Tag: self-acceptance

Rediscovering Your Gifts

Rediscovering Your Gifts

personal growthWe each carry within us a treasure. Living deep inside, it is a quiet place where we can go to find our untarnished heart and a soul that is still pure. We once knew this place, our place where there is peace and understanding, wisdom and strength, though it may have slipped from our memory.

The hours, days and years that we have struggled and pushed, yearned and stretched toward something more has powered us through our lives. It is “life yearning for itself”. Our desire for something more and incessant discontent led us down many a winding path and along the way we collected bits and pieces of life’s debris.  Instead of tossing the debris aside, we often instead as packaging material to insulate us from the world.

Sometimes we build a wall of anger, of fear, or of resentment, so thick and so profound that we forget our treasure ever existed. When we feel the sting of hurt and rejection we recoil inside of ourselves and do not remember the gifts of understanding and forgiveness we once knew so keenly. The longer we live the more likely we are to have lost our connection to our treasured self, as life’s rubble piles up upon us despite our best intentions.

We may begin to feel as though we might smother, or die without meaning or purpose for having lived. We fear we may wither away into nothingness. We might feel emptiness, an overwhelming sense of loss, or confusion or an aimless uncertainty.  It is precisely these uncomfortable stirrings that are our reminders. They are prompting us to return to the treasure that was born in us so many years ago, to dig down deep inside and uncover that precious someone who still lives and holds a pure and loving heart; who knows the value of trust and forgiveness. She understands the meaning of life and the purpose of her living.

The unearthing process can be approached alone or with the assistance of a friend, a mentor, a spiritual guide, a life coach, a therapist or any of a number of other guides.  There are as many methods of personal and spiritual growth as there are individuals. Here are some of the methods I have used and found helpful:

  1. Guided imagery meditation – A guided meditation by a trained practitioner using imagery and imagination to bypass thought and ego
  2. Solitary meditation – I recommend reading Full Catastrophe Living or any of a number of Wayne Dyer’s books and audios for more information on common meditation practices.
  3. Contemplation and mindfulness
  4. Journaling
  5. Reading or listening to the writings of spiritual teachers
  6. Work with a therapist or life coach to gather some movement if you are stuck
  7. Body work – massage therapy, chiropractic treatment, deep tissue massage, exercise
  8. Self-care – Learn listen to and follow the directives of your body, mind and spirit. If you feel tired, sleep. If you feel restless, go for a walk. If you feel stressed, meditate or make an appointment for a massage. Say no to demands that are being placed on you that cause your body to constrict.

Rediscover the treasure of your heart. It is waiting.

The Gift of Age

The Gift of Age

Living just for today can be a real challenge for those of us who have lived our lives immersed in western culture. Every where we turn we hear messages, reminders, and indicators that unless we are moving forward at break neck speed we are not really living. Buddha, and others, understood the disservice we do to ourselves, and our lives, when we do not see and appreciate what is ours in the present moment, the gifts that are right in front of us.

One of the greatest awakenings I have experienced in my lifetime has been to finally see with great clarity how much I was losing today while worrying about tomorrow and fretting about the past. It took reaching midlife and fifty years of beating my head against a wall to finally get it. As a good “hippie”, I read years ago, and understood at some level the value of living in the moment, but I could only sustain it in moments when I was feeling particularly carefree. But living it in my soul? Ah, that would take years, and many, many hours and days of living mentally in the future, encountering road blocks to my best laid plans, and then reaching midlife and immersing myself in the heartbreak of the past.

Midlife presents an enormous opportunity to make great soul strides, to learn from fifty years of living that we can shed our misconceptions and get back to the basics of who we really are. We can choose to ignore the messages of our culture and hang on to what we know to be true in our hears.  Therein, lies one of the true wonders of aging… to at last not only be able, but willing, to see things more clearly…see things as they were meant to be…to see things as they are for us and to accept life with all its ups and downs, as good, and right and true. It’s a gift of aging. Embrace it.

Cures for “Midlife Madness Fatigue”

Cures for “Midlife Madness Fatigue”

I love Sophie Lumen's artwork. She exemplifies the aging abundantly spirit in all that she does. Be sure and visit her website www.feedthebeauty.com.
art by Sophie Lumen, artist and founder of FeedtheBeauty.com

There’s a lesson to be learned by those just beginning their journey into midlife from my experiences that I describe in Midlife Madness. The most important of which is that it’s time to fasten your seat belt and hold on for dear life! You’re in for the ride of your life! All kidding aside, midlife madness is jam packed with life lessons and I say as often as I have the opportunity, the decade from fifty to sixty was, without a doubt, the most challenging, demanding and fulfilling decade of my life thus far.

The intensity of the challenges we face are equal to the intensity of the depth of our soul we can reach. I do not wish misfortune on anyone, even myself, but it is bound to place itself in our path sooner or later regardless of how much effort we put into protecting ourselves from it. The good news is that we come out the other side a fuller, deeper, richer, more compassionate human being.

If you are struggling with aging parents, health issues, difficult marriages/divorces, strained relationships, financial difficulties, take heart and take hold of the wisdom to be gained in them. When we face our problems head on, evaluate our responses to them, give up our need to constantly control the outcome, and love and accept ourselves despite the mistakes we make, we are gaining wisdom and we are learning to age with an abundance of spirit.

Women are survivors.  More importantly they are thrivers. At their very core, they believe in love. They believe in happy endings. They believe that life is good. It is that very belief that gives them so much power to heal the world.

Midlife madness fatigue may give you pause, but it will not defeat you. I promise.

Midlife Madness

Midlife Madness

Midlife Madness Fatigue
It’s not easy to find a good photo these days and I was so happy to find this one because not only is it the perfect photo, it connected to me to a great blog. Click on the photo and check it out!

Midlife hit me over the head with a hammer and then dropped kicked me into another universe. One minute I was boogying along, full speed ahead, the next I was laying flat out on the floor. Do you know what I’m talking about?

I think back, in a still recent retrospect, and I can’t even name which life altering event altered me more! It was a swift leveling to my senses. My father’s death, my son’s high school graduation, 9/11, my husband’s heart attack, second son leaves home, first son returns, financial stress, caring for my mother, my mother’s death, all the while my body morphing in the way it does at midlife, hormones all topsy turvey, weight shifting hither and yon and yon again…oh! I almost forgot the car accident…flipping four times and living to tell the tale…PTSD.

At one point I found myself glued to a chair unable to move and mumbling to my husband, “I think I have burn out. Do you think that’s possible?”

“I don’t’ know,” he replied. “It has been a little crazy lately. Maybe you just need to rest more.”

Ya think?

When the glaze across my eyes eased for a brief moment, I did some research on burn out to see if what I was feeling fit the bill. My doctor was simply treating my symptoms and rolling her eyes but not getting to the cause. (It always bugs me when doctors do that. It makes me feel like I’m imagining things.)

While researching, I discovered “compassion fatigue”. Oh, yeah! That’s it! Perfect match! It had been a lifetime of compassion run amuck. I hung on to my clever self-diagnosis for some time and began at last to acknowledge that maybe I did have a little stress in my life and maybe I needed to start thinking about doing things differently.

Now, ten years since the beginning of a decade of total come-undone-ness, I’m renaming my condition. I’m calling it “midlife madness fatigue”. My body, mind and soul have had enough and I’m not taking it anymore! Care to join me in the revolt?

 

Zen and the Art of Aging

Zen and the Art of Aging

 

I was talking to a friend the other day. Like most of us she has way more problems in her life than she’d like to have, frankly more than her share. But, who is to say what a fair share is? What may be devastating to one person may be a roll in the hay to another. I do not welcome upheaval in my life but if I have learned anything I’ve learned that the hardships I have faced have made me a better person and my life far richer than I imagine it might have been otherwise.

 

Most of my life I fought these hardships. I hated the way I felt and worked really, really hard at not feeling that way. I worked hard on myself to fix me; fix my attitude, my unhealthy thought patterns, my choices, my appearance, my interactions with people and the world, etc. I looked to therapists, medication, careers, a man, religion and anything else I could think of to help me  find the inner peace I so desperately sought.

I don’t know whether it was age, chronic failure to achieve this peace of mind, hormones or just dumb luck but at some point in recent years I’ve grown into a profound awareness of how doomed to failure such an approach is, and always will be. We are taught from the day we are born to achieve, to improve, to work hard at life. The basic premise of this attitude is that we need fixing and lots of it! Apparently we don’t arrive on this earth in very good form! We must kneel at the altar of some higher power and ask for forgiveness as soon as we can walk and then hobble along to the finish line using all the external support we can get!

Hog wash! (Choice of words is evidence of my grandfather’s influence on me. ) We were perfect when we were born, always were and always will be. We are perfectly human. What we have needed, and most of us still need, is to not work harder at changing ourselves, but to be more Zen-like, and go with the flow, trusting ourselves and our inner guide. “Let it Be”…maybe that’s why John Lennon’s song resonates so deeply with us. Somewhere in the dark recesses of our souls, we know the truth of these simple three words.

We have everything we need right inside of ourselves. Everything! If we didn’t pick up a book, kneel at an altar, or bow before the gods of our cultural mandates, we would find all the resources necessary to arrive at our very own version of inner peace, in the human sense of the word. In fact, I have begun to believe that as children we knew inner peace (again in the human sense of the word). It was just taken away from us by the world we encountered.

So, the question remains, did I have to live fifty something years to come to this place in my life or is it something that is instinctual? I knew these things when I was fifteen, probably younger but I was drawn away from them over and over again. It seems I did not trust the simplicity of the answers I held. I did not trust myself…I did not trust the truth that lived in me. I would like to believe that in a differently shaped culture, the odds of getting here sooner and locking in deeper are indeed possible.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was one of my favorite books when I was 19.

The Art of Aging is one of may favorite pages on Facebook! Thank you Sophie Lumen for all you do.

Are You Still Pretending to Be a Younger Version of Yourself?

Are You Still Pretending to Be a Younger Version of Yourself?

I know that’s a really loaded question! But, an important one. We live in a youth obsessed culture. We are enamored with being young, beautiful and physically fit. There’s so much more to life! I shared a few of my thoughts in a recent article on Huffington Post: Keeping Up Appearances, Who Would We Be if We Quit Talking About Aging?  I think this is an important conversation that it’s time to bring out in the open.

Why are we so afraid of getting old? Why are we horrified at the thought of wrinkles and a little extra adipose tissue? Why do we put our physical appearance at the top of our list in importance when we consider the things we value about ourselves? Wander into any retail store and you will see aisles of skincare products from Clinique, Mario Badescu, Hydroxatone, among many others. I’m sure we all agree that physical health and well-being are pretty basic to enjoying life but given the amount of conversation we have around this topic, I can’t help but think there’s something more motivating our intense interest. What might that “something more” be?

Perhaps it’s a fear of death, or a fear of losing our power in our relationships with the men in our lives, or a fear of losing relevancy if we’re no longer young and pretty. I’m sure the reason is different for everyone, but the common result is the same. We are living in fear of aging. Let’s figure out why so we can put it behind us and get on with life!