Dear 60 year old self.

“For yesterday is but a memory, and tomorrow is only a vision. But today well lived makes every yesterday a memory of happiness. And every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to this day.

Ancient Sanskrit poem by Kelidasa

So if you recall, a couple months back I received a birthday card that instructed me to write a letter to my 20 year old self and one to my 60 year old self. I posted the letter to my 20 year old self. Apparently that was the easy one.

I have been struggling with what to write to my 60 year old self. What in the world do I want to say to myself in 10 years from now. I sit quietly in front of my keyboard and just when I think I have it… nope. That’s not right. So I abandon it. This morning I was contemplating it once again and I realized, I have no idea what I want to say to myself in 10 years from now. I have no idea what life will be like in 10 years. What questions do I have for my 60 year old self. What congratulations shall I give to her. I don’t even know where she lives so where would I even send it? (that’s rhetorical)

I could say… I hope you are living abundantly. I hope you have found the love of your life… your best friend. I hope you career is rewarding and amazing. I hope you are healthy and doing all the activities you enjoy. I hope you love your life even more than you did 10 years ago. I hope…

The point is, we don’t have a clue what life is bringing us tomorrow much less 10 years from now. I have worked so hard on learning how to live for today so how do I abandon that and send my mind 10 years into the future? I don’t.

I continue living for today. I continue making all the choices today that will bring all those future hopes to fruition. I continue to trust in my choices so that I can go forth with confidence and pride. I continue to live my life with integrity and positivity so that I am living to my fullest and truest potential.

I have gone through so many changes over the past 5 years. So many moments that have defined me. So many successes built on failures. So many oopsies and pivots. So many moments of pure joy and so many moments of deep darkness. And so much learning. So. Much. Learning. About me. About life. About knowing that the only day that matters is today.

I am the creator of that 60 year old self. And I am creating her with every moment I live. Today. She does not yet exist as she is a work in progress. She will always be a work in progress. And oh what fun I am having creating her.

But I like to follow the rules so here is my letter…

Dear 60 year old self… I love how happy you are.

The laws of attraction.

You cannot change the people around you, but you can change the people you chose to be around.”

Unknown

For most of my adult life I felt like I have taken care of people.  Given up attention for myself to focus on others.  Some needed my attention because they were learning.  Some needed my attention because they were lost.  Some needed my attention because they needed to be the center of the universe.  They needed my attention for various reasons but it left nothing for me.  I was okay with this role.  I even relished in it.  I was good at it.  I was good at taking the back seat and pushing others forward.  They needed me and it is always good to be needed.

But.  Eventually I realized that this was not healthy.  Nobody was taking care of me.  Including me.  I began by trying to choose my friends better.  Distancing myself from those that always needed me.  Always took from me.  Always had a problem that needed solving. This was not an easy task. The needy have a good nose. They could smell me from a mile away!

Now that I have been on my own for awhile, I have had the chance to focus my attention on what is important. I have given my attention freedom. Freedom to choose where it wants to wonder… where it wants to play. And of it’s own free will, it choose me.  It feels really good to take care of myself.  My vision.  My future.

I am making wiser choices every day about who I share this new and loyal attention with.  I have become selfish with that precious attention.  And it is precious.  It is valuable.  It has given me the confidence to become anything I want to be and accomplish anything I want to do.

Now here is the interesting part. Suddenly those needy noses didn’t seem to pick up my scent anymore. Suddenly I was attracting people who wanted me – not needed me. There is a difference. A very big difference. People who wanted to be with me, spend time with me, give back to me. Other confident and self assured people who valued me for who I am and not what I could do for them.

My take away on this… Taking care of yourself gives you the power to take care of other people properly. It also allows you to attract people that you want to take care of. There is nothing wrong with people needing you. But you need to be able to need them too. Every relationship you have should be a give and receive relationship. No exceptions. This is such a healthy and powerful place to be. I can make choices to be with people that don’t hurt me. I can make choices to surround myself with people that empower me. I can make choices.

Spend your time with those who value you. Not deplete you. Chose your friends. Chose your family. Chose yourself. First chose yourself.

Finding happy.

I have found a love and passion this past year for writing that I did not know existed. I had always wanted to try but lacked the courage and motivation. I began writing – or rather journaling – in 2019. My hardest, most challenging year so far. Writing was my meditation. My release. A way to get my thoughts out of my head so that I could try to make some sense of what was going on around me. It helped immensely.

Then I started to share my ‘ramblings’. I thought maybe if they helped me so much, they would help others. The response was heart warming. It made me want to share more. My thoughts. My failures. My successes. My sad and my happy.

Please allow me (like you have a choice) to share an excerpt taken from one of my favorite books, “This is Happy” by Camilla Gibb…

“I have a job to do as a storyteller: we all do. To tell stories that make us knowable to others, most importantly our children. To give them the tools to help them know themselves. And perhaps we come to know ourselves differently as a consequence.

This is the circle that could never quite be complete. One where we are truly bound for better or worse, in all sorts of complex and beautiful ways, where we become ourselves in relation to each other and carry something of the other—visceral, embodied—within us. It is a story with a different ending. A story without an ending at all.

And this, I know, is happy.”

Sharing my story and writing this blog has brought me so much more that I ever expected. Ever dared to dream. Come to think of it… it may have taught me exactly that… to dare to dream. To have dreams that I didn’t think I had the right to have. Goals that I thought were way beyond my reach. None of that is true. We all have the right to dream. To reach.

Today, January 1st, 2021, I would like to thank the people that have been by my side during this journey. My cheerleaders. My family. My friends. You are my biggest and brightest supporters. My warriors. Without you I would not have published this site a year ago today. Without you I would not have accomplished all the crazy, adventurous and courageous things that have filled my 2020 calendar. And without you I will not live all the dreams that will fill my next year and the years to come. Of this I am most sure.

I can’t wait to continue to share my story. To become knowable to you and those you are kind enough to share it with. In hopes that you become more knowable to yourself. That you travel your path with pride and confidence and hope. That you find and live, happy.

And through this and with this, I too am finding and living, happy.

Happy new year everyone. With love.

You don’t have to wear pants.

Merry Christmas Eve everyone. I hope this finds you all in good spirits. If it doesn’t… I get it. I really do.

This holiday season is definitely a different one. Marking the end of a very different year. A year where the world just simply seemed to find chaos around every corner. The news channels had no shortage of negative and dramatic stories to share giving us multiple reasons to panic. To fear. To grieve.

I myself actually had a pretty good year. And it wasn’t because business was booming. Or I won the lottery. Or my prince charming rode in on a white horse to save the day.

I had a good year because I stayed current on only enough news to keep me informed. I found ways to be with my friends and family. I made positive choices in my career. I had a good year because I chose to have a good year. I chose to focus on what is and not what could or should be.

Was it perfect? Bahahahahahahahahahahaha. Nope. (insert your favorite expletives’ on your own… I am trying to keep this clean.)

May it be noted that everyone in my circle is healthy and well. My heart goes out to anyone that has not had that fortune this year and has had to deal with the loss of a loved one.

Here are some other things that happened to me this year… I learned how to use zoom. I signed up for some courses that I have been putting off. I talked more on the phone with my family. I spent more time outdoors. I started running. I found the motivation to work out everyday at home. I discovered once again, that I am a strong and resilient human.

And… most of those things did not require me to wear pants!

So as we enter into this holiday season and prepare to say good bye to yet another year, remember. This year was temporary. As was last year and as is next year. Enjoy each day however you can. Find joy in simple and small things. Embrace the zoom and facetime calls. Embrace the slower pace that may be your holiday. Embrace your health and home. Practice gratitude.

For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Jeri Smith-Ready

You can get through this even if you can’t be with your children or your parents. You can get through this and you will.

With or without pants.

The vulnerability mountain.

“Vulnerability is not weakness. It is our greatest measure of courage.”

Brene Brown

Okay so we have talked about fear. We have talked about what we fear – rejection. Now let’s again, go a little deeper. What else do we fear?

Vulnerability. Being vulnerable. Why?

We are led to believe that vulnerability is weakness. And no one wants to be weak. So we swallow that vulnerability. We bury it deep inside ourselves and pretend vulnerability does not live here. But lets really think about it. Is it weak? Lets look at fear and rejection again. How hard is it to face those things? Fear and rejection bring us to a vulnerable place. And does facing them not require strength? Courage? Bravery?

Lets look at this as a mountain. We are standing on one side of the mountain. Vulnerability is on the other side. At the top of the mountain – in between us and vulnerability – is fear. To get to vulnerability, we need to climb that mountain and go through fear. So think about this. In order to get to vulnerability, we need to find courage, strength and bravery to climb a fricking mountain (fear) and get to the other side (vulnerability). Ergo, you need to be strong, courageous and brave in order to be vulnerable. Weak people can not climb mountains.

Let me share what makes me vulnerable.

I am not afraid to ask you what you mean if I don’t understand you. That does not make me weak. That gives me answers. And answers are what make me smarter. They are tools I need to climb the mountain.

I am not afraid to ask for your hand if I can’t get my footing. That does not make me weak. That gives me a team. And teammates are what make me stronger. They are tools I need to climb the mountain.

I am not afraid to tell you if I am upset. That does not make me weak. That makes me human. And my humanity helps me practice compassion. These are tools I need to climb the mountain.

Asking for answers, asking for help and communicating my feelings. These are all things that make me vulnerable but without these things, I am not gathering the tools I need to climb the mountain.

When we show people that we are vulnerable, they clearly see that we can climb mountains. And if they can’t, it is simply because they are still at the bottom and we have climbed too high for them to see us clearly. So should we fear vulnerability? Or should we wear it like the badge of honor that it is. Should we show others that we can climb mountains?

Yes please yes.

*This is part 3 of a 3 part post on fear, rejection and vulnerability. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

The big ‘R’.

“As I look back on my life I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.”

Steve Maraboli

Now that we have talked about fear, let’s look at it a little deeper. What do we fear the most? Opening ourselves up to disappointment? Maybe. Failure? Absolutely. Rejection? Whoop there it is!!! The big ‘R’. Rejection.

Let’s keep going with that word. What is rejection? Is it to be unloved? Is it to be unwanted? If you look it up, the definition of rejection is ‘the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc.’ Not so bad. It also says, ‘the spurning of a person’s affections’. Ouch. That one’s harsh and nobody wants that. Here’s one I wrote… ‘setting aside what does not fit at a current moment or in a current situation.’

Huh. Maybe now rejection is not such a scary word.

This is a great follow up to facing your fears. If you are at this point where you are dealing with rejection, it means you had the courage to face your fears. So isn’t that in itself, success? Most definitely. You may not have gotten that raise. Or that dream date. But maybe you can sleep a little better tonight knowing you tried. And you know. You have an answer AND you can handle the big ‘R’. And once again… you did not die.

Always ask yourself, “what is the worst that can happen?” You don’t get what you want. Or what you think you want. Because you know what? Maybe you didn’t get that raise but next week a better opportunity is going to come along. Maybe you didn’t get that dream date but next week your soul mate will be right in front of you? Or maybe that dream date will re-appear in a better more ‘current situation’.

Now, let’s ask another question, “what is the best that can happen?” You get what you want. Your get that big fat raise that you deserve. You go on that date and you meet your new best friend. Are you really going to let fear of rejection stop you from these things?

I think you see my point. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It is that simple. Every. Damn. Time. No exceptions. Disappointment sucks. Failure is tough. Rejection is brutal. But moving forward and walking over all of those things… that’s euphoria. Just in case you need that definition… “a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness.”

Being rejected is hard but remember… It could simply be that you just do not fit in their current moment or in their current situation. It does not make you a lesser person. Ever. Only you can do that. The right time, the right place, the right people. They have a way of coming together when you are ready for it.

Now go ask for what you want.

*This is part 2 of a 3 part post on fear, rejection and vulnerability that I am excited to share with you. Stay tuned for part 3.

A four letter word.

“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Dale Carnegie

Have you ever laid awake at night thinking about the conversation you should have had instead of the one you did? You know… the old ‘I should have said’ rerun. Well I have. Too many times. Too many lost hours of sleep recreating conversations that should have been. Why?

It could have been because I don’t think on my feet. Not my strongest skill so that is certainly one reason. But is it really what keeps me from speaking my mind? Or more accurately, speaking my heart? Is it really what has kept me up at night? If I am honest, the answer is no.

Lets try fear on for size. The four letter word that is much more powerful than possibly any other in the English language. Fear. It is what keeps us from trying. Keeps us from failing. Keeps us from learning, knowing… living. It can also keep us from being happy.

So one day I decided to see what was on the other side of that fear. I bared down through the anxiety attack. I powered through the shaking. I walked forward while my heart raced and blood pounded through my veins. And I did something hard. I walked away from something that was not good for me. I tried something I knew I wouldn’t be good at. And I had a conversation that was uncomfortable.

And would you believe that on the other side of that I found happy? My anxiety attack stopped. My shaking subsided and my heartrate went back to normal. I didn’t die. And I was happy.

This was not a one time occurrence. Believe me. I go through this process every time I tackle something I am uncomfortable with. Fear is a powerful emotion. But it is an emotion I am becoming comfortable with. I am becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable because I know on the other side of it is where I will find happy.

So be comfortable with fear. Make that phone call. Go meet that person. Ask for that raise. Try that new thing. Go after what it is that you really want. Face your fear. It is not such a bad word after all. For on the other side… is happy. Trust me.

*This is part 1 of a 3 part post on fear, rejection and vulnerability that I am excited to share with you. Stay tuned for more.

Dear 20 year old self.

“She remembered who she was and the game changed.”

Lalah Deliah

As you know, if you read my last blog, I recently turned 50. I received a birthday card that instructed me to write a letter to my 20 year old self and then to my 60 year old self. I thought, hmmm, might be interesting. Then I received the same card a couple days later. Then I thought, Okay Okay! I got the point! So here it goes… Letter 1.

Dear self,

You don’t know me. I am you at 50 and I am going to tell you a story. Promise me you won’t freak out… read the whole letter until the end. Promise? Okay. Here’s the deal…

In the next year, you are going to meet someone that isn’t always kind to you. You are going to raise 2 step-children. You are going to work a lot of short term jobs and move around a lot. A lot! Don’t worry – you get good at purging and packing. You are going to endure multiple periods of financial stress. You will experience darkness and incredible loneliness. You will even suffer through depression and anxiety. You will doubt yourself at every turn and down every road. You won’t get to see your family very often and you won’t have a lot of friends. You will look at yourself in the mirror and feel ugly. You will become lost. But that is chapter one… there is second chapter.

You will power through that first chapter. You will walk forward through the mud and the rain and the storm. Your legs will keep moving. Your heart will patiently wait for it’s moment to open again. Your head will fight to clear. You will be tired but you will keep going. Through all of that, you will be building a foundation for who you are meant to be. And when the storm clears… oh, when that storm clears… you will feel the most glorious sunshine.

You will discover your own strength. You will be surprised by it at first. But it will be bold. You will have success in your career. And then you will have the courage to start a new, better career. You will challenge yourself constantly and you will grow. You will be adventurous. You will learn. You will be healthy and strong, both physically and mentally. You will live in a place the gives you mountains and lakes and sunshine. You will meet people that give you energy and hope and laughter. You will have family that hold you up and cheer you on. You will feel love.

You will lose your shyness and become sure and confident. You will embrace your fears and be brave. You will be compassionate and kind but still firstly fill your own cup with happiness. You will incur wisdom and self awareness. You will look at yourself in the mirror and know that you are beautiful but not because of what you see in the mirror but who you see in the mirror. You will love yourself.

So don’t be afraid when things look dark. Step forward as you are meant to. Stay the course and know that you are becoming something fierce. Know that you are going to find joy and happiness in everything around you. Know that you will feel respect and admiration. Know that you stand tall, breathe deep and say, I am loved.

I am good. I am happy. I am love.

Yours truly.

P.S. I am proud of you kid.

Half a century.

“Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.”

Albert Einstein

It’s my birthday. But not just any birthday. Today, I am 50. Yup. The big 5… 0…

I am not afraid of that number. Quite the opposite. I am excited about it. I could not wait to turn 50 and now here I am. 50 glorious years old. 50 years wise. 50 years beautiful. 50 years strong.

The last half century has been filled with so many lessons. So many opportunities to learn. To grow. I have become this woman who can stand tall and look people in the eye with truth and confidence because I believe I have earned that right. Every day of the last 50 years has taught me something. Every day has created this person I have become. This person I am so proud of. Not just the good days but all the bad days too. The ups and the downs, the sideways and the loop-de-loops. All of them.

And now I have the next half of the century to look forward too. More learning, more growing, more living. What is tomorrow going to bring? And the next day? The next year, the next decade… I don’t believe in growing old. Neither mentally or physically. I don’t believe in slowing down. Or using the excuse “I am too old for this shit” (okay, yes I have said that in the past – mostly at the gym – but I didn’t really MEAN it). Some might say that I have earned the right to coast now. Coast for the next 50 years. That just sounds all kinds of boring. Long, dull and boring.

So what will I do for the next 50 years? Hmmm. I have some ideas. I have some plans. But the most exciting part of all is that… I don’t know. I really don’t. I can make all the plans in the world and one day life will just decide to present me with another option. Another plan. A better plan. And I will only notice it if I am still learning. Growing. Living. Not coasting. Never coasting. The better plan can only be seen if you have your eyes open and your mind and heart willing.

My eyes are open. My mind and heart are strong and willing. I am ready for the next 50 years.

What indeed will you bring me next my sweet life? What indeed…

Misdiagnosed co-dependent.

“Bottom line: be yourself. It’s exhausting if you’re not. And if you get enough people to dislike you, you’ll be left with a new bunch of people who love you for who you really are.”

James Smith

We all want people to love us. Of course we do. But at what cost? What are you willing to do or give to receive that love. And if you need to do or give away something of yourself to receive that love, to earn it, is it real?

I spent years upon years becoming someone I wasn’t just to please somebody else. To be loved. To be good enough. To be accepted. I was labelled a people pleaser. Co-dependent. I made choices that I didn’t agree with and even lied, all to unsuccessfully please that one person. For that one person, I gave up myself… I got lost. My identity became muddy. Blurred. Faded.

The truth, my truth, is that I am not that person. I am not, nor have I ever been a people pleaser or co-dependent. I care little about what people think of me. Correction. I care little about what strangers or mere acquaintances think of me. I am not afraid to be goofy in public. To act upon a dare. Or to worry about offending those that cause unnecessary drama or gossip. To give thought and energy to those that judge or disrespect me is just not in my nature. I lost myself once in order to cope with a life I was embedded in. But it was never my nature.

To be yourself and to be loved should never require a different mindset. Separate sources of energy. It should require no energy at all. Just pure peace. Pure joy. Pure soul. Trust in yourself. Trust in your own true character. Be confident in who you are without trying to ‘make’ others love you. Do this and you will find love in your life greater than yourself. You won’t have to look.

Today… I am true. I am confident. I am loved.

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