Tag: Dorothy Sander

65 THINGS I’M GRATEFUL FOR On My 65th Birthday

65 THINGS I’M GRATEFUL FOR On My 65th Birthday

GratitudeToday I begin a journey into a new year — a year that I trust will be filled with its fair share of adventure, love, challenges and opportunities for growth and expanded awareness. As I begin this new chapter of my life I want to share with you this list of gratitudes that I felt compelled to write today. I hope you will honor your life with a list of your own.

Life doesn’t end as we get older. In fact I find it becomes far richer, and more packed with meaning and purpose with each passing year. For me, aging abundantly includes the acknowledgment of and expression of gratitude for all that we have and all that we are.

Today, on my 65th birthday, I feel inordinately blessed and deeply grateful . . .

  1. For 65 years of living and loving,
  2. A loving, caring, kind, compassionate husband,
  3. 34 years of mutual commitment to “working it out”
  4. For the gift of motherhood and universal mother lovegratitude
  5. For two sons who make me proud every day
  6. For the gifts and strengths that they were given at birth
  7. For my health and the health of my family
  8. For my beautiful new daughter-in-law and the love she has brought into our family
  9. The kindness of strangers and their willingness to make the world a better place
  10. For green grass and sunshine
  11. The ocean – sand and surf
  12. Sandpipers, seagulls and starfish
  13. The wind in my hair and the sand between my toes
  14. For puffy white clouds over vast stretches of earth
  15. And mountains that reach out to me and lift my eyes toward heaven
  16. For sunrises that remind me that every day is a new beginning
  17. And sunsets that remind me that it’s good to rest, to sink low in the earth and into oneself
  18. For music – music that lifts my spirits, music that touches my heart, music that stirs the unknown within me and draws me toward what is beyond
  19. For fresh fruit in summer, veggies straight from the earth, and the smell of baking bread
  20. For rain that refreshes the earth
  21. The feel of raindrops on my face that remind me that I am a part of the renewal processgratitude
  22. The feel of my body when it moves, it’s strength, it’s rhythm, it’s ability to carry me up a hill or down a ski slope
  23. For deep, restorative massage, the power of energy to heal
  24. The heat of a sauna that relaxes my body
  25. The wisdom of teachers and their willingness to share all that they have learned
  26. For springtime in North Carolina
  27. And the scent of honeysuckle, magnolias and wisteria
  28. The softness and beauty of a rose
  29. For gardenia blossoms, Iris, day lilies, hydrangea and all that blossoms and grows
  30. For Long walks in the woods, and woodland creatures
  31. For birds whose songs that fill the great outdoorswood thrush
  32. and the beautiful little creatures that provide the music; the thrush, cardinal, goldfinch, and chickadee;
  33. a special gratitude for the little Carolina Wren whose gigantic sound reminds me that big things come in small packages!
  34. For my senses, that life without them would be so flat
  35. For birthday crepes, Christmas Eggs Benedict, and a husband that cooks circles around even the best Chefs.
  36. For a sister who delights me with her caring, giving, enthusiastic nature and doesn’t hesitate to remind me that I am loved, even if I am her “little sister”
  37. For a sister who links me to my roots and inspires me to step beyond what is
  38. For a brother who tempers my creative exuberance with stability, order and reason
  39. For a brother who always makes me laugh and has taught me to see the fun in life
  40. For friends who willingly provide perspective and understanding; support, encouragement and unconditional love
  41. For the innocence of children … and the love the call forth from all of humanity
  42. For technology that allows me to stay connected to my loved ones, near or far, night or day, and see their faces, their live energy in real-time,
  43. For the tools that make it easier than ever to put words on a page and freed the writer within me
  44. For avenues of connection that have allowed me to create bonds with wise and loving women from one end of the earth to the other
  45. For a home that keeps me warm in winter and cool in summer;
  46. For life’s challenges and the opportunities they provided to forge strength, resilience and wisdom
  47. For puppy dogs and kittens and the companionship they provide
  48. For laughter and the ability to see the humor in difficult situations
  49. For trees … tall and broad, strong and tender … for pines, and birches and aspens … for maples, oaks, sycamore and tulip trees.gratitude
  50. For pine needles that make soften and quiet the forest and unleash a child’s imagination
  51. For fall leaves and their gift of color
  52. For the first winter snow
  53. Icicles , maple syrup, ice for skating, snowmen and snow ice cream
  54. For Broadway shows, Lincoln Center, off-Broadway, and off-off-Broadway
  55. For the gifts of actors, singers, orchestras and performers of all kinds
  56. For beautiful and creative arts and crafts and all who express their souls in such a way
  57. For writers who seek the truth and those who enrich our lives through story
  58. For the beauty and majesty of the earth itself and all its riches
  59. For a benevolent universe and the belief that good will always prevail
  60. For love and friendship
  61. For hope and charity
  62. For kindness and generosity
  63. For understanding and compassion
  64. For learning and understanding
  65. And for being a part of all that is.

© Dorothy Sander August 14, 2016

 

Not Doing

Not Doing

Photo by Allison Trentelman
Photo by
Allison Trentelman

We are miserable not-doers in this increasingly fast- paced world. No wonder old age terrifies us! We can’t imagine “not doing”, so programmed to do, do, do. Most of our lives have been spent focused on activities of one sort or another. Even with our offspring, most parents of our generation and our parent’s generation were bound and determined to make them exceptionally good “doers”.  Indeed, doers were honored with degrees, monetary wealth, and a resume the length of your arm. We’re still doing it. How many over-fiftiers are desperately searching for something meaningful “to do”?

How does one get comfortable with not-doing? Do we even really see any value in it?  In my last post I talked about the in-between times and not-doing is exactly what’s required of us during those important times when we just don’t know who we are or what direction to head. Our inclination to do leads to filling up our time and space with random activities and endless mental gymnastics, most of which, if you’re like me, amount to beating ourselves up for not doing.

It’s a conundrum. It is inevitable, if we choose to be realistic, that the older we get, the less up and at ’em doing we’ll be doing. There are those who are revered by the media and those of us who read and spread the news, like the seventy seven year old Ernestine Shepherd who lifts weights like a thirty year old man, or Diana Nyad who swam from Cuba to Florida at sixty four. Most of us will never measure up to these women with our physical prowess, but the underlying message is prevalent among aging women in America and beyond that if we are not “doing” we are not of value.

If we are not doing in some form or another, how do we value our existence? What if we sit in a chair and stare out of the window for an hour, or a day, does that not have value? What if we never bake another cake for a charity event, or gather food for the homeless, is it possible for us to still have value? I bore witness to the last half of my mother’s life and she was relentless in compiling and executing to-do lists. She didn’t feel right in her skin unless she had a project under way. My father the same way. Both died feeling in many ways unfulfilled and not good enough.

I run into women every day, online and off, who are unhappy, dissatisfied, restless, uninspired, anxious, despairing and totally convinced they have no value. They deride themselves because they don’t have a degree, or an important job, or their art hanging in a gallery, or a published book, or three grandchildren, or enough money in the bank. How many of us live every day dissatisfied with who we are and what we have?

We get a little smarter as we get older. We care a little less about the kudos and accolades that we sought after in our youth, but I’m pretty sure most of us feel, at least from time to time, like we’re not “measuring up” in the way we are handling the aging process. How should we be measuring ourselves?

At the first of the year I posted my Windows to Wisdom. I’ve been writing and re-writing this little piece for a couple of years. I don’t know that I’m settled exactly on what I have down now, but it’s a summary of the things I’ve come to value as I age, and yet each and every one of them is a kind of “doing” thing, but the kind of doing whose results can’t really be measured by anyone but ourselves. They are non-doing doing things that require no particular physical skill or worldly outcome. They are non-doing challenges that help us improve the quality of our lives on the inside.

If we have to do, if we just can’t stop doing, and I’m not altogether sure that we can or should, let’s measure ourselves not by externals, but by what we are doing on the inside. Furthermore, let’s measure our success by how regularly we focus our attention on developing our wisdom, not on outcomes. Wisdom, like love, spills over. It just can’t help it.

Aging Abundantly Blogs in a Book

Aging Abundantly Blogs in a Book

Best of Aging Abundantly BookBlog posts can pile up and get lost online. I’ve had many requests for an ebook version of the blogs I’ve been posting since 2010 anReleasedd I’ve finally managed to put one together. It’s the first of two volumes. At some point, depending on the length, I plan to make it available as one volume on Kindle and if there is a demand in paperback as well.

It feels as though I’ve come to the end of an era. It’s not that I’ve written everything there is for me to write on the topic of aging, but I’ve gotten past the shock and awe of the midlife adjustments. I’m pretty sure I will never stop questioning and evaluating the process of getting old, but that something significant that happens at midlife, when you change from being young and looking toward the future with hope and anticipation, to someone who values congruence, wisdom and depth in all things seems to be complete, insofar as anything like that is ever complete. My thoughts and writings on the process between then and now are contained in these blogs. Now, I will be leaning into the process of what is next to learn on this part of my journey.

If you are entering midlife, or anywhere along the continuum of becoming a bearer of wisdom, you may enjoy reading this book blogs. Perhaps it will give you food for thought for your own journey, or at the very least, provide you with a companion along the way. I always welcome feedback and alternate perspectives. These things are a work in progress, always.

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Do You Really Know What You Believe?

Do You Really Know What You Believe?

 “Not all those who wander are lost.”  ― J.R.R. Tolkien
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

One belief, wrongly held, can cast a shadow over one’s entire life.
What do you believe? Do you know what’s driving you?

Over the last decade in my work with women over fifty, I have heard said countless times, “I don’t feel that way anymore”, and “I don’t worry about that anymore. It’s just not important.” The process of self-evaluation seems to begin in earnest as we begin to feel our bodies entering the “maturing woman” phase of life. There is a clear moment in time when we are forced to accept that we are no longer “young” and in our youth driven society that can come as quite a shock! I see it as a gift.

A shock of any kind can be just what we need to shake us out of our complacency. It forces us to ask the hard questions, to look at what we believe to be true at the most fundamental level. When we ask these questions, when we look deep inside of ourselves and ask, “who am I?” and “what do I believe” we set in motion a tidal wave of change.

Our lives cannot change unless we change…on the inside. This does not always appear to be the easiest option! We think it’s so much easier to just tolerate our discomfort, or change externals to alleviate our dis-ease. We imagine that if we get a new job, a new house, a new spouse, a new blouse all will be well. Has that ever worked for you in the long run? It hasn’t for me.

The bottom line is that to live a congruent, energy filled life as we age it is necessary to line up our insides with our outsides. In other words, we have to get in touch with our fundamental beliefs and values and start living them. I believe we are all challenged to do this, if by nothing else than our pain and suffering, for when we are living and acting in contrast to our fundamental values, we will suffer.

What questions need asking?

Knowing what questions to ask often comes along with whatever difficulty we are facing. When my mother was in the last years of her life a conflict arose in my family as to where she should live. I wanted to bring her home to live with my husband and me. My four siblings wanted her to stay put in the retirement home. My mother gave me every indication that she wanted to live with us, was, in fact, desperate to get out of the retirement home and get back into a more comfortable home environment, but, it was very clear she would not ask directly for this, nor would she advocate for herself. It was left to me to decide whether or not I should act counter to the rest of the family. It was a touch place to be as I hurt deeply for my mother. I understood her sense of isolation and loneliness. I wanted nothing more than to ease her pain, but there would be serious consequences. It was time for me to dig deep and wrestle with what I believed at the deepest level. Here are some of the questions I asked myself:

  • Is it worth creating a rift with my siblings that could cause long after my mother was gone?
  • Was my perspective of the situation of any more value and importance than my siblings?
  • Am I responsible for my mother’s happiness?
  • Is her happiness more important than my own?

I came to recognize that while I value family and doing what we can for those we love to ease their pain, they alone are responsible for their happiness, as am I for my own. Happiness is an inside job. Contentment is an inside job. As harsh as it sometimes sounds, even now, the seeds of my mother’s despair were sowed throughout her lifetime. I could never fix that, nor did I want the responsibility for it anymore.

Asking the question is the first and most important step.

When we look closer at an area of our lives that is causing us distress and pose a question that does not contain the word “do” (i.e. what should I do), or have person’s name attached to it, (i.e. what is Johnny’s real issue), then we are getting closer to the question that needs to be asked. You may want to begin by asking, “what do I believe to be true for me in this situation” and what are my underlying beliefs and values about this situation. Formulating the deepest, richest question you can find will take you in the direction of your answer and your resolution.

A Grateful Heart

A Grateful Heart

Jim Daly  (66)I am grateful for the loving force that comes into the hearts of men and women around the globe inspiring them to reach out to the broken hearted, the poor, the hungry, and all who suffer; for humble servants of truth and compassion who break down walls and free those in bondage; for knowledge and wisdom that opens minds and lays to rest the fears of ignorance; for the abundant grace of nature and the winnowing force it sometimes brings to bear upon our arrogance, taming and teaching us the lessons of humility and strength. I am grateful for the sacred beauty and magnificence of music and art and the souls that create it; for the gift of hearing, for sight and physical sensation that allows us to take it in and to be transformed by it;  for the gift of grace and understanding extended by loved ones; for mothers and fathers who do their best to embody unconditional love and provide a safe and secure environment for children; for the innocence of children who do not yet know the constraints, restrictions and taboos of the adult and who embody joy and freedom, play and unbridled expression; for sweet smelling babies and their warm, cuddly soft bodies; for faithful pets who sometimes take better care of us than we of them. Most of all, I am grateful for life and love, for the rich and varied experiences they have given me, and the opportunity to share what has been born within me with others. I have been truly blessed.Happy Thanksgiving,

Dorothy

Embrace Your Child’s Heart

Embrace Your Child’s Heart

"Little Magic" by Susie Pryor Oil on Canvas 40 x 36
“Little Magic” by
Susie Pryor
Oil on Canvas 40 x 36

The midlife transformation that begins in earnest at fifty, and that many of us have already spent a decade or more navigating, is a turning point for many. The dark, confusing period of time, during which everything around us is shifting,  is so disconcerting that it drives us every day, with much earnestness, to examine ourselves and our lives. Have we been living in accordance with our deepest beliefs? What are our beliefs? What governs the decisions we make and the steps we take each day?

The process of questioning is the first step in the reconfiguration of our perspectives and, subsequently, our lives. It’s a tremendous opportunity to delve deeper into our hearts and souls, deeper than we may ever have gone before.  The journey teaches us everything we need to know to begin to discover and to practice new thoughts attitudes and patterns of behavior that will bring us closer to becoming the wise women we were born to be.

My journey led me back to my original self, the unique individual that was born so many years ago, but was never allowed to exist. There is such a clear connection to myself as a child that it is almost eerie. We think, or I used to think, that that child was not wise, nor was her personality formed.  I was wrong. That child held as much wisdom, if not more, than this woman does sixty years later.

Discovering the wise child that lived in us then, and reconnecting with her now, can be an informative and valuable process. The untainted beliefs, abilities, dreams and hopes that she held are still very much alive today. We may have just forgotten them, or buried them, or replaced them with our culture’s beliefs, or our families.

Reconnect with your child heart, by closing your eyes and going inside. Spend a few moments breathing deeply and relaxing. When you feel calm, remember back to a happy moment in your childhood. Allow your adult to spend some time talking with your child. Ask her questions. Ask her what she is thinking about, and what is important to her. Get acquainted.

Repeat this exercise often. Give her what she needs. Be the parent she needed then. Listen to her heart. Together you can heal each other and carry her wisdom forward into today.

No matter where you are on the midlife transformation journey, there’s is something to learn from our inner child.

Dorothy Sander © 2013

WE HAVE THE KEY

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART