skip to Main Content

Who will you be in the next phase of life?

Transformation
image by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The need to “do”, to be productive, is engrained in us. Therefore, “But… what will I do?” too often becomes the inevitable question that completes the statement, “I’m thinking of retiring …” However, before you go there, consider an equally important question and one that should be addressed first as you transition into retirement or into any phase of life: “Who will I be?”

Don’t get me wrong. “What will I do” is a good wake-up question because, as sure as dust follows dusting, life will pull you into its slipstream. If you wait until the first morning of retirement to figure it all out you may not make the best decisions. And be assured that there are plenty of folks who will be happy to tell you how to answer that question!

(Just a brief sidebar here: my suggestion to that question is always “plan to do nothing for a while,” the emphasis being on the word being “plan.” More on that another day.)

And I understand that concern about what to do. However, I also know that finding the answer to the question of “who will I be” is a better way to start and a much more satisfying way to drive your actions going forward. It is inner driven rather than outer driven.

Finding answers to “who will I be”

Finding an answer to who you’ll be probably feels a lot of work. Starting with who you are and peeling back layers. Scraping off life’s gunk and stripping away labels to get to who you are at your innermost core. Like the alien in the movie Cocoon who undresses and reveals her non-human status, who the heck are you beneath all the layers? After all this time?

So, yes, it may feel like a lot of work. And, really, who needs more work?

Because I know that by the time we’re contemplating retirement, by the time we are at an important phase of midlife transition, we have been at life for a while. We have adapted, instinctively figured out ways to cope and many of us have switched to auto-pilot. So, any task that can’t seem to be wedged into the rest of our “stuff” isn’t very appealing. It calls up our Scarlett O’Hara persona and we put if off for another day.

Been there; done that!

What if I told you there was an easy, fun way to explore the question of “who will I be?” That the process can be easily wedged into the rest of your stuff?

All it requires are four simple things:

  1. Formulate the question.
  2. Remember to ask.
  3. Pay attention.
  4. Capture what comes up.

Formulate the question

“Who will I be” is broad. Instead, narrow the question’s focus and consider these areas:

  • Who am I now?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • What am I really good at?
  • What did I love best as a child?
  • What shoots that bubble of delight up through my chest?
  • What’s most important to me at this point in my life?
  • Where do I find awe?
  • Where do I find meaning?

Questions like these will loosen up your imagination and allow you to find your purpose. That purpose doesn’t have to be big or TikTok ready. It only has to be right for you!

As you go along in this process, more questions will come up and these may change slightly. Go with it.

Remember to ask the question

Sounds simple, but new habits are squirrely and asking a question on a regular basis is a habit. What do you do to remind yourself of other tasks or events? Use that. Or go totally analog and write the question on some post-its. Place them on your vanity mirror, your dashboard, the back of your phone.

The goal is to see it – and ask it – often. Do not labor for an answer. Your only job here is to ask. And to ask frequently.

Pay attention

When your question is handy and asked often, the brain will be engaged and answers will emerge. You will notice news or magazine articles. Random conversations will hold clues. A billboard, a song, a stray memory. Don’t discount any of them. As one of my old co-workers used to say, “radar on, antenna up!” That’s all you need to do. It really is this simple, so resist the urge to complicate it. I’ve also been there and tried to do that!

Capture what comes up

You may think you’ll remember the answers that pop up, but the odds are not in your favor. It has nothing to do with age and all to do with busyness and distractions. Come up with a way to capture what emerges. The memory, the idea, the crazy scheme, the business idea, the volunteer organization, that place or thing you’ve always wanted to visit or do but never had the time.

Capture it all. You are only gathering data at this point. Don’t edit or censor and please don’t judge! And also, be very discerning with whom you share these ideas. Even the most well-intended remark can squash dreams like a bug.

You could try on some of the answers and do a little body check. “I am curious and love learning.” How does that feel? “I love helping others to do ____.” How does that feel?

If you have more time…

Try this exercise:

Make of list of words to define and describe yourself. Pay close attention to your language. Yes, you are a woman, man, partner/spouse, parent, son/daughter. You are an accountant, nurse, doctor, lawyer, baker extraordinaire. You have built a business, a career. Perhaps you’ve traveled the earth or gone to space. Wonderful.

Now go a little deeper. Go beyond the labels; peek underneath. At first, this may be uncomfortable or feel difficult. You may think that nothing’s there. Nothing’s coming up. Who the heck are you outside of what you do or your role in the world? (You could use the questioning format above for this.)

As you begin to list the labels, you may find yourself moving from nouns to pronouns. From pronouns to metaphor. From metaphor to analogy to a story of who you are without the labels. Eventually you will find yourself at the core of who you are.

Years ago, I attended a workshop to learn tips on running writing workshops for children. The teacher suggested a writing prompt that had them list what was in their backpacks. When you let them keep going, the tangible shifts to the intangible. The books and pencils lead to hopes, dreams and fears.

It will be the same for you if you keep going beyond the discomfort.

From there you can build outward. Reassembling yourself into who you’ll be and what you’ll do.

Pause for transformation

All of this requires a Pause. It requires time to think and wonder and ponder. Things we don’t normally spend too much time on in our second act or the first half of life. This is where all the good stuff comes from, the juiciness and richness.

Would you like to continue the process? I provide a very safe container in which you can pause, think out loud, say whatever you want, be outrageous, be hesitant, explore, experiment, course correct. It is transformation – deep and lasting. Contact me to schedule a coffee chat to see how we might work together.

Hello again

Hello!
Image by Benjamin Sow on Unsplash

Hello again! It’s me. It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It must be months since I’ve written about what is important to me and why I do what I do. The last few months have been tough and, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been off my game. The sudden death of my youngest brother knocked me and my family for a loop. My husband’s recent health problems continued to keep me off balance.

This is not to say that I haven’t been working. I have. But to resume deeper dives into writing about topics that are important to me – topics such as the power of writing and re-imagining our “third act” … that hasn’t been happening.

Tasks are often easier than deep thought. I can make a list and check it off and that is satisfying. At the same time, I’ve started and stopped several blog posts. I can’t give specific reasons, only that my focus wasn’t there.

It’s time.

So, here I am.

What I have found is that challenges and loss can throw us off track, particularly in our second half. If we’re not careful momentum will keep us that track.

However, what I know is that writing and creating bring us back, give us resilience and hope.

Right now, for me it feels a bit like starting over and that’s okay. Each of us gets a chance to start over – every day. Even every minute of every day. As long as we are here on this mortal plane, possibilities live.

So, let me introduce myself once again. As a reminder to both of us.

I am a coach, blogger, writer and ardent advocate and supporter of women in midlife.

I want for those women what I want for myself: to thrive in our third act as we creatively navigate career, life and business changes and design an awakened, meaningful, rich and purposeful, multidimensional second half of life. I love to help other women figure out what’s next and, as so beautifully put by one of my clients, create “Me 2.0”. Or 2.2. As I said above, every day is a chance to start over, re-create, re-imagine life and self.

I want to see the spark that is in every one of us catch fire and grow. To watch the transformation that takes place. To watch us come alive in ways both big and small. It all counts.

Let’s talk

Are you a woman in midlife? I’d love to start a conversation with you and hear about where you are in your life, what your dreams are and what you need to step into them. Not a sales call. No pressure. Just a chat over coffee or tea, in person if you’re local, or virtually. An open-ended conversation.

Because every conversation tells me more about what is needed in this challenging yet exciting time of life.

Every conversation makes me better able to work with the next person.

Every conversation makes me a better midwife in the process of bringing to life the essential you in your Third Act.

Every conversation moves us all one step closer to the amazing women we are.

Click here to schedule your 30-minute coffee chat.

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.

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.

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.

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!

A Messy, Complicated, Sweet Life

Tapestry With Messy Edges
Section of tapestry by June Shatken

Life is messy and complicated. This year, last year, next year. Whether we’re young or old. It can be quite messy. Period. And it seems especially so as we travel through the second half. When I speak and write about creating a Multidimensional Life, I am not ignoring this fact.

Rather, what I am striving to convey is that you can live a sweet Multidimensional Life in spite of all this. You can take a minute to remember what is most important to you – important at your very core – and include it in your life. You can weave it in even if only in small moments in the face of the world around you. When you do you create a rich, meaningful and creative life while operating from a grounded place that encompasses the good with the bad, the sweet with the hard, the beautiful and the not so beautiful. Because, again, life can be messy and complicated.

Remembering and Recommitting

So, this is not about trying to create and maintain an Instagram life; it’s about being yourself. It’s about living in the contrast of the sweet and the hard and finding balance. When you embrace this, you let go of perfection and fall in love with “good enough”. You’re able to appreciate those incremental moments and build on them.  Because you are on a foundation of “real”, you avoid collapsing into a rut or a crisis.

Probably one of my biggest and most important life lessons was learning how easy it is to get lost in a busy, crazy, messy and noisy world. For a long time, I didn’t realize I was lost. Being whip-sawed just felt normal. Once I became aware, however, the next question was what to do about it.

What I learned was to Pause, to take a breath (literally), center myself and remember what is most important. To take a step back and remember what I’m here for. While there’s certainly an element of mindfulness in this, I believe it more about remembering and recommitting to who I am at my essence. (Here’s an interesting article that expands the idea of pausing into the current world environment and reaffirms the value of the Pause.)

Waking up and pausing creates the loom of life

You become the shuttle weaving the threads of meaning, attention, action, joy, value, delight, honesty, authenticity. The warp and the weft.  All those things that go into creating the fabric of your Multidimensional Life.

This day, week, year will have its challenges. So, how do you keep yourself intact while maintaining your Multidimensional Life, even if just for a moment?

First, what is it you yearn for? What are you here for in this beautiful messy life? Once you know, look at what gets in the way. Determine just one small action or thought to take you in the direction of that yearning. That small thought or action creates a ripple effect. It initiates change that, in turn, will beget more change and, in the process, illuminate parts of the dream that weren’t clear before.

If life is too busy, think short bursts. Take a 10-minute walk. Make a call – personal or business. Just one. Check just one item off the list. Meditate or sit and look out the window for 5 minutes. Small success moments mean a lot.

Where we start when we work together

  1. Imagine you have a magic wand. Wave it over your life and recognize your dream. What do you see?
  2. Choose just one element.
  3. Ask yourself what is one small action you can take toward that goal.
  4. Celebrate every small success

Don’t be fooled by its simplicity. These steps build momentum over time. They also allow for course corrections where needed. They will be needed and that’s actually the fun part.

What changes

Instead of being in a rut, you will have fluidity in your life and be able to navigate the messiness.

Instead of being drowned out by the noise, you’ll be able to hear your thoughts telling you what is most important to you, what has meaning, value, purpose, joy.

You will be liberated to make more daring choices; possibilities will show up. You won’t get mired in woeful wishing.

The real you will emerge from your heart center and surprise and delight you with her wit and wisdom. (She’s an old soul traveling with you from long before you were here.)

She will guide you through the mess and the complications with grace and humor.

She’ll turn down the noise, calm the craziness and show you the way to cultivate your best Multidimensional life.

Contact me to set up a discovery call and talk about how this process would look for you.

It’s time. Let’s get started.

A letter to Thomas Jefferson and The Case for White Space

A White Space
Image by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash (altered)

Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing – advising his daughter Martha, 1787. – Thomas Jefferson

Dear Mr. Jefferson,

It saddens me that you instilled into your daughter the belief that “always doing” is beneficial. I wonder how that worked for her. Perhaps it was the way of the 18th century, but with all due respect, I say poppycock!

This is a myth that needs to be dismantled. It’s time to redefine idleness and challenge the need to be “always doing”.

This notion that we get more done when we are constantly doing is a great example of the law of diminishing returns. It ignores the need for rest, recharge, re-creation. Where and when do we get to think and dream? To just noodle?

Sloth or idleness?

How do you define idleness, TJ? Did you never walk around the grounds of Monticello while dreaming up the Declaration of Independence or working through a gnarly design problem? I find a walk to be an amazing stimulus for my creativity. I’m re-creating and enjoying the fresh air while I write in my head or marvel at the ideas that pop up. I often use the voice-recorder on my iPhone. You would have loved that.

What about sitting down with a beloved book?

Perhaps you consider staring out the window to be idleness? Again, I disagree. Sometimes it can be hard to do sit and woolgather. However, when I do I find that the quality of the ideas and creativity that come up is better than anything that emerges when I have my nose to the grindstone that is my desk!

For me, the concept of idleness or what could be considered non-productivity is a struggle and something I work on and toward. Yes, I hear the irony in that. But I have come to understand its intrinsic value. Now, understand, I not talking about sitting around the house in curlers and a housecoat, a cigarette dangling from my mouth, watching Jerry Springer. That is sloth, not idleness. There’s a vast difference.

Idling or recharging

But I get it, this tug of constant productivity. The way that even downtime has to be structured and busy. It’s an attitude that has carried over from my years of working in corporate where busy-ness was a measure of my value. When I slip back into that mindset, no matter what I do it’s never enough. I go down a rabbit hole and fizzle out. Then I need to recharge. And in that situation my recharging choices are not always the best. Surfing the internet, computer games… You have no idea, TJ, of the ways we can be “idle” here in the 21st century.

Therefore, I’d rather weave “idle” recharging into my day. Even as I write this I will occasionally turn around and gaze out the window. The sky is autumn blue and the leaves are getting sparse. The sun slants in at a lower angle and casts long shadows. My mind relaxes and thoughts untangle. Sitting and looking out the window is just what I need at times. And then I turn back to the page.

White space

So, did you ever consider the beauty of white space on your calendar, TJ? A block of time that has no commitment. Expansive and luxurious. Where all things are possible. Yes, it may also produce anxiety, bring up the habitual need to fill it with something productive, something meaningful and purposeful. However, what I’m finding is that meaningful and purposeful don’t live on the hamster wheel. They live in our heart centers and if we are constantly “doing” as you are advising your daughter, we will never learn what they have to teach us. We will never hear their song that carries us into our Multidimensional Lives.  Here’s a beautiful article by Leo Babauta titled “Life’s Missing White Space.” He discusses how white space in design provides greater legibility, luxury, breathing room and balance. And then he applies these concepts to life.

What would white space look like for you?

The reality is that staying in that high activity mode, 24/7 is not healthy. It keeps the adrenaline pumping, causing stress and all those things that cascade down from that state. That state begets more need for productivity and the feeling that whatever we do is not quite enough. Certainly, I could do more. It keeps us on the hamster wheel.

Am I alone in this?

I’m curious, reader. What does idleness bring up for you? Do you need to be always “doing” or knowing what’s next? Could you use help in slowing the hamster wheel of endless productivity and defining what your white space might look like? Contact me and learn how working together can bring ease, possibilities and, yes, some of that well-deserved white space into a busy life.

Reflect on Your Mortality

Coffee Mug With Begin
Image by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Reflect on your mortality. Not exactly an uplifting opening line or prospect. However, on further consideration you may come to agree that it is actually a necessary and positive exercise. It can infuse a healthy sense of urgency and allow for possibilities not previously considered!

A Health, Wellness & Fitness magazine appeared in my mailbox recently. One cover article promised “44 Health, Wellness & Fitness Tips”. I’m a sucker for these. I know many of them so I enjoy making a righteous mental tick mark.  Others are new ideas or good reminders. But the suggestion to reflect on my mortality stopped me.

After all, on an average day how often do you think about your mortality? Usually, especially in these strange times, we are encouraged to focus on the positives. Look for things to appreciate. I recently offered a 5-day Savor challenge, the idea being that stopping to savor something leads to gratitude.

And I still believe gratitude and positivity is valuable.

So, when I saw “reflect on your mortality” as a wellness tip … I paused.

Small but life changing advice

At first blush it seemed quite grim. Morose. Sad, even. But I stayed with it for a bit. I read the whole paragraph and came away with a fuller understanding of what the author was trying to convey.

It wasn’t saying my time was nigh. It was reminding me that we are mortal beings. Not eternal. Our time here is finite. Not infinite.

If you took that to heart, what would you do differently? Right now? It could be life changing.

Memento Mori

Now, I know that you don’t go through life thinking that you’ll live forever. Hopefully you’ve done your estate planning and have your end of life wishes articulated. But you certainly don’t ruminate over your final days. If you think about it at all it’s to wish or pray that you won’t suffer, or that loved ones won’t suffer.

But we all come with an expiration date. And there’s no convenient stamp on us to tell us when that time is.

And, again, this wellness tip wasn’t asking that we reflect on our date of death. The message was  “Memento mori” – “remember that you will die.” One day it will be too late.

Before it’s too late

There’s a quote that I always associate with Wayne Dyer: “Don’t die with your music still in you.”

It’s a beautiful metaphor for the gifts inside you waiting to be shared. It’s also another reminder to not wait until it’s too late. To start now even if with tiny steps. To start now even if the song is not clear in your head, even if the melody is sketchy and the theme not fully formed.

The music doesn’t have to be elaborate. Simplicity can be just as eloquent. You also don’t have to think in terms of the grand gesture. Start small. Here’s a story of someone who followed a thread in her life, got involved in a local organization and enriched her life while making a difference in the lives of others. Her music is out in the world.

In her review of Bronnie Ware’s book  “5 Regrets of the Dying”, Beverlee Warren enumerates the five regrets of the title and suggests that the book is an “experience of living, not dying.” In her book Ware talks about the misgivings many of her palliative care patients expressed as they neared the end. It’s poignant and great lesson. How wonderful it would feel to live with no regrets.

A final example, my husband’s friend who had many health challenges in his later years. Even though it might have helped, he resisted the physical therapy that was recommended. At the end he asked his son if it was too late to try. Of course, it was. The grief of what could have been is deep.

I’m challenging you to pause and think about this. And then ask yourself what you’d do differently in this moment. Right now? In the juicy bit of the present. Before you rush on to the next task, appointment, social media post, Instagram photo, text message?

What would I do differently?

I would be bolder in inviting you into a conversation about how our working together would help you create and live a second half of life that is rich and meaningful and in touch with the music that’s inside you.

I would be more direct in telling you that it’s not too late to be or do something you’ve put off, to make more daring and unexpected choices in how you spend your day, to make meaningful life changes.

I would urge you to shake off the status quo and live unapologetically. Now.

I would show you the container and the tools to unfold your Multidimensional Life that’s as necessary and vital as all the things you do for your health.

I’m urging you to do this now. Contact me to get started.

Staying centered and sane

Even in the midst of life’s challenges and disappointments and hardships this is possible. I have found during my own hard times that taking time for those things that make me come alive is what gets me through. Taking 20 minutes for a walk with a friend. Talking on the phone with my writing buddy, puttering in the garden for 30 minutes, savoring my morning Barry’s tea even if the rest of the day is going to be consumed by the urgent. I have learned that even small moments of the important make all the difference. They keep me connected to the layers of my Multidimensional Life. That keeps me centered and sane.

Reflect on your mortality. You don’t have forever so start now! Now in what might be the middle or the final quarter of your life. Start now because you’re not dead yet. And, of course, once you are…well, it is just too damn late!

 

Leaves in the stream of life

Leaves In A Stream
photo by Jeffrey Eisen on Unsplash

Life is often compared to a river, a current that carries us along. We become leaves in a stream.

There’s no stopping time, no stopping the current. Just like water life will always find ways to move forward.

And as time marches on we begin to feel that we can’t do anything about it its passage. And that’s true. We can do nothing about its passing. But it’s not the forward movement that’s the problem. It’s the direction. Your direction.

It’s not the fact that it flows. It’s the direction of that flow.

I have a water run-off problem in my yard. It’s eroded the soil, left bare patches in the lawn and debris from the road, the driveway and the eroded ground is scattered all over.

I live on the downside of the mountain. The water will come. My focus is now on directing it where I want it. Rain garden, anyone? (And, as the garden is an essential part of my Multidimensional Life, I am being true to myself when I give it my attention.)

So, as in the metaphor above, life is just like that water. It happens. It flows. It carries life’s debris and if left to its own devices can erode our very beings. But consider this: you get to decide where it takes you even if it’s merely the way you choose to frame it. You get to take a pause, maybe grab onto an overhanging branch, take a breath and consider where you go from there.

The flow of your life.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Life will happen. We can’t control everything. But take a moment now and think about what you can control. Make a decision on what direction the flow of your life will take you. Whether the current of time will carry you along like a leaf in a stream

Will you be swept away? Or at the helm and navigating?

Will you succumb to a torrent of emotion or step back and, once again, pause?

But go beyond just “managing”.  In addition to navigating are you also setting the course direction? In your pause are you giving yourself choice? Are you directing some of your time and energy to what actually lights you up and gives your life deeper meaning? Or are you stuck in a holding pattern where you never make time for yourself, where time becomes a vacuum that is filled by others?

It’s not always easy but remember that you do get to decide.

And when it’s challenging you can consider getting a co-pilot.

A case study

One of my clients, with whom I’ve worked for several years, has had lots of life wash over her. Health, career, family “stuff” that could have easily knocked her off her path permanently. Remember how that water carves its own way?

But in spite of all that was going on, with my help, she was able to maintain perspective, take what were sometimes miniscule steps forward, and sometimes take a break from the journey and take care of what needed care. It was a pause; not the end. It was conscious and deliberate.

A serious injury laid her low for a while. She experienced a lot of pain. However, as her coaching journey was leading her toward healing modalities, she was able to consider how her particular situation could benefit her work with others. Her intuition had been honed in our work together and she knew that this was grist for her particular mill. It didn’t take the pain away, but it gave it some purpose.

I was able to help her with that. I was able to help her with the decision to step back, even to stop coaching for a while, to regroup, be sad where she needed to be sad, hurt where she needed to hurt and to provide a safe container for her to come back to and resume her journey. And what a journey it has been!

Your own experience

But you don’t need to just take my word for it. Or rely completely on someone else’s experience either. Experience it yourself. Explore how it feels to begin to take a new approach to the stream of life.

Contact me for a discovery call. What’s calling to you from deep within? What have you left behind in a busy life? What’s getting in the way? Discover how our work together will make a difference.

(Here’s a little short read on growing old that calls up this age old metaphor of life as a river.)

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