Breaking free: rote action is no action

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I write about change. About Someday. About setting goals, taking baby steps, chasing dreams. Extending kindness and sparkles. Eliminating toxic people from our lives; hopefulness. Perseverance. What’s next. And then I “get” busy. Push it all to the back of my closet as I flit from task to task. Pretend I’ve taken hold of life by its proverbial horns. But my tiara is tarnished and I’m tired and all I want to do is jump off the non-stop roller coaster and figure stuff out before it’s too late. I think, for me, discontent no longer points to an unrealized purpose but, rather, my own personal purgatory where life isn’t just passing me by (see “Take action…”). Instead, it’s the rotten stench of anguish and despair that almost suffocates and renders me ineffective. Rote action is no action. Busy-ness can only put off, so long, what must be accomplished to escape from the grip of fear: of failure, regret. The unknown. So, what’s next?

How will you break free?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Club 50: it just keeps getting better (wear the tiara)

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My daughter called me the other day and said she’d read an article that seemed like something I’d write: “50 Life Lessons Written by a 50-Year-Old Woman.” I wish I could say I had penned it because it was that good. And perfect. The cool thing is, I’ve already discovered most of these lessons and apply the majority in my own life. There are others I plan to put into practice, and even more that I’d like to add: 51) Pamper yourself often: buy the flowers, new dress or new shoes; splurge on a fresh “do” or mani and pedi. 52) Find something you’re wildly passionate about and pursue it, fearlessly. Or reignite an old passion, boldly. 53) Love others and love yourself; be kind always. 54) Cultivate a healthy body image. But my all-time favorite is the author’s closing tip: wear a tiara whenever you want to (and not just on your birthday). I think this might be my life’s new motto.

What is your life’s motto?

When all you see is the mess: there’s still hope

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work-in-progress
Recently I pulled up a link to a blog post I wrote for a digital publication several months ago. I read through the piece with eyes that had grown objective over time and thought, ‘Wow, this is good. What was I so worried about before?’ Later that day, the post popped up in my mind and I recalled it in its rough form: the countless drafts, rewrites, edits from my freelance editor (aka Big Sister). In other words, the work in progress was a mess. Isn’t that what our lives can look like at times? From the exterior, we might appear like we have it all together—and maybe we do now and again—but I guarantee a mess has littered our paths at one point or another. Thankfully, the people we are today are still a work in progress. And there’s hope for us to listen more, speak less and sprinkle love and kindness into our little worlds.

Where do you see your biggest work in progress?

Image courtesy of Feelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A year in review: in only 168 words

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a-year-in-review

It’s my thing: there are 168 hours in a week and 168 words in a blog just ‘feel’ right. So here goes: With 2016 almost a wrap, let’s talk about the past. Wait, what? Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Because a few weeks ago, miles of hiking trail behind me I, too, thought about those well-meaning peeps who suggest you leave the past in the past. After all, that’s not where you’re headed, right? But, how will you know what to bring with you into the new year if you don’t take stock of what transpired? Where did you grow? Where did you trip? Who helped you along the way? What seeds of kindness did you sow? What bad behaviors did you shed? What new habits served you well? It’s about leaving behind whatever holds you back and putting into practice what you’ve learned as you look ahead. Lay the foundation: now you’re ready to begin building a brand new year. Cheers!

What’s your plan for 2017?

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Suck it up, sister: when our words do little to help

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suck-it-up

Well-meaning intentions, words meant to encourage and build up, may be reduced to mere platitudes or a stale Sunday-morning sermon to a heart unwilling (or unready) to hear. We might open-mouth-insert-foot or, instead, offer the perfect verbal hug. Regardless, if we approach each person, each situation, from a place of love, then we’ve done the thing. We cannot control the rest, but we can be kind. A new favorite quote of mine: “Sometimes not saying anything is the best answer. You see, silence cannot be misquoted.” I opt for silence when words fail me in the face of grief or hardship. Or when I have nothing nice to say. I admit, however, that oftentimes my zeal gets away from me and I overstep my bounds. But when the shoe is on the other foot—when it’s not what I want or think I need to hear—I hope I remember that a simple ‘thanks for your encouragement’ is always the right response.

When do you opt for silence?

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A simple(r) life: the ins and outs

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a-simpler-life

My goal for 2016 has revolved around discovering a life of simplicity. What I’ve learned is that a simple(r) life doesn’t just happen. For me, it includes a heightened awareness: recognizing daily pleasures and meting out kindness in large doses. I believe kindness is a requirement for a simple(r) life for the simple reason that it takes little time and resources to be kind—and kindness begets kindness. I’ve also learned a simple life can be full, but requires an evaluation of where we spend our time—if we need to say no to the things that complicate our journey, or yes to the things that improve the lives around us. For Thanksgiving this year, I opted for a meal plan that allowed me to spread my time between an early-morning yoga practice to hanging up a few pictures to tidying up my home before sitting down to enjoy a simple, yet filling dinner and games with family. Three words: awareness, then practice.

Where can you simplify life?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Discovering your life’s purpose

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your-purpose

For the past several weeks, I’ve spent a good portion of each day conducting my version of soul searching: journaling my frustrations (see ‘How to excel…‘), practicing mindfulness (e.g., moving meditation in the hot room, on the mountainside, in the gym) and asking myself what’s next on the other side of the half-century mark? Although I’ve discovered true happiness (focusing on others rather than myself), have a general idea of how to achieve the simple life (say ‘no’ when necessary, pitch the clutter, etc.), now I need to take a look at what I’m doing with this one life (see ‘Wasting time or living life…’). In other words: What’s my purpose? For me, it’s not found in the 8-5 routine. And it goes beyond the simple acts of kindness I try to impart as a daily habit. I might have uncovered the solution recently during my morning prayers and devotions, however, an ‘ah ha’ moment of sorts. But more on that later.

Are you living your life’s purpose?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When we stop trying to plan everything

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Stop planning
Last week we celebrated my daughter’s birthday. A day beforehand, I asked her what flavor cupcakes and ice cream she preferred. Surprise me, she said. For a Type A planner, this kind of response causes my heart to race and my palms to sweat. OK, not really, but why make things more complicated than they need to be? In my writing life, I demand certain conditions be met before I write. And, unless I have an outline in place, forget it. Plus, my days must be planned from beginning to end. But, when I don’t allow wiggle room into the equation, I miss out on the opportunity to improvise; to practice patience. To be kind(er). Perhaps instead of crossing every T and dotting each I, we apply a simplified mindset to the moment: a go-with-the-flow approach. A skeleton idea, of sorts—to our day; our (personal) story. Then let the rest be a delicious surprise. P.S. The birthday sweets were a hit.

Do you practice a go-with-the-flow mindset?

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Shhh… nobody is watching

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Shhh

A couple of days ago, a transaction at a local home improvement store—worthy of a mere minute or two—took long enough for several patrons behind me to lose their patience and switch lanes. Although the cashier explained to me I was in the wrong (then did not apologize when, in fact, she discovered I was right), I remained calm, respectful. Gracious. I’d like to think I was practicing my yoga breath outside of the hot room. Not too long afterward, I bumped into a gentleman at the grocery store who had witnessed the earlier checkout debacle and we laughed over the situation. But later that evening, I wondered, what if I had handled myself differently with the cashier—lost my composure? I think many times we can feel our frustration or anger is justified. Yet kindness, rather than a harsh response, most always does more to pacify. Ripples, my friends. Even when nobody is watching.

Are you quick with a hot temper or a cool demeanor?

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Doing life in the fast lane

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Life in the fast lane

 
Since taking that leap and crossing over the half-century mark this past December, the trajectory on the other side feels like I’m traveling Autobahn speeds. While the first 50 years took their own sweet time, now the necessity to apply imaginary brakes in order to slow time—to cram everything I can into each moment—grips me with a palpable intensity. ‘There’s just not enough time,’ I said to my girlfriend as we prepared for our 90-minute Bikram yoga class. Thankfully, a daily dose of soul searching has created space for like-minded, intuitive people to join my ‘tribe.’ One such friend recently gifted me a book—Just Hit Send, a journey to freedom—written by a dear yogi practitioner whose personal inscription syncs with my travels, both gestures a reminder I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. So be kind, gentle and love (yourself and others) with a fierce passion and live out your dreams with abandon. Fast or slow.

In which lane do you prefer to travel?

Image courtesy of mapichai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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