Posts In: embrace change

Leaving Stuck

July 12, 2019

A friend asked how happy I was in my marriage. “80-90%” I replied.

“Wow, that’s pretty high,” said my friend who felt unhappy in his marriage.

I don’t know how most people would rate their relationship to happiness, but I was pretty happy. My husband treated me in a kind and supportive manner. In fact, he encouraged all my life choices, even those that impacted his life.

Me: “I want to move to Oregon.”
Him: “Let me go there and check it out.” Then later, “Okay, let’s move.”

Me: “I think I’m going to massage school.”
Him: “That sounds great.”

Me: “I think I’m going to quit my job (with benefits and a salary) and start doing massage full time (as a self-employed person.”)
Him: “Okay.”

No push back. No shaming. No questioning my choices. That was healing for me. His support helped me make scary choices that moved me forward on my life path.

My family loved him and I loved his family. Still do. We both appreciated nature, a simple lifestyle, and adored our pets. We enjoyed travel and socializing with our friends.

And Then I Left Him.

To be clear I didn’t leave him because he was kind and supportive. Those reasons, along with common values, kept me in the relationship. That and fear. And maybe some hope.

Leaving took me two and half years. Even though I was mostly happy in the relationship I knew something was missing. When I would talk with my husband about my feelings he assured me everything was fine. It was from his perspective.

I value connection. In fact, it’s one of my top values (and even one of my super powers. I love connecting clients and friends with the perfect resource, service, tool or themselves.) I’m not interested in superficial relationships. Not with my family, my friends, or my clients. Especially not with my primary partner. I wanted a partner. I want soulful partnerships with all the important people in my life. My ex and I were good companions, but we weren’t partners. 

The Cost of Staying

I could have stayed. Staying, in some ways, would have been easier. I tried to stay. I explored what was missing in my relationship and looked at how we could heal that.One of my wise friends asked what would be different if I left. I pictured a neater house, flowers in the front flowerbed, a new couch. Superficial stuff really. I guess that’s why buying a new couch didn’t work.

While I was trying to fix or fill the lack I felt, I was also considering my attraction to women. You might assume that the issue in my relationship was that my husband had the wrong equipment.That being a lesbian was my reason for leaving. But it wasn’t. I wasn’t seeking a certain gender. I craved connection. Partnership.

Over the years while I sifted and sorted my relationship I stayed stuck. I felt afraid to leave. Could I make it on my own? Would I be alone the rest of my life? Staying felt like I was agreeing to a life that was less than what I wanted. But leaving scared me. So I stayed.

Wisdom from My Body

Then my body said, “no.”

My mother had ovarian cancer. So did my paternal grandmother. And my maternal grandfather’s sister. I listen to my ovaries. When I started to have pain I took my one precious body to my OBGYN. When she palpated my belly she could feel something that didn’t feel normal to her. And I felt even more pain.

An ultrasound revealed nothing. The verdict: an ovarian cyst had ruptured during the exam. While I was waiting for the results (and trying not to freak out) I drew my ovaries. I can’t tell you what the drawing looked like, but the message was clear. My body was letting me know that I needed to choose me. I needed to make a move. 

I moved into a little rental on a creek and started dating a lovely woman who I now call my wife. Actually she’s weddingtechnically my wife, but I call her my partner because that is what she is. While I’ve never regretted my brave move to get unstuck, I do wish I’d been brave sooner.It took listening. It took courage. I lost a few friends in the process. But I came out (no pun intended) happier and healthier. 

If you’re in a stuck place, know that I get you.I’ve been there more than once. I’ve been there more than twice. I’m here to tell you that finding a way to move from stuckness, to embrace change in a way that feels honoring and manageable, is life giving. You came here to live a full life. The life of your dreams. A 100% life, not an 80% life.

 ps. I’m offering a free four week class starting on Monday July 15 called Embrace Change:

You’re a woman ready to embrace change, even if it scares you. You want to live your dream life. But fear, self-sabotage, doubt and stress block you from making the progress you’d love. You’re tired of feeling unsuccessful. Learn how to be present with where you are rather than feeling embarrassed or overwhelmed. You’ll learn to take manageable baby steps toward your goals, steps that allow you to maintain your wellness and inner balance. You’ll move past feeling stuck and fatigued to a place of confidence and energy for your next steps.

You can apply here

Aging: The Inside Story

August 3, 2016
beautiful-older-woman

I saw an ad today for a “beauty” system that looked like a torture device. Picture a tiny paint roller with fine needles projecting from the surface. When you roll the device over your face the needles penetrate your skin. The fine print says “No known negative side effects.” I guess pain isn’t considered a side effect. Granted I haven’t tried it, but it sure looks like it would be painful.

I went onto YouTube to listen to reviews expecting to see people screaming in agony as they “beautified” themselves. The first reviewer I watched mentioned she had put a numbing cream on her face for 25 minutes before use. She said not to be afraid of the device. I’m afraid of anything that requires me to use numbing cream.

The theory behind the roller is that it “might” stimulate the production of collagen, reduce wrinkles, cellulite, etc. The holes it puts in your face also help you absorb serums and creams better.

Looking for Youth in all the Wrong Places

What strikes me about this (and many other beauty treatments that are uncomfortable, expensive, and potentially dangerous) is the amount of focus on trying to look younger on the outside. I’ve known people that forgot about their “inside” life because they were so focused on the external.

I’m all for looking vital and healthy. I would love to have the same skin I had when I was 30. But I’m not 30. I’m 59 and happily counting. (There are more senior discounts in my future.) While I want to look vital and healthy and make choices that help me with that, I’m much more interested in FEELING vital and healthy.

Everyone makes his or her own choices about how much time and energy (and what type of time and energy) they want to put into looking “good.” And we also get to make up our minds about what we think looks good. We don’t all love purple hair, tartan plaid, or pearls. Thank goodness for that because it makes people watching much more interesting.

But there’s something disturbing to me about the hunt for pseudo youth. Dying your hair back to its original shade does not, after all, make you that age again. I believe it’s possible to do things like laser treatments, Botox, hair dye, even torture devices for your face because you love yourself and love looking your best. If getting your butt Botoxed makes you feel great then Botox away. But I think it’s equally possible (maybe more likely?) that many women are rolling torture devices over their faces because they don’t like who they see in the mirror. They don’t like the changes that aging can bring.

Embracing Change

You are changing. We all change. We don’t expect the tree we plant as a sapling to look the same in five years. We don’t expect our toddlers to stay the same or the oak tree to keep its leaves all year. Change is part of the beauty of life.

I’ll be honest. I don’t love all the changes I see in my body. I don’t obsess about aging and I’m grateful that I’ve very healthy—no medications, no arthritis, no high blood pressure. I don’t mind that my hair is gray because it’s thick and healthy. BUT I would love to have fewer lines and tauter skin on my face. I WANT to love all the changes including those lines. I’m working on that. My goals are to 1) accept the changes 2) love myself and 3) look and FEEL as vital and healthy as possible.

I do, however, love some of the changes that have come with age and maturing. I love that I’m more direct than when I was 25. I love that I don’t fall into victim mode anymore. I love that I don’t drink alcohol. It saves money and calories and I feel better. I love the community of friends I’ve gathered over the years. I love that I’m strong.

Being Edith-like

Cousin-EdithI’ve had the good fortune to have some outstanding role models for vital aging in my life. My
grandfather’s cousin Edith stands out. Edith lived to 108 years young. She lived independently until the last few months of her life. The year she turned 100 she was invited to be the Grand Marshall in her community’s annual Arkalalah celebration (yes, that’s really the name.) She walked to the DMV to renew her driver’s license so she could drive her 1950 Chevy, the only car she ever owned, in the parade. Not only did she get her driver’s license for the event, but also she bought a stylish modern dress that I would have been happy to wear at the time and I was in my early 30’s.

But Edith didn’t look 30. While her erect posture and lively movements belied her 100 years, she looked like an older woman. That didn’t seem to bother her. She was able to garden, take daily walks, play bridge, live on her own, and participate in a book group. She stayed active mentally and physically throughout her life. I never heard her complain about saggy skin, gray hair, or achy joints. She was far too busy for that. Maybe far too happy would be a better description. She once said she realized she could choose to be miserable or happy. She chose happy.

The theme of my coaching and retreat work is living a life of purpose well. Spending time trying to rewind time or focusing on what you don’t like about yourself takes time away from living that well life of purpose. I want to invite you to a life as rich, full, and happy as cousin Edith’s for as long as you live.

Your Vital Aging Challenge

1.    What do you value about your aging or maturing process?

2.    What about your maturing process do you want to learn to embrace or accept?

Here’s what I would love: Share your answer to #1 here. I think if we all start celebrating the wisdom of maturing instead of fighting against aging we’ll have more energy for what matters to us. The world will be a better place. And if you share here we can all celebrate each other’s awesomeness. Ready to join me?

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