Category: Starting Over (page 1 of 4)

What’s truly dear to your heart?

We get so bombarded with so much STUFF….so many messages…so many gadgets and apps and channels and offers and more until we often can’t remember what really truly matters to us.  Much less who matters most to us.

I am inclined to think that many of us baby boomers never really know what our short list is, because we’re never really put to the test.  We never have to consider what it would be like not to have that person in our lives.  We grow up, we go to work, we might go off to school but then many of us come back and resume things.  Same surroundings.  Pretty much the same social circle.

It all gets comfortable.  Easy.  Our world stays pretty steady.

Until a disease comes along, and a few of those people you thought would show up don’t.  Or divorce comes along, and those people who used to sit down the pew from you now look at you differently.  Or your lose your job, and you can’t do that regular monthly dinner out and no one calls the other three weeks.It’s interesting to really learn not only who and what matters most to you, but who you matter most to.  (Bad English maybe, but you get it.)  It’s scary.  Yet maybe it’s incredibly freeing as well.

I never understood how I could go to another job, maybe just a few miles away, and my “friends” from my previous job just dropped me.  Having moved a few times as a child to different schools in different states, I learned how friendship is something that shouldn’t depend on geography.  Yet as an adult, it seems there are those who don’t feel that way.

Then I moved across the country.  Having so many miles between me and my previous life really was instructive in terms of who I missed most, and who missed me enough to stay in contact.  I had an even deeper appreciation of their friendship and love because I felt it as well.  I could also look back at my former city and love the good parts about it.  Taking a big step out of your comfort zone definitely changes you, forces you to grow in ways you can’t otherwise, and in some ways, simplifies a lot of things.

I’ve been told when you make a major life change, you often bring up other people’s fears.  They don’t want you to do it because it changes things.  Maybe it makes them consider if they are happy.  Maybe it tests their relationships.  I don’t know.

But then my life got a little stranger.  I moved again, back to my old home grounds.  (Economics, family, etc…kind of like hitting the re-set button for a few years, then we’ll see where I land.)  But I came back thinking I could reconnect with a few of the people who I had considered friends before.  What happened was and is surprising.

My true, live-in-my-heart friends, were glad I was back and we have picked up where we left off, which makes me eternally grateful because I never let go of them and they did not let go of me even when I was very far away.

But a few others…people I used to work with, or hang out with, or in many cases treat to an occasional lunch or dinner when they were down a bit…they have been a no-show.  A few don’t even answer emails or voice messages. My late mother would probably say well maybe they never were my friends anyway.  But it didn’t feel that way.

I’ve checked my breath and personal hygiene.  That’s not it either.

Times change.  People change.  Maybe Mother was right.

What has been fascinating is doing all this full-circle.  Being in one place for many years, moving to a new place for a decade, then moving back…and seeing what is still true, what never was true, and how you have to always find your own bliss, own peace of mind, and own strength.

I’ve never been the type of person who needs to be surrounded by a lot of people.  I don’t have 300 “friends” on Facebook (no judgment if you do, it’s just not me).  I’m very okay with solitary moments and I can dine, see a movie or travel solo without missing a beat.  I feel more fulfilled in nature than in any other situation, and if you’re going to blast music while walking down a mountain trail, please go on ahead of me so I don’t have to hear it.

And maybe those of us who actually step past the safety zone…who take risks and do things other deem as scary…without a net…who follow their inner voice and are willing to feel the fear, loneliness and confusion that can come with that…maybe we actually do have more strength.

And maybe in the long run, our rewards are greater.

Not more money.  Not the coolest people at our table.  Not necessarily the smoothest road.

But the one that takes us inward, where our real treasures lie.

So if you’re considering going forward, or going back, take care.

Bundle up.

Grab a snack.

Stick to the trail.

Cause it’s not easy…but it’s also not near as hard as never taking that step.

 

“Pursue some path, rather narrow or crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

        Henry David Thoreau

 

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Don’t ever give up!

Uphill both ways.

That’s what they say about the hiking trails in the Rocky Mountains: they’re uphill both ways. And somehow, they’re usually right. But then, it’s all about the journey, right?

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So many of us baby boomers have wanted to do something for so long, thought about it so many nights, spent so much energy gearing up for it, and then once we’ve done it, we’re so tired that we do well to make it across the room.

A word of advice, or more of a warning that’s actually an admission no one tells you about: if you do cross the desert or swim the seas to make your dream happen, or you go through the exhausting exercise of moving across country, starting a brand new business, retiring to something you’ve never done before or any other major do-over, be prepared: you will be tired.

Very tired.

And it will take you more than a year to really get back on your feet again…and not just because you’re 50+, 60+ 70+ or beyond. You’ll have bursts of energy, you’ll relax many of those rigid muscles because you’ve finally given your inside voices a rest. But you’ll still have stretches where falling back into lazy habits will seem so comforting and so right, until one day you wake up and realize you’re in the same spot on the same couch, just in a different zip code.

And that’s okay. Because even animals hibernate. They have down seasons as we do. Plants go dormant. The weather shifts.

So if you need another 6 months or a year to add a new exercise program, a new volunteer effort, a social adventure into unchartered territory, it’s okay.

In fact, it’s recommended. Because you no longer have to “hurry up and relax.” You’re there. Which can bring you to the next worry: once you “get” the thing you’ve always wanted….will you “miss” missing it?

Sounds crazy. Maybe.

But it’s surprisingly common. There’s a lot of safety in having an ideal Shangrala in your mind, a safe place you can escape to when things around you are just too much to deal with. Always knowing there’s a place that restores your soul where you can go for complete escape is a wonderful thing. If you actually move there, or go work for that company, or follow that wonderful man or woman, and have this joy every day, what will you do then?

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If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.

Very wise words from someone that I’m sure has taken the plunge. The closer you get to the flame, the more chances you’ll get burned. Maybe things won’t be as you remembered. What if it’s all a ruse…what then? Will anything be left you can believe in?

I’m happy to report that when it’s really your soul talking to you, it’s something you can believe in. Granted, once you achieve it, you have to make it work—you have to supply the energy and sweat and effort to carve out your place there. But it’s real. All these crazy thoughts, the second-guessing and turmoil in the middle of the night…that’s the ego, the childlike part of you that wants to stay hidden in Mother’s skirt. It wants to convince you that you can’t possibly do this—and definitely not on your own.

 

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But I say, yes you can. I did. I have. And I’m still alive.

And while I’ve had some  issues over the years, still occasionally get scared and lonely, wished I could just call someone I’ve known for years and ask them to come over and help, etc., etc., I’m in grateful awe of what the universe empowered me to accomplish: changing my reality.

Taking a whole new path.

Going out there and seeing what else is possible.

And whether you stay in your dream, or your dream changes…or you find due to a change in your life that you need to return to your old stomping grounds, or downsize, or find a new place to call home, you will know you are doing the right thing:

Achieving your dream, wrinkles and all.

 

 

 

 

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

            Harriet Tubman

 

 

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Walking the Labyrinth

Life can take us in many directions, and often on paths we never thought we’d choose.  Sometimes the way ahead is clear.  Other times, (and for me, more often than not,) the path ahead is a bit hazy…I can’t quite see the images…and when I get to that intersection I am really not sure where I’m supposed to go.

It’s like hiking, which has always been my favorite thing though these days my feet don’t want to cooperate.  I hike a trail. I can tell where it’s going.  Then I come to a point where it seems to split into many options.  Obviously only one is “really” the trail.  But the others look kind of okay…are they options?

If I choose one I’ve never done before, will it bring me back to where I am right now?

 Or will I get lost and never find my way back? 

The movies want you to think that it’s easy to figure out moments like this.  There’s a sudden vision.  Or the music changes and the sun comes out and you just know.  More likely is you are tired, distracted and you’d just like someone to come along and tell you which way is which.

file000143069688That whole fantasy about how things get easier as you get older…hmmm…how’s that working for you?  I agree we have more wisdom as we age.  But I’m not sure it always makes things easier.

When my mind won’t settle enough for me to figure out what’s next, or there’s just no peace because it feels like I’ve backtracked and messed up and soon I’ll even up living under a bridge, I try to find experiences that quiet it all.  Meditation is good.  Tai chi is restorative.  Nature is always a balm.

And then there’s the labyrinth.

According to The Labyrinth Society, a “labyrinth is a single path or unicursal tool for personal, psychological or spiritual transformation.  Labyrinths are thought to enhance right brain activity.”    Labyrinths are considered walking meditations, where your psyche meets your spirit.

Labyrinth enthusiasts believe that as you enter the labyrinth, you release.  When you enter the center, you receive.  Then as you leave, you give back to the world what you have received.

One of the most famous labyrinths is that found at Chartres Cathedral in France.  This labyrinth is 42 feet in diameter and is thought to have been constructed in the early 13th century, though no one is sure.  What is known is that up to 1,000 people have walked the path and the numbers continue to grow.

What is it that pulls so many people to walk this design?  Does it really have a power all its own?

Many years ago I was at a point in my life where I could not figure out what was my inner self giving me direction, or what were the messages I’d absorbed for years from well-meaning but negative people I was around.  I just wanted to clear my mind and get a feel for what my path should be.  I had heard of a large labyrinth laid out at a church near me, and I decided to try it.  A friend had suggested that before I walk the labyrinth, I say a prayer or meditation of what I hoped to find…what answer I was looking for.  And be sure to enter the design with as clear a mind as possible.

Easier said than done, but I followed her advice.  And it was, for me, an amazing feeling.  As I entered the labyrinth, I felt what I can best describe as a force field…an energy that seemed very real and very strong.  I took my time and let thoughts come and go.  What most impressed me was how just as you think you’re about to reach the center, the labyrinth takes you back out to the outer edges, slowing you down, making you revisit where you have come from, not allowing you to just quickly find that golden egg.

In other words, you can’t get where you going without circling back to where you’ve been. 

I find that to be a huge lesson.  We don’t just come out of the rodeo shoot and never look back.  We make progress, we accomplish things, we lead our lives…but we’re always calling upon where we’ve come from.

Some reject this idea, as they have come from places or environments that were abusive or so negative they never want to look back.  I understand that for sure.  But I think even that pain has something to teach us and if we boomers ignore it, it’s just going to keep popping up and block our forward motion.

dioI also noted how once I reached the center of the labyrinth, I felt peace.  I could just breathe and be for a bit.  (How often do we do that??)  Then as I was ready to leave the center, I once again had to follow a path that picked up speed, then slowed, and again, took me literally full circle…to the outer edges and back.

Maybe this all sounds weird.  But lately, I’m in a place again where my inner self is a bit off-balance, where it is easy to give in to the notion that because I’ve returned to an earlier address, I’ve failed or walked backwards.  Yet my conscious mind knows that’s not the case; I’ve just taken one of those spur trails to see where it will take me.

I’ll still get where I was going, but I will take an unexpected route.  And it might be one that for a while doesn’t feel quite right, like putting on shoes that don’t fit or a sweater that itches.  But if I trust a higher force to get me through the dark parts, then surely there’s a vista at the end of this trail that’s far more beautiful than I could have imagined.

I let go.  I receive.  I give back.  And maybe in the process, I return to who I am so I can be even more.

“Methinks the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”     

       Henry David Thoreau

 

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A letter to God.

Dear God:

I just need to talk to someone. I need to say what’s happening and how small I feel.

You know I’m moving across country again.  I”m sure you know, since it seems some doors have permanently closed where I am, forcing me to make some decisions I wasn’t quite ready for.  But you know best, so I’m going.  Going back where I moved from almost 10 years ago.  Back to familiar places and faces and humidity.  All that’s okay.  (Insert whatever huge, scary, or confusing thing you are going through here.)

But tell me, why does it have to be so hard?  Isn’t there a lever up there somewhere that a big burly angel can pull where things fall into place?  Repairmen show up?  Nothing breaks the week before you try to sell your house?  The paint matches the porch?  That person calls you back?

I guess not.  Or my angel’s sleeping on the job. Because I can report that this move is even harder than the last one, which I thought nothing could top.

This time around, I decided to update my kitchen to help my house sell faster.  Great.  Except they flooded my hardwood floor, which is still waiting to be fixed.  Because no one ever shows up.

Then I decided to have someone repair-paint my front porch.  Only the paint in the can doesn’t match the paint on the porch.  And the paint experts in the paint expert store took two hours to perfect match it. (Close enough would have been fine with me.)

Then there’s the fact that I can’t find the safe deposit box key for the safe deposit box at the bank.  See, I need to find the key to open the box so I can then close it.  But without the key, the bank has to call angry men with big tools who will drill it open.  And everyone will stare.

IMG_0799 - Version 2Then there’s other people who want me to do things that I can’t do now that I’m in the packing-moving-cleaning-worrying mode.  I just physically can’t do some of the things my friends want to do.  And my mind is somewhere in a box, but I can’t remember which one.  Yet I value friendship right now more than ever, and it feels like some people are pulling away from me, which is really painful.

And of course, there’s the clients who sit quietly all year and now, that I’m in a vortex of stress, want me to fly to meetings.  Attend conferences.  Tour facilities.  Rewrite War and Peace.  And I simply can’t do it.

Of course, these aren’t real problems.  Real problems are diseases, death, not having enough to eat.  I know that.  Yet I also know at the time, whether it’s seeing your parent helpless after a stroke, or leaving the vet in tears after your pet is put to sleep, or knowing your marriage is over, or being so worn out from a repairman never showing up time and time again, it can all just become too much.

And I don’t like that feeling.

Change is hard anytime.  I confess it’s harder when you get older.  But I’m beginning to wonder if I’m truly getting feeble.

I’m scared the house won’t get on the market when it should.  

I’m filled with anxiety about disappointing people.

II’m worried the right house won’t be on the market at the right time.

I’m just so tired emotionally.

I don’t want to cry about it.

I’m tired physically. I know I’m not eating right.

I’m not exercising so I’m getting fat.

I’m worried about my dog.

I did cry this morning.

I don’t do well with unfinished messes.

I hate worrying about money.

I want to do something truly meaningful.

I’m weary.

I keep thinking it will get easier. 

I just want to be happy.

Yet in the back of mind, somewhere behind the empty Cheetos bags and my college diploma, there’s the voice that inspired me a decade ago….you can do this!  You can change your life!  You have the energy!  The universe is waiting to help you!  You aren’t giving up your dream, you’re just changing course!

And I do still believe that.  I truly do.  I think everyone over 50 should stop, look around, and decide if there’s an adventure they want to pursue—and pursue it. Scared, tired, or unsure, just do it.  I wouldn’t give up mine for anything.  I’ll always have it.  And now, I know I”m just starting a new adventure.

A little older, yes.  Joints a little more creaky, you bet.  But somewhere in there, my spirit is still the same.

But it’s  also important to stop occasionally and just make a plea to God, the universe, or whatever spirit or being you talk to.

Admit you’re scared.  Exhausted.  Confused.  It’s okay.  And it’s the part of the grand adventure that a lot of people don’t talk about.

But they should.  Because that’s when the grace comes.

When you’re feeling weaker and more afraid than you ever have. When it feels you truly are unraveling.

Then it’s important to remember that feeling is not the same as reality sometimes.

And if you’re friends or the sister or brother of someone who is making a major scary life change, don’t pull away.  Let them know you are there.  Listen.  Pray for them.  Take the late night phone call.  You might be feeling some pain and anxiety too, but just consider they might be feeling like they’re in a black abyss and no one is in there with them.  Just help them breathe.

Anyway, God, I’m just checking in.  You know, sharing.  Turning it over.  Letting go.   Because I need your calm. Peace. Strength. Courage. Wisdom. Patience. Healing.

And maybe another bag of Cheetos.

 

“When life gives you 100 reasons to cry, show life you have 1000 reasons to smile.”

            Anonymous

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