Tag: middle age

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.

Late Blooming Writers In Action – 2014 Work in Progress Blog Tour

Late Blooming Writers In Action – 2014 Work in Progress Blog Tour

My Writing Space 2014
My Writing Space 2014

I was inducted (abducted, lassoed, hoodwinked, invoked, sideswiped, challenged, and above all honored) by my blogging friend and ever present source of inspiration, Laurie Buchanan, into the 2014 Work in Progress (WIP) Blog Tour. Of course I was humbled to be noticed, let alone invited to share a glimpse into my behind the scene writing endeavors.  It was an act of faith on her part to even assume I had any “work in progress”, but the biggest problem with my writing is that at any given moment I have “works in progress”…many…dozens…lost somewhere on my computer by next week. My challenge very quickly became finding one worth sharing!

Here are the rules:

1. Link back to the post of the person who tagged you  (check – Thank you, Laurie!)

2. Write a blurb about — and type the first sentence of — your next book’s first three chapters. (Yikes!)

3. Tag four other writers to do the same. (Can’t wait!)

So….

I have three books in progress and the two I’ve already published that I want to un-publish and re-write. They’re terrible. The majority of my writing is an ongoing attempt to make sense of my life from a psycho/spiritual perspective and universal ideals.  My perspective and understanding is at best a work in progress and ever-changing so I find I no sooner get a book underway than my thinking evolves and renders it inadequate – a partial truth and I struggle to live with partial truths or I daresay I wouldn’t be on this journey!  My biggest challenge is to let go of a work knowing it is insufficient and incomplete! That being said here’s what I’m working on:

(Instead of writing about three chapters, I will be writing about three books in progress – maybe you can help me decide which one to complete!)

1. Walking Between Two Worlds – Trauma & Transformation – A Memoir of Sorts: The tiny snowflake that landed on my nose when I was five is as mysterious to me today as it was then. It is still beautiful, still miraculous, still takes my breath away. So too with Love Divine. Mysterious. Ever Present. With Us. Always. I’ve walked in both worlds. Walking between them has been the most difficult thing I have ever tried to do. 

2. The Art of Aging – As menopause begins, so too does the process of becoming a wise and dangerous old woman. Recognizing and embracing this process embodies  the art of aging.

3. Reaching – A Collection of Poems –

It's the little things that spark the creative spirit in each of us!
It’s the little things that spark the creative spirit in each of us!

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my life,

I shoved my hands into the black soot of death and

reached through the bitter haze of unspent emotions,

to find fragments of me, inert, motionless and suffocating.

In addition I’ve been writing for a living most recently for iSeniorSolutions.com.

I now tag…

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden – Sage Woman Chronicles Associate Faculty Member of Chochise College, Writer, teacher, Reiki practitioner and author of the children’s book Scottosaurs the Little Dragon, Lucinda lives in Arizona. Her blossoming as a late blooming writer is a delight to behold. Her dedication to the craft and to life itself is an inspiration to me.

Joan Z Rough – One Rich Life – Joan describes herself this way: “Wife, mother, grandmother, writer, blogger, gardener, artist, healthy food nut, loves all creatures, especially dogs. Addicted to books, good movies and the grandkids. Believes in being positive, choice and taking responsibility. Easily overwhelmed by it all, but never bored. Laughing and smiling all the way.” I can’t wait until she publishes her book! (I will let her tell you about it.)

Eric Mondschein – We hear too little, in my opinion, of heart matters from men over fifty. That’s not the only reason I love reading Eric’s blog posts, especially his poetry and reflections on his life growing up in the late fifties. My husband and I both enjoyed his book Life at 12 College Road and I highly recommend it!  Dr. Eric S. Mondschein is an author and education consultant. He has a Bachelor’s degree in political science from the American University, a Master’s degree in delinquency prevention, and a doctorate in law and education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. What he did with all that education can be found on his website!

Lindsey McDivitt – A talented writer with a unique focus, Lindsey shares and reviews positive aging picture books with older characters who show the positives of living a long life, on her blog A is for Aging.  In addition she shares strategies and Intergenerational Resources that can be used to strengthen the connection between generations.  She holds a degree in Speech and Hearing Science from the University of Minnesota and worked for 25 years in long term care settings, rehabilitation centers, hospitals and the community. Her love of Children’s literature and its power to shape values and beliefs has helped create a new mission: “to help all generations see older adult as valid and aging as the valuable stage of life that it is. She is also writing children’s books doing just that!

Tag your it! (I hope you’ll participate but I won’t love you any less if you don’t! It’s a busy time of year and its always difficult to get everything done. If you’re looking for connections with like minded people it may give you a boost, but please, feel no obligation.)

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

We Have the Key

We Have the Key

 

Mountain Art
Granny Hands
Artist: Jill Pritchett
Click on image to visit her website
“So often time it happens,
we all live our life in chains,
and we never even know we have the key.”
The Eagles, Already Gone 
(Quote taken from Aging Abundantly’s A Little Book of Hope)
 

Sometimes it takes a major crisis in our lives to wake us up. Often it just takes turning fifty to realize that our youth has passed us by and it’s time to get moving, to  look at things differently. Midlife is fraught with issues of aging, as well as, external challenges and there are adjustments to be made; values to be examined; beliefs to be questioned. Enough time has passed for most things for us to look back and really evaluate our choices and to begin to see patterns in our behavior.

I read again and again, in blogs and articles written by women at midlife, about waking up to the need for change at midlife; of divorce, new careers, moving across the country, taking up a significant new hobby and more. There’s a sense of urgency, of the willingness to jump into something with both feet that seems to be driven more by fear than sense. The sense is that it is now or never to break free from the chains of our lives.

In many cases, however, it is more true that the chains have been of our own making, than the externals we view as the source of our bondage. Throwing out our husband may provide temporary relief from our unhappiness. Marriages and husbands are easy to blame for our unhappiness. We’ve had twenty or thirty years to study our mate’s problems and foibles , decades to master the blame game and to divert our attention from ourselves to them for the cause of our misery. Likewise, a job, a boss, a series of circumstances can take our attention from the true source of our freedom.

Making changes will certainly shake up the status quo, but to think these changes will bring about our freedom and happiness is delusional. Until we look inside of ourselves, the changes  we make today will always only bring us back to the unfinished business we still hold, the fears and anxieties we don’t want to face, and too the job of finding the key we hold within us.  The sooner we get down to the real business of breaking free from our false beliefs and in-congruent lifestyle, the sooner we will find true peace.

© Dorothy Sander 2013

STRESS * BURN OUT * COMPASSION FATIGUE * ADRENAL FATIGUE *

STRESS * BURN OUT * COMPASSION FATIGUE * ADRENAL FATIGUE *

1952887_sHave you ever felt exhausted for a day or more after a stressful event?  During the event, energy was plentiful.  You danced at your son’s wedding or handled a crisis with ease and grace. That night, sleep came easily.  The next morning, however, you awoke tired and foggy headed.  Days later you your body still felt limp with fatigue and your mind sluggish. You had that “I can’t get out of this chair” feeling in spades.

What you  likely experienced was an adrenaline hangover. In stressful situations, good or bad, our body goes on high alert. Adrenaline gives us that boost of energy we need to take care of business. Once the event is over, the body takes time to return to its normal state.

Chronic stress has become a way of life for men and women of the 21st century. This is especially true during the midlife years when daily demands intensify. Everything hits at once.  Not only are we going through the decade plus process of perimenopause and menopause and its enormous physical and emotional impact, we are also navigating several other significant life-changes.  Our parents are aging and increasingly dependent. Our children are temperamental teens and making major life choices where our guidance is necessary.  We are mid-career, navigating relationships and so much more. No wonder somewhere along the line our body says, “Hey! Wait a minute!”

Chronic stress can do serious damage, not only to our enjoyment of life, but to our long-term health.  The longer we live, the more likely we are to experience prolonged periods of unabated stress and to eventually experience adrenal burnout. Caregivers are particularly vulnerable to this condition, as day after day, week after week, month after month, they put the needs of their loved ones above their own. Those with chronic illnesses or unhealthy lifestyles are also more susceptible to this condition.

Our adrenal glands produce hormones that mobilize our body to deal quickly and aggressively with unexpected danger. In today’s world, the dangers we encounter are primarily emotional, psychological, physical, such as job stress, family dynamics, a poor diet or lack of sleep and exercise.   We may no longer need to run away from wild animals, but we sure might want to run away from our job or home life.

The fact that we no longer need to fight or flee in physical sense, our bodies have no way to dissipate the chemicals released during a stress response.  We rarely get into a brawl with our stressors or sprint ten miles down the road to get away from it (although this is a good argument for running for exercise!)

To complicate matters, stress has become a chronic way of life for many of us.  As a result, our adrenal glands work overtime for years before we realize there is a serious problem.  Overuse of the adrenal glands can cause them to fatigue or burn out entirely. Bouncing back becomes increasingly difficult and we become less and less resilient.

Many factors contribute to, and exacerbate adrenal burnout.  A poor diet, lack of sufficient sleep over an extended period of time, a history of substance abuse, repeated infections, chronic medical conditions, emotional problems, such as depression or anxiety, financial difficulties, a stressful work environment, are all likely culprits.  Treatment requires addressing each issue one at a time.

SIGNS OF ADRENAL FATIGUE

The following are common symptoms of adrenal fatigue:

  1. Loss of motivation or desire to do things you previously enjoyed
  2. Feeling tired and run down
  3. Low grade depression
  4. Difficulty getting up in the morning even after a good night’s sleep
  5. Feeling overwhelmed and like everything is just too much
  6. Things once done easily take more effort
  7. Craving salty and/or sweet snacks
  8. Difficulty getting strength and energy back after an illness
  9. Feeling better after 6 o’clock at night than any other time of the day
  10. Nothing seems fun anymore
  11. A cloudy, foggy brain

THE FIRST STEP TO RECOVERY

The very first step to recovery is recognition of the problem.  When you are able to hear and acknowledge what your body is telling you, you can then take action and begin taking the steps you need to take to recover.

There isn’t a quick and easy answer to adrenal fatigue. Alleviating adrenal fatigue is a process that takes time and a one-step-at-a-time approach.  There are likely long-standing habits of thought and behavior that have laid the groundwork for an adrenal crisis.

The first step to recovery and the best line of defense for prevention is making sure you are getting sufficient rest and relaxation, and eating a healthy diet. Rest is not always easy to come by at midlife, but it is essential. If you do not rest, eventually your body will find a way to make you rest. Prolonged adrenal fatigue can lead to adrenal burnout making recovery more and more difficult.

When I was on my path to recovery I found a great soup that really works. I make an effort to eat it whenever I feel fatigued and I always notice a boost in my sense of well-being. It’s a great place to begin any recovery or prevention effort.  Be sure and leave a comment below if you have any thoughts or questions.

green beansADRENAL RECOVERY SOUP

16 oz. green beans

1 cup chopped celery
1 zucchini, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup tomato juice
1 cup spring water
2 tbsp. raw honey
1 tsp. paprika
1 cup chicken broth

3-4 garlic cloves, minced (optional but good for the immune system)
Combine ingredients and simmer for one hour until vegetables are tender. Pepper to taste.

Create a Support Network in Your Hour of Need

Create a Support Network in Your Hour of Need

Online SupportPlanner from Caring Bridge
Interactive online calendar allows easy scheduling

Are you , or someone you know, facing or dealing with a health crisis? Are you desperate for a little extra help and support but don’t know where to turn?  Now, you don’t have to go it alone.

Ten years ago my husband had a heart attack. We had two high school age children who were knee deep in extracurricular activities, part time jobs, and college searches. My husband and I supported our family with our home based business, that on the best days required 24/7 attention from both of us. There was not time or energy in our days for what we were already doing let alone to deal with the extra demands of a sudden health crisis.  I didn’t know where to turn.

We called on a few family members to help out, who graciously availed themselves to us, but it was not an orderly, easy coordination of efforts and at times seemed more effort than help. Who can think, plan and organize at a time like that? I couldn’t.  CaringBridge.com did not exist at that time, at least in my world. It would have made all the difference.

CaringBridge.com is a non-profit organization that understands the difficulties inherent in coping with a life crisis. Its mission is to “amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world, making each health journey easier”.  The evidence is clear that it is fulfilling its mission.

The SupportPlanner is CaringBridge’s primary tool to assist people facing a health crisis such as the one my husband and I faced.  It is an online tool that makes coordination of support efforts thorough, easy  and efficient. It provides a centralized, virtual location to organize helpful tasks, such as the delivering of a meal, transportation, taking care of pets, etc. Only people who are invited by the user to view the planner can access the calendar and sign up for a task, ensuring privacy for the parties involved.

Several months ago, my friend Sandy was facing major surgery. She lived alone and was uneasy about the six week recovery period she was facing, when she would be unable to drive. Her sister had heard about CaringBridge.com and before Sandy even entered the hospital she had signed coordinated a full spectrum of support volunteers using The SupportPlanner and she did it all through email.  She coordinated meals, visits, errands, and drivers and Sandy received the support of a dozen well wishers throughout recovery. The support was a tremendous gift to Sandy and, I believe, resulted in a quicker, less painful recovery.

In honor of National Cargiver’s Month, I encourage you to visit CaringBridge.com and learn a little about what they have to offer.  You never know when you, or someone you care about might need support.