honored we could support her in this project.
Today she shares an essential part of what fueled her transformation: stillness and mindfulness.
How do you change your life? I mean really change your life for the better?
This is the question at the heart of every self-help book, including my own if I’m honest, but if you asked me to distill change into one thing, I’d tell you that it all comes down to finding stillness.
Stillness and mindfulness are where transformation begins. It’s how we pipe down and listen to our hearts and get honest with ourselves.
Every great story starts right there. Harry Potter’s journey doesn’t begin when he arrives at Hogwarts — it starts with his realization that there’s something different about him, and he doesn’t fit in with the Dursleys. Neo doesn’t start off by choosing the red pill or the blue pill in the Matrix — before all that, he allows himself to acknowledge that there’s something very wrong with the world he’s living in.
Of course, in our culture, we don’t really value stillness or moments where we get honest about how we’re feeling. When you ask someone how they are, their answer of “Busy” is like a badge of honor. I’m guilty of it too, especially as I try to do all the things for my book launch. I feel guilty if I’m still or quiet. I feel like I don’t have time to pipe down. Instead, I tell myself should probably send out a few more emails.
Even though I’m still practicing all this stuff myself, I have learned that finding stillness doesn’t have to be this big, huge endeavor in order for it to work wonders. We don’t have to book a 30-day meditation retreat in India or rent a tiny cottage in the Shetland Islands surrounded by solitude (though, OMG, both those things sound incredibly awesome to me right now).
For a year, I found stillness at my kitchen table at 4 a.m. I’d spend just a few minutes each day writing a story I called “Lara’s Life,” where I’d write about myself in the third person, like a character, and put myself into stories where I lived the life I wanted. I’d also journal and read and meditate. I did it all wearing worn-out yoga pants and slippers, with bad breath because I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet.
These few minutes in the quiet before my day got going changed everything. The ripples of this work extended into every aspect of my life. Within a year, I had stopped drinking, I had more joy and positivity, my relationships were better, and I was financially more abundant. It sounds crazy, but just a few minutes of stillness and reflection each day changed it all.
Of course, I understand that not everyone is a morning person and I’m not recommending that you get up at four o’clock unless it’s your ideal time of day (as it is mine, which I know is bananas).
All that’s really required for stillness is breathing. Just stopping and noticing your breath and concentrating on that for a few minutes.
You can get still on your commute to work.
You can get still waiting to pick up your kid after school.
You can get still in the sliver of time after you wash your face and before you head to bed.
If you’ve got a little more time, then try folding in meditation or journaling or writing your story or reading a book that can help you grow. Maybe go from two minutes a few times each week to five minutes, if you can.
Seconds and minutes add up. You really can begin to change your life in the space of a few breaths. Making meaningful and lasting change truly starts there.
Lara Zielin is a published author, editor, and the creator of “Author Your Life.” Her debut young-adult novel, “Donut Days,” was selected to the Lone Star Reading List, and her romance novel “And Then He Kissed Me” (written as Kim Amos) was nominated for a Romantic Times Reader’s Choice Award. Her magazine articles have appeared in Writers Digest, Culture, Medicine at Michigan and more. Her nonfiction book “Author Your Life” is about using the power of writing to create a better story for yourself. She lives in Michigan with her husband and dog, and her goal is pretty much to eat all the cheese.
Related blog posts:
- Lara Zielin reinvents herself as happy young adult writer
- Lara Zielin commits to everyday adventures
- Resolve to do less. Busy isn’t better.
- Getting started meditating, making time for myself
- I’m meditating on releasing the past and moving forward
- Hold up a mirror for yourself, or ask someone else to hold it for you
- Talk to yourself like you would to a friend — or find that friend who can speak truth to you