Don’t Fear the 5-0

A lot of my young friends are getting ready to turn the big 5-0. Meh-heh-heh. I laugh because none of them seem very happy about it. As a matter of fact, some of them even act like it’s the end of the world. As a deliriously happy person over fifty, all I can say to them is “Buck up, Buttercup!”

Turning 50 is NOT the end of the world. As far as I’m concerned, turning 50 was the best thing that ever happened to me. To be honest, my 30s were a bit of a nightmare. My 40s were even worse. There were times I didn’t even think I would make it to 50, and neither did a lot of my friends.

But, for some reason, I figured if I could make it to the big 5-0, maybe things would get better. For once in my life I was right. It was almost like magic happened. I felt like I was finally comfortable in my own skin. The nagging and sabotaging negative self-talk that plagued me all of my adult life finally fell silent. Don’t get me wrong–it still does rear its ugly head every now and again. But at least I recognize it before it gets out of control and I can tell it to kindly shut up and mind its own business. In a loving way, of course.

Once I hit 50, I felt happier, more content, and less stressed over the little things. I learned that it was okay to walk away from “friendships” that weren’t working for me. I learned to like myself more, and to be my own best friend. My 50s were so great that when the big 6-0 came creeping up on me, I ran toward it with arms open wide, ready to embrace whatever came next.

So, if you are turning 50 soon, stop worrying about it. It will give you frown lines, and laugh lines are far more attractive. Besides, the best is yet to come. Embrace it.

Breaking Up With My BFF

Breaking up with someone is always awkward, and uncomfortable. But I had the McDaddy of uncomfortable breakups when I had to break up with my BFF of 30 years.

Because, how do you tell someone that you have been best and dearest friends with for 30 years that you haven’t liked them for the past 15 and have been trying to figure out how to break up with them for the past 10? Like I said, it was awkward. So awkward and uncomfortable that I actually had to seek professional help.

My friend and I met in ballet class 30 years earlier and established an unlikely friendship. She was quiet, reserved, shy, and highly intelligent. I was loquacious, demonstrative, outgoing, and just smart enough to get by. For some reason we got along famously.

However, over the years what had begun as a wonderful friendship based on mutual support, respect, and caring somehow turned into one that was demanding, controlling, and manipulative. Our social interactions left me feeling drained, depleted, and even angry. Her arrogant condescension set my teeth on edge. When I tried to limit our “girl time” she became hostile and belligerent. I couldn’t even imagine how she would react if I tried to break up with her.

I slowly tried to interrupt our habitual patterns  by setting clear boundaries and re-establish new patterns in our relationship. After all, we had been friends a long time, and I wanted to salvage our friendship if at all possible. Besides, we had shared our deepest secrets, so we both knew where all the bodies were buried, so to speak. Sadly, it didn’t work out that way.

Sometimes you just have to cut the ties that bind.

No You Can’t–Or Yes You Can

Have you ever wanted to try something new, or do something different and exciting, and were told, “No, you can’t?” Perhaps it was pursuing a dream, achieving a goal, or changing a career, and were told, “No, you can’t?”

I was born and raised in a small steel town in Western Pennsylvania, which is why I live in Denver. Nah….I’m just joking. More or less. My hometown was a great place to grow up, especially when I was a kid. We were all living the American Dream, and it was wonderful.

However, I wanted more out of life than what my town had to offer. I always wondered what it would be like to get out on my own, see the world, and make a life for myself away from the safety net of family and everything that was familiar to me.

During my senior year in college I decided to do just that. When I announced my plans to move to Denver, my friends and family were shocked. I was bombarded by well-meaning (but misguided) people who told me “No, you can’t.” Denver was too far away. It was too dangerous. I wasn’t smart enough, or strong enough to make it on my own. The list went on and on.

However, the most persuasive argument came from a guy I was dating, who told patiently explained, “You can’t go to Denver, because you have to get married. And since you have to marry someone, it might as well be me.” That convinced me. Two days after I graduated college I was halfway to Denver before the ink on my diploma even had a chance to dry. So much for “No, you can’t.”

The point is, there will always be people who will try to hold you back, keep you from pursuing your dreams, or simply tell you, “No, you can’t.” It’s your job to smile, nod your head, walk away, and do whatever it is you want to do. Because you can.

Excessive Apology Disorder

When I realized how often I was saying the words “I’m sorry” to everyone for everything, I became acutely aware of how many people apologize excessively when they don’t have to. I even came up with a name for it, which I dubbed Excessive Apology Disorder. Thank you–I thought it was pretty good myself.

When we have EAD, it allows for a close cousin to come creeping in, which is the chronic and nagging voice of self-doubt. Think about it. Every time we take responsibility for something that isn’t our fault, we relinquish a little bit of our personal power. We literally hand it over to another person, typically the one we are apologizing to. When we make excessive apologizing a habit, (like I did), we are constantly chipping away at our self-confidence and self-worth. Even worse, we eventually open the door to guilt and shame. Yikes!

When my Sensei called my EAD to my attention, I was mortified how much I apologized for no reason. I was stunned how much negative energy I was allowing to take over my life. Once I  stopped saying “I’m sorry” to everyone for everything, I felt my power and my self-confidence begin to improve. I found my voice again, learned how to stand my ground, and discovered how to set clear boundaries. It was a beautiful thing to behold!

Besides, if you are constantly saying “I’m sorry,” you diminish the impact of a sincere apology when the situation calls for it. So, notice how often you say you’re sorry. And pay attention if it really was warranted. Don’t say you’re sorry out of habit, or because you think the other person expects it. After all, most of the time you don’t have anything to apologize for, and everything is not your fault.

I’m Sorry….So Sorry. For What??

Have you ever noticed how many times a day you say the words “I’m sorry?” Especially as women, it seems like we are always apologizing for something, even when we’re not at fault, or there isn’t even anything wrong in the first place. What’s up with that? Is it just a habit (and not a good one, I might add), or do we really feel that we are responsible for everything that’s wrong in the world?

There was a time when I believed that everything was my fault, and I took full responsibility for it. Everything from world hunger to human trafficking to PMS and menstrual cramps. My fault. And it really wore me down.

But I didn’t realize what a problem it was, or how often I said it until I was 2 years into my martial arts training and I was testing for my green belt level. My partner was one of the black belt instructors who I had become good friends with, so he graciously offered to let me beat the stuffing out of him during my test. After all, what are friends for?

Every time he attacked me, I took him down. Hard. Fifteen minutes into the test, my Sensei stopped us. He looked at me and said, “If you apologize one more time for doing a technique well, I am going to stop the test.” What do you think I said? Yep, you’re right, I said those dreaded words, “I’m sorry.”

I was horrified. My partner gave me a nervous glance before he looked at Sensei, who was glowering at me and scowling. That’s never a good sign. I hadn’t even realized that every single time I took my partner down I said “I’m sorry” before he even hit the ground.

Sensei didn’t stop the test. But I learned a powerful lesson that day. I stopped apologizing for no apparent reason. I no longer said the words “I’m sorry” unless I sincerely had something to apologize for. And, when I did, magic happened. But I think I’ll save that for another day.

Summertime: And The Living is Easy

Summertime….and the living is easy. Or at least it’s supposed to be. I hope you have had a wonderful summer so far, and have taken the time to replenish yourself in body, mind, and spirit.

My summer has been interesting, to say the least. In early June I entered a contest sponsored by a local radio talk show host who is on the search for the next great podcaster. Why in the world would I do such a thing?

First of all, it’s because I absolutely love the lady who is hosting the contest, even though I never met her. She won me over the first time I heard her say she had to stop talking long enough to wipe the sarcasm off her screen during a broadcast. I laughed so hard I almost drove off the road. My husband fell in love with her when he was a caller on her show and she called him a badass on the air.

When I heard about the contest, I thought to myself, “Why not?” But then I got the application to officially enter the contest. I had to come up with a logline (um, what’s that?), a description of the show and what it would be about (gee, I would love to, but I have no idea), come up with 10 topics for episodes along with a brief synopsis to let listeners know what each episode was about (is that all?). The grande finale was to include a 5 minute video of yourself talking. At least I know how to talk.

Well, I did it, and I made the cut. I am one of 5 finalists. I have had to learn how to download the software to record a podcast as well as how to use it (a minor detail), learn how to edit , export to an mp3, and post it to a variety of social media sites. UGH, technology! My love-hate relationship with it continues. Fortunately, I found a millennial for hire who was happy to help out.

Anyway, the contest has ended and I’m just waiting to find out if I am going to be one of the next great podcasters. I’ll certainly keep you posted! So, as you can tell, my summer hasn’t been easy at all. But, it’s been more fun than I’ve had in a really long time!  

Where’s Your Tipping Point?

I heard the most fascinating story a few weeks ago. A friend of mine was leaving work early to rush off to an afternoon ballet class. It had just begun to snow, even though it was late spring. That happens a lot in Colorado.

When she put her key in the ignition, a snowflake gracefully floated down from the sky and landed squarely in a chip on her windshield. As soon as that snowflake touched down, the entire windshield shattered. From one harmless little snowflake!

She sat there in shock, trying to figure out what just happened. How could one delicate little frozen drop of water shatter an entire windshield? In her own words, she said, “If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I never would have believed it.” At least she wasn’t driving at the time. So, instead of going to ballet class, she (carefully) drove off to get her windshield replaced.

Two days later, she shared her story with us. We all marveled at the power of one tiny little snowflake. We speculated what conditions must have existed for that to happen. Was it temperature related? Did the snowflake have the identical size, shape, and dimensions of the chip which caused it to shatter? Are the properties of glass not as solid as we think? Or, was it merely a bizarre coincidence? What was the tipping point?

The truth is, we all have a tipping point. Everything in nature does. And, as I learned in my martial arts training, water can take down a mountain. So it makes perfect sense that it can also shatter a windshield.

Like everyone else, I’ve hit a tipping point multiple times in my life. Sometimes we feel like we’re out on a ledge, ready to go off a cliff. Other times it takes us completely by surprise. But how we react to these life changing events is what counts. The important thing is to stay positive, resilient, and learn from the experience.

So….where’s your tipping point?

 

 

 

 

 

Self-Indulgence Is Not A Dirty Word

My ballet master was incredibly demanding, which is one of the things I loved about him. After all, I don’t want to become complacent. Complacency breeds mediocrity, and in my opinion, that is a waste of human potential.

He would often chastise us if we weren’t working hard enough to satisfy him and his high standards. During the middle of brutal and complicated movement patterns he would frequently scream, “Don’t be so self-indulgent!” Not only was it distracting, it was demoralizing to be called self-indulgent when you were dancing your heart out and working your butt off.

Besides, the way he said it made it sound like a dirty word. In his mind, it was a dirty word. I always wondered why, and I never understood what he meant. I would have asked him, but he terrified me. He terrified all of us, even though we loved him, and we were adults.

Here it is, many years later, and I think I finally understand what he meant. To achieve the goals we set for ourselves, we have to fully engage all of our effort and focus to that goal. We have to pour our heart, soul, body, mind, and spirit into it. That leaves no room for self-indulgence.

But I disagree. There is an incredible amount of untapped potential in each and every one of us. However, we can’t reach this potential if we don’t allow ourselves a bit of pampering. A chance to rest, relax, and hit the refresh button. Some people may call it self-indulgence. I call it common sense. And it really isn’t a dirty word. At least, not in my mind it isn’t.

So, don’t be afraid to take some time off, hang out, and get some rest. Indulge yourself. It’s so good for your health!

The Power of Grace….

Grace. It’s such a beautiful word. Just the sound of it brings forth a sense of ease, elegance, and peace. Who wouldn’t want to experience grace? Maybe we felt like we had it at some point but lost it along the way. (I don’t know what happened to it….I know I left it around here somewhere). Perhaps we feel like we have been looking for it all of our lives. It’s possible that we don’t even know what we’re looking for, but intuitively know that something is missing. What is grace, anyway?

In my mind, grace is a feeling. It is a sense of confidence and well-being. It is about having a strong sense of self-awareness, and being comfortable in your own skin. You know how to set personal boundaries and how to cultivate healthy relationships. You respect yourself. You have the flexibility to move through life with an effortless flow, even when the going gets tough.

One of my favorite quotes is from a remarkable man named Moshe Feldenkrais. He said, “What I am after is not flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I am after is to return each person to their human dignity.” Ahh, grace. It is a lovely word, and a powerful one as well. It’s also a wonderful feeling–one that returns you to your strength, power, and human dignity.

It was through life’s trial and tribulations and the most difficult chapters in my life that I discovered the power of grace. I will admit that it hadn’t always been easy. But I did find it, and I sure like the way it feels. And I hope I don’t lose it like I lose my car keys. Because, there is incredible power and grace in each and every one of us. As well as human dignity.

Build It, and They Will Come….

Build it, and they will come. Who doesn’t remember that famous line from the movie, “Field of Dreams?” All you have to do is have a vision, apply a lot of hard word, and dribble on a healthy dose of faith. Because, if you build it, they WILL come.

I have spent the past seven months working with a remarkable and talented team of professionals, building this new web site. It’s been a long journey, and a lot of work. I cannot speak for my amazing team, but as far as I am concerned, it has been well worth the time involved and the energy invested.

Seven and a half years ago, I launched my first web site. It was terrifying. Just putting myself “out there” was an overwhelming and uncomfortable experience for me. Apparently I got over it, and I have come a long way since then. Haven’t we all? If we aren’t trying new things, and getting out of our comfort zone, we stop growing. We become complacent. We stop learning. And, (dare I say it ?), we become old.

The key to youthful vitality is about putting yourself out there, learning new ways of moving, sensing, thinking, and feeling. It’s about keeping an open mind, and cultivating a spirit of interest and curiosity. It’s about building. Perhaps not a new website, but building new relationships, new connections, and discovering new and fun activities. It’s about never giving up on yourself, even when times are difficult and the going gets tough.

Keep building. it helps to make sure that you’re using the right tools and you have a great team behind you, no matter what you’re building. It certainly comes in handy. So, build it, and they will come.