Self-reflection

My 2014 Half Year Insights

1.) Making a clear choice on what to do and what NOT to do is ABSOLUTELY working for me. I have considerably narrowed both the type and time of my work efforts. Something professional must be something I am passionate about (meaning it interests me and feels important enough to spend time doing) and that makes me happy – even if the effort brings little money or prestige. Am writing several blogs, doing one-on-one life coaching with selected and committed clients (my max is 5 at any given time) and creating online content to provide inexpensive but practical workplace advice. Narrowing my focus has helped with all aspects of my writing.  New, more specific goals for the second half of the year are in progress with a smaller number of projects.  Hurrah!

2.) The decision to read two pages of spiritual reading per night – one new, and one a repeat of the previous night’s reading (using Self-Meditation: 3,299 Mantras, Tips, Quotes and Koans for Peace and Serenity) – has made a concrete difference in my stress level and feelings of peace.

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3.) Ceasing to seek constant advice from outside sources when I clearly know the answer and just need to implement it: definitely an important lesson for me — AGAIN but sticking to it this time! Went back to Weight Watchers (this time online – which was easy, relatively, once I figured it out). Weighing myself weekly and attempting to keep cutting portion size helped me lose weight.

4.) Buying something really fabulous that I feel (however foolishly) is something classic and usable “forever” is good for my soul and helps me increase the stuff going OUT of my closet. That which is an essential task of being fabulous — if I haven’t worn it in a while and it isn’t my wedding dress – it goes. Am hoping to get rid of my wedding dress soon.

The “buy” was a pair of classic Chanel pumps on final clearance at Saks. I may fall down in them before they wear out/go out of style.

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5.) The decision to just go ahead and do a few things never done before or buy a different brand or type of product/service – and most importantly stop doing some things I know don’t work – have all proven to be smart choices. I exercised my “out of my comfort zone” muscles in both small and large ways — and appreciated the results — not all of which worked but were, at least, interesting.

6.) Keeping my close friends and close family as a priority – yet not feeling any specific obligation to do or attend any given event is a delicate and tough balance worth continually striving for. That combination is making for more fun, less guilt and helps to know who needs to be in (and who needs to be booted from) my/our inner circle.

This combined with constantly lowering my expectations of others (oh do try this if you haven’t already — a true winner strategy) while keeping my expectations of myself high (because that is who I am and how I define myself) is shaping my life to be more of what I want, what I feel truly comfortable with, and with much less feelings of hurt, disappointment or anger.

Hope you learned some lessons from your own experiences as well. Would love to hear about them.

Remember to Stop the Insanity!

Remember Susan Powter and that 1993 book Stop the Insanity?

Always loved that title. Her point was that most dieting and exercising routines were just silly and losing weight is rather simple and relatively straightforward. Not that the search doesn’t continue with Americans still hoping for the magic pill or other process to take off weight and keep it off.

This phrase hit me again when FabulousOver60 received a comment from a reader talking about her worries about her future daughter-in-law. Seems the woman’s family has one style – and the future daughter in law’s family is simply the opposite. What to do she asks?

Stop the insanity is what you do. Meaning, it is simple — take our mother’s (and the Bible’s) advice—reap what you sow!

By the time you are fabulous and over 60 if you haven’t figured this one out you have to make a change — and QUICK. This is old ground. The only reason you are hanging on to nutty ideas is pure intellectual laziness. Take it from those of us who get it – which I am 99.9% sure includes you – don’t make these OBVIOUS life mistakes:

  • Treat your family with little respect — offering unsolicited advice and commenting on faults of people from smoking to being overweight?  Result: Hurt feelings and lower family happiness
  • Treat grandchildren and other young people ‘generically’ — “so how’s school…?” Not seeing and experiencing each as a unique and prized person?  Result: Generic “hi poppy/hi grandma” semi interesting relationship with future generations.
  • Talk about your grandchildren all the time rather than focusing on your friends and THEIR lives and current life issues?  Result: Friend doesn’t say it, but thinks “who cares about Jimmy’s SAT scores and what happened to OUR friendship?”
  • Complain about a job search that is taking too long?  Result: Man from Mars comes down and wakes you up to today’s economic realities and current workplace — if you are looking to get back in the game figure out how the game is played!
  • Combining your money with a guy you just met who is 20 years younger and suddenly so interested in sharing?  Result: All together now – are you crazy???
  • Pretending you are not getting older only better?  Result: Delusion, and worse: making the same mistakes our parents made and dumping the responsibility for handling your inevitable future tough situations on your family.

We are educated, sophisticated, have been there and done that, are informed and connected. Yet we all somehow want a break from the eternal law of the universe.

We need to stop the insanity and start doing more things we know make us happy and sane and healthy. Exercise, positive realism, patience with ourselves, spa time, laughing out loud, spending sensibly, traveling, involvement with our passions, looking for the good, making hard but important choices and being optimistic about the future. “It is all good till it isn’t”.

My girlfriend Barbara said that yesterday – and it is the wisest advice for FabulousOver60s. Stop the insanity. Do the things you know work and dump the obvious mistakes. Enjoy your life while it is good — and when it suddenly isn’t any more, as is inevitable, move on with grace — and a lack of surprise.

Use Mad Men Wisely

Like millions of others, I couldn’t wait for the seventh and final season of Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men on AMC.

This last season of Mad Men is dredging up old stuff I hadn’t thought about – or have been pissed off about – for roughly 45 years.

A new marketing lead at an existing client company meets Joan Harris, not one of the male partners of advertising agency Sterling Cooper, and is clearly disappointed. Over a coke at the bar he starts lecturing Joan like she never worked at an advertising agency much less is a partner of one. It made my blood boil.

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A senior executive refers to a black woman and some white men as “Gladys Knight and the Pips” as they enter a work meeting. OMG this hit my buttons.

Don Draper hits on another woman while on a plane from LA (and his time with his wife Megan living the LA life) back to New York. If I see Don with that sympathetic and lustful face looking at one more different woman while she shares her woe (this one a widow) I am going to scream.

Mad Men is terrific entertainment, not reality. 1969 is LONG over. While it may be troubling to recall the professional travails back then; getting angry all over again wastes energy that could be spent on real current problems — like continuing gender bias in the workplace.

What I realize as I watch Mad Men this season is that it was cutting a little too close to home — and giving me an opportunity to reflect on some buried issues as well as current ones. This is a good thing: fresh opportunities for personal reflection and renewed growth – and this I recommend.

The accurate costumes make one wince and are without doubt triggers for memories of our own past. But what has me really exploring raw feelings are the subtle or not so subtle mocking of the ways we experienced our lives back then. It seems to me that how we were experiencing new avenues of sexual freedom, politics, civil rights and patriarchy comes across as a bit too much like a surface set of fads rather than the difficult, thoughtful and challenging opportunities of that era.

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It really was not easy to “become liberated”, “be involved in civil rights”, or “want to be taken seriously”. Politics were white hot and challenging and conversations with parents/authority figures were often brutal. Mini skirts, and smoking pot were more than props – they were small attempts to express new ways of thinking in the culture. A culture which we were trying desperately to change — and ultimately did.

I can take Mad Men and its terrific acting and writing as a way of getting into my own history and life explorations; or, I can just let the show continue to annoy me, and remind me of old, relatively minor wounds, and 60’s fashion. Upon reflection, we at least cared about fashion and looking pulled together back then. Seems like anyone today could spend 6 weeks traveling anywhere with black pants, jeans, two tops, a washable universal-looking dress, walking sandals and an average-looking sweater or cheap raincoat. To me, that is not progress. Or maybe, sister boomers, it really is.

Zen Day Gone Wrong: Is Tuesday the New Monday For Us?

Think Zen.

The results you get ARE the feedback.

Stay mindful.

Be present.

Breathe.

If you could read my personal 2014 resolutions you would find all these goals right there.

So I started my planned Zen day with yoga – all set and on time for once — not rushing — another resolution.

It appeared I wasn’t hearing my fabulous yoga teacher Laura. Or, what I thought I heard couldn’t seem to translate into the poses Laura was directing us toward.

By headstand, shoulder stand, and “wild thing” (one of those yoga poses that should be illegal) I was cooked — couldn’t wait to get to savasana (relaxation at the end of a session). But as the chants were being sung my blankets were off kilter and the deep relaxation wasn’t.

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Not to worry. Seek peace. Golf lessons from Joanne is sort of the opposite of yoga. The need to relax is even more profound because the whole game is counter-intuitive. Keep your eyes on the ball but let the club do the hitting. Swing back two thirds and then forward evenly and without pulling up. Look at the ball but do not nudge it.

Yeah I get this. The balls I was using hadn’t gotten the memo. They didn’t go far.

Sigh. Lunch break with Bill – let’s go somewhere comfortable and easy – relaxed and simple. But there was a traffic jam in Tucson — yes, you skeptics, it actually happened. Ate the bread due to the “stress” of yoga and golf and arriving late to lunch. My Zen day (otherwise known as a spoiled girl’s day) wasn’t working.

Post lunch I reaffirmed my commitment to a Zen day. I would run a simple errand to pick up the jewelry repair not ready yesterday.

Store owner Chris told me to come back today, but when I got there he was STILL not ready with my ring. Seems “the afternoon” in Tucson does not mean 2:30 PM but 5:30 PM.

Oh whatever — move on — maybe some actual professional work will make me feel truly Zen since it is related to my heart’s passion: coaching.

After an hour of moving old emails from my inbox into the slots marked for each of my coaching clients in an effort to have a simpler and cleaner email, the system message indicated that all that movement had failed. Of course I wasn’t worried all 200 or so emails were somewhere — they had to be on my Mac. Well, not really.

Writing this blog has been the easiest part of the day – was hoping to watch another episode of House of Cards tonight to REALLY relax. Alas, our universal remote isn’t working. Was the universe saying “relaxing with this acid comedy/drama would not cause Zen”?

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Is Tuesday, previously thought to be the most productive day of the week, really the new Monday for fabulous-over-60s?

I doubt it. Because if a fabulous-over-60 doesn’t watch out, ANY day could be the new Monday and there will be no productive Tuesdays! Our expectations have shifted and we often aim for a Zen day any old day of the week.

Should have known when I was in the mood for a Zen day, the tree in the forest made no noise as it fell because no one was there — or something like that. If I was a total masochist I would end the day watching this and really start to cry.

Image credit: here

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