Monthly Archives: January 2013

Bag of Tricks

Happiness is a choice.

Dexter & Tiara

So is being miserable.

Dexter_don't get paid enough

So, tomorrow morning when you select your caffeination of choice, which are you going to choose?

Advertisements

Age is a State of Mind

I’ve been volunteering at Florence Crittenton, a therapeutic group home for teenaged girls, for close to four years now. Sometimes they are a lot of fun, and other times, well, they are teen girls! But regardless of the week, I always love my Sunday afternoon visits.

A couple of weeks ago during my visit, we got into a discussion about age that can only be had with teenagers.

 “Wow, he’s 22 and that’s old!”

“22 isn’t old! 30, now that’s old!”

“My mom is 36. Now THAT is ancient.” (my personal favorite)

“No, you know what is really old…my mom is….”

At which point, I just had to jump in. 

“Be very careful what you say next, Sharon.” With a big, almost evil grin on my face. You see, I bring treats for them to eat every week, so that gives me leverage.

“Well, how old are you, miss Sam?”

The grin still plastered to my face, I changed the subject. And because teens are all over the place, I got away with it.

The conversation got me thinking. I remember when 30 was old, and 40 was ancient. And I remember when 40 was old, and I just couldn’t imagine being older than that. And now—yes, I am! And you know what? I don’t actually feel old!

 So, the question that I have, is when do you actually become old? Or, is it all purely state of mind, in which case, bring me hula hoops, hot chocolate with marshmallows, giggle fits until my stomach hurts and playing hooky from responsibility.

 

Midlife Awakening

I woke up one day and realized that, while I have a great life, it’s not the life I want.

Ok, so it didn’t quite happen that way, but it sure feels like it! I was spending a lot of time ‘self-medicating;’ I was doing things that felt good and would relieve the stress of the work I was doing. I didn’t enjoy my job, but I tried to convince myself that it gave me a lot of financial freedom, and that I could do work that I enjoyed outside of work. And I did, but it was never enough.

When I received the gift of freedom, I decided to take advantage of it and to explore me. I never really gave myself the opportunity to consider what I wanted to do with my life, but did what I thought I was supposed to do. And I did enjoy it—for a while. But when it no longer worked for me, I kept at it because, silly as it may sound, I didn’t realize I had options. And because I was scared. I’ve learned that I was getting further and further from me, while making excuses that it was the right thing to do. Here’s some of what I’ve learned over the last couple of months.

 Success is in the eye of the beholder

What most people consider traditional success feels toxic to me: the 9-5 grind in a large corporation to get the generous paycheck. Over the last couple of months, I have the as if I’ve been through a detox program to wring out every last bit of corporate ‘ick’ from my system. Oh, I’m sure there are great companies to work for, however, my last few selections are not among the greats. Maybe this is the Universe’s way of making sure I truly know that I need a change. Ok, Universe, I get it! :o)

I love my freedom

I want to be filled with passion and do things that I love with people that I truly enjoy. I want to be as passionate about the work I do as I am about my volunteering. I’m still working through how that happens. Does it mean starting my own company? I am in the process of doing that, so be on the lookout for a shameless plug! Does it mean taking a job at a nonprofit, or maybe working short-term contracts and taking blocks of time off after the contract is over to re-energize and do things I love? I’m still working through this, but will be sure to explore different options and I learn and grow into the me I want to be.

 Happiness is underrated

I stayed in corporate because I felt I should. Yep, there’s that word again: should. My definition of success was a 9-5 job heading into a large office building. Certainly, that’s one definition, but not the only one. I’m really enjoying all of the volunteer work that I’m doing. I’m spending my time helping people and animals, and while it doesn’t always include a ‘thank you,’ I’m feeling happier and more energized than I have in years. My entire day circles around ‘what can I do today to help others?’ And I dedicate time to this, ever single day. It just feels good and I’m happy.

I’m listening more to my body as well. I am hiking several times a week and it feels so good. It’s what I need for my body and my spirit. When I am tired, I nap. When I’m hungry, I eat. When I feel like being alone, I do that and when I feel like socializing, I pick up the phone and call a friend. I am no longer living as I feel I should, but as I want, and it’s made such a huge difference. I’m happy. And that, to me, is success.

Onward

My future is uncertain right now, and I’m learning to be ok with that. What I do know is that I don’t want to map out the next twenty years right now. I’m learning to live in the moment, listen to my heart and my body, and consider my wants instead of my shoulds. It’s a great lesson that I never learned until now, and I’m so grateful for this time!

So, today I will go and hike with a rescue dog. Then I’ll work on some of my ‘to do’ list for the business and do some writing.

I’m so very grateful for my life.

Image 

Tug is available for adoption through Lost Paws in Phoenix, AZ.

Little Comforts

Sometimes I just need to stop and take a deep breath.

The world seems to rush around me and I always feel the need to keep pace with it. There’s so much I want to do! But when I feel that urge to slow down, I know I need to heed it. Otherwise, as I did this week, I get sick.

I got a whopper of a cold on New Year’s Day. So, what did I do? I went hiking, of course! Though seriously, in my defense, [insert rationalization here] I have found that sometimes working up a good sweat can make me feel better when I’m fighting a cold. This time, I wasn’t so lucky. I went home, went to bed, and didn’t get up for several days. And instead of just staying in bed, I dragged my stubborn ass out to do some of the things I wanted to do, and paid for it.

Someday I’ll learn.

So, I’m sitting here thinking of all of the things that give me comfort in the hope that it may make me feel better.

  • Puffy down comforters
  • Bubble baths
  • Chicken soup (particularly when delivered, thanks to Jennifer!!! You are the BEST!!)
  • The sound of the waves crashing on the shore
  • The pinks and purples of the sun as it starts making its way over the horizon
  • The twinkle of stars in the sky
  • Laughter
  • Warm and fuzzy socks
  •  My kitty’s purr

Beastie

The list can go on and on. Simply thinking about things that give me comfort felt really good, and encouraged me to slow down and take care of myself.

What gives you comfort?

My Large Stones

When I was in college, one of my professors told us the parable of the stones, which goes something like this:

“We have some stones and pebbles that we wish to put into a jar—some large, and some small. If we place the small stones and pebbles in the jar first, then the large stones won’t fit. A better way to do this is to put the large stones in first, and let the small stones and pebbles fill the gaps around them.”

I’ve heard this story told in several ways, but the core of the story is still the same: the large stones represent what is most important in our life. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this lately, to be sure that I truly focus my time and energy on the things that matter most to me.

What’s been interesting to me, is how much my large stones have changed. For most of my adult life, career would have been pretty high up in my list of priorities. I wanted to be successful, and to do work that really displayed my achievement. I made many sacrifices for my work, some of which I think about with some regret today.

Now I define ‘success’ a bit differently. It’s that warm feeling in my body when I’ve done something good: that teenager’s life that I’ve impacted, the smile on person’s face, that neglected dog’s life that I saved, the grateful shy smile and ‘thank you’ when I help someone. When I look back on my life and the things that I’ve done, nothing in my professional career has ever warmed me like this. I now have the gift of being able to spend time every single day doing things that I think matter, and I am grateful for how very lucky I am.

So, as I move forward with my career exploration, I know I need to remain true to myself by making sure my large stones remain my priorities and the focus of my life. And I know to be sure to keep tabs on what those large stones are, as they can change. I’m also being careful that I don’t fall back into old patterns, just because they are comfortable. Some days, it’s a struggle!

It’s a great time of year to assess our priorities and to set our intention for the upcoming year. Just a thought.

Have a wonderful New Year, and may 2013 be everything you hope for, and more!