skip to Main Content

Joyous Contentment and a Multidimensional Life

Image by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

I recently wrote about doing the joyful work. It was in the context of individual coaching and our Find and Follow Your Spark program. The topic lingers in my mind. Along with the question of whether I’m talking about joy or deep- rooted contentment. Are they the same thing? Do I need to redefine Joy? Is it Joyous Contentment? It’s definitely part of your Multidimensional Life!

How do you define joy?

Is it a beautiful sunrise or sunset? The radiance of a full moon? A leaf turning from green to copper? The magnificence of nature that makes you gasp?

The birth of a child or a life-defining moment or milestone can also be a source of joy.

The smile of someone you love? The fist pumping elation of success?

All of this is joyful. But it’s also generated outside of YOU. I believe that JOY is an inside job.

Here are three things to help you redefine/rediscover JOY:

  1. Joy can be rooted in the ordinary.
  2. Joy can be found by simply paying attention.
  3. You need to be open to recognizing Joy.

What is ordinary JOY?

I believe Joy can be an everyday state, not an exceptional state. It doesn’t have to be spectacular. Or awe inspiring. It can be a very deep-rooted satisfaction. In life, in your work, in your surroundings, in your purpose. It can be contentment. Let’s begin to think of it as Joyous Contentment. I love this poem by Pat Schneider “The Patience of Ordinary Things”. There’s such simplicity and pleasure in her words.  Not a clamoring joy but rather a deep appreciation.

Joy also doesn’t need to be something for which you strive or struggle. That seems antithetical to Joyous Contentment. It can be as simple as enjoying bubbles in a bubble bath or just feeling good. For me it’s often found in the early morning in the quiet kitchen, the sunrise, a cup of strong breakfast tea. Joyous Contentment settles on me as I pause and notice the spiraling steam, the fragrance, the deep color.

How do you find JOY?

Mindful presence. Yes, mindfulness has entered the mainstream lexicon to the degree that it can begin to feel stale. But truthfully, if you don’t pause and pay attention so many things will pass you by. Those moments when you feel good about where you are or what you’re doing. The moments of Joyous Contentment. You need to be paying attention in order to find them. Not constant high alert. Just the occasional picking up of your head and asking where am I finding/seeing joy in this moment/what else brings me joy? (By the way, if the answer is nowhere, widen your search. Let it be simple and small. I’m pausing as I write this, looking out my window and loving how the fallen leaves make the grass look greener and lusher. Mmmm… I sought the joy in nature as opposed to stumbling upon it.)

Someone who is new to my list responded to my request to tell me three things about herself by telling me that being authentic brings her joy. I thought it was a wonderful example of being present with what is. With who she is at her very core. I liked that, that present feeling as a source of joy. Later she clarified this. “Being authentic is comforting,” she wrote. Other things that brought her joy included “hiking to the top of a mountain and looking at the view, a good book, learning new things, a good cup of coffee…” Even without my asking she answered the question of what else brings her joy.

How will you recognize JOY?

Discover where you feel joy in your body. Recall a situation that you would define as joyful and notice where you feel it. Identify that as your Joy-meter.

For me it’s that savoring Mmmm. Sort of like this smiling emoji 😊 Yes, I have fist pumping woo-hoo moments, too but I don’t wait for them. Ordinary, everyday Joyous Contentment is lovely and sustainable.

By contrast, there’s a lot in the world to give you a feeling of dread. Also notice that in your body. Don’t push it away immediately. Some small questions around that:

  • Is it real? True? Am I in danger?
  • Is there anything I can do about it? (Even small actions make a difference.)
  • Is there another way I can look at this? (A reframe or shift in perception.)
  • Does my feeling this way make a difference in the situation?

You may need to feel sad for a bit. But you have the choice of returning to Joyous Contentment.

I invite you to ask yourself what where am I finding/seeing joy in this moment? To pause and recognize the everyday, mundane, simple joy. A deep-rooted joyous contentment. What is it that brings you joy? And what else?

Why bother defining/discovering/recognizing JOY?

First, we are not on this earth merely to suffer. However, as we approach and travel through mid-life and beyond, stuff piles up. We lose sight of the simple joys as we tend to life. A bit of the “forest for the trees” situation.

But if you want to experience a Multidimensional Life, Joy has to be part of it. Joy will feed your creativity, have a positive affect on your health and happiness and bring more balance into your life. Creating a Multidimensional Life is the conscious work we do to make the second half of life richer, more meaningful and creative. Joyous Contentment evens out the good with the bad, the sweet with the hard, the beautiful and the not beautiful. It’s life, real life, your life.

This is joyful work we can do together. Contact me find out what a path to a Multidimensional Life could look like.

Perfection or Excellence?

Perfectionism
Image by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Do you believe your success depends on you being perfect? Do you strive for perfection? What if you were to strive for excellence instead? Excellence through continuous improvement.

In studying what makes people and organizations successful, Dr. Robert Maurer of The Science of Excellence has found that it is not perfection that leads to success. It is more often a matter of accumulating very small steps toward excellence. It is excellence by continuous improvement.

Is it real or is it…

After all, perfection is not real. It is an illusion. From my observation, a desire for control can masquerade as perfectionism. Or a need for safety, a fear of looking foolish, being wrong, being rejected or ridiculed. Ultimately, it’s unattainable.

Perfectionism is that thing that can creep up on you in all aspects of life and become a way to avoid doing what you’re here to do. If I can’t do it perfectly, if I can’t be an expert, then I may as well not do it at all.

Applied to yourselves it can hamper goal attainment. It can lead to unhappiness, dissatisfaction and a breakdown of relationships. It’s like trying to get a perfect point on a pencil and sharpening it down to a nub. When does something go from a masterpiece to ruin? From beauty to wreck?

When it is expected of others, perhaps in work scenarios, it manifests as criticism, micromanaging and the inability to be a productive, contributing team member or partner.

And sometimes, perfectionism is just a habit of thought. You don’t even realize you’re striving for it. It has become your normal.

In the end it would be so much more productive to shift your attention to excellence through continuous improvement.

Excellence

When you are striving for excellence, you are doing your best all the while knowing that you can continue to improve. You are stretching yourself, refining your skills, learning from others, collaborating for a shared goal.

Excellence is knowing when a thing is “good enough”. And speaking of “good enough”, is that an acceptable goal?  You’ve heard of the s*&%ty first draft. I say yes! Yes, it is a “perfect” place to pause and decide whether you’re done  (for now) or to continue.

And, by the way, switching from perfection to excellence through continuous improvement is not a lowering of standards. It is a way to continue moving forward. And the irony is that “good enough” for a perfectionist is most likely head and shoulders above the standards for a non-perfectionist. The issue is knowing when to be done. And in the end, as Scott Allen said, “Done is better than perfect.”

Consider this:

  1. Excellence through continuous improvement allows for creative detours. It allows for observation, curiosity, experimentation. Perfection puts on blinders.
  2. Excellence through continuous improvement is conducive to collaboration. Perfection is a one-person show.
  3. Excellence through continuous improvement is fluid, a series of points along a continuum. Perfection is rigid.
  4. Excellence through continuous improvement is a process. It is creative. On the other hand, perfection can set you up for disappointment and rob you of the joy of discovery. Think about how so many inventions have been built on the work of someone who went before. They don’t come to us out of thin air. They are often improvements on someone else’s work or come from an observation that sparks an idea. Steam engines existed but James Watt took it to another level. Someone didn’t set out to invent the microwave oven. The waves were there. It was “invented” when Percy Spencer’s chocolate bar melted.

Whether in life or business, whether in ourselves or in what we create, the struggle for perfection can be debilitating. Too often the perfectionist is paralyzed, the dream of perfection becomes a hindrance. It prevents you from shining because your work is kept under wraps until it is “perfect.”

Make a different choice. Be excellent, not perfect.

Kaizen-Muse™ Creativity Coaching can help. Contact me to find out how I can help you can break through perfectionism and move forward.

#perfection #creativity #secondhalf

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

What's Love Got To Do With It?

Recently, I’ve had some interesting conversations with people about retirement.

Some have a crystal-clear vision of how they want their days to flow. They see themselves moving seamlessly between creative work, nature, those bits of their career that they loved and can now repurpose into something new. There is time for play.

Then there are those who are worried they’ll spend their days in a TV induced stupor or frantically cooking and cleaning all day.

Both of these visions carry a mindset of staying busy and productive. However, they are two totally different approaches.

Dual Approaches

The first approach allows for new possibilities, spacious days, fun and meaningful interest.

The second can’t see beyond what has always been – busy days of work and busier weekends filled with tasks and errands. The black and white of either go-go-go or crash.

If you’re like I was and tend toward the latter approach, let me assure you there is hope. But it can be a tough mindset to shift. Whether this need for busy productivity was learned during our formative years or acquired over a long and busy career, it can become a habitual response to any open, yawning expanse of time. Especially as you transition to what is traditionally called retirement or, as I prefer to think of it, your Third Age.

However, what I’ve learned is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Approach is a choice

We humans are amazingly adaptable. We don’t break when we try to mold ourselves into a new mindset.

You get to choose to have a full, meaningful, joyful life without filling every minute of every day. You get to choose your approach as well as how you feel about. What will my days look like? What would be fun? You get to fall in love with your next stage of life!

It’s not that hard. In fact, it’s wonder-full.

As for me, I have fallen in love with helping others do this.

How will you choose to love your life?

L Learn what brings you alive. Through different exercises and guided meditations, I help you recognize that bubble of excitement or delight that accompanies aliveness. Once you feel it, you can latch onto it and see where it takes you. If an idea fizzles out, think about what else produces delight. Nothing comes to mind immediately? That’s okay. Imagine what might bring you alive. Nothing is off limits. Nothing you come up with is set in stone. Permanence is an illusion. You don’t want to get stuck there. It took me a while but I finally learned what lights me up. I also learned how to give myself permission to follow it. (That permission stuff can be a tough one, too!)

O Open yourself up to possibilities. This is where your imagination – and fun – comes in. Just because you never did something doesn’t mean you never can. Whether it’s skydiving or training for a 5k, picking up that old camera, rescuing a puppy or learning how to code, I encourage you to develop a habit of thought that says, why not? We brainstorm and explore. This is creativity in action. You can create something that wasn’t there before. A life, a world, a way of thinking. I see people do this all the time.

V Volunteer in your own life. Yes, of course, there’s a need for altruism in the big world. But what do you do for others that you don’t do for yourself? Perhaps you think it’s selfish to claim your own time. You’ve been taught that others come before you and therefore find yourself at their beck and call. You are the first one to step up when someone needs an oxygen mask … even though you know you need to put yours on first. Self-sacrifice comes easily. But it’s not always necessary and not always healthy. Often you don’t even recognize this in yourself until we start talking. You will find that when you volunteer to take bigger care of your own life, you have more to offer when the time comes to volunteer elsewhere.

E Experience your life fully. Feel it. Don’t tear through it in the fast lane. Appreciate it. Allow yourself to daydream. Notice where your thoughts go. While necessity may be the mother of invention, I believe curiosity comes first. When you stop to pay attention to life you are Pausing. In this Pause lives the quiet space in which you at your essence comes to the forefront. You. The beautiful, interesting, quirky, smart, and unique You.

Love that You!

Your first step

If you’re ready to do more than wonder or worry about how your Third Age will look and would like to dive into this process with me, then I’d love to talk to you.

Contact me and let’s start a conversation about where you are, where you’re going and how I can help you can fall in love with this next stage of life.

Pen + Thoughts = Power

Photo by MJ S on Unsplash

The pen is mighty. Put that pen to paper and record your words and thoughts… power.

Why write? I’ve asked that question many times in this blog. This time I’m inviting you to consider writing as a powerful agent of change.

A leather bound journal. A diary. Any simple, humble notebook that can capture your words. Julia Cameron recommends this type of writing it as a daily ritual in The Artist’s Way:  3 longhand pages first thing in the morning known as morning pages. Dorothea Brande proposed something similar, what she called “unconscious writing”, in her book Becoming a Writer first published in 1934. Your writing can be impromptu or just thoughts dashed onto the page. In coaching I sometimes offer prompts followed by a 2 or 3-minute writing sprint. In our Find and Follow Your Spark program we call them Magic Pages. And they are truly magical.

Broad Impact

What I have found is that a writing practice can impact you in ways far beyond what is usually thought of when we say “writing.” It doesn’t always have to be about a finished products, publication or book sales.

Your words, captured on a page are powerful. You cannot set your thoughts down, day after day, and remain the same. You will be transformed.

I would suggest you start by doing the morning pages suggested in The Artist’s Way. Experience the effect this will have on you as you develop a writing habit. Power through to that third page because I guarantee you will go someplace deeper and unexpected. But don’t feel this is the only way to do this, that it’s  “all or none.” Do one page. Do it several times a week. Just do something on the page.

Here are some other reasons to develop a journal practice and some of the ways I use my journal.

Writing will amp up your listening skills

Listening to yourself, that is. Thoughts run amok through our mind all day. But if you stop to jot them down, you have the opportunity to actually “hear” them.

You might be surprised at what you hear. You might realize that you say these things all the time, both out loud as well as to yourself. You might recognize that these thoughts/words are an engrained habit, not necessarily true. And, unfortunately, those habitual thoughts are not usually encouraging. They tend more toward the “why am I so ____” with the “_____” not very flattering.

How will you capture these thoughts? Those small spiral notepads that fit in your pocket or purse can do the job quite efficiently. As can the notes app on your phone. It doesn’t need to be fancy. The power is in the act of capturing.

Writing is an act of resolve

You may not realize it at first, however if you keep up the practice you will discover your beginning.

In my writing circle, naturally, there are women who want to write. There are also those who have been told they “should write that book.” There are others who are heeding a call for creative expression. And there are some who are there to just see what they’ve got.

There are lots of reasons. And the end result is always the same.

They begin to understand that they have something to say. They recover memories; discover depths. They become reacquainted with themselves. Gradually, change takes over. They find a new beginning

Writing is a place to ask a small question

Ask a small question on the page and keep going. (There’s an art to the small question. Read more here.) But ask them frequently, day after day, or however often you write. Ask and then listen. As you go about your day, notice what emerges: the email, the phone call, the song on the radio, the quote someone shares. Just keep your antenna up and stay curious. Answers abound.

Writing can be a space for praying

In the book, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, the maid, Aibileen, keeps a prayer book. A simple, cheap notepad. For her, putting her praying words on the page was like “electricity, it keeps things going.” So, put your wishes and dreams on your page so they can keep going. Put them out in front of a higher power along with the needs of others in your world who can use this “electricity.”

Writing is a place for affirmations

Affirmations are a way to create new thinking pathways. A journal is a place to test out those statements. Saying it is quicker. However when you speak it the “but” that whispers in the back of your mind could be missed. There’s something about the physicality of writing them, the way it gives your brain those milliseconds to catch up with your hand, that makes a difference. If it’s not quite believable to you – as in the “but” in the back of your mind – you have the chance to edit it until it feels right. If it feels right and believable it will seep into your subconscious and do the work. Dare I say it again? Magic!

There are lots of ways to use a writing practice. You will find things that are particularly helpful for you. Try it. Be curious. Be open to the magic.

Collective Yearnings

I recently wrapped up a case study project in which I coached an amazing group of women. My intention was to go deeper with my work. I wanted to get more data on how my coaching model can work specifically for women in their second half of life. I wanted to understand the issues that resonated the strongest. Was there a collective yearning and, if so, what was it?

Collective Yearnings

What I found is that despite our uniqueness there are certain universal truths. We all would like to:

  • Get clarity about the parts of ourselves we left behind that are now yearning to come forward. Things left for “another day”, old dreams.
  • Let go of the notion that we’re too old to make meaningful life changes
  • Feel able to make different, riskier, more unexpected choices in how we spend our time each day
  • Choose projects that light us up and make us come alive instead of ones that feel like an obligation
  • Begin to make ourselves a priority instead of putting everyone else’s wants and needs in front of our own (I’m not talking about critical needs or emergencies.)
  • Revamp our career, business or personal direction
  • Make time to express our creativity, however that wants to show up

I think of this as a Resonance List. And, yes, a collective yearning. It’s all part of stepping into a unique Multidimensional Life that will make the second half of life richer, more meaningful and creative while operating from a grounded place that encompasses the good with the bad, the sweet with the hard, the beautiful and the not beautiful.

Real Life

This way of life, this Multidimensional Life, is not a Pollyanna life. Life can be gritty and real. It can hijack us. When that happens, we risk forgetting what we long for, those beautiful yearnings, and we lose our way. We’d like to hop into that old VW bus with the peace signs and daisies and escape. Peace, love and freedom!

However, what I have learned is that we can always find our way back with grace and ease. And this case study project showed me that my coaching is quite effective here. I help you articulate those yearnings and when necessary, guide you back onto the path to your Multidimensional Life. Our work together helps you preserve that piece of self that can be lost so easily. It moves you forward, even if only in small steps.

This goes for me as well as my clients.

Life as a Hijacker

Right now, my life has been slightly hijacked. My husband had a health scare and because of it my home is in disarray, routines interrupted. I feel unsettled. But I know that it’s not everything and not forever. I don’t throw my hands up and surrender. I choose to look it straight in the eye, accept it, give myself a break, do what I can and let the rest go…for now.

Some things on my list won’t get done. They’ll be shifted to tomorrow or next week. Other things can be done – like this post- and I will be satisfied with that. I will remember that no day is like the one before but my overarching goal of creative ease and flow can remain.

What resonates with you on the above Resonance List?
How do you begin to realize these longings?
How do you get back on track when life throws you for a loop? 

Working through these questions is something I do well. Contact me to see how I can help you work through them.

The Power of Good Endings

Good Endings
Image by Spencer Evers on Unsplash

My business coach, Isabel Parlett, talks about “harnessing the power of good endings”, “developing intimate endurance”, being present and engaged even when things are uncomfortable. These are part of her fourth quarter teachings and they are good ones. They’re also markers of our resilience.

So often, as we wrap up a business cycle, an offering, a sales month or quarter we usually have our heads into the next one. We’re always gearing up. What I’ve learned is that closure and reflection is always valuable and never a waste of time. Beyond the “what worked and what could have worked better”, is the reality of dreams and efforts. The grace of giving yourself credit for what you did without berating yourself for what you didn’t. Focusing on the gifts and the learning. It can be as simple as an internal acknowledgement, a virtual (or real) pat on the back and a gentle closing of the door.

And while the above reference is in the context of business, it’s so true in life.

Finding good endings in 2020

How can you apply this concept to the year of 2020? The year that wasn’t. Or maybe the year that shouldn’t have been. Definitely, the year that we won’t forget. For some, there was incredible sadness and my words will never be enough to make it better. Sickness and loss of loved ones is heart wrenching in the best of times. It was magnified this year with the inability to be with loved ones or grieve together if they passed.

This was also a year of fear, feeling untethered and resentful. There was widespread unease. For some a low-grade disquiet that shadowed us throughout the year; for others, a screaming, sometimes physically debilitating anxiety.

Looking for miracles

But before you pick up the cellophane sheet of your Magic Slate of a calendar and wipe everything out, ask if there were any bright spots, any gifts. Maybe, dare I say, any miracles.

We take so much for granted. For instance, as part of a recent guided meditation my yoga teacher had us visualize a friend whom we hadn’t seen in 20 years and think about how it would feel to greet them. All I could think about was how I wanted to be able to hug my siblings again. A privilege I had always taken for granted.

And, speaking of taking things and people for granted, consider the health care and front-line heroes and all those folks who went to work so you could get your groceries, your coffee and your morning paper, to name a very few things. Those people we just assume will always be there but are a bit too invisible in normal times. It will be a long time before they slip into the background again.

What do you want to remember?

In addition, there were wonderful stories of neighbors helping neighbors. Yes, I know there were the other kind of stories but those are the kind that sell newspapers and TV and internet ads. Those are not all the stories and anyway, where would you prefer to shine your light?

I love Isabel’s phrase “intimate endurance.” It’s a beautiful reminder to stay present right through to the end. So, take a moment now. Just pause and think about one bright part of 2020. Did you spend more quality time with family? Did you feel life slow down, just a little bit? Were you able to be outdoors more? Take a walk in the middle of the day?

Did you get to savor the quiet this past spring with fewer cars on the roads and planes in the sky? And did you notice the birdsong more? Did you get to garden? Was your commute shortened to the time it took to get to your home computer?

Find that one sparkling star

Yes, I know we can come up with flip sides to all this. But look for that one sparkling star. After all, “Without darkness, nothing comes to birth, as without light, nothing flowers.” (May Sarton)

Pause. Take a nice deep breath. What is just one thing that wouldn’t have been – couldn’t have been – without this year we’d like to forget.

After that, thank it, pull up the cellophane and clear the Magic Slate of your calendar. Then move on to 2021 and continue on with your beautiful Multidimensional Life.

I’ll see you there!

Finding life’s music in the White Spaces

Image by Rombo on Unsplash

Whether it was Mozart or Debussy, this quote is one to ponder: “Music is the silence between the notes.” Because it’s in that silence that you’ll find the white space where you will discover the music of your life, the song you’re here to sing.

Recent conversations with coaching clients have led to discussions about “white space”. Not always in that exact language but always dancing around the idea. I have loved this concept since I heard it from Coach Dawn Kotzer, Inner Wilderness Guide, Doodle Activist and the Real Deal (that last one is my title for her.) That was quite a few years ago. She was speaking about the white space on our calendar, the idea of blocking out unscheduled time. I contacted her recently and asked her how she’s looking at it now.

“Energetically speaking,” she said, “White Space- fluid & flexible, immune to the needy, BS part of ego – is home to our creative soul and where we most effortlessly access our core of peace.”

Can you feel it?

That still feels so open and expansive to me. I get it; I seek it. I know what she means on a gut level. At the same time, it’s amorphous and can, therefore, be difficult to articulate. Those coaching conversations made me realize I hadn’t reached down deep enough for the right language.

One client spoke about how busy her life was years ago with kids and work and home. Life is less structured now but she’s still carrying the old busy mindset. She pondered, “How do we figure out how to not have our days crammed full?”

I offered my definition of white space – open, unscheduled time to do nothing. She disagreed. She felt that it wasn’t possible to do nothing. I guess it was how I explained it because she is right. (I love this about my clients. They are so wise.) I wasn’t explaining that gut level understanding well enough. I still hadn’t gotten the exact right language.

Or is it life’s margins

Another woman I was working with described building and maintaining the margins of life. Oh! That made me sit back in my chair and take it into every cell.

Those margins are non-existent in the first half of life as we rush through our days. Working, tending, doing. And, just like my other client mentioned, we carry that restrictive, busy mindset into the second half of life. All that rushing and doing that’s no longer needed except our habit makes it so. We strive to fill the margins.

I love the idea of cultivating the margins of life. That’s the expansiveness I crave and closer to my visceral understanding of white space.  If I need a visual, maybe it’s the contrast between a narrow highway with no shoulder and those roads with generous edges. Narrow spaces bring discomfort. The wide edges create space. And in that place, we can discern and act on what is most important.

Is it just thinking time?

So, what is the essence of white space, after all? As the first client said to me, “It’s always something, right?”

True. I can sit on a chair and gaze out the window but there’s never a void. I’m thinking, ruminating, dreaming. All of this is good. So, call it what it is. Thinking time.

But it’s more than that. It’s protected time. Time claimed just for me, bounded by stillness and quiet space. Okay maybe I’m getting closer.

Leo Barbauta, of Zen Habits, wrote a post that I mentioned it in an earlier blog. It has a powerful pull for me. He likens the white space in design to white space in life. He describes white space in life as a place where we are able to get more clarity, peace, breathing room and balance. It’s the removal of the non-essential that enables us to have the time and space to figure out what is most important. Only then can we give it the emphasis it deserves.

Whatever you call it, you need it

It’s similar to the second of Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrants. The important but not urgent. A place most of us are not used to occupying in a busy Second Age or first half of life. But a perfect place in which to unfurl, develop and sink into a Multidimensional Life.

There are as many ways to look at this are there are eyes. But, at its core, I believe it is the claiming of time to intuit what is best for you in the moment and in this stage of your life. It’s tuning in to your own music. It is a creative process that is unique to each of you and carries a language you will need to create for yourself.

Whatever language you use, this concept is essential to a Multidimensional Life. In their own language, it resonates with my clients and and elevates the work we do together.

What will you call it? How will you describe it? And, most importantly, how will you incorporate it into your life and find that clarity and peace?

Don’t make it a big project. Look for moments. Let them build like beautiful, soaring music. Create your White Space and listen for your song.

The Thanksgiving That Is

Thankful
Image by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

These are not ordinary times. Yeah, you’re thinking. Tell me something I don’t know! For me, it’s forced me to remember something I know but easily forget: that when we get stuck in the tangled web of what was, we lose the opportunity to see what is and what can be. It’s that rear-view mirror thing. But, untangle yourself from that trap and oh, the possibilities!

We can spend so much time looking backwards or worrying about the future that we fail to see the gifts that are the present. Yes, even this year when we’ve been turned upside down and everything we know has been shaken out of our pockets. We adjust our plans and our expectations. And that’s getting a bit old. Particularly around holidays. I know that I could have hosted a little pity party for myself but instead I decided to do a pivot. I shifted my thinking to what I can do rather than what I can’t and that feels so much better.

The Past

Old sights and memories mesmerize us. We feel sad about who and what’s gone: the people, the events, those things we can’t do anymore (at least not at the moment.) A mist of nostalgia descends. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

For instance, I have been hosting Thanksgiving for many years. It has always been full of little and big traditions that I love. To keep me sane I make lots of lists. I keep a legal pad tucked in with my cook books where I write down my Thanksgiving menu. The menu informs the shopping lists and all of that determines various tasks that get broken down over the day or two prior to the big day. After the holiday I rip the page off, fold it in half and tuck it in the back of the pad.

I don’t know why. I just do.

When I pulled out my pad for this year’s very abbreviated meal some of those pages fell out. As I picked them up, I noticed a sheet of paper that included a lunch menu. The rear-view mirror loomed and transported me back in time.

Eleven years ago, after a horrific accident that took 5 aunts and uncles, a friend arranged for masses to be offered for each of them in a local church. Several family members came to each mass. The last one was the day before Thanksgiving. I invited them back for lunch and a new tradition was born.

Memories

This particular lunch was tomato consommé, steak salad and cranberry pumpkin bread. I know my mother and Aunt Susan, along with one of my sisters and a few cousins would have been there. It was part of a bigger tradition which included my mother, sister and her family coming on Wednesday, staying till Friday and then getting together with another family for lunch and a poinsettia buying expedition. That tradition is over 30 years old!

My mother and aunt are both gone now. There won’t be a poinsettia get-together this year. Even as I type this, I feel teary. A longing for the “old days” surges up through my chest.

Holidays can really do this to us, you know? And even as I felt sad, I caught myself and shifted my gaze away from the rear-view mirror to the now. What can I do? Even though it’s different, I can still make it special.

The question is what can we do

That question is so relevant in our non-pandemic life, too. What can you do at this stage of life rather than what you can’t do? You’ve got so much going for you at this age. Life experience, clarity, confidence, resilience. I mean, sure, at this age I’m not going to be part of the corps de ballet at Lincoln Center. But what can I do to feel agile and graceful? Oh, yeah, I can do yoga. I don’t want to go back into the corporate world but I have a lot of knowledge and experience to share. That’s why I can be a good coach for those transitioning from a decades old career to their next act.

Hey, a little grief is healthy. I’m not going to forget my parents or friends who have passed, the wonderful times we all shared. The special birthday, the vacations, the holidays. Or the things I did when I was young, my career, my accomplishments and my belly flops. All of this, and more, is what makes me who I am. It’s the same for you.

Choices

Choose to love all your memories but decide in this moment to make new ones.

Make a smaller turkey and fewer sides. Watch the strange Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. Make it easy; make it fun. Who knows? Maybe out of this will come some new traditions!

Here’s to gratitude, pumpkin pie and a beautiful day!

It’s me, your inner voice.

Microphone
Image by Israel Palacio on Unsplash

Hi, there, Friend. It’s me, your inner voice. Call me Ivee if you like.

[Tap…Tap…Tap…] Is this thing on?

I’ve been trying to get your attention but it’s so darn noisy out there. Bright lights, people vying for your attention. All the siren songs luring you to a rocky shore, their beautiful voices drawing you in.

And here’s the thing. When you’re listening to them, you’re not listening to me. After all, their song isn’t your song. And, furthermore, when you try to match their voice it’s not sustainable. Your voice begins to wobble, your throat gets dry. You can’t hit that high note anymore. Trying to sing someone else’s song, competing with the singer who seems to have it all, doesn’t work well. Oh, it might for a while. Until it doesn’t. Oh, and, by the way, that other singer? She really doesn’t have it all. And yet you continue to try.

I’ve heard that this happens a lot. I talk to other inner voices, you know. We have our own version of Zoom: virtual, virtual Zoom or Vavavoom.

Here are some things I’ve learned.

Can you still hear me? [tap tap]

Okay, good. Let’s talk about you and where you might have some challenges. Because this is really important. On every level of your life.

One area you might be struggling with is your career. You’ve probably been quite successful. But it may have come at a cost. Or maybe it’s run its course, outlived its joy. Work became a “job” for the income instead of a passion. Or, as so many of you, you work for the benefits. I’ve heard this is a big one for women in midlife.

Second, you are probably operating on autopilot. It happens. I mean, reflect on what you do every day. Sometimes it’s out of habit; sometimes out of need. However, what I’ve learned is that autopilot drives you into a deep rut.

I get it. You do what you need to do. One foot in front of the other.

But it can be different.

What happens when you don’t listen.

When you go for long periods of time tuning me out, you know, that route you’re traveling on autopilot? It gets old. It feels uncomfortable. You become filled with unease. Maybe dis-ease.

It. Just. Doesn’t. Fit. Anymore.

Ultimately, you end up sacrificing the very things that I’ve been trying to talk to you about. Those important things that energize you rather than the daily fire drills, the hamster wheel, the blur of life passing by. The things that make life juicier and more meaningful.

And when you go on like this for too long, you experience varying degrees of burnout. Stress and all its attendant ills can be very subtle or it can hit you over the head. A few examples: lowered immunity, poor sleep, lack of focus, overeating/undereating. These lead to other things. It’s a slippery slope, not a pretty sight. And then there’s that huge hole right next to me where your heart is.

I can help you fill the hole but we need to be in touch more.

What happens when you begin to listen.

When you start listening you might notice me telling you that you don’t have to settle for the status quo. You begin to hear my sweet voice inviting you to imagine how you can begin planning for something new at this stage of life. Not a radical, ditch everything and start from scratch new. But a start. In fact, take a moment and try to imagine that right now. What would it feel like to believe in possibilities? Is it hard? Try to let it in just 10% of the way.

When you tune me in you begin to realize that you’re not too old to make meaningful changes. That you can make different choices in how you spend your time each day. That it’s okay to make yourself a priority, rather than putting yourself last in service to everyone around you. Yes, I know that last one’s a toughie.

And you can also begin to express your creativity – whatever way that wants to show up – in ways that will make you come alive.

What has to take place in order to be able to hear.

Two things have to happen, however, before you can begin to hear me.

First, you need to get comfortable with the unknown and with your own vulnerability.

Part of the reason you’ve had a hard time hearing me and thus getting started, is that you’ve built a silencing wall around me. I know you didn’t mean to. You probably don’t even realize it’s there. But, listening to me is risky. What I have to say might fly in the face of everyone around you. And then what?

Well, okay, then what?

You begin to experience discomfort. Call it fear if you like. You begin to feel vulnerable.

Much of what I have to say comes from that place of vulnerability, that very tender part of you. And that is why you often check out.

But questioning your particular status quo, allowing the yearning for something different to become visible, finding the spiritual courage to fill that emptiness that resides beside me? That’s a scary vulnerable.

Beginning

Once you decide to let yourself be vulnerable, a second obstacle may appear. You realize you want to begin this process of change but you don’t know where to start. That can be overwhelming and cause you to hit the brakes. That’s okay. I’m here for you. Starting can be as simple as being quiet, (that in itself can be a challenge!) and asking the right questions. And, of course, trusting me, your very wisest self.

This is also where a good coach can help. A good coach (contact Kathy here)  is one that will make you feel comfortable with not knowing where you’re going at first. She will make you feel less vulnerable and eminently normal. She will help you tune in to me and discover what makes you come alive.

Between the two of us? Oh, the places you’ll go!

Falling in love with good enough

Close Enough
Original art by Jill Badonsky ***

I have fallen in love with “good enough”. Think about it. Good enough gets it done. And getting it done feels good. Feeling good encourages me to do it again. What a lovely loop!

The idea of good enough was introduced to me by Jill Badonsky when I trained with her as a Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach™ in 2009. All these years later, when I hear “good enough” in my head, it’s usually her voice. (Highly recommend. Check her out here.)

Lowering my standards and letting something be good enough was not in my tool kit at that point. That kit had more procrastination and avoidance and angst. Better to not do than to be seen as less than perfect, right?

Wrong.

The Ouch of Perfection

What I know is that perfection can be painful. When I operated from that mindset, I might get something done… maybe…eventually. But it would often come at a price I wasn’t willing to pay. In that case it might stay undone. That did not make me happy!

But “good enough” is just what it needs to be. It’s close enough.

For instance, if I strove only for perfection, I never would have posted my first blog or hit publish on my first website. I would have hesitated before taking on my first coaching client or joining a writing group. When I began with “good enough” things got done. I was unstuck and could move forward.

If perfection was the only yardstick, I could never have found my way into my Multidimensional Life powered by trial and error, curiosity and listening to my inner voice saying: “Good enough. Now, what else do you love? What else are you here for?”

Good enough gets you unstuck

So, Jill’s advice on how to help clients move through or around perfectionism into momentum had a big impact on me. In my ability to help you with this, I also help myself. We seem to teach what we need to learn. And the lesson continues to deepen as time goes on.

Consider this: If perfection is the only standard you use and you’re an ordinary mortal, you’ll get stuck. Stuck places hurt. They chafe and leave scars. Hey, life leaves enough scars. You don’t need to add to them.

And, by the way, ordinary is quite good enough, too. In fact, the poet William Martin, in his poem “Make the Ordinary Come Alive”, suggests that when we embrace the ordinary “The extraordinary will take care of itself.” There’s something of “good enough” in his advice along with the understanding that we don’t stay there.

You are so good enough

So, what if you are good enough as is? What if your first steps into your next stage of life were “good enough”? What if your version of a Multidimensional Life could begin with curiosity and a vision that’s not crystal clear? How about some trial and error? A foray into a perfectly imperfect adventure?

How about if we do it together? It’s always easier with a partner. Especially one who understands good enough and knows that your good enough is much more amazing than you think. Contact me here to see how to get started.

Come fall in love with “good enough”.

 

***Experience Jill Badonsky and her Blanche Baldwin persona in her podcast A Muse’s Daydream. And I just gotta say as a New Jersey girl, born and bred, “Oh, Gawd, I hope I don’t sound like her!” 😂 Enjoy!

Let's Connect
Get your free copy of The Potent Pause: a Mindful First Step into Midlife and Beyond
and sign up to receive my monthly email.

Copyright © 2019 Kane Creative Consulting - All Rights Reserved
Template built on the Total Theme by Be Bright Studio

Back To Top