Tag: midlife

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.

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

 

 

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.)

I Choose to Inhabit My Days

I Choose to Inhabit My Days

writer, poet

 

I was swept away by this poem, posted on a blog I follow called Soul Gatherings. I, like Theresa, have a love of quotes and words strung beautifully together such as Dawna Markova’s poem. For me, words at their best create a symbolic tapestry that calls to our heart, tugs on our spirit and puts voice to our deepest yearnings.  Today, I want to share Markova’s word-painting with you, to extend her heart awakening opportunity a little further.  I purchased one today myself as I have not yet had the good fortune of reading the. I look forward to finding out where she will take me. Perhaps you will do the same.

FATHER’S DAY GIFT IDEAS for BOOMER MEN

FATHER’S DAY GIFT IDEAS for BOOMER MEN


Father’s Day is just around the corner. It’s the perfect time to start thinking about a special gift for the fathers in your life. My husband and I both loved the these two books. Light, but thought-provoking, they are perfect summer reading for the midlife male.

Summer Reads for Boomer Men

LIFE AT 12 COLLEGE ROAD, by Eric Mondschein – Eric Mondschein is a born story-teller. From the very first page I was drawn in to his tales of life as a young boy in the 1950’s. I was flooded with my own memories as he recounted a selection of his childhood adventures.  At times I found myself laughing until tears ran down my face, and then just as quickly I’d sink with the author into quiet reflection.  I was so taken with Mondschein’s stories that I passed the book along to my husband enjoying it again vicariously each time he laughed or recounted a part he particularly enjoyed.

If there’s a “Boomer” man in your life, you’ll want to share this book with him.  It’s a perfect Father’s Day gift.  Just be sure you read it first!

Available on Amazon 

 *****

Dr. Eric S. Mondschein has taught law and education and published and edited numerous articles and books in the field. He has worked 2999e74d88880a7e9d9af0.L._SX80_for the US government in various capacities and directed an award-winning education program for New York. He was awarded the ABA’s Award of Excellence in Law Related Education. He also served as an advisor for an international NGO in Haifa, Israel, in external affairs, security, government relations, and human rights.

He currently resides in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York with his wife, Ginny. They have two grown children Adam and Emily, a son-in-law, Kamal, a daughter in law, Yaani, and grandchildren, Annie, Nathanael, and Eli.

Visit Dr. Mondschein’s website: EricMondschein.com or connect with him on Twitter @EricSMondshein

 



BREAKFAST WITH BUDDHA by Roland Merullo – This is the first Roland Merullo book I have read and I really enjoyed it. I loved the realness of Otto Ringling’s character and the unfolding of his midlife journey, both inside and out. It’s the perfect book for men looking for something more in their lives. There’s no fluff, or long drawn out dissertations on spirituality, just little nudges and believable scenarios. Again, this book won my husband’s approval, so I wouldn’t hesitate to include it for consideration for Father’s Day.

*****

 

Roland Merullo is the author of twelve novels and five non-fiction books.  Born and raised in a working-class family in Boston he graduated from Brown in 1975, then earned a Master’s there–in Russian Studies– in 1976. He currently lives in Massachusetts with his wife Amanda and their two daughters. He can be reached via his website: RolandMerullo.com.

Merullo has a side-speciality, golf writing. His articles and columns appear frequently in Golf World Magazine, and his golf books include GOLFING WITH GOD, THE ITALIAN SUMMER, AND PASSION FOR GOLF.

He also writes regularly for the Boston Globe Op-Ed page.

 


ON A SLIGHTLY LIGHTER NOTE!

A FEW MORE FATHER’S DAY GIFT IDEAS

 

Hippie Van Hat
Hippie Van Hat by AgingAbundantly
Design your own photo hat from zazzle.com.