Fumbling Around 50

I turned 49 this week.

Birthdays for me are the real “new year”. Januaray 1st means very little to me. That is one way in which I don’t play by the rules. You can keep your dropping balls and general bullshit at midnight. I will review my life and evaluate it when it’s my time to do it.

I’m hovering around the edges of a birthday with a zero at the end. This feels significant somehow. It’s like being on a road trip and knowing you are just a few miles away from the next major destination.

If there’s a theme on this segment of the journey (and right now I’m looking at the last decade in my head), it’s been about not holding on to things that don’t work. That might be mindsets, beliefs, people, material things. It’s been about strengthening wisdom rather than accumulating more crap.

For all the fancy ideas, what it’s really been about is mastering fear and converting it into some kind of peace.

Mastering fear is not about eliminating it. It’s about understanding it and developing a relationship with it through a wise lense. A wise lense accepts, allows and affirms fear and converts it into fuel.

That’s where I’m at with it today. I stay curious so it’s always changing and going deeper. Martha Graham calls it a queer divine dissatisfaction. I’m here for that.

It’s Ok To Be Blank

It’s ok to be blank. It’s ok to have creative’s block.

That quiet time is your brain’s invitation to stand in the quiet core of your being and see who you really are now. The myriad choices, social interactions and stimuli we come across in any given day change us little by little. They update our operating system.

It’s during the quiet time that we integrate and get a sense of who we are. If you don’t take time to do this periodically, those changes creep up like gaining weight or going gray. You won’t notice them until they reach critical mass. By then if it’s something you don’t like, it will be upsetting. If it’s something you do like, think of how long you went without celebrating and expanding it.

At the center is where your power is.

Tune in. Listen.

You are your best radio station. Even when it’s quiet. (maybe especially when it’s quiet)

Sanctuary

Sanctuary is a place for the personally sacred. It has boundaries that may or may not be physical, but is nevertheless well defined. Inside that space, it is quiet, calm and safe.

Sanctuary can be a delineated by things like:

Time – Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee, No work before 8am

Space – A room, a part of a room, a work cubicle, a certain spot in the park, etc

Intention – I will not engage my toxic co-worker until someone else is in the room

Activity – yoga class, morning walk, making breakfast, a hot bath

Materials – candles, prayer beads,

Some combination of the above: I do not speak to people (intention) until I meditate (activity) on my cushion in the meditation corner of my room (space).

Whatever your sanctuary boundaries are, inside that space, you are ultimately safe and comfortable by your own definition. In that space, that which is unsafe, unsettling, or disturbing is not allowed.

In this space, you recharge your batteries.

In this space, you clear your mind.

In this space, you do not engage in judgment inside or out.

Sanctuary may be a small amount of time you carve out. A personal example was back in my days of working in offices. There were a few sacred moments every day when I prepared my first cup of coffee in my particular way and I did not engage anyone even if they were standing right next to me.

Sanctuary may be a large event. Another example is clearing my home office of clutter and arranging it with the intention that it is only used for certain activities. Or, setting up a room for yoga, meditation, or spiritual practice. Larger scale sanctuary practice can become a retreat in your own home or away on vacation.

Sanctuary building and maintenance is a skill. Being that skills are like muscles, that means sanctuary practice must be engaged consciously and practiced with repetition. The stronger the muscle becomes, the more calm and comfortable you will feel even when outside the sanctuary zone.

What’s the point of building the sanctuary skill?

The ability to carve out a safe, sacred space mentally and physically is the ability to protect yourself. It is the ability to self-soothe. It is the skill that allows all other skills to be learned and strengthened.

A lump of clay only becomes useful when it is molded into a shape that has empty space. Sound only becomes music when there is silence between the notes.

 

What is the strength of your sanctuary muscle today?

UBC #30 – Listen Up

I put out a request to the Universe at the beginning of this year. I asked for guidance and direction on how to move my business forward.

Since that time, messages have come to me out of the mouths of a variety of people. Some were during conversations about business. Some were random conversations about nothing related to business at all. Some were random blog posts written during this challenge in which another author’s work spoke to me. Some were things I wrote to myself.

None of them came from out of the blue from on high like a lightning bolt.

I’ve had to learn over the years that messages of guidance and assistance come from the most unexpected places.

What I have to do is learn to listen. I have to listen internally as well. There is an internal bell of truth that rings when one of these messages comes through someone else. That bell rings right around my heart. Always has.

Even when I didn’t want it to.

How do you get messages you need to hear?

 

Are you listening?

UBC 29 – Vision Boarding Ideas

So I’ve loved the idea of vision boarding, but I’ve never been very happy with the process. Often they are done as parties or group gatherings of some kind. There are a lot of people and a lot of clutter with all the materials that are brought. This process doesn’t fit the way I process. I am internal, feeling oriented and kinesthetic. My process takes quiet, daydreamy type energy to be effective. So when I read this article by Jeanine who blogs at Comfort With Hyggeit actually made me teary. It was the first time I had someone had described a vision board process to me that was built for my type of processing. So, I immediately asked Jeanine if I could cross-post this article from her blog over on to mine and she graciously allowed me to use her content. I hope you enjoy it.

UBC #28 – Honoring Your Cycle

When I get on a roll of creativity/activity, I have a hard time wanting to stop. That is until I run completely dry and just crash into a hole of creator’s block or exhaustion or both. The inertia of awesomeness is just as powerful as the inertia of slothiness. Each contains its own lie. Creative passion lies and says “if you stop, I won’t be with you anymore”. Slothiness lies and says “once I have you in my black hole, you will never escape my gravitational force”.

Both are lies. I know this because life is a verb. It runs in cycles. Regardless of what I impose on it, there will always be peaks and there will always be valleys.

Within the peaks and valleys are the seeds of the other.

In the pauses are the seeds of the next peak. The soil is being cultivated and nurtured here. The appropriate amount of water is being added. Wise gardeners do not yank the seeds up to see if they are sprouting, nor do they yell at the seeds for just laying there.

In the peaks, there are the seeds of the next valley. Cruising along our preferred method of activity burns energy (physical, mental, emotional) that needs to be replenished at some point. Wait too long and you will crash into the valley rather than travel there by choice.

Learning your cycles and honoring them is an integral part of wise aging. Learning your cycles means knowing when the shift from activity to rest is happening. What the signs are, especially if they are subtle for you. Know that when they show up, it’s time to start moving in the direction they indicate even if your personal inertia would lie to the contrary.

Here are some of my personal signs that I need to shift to rest: excessive daydreaming about ANYTHING but the tasks at hand, preoccupation with a million other little things that suddenly seem very important, sudden onset Netflix binging of stuff I really am not that interested in

Signs that I’ve rested enough: a feeling of wanting to vomit if I watch any more of that Netflix binge I never really cared about, reading other people’s blogs/books/programs wishing those were mine, sudden urges to clean house.

 

What are your indicators of a shift happening? What tells you it’s time to pause? What tells you it’s time to create/get active?

UBC 26 – Rest and Recharge

It’s the end of the week and I’m feeling tired. End of week, end of month, end of whatever cycle you may be in, there are times in every cycle where we need to rest and recharge our batteries. Resting and recharging in themselves are skills everyone must learn to function wisely in the world.

Tired people do stupid shit.

So today I’m focusing on resting and recharging and I’m sharing with you 10 of my personal favorite ways of doing that. Share yours in the comments below.

  1. Hot bath
  2. Walk in nature
  3. Music
  4. Cuppa coffee/tea
  5. Essential oil aromatherapy
  6. Meditation
  7. Dancing
  8. Solitude
  9. Coloring
  10. Naps

Ok, get busy commenting and let me know what yours are. I’m always interested in expanding my list of possibilities.

UBC #25 – Intensity is a Big Fat Lie

I was driving home from the city yesterday and there was a guy in a truck driving erratically.  He was either going full speed or full stop. There was nothing in between.  Of course, I immediately judged him as an asshole, but then in one of his full stops, he allowed someone to come into traffic from an adjacent parking lot. Then I judged him to be less of an asshole until he started the erratic driving again. There was nothing gradual or nuanced about this dude. He was all on or all off. Completely black and white.

This planted the seed of an idea that I wanted to write about yesterday but it was just not gelling. I felt like I was seeing another great lie similar to balance, perfection, and security.

That lie was confusing intensity with intimacy.

Our culture coaches us towards intensity on a moment to moment basis. Our media is air-brushed and overproduced to the point no one can live up to the images. No one can be switched on 100% all the time, killing it, crushing it, achieving it all while being perfectly shaped and made up. We cannot drive top speed at every moment. It isn’t sustainable because it isn’t real.

The flipside is being intimate with life. Letting it penetrate and fill us up. Letting it exhaust us and drain us. And everything in between. Mother nature didn’t paint in black and white, she used the whole damn palette.

Intimacy with life shows you the nuances, the gradations, the moment to moment variability. That intimacy allows you to live and breathe with life as it lives and breathes with you. You can go through your day without rushing. You can take 3 breaths before you send a nasty email. You can enjoy a cup of tea without thinking of the next thing you have to do.

You can drive the speed limit or slower in dense traffic and not have me call you asshole.