• Making sense of it all…The high cost of workaholism

    Single_RoseI 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.

  • Travel—the Elixer of Life!

    Cafe in FranceFrom 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.

    Ciao!

  • One Women’s Journey and a Mantra

    oceanI was profoundly awed by one woman this week. With little fanfare, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida. The stats were impressive–over 103 miles, 53 hours, 23 knot squalls and 3 foot waves. This was  her 5th attempt at 64 years old, 35 years after her first attempt when she was 29 years old. Amazing!

    To achieve her goal, the challenges were formidable. Sharks, jellyfish stings and other sealife issues, hallucinations, tongue swelling, and nausea were just a few. Yet she did it!  She trained. She researched and found  successful shark deterrents, she wore a specially designed, thin-nylon “jellyfish” suit and applied a special face cream to prevent bites and stings. She also had a team of five boats, several divers, physicians, and kayakers along on her quest. Then she looked out over that expanse of ocean, dove into into the water and began swimming.

    When Diana finished, she shared her three messages, “One, never give up; two, you’re never too old to chase your dream; and three, it looks like a solitary sport, but is it a team effort.”

    How inspiring for everyone—especially those of us sixty and older. After hearing of her feat, I’m applying her lessons to my life and my dreams. Are those dreams lingering from my twenties still possibly attainable today? Yes, definitely. (Fortunately, they don’t entail water.) Can I identify the obstacles and figure out ways to overcome them? Yes, with research and continually seeking answers to issues as they arise. (Interestingly, I don’t even consider age an obstacle.) Are there people who can be part of my “team” to help me achieve my goals? Absolutely! Some I already know and others I will meet along the way. My determination factor could be kicked up, but I find that one small step forward generally leads to another and another.

    Diana Nyad also had a mantra to get her through all of the physical, emotional, and mental  challenges along her journey.  Her mantra “find a way“.

    What dreams linger just below the surface, waiting for you to get going? I encourage you to dive into your dream.

    As I stand looking out to my ocean, I’m diving in.  I am going to definitely “find a way”.  Stay tuned!

     

     

  • We just don’t have the luxury of procrastination

    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!

  • Touchstones

    What’s your touchstone? Join our conversation to find out about ours.

  • Big Leaps and Baby Steps

    In  times of major transitions, we impatiently want to leap ahead of ourselves and onto the next thing.  Often without much thought. In my experience, this rarely works….the best forward movement in these times seems to be by small turtle steps.  Remember the tortoise and the hare?  Most of us have moved through our lives like that rabbit….hopping along and moving quickly. We dart around to get where we need to be, avert possible disasters, and react to the immediate situation.

    Now consider the turtle who slowly moves ahead and arrives (in the story at least) well before the rabbit shows up.  Another thing about the turtle, she has everything she needs with her.  Aren’t we really more like a turtle at this stage in our lives as we move forward with all we need, including self-protection?  It simply requires slower, smaller steps along the way.

    I am learning this “turtle step” business.  Before, I would add to my ever-expanding “to-do”list—write book, run 1/2 marathon, lose 20 pounds, and take vacation. Could I do any of these in one giant leap?  Of course not. Plus each of them is overwhelming in magnitude and would stress me out.  I either sat frozen in place or darted around like a crazy rabbit!

    When I break the big stuff down to one small thing at a time, it feels inconsequential, but surprisingly it gets done. And that leads me to the next small step and then the next…and before you know it, I’m there.

    So, wherever “there” is for you….start with a small step.  And before you know it, you’ll arrive at your destination.