Tag: midlife transition

There’s No Such Thing As A Perfect Marriage/Relationship

There’s No Such Thing As A Perfect Marriage/Relationship

Lovers
© Original image design by liz kapiloto Click pic for more information or to purchase.

I continue to be surprised by women over fifty who are still looking for that perfect someone. I admit that I might be doing the same under different circumstances, but I have been in a marriage for thirty-four years and I’ve learned that what is often said is true. There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage. There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship.  Perfection is a construct, one of the shadows many of us live under that draws us away from the truth. If we are dissatisfied with our relationship(s) it’s an indication that it’s time to take a deep, hard look at ourselves. Relationships push us harder than anything else in life to dig deep and dig often into who we really are and to own what we know to be true. It requires that we be honest with ourselves.  Honesty supersedes resentment. When resentment builds we are in a mindset that falsely believes that another is the cause of our unhappiness.  If it weren’t for you, then I’d be fine. Passing the buck leads to many divorces, I suspect.

It is as difficult to be joyous, peaceful, and comfortable with another human being as it is to be do so on one’s own. We cannot and will not be at peace with another until or unless we are at peace with ourselves. Therein lies the challenge of marriage. Marriage take honesty, self-esteem, courage, the willingness to be vulnerable and the ability to bear the shame of making a mistake. It takes telling the truth, owning our own feelings and beliefs even when they are not pretty; it requires taking a good look at who we are as individuals and what we create together. It’s staying committed to riding the waves and surviving the storms…together.  We are surprised when we find that many of the storms are taking place within the relationship, within the dynamics of two people just trying to love and understand one another. We come to the erroneous conclusion that something is fundamentally wrong with the relationship when this happens.  It is quite likely that there is something wrong with our relationship with ourselves.

There are dynamics in every relationship, both good and bad. We like the same movies, we hate that the other leaves his/her shoes in the middle of the living room for us to trip over. We love his courage, strength and commitment to his work; we hate that he doesn’t have the self-confidence to own all that he is. It bugs us more if we are not owning all that we are. It irritates us more if we also leave our shoes lying around.

We may see our spouses flaws more readily than we see their strengths when we are feeling out of sorts. When life is good, so are they. I have always encouraged my friends to seek love – endlessly if they have to – because I believe in love. I am committed to love in all avenues of my life. But, love is not always what we think it is when we’re in the midst of our longing. I used to fall in love regularly, with people, ideas, fads, movies. Love came easily to me. Enthusiasm for something thrilling swept me away. I dove head first into new endeavors for the love of it – for the way a new idea made me feel. I needed to feel good to help alleviate the pain.  This feeling of being caught up in, enamored by, infatuated with is a wonderful feeling, but it is a bit of a psychosis.  It has all of the same characteristics. In other words, we are not seeing reality in those moments. We are not seeing the whole picture. I believe we should savor these moments, though I experience them less often than I did in my younger days, perhaps because my pain is not quite as deep, but we must not depend on them. We must mourn their loss when the ride is over and move onto a deeper, richer connection.

When looking for a long-term relationship it will always be the friendship that two people have, the genuine knowing of one another that carries them through. Not the sparks, the great sex, or the feelings of love. Feelings of love are elusive, as all feelings are. They are not a reliable source of commitment, nor will they always be present to guide us through the rough patches. When we look in another’s eyes and see our self, our soul reflected back to us, then we have everything we need to carry us forward. It is not a look of infatuation, of adoration, or a glassy-eyed connection. It is an honesty that makes us feel vulnerable, scared even, but true. Most of us never dare to really look at another and experience them looking deeply at us. In long-term relationships, really looking at one another falls by the wayside as habits of connection take its place. This is a mistake. We must look often and look long. This is how we stay connected to the heart of the relationship itself. It is how we stay connected to our vulnerability. That is where the truth lies in every relationship.

In-Between Times

In-Between Times

transitions, Lent, transformation“Sometimes we are living in the ‘in-between-times’ when we’re no longer who we used to be, but haven’t yet arrived at our next stage ”.   ~ Marian Williamson

As the snow begins to melt after last week’s storm, and the calendar flips from February to March, I am reminded of the torment and the power of the in-between times. March in North Carolina is an in-between time. It can be cold (35) and rainy like it is today or sunny and warm (75) as it promises to be tomorrow. It’s neither here, nor there, and there’s no certainty about what to expect. It’s difficult to plan and dressing is a layered affair.

Despite the ups and downs of the weather, the birds know what’s on the horizon. They are already in full spring song. They have awakened from winter survival mode and the drive to mate and procreate has set them in motion. As they prepare for new life their song reveals the joy of new re-birth and the new beginning that lies on the horizon.

Life is a series of transitions. No sooner do we land in a place we’d like to stay, than it is time to move on. Something shifts or changes and we are called upon, once again, to adapt and change. Sometimes we are grateful for the change and sometimes we are terrified by it. Either way, the in-between time is one of not quite knowing who we are, what to do or what to expect.

Transitions come in all sizes, from the large life-altering external events such as marriage, birth, and death and the internal shifts of puberty and menopause, to day to day shifts in interest and focus, such as tiring of one hobby and searching for a new one, or finishing one book and looking for another. In all cases, the in-between times trigger an uneasiness, a restlessness and an uncertainty about what to do and what is next.

When we can step back from our discomfort and see the in-between time, as a period of gestation, of fertility, of alert waiting, just as the birds surely must wait and prepare for a mate and birth of their young, we can perhaps avoid falling into the trap of self-loathing, fear, anxiety and despair that too often moves in to fill the gap.  To elevate our viewpoint to one of open expectation, standing open to everything and afraid of nothing, ready and alert to the next challenge or adventure, is to understand and accept that transitions are a part of life, the driving force within and behind our inherent drive to create.

It’s no coincidence that major religions incorporate traditions that include the symbols of birth, death, and re-birth into their yearly liturgical calendars.  In the Christian tradition, for example, the season of Easter celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and takes place in unison with the re-birth of nature. The season of Lent is a period of preparation, symbolic, if you will, of the in-between time.  (The word “Lent” is short for “Lenten” which refers to the forty days before Easter and comes from the Old Enlish word “lencten” meaning “springtime or spring”.)

One can see how important the “in-between” time is to the process of transition and transformation within the Christian tradition when seen through the eyes of the Lenten season. For forty days and forty nights, Christians are admonished to fast and pray, and essentially to wait with an open heart for new life.  One need not be a practicing Christian to understand and see the value of taking time out from focusing on everyday demands, from having to have all of the answers and knowing exactly what is coming, to prepare oneself, to realign priorities, assess values and activities, to pare down and create space for a new beginning.

We are a culture that thrives on activity and production. In-between times of non-activity and non-production are perhaps even more important to the final outcome. After all, if we are not ready and prepared, waiting openly and expectantly, creating space within and without, but are instead buried in activity or anxious mental gymnastics, how can we hear or see what is right in front of us?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The Benefits of Blogging for the Late Blooming Writer

The Benefits of Blogging for the Late Blooming Writer

note-to-self-writingBlogging is the perfect tool for new writers over fifty. I didn’t begin to get serious about writing until I was in my early fifties. While I was very comfortable with computers, I didn’t know a thing about blogs or blogging. They were fashionable among young people but at that time they had not yet found their way into the main stream universe of the individual over fifty.

Fortunately, while looking for freelance writing work, I was hired by a woman a little older than myself who was way ahead of the curve. While she didn’t know much more than I did about blogging and the internet she had been among the first to feel the pull of creating a dialogue about aging for women over fifty, and when Suzanne Caplan, my friend and mentor created the website Women Etcetera!, has an idea she deems important, it happens! (Sadly, WE is no longer in existence.) On that site, a small group of women gathered to talk about the aging process, and much more. We discussed the challenges we were facing, loved and supported one another through difficult times and created lasting friendships. What does this have to do with writing? Everything!

VISIT Aging Abundantly sister site:

LATE BLOOMING WRITERS

 

As a blogger for Women Etcetera! I discovered my voice. I discovered who I was through the written word, how people received what I wrote and even what it felt like to be misunderstood because I had not chosen my words carefully. I blogged through and about my mother’s passing comfortably and freely and did some of my best writing in the process.

Technology may have created some difficulties for writers, but it has provided us with the tools and opportunities to hone our skills in a way never before possible. Spell check alone has saved me countless hours, not to mention the years it would have taken me to re-type everything I’ve re-written! The tools and platforms we have at our disposal actually allow us to speed up the learning process provided we embrace them fully and use them to our advantage.

Blogging, either for someone else or on your own blog is the perfect place for new writers to begin to hone their craft. Here’s just a few things a blog can do for you.

1. Learn writing discipline

2. Develop a proofreading habit

3. Develop a focus for your writing

4. Learn to accept criticism

5. Learn to accept praise (this may be more difficult for many!)

6. Discover your voice

7. Make friends that support your interests and writing career

8. Develop a platform that will ultimately improve your odds of publishing

9. Make valuable writing connections

10. The blog platforms are perfect for organizing your writing

There are many, many more advantages, but the bottom line is, if you are serious about being a published writer, start blogging. If you are already blogging, keep at it!

If you need help getting started blogging, finding your writing focus, or developing your book platform, reach out to me. I can help.

Dorothy

Email: LateBloomingWriters@gmail.com

Twitter: @AgingAbundantly

Reclaiming Purpose

Reclaiming Purpose


This month’s selection for the Aging Abundantly Book Club is a recent favorite, I Will Not Live An Unlived Life: Reclaiming Passion and Purpose by Dawna Markova. I posted a copy of her poem from the beginning of the book not too long ago. I am enjoying it even more the second time around. It’s a book that at its heart is poetic and filled with images, metaphors and enough symbolic language to keep me giddy for weeks. That’s just me. Something like Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea – if you liked it, you’ll probably enjoy this one. Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from the second chapter where she shares her thoughts at the beginning of her healing journey.

“I need to recover a rhythm in my heart that moves my body first and my mind second”

“I need to take a sacred pause, as if I were a sun-warmed rock in the center of a rushing river.”

“I need a safe place in which to tell myself the truth.”

and maybe my favorite in this chapter:

“Through fear of knowing who we really are we sidestep our own destiny.”

Her words speak to me. Everywhere I look I see people racing around trying to be someone and do something only to cause unrelenting “soul leakage” as she calls it. I know I certainly felt everything she describes as I entered mid-life. It finally had all caught up with me. Many of you tell me the same thing. It just came to be the time when it all needed to stop in order to allow something different to blossom.

Change isn’t easy. Living with the rhythm of our heart and body is. It’s not perfect. It’s not without it’s challenges, but it feels like living and breathing with the universe not the world.

If you like reading non-fiction of the psycho-spiritual variety we will be doing more of it. We also read fiction so drop in. We’d love to have you!

writer, poet

 

 

 

 

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.)