I am a recovering workaholic and busy-ness addict, which in Silicon Valley valley is not only encouraged, but lauded. To actually slow down, relax and receive the world in all its wonder at this time of my life (recent retirement from a long successful career) has been challenging to say the least. The seduction of this “disease” is powerful. But I’m learning and enjoying the process along the way.
I came across this quote from Virginia Wolff which says it all….
“If people are highly successful in their professions, they lose their senses. Sight goes. They have no time to look at pictures. Hearing goes. They have no time to listen to music. Speech goes. They have no time for conversation. They lose their sense of proportion and the relation between one thing and another. Humanity goes.”
One of the reasons I joined Nancy in our Hourglass Workshops adventure several years ago is because I wanted to regain full use of my senses—all 5 of them (plus better use of my women’s intuition). I want to share such experiences with a community of like-minded women, as well as learn to more fully appreciate and attend to the world around me. More importantly, I wanted to regain my sense of proportion, a stronger connectedness with life, family and friends, and the bigger community around me. I’m doing all those things and savoring the process.This blog and our Hourglass events reflect part of this journey, and I’m very interested in the experiences of other women during such transition points and what they’ve discovered for a book I’m writing.
Back when I was growing up, this was known as the Valley of the Heart’s Delight and I’d like to know it again as that. There is no better time than right now, today, this Summer and this lifetime to turn up your tunes and dance, try a new recipe, smell a beautiful summer rose, and really listen to the voices of those you love.
From the age of 16, I’ve always loved to travel after a life-changing experience as an AFS exchange student to Brazil. With my newly issued passport, I clearly remember sitting in SFO waiting for a flight to New York City and then on to Rio De Janeiro. Looking back at my parents as they waved good-bye at the gate (obviously back in the pre-TSA days), I still remember the excitement, fear, and heightened sense of anticipation as I boarded on my very first flight. Since then, I seem to always be planning the “next trip”. I thrive on travel. Not only the trip itself, but the planning, anticipation and the pre-trip excitement. I just don’t understand people when they say they rarely ever go on vacation!
With all its frustration, too small seats in crowded planes, extra fees, and petty inconveniences, travel continues to fully engage me and during trips I really stay in present. Studies show that travel improves our physical and mental well-being. I’m sure its partly due to the heightened awareness we have when we are out of our routines. Also, I always walk more when I’m on a trip than I ever seem to at home and it feels so effortless. (A real bonus is regardless of what I eat, I never gain weight while traveling.) I remember a recent trip to Paris and all the walking we did. Who hasn’t walked from dawn to dusk all over a new city, exploring streets, aware of architecture, people watching, and the variety of sights, smells and sounds? I have been keenly aware of the sensory feast in a Greek spice market, the sounds of waves crashing as we walked along on a Hawaiian beach, and the stunning vibrant autumn leaves along the Blue Ridge Highway in Virginia— all remain vivid reminders of travel. I was fully engaged in those experiences, my level of everyday stress was reduced, and I felt much more in the flow of life.
In an excellent article published by the Global Coalition on Aging , the authors discuss the physical, mental and emotional benefits of travel. Perhaps it’s not that healthy people travel, rather people who travel and remain active are healthier! In one study, women who travel twice a year are statistically less likely to have a heart attack than those who travel once every 4 years! So, for your heart’s sake, plan a trip!
There are many, many wonderful travel blogs and one I suggest is The World According to Barbara, a delightful travel log by a woman in mid-life…well written and inspiring.
More later as I share some of my travels and insights, and of course the health benefits! And if you have a favorite blog or a comment about how travel has made you healthier, let us know in the comments below.
As the new year begins, there is the flush of a fresh start, the inspiring hope and excitement that things can and will be different. Unfortunately, that inspiration of change soon fades into quickly forgotten self-promises. Quickly followed by our “inner mean girl” who berates us and tells us know once again, we’ve failed. Ugh!
The Pain of Unkept Promises
We’ve all been disappointed by others when they say they are going to do something and don’t. But nothing compares to the feelings I have when I continually let myself down or break a promise to myself. It sends me right down that rabbit hole of personal criticism, self-loathing and guilt.
What is a promise? It’s a commitment to ourselves or to others to do something. We keep a promise through our actions. Interestingly, while we may keep promises to others, we frequently break promises we’ve made to ourselves. We all know how that feels—not good!
One Simple Action
Now, we could see a therapist to figure out why, sit for hours in self-reflection, or read dozens of self-help books (Yes, I’ve done all of them and yet still struggle with this.) Rather than focus on a big promise (like a New Years resolution) that I’ll achieve some far-off goal, I’ve shifted my perspective and simply promise myself to do one thing at a time. Just one simple action which moves me to the next action and the next to achieve the result I desire and keep the promise I made to myself. Simple, slow, focused and all small acts.
Continual actions form habits, good or bad, and become grooved into our brain and life. So it follows, those same habits become our life and lead to results (either what we want or what we don’t want). Consider a daily habit you no longer even think about, something like brushing your teeth. You don’t consciously debate whether or not you “feel like it”, “it doesn’t do any good anyway”, or all those other excuses you tell yourself instead of simply doing the task. That habit is simply a part of your life.
Self-care is a promise we make to ourselves, one essential for our well-being. So, we must make it a daily habit in our life based on that promise.
A Self-Care Exercise
Here’s an exercise to keep a promise to yourself–a promise of supreme self-care. Make a promise to be kind to yourself every single day. This promise requires you do something nice for yourself each day. It needs to be something that delights you, lifts your spirits, soothes your soul, or nurtures your body. (For example, it could be a luxurious bubble bath or something as simple as going to bed earlier to get enough sleep.) Such simple acts of kindness, self care and gentleness will do more to lift your spirit than you can imagine…plus its a great way to practice keeping promises to yourself.
Share your new self-care habit with our blogging community, or how you keep promises made to yourself.
Share how this exercise has worked for you to inspire others.
“On the road again!” was my October theme song. (thanks Willie Nelson). We just got back from a wonderful 2 week vacation–“Americana Road Trip 2013”!. Along the way I learned several things I felt would be great tips on life’s journey, especially at this time of our lives.
1. Identify several “must’s” in your life and decide when you want to do them. (Hint: The sooner the better.) For me, I love our National Parks and road trips. Fortunately my husband does too. I have wanted to visit the Smoky Mountains and drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall. It was everything I’d hoped for and more. We hit the fall colors perfectly, visited fascinating historic sights, enjoyed delicious regional food, wines and beers, and shared some memories with family and friends along the way.
2. Get something scheduled. I almost always have some kind of trip on my calendar. It can be a big vacation, but often they are day trips or weekend getaways. They keeps me focused forward and excited about something new. Planning something is invigorating, opens our minds to new possibilities, discoveries, and stretches us to learn about new regions and enjoy different experiences. I have a close friend and when she’s a bit down, she’ll call and say, “let’s get something on the calendar”. We do and it cheers us both up. Anticipation and planning are great antidotes to the “blahs”.
3. Embrace the unexpected. One morning, after we’d spent a night in a relatively unknown small town along the Hudson River, we realized we were 1/2 hour from Hyde Park (Roosevelt’s home and Presidential library) so we drove up and spent several hours. What a fascinating look into history at that time…one of the highlights of our trip.
4. Get off the freeway of life. Side roads offer a slower pace and many more interesting sights. We stopped at a local fruit stand with over a dozen varieties of apples; found a local bbq dive with the best pulled pork sandwich we’ve ever had; and toured an interesting craft brewery.
Give one or all of these a try soon, you’ll find your life’s journey much more interesting.
As a lifelong procrastinator, I finally have fully embraced the mantra “do it now!” I had a habit of putting things off until the last minute for many reasons. At no time is dealing with procrastination more relevant than in our “bonus years”. At this fabulous time in mid-life, I am so grateful for each morning, particularly when I reflect upon those for whom their life ended far too soon. So, putting off the important things in my life was a luxury I no longer could afford.
Here are my 3 challenging issues and keys to help you do what’s important now, with less procrastination.
Issue #1: I thought everything should be done perfectly or it just wasn’t good enough for others or myself, so I put things off and not get started on projects. I’d get so close to the deadline and find myself running out of time and say, “well, I just didn’t have enough time for it to be perfect.” It somehow justified I couldn’t possibly have done it perfectly.
Key #1: I realized “perfection” simply doesn’t exist….there will always be something better at some point in time, and someone else’s definition on what’s perfect. What might be a perfect meal or perfect experience is only so at that moment…it’s relative to timing and how I experience it.
Action: Now, I ask myself—Does this truly give me pleasure now or will it in the foreseeable future? Is this result fine for the situation, the amount of time and the amount of energy I am willing to invest? Is it really that important?
Issue #2: I thought I had all the time and energy in the world. Everything felt unlimited to me.
Key #2: I truly believe I do have “enough” time and “enough” energy to live a full, valuable life. However, it no longer feels unlimited today where there are more years lived than years ahead for me. (Ok, let’s not get into the philosophical or spiritual perspectives at this time—that’s another conversation entirely.) I have come to terms with the fact I have a finite amount of time left on this planet. I also know I have the same 24 hours in the day as everyone else.
Action: Now, I am more aware of what I’m doing, who I’m spending time with, and how I feel throughout the day’s activities.
Issue #3: Scrambling and sliding into a deadline to finish something gave me an adrenaline high and I really believed I did my best work under pressure. (After all, I received many “A’s” on term papers, written during those infamous “all-nighters”! )
Key #3: I still love the feeling, but have found ways to experience “the highs of life” in other, healthier ways. I also know I do not do my best work under pressure—that was flawed, outdated and just bad logic!
Action: Now, I’ve learned that pre-planning, setting a reasonable schedule to get things done, and allow for time to review and revise along the way, I have saved money, have had better things show up, and had time to truly enjoy the process.
Simply start from right where you are! Something small, a baby step, move in the direction of your dreams….right now!
There has been research that shows that actually making resolutions is useful. That if you do you will be 10 times more likely to achieve your goal than if you had not made the resolution! This year I did not make any. Does that mean I don’t have plans or expect to achieve big things? Nope!!!! I expect great things. Let me explain.
There was a study done at Brigham Young University that compared what people said and what the expected outcome was. Here are the results…pretty interesting.
The people that made the statement “that’s a good idea”, had a 10% chance of making a change.
“I’ll do it” statements stood a 25% chance of success.
By stating “when” you will do it your chance of success goes up to 40%.
Set a DETAILED PLAN and success rate increases to 50%.
Those that committed to SOMEONE ELSE that they would do it, moved their odds up to 60%, and of those that set a specific time to SHARE THEIR PROGRESS with someone else, 95% were likely to reach their goals.
I did just that. I wrote out a SPECIFIC PLAN, I put a TIME FRAME on each item, I shared it with my Mastermind Group, and I will check in MONTHLY at our dinner to update what I have done, or not done. This is great for me because I have a group of trusted, respected people who offer encouragement and constructive advice when we get together every month.
Interestingly, there are only four of us in our group. We are all in very different businesses, with very different lives and a genuine affection for each other. I encourage anyone who wants to meet a goal to find a group of a few people you enjoy and respect to begin your own Mastermind group. Ours has been meeting every month for nearly five years, and we all make it a priority. We all have had our successes and our challenges and the support has helped each and every one of us when we needed it most. This is an example of what the strength of women working with women can achieve. Give it a try and let us know what happens.
Join Nancy and Cherryll as they discuss how to make conscious choices to enhance your life.
This year, unlike in the past, I deliberately decided NOT to write out resolutions, set goals or intentions for the year. It just makes me feel bad in mid-January. So, I made it really simple this year. It’s actually a technique I learned from Mother Nature and years of gardening.
If you don’t want weeds, plant and take care of what you love and these plants will crowd out the weeds.
In life terms…for me, this means do more of what I love doing and it will crowd out what I don’t like. Simple, right? Easy, not always. A few simple steps to consider.
1. We need to really know what we love (that is, what brings us joy and energizes us). This includes people, activities, and our environment. (Not what we’re “supposed” to love or enjoy, but what truly energizes us and makes us “better” for the time and energy spent.)
2. Add them to our life and on your schedule. Make a commitment on your calendar. To say, we don’t have enough time makes no sense. To make something happen or get done in my life, I HAVE to put it on my calendar. Important things must be on your calendar, not just your to-do list. For some reason, it took me years to figure out things don’t leap from the to-do list to the calendar and seem never to get done.
3. Just do it. For example, I love to run, yes, simply run outside, listening to my music. But I don’t like getting started, that first mile is awful for me. So, I schedule my runs for the week, get dressed to run and I head out, listening to my ipod. I focus on what I love in that moment, my music. Soon, I’m past the first mile and truly loving the run. The other day, the weather was rainy, so I just put on my rain jacket and went for a run in the rain…..all good, even enjoyed that first mile because it was so different and invigorating!
One more example. I love the feeling and the look of a pedicure. In the past I didn’t do manicures because they don’t last (see above, I garden!). In my desire to do more of what I love, I decided to get my nails done with that new gel process (it doesn’t ruin the nail bed as with acrylics and it lasts). Now I have doubled my pleasure of lovely nails. I see my fingers all day, they make me smile. Also, that wonderful hour of feeling pampered is nice too.
Wishing you a year filled witn more of what you love and all that energizes and brings you joy!
Join Nancy and Cherryll as they talk about how “You are the most important person in your life.”