Month: August 2010

You’re Never too Old to Follow Your Dreams, But you May have Lost Your Nerve

You’re Never too Old to Follow Your Dreams, But you May have Lost Your Nerve

Just about the time I turned fifty all hell started to break loose in my life. My father died and my mother, almost ninety, needed attention. My kids were leaving the nest, 9/11 happened and our business tanked as a result.  My husband had a heart attack and while he survived mostly unscathed it left me acutely aware of his humanity and my own. I also began to have health issues, mostly a result of stress.  In retrospect I was simply riding the midlife wave and like all waves they crest and fall and then things level out.

Surviving that ride taught me a few things about life and myself. Sometimes you have to hang on for dear life and sometimes you just have to let go and follow where it leads. We all know that fighting the wave can be a death knell. For a time I put up an awful fight, hence my health issues and ongoing angst. I was angry and sad and above all terrified. Losing my loved ones is probably the most painful thing any of us can experience and I felt it coming at me from all sides. At times I wanted to curl up in a ball or run away. I didn’t like what life had turned into or myself.

I learned so many things by going through this ring of fire but one of the most important things I learned is that life is short and there comes a moment when it is time to make the most of it. I woke up on the other side of fifty and realized I had not even come close to achieving my dreams ~ my personal dreams. I had dreamed of having a husband that loved me and healthy, happy children and I did have some colorful shadow of what I had expected, but I had not done for myself the things I had hoped. As the dust began to settle around me I also discovered that I had lost my youthful enthusiasm for life and that I was deathly afraid of taking a risk.

The landscape after midlife looks very different from the way it did when we were younger but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of time to live the life you know you were meant to live and to do those things that are most important to you to do.  Even when fear is nipping at your heels you can still move forward by taking one tiny step at a time.  Before you know it you’ll be running with the wind at your back into a new phase of your life. Here’s how:

  1. Write down one dream you want to achieve.
  2. Next write down everything you can think of that you need to do. or need to know, in order to achieve that dream.
  3. If you come across a step that seems overwhelming, break it into smaller steps until you find one that you can manage.
  4. Then take that small step, and then the next and the next.
  5. Whenever you run into an obstacle ask yourself what you need to do or know in order to get through the obstacle. Break it down until you find one thing you are absolutely sure you can do and then do it.

You are never too old to follow your dreams.

D Sander

Find Relief from the Summer Heat

Find Relief from the Summer Heat

The summer heat has been oppressive in North Carolina. I have no doubt that there are other places much worse and other people who suffer far greater consequences at the hands of the earth’s belligerent temper tantrums. I try to think of those less fortunate when I complain, and remember how simple it is for me to find physical relief from the 105 degree outdoor temperature.

It’s my peace of mind that suffers and for me that is a real force to be reckoned with in the heat of the southern summers. A northerner by nature and nurture, I have rebelled against one summer after another for almost twenty years.  Sequestering myself within the four walls of air-conditioned quarters is just not a comfortable living environment for me. There’s something unnatural about having to fight heat and insects at a time when a person should have their hands buried in the earth and their clothes covered with dirt. Just when the gardens should be blooming profusely, and sometimes are, it’s impossible to be outside enjoying them. Instead, I find myself gazing longingly from the window wishing I could stand the heat long enough to weed.

Today I have entered the pre-contemplation stage of my need to deal with my attitude the southern climate within which I live. Instead of feeling restless, angry and pent-up it is indeed time to make peace with my lot. I’m not quite sure I’m ready to face my frustration. It’s so much easier to complain. Furthermore, I don’t know quite how to get a handle on something that just “feels” so wrong. That is precisely why I am in pre-contemplation. I have begun thinking about thinking about it and that is progress!

We all face challenges large and small. By most people’s standards, irritating weather conditions is not something that should even be on the list of serious life issues.  I do suspect that in my case it points to a larger issue that I have yet to acknowledge. Pre-contemplation is an important step to take whenever we want to make a change in our lives. When we begin thinking about some discomfort in our life, even peripherally, we are moving toward change. It is not a thing to be minimized. In fact, we can pat ourselves on the back when we enter pre-contemplation because contemplation is right around the corner and a more authentic life is right behind it.

Change takes time. It’s a step at a time process. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve had an issue, when we realize it’s time for a change any movement is good, even just the tiniest step. Even just considering that perhaps it’s time for me to start thinking about thinking about accepting the southern climate has given me just a touch of relief from the summer heat. Personal growth is an amazing process even when it’s a weather issue! Imagine how good it feels to decide to take on a difficult issue ~ like losing weight and getting healthy or making changes in an important relationship. Entering the pre-contemplation stage on those issues will definitely take our minds off the weather!

D Sander