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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?

Dreaming as Self-care

June 13, 2016

During my final months of college I read What Color’s Your  Parachute?  In case you’re not familiar with this classic it’s a subtitled “A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers.”

That book changed my life. It gave me permission to find work that fit my values, my interests, and my skills. Up until then I knew I wanted to be a social worker and help others. I knew I liked working with kids, but beyond that I didn’t have many specifics.

Wishlist

When I finished the book I had a long wishlist for my dream job. Here’s part of my list:

  • Time in nature, including hiking
  • Opportunity to do crafts
  • Able to dress casually
  • Not a 9-5 job
  • Working with kids
  • Non-traditional program
  • Opportunity to grow
  • Chance to travel
  • Vacation time
  • Place where my skills of teaching and counseling would be helpful

Let Your Dream Find You

Now with the list I had clarity Unfortunately I didn’t have any job prospects or any ideas of how to find my dream job. But clarity, focus on what I wanted, and trust paid off. (And maybe a healthy dose of 20-something naivety didn’t hurt.) Through a series of serendipities my dream job found me.

I had worked at a summer Girl Scout residence camp between my junior and senior years of college. I loved working with the kids and planned on returning for one more summer after graduation. M

 

y parents, who had been supporting me during college, strongly suggested I get on with a “real job” hunt instead. I agr

 

eed.

 

 

One morning in the late spring I woke up from a dream that told me I needed to work at camp again. I don’t have any memory of the dream, but I remember that I “knew” I must return to that summer job. I called the camp director to tell her I had decided to work at camp. I knew I had missed the deadline for signing my contract. Would a position still be available? Turns out she thought I HAD decided to work at camp and already

 

had me on her list. Yeah!

That summer, in between s’mores, hiking, and swimming, I sent off resumes for all the job listings my mom sent me. I scoured the want ads in alternative magazines like Mother Earth News and applied for jobs that sounded like they might match my wishlist. But with only a few weeks of summer left I hadn’t lined up any job interviews.

One day the camp director invited me to ride with her to the Girl Scout council office about 30-minutes away. They had offered her a temporary job as director with a day camp for a new program. She wasn’t interested, but thought I should apply. So I put on my cleanest jeans and headed to Bloomington with her.

That position had been filled, but they hired me on the spot as a counselor for a three-week stint with the day camp for that new program. I was glad to have a job, even if it was temporary and I didn’t know where I’d stay.

After returning to the resident camp I told my friend and tent mate, Thumper (we all had camp names) and she invited me to housesit for her and her boyfriend Jim as they headed out of town. They’d be gone a week, but I could stay for the three weeks.

That temporary position led to a full-time position as a youthworker/trainer with that new program. It was the start of my coaching and truly my dream job. It ticked every box on my wishlist and then some.

How Do You Dream?

Some of my clients automatically bypass the dreaming phase. You might relate if you’ve ever gotten in trouble for daydreaming. Or if you’ve taken a risk going after your dreams only to be disappointed. Who wants to risk that again?

Maybe you’re a detail person who hasn’t learned how to go big with your vision. (Hint: your vision is made of details.) Or you’re afraid of getting caught in airy, fairy, fantasyland, never taking action toward your dream.

Like some of my clients you might be choosing the known, afraid to admit what you REALLY want. Or maybe you’re not even sure what you want.

Allowing yourself to dream does have risk. You could get your hopes up and be disappointed. But by going for what is safe and known, you risk not living your dream.

Dream-mode

Staying in “dream-mode” all the time won’t get you a free ride. When you step onto the path of your dreams it’s helpful to pack some reality to help you make plans, to help you take action. I had to go to the interview when it was offered. I had to take a temporary job that felt right. There’s a time and place for both dream and “reality.” If you’ve been all action or living someone else’s dream then you’re overdo for some “dream time.” Here are a few ideas to get you going.

How to dream

  1. Pretend you’re a kid. Remember lying on your back under the clouds? Let your mind wander as you make up an “imaginary” tale about your life. What would super hero, super-model, or super-confident you do? What would you ask the genie in the bottle for? Which vision gets you excited? Which one seems to have a life of its own?
  2. Notice bits of other people’s lives that you’d love to copy. And yes, copying is allowed. Do you envy a friend who travels to exotic locations? Or melt when you see the woman down the street with her 3 kids? Are you in awe of your friend who’s set up her business so she only works 3 days a week?
    Do find yourself wondering how a friend published a book or landed a new job? Remember you don’t have to take their whole picture into your vision. The woman who travels might seem exhausted. You can incorporate the travel and leave the exhaustion out.
  3. Make your vision more tangible and present by recording it. Depending on your tastes and talents you might want to keep notes in a journal, paint a picture, or collage a dream board. Having a touchstone helps keep that dream alive as you take action.
  4. Hire a coach. I’m personally a fan of this one. : ) Hiring a coach provides wings to this process. A coach will hear things in what you say that you might not pick up on. A coach can lead you through the process guiding you when you get stuck and then helping you take that dream into action. Sometimes the other people in your life, like your partner or kids, have a vested interest in you staying the same. A coach can be a cheerleader for exploring change in your life when those around you feel unsure about that change.

When I hear someone say I’ve always wanted to… my ears perk up. If you think there might be a “dream” in you then you take the time to explore it. I believe that acknowledging and going for your dreams IS an overlooked and important piece of self-care. That’s gold on the path to a big life of joy.

Share a bit of your dream here.

Trusting the Plan

December 1, 2014

You need a plan, right? But here’s the deal. If you get too attached to “your” plan rather than the “bigger” plan (call it God’s or the universe’s or divine order…) you can actually make things harder.

Maybe I should speak for me. When I get too attached to “my” plan and forget that there’s a larger plan I make things harder and decidedly less fun for myself. Do you find this to be true too?

The Jury Summons
Monday I showed up at the courthouse for jury duty. I don’t know what it is about Marion County, Oregon where I live, but they love to send me jury summons. I know people who never get called. But I get one every cycle. Maybe because I show up and I don’t tell them things that make them think I’m a whacko. (Seriously, if you want to get out of jury duty tell them you would kill anyone who abused your child. Yep, that means you won’t get picked.)

And We Wait
Day one was about waiting. And more waiting. The guy in the jury assembly room said he’s never had a group in the assembly room so long. They finally moved us into a courtroom for jury selection after 3 ½ hours. I figured I’d be out by lunchtime.

By 2:00 they finally dismissed those who wouldn’t be on the jury. But unfortunately they’d called my name for this 3-day trial.

I spent the lunch hour cancelling my Tuesday class and rescheduled my coaching and massage appointments for the next couple of days. Not excited about the prospect of listening to stories of meth, abuse, and identity theft, but I didn’t see a way out.

A Reframe
Two of my friends who are attorneys gave me a more positive spin. One said, “Important and powerful work.” The other said how lucky I was to serve and how lucky we are to have the justice system we have in the U.S. I felt less cranky.

Day one ended with a bit of education about our job and we were dismissed. Really? I’m thinking we should get started, but hey, they weren’t asking for my input.

And More Waiting
Day two we were to be there no later than 8:25 with an 8:30 start time. By 9 we’d been brought into the courtroom and then back into the waiting area. False start. And the waiting continued.

About 10 we went back in, heard opening arguments. Well, for a little while. We did get exercise as when there was an objection they would parade us back into the waiting room.
And then we got a “10-15 minute” morning break that lasted for an hour. Finally we got to listen to a witness. It was getting exciting now. Well, not really exciting. Mostly sad. Some people lead really sad, dark lives.

By noon, part way into the prosecutors questioning of witness one, we were dismissed for lunch. Again, I’m thinking really? We just got started.

Back at 1:15 we waited some more. Now I’m getting stressed. With 17 charges against the defendant and six more witnesses I couldn’t see how this was going to be over by Wednesday afternoon. Especially with the frequent breaks.

If we had just been facing loss of income and productive time it would have been stressful, but because the system felt so inefficient with all the waiting and breaks (and I abhor inefficiency) my stress level rose. Every time I felt my mind wandering to whether I should go ahead and cancel my Thursday yoga class and appointments I would take a deep breath, relax my shoulders, and feel better. For a few minutes.

A Bigger Plan
Finally I stopped reading and felt into what I was supposed to learn. I’d been reading a chapter about resistance. Interesting choice, huh? I realized the more I resisted what was happening, the worse I felt. When I finally surrendered and affirmed to myself that I was supported and just not aware of the divine plan I relaxed.

At 4:00, about ½ later, they called the jury back in to the courtroom. We’d been waiting since post lunchtime. Finishing by Wednesday afternoon seemed highly unlikely. The judge announced that because one of the witnesses was unable to testify due to a health issue they were declaring a mistrial and we were dismissed. Just like that I was free.

My Takeaways:
1. Any stress or issues I have are peanuts. Really not significant. I have physical and mental health, a loving family and friends, freedom, and financial abundance.
2. I am supported. When I get out of my own way, magic happens.

I send light and love to the victim, defendant, their children and families. Oh, and the judge, attorneys, and deputy. Those people work hard. Blessings to them all.

If you see me struggling you have permission to suggest I surrender to the divine.

And how about you? Are there places where surrendering to something larger would serve you? Do you ever block your success and health by trying to control things? I so appreciate the comments and feedback you send me. Really helps to know I’m not writing into the void. Would love it if you would share here too.

Your business is up and running, but you need some cash coming in. Whether you’re experiencing a slow down in your business or this is a new venture, you’re ready for some clients/customers.

So you print some business cards. You hand them out and post them on a few bulletin boards. Then you get a call from a publication offering “special rates” and bragging about the benefits of becoming an advertiser with them. What the heck, you sign up.

You pick up a competitor’s brochure. Hmmm. Maybe you should have a brochure too. You notice that one business offers a discount. Another provides a free class. Maybe you should try those too.

Strategy, huh?

You’ve got no strategy for your small business marketing. Imagine if you ate this way. You see someone eating a burger, so you grab a burger. You’re your friend mentions Pad Thai, so Pad Thai it is. A granola bar in your desk drawer. An apple on the counter. A kid eating a doughnut. A commercial for a pizza…

Is That a Problem?

If you ate that way you’d have a stomachache by the end of the day. But what about your business? What’s the problem with having no strategy for your marketing plan?

I’m glad you asked. You’ve actually got two problems. First problem is the source of your random acts. Your second problem is your lack of results.

Random acts come from:

1. Fear and anxiety: Ever feel desperate to make your business a success? Maybe you need to pay the bills. Some food on the table would be nice too.

Or maybe you feel attached to being successful. This is your dream. You’ve invested time, money, and YOU into this venture. What if it doesn’t work out or doesn’t bring the kind of return you’d planned on? Maybe others are counting on you; your family, friends, clients, investors…

The problem is that when you’re operating from this viewpoint you’re living in the limbic part of your brain. That’s the primitive part associated with fight versus flight. From that place you’re not resourceful. You can’t access the creative part of you. You also can’t access the part of your brain that makes good decisions for marketing. You’re in survival mode.

Not only is it bad news for you, your clients/customers will actually be driven away by the energy of fear. Some will be aware that they feel fear or anxiety from you. Others will pick up on subtle clues like the tone of your voice or your body language. Either way it’s not the kind of results you were hoping for.

The universal law of attraction says that what we focus on is what we get. When we’re in limbic mode trying to hustle business anyway we can, our fear attracts the poverty we’re trying to avoid.

2. Habit: Solopreneurs and corporations alike suffer from the “We’ve always done it this way” problem. Habits serve us in that we don’t have to recreate everything everyday. But just because I’ve always paid for a yellow pages ad for the past 20 years doesn’t mean it serves my business today.

3. Monkey see, monkey do: If you don’t have a marketing strategy lined up, it’s easy to pay attention to what others are doing and then grab something from their menu for your meal. What works (or doesn’t work for them) may not work for you.

4. Mistaken beliefs: Sometimes we hold beliefs that aren’t really true. Beliefs like “Doing something’s better than doing nothing.” Or “The more marketing options I try, the more I enhance my chances of succeeding.”

If these beliefs sound familiar you might want to spend some time examining them to see if they 1) are true and 2) support your success.

5. Lack of clarity: If you don’t have clarity it’s hard to develop a plan to reach…what was that you were trying to reach? Oh, yeah, you’re not sure.

To achieve clarity you will need to spend some time focusing on what you want. You will have to shift to the part of your brain that allows daydreaming and creativity. Sometimes the supportive ear of a coach or friend can help as well.

Opposite of random

Creating a marketing strategy that draws on your strengths, manages your challenges, takes into account your target market, your budget, and your beliefs and leaves you juice to provide service through your business takes some time. But the results will be worth it.

I’d love to hear about your random (and not so random acts of marketing.) Join in the conversation here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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