I’m instituting the 40 After 40 list

standard June 3, 2016 4 responses

I am not the only one of my friends who happens to be turning 40 this summer. I am not the only one who appears to be struggling with this, and struggling to find the reason they’re struggling with it. Everyone is approaching the issue differently, but internally, I think we’re all freaking out a tad.

The funny thing is, I think the reason we’re not sure why we’re freaking out is because the panic around turning 40 seems to be fabricated by the culture around us. It’s all about the concept of being “over the hill” after 40, or the “40 before 40” list pressure, as if there’s no time to try something new or experience something different once you’re out of your 30’s.

I was driving the other day to meet a friend for lunch and ruminating on the fact that this year has been so busy that I never found time to create a “40 before 40” list. Had I made one, there’s no way I would have accomplished any of it in the scant amount of downtime my current schedule allows for.

And then I realized how incredibly stupid the concept is.

I mean, why?

WHY 40?

WHY a list of things that MUST be done, tried, accomplished before turning 40?

Is it that after it’ll be too late? New things must be experienced or at the very least attempted before?

What, somehow on July 23rd it’ll be too late for me to go on a hot air balloon ride? Sheer an alpaca? Attempt to cook something exotic I’ve never attempted before?

That seems… ridiculous. No?

But, apparently, that’s what main stream media would like us to believe.

And I’m calling B.S.

First of all, how many people, before 40, have the kind of disposable income it takes to accomplish the sorts of “dreams” people put on their 40 before 40 lists?

Second, I’m sorry, but most people are a tad busy in their 30’s what with kids and careers and all that jazz. Some days it’s a miracle when your socks match, let alone when you attempt to think of something new to try.

So I’m instituting a new type of list. A sort of celebration of 40 and beyond. Of all the living there’s yet to do.

I’m calling it the 40 After 40 list.

Original, right?

It’s going to be full of awesome, BIG things. Things that remind me how amazing it is that I GET to turn 40. That I am alive and kicking. That I have already accomplished great things and GET to enjoy a lifetime of accomplishing MORE.

Now that’s a list I can get behind. What are you putting on yours?

40 After 40 List Image

 

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I thought I would be young forever

standard April 18, 2016 1 response

I’ve had a nice big patch of white hair over my right temple since our tumultuous 2011 experiences, but until recently, only a few others would appear here and there, easily ripped out and dismissed as mere annoyances. These days however, new white hairs appear with devastating frequency. And they’re no longer happy to let themselves be contained in an area that can somewhat easily be masked. Oh no. They’re popping up everywhere.

And then there’s this weird thing happening on my chest. As in, when I wake up I have these disgustingly deep wrinkles all down my cleavage. They fade as the day progresses, but man is that a hard thing to see first thing in the morning. It’s like I’m getting old or something.

Or rather, it’s like my body is trying to tell me something.

It’s like it’s trying to hint at the fact that I’m turning 40 in just three months.

4. 0. In. 3. Months.

And how is that even possible?

I thought I was going to be young forever.

Or, rather, I thought I was still young.

Because young is a mindset, right? I’m sure I saw a poster on Pinterest that said something to that effect. And if it’s on Pinterest, it must be true. Right? RIGHT?

And I really thought I was still hip, and cool, and with it. I mean, I have a stripe of bluish green mermaid hair for crying out loud, if that doesn’t scream hip, I don’t know what does.

And then we went to Las Vegas, and spotted a young woman dressed in a show-girl outfit, posing in the street with people delighted to spend a couple dollars to have their picture taken with her. All she was wearing in lieu of a bra were two pretty little flower shaped pasties.

When M pointed her out to me, I gasped.

“Oh, that poor girl’s mother…” I whimpered.

M gave me a look, which made me whimper even louder.

Because cool, young, hip people don’t look at scantily clad girls and wonder if their mom knows what they do for a living.  Ergo, I am clearly not cool, young, or hip.

The next day, while lounging by the pool in my no nonsense tummy control bathing suit from Lands End, I actually googled “how old is middle aged?”

Good news, apparently, it’s not an age, it’s a state of mind.

Bad news, I might be heading that way on a runaway train fueled by un-hip Mom thoughts and tummy control bathing suits.

Of course, ever since then, I’ve been dreaming up tattoos that would prove to the world once and for all that I was still very much hip and cool.

At least, I did that until this morning, when I was in the shower having the kinds of deep thoughts you can only have when not being interrupted by kids, dogs, social media messages, or anything else that constantly interrupt my thoughts during the day.

As I lathered up my hair and wondered if there was some magic shampoo that could make my white hair a little less brittle, I asked myself why I was so terrified at the thought of getting older.

I thought about all of the things I have accomplished in the last ahem – 40 – ahem years.

I have nothing to be ashamed of. I have filled those years well. I have tried and tested lots. I have learned even more. I have been daring and bold. I have lived life fully. And I’m not even close to done living life fully.

I may no longer have a chest that won’t quit, or the kinds of looks that help me get ahead in life. But I have smarts I’ve honed carefully for many years. Hard won experience I can put to good use. And it’s so much more satisfying to know I’m landing jobs because I’m good at what I do, rather than because I look cute in a suit.

Yes, I’m still freaking out about the big birthday. Yes, I’m still googling tattoos. But I think I’m starting to get a grip on the whole thing.  40 is a major benchmark, but it would be more worrisome if I had nothing to show for all those spent years.

I get to spend the next 40 putting into effect what I spent the first 40 learning and practicing. So, maybe it’s time to accept that wisdom and experience have youth beat in all the ways that matter. But, if I’m brutally honest, and why wouldn’t I be at this point, now that you know all about the weird cleavage wrinkles…, I might have to sit with that thought for a while. It might take a long while to start feeling like a truth rather than something I’m trying to trick myself into believing.

 

And then, of course, there’s this…. The brutal reminder that I’m damn lucky to be struggling with these feelings at all.

"Growing old is a privilege denied to many" tattoo

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What I learned when I journaled daily

standard March 17, 2016 Leave a response

What a month of daily journaling taught me

A little over a month ago I made the decision to try really, really hard to create something before I consumed anything. In my case that meant coming up with my own words before ingesting the words and thoughts of anyone else. AKA, no email/Facebook/texts before I sat down and wrote a few pages in my journal.

You’d think that someone who started a company extolling the many benefits of journaling would already have had a rather healthy journaling habit. You would be wrong.

I’m really good at telling people what to do and not doing it myself. Just ask my kids.

So there I was, the first morning after my big decision, reaching for my phone, and then forcing myself to put it down. I made the kids’ lunches, made myself a cup of tea, and sat down at the kitchen table in the middle of the morning chaos and opened a brand new journal.

As I uncapped my pen, my kids gave me some serious side-eye, wondering what craziness mom was up to now. Then I started writing and they went right back to ignoring me.

Every morning (yes, even on the weekend) since then, I’ve done the same thing.

Discover what I’ve learned over on The Zen Pencil blog. 

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Saying Yes to me

standard February 10, 2016 6 responses

I attended a meeting at my mothers’ group last week that was all about making space for ourselves in the chaos of our lives. The speaker, a good friend of mine, pointed out that people tend to be bad at making time for the things that feed their souls. And, when you don’t feed your soul, you’re tired, you don’t have the energy you need to get through every day, and you slowly lose your passion for life.

She’s right. 100% right.

But she sent me into a terrifying tailspin of introspection. Because, as it so turns out, I have no idea what really feeds my soul.

I spent the week pondering this baffling concept and, as I am wont to do, I ordered a few books to see what I could do about figuring out what makes my happy little clock tick.

I ordered Shonda Rhimes’ book Year of Yes because I had heard good things about it and Brené Brown’s Rising Strong, because Brené.

The books arrived yesterday and I dove into Shonda’s book first. Yes, a book. A paper book. Because I wanted to highlight things and put post-its and mark it all up. And yes, I did at one point tap a page and wonder for a second why it wasn’t turning. Sigh. Creature of habit, I am.

I’m almost 2/3rds of the way through and already the book has helped me shift some thinking around.

My whole life I have lived reactively. I have acted the way people expect me to act. I have achieved what people expect me to achieve. I have done the things people expect me to do. I have happily molded myself to these expectations and done them all quite well.

Every so often, I have stepped out of the bounds of expectations and branched out a bit. I moved to the other side of the world to give a relationship a chance. I spent a year rocking my baby and writing a novel. But for the most part, I just happily conformed.

And filled my life with the business of living up to the expectations.

It’s not a bad life by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just a bit lacking in the “me” department sometimes.

Which, let’s be clear, is 100% my fault.

My love language is steeped in acts of love and acts of service. I live to serve. Literally. I am at my happiest when I am doing things for others. It is no surprise that I have gone almost 40 years quite happily fulfilling expectations. I’m sure I’ll go at least another 40 doing more of the same.

I just also need to remember to do things for me.

Earlier this week I listened to a podcast for entrepreneurs as I took a walk with the dog and I found myself mulling over one snippet that caught my ear. “Always create before you consume,” Mari Forleo, the podcast guest encouraged. Don’t let other people’s creations dim your own creativity.

I thought about it for the rest of the walk and for much of the following day.

I’m a creative individual, but I always put my own creations on the back burner. They’re low on the to do list. In fact, every morning, I start off the day by reading my email and diving into Facebook.

Before I’m fully awake, I’ve already dipped into the lives, feelings, and creations of 50 or so other people.

Before my brain has fully engaged, it’s full of other people’s thoughts.

I looked at the situation from Shonda’s point of view this morning and wondered how she would turn this into a way to say Yes to myself.

I didn’t berate myself for this deeply entrenched habit. I simply decided to say Yes to myself and to my creativity.

Instead of opening Facebook, I pulled out my journal. Wrote for 5 minutes, sitting at the kitchen table, surrounded by the girls and their morning chaos. Then I picked up my phone and I deleted the Facebook app.

I’ll still be on Facebook. It’s part of my job. But I’m going to see if I can manage without it on my phone.

I’m going to replace all those wasted minutes as I wait for kids, as I sit at a red light, as I wait in line at the grocery store with more observation of my surroundings, more thoughts, more time for me.

I’m curious to see how it works out.

Create before you Consume

 

*Please note, the links to the two books are affiliate links. Should you click on them and buy something from Amazon, you’ll be helping feed my book habit. The spouse and I will be very grateful.*

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Ready to start journaling- (3)

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