Thoughts and such like.....
I'm late posting again this week, however it's a directly related to the topic of my blog. On my street, each summer we have a street party, where new and old neighbours meet for dinner, bringing their plate, meat/fish/beans and beverage of choice, a dish to share and a blanket or chair to sit on. Monday night was the night, not a mobile device in sight for over three hours.
When babies learn to communicate, they learn through watching and listening to their parents, siblings, other children and the World around them. They learn to communicate through the spoken word, much later they learn to read and write, but first they learn to talk. They understand both positive and negative tone, and react to both.
I find how people communicate, or how they don't, quite fascinating. As we have all seen the spoken word can be a powerful tool whether speaking of love or hate. How we phrase, what we say can be interpreted in many ways, just think back to when you said something to a friend or colleague, maybe you weren't as clear as you meant to be, and they received a totally different message than the one you were trying to convey. What chaos ensued?
I've often said to people 'listen to what you say, think about who you are speaking to, and think of what they might be hearing', particularly if your message is an important one, as this can help to ensure others have received the message you were trying to convey. Think also about how you relay messages, how you sit or stand, what your facial expression says. We all interpret things differently, based on our history, the messages we've received through our lifetime and our experience with the person we are interacting with. So for example if someone has often received negative feedback and you call them to say you have some feedback to give - their immediate response will be negative, they will expect the worst. How can you ensure that what you say not only gets heard, but also that your message gets understood? For me this is one of the reasons I prefer to meet people face to face, and if that is not possible using video platforms that allow me to watch their facial expressions and body language - I'm definitely a people watcher, as I've noted before, I love to sit and watch people often making up stories about them from what I observe.
Everyone has their own communication style, The Oxford Research Encyclopedia notes that we communicate both verbally and nonverbally, and our styles are often shaped by the styles of our family of origin, cultural values and norms, as well as our world views and our life experiences. As more and more people are relying on technology for interactions, many studies show that these devices have had a detrimental effect on face to face conversation. One small study at Elon University, North Carolina found that although students believed that technology has a 'negative effect on both the quality and quantity of face-to-face communication', 62% of students found it difficult to disengage from their devices when with others. Another study from MUI, Maynooth, Ireland showed that the use of digital devices in homes with children has 'led to a bedroom culture and a digital divide in a negative way. Instead of a digital divide being perceived as a way to bring different generations together, it increases social isolation between individuals in the household.'
When my kids were growing up, we didn't have TV, and digital devices were still in their infancy, however as they grew and were able to purchase their own devices, we developed a couple of rules that are still maintained today when they visit:
It is the way we use technology that worries and irritates me. It's addictive, and can be isolating, in a world where so many people feel alone and unsure about themselves and their abilities. It provides a space for presenting an unrealistic view of life, showing only one facet of an ordinary life, nothing messy or untidy. In a 1991 film, Truly, Madly, Deeply there's a scene at the beginning where the young women (Juliet Stevenson) is mourning the death of her boyfriend (Alan Rickman). She's beside herself with grief, and it's a truly wonderful scene, that depicts what crying often looks like, not the aesthetically artistic tears slowly rolling down cheeks, but the black running mascara, the red snotty nose, messy face with dirty tissues everywhere, and for me that's how we should show lives on social media - life in glorious imperfection! The fact is no-one has a perfect life, and each of those individuals whose instagram or twitter feeds that we follow has someone to curate their feed, to ensure that a facade is maintained - don't believe it, life's never that perfect!
So take a moment, or two, to look up from your screen, look at those people in your life, really look at them, and talk - face to face. Instigate some rules around devices, whether it's once a day or once a week. Try chatting with a neighbour, or when out put your phone on silence, better yet turn it off. You'll eventually find that you're happier for it. Remember you only have one life to live, and to live it in glorious technicolour you will need to lift your eyes up and gaze on both your surroundings and those you are with. Live it outside the imaginary world of others, spend less time documenting what a great life you have, and more time enjoying that life! Start with an hour, and grow it to a day without social media. Is it possible? Oh yes!
I am late with this weeks' blog for a number of reasons, one of which was I was struggling about what to write - I thought about boundaries, then about service - or lack of it, and finally as I was thinking about something else, and watched a person with whom I was once great friends and who, I felt had injured me and ruined our friendship, walk by, I thought about forgiveness.
Forgive for none of us are perfect
Now we've all experienced the occasion where we've felt betrayed, some of us more than once! I remember someone telling me that when they reached 40 they made a decision not to remain friends with anyone that made them feel bad about themselves, in other words negative individuals, often unhappy with who they are and who want to spread the unhappiness to others, and so take every opportunity to make you feel bad about yourself, or who spread toxicity about others. It was great advice, and I've followed it ever since. And, I believe the same advice applies to those who have either deliberately on not, caused harm to you either physically or mentally. I worked with an analyst once who noted that mental abuse can be more harmful than physical, in that it stays in the mind and can play havoc with your mental state.
There have been times in my life where I've felt saddened and betrayed by a 'friend' who for whatever reason told secrets (I wrote about secrets here: keeping-secrets.html) that I'd entrusted to them. My reaction was to close up, and not trust anyone with secrets or dreams for some time. Others have asked how I could forgive those who had, as I feel, betrayed my trust? For me it gets easier, after a while, to forgive someone, because really if I continue to live with my anger and sense of injustice, who am I really hurting in the long run, the individual who betrayed me may long have forgotten about the part they played, or don't feel they did such an bad thing, I'm the one who continues to suffer, who relives the pain of betrayal (it's sounds so dramatic, but I'm sure you've experienced a time where you've felt hurt and that monkey on your back just won't let it go), however I've found when I forgive someone, really work through my pain and hurt, and forgive them, I can move on. That's not to say I want to remain friends with them or trust them again, but the forgiveness, that's for me - to help me move forward and as woo woo as it sounds, it does work.
'Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles,
a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth.
Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life'.
So how do you go about forgiving others? For me it's about my mental health and the need to let go. The people I admire more than anyone are those who have forgiven huge injustices, such as Nelson Mandela who forgave his jailers, or more close to my home, the forgiveness given by the parents of a young girl, beaten and drowned by her peers, to one of the young people who committed the crime after they acknowledged their part in this death. There are numerous tales of the courage of other people, parents, children and siblings forgiving others of grievous harm, and yet as individuals we still have difficulty in understanding forgiveness and how it can help us move forward. Is this difficulty because we too sometimes lack the courage to admit we are wrong, or made a mistake?
Owning up to a mistake, or error takes courage and humility. It is important to own up immediately we recognize our error, both for us, and for those who we may have harmed. It's important to own up and not give excuses - I was talking to a client the other day and noted that I once worked with JETRO (Japanese External Trade Relations Organization), where one of the most important things I learned was to apologize, and not make excuses, nor blame others - I did it, I own it! If it's at work, own it as soon as you realize you've made it, take a breath, figure out a solution and let whomever needs to know, about the mistake and your solution - maybe it's so bad you lose your job, don't get angry, figure it out and as you job hunt, own the mistake and what you have learned from it - potential employers would much rather hear about your error from you than your previous employer. I always say a mistake, is not really a mistake when you have learned from it, it's an education.
Within friendship, if you make a mistake, apologize from the heart and never make excuses - own it. Remember too, that although you own it, you cannot control your friend's reaction to either the mistake or your apology. Don't expect them to react as you would want, each of us reacts to hurt in a different way, we bring our own history and how we respond to hurt and apologies; your way is not necessary theirs. Patience, is a waiting game, don't try and gloss over the mistake, or pretend it didn't happen - it did, learn from it and realize that we all process things in our own way and time. In the meanwhile, take some time yourself to examine what happened and look at whether this is an error you have made before. If it is it may be that you need to look at yourself and what it is that may cause you to repeat the same mistake. You may need to make some changes in your behaviour, and when others see you trying to change, appreciate the effort you are making and maybe be more willing to forgive you and move forward.
Key in either forgiveness or in making mistakes is that the only thing you can control is yourself and your reaction - it's important to remember that we all screw up - however if we can learn from our mistakes, and make an effort to correct how we deal with situations that truly show who we are, both to ourselves and others. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. Remember, you only have one life, you are in charge of how you live it, so don't live in anger, or fear that you will make a mistake - forgive, learn and live the life that's left in you with joy and humility.
“The first to apologize is the bravest.
The first to forgive is the strongest.
And the first to forget is the happiest.”
Today many people are talking about purpose - finding their purpose or what is their purpose. Suddenly there's a onslaught of people wanting to find their purpose (Sorry Simon Sinek, but it's not that easy). Let’s change the conversation and ask 'What are you passionate about?' or what were you passionate about growing up and were unable to follow due to circumstances, money or some other barrier that at the time you felt were insurmountable. What was it that kept you awake at night, and had you dreaming?
For me it was painting and design – there was no way I was able to follow that dream, in a new Country and with no parental support I was unable to find the finance to enter college to pursue that dream. Later, at 30 and in another new Country, I entered design school and nearly completed my studies when I became a Mom, and in order to keep my small family together I had to move cities for work, and left my studies with a couple of courses to finish. I will complete them, sometime soon. However, in the meanwhile I was able to continue my love of design by making my own and my kids clothes (until they begged me to be able to buy them like other kids!), and through painting and refurbishing furniture.
When I ask my kids why I couldn’t have a child who entered a profession that actually made a lot of money to keep me in my old age, they laugh and say, ‘it was you, you who told us to follow our passion!’. I own it, and know that they love what they do. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I believe it’s never too late to follow your passion, you have only to look back at what carried you through your teens or early twenties, for some it was old cars, others it may have been painting, or playing with clay, what was it that you loved to do, that allowed you to get lost, forget about time?
There’s a great song by Nickelback (yea Canadian!) called ‘If Today was your Last Day’. It asks the question if you knew you only had today what would you do differently, and in it, it says
‘You know it’s never too late to shoot for the stars
Regardless of who you are
So do what it takes
‘Cause you can’t rewind a moment in this life
Let nothin’ stand in your way
‘Cause the hands of time are never of your side’
(Lyrics by Chad Kroeger)
(listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=99&v=maINUv2H8A0)
So forget about finding your purpose, go with what feels great, what fills you with joy - whether it's making art or music that makes others feel good, designing websites that provides a platform on which to serve others; or enjoying your sport, through playing or coaching others. Following your passion, you will find, fulfills your purpose!
Remember only you are in charge of how you live this life, and there is plenty of life left in you to live, so why not try following your passion?
So how are you about keeping secrets? Can people trust you to keep their secrets or should they just keep quiet and pass you by when they want someone to keep confidences?
It's an interesting phenomena, that once a secret has been told, it's actually no longer a secret. We tell one person, and then they tell someone else, all the while, asking that each person told keep the secret! I have been always one to keep secrets told to me. However what puzzles me often is that I am then told by another the same secret, and wonder why I am asked to keep the information quiet! I am happy I didn't break the confidence of the people who disclosed their secret to me, but puzzled that they ask me to keep their confidence, and then told another person (or people) and still expect it to be a secret. Maybe that is why I've always held things close to my chest, and not been very good at confiding in others.
I'm interested too in what is it that makes us break confidentiality - is the excitement of knowing a secret that no one else knows, does it give us a feeling of power? Or is it the need to share and explore someone else's personality and stress (good or bad). How do you feel when someone confides in you? What is the strongest need that comes after learning a secret - is it a need to share and dissect it with others? Or is it a thought around how you can support your friend/colleague?
Since I've been coaching it has been even more important that I keep confidences and I love that my clients trust me to do so. However trust doesn't always come immediately and I must prove to my clients that they can trust me, apart from assuring them of confidentiality, trust takes time.
I have a coach(s), and attend coaching supervision. Working in supervision helps me to reflect on how I am working with my clients confidences. It helps me reflect on what is going on for me, whether some of the information I am receiving triggers reactions in me, and what those reactions can tell me about myself.
Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges for a coach is where you are hired by a company or organization to coach employees. The challenge is in developing a coaching agreement that can meet the needs of the organization, while at the same time ensuring the confidentiality of those being coached. Madeleine Homan and Linda J. Miller in their book Coaching in Organizations is a great resource for outlining expectations of information shared: www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1484801660?ie=UTF8
In my case, I look at what trends and themes can be complied to feedback to the sponsor or organization paying me to work with their employees, I ensure that both the organization and the client(s) are in agreement with these before signing off on any contract. My reputation as a coach depends on this confidentiality, and allows me to gain trust of my clients, and thus serve them better. If the task is performance coaching, I also ask that the sponsor keep me updated on performance, whether or not been it has improved and where else may I support the client in attaining the skills they need to excel. The triangle between organization, individual and coach can sometimes be hard to maintain, and certainly I, as a coach, need to be aware of the tendency to be pulled into a drama triangle (victim, rescuer and persecutor) where I try to 'rescue' my client as opposed to helping them discover the answer to their problems. Sometimes it is the feeling of being put into the situation, by the sponsor, me taking on the role of persecutor! This, for me, is where reflection and being mindful of my role and tendency to want to help my client can overcome my training as a coach. Where I must be mindful and not play the drama game, where I work with my client to create a different interpretation of the situation, one in which they can address the problem from a different angle.
There are times where we should break confidentiality, either as a coach, or friend. When someone confides in us about hurting themselves or others. Or when we are made to do so through a court of law. But these are, hopefully, not common instances. What about you? How are you about keeping secrets of friends, family or colleagues? Have you ever found yourself being pulled into the drama triangle without realizing the consequences? Or have you shared a secret only to discover that it is known to everyone? How did that affect you?
Can you keep a secret? If not, maybe it may be better to let others know that you are not good at keeping confidences, and it's better not to tell you anything that they want to keep secret!
This blog is way off the usual one, except that it is part and parcel of our lives - Love for ourselves, our families, our friends, our animals... the list goes on and on. When we read about Love it's usually around the romance with our/a partner. However the type of love I'm focusing on is that we have for our kids, and other family members, as well as the love we hold for our friends, near and far.
The topic came to mind this last weekend when my kids invited me to go with them and revisit the Island I used to take them to every Summer, so that we could create traditions and have a vacation that didn't cost an arm and a leg.
As a single parent there wasn't a lot of money for vacations and other opportunities, so I decided to find a place that worked for me and also for them, and where we could all relax and have fun. I found an Island that had a family friendly campsite that I could book annually. Now the thing about me you should know is that I hate camping, I don't like sleeping in a tent, the bugs, the dirt, not being able to shower regularly etc.. and we started when they were two and five so I had to find somewhere that I could allow them to roam, without losing them. I had never build a campfire, put up a tent on my own - that first year the beginning of the vacation was not pretty. The last time we visited was when my youngest was 18!
My kids loved going and looked forward to it each year, and we set up rituals, listening to Pooh Corner (see left window for link), and repeating the story with the reader, buying ice cream at the caravan between the islands, having hot dogs for dinner the night we arrived and ten cents for candy from the camp shop, just some of the rituals carried out year after year.
This weekend I celebrated my birthday and my boys decided to return the favour, they booked an Airbnb for a long weekend, where we could shower, enjoy the Island and yet sleep inside! I finished two books and a whole load of knitting!
This is another reminder that I did something right in bringing them up - Love is so important, doesn't matter whether you have a lot of money or none, showing up with your family in as many ways as possible, doing stuff with your kids rather than buying stuff can demonstrate in so many ways how much you love them. Being present, not only in body, but in mind and spirit. When we went on vacation, my boys would put my phone away, so that I couldn't and didn't check for messages, this was their time and my time. They recognized, even at a young age, that I needed to recharge my batteries, and so in their love for me, they insisted that I hand it over! And, I honoured them, even when they'd gone off with friends I didn't go and find the phone to catch up, just got my book, knitting and relaxed. This weekend was a blissful enactment of those vacations, without the campsite and bugs!
I also received so many birthday wishes from friends, and family, here and abroad - people I work with that I have never met in person, friends from school in another country, at another time, as well as friends I've met in my journey over the last few years. I felt loved and appreciated, accepted for who I am, important at any age!
Love means what, not ever saying you're sorry, actually it means saying sorry, but also a whole load more - it means accepting another unconditionally. I sometimes have said to my kids that I love them, but at that particular moment I didn't like them! Or rather I didn't like what they had done/said... but that it was important for them that they knew I still loved them.
So my question to you is how do you demonstrate your love for family and friends? I mean what are you doing differently, not buying, but showing in subtle, wonderful, meaningful ways how you love each individual?
Remember only you are in charge of how you live this life, isn't it better to love than not, and while there is plenty of life left in you to live, why not try loving more too!
We're inundated with the myth that we should be striving for a work/life balance, I believe we've got it wrong, we should be striving for a balanced life. Forget whether it's work, family, personal or anything else, what we're looking for is to feel good about how we manage the different parts of our lives on a day to day or week by week basis.
By striving for a work life balance, we're never going to get it right - we need to look ask the question, what works for us? 'Progress not perfection' as Marie Forleo says. Some of us love what we do, it energies us and makes us feel good - we may want more or if we do more we feel guilty at not spending more time with those we love, for others there are times when we need to spend time on work, or with our family - the trick is to be okay with that - it's not about how much time we spend in either place it's the quality of time we spend there.
According to Health Canada, there are four categories associated with balancing the different aspects of our life:
It is great that organizations are looking at holistic ways in which to support their employees, however I believe it's also up to us as individuals to look at ways we can balance our life, whether spending too much time at work, thinking about work or working on personal challenges. So although I may complain that I've had to work late the last couple of weeks, I also need to look at where my head is when I'm at work, am I really focused or do I waste time, worrying about balancing my life - too, do my family/office think I'm spending too much time on the one or the other, or is it in my head? If they do feel I'm spending too much time sometimes, what if I engage them by explaining why I have to work late, and together look at ways in which they can support me today, so that I can free up my time sooner - even work on a reward for everyone when this intense time comes to an end.
If there is no end in sight, then being responsible must mean asking the question, is this the right place for me - now some people may say, 'I don't have a choice', however there is always a choice. Keep searching for something better, maybe a lateral move might be better, if the choice is between being constantly exhausted, mentally knocked down, or moving to a similar job where the culture is different - sometimes we need to make those hard choices in order to save our sanity, and that of our family.
When it is our family that is pulling at us, then the choice may again need to be made, to take unpaid leave; to make a difficult choice of leaving a job that doesn't allow you sufficient time to spend with your family for one that may pay less but that does allow you that time. Balance is always about choices and we are all different - remember that saying 'no-one on their deathbed is going to say they wished they'd spent more time at the office'. This is your only crack at this life - make the best choices you can!
Want help, contact me and set up a free discovery call. Remember only you are in charge of how you live this life, and that there is plenty of life left in you to live!
Recently, I've been meeting with a number of older people, mainly women, all of a certain age and at first a similar outlook on the aging process - they don't like it. The conversation usually starts with me asking them how they are, and they have not been afraid to tell me! So then I ask 'what is the best thing about growing older?' It's amazing how one question can turn a conversation around!
Society has a propensity for looking at aging as something bad, I think I will start a movement to change the focus - what if we approach aging with curiosity? As something to be celebrated, and worth exploring?
What if we look at aging as a time of maturity while keeping and honouring our youthful spirit. Thomas Moore suggests that 'aging is a fulfillment of who we are, not a wearing out'. As I age, I have 'reminders that I'm getting old' with a new ache, or creak in my bones that tell me I can't quite do all the things I did ten years ago, or my stomach is revolting over something I ate yesterday, that wouldn't have bothered me before. But, what if I ask, what is my body telling me - maybe it is saying enough of this crap, time to treat me with some respect, start feeding me good food. What if my body is saying: stretch your muscles a bit before, and after you exercise - maybe I won't ache quite so much! What if we look at each decade as an exciting new adventure on this journey called life! Ever watch a cat as they age, they move more slowly, rest more but still get energized when they see a bird on the ground, they just approach the problem of catching it differently. Maybe that's an approach we need to copy, my muscles ache after that bike ride, what must I do differently next ride - stretch before, take more breaks? Don't waste time complaining about what is lost, instead use the knowledge of years and figure out how to solve the challenge! Celebrate who you have become!
(Thomas Moore - Ageless Soul www.amazon.ca/Ageless-Soul-Lifelong-Journey-Meaning/dp/1250135818/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1528328458&sr=8-3&keywords=thomas+moore)
Look at the faces of older people, really old individuals who've never done anything to try and change the way they look. Look at the wrinkles, the lines that demonstrate how much they have lived. How beautiful they are... I love looking at the faces of older people, wondering what their life was like, my curiosity has no bounds, I like to make up stories of who they are and where they've been in life, a habit that has embarrassed my children more than once as I delve into make-believe lives, out loud! Savour your age, attach stories to your wrinkles, Thomas Moore says 'sensing your old age and your youth at the same time is a signal that you're aging well'. He goes onto explain that his friend James Hillman thought age relative and that 'we have a young person and an old person deep in our make-up. You may feel the youth suddenly come to the foreground, full of energy and ideas, and then the old person may rise up, wanting more order and tradition'. He states that 'you stay young in soul by not becoming a fossil in your life'. Try new things, resist the comfort of always doing it the way you have always done it!
Today I don't mourn what I have lost, rather I'm celebrating what I have gained - time to myself, for me, I'm able to play more, and do things I haven't done before. I've discovered that getting old isn't for the wimpy, it's for those seeking adventure, who are curious, who can nap like cats, and who aren't afraid of wearing their experiences for all to see.
Go find your adventure! And, let me know how much fun it is. Remember only you are in charge of how you live this life, and that there is plenty of life left in you to live!
Were you ever told as a child, you need to be more responsible?
Or 'Why can't you take responsibility for what happened?'
Responsibility comes with being an adult. - as we grow we take on more responsibility, in our work, for our families, for this task or that and sometimes we take responsibility for our health, sometimes, but not always, and it seems not often enough.
Last week I heard that for the first time in decades life expectancy in the US has stalled and more Americans are dying younger. According to a number of news reports men and women in the US now have the lowest life expectancy among the high income nations. In December 2017, Money Watch reported that previously women lived 8 - 10 years longer than men, today US women are also closing the gap and now their lifespan has narrowed to four to five years. And that takes us to responsibility!
We all rely on our healthcare system, where ever we live to help us when we fall ill, however, how many of us can depend on ourselves for our own self care - particularly when it comes to what we put into our mouths, and how we treat our bodies? The same Money Watch article called the US a 'plus-size' Nation. Self care is not an indulgence, rather it's an investment into our longevity, and a longevity that will allow us to enjoy life to the fullest. How can we care for well for others when we neglect ourselves? And what are we saying to others about how they can treat us, if we don't treat ourselves with respect?
I'm very thankful to live in a country that has a great healthcare system, however I think that it enables us to be somewhat complacent in our self-care. We should be responsible for some of the healthcare ills that beset us. I grow angry at those I see who have had a heart attack or cancer, and continue to smoke, or pay little attention to their health. I've never been one to purchase fast food, in fact my children say, the only time they were able to eat from a fast food diner as kids, was if the diner was raising money for the hospital in which I worked! I despair of people who fill their shopping carts with sugary, processed cardboard when we live in a place where there are so many fresh fruits and vegetables - I do get some funny looks as I smell the tomatoes, strawberries and other items but oh, they smell so wonderful; light, fragrant and so good!
Fifteen years ago I was diagnosed with chronic fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and a host of other unpronounceable diseases. I had a choice to accept the diagnosis and go with the future outlined by my physician, taking an immense amount of medication along with their side affects. And for a while I did. I mourned the me that was, the would be athlete, the person who could party late into the evening and bounce up again the next day... and then I changed... I thought why should I accept that I will not be able to do certain things, that I will have to live with pain.. and I began to read, understand and accept some of the limitations... I changed my diet, and continue to tweak it, I began to exercise again, and once in a while to accept some of the limitations. I took responsibility for my health, can't change it, but I did, and continue to do my homework, I'm constantly looking at how I can improve my health, not waiting for the physicians and their magic pills to sort me out, I'm not going out with tubes and pulling a machine, not me ... I'll be dancing and creating chaos!
I believe we should all be responsible for the health of our bodies and minds... have those chips, but eat those in front of you not two packets - forgo the burger and fries each week, try them, if you must, once every couple of months. Buy a new vegetable or fruit, google how to use it! Let your taste buds adventure.... Open your senses... eyes to view new foods; nose to smell new scents; ears and hands to the new sounds and feel of different foods and, most of all mouth to taste new flavours.... Go crazy, and buy something you have never heard of... and make a new dish, invite your friends over to try it!
In a chaotic world, where we often may feel despair and out of control, we can control, how we treat ourselves, our bodies, and in turn, our minds. I believe I am responsible for my health, not my doctor, not the healthcare system - they are part of the toolkit that I use if and when I need to, but I have other tools too... yoga, meditation, walking, family and friends who care about me, and most importantly my own curiosity and determination. It is my responsibility to ensure I have the help I need, but also to keep my body in the best place it can be at this moment in time. What about you - what have you done for health and yourself today?
It takes Courage to grow old! By courage, I don't mean going into our Third Act kicking and screaming, using everything in our power to remain young looking; pretending that we're still able to do that high ski jump, or go to nightclubs and dance the night away - three nights in a row. No what I mean is: courage to go into old age, a place we have witnessed our parents and maybe grandparents and their friends, wandering into; the image of someone old and fragile, maybe dementia, in our minds, and being able to face whatever comes with dignity and grace. To use our years of experience to help us navigate what is new territory, for us at least. It really does take courage, here we are in a time and place where there is no structure, and often, we're back in the land of being seen and often not heard.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, courage is the ability to do something that frightens one; Dictionary.com say it is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain without fear. For me as I look around me, I see people understanding that they will age, we can't change that, fearful of what the future will hold, but also not taking responsibility for their life, being able to enjoy their elder years without pain, worry and pills. I believe we can change how we age - not by fighting tooth and nail to remain young looking, rather looking inside ourselves and reviewing our habits honestly and asking - what do I need to change to age better? Do I wish to spend the last years of my physical life in pain, reliant on medications and machines, or am I willing to change my habits and maybe lifestyle to help me age more healthily and well?
Making changes takes courage! Particularly in our culture of more, saying yes to less chocolate, beer and other indulgences, saying yes to a different kind of workout, maybe even a different way of eating takes courage. When friends say 'you're worth it, you've worked hard all your life, let go!' It takes courage to say No, I want to live a long, healthy life, one that allows me to enjoy the benefits of being an elder, without the downsides that so many people have, sickness, pain and chronic disease, so many of which can be avoided with a good diet and daily exercise. It takes courage to admit that maybe we haven't treated our bodies, and minds as well as we might, and courage again to take responsibility for our own health, and make those changes to roll back some of the ills we have inflicted on our bodies.
To develop courage you have to start developing courage as you
do any other muscle. You have to start with small things and build it up.
Making changes can hurt, Ray Dalio in his book Principles, talks about going 'to the pain, rather than avoiding it... Every time you confront something painful, you are at a potentially important juncture'. (www.amazon.ca/Principles-Life-Work-Ray-Dalio/dp/1501124021/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526941908&sr=8-1&keywords=ray+dalio+principles). Changing the way we grow and live may be painful, but the consequences can be major - have you the courage to look honestly at how you live, and make changes to move into a place that encourages and allows you to experience this Third Act of life in optimal health?
Remember only you are in charge of how you live this life, you who has the courage to change those habits that do not serve you, whether in the second or third act, and you to know that there is plenty of life left in you to live!
If you need support in this change, contact me today, for a free discovery session: email@example.com
There's a song by SuperTramp that I used to love, and forgot about until a conversation over the weekend with my youngest son:
When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical
And all the birds in the trees, well they'd be singing so happily
Oh joyfully, playfully watching me
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible
Logical, oh responsible, practical
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable
Oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical
(Lyrics by Roger Hodson)
Nik was pondering over his career choice/dream, and my career advice years ago, 'do what fuels your passion!' He was tired and sore and is struggling with 'is it worth it?' I truly believe that the saying that if you can marry your passion with your skillset then you don't work for an income - income flows to you. However when you're living hand to mouth as you try and make a name for yourself, that advice might be a little hard to take.
When making decisions about what next, I believe the same rule can apply whether you are 20 or 60. Barbara Sher in her 1994 book 'I could Do Anything if I only knew what it was' says try asking the question: 'What did I like to do at 5, 10, 15 et cetera? What do you like to do now. Throughout that list is the thread that connects you to your passion - go through it, let it sit, and then review it again. Ask too 'What do I hate to do?' Think about how you can cut those things out of your life, to allow you more time to do the things you love. (www.amazon.ca/Could-Anything-Only-Knew-What/dp/0440505003/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526411276&sr=8-1&keywords=Barbara+sher)
There are many other such exercises, if the one above doesn't resonate with you, try something else - don't give up, because it's too hard. Yes, you can learn anything if you put your mind to it, and you can have a career in a job/sector you hate, learn to love the financial reward that comes from it, but inside how is your soul? Does it feel like it shrivels up a little each year? What if you don't know what you want to do, and so just follow what your parents and teachers have advised, well they've lived well and seem okay with it - have you ever asked them, 'If you had followed your dream when you were young, would you be doing what you do now?' I think many of us might be surprised at the answers we receive.
So many people have moved forward, not really thinking about what it is they really want, and then they become surprised because Change Happens! People, myself included, are funny. We wish for change, if only, and then, because change is inevitable, when it happens we're caught off guard. We're surprised, don't know what to do.... whether it's forced retirement, being laid off a job you've had for years... an unexpected move.. an inheritance.. we're paralyzed. What we fail to realize is that life is actually handing us a gift? If you don't have enough to live on - okay that's a problem, and so while you work through what you really want, think about taking a mac-job. That is a job that pays the bills, doesn't take too much brain power, and yes, it may be a let down from 'who you used to be', but what's the worse that could happen? You're embarrassed - why? You're doing something, and moving forward, your job pays your bills, and at the same time you're figuring out what next - what really moves you? How can I make it happen, who do I know that I can call for advice, to mentor me to bounce ideas off. What do I need to do/learn to make it a reality? Often we're terrified to move forward because of fear - fear of the unknown, fear of rejection or just fear (what/why we don't understand). Fear can be a powerful force in our lives, we stay in the same place because it's easier than moving forward.
When I decided to up my education I was in my late 40's, I was terrified, I still carried the voices of teachers in high school in my head, those who told me I wasn't smart enough, couldn't make it - but, it was something I wanted, not just for myself but for my kids, they needed to see that their mum was walking her talk. What was the worst that could happen, I failed an exam! Big deal! This was a big change, and like all change, whether we instigate it or it happens to us, there was conflict - it's a fascinating thing, we can make change happen, or allow it to happen to us... Me, I was taking control and even in though I made the decision, my choice, I was conflicted internally - fear, worry at the cost, worry just because... it was terrifying! Quite a number of years later, I'm so happy I made that decision and faced down the fear that had been with me for years and had driven me, at a cost to me, to constantly prove myself to people who had no idea of my history and certainly, outside my mind, did not think of me in the same terms as those teachers long ago. Now I think about it, what ego I had to think that they spent their time thinking of me! From that one decision, I've been able to change career, and develop my own business and, despite the ups and downs of any new business, I'm happier than I had been in my previous career - I get to chose who I work with, my values are what carries my business and new career, and I am constantly learning from, and meeting new people who add value to my life.
So, I challenge you, take a chance - look into the future. What do you see yourself doing in five or ten years? Where are you? How do you feel? Did you take that risk, or even make a calculated risk knowing that you could always turn back if it didn't work out? Imagine the future you writing to the present you right now - allow your imagination to let go, create a future you participating in all those things you've dreamed of doing. What would your future self say? What steps did the future you take to get where they are, and what is the message they are sending to you, right now? Then sit down, either independently, with your partner or with a coach, and if this is truly where you want to be, create a plan to get you from where you are now to where you want to be. What are the steps you need to take?
If you need help and/or support contact me for a free discovery session. Remember, you are in charge of how you live this life, whether in your second or third act, there is plenty of life left in you to live. Only you stand in your way!
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog