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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.

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.

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!

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!

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 with 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 blog post “5 Regrets of the Dying”, Bronnie Ware writes about the misgivings many of her palliative care patients expressed as they neared the end. It’s poignant and a 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!

 

A Pause to Savor

A Moment To Savor Life
Image by Radu Florin on Unsplash

Savoring. A deep awareness, an inner mmm.

It is gratitude on a fuller, deeper level that incorporates more of the body and the senses.

By its very nature it produces a Pause, not to mention closed eyes and a smile.

It’s a moment when time slows down and gratitude wells up.

Why Pause and savor?

The benefits of this moment are many.

  • It brings you smack dab into the present moment.
  • It releases stress.
  • It makes you more aware of other things to savor
  • It leads to more gratitude

Savoring is also a wonderful first step to creating a Multidimensional Life. A life in which these moments of savoring are woven into your every day.

Yes, even your busy days. Even days in hamster-wheel-driven lives.

The hamster wheel behind the scenes

While you may not notice this hamster wheel of your life on a conscious level, your unconscious is screaming. And, once you become aware of it, it’s not always possible to just hit the off switch. This frenzied wheel is your normal. You’ve created a habit of cramming as much as you can into your day. You zip from one task or commitment to the next with little thought other than how you’ll get from one to the next. Quite one dimensional.

I know, I’ve been there. And I also know that living at this speed is not sustainable. Something will break, something will be forgotten or discarded or lost. Sometimes that something is you.

You get lost in the minutiae of your day as you try to get it all done. But the hours of the day are finite, so it spills over to the next day. And the stress happily tags along.

Bliss moments

Do you remember the Calgon ads? “Calgon, take me away!” Or the look of a woman in a Dove candy ad eating a chocolate? The bliss, the savoring.

Or the TV ad for the Calm app that invites you to do nothing for 15 seconds. (Does that make you anxious, antsy, a little itchy? Just “being” can be hard while trying to keep the wheel in motion.)

Yes, it’s hard to slow down, shut down, savor “just like that”.  But you can do it slowly, gradually.

What I suggest is weaving in pockets of savoring to start.

Slowing down

Those are your hands on the throttle. You can slow things down for those pockets of savoring. Take a moment now. Imagine your hands grasping the controls. White knuckled. Feel yourself pulling it back, slowing it down. Listen to the whine of the engine get quieter. Feel the vibrations get fainter and fainter. Let it come to a gentle stop. Experience yourself stepping off, pausing and savoring a moment. Whether it’s a moment of quiet, or that Dove chocolate or a piece of music. Maybe your partner or your workmate.

Just a short Pause

While I’m using the analogy of stopping the hamster wheel, savoring is not always the cessation of all activity. It can be a Pause. At least to start.

For instance, you can metaphorically slow down and appreciate your commute, your dinner preparation, weeding your garden. You can temporarily pause at a view, a word, a phrase.

During my last job my commute was all back roads. No highways, just country roads and neighborhoods. One spot was my favorite. It overlooked the Washington Valley and at certain times of the year, the setting sun would be perched atop the tree line. Like the old Kilroy was here graffiti. I didn’t stop the car but I would consciously quiet my monkey mind and appreciate the view. To savor the beauty and amuse myself by personifying the sun as a long-nosed cartoon character peeping over the horizon.

In my Writers Circle we read our freshly written work. And almost every time someone reads, we get stopped by a phrase or a word. We need to pause and savor it. Someone will say “Can you go back and read that sentence again? It was so beautiful.” “I got lost for a moment after that one phrase…” It’s as if we tripped and fell into gorgeous language. It’s a moment of savoring and appreciating.

This is what is missing in a hamster-wheel driven life.

The moments that accumulate and create a different feeling, a multi textured world, where beauty and riches reside. Moments that can be woven into the musts and even the “shoulds”. Moments that can gradually unfurl into hours, days, a life, a Multidimensional Life.

I have a chance for you to practice this starting August 31st in my private Facebook group: Your Big Juicy Multidimensional Life.  Join the group now for more info on what we’ll be doing and how you can participate. 

Are you up for a challenge?

Start awakening to your Big Juicy Multidimensional Life.

Tuning In

Alert Rabbit Tuned In To Surroundings
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

Are you tuned in? To yourself, not the outside world. The outside’s easy. Tuning in to your inner world requires less thinking and more listening but can feel awkward at first. What should be harmonious instead feels clumsy. Tuning in is an essential part of a Multidimensional Life.

Why it’s important

I hold a shared work space with another coach a few times a week. We bring everyone into our virtual space with a guided relaxation that invites them to tune in to what really wants to be done. It gives permission to put down the taskmaster’s switch and dial in to what the inner self wants. For some, it is a meal or their journal or exercise. Maybe a cup of coffee before they start a task, a small step. It brings grace into their day.

Animals and insects are tuned in. What wants and needs to be done is natural to them. They are not multi-tasking or wearing blinders, going full tilt on the highway to the next task. They are quite brilliant.

This comes to me as I sit out on my deck one recent early morning. I notice the cicadas tuning up, practicing the quickening crescendo of their August song, that creaky, ch-ch-ch sound. It sounds like August, I thought. How does nature know? July is waning, the garden is becoming voluptuous. As I tune in to the sounds and smells of high summer, I am awash in emotions both bittersweet and anticipatory. And I stay tuned in to it all, leaning my head back on the rocker and taking it in with all my senses.

How lucky I am to have this experience. I feel gratitude surging. This is an important element of my Multidimensional Life. I will go back into the house and tend to tasks and responsibilities, but I savor this time in the fresh new morning – just me and the birds, bees and cicadas.

Genius of a Pause

The awe at nature’s genius remains with me as I go about my day. Nature just knows what the next step is and when to take it. It doesn’t procrastinate or get side-tracked. It carries on brilliantly.

How do we become genius? How do we tune in to our natural brilliance? It’s all there for the taking once we get off the merry-go-round and Pause. 

A Pause allows us to listen, discern a natural next step, make it small enough to make it easy and then take it.

A Pause is potent because without it the proverbial tail wags the dog. The outside world pushes and pulls. We are unconscious to it, operating by habitual thoughts and actions.

A small example of one of my Pauses

I take medication for a sluggish thyroid. It’s supposed to be taken on an empty stomach so I try to take it first thing in the morning. A few days ago I sat down to breakfast and realized I hadn’t taken it. Oh, I wish I would remember to take it first thing! You know that exasperated tone?

When I paused to listen, I was able to tune in to the feeling under the thought. I was able to hear the chastising way I said that to myself. Taking myself to task was not going to help me remember and it didn’t make me feel good about myself.

I observed a habitual mode of thinking and then was able to make a conscious decision to cut myself some slack. I would never say that to you in that tone of voice. Why do I say it to me that way?

Where are you NOT tuning in?

Again, a very tiny example, but magnify that by the hundreds or thousands of thoughts that flit through our heads and the myriad actions we take each day without thinking. We become automatons living a one dimensional, hamster wheel driven life.

Tuning in doesn’t always require action. It certainly doesn’t require judgement. It requires a small pause, a checking in with our inner guidance and then perhaps an adjustment to our course. A trajectory that is dialed in to the richness and depth of a Multidimensional Life.

This is where I can help. I help tune up your tuning device. I listen to help you listen. I clear the way for you to build your Multidimensional Life. Contact me to learn more.

The Work of Art That is You

Hands Messy With Paint
Photo by Amaury Salas on Unsplash

I recently put out a survey on the joys and challenges of the Second Half of Life. (If you’d like to take it, click here. It’s only 4 questions and takes less than 3 minutes.) The responses led me to contemplate, once again, how our lives are works of art.

We are alike and yet different

Out of 40+ responses, several common themes emerged. And, in spite of the commonalities, I loved seeing how the ways they showed up were unique to the individual.  For instance, where many responded that freedom was one of the joys they are experiencing, what they’re doing with that freedom differs. For some it was the freedom to set their own schedule, for others the freedom to change. There was freedom of choice and freedom to pursue hobbies. Does freedom resonate with you? It sure does with me. More than resonate, it starts the bells pealing in my belfry!

Frustrations and challenges

Frustrations included worry about money, the experience of no longer being seen, a shortening time horizon or the “loss of me along the way.” That last one particularly makes my heart ache. I understand it so well.

And then there are challenges. Procrastination showed up (although that isn’t unique just to midlife.) Health and fitness, need for structure, the difficulties of beginning to plan for the second half while still engaged in her career – what I call traveling the two-lane road. (Kudos to the respondent who was smart enough to take on that challenge!)

Perhaps I’m a little further along in my journey (that sounds so much nicer than “older”, doesn’t it?) but here’s what those extra miles have shown me: Life is a beautifully messy creative process and each of us will experience our own unique route.

Choosing how we move through our second half of life

When you choose to view your second half of life in this way it becomes an adventure. It gets easier. Injecting some playfulness can make it fun. It becomes a time of curiosity and anticipation instead of dreariness and dread.  And the hard parts, while certainly not pleasant, can also benefit from this approach when you use your awareness to focus on what’s working, sources of help, the need – and permission – for self-care, even if only in very small pockets of time.

What’s beautiful about this is that we gradually find that we don’t need to know how it’s all supposed to work out. We don’t need all the answers at once or a crystal-clear view of the future. It is very freeing. We only need to take our next small step and take our eyes off the rear-view mirror.

That rear-view mirror syndrome was prevalent in a lot of the survey responses. Along with the regret that usually accompanies it. I, too, find myself transfixed by that view. I wish I’d done some things differently; I re-enact a hurtful situation so I can come up the winner; I recreate old shames and embarrassments. Notice what’s missing here? I usually forget to revisit the wins and the joys. And the reality is that spending time looking back does me absolutely no good. Can I change the past? No. Can I learn from it? Probably, if I haven’t already. Do I need to hang out there? No. Just turn your gaze around.

Does any of this feel familiar?

Good. Awareness is the first step in any process of change or creation. It clears the mist and shows us our truth. We experience our moment. The good stuff and the not-so-good.

For instance, where are you feeling joy? What’s the essence of that feeling? Where else is it happening that you’re not noticing on a conscious level? What we focus on expands.

What would happen if you sat down with that frustration? Try bringing it to your journal page – without judgement? I find that when something feels defeating or like too much of a challenge and I look it in the eye, it begins to dissipate. Other solutions come up. I’m able to see it in a totally different light.

Your creative process

The creative process that produces paintings, symphonies, books, gardens and so much more also works in life. Reframing, thinking differently, adding play and self-care are part of the process. The decision to wean yourself from perfectionism and procrastination, to let it all be beautifully messy, to embrace Kaizen’s small steps and questions elevates it. All of this that conceives and manifests so much that is good and beautiful in the world – all of this is what makes a life of meaning and purpose, a legacy of being, a view at the end that has no regrets.

And midlife is the perfect time to dive right in and uncover this masterpiece, your Multidimensional Life!

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