Tag: midlife transitions

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.

GOING GYPSY or How to Escape Old Age & Survive

GOING GYPSY or How to Escape Old Age & Survive

I have followied Veronica and David James of Gypsynester fame since they first flew the empty nest and ventured into the world of life ongypsynester the road. I admired there chutzpah and their sense of humor, not to mention their upbeat outlook on life. It was a breath of fresh air. Life seem more than hard from where I sat and I was curious to see how tossing all one’s cares away would all play out. A very big part of me was wishing I was doing the same thing! I so wanted to escape old age!

Back then, when boomers everywhere were trying to figure out the next phase of life, the internet created an opportunity for us to be privy to some really awesome adventures, and courageous folks telling their stories in vivid detail. If you weren’t one of the lucky ones to read David and Veronica’s blogs along the way, you’ll love their new book, Going Gypsy: One Couple’s Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All. Humor always prevails in their world and they both have the gift of the story teller. It’s a delightful, page turning adventure complete with pictures.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. Then scurry on over to their website and sign on for further adventures. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

Going Gypsy: One Couple’s Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All

by David and Veronica James

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

FOLLOW David and Veronica on Twitter and Facebook. 

——————————————————————-

DO YOU HAVE THE TRAVEL BUG?

You’ll enjoy learning about Carefree RV Resorts

 

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.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY

 

Do You Hate Your Body?

Do You Hate Your Body?

A friend shared an article on Facebook the other day titled: We Hate Our Bodies, and It’s Not Our Fault. How could I not read it after all the conversations we’ve had on the subject of body image and self-acceptance in recent years? I wondered what women were thinking now? As I read through it, many of my own memories came back to the surface. Even when we make significant steps toward self-acceptance, the damage runs deep and lingers long.

What saddened me was that the post was written by a woman from, what we might now refer to as the “younger gegraphic-design-snow-falling-perfecthue-photography-portfolio-of-jason-1381158neration”. At 37 she still wrestles with body image demons that took root at the very young age of seven.  I always thought my most entrenched body image issues arose when I was nine. I think if I dug deeper I would find that they began in very subtle ways much earlier.  I was startled, however, by the writer’s admission to such early wounding. Two years may not sound like much, but in developmental years it is significant. Cultural demands on women with regard to their appearance were worse, it seems, for those ten, twenty and even thirty years younger than we are. The conversation has only really just begun.

Like most women, I carry the scars of living for too many years trying to measure up to external guidelines and hating myself for failing to do so. I cry sad and bitter tears for all of the precious little girls who live inside of each of us today, who silently bear similar wounds, and I wonder how many tiny little beauties field daily assaults on their self-image, assaults that will last a lifetime.  It is, in my opinion, a very serious problem that needs an army of ambassadors to tackle. It needs to stop and those of us who understand the pain and a bit of the problem can do our part to undo the wrong that has been done by a culture run amok.

WHO’S FAULT IS IT?

Abuse victims often feel that they are to blame for their abuse and the pain it has caused. The admission of innocence by the author in the aforementioned post is one more telling piece of evidence to support the understanding that what the collective thought and action of our culture is inflicting on women is, in fact, abuse. It is not only first hand abuse, but the abused abusing. The mother who herself was denigrated often unwittingly inflicts the same skewed standards on her daughters. Insofar as we do not stop the abuse at its source, we are cooperating with it.

It is true that the victim of abuse is not to blame. However, until she gives up her victim mentality and takes back her power of choice, she will remain victimized by herself if no one else. Yes, it is true we are not to blame for the messages we received as children. It is also true that we alone can and must take responsibility for healing our own wounds and when possible helping others do the same. We alone must take responsibility for what we allow into our space and what we allow to continue around us without objection.

BUT WHAT CAN WE DO?

Things are not changing fast enough to suit me. We still allow big business and the media to have enormous power over us and as long as we acquiesce and purchase the products they push on us, they will remain strong and virulent as they benefit from and prey pray upon on fears, our insecurities, and the self-loathing they helped us  create. Every time we step foot into Victoria’s Secret and lay our money on the counter we are reinforcing the body image, not to mention the morality, the company spreads across our planet in images and impressions. Each time we abdicate our responsibility as women to right the wrong, we continue to set up one little girl after another to hate herself for who she is. Every time we go to into a store and buy SPANX, we are supporting an industry that says curves and softness are to be vanquished and that perceived beauty as defined by the fashion industry and supported ad naseum by the media, trumps comfort. Every time we disparage our age, criticize our wrinkles, buy another product to change or hide or cover up who we are, we are passing on the curse of cultural expectations to those who follow in our footsteps.

feed the beauty
Art: Sophie Lumen

Our very first step as my friend Sophie Lumen so aptly stated numerous times on her Feed the Beauty website and Facebook page, “beauty is an inside job”. Work on your inside and you will be beautiful on the outside. It’s just how it is. It’s simply the nature of humanity. Get healthy in body, mind and spirit and you won’t need Victoria’s Secret or Spanx. You won’t need a face lift or a tummy tuck. Our bodies are beautiful in all of their little, and not so little, dips and curves and infinite uniqueness. As Dr. Estes reminds us, “Our body is our beloved companion”. Would we treat our beloved in the way we treat ourselves? I think not.

But, what can we do to change such an insidious mindset? Plenty. We have the power…collectively. Imagine if today, this minute, each one of us did one thing internally and one thing externally to attack this problem by taking a personal step of any size toward greater and greater self-love, self-care and self-acceptance, and one public step toward changing the destructive cultural patterns that are continuing to wound little girls and women alike? Imagine the ripple effect?

As we grow in consciousness of what is of true and right and good for all women, our need and desire for, and attraction to, cultural guidelines and expectations will fall away. We may even find that we are repelled by the images that are flashed before us. When we are focused on honoring and respecting who we are we are automatically repelled by anything that debases us or sends a message to pretend we are someone other than who we are.

Each time we refuse to purchase a product that portrays or advocates an unrealistic, culturally devised image of a woman we take a stand for truth and self-love as higher values. Women’s magazines and websites are rife with such images and advertisers. Begin there. Send letters, write posts like this one. When assaulted by an image or an ad that supports the idealization of the female body, call the initiator on it, or publicly announce that you will not be purchasing this product because….and let them know exactly why.  If we do not show up to purchase their products, or read their magazines and websites, they will have to change or go out of business. Purchasing power is a mighty sword and we have it in spades.

It’s time ladies. Let’s take a stand to stop the abuse and to take back our power and dignity as women.

 


Recommended Reading/Listening:


“Each one of us is a triumvirate being – at once the union of the body, soul, and all that lies within.” For any that experience disharmony amongst these three vital aspects, Dr. Clarissa Estes reveals a path back to wholeness. Join her with the Joyous Body: Myths and Stories of the Wise Woman Archetype for the third volume of her masterwork on the Wise Woman archetype. This empowering six-session program shares original and old family stories, poems and psychological commentary on the challenges, remedies and ancient knowings of the female body, “that which is not a dumb servant but a divine human traveler and consort.”

MORE ARTICLES ON BODY IMAGE:

Keeping Up Appearances: Who Would We Be If We Quit Talking About Aging

Women at War with Their Bodies

 

 

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.)

The Willingness to Face Our Pain

The Willingness to Face Our Pain

Image by Trevor Pottelberg
Image by Trevor Pottelberg

 

“Retreating into yourself to find purpose can be like straddling a dock and a boat that is moving away. We are pulled in opposite directions by the intense desire of the mind for human involvement and the equally intense need of the soul for its own company. In the sheer immensity of solitude, when one can no longer draw energy from external sources, we come to see how much of what we habitually call being productive is merely the evasion of sitting still and meeting what is most difficult for us to receive with compassion — our own pain.”
Dawna Markova  from her book I Will Not Live An Unlived Life: Reclaiming Passion and Purpose 
 
Sitting on the edge of freedom, unable to step foot into the unknown, we are terrified of the fear that wells up inside of us. When we even consider stepping forward, something calls us quickly and urgently back into the known. Our fear is mistaken as a dark and dismal warning to run away. To hide. To pretend we didn’t really catch a glimpse of the light or truly want to meet ourselves and embrace our truth. We wear masks to protect ourselves from ourselves. Why do we do this?
 
Change is difficult. Change is challenging. If anyone tells you otherwise they are fooling you, and chances are good that if you think change was easy in the past,  it really wasn’t change at all, at least not the kind that Dawna Markova and I are talking about, change that brings your life into alignment with your true self and all that you have been called upon to contribute. Real change is inner transformation, and above all else it requires solitude and a face to face meeting with ourselves.
 
The most terrifying part of change is this face to face meeting – for it requires meeting our pain. We cannot change if the shadows of the past have us in their clutches, directing our choices and our actions. We will only carry the darkness into the future and rest assured, the pain will be a constant reminder, appearing again and again until we face it, embrace it and put it to rest.
 
The fear of change is our unwillingness to face our pain. To walk toward it. To let it come to the surface. After all, we have spent so much time and energy pushing it aside, pretending it isn’t there, shoving it deep down inside of ourselves, layering mask upon mask over top of it.  It takes some serious excavating to even find it, and then….when we do….we believe we will have to suffer the excruciating pain all over again. 
 
This time, however, the pain is like the lancing of a wound. Oh, it hurts when the knife begins to break the skin, but the pain feels like healing, not dying. As the wound drains, as the pain pours forth, there is great release and relief. It is different. It is not like the original wounding, it sets us free and once we are on our way, it even propels us forward. We begin to understand the necessity of the healing process and the great rewards that come with it.
 

Are you allowing your wounds to drain? Or, are they festering under layers of protection? Real change not only takes a willingness to step forward and meet the challenges, it often requires support of many kinds along the way. You need not go it alone. If you are looking for guidance, support or direction for your journey, get in touch with me. I may be able to help. AgingAbundantly@gmail.com