Tag: midlife

Lessons In Letting Go & Finding Balance with Sora Garrett

Lessons In Letting Go & Finding Balance with Sora Garrett

Learning to find our balance again and again, is a valuable skill we practice as we navigate life’s challenges. This is especially true during the midlife years when a plethora of destabilizing happenings beset many of us. The blessing that is born as a result of our hard work is multifaceted. Sora Garret joins us today as the final guest in this segment of The Voices of Wisdom Series. In her article she describes this practice beautifully. Sora is a gifted writer with a gentle spirit whose valuable message comes through loud and clear . . .  Be sure to visit her website and check out her books.

Midlife Reflections on Balance, Menopause & the Joy of Being

Sora Garrett

Letting go
Sora Garrett

I’m turning 50 this year, the foundations of my life solid around me, wisdom woven deep from the rich tapestry of a half century of living. Some days I revel in this feel of solidity—the comfort & freedom it brings. Other days I am cast as water, floating in the elusive nature of things and wondering what I am to do with myself now that I’ve reached so many of my dreams.

Most of my life I’ve found fulfillment through action, the fulcrum of my life based in doing. Finding balance meant stealing time for myself so that I could keep functioning as a working-volunteering mother-wife-friend-entrepreneur.

Balance was also a journey of taking myself to the extremes, testing boundaries, exploring edges to find where I belonged so I could be really happy. My outer life was in well-juggled balance. My inner life was not.

A LESSON IN LETTING GO

Eventually life crashed in around me, literally, and forced me to listen. After a major ski wreck gave me a concussion, I slowed down for a few months. The following year…different wreck, same concussion. Only this time I listened more deeply and finally ended a business partnership that was falling apart at the seams.

It was a huge lesson in letting go, and one that started me on the most amazing adventure of my life—the journey into my essential self.

I’m at least part way there, and the dance of balance is different now, though still illusive. There is less I have to do and more I want to give.

While I still have tendencies to over-do, my evolving spiritual practice keeps me well-watered and connected to my inner being. I really know what it is to overflow with giving that comes from a sincere desire to share. These days, I’m pulled (not pushed) to explore my edges so I can stay fresh & awake to wonder.

FINDING BALANCELetting Go

Rather than looking for some miracle balance point that will bring happiness, I’ve learned to shift my balance in the moment as life blossoms around me.

When I engage gracefully in this life-dance, I find a joy of being that is more fulfilling than any accomplished goal or conquered dream. And as I learn to say no to my habits of over-doing, my soul leads me to give in ever more satisfying ways.

Except there’s this one little thing: my changing body is betraying me.

Some days, I barely know myself, the heavy-fuzzy symptoms of menopause casting a dullness over my otherwise radiant world. More sensitive to almost everything, my physical balance point has become so narrow that I keep falling off. And, some days, nothing I do seems to help.

So I just keep doing what I can, showing up as authentically as I know how, and creating new rituals to support the physical changes as they come. My body has become a new learning edge that is inspiring me to pay attention more closely than ever before…to practice a new dance that will serve me as I enter this next new phase of my life.

TUNE IN TO THE SIMPLE JOYS OF BEING

I’ve discovered that even in the midst of the physical or emotional pain, when I tune to the simple joys of being…walking in the snow, getting kisses from my dogs or hugs from my family, drinking in a most amazing sunset, connecting with a friend, sitting by the fire…my balance is restored, at least for the moment.

And I’m learning that sometimes doing nothing is the best way to keep giving.

MORE from VOICES OF WOMEN

 


Sora Garrett is an author, mentor & life simplification guide who just turned sixty. She wrote this article ten years ago and is amazed at how relevant it still is today. While she no longer experiences the intense symptoms of menopause, her highly sensitive nature has given her a gift for helping women s l o w – d o w n to create lives of ease, joy and overflow.

With her FlowLiving® Mentoring programs, Sora will help you embrace the miraculous and find calm in chaos as you create more space in all areas of your life. Schedule a free illumination session, enroll in a mentoring circle, and find her books & blog @ SoraGarrett.com

SORA’S BOOKS

The Miracle Keys: A Conversation with an Angel

Silent Grace: A Celebration (poetry)

Coming Soon: Ignite Your Inner Star: a discovery guide & playbook for creating your most Radiant Life.


 

THE MOST COMFORTABLE PJs I’VE EVER WORN! COOL-jams!

THE MOST COMFORTABLE PJs I’VE EVER WORN! COOL-jams!

I was recently invited to try Cool-Jams – wicking sleepwear – ideal for our up and down body temperature. Perfect not only for the menopausal years but also before and after! Little did I know that I would fall in love with these jammies. I don’t know about you, but I have to feel “just right” in my pjs.  In fact, I have a drawer full of sleep apparel of all varieties that I keep just because I spent money on them, but almost never wear. They’re either too hot, too cold, too tight, too itchy, too something! I have one or two favorites at any given time. NOW, I have a new favorite!

wicking jams for menopausal womenI suffered through night sweats before I even knew they were night sweats – in my forties. Menopause came around and I had other issues, mostly I never slept! The post menopause years I find I’m not one minute, ice-cold the next. That’s what I like about Cool-Jams. They work to keep your body temperature even. I can tell you what I read on their website about how this works, but you might want to explore yourself. Suffice it to say they have developed some miracle fabric that is incredibly comfortable. I’m not just saying that. When I finish this post I’m going to order a second pair.

To make matters even better Cool-jams has an amazing selection. They even have menswear! I just noticed today that they now have bedding! (Trust me there are men who suffer from hot flashes as they age when their hormone levels go wacky for various reasons. They just don’t talk about things the way we do. So you may want to buy your guy some for Xmas.)

I’m not going to model mine for you. 🙂 But, here’s the one I have. Trust me she looks much better than I do! But, I seriously don’t care because I feel just as attractive in mine!Cool Jams wicking pajamas

 

 

SOFTEST, MOST EFFECTIVE WICKING SLEEP WEAR ON THE PLANET

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.

Just One Decision – That’s All It Takes

Just One Decision – That’s All It Takes

Sunflowre by Annelein Beukenkamp
Floral/Still Life – Sunflower by Annelein Beukenkamp Watercolors

Most of us remember our parents warning us as teens and young adults to think twice before doing a thing we were thinking about doing. Those of us with children did the same. We caution(ed) them as we were cautioned, suggesting they look before they leap. There’s even a cliché for this advice. Experience taught our parents, as it taught us, that life can go awry in a big way. Thinking and evaluating before we act is a good thing.

Too often, however, this sensible advice came with other subtle messages attached to it. The warning may have been delivered from a place of fear. The real message may have been, “I screwed up so many times in my life and suffered the consequences, I love you too much to watch you do the same thing.” We hear the fear and attach it to our own.

Making decisions, particularly decisions that stretch and grow us, is an intimidating proposition for most. Either we haven’t a clue about what we’re getting in to, or we’ve fallen so many times we’re terrified to try again. This is why we absolutely need and benefit from support and guidance.

Guidance is something many who struggle as adults never received as children.  Guidance helps us see the possibilities, good and bad, it shares experiences and stories as story lessons, it helps us process our fears in a constructive manner.  When guidance is missing, warnings illicit fear and rebellion, the antithesis of moving creativity forward to a positive conclusion.

The creative spirit, the life force, in each of us longs to be set free. It longs for an avenue of expression, for experiences that feed it, for success, accomplishment, and growth. In essence it’s very nature is expansion. When our spirit and desire to live, love and create is thwarted by fear, it draws inward. We become depressed, frustrated, angry, or confused and life doesn’t go well. Our relationships flounder, our work life is not to our liking, our world looks dingy and fulfilling. We may even despair, or give up trying.

Picture quote Anais Nin

JUST ONE DECISION

If you find yourself in this place, if you are stuck and not living a life you love, one decision can change everything. It did for me.

I had little guidance as a young person, at least guidance that was useful and that resonated with who I am.  As a result, I made one less than stellar decision after another. To compound matters when I faced with recovering from my poor decisions, I had no support.  We all make mistakes. It’s how we learn and grow.

Guidance and support is a valuable commodity when it comes to learning from our mistakes.

As time went on I grew more and more fearful of taking risks. The only way I could figure out how to decrease the pain in my life was to live a smaller and smaller life and do what I thought I was “supposed” to do – what family, society, friends thought I should do. I shoved down my creative spirit and locked it away. At times it would sneak out and lead me to a decision – some were good, some not so good – but I’d lock myself down more often than not.

That is, until my early fifties when the time came to either live or die.

It was a horrendous battle, that began with my willingness to find the courage it took to make one small decision, a decision made for me and from me, not for my children, my husband, our business, my family or for any other external reason.

I made the decision to sign up for and take an online writing class. I was fifty-one. I don’t want to bore you with the details here, but that one decision changed my life. Was it an easy process? Not on your life. It took another ten years before I could say I am happy and at peace with who I am and my life and I will always be a work in progress.

Do yourself a favor. If you’re feeling stuck, unhappy, confused, lost, or overwhelmed, make just one decision from the center of you, one that will take you in the direction you long to go. If you don’t know what that decision is, or need or want support and guidance,  reach out to me or someone you know can provide it. You’re worth it. The world needs you. It needs the best of you.

OUR THOUGHTS, OUR CHOICE

DEPRESSION – FIGHTING THE BATTLE

THE WILLINGNESS TO FACE OUR PAIN

MY COACHING SERVICES
Defining Life Realistically As We Age

Defining Life Realistically As We Age

Duke Gardens
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Duke University
Durham, NC

“Defining Life Realistically” is Carl Jung’s third task of his Seven Tasks of Aging. Speaking of a reality check, I can’t imagine being brought more back to earth than I have been over the last decade. Yikes! I think I’m still trying to find my balance.

When we “cling to illusions that are contrary to reality, then problems will surely arise”, according to Jung. We come into the aging process attached to so many illusions. Most of us are in no way prepared for the first intrusion of reality, whether it be the sudden death of a loved one, a broken marriage, children run amok, a health crisis, a lost job or any number of other life challenges. 

These may very well strike long before midlife, but when they occur in our youth we still believe to some extent that our life will go on forever. At midlife we very much begin to see the end and a sense of urgency descends. I was 19 when my father very suddenly and unexpectedly lost his job. He was sixty. Too young for retirement, too old to be hired by someone else in his field. He sent out over 200 resumes and received nothing. (Fortunately this is less true now.) I watched him crumble, his lifelong pursuit of a good, secure and stable life fall by the wayside. My belief in corporate America was shattered. I was able never able to recover my confidence in it and have been self-employed ever since. 

I carried forth with the illusion for the next twenty something years that I could create my own independent, successful lifestyle. I did not have to be controlled and dependent upon something or someone outside of my control. My midlife awakening was that I was wrong about that as well. I had faced endless obstacles trying to create an independent, successful lifestyle. I had encountered circumstances and events beyond my control. I had not been able to accomplish what I set out and worked so hard to accomplish, and I was running out of time and energy to keep trying.

I had been living in a dream world. I had not faced reality, and because of that I was simultaneously driven and living in a self-destructive state of mind. I had to let it go. I had to let the illusion go. I had to face reality. 

There are so many things that wake us up as we age. Our bodies are another never ending source of reality checks. Weight loss becomes harder. Building strength and endurance becomes a slower process. The damage we’ve done through fad diets, too much stress, indifference to our needs is harder to repair. We are no longer on the same track of trying to look a certain way. The illusion that we will one day, if we work hard enough, become a perfect size 6, or 8, or 10, or 12, slips through our fingers as middle age sagging and bulging and softening begins. 

This is all as it should be. A problem arises only when we cling to our illusions, cling to the idea that we can at sixty obtain the body of a thirty year old woman, that we can or should achieve complete control over our careers, that we are, in fact, not subject to the laws of the universe. Beliefs such as “I deserve, or am owed a happy marriage”, or “I have to have youthful skin at sixty” leads us to resentment, despair, anger and frustration. 

Coming to terms with what is, in a culture that wants us to believe we can have and do whatever we desire, is a challenge. It is, however, our challenge to embrace as we age. It is our task to take on and, it is in our best interest to do so. When we ignore this task and cling to our illusions we remain stuck and unable to step into the awakening of our inner life. 

What have been your wake up calls as you age? How have you navigated them? Are you aware of other illusions still needing attention?

Task 1 Facing the Reality of Aging and Dying

Task 2 A Life Review

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.