I was about to record this video when I got word that there was a shooting happening in California about an hour from where various immediate family members are scattered. I knew from the location that they were safe but I turned on CNN anyhow, just to find out what was up.
As I watched the unfolding situation and the uncertainty of what was happening I heard the mantra from this week’s vlog floating in the back of my brain. I think that it really helped me know when to draw the line of what I needed to know. I ticked the boxes of whether everyone I knew was safe and when that happened I noticed that the news anchors, who really had very little information, were cycling through the same tidbits, speculating without any facts. It was all frightening filler and with that, thanks to the “mantra”, I knew that it was time to shut the television off and focus on my own story.
Originally, I meant this video to be timed for the holiday season. That time of year where we often find ourselves breaking bread with family or friends or colleagues who might push our buttons. But in reality, oversharing, getting wrapped up in other people’s issues and basically taking a voyeuristic and opinionated role to life is a 365 day a year, 24/7 possibility. The great news is that we don’t have to let this be our reality and it’s amazing the personal benefits that come about simply from knowing what’s truly important and needs attention.
Give my mantra a chance. Practice it a bit. I found that once I really worked with it – noisy negative drama becomes very obvious rather than sly, mental clutter and once you’re aware of that, you can put a stop to it immediately. It’s definitely not easy but man, I don’t think there’s ever been a better time in life to make it a priority.
What do you think of the quote? Post your comment below and let me know if it’s a concept that can work for you?
One of the things that I love more than anything at midlife is the opportunity to completely debunk the so called “traditions” and expectations that have been laid on us for a lifetime but are really dysfunctional, damaging and down right dumb. While there’s lot of them the tradition that I’m talking about right now is that idea that it’s okay to stuff ourselves to the gills during the holidays.
I feel like in the past decade of so, this idea of excess at the cost of our health has extended far beyond how we behave at the table. It’s gone on to concepts like “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” and all the other supposed holiday traditions that we’re supposed to buy into (literally) even if it isn’t necessarily in line with our bank account.
The truth of the matter is that this insatiable hunger isn’t about food or things. It’s about looking for comfort and security. Most of us have not been raised with the tools to recognize other ways to feel nourished and in turn we end up with a rude awakening come January when our clothes don’t fit and our credit card statements arrive. Speaking of credit cards, did you know that around 80% of American households have on average $15.000 worth of credit card debt? Something’s not being addressed here and food and things aren’t the answer.
In this week’s video, I share five of the key things I do so that my food is a pleasure and not a punishment. I apply the same philosophy to my spending habits as well. It means that I don’t look at this time of year as a way to go into denial and that to me is a tradition worth enjoying, year after year.
My question for you is what holiday tradition would you like to upgrade or ditch altogether? What new way of celebration is in line with your life? You have complete permission to do it – we’re all big girls now, after all.
A few days before I recorded this vlog the terrorist attacks in Paris happened. And that same day bombs went off in Beirut. And a couple weeks before that a bomb exploded on a Russian plane over Egypt. If you only watch the news it can feel like the world is coming apart at the seams.
But it isn’t. For all the horror there is heart and warmth and beauty and peace. But the thing is that if we are only glued to the television or a newspaper or even the wrong places of the internet, it’s tough to see. This is one of those times where a dedicated gratitude practice really reveals its benefits. When you focus your mind on finding the goodness in the world on a daily basis, it’s more likely to go there on almost an autopilot function when hell is unleashed. It doesn’t mean that you walk around in a state of ignorance when life goes pear shaped but what it does do is remind you that there’s an escape hatch somewhere. It lets a little bit of light in to at least provide some kind of balance to the dark. I found this for myself this week. For nearly a year I’ve been keeping a little gratitude journal. It takes me about a minute or so to do and often it feels like I’m going through the motions with it, knowing that it’s the right thing to do but not feeling sure if it really means anything more than a momentary reality check – which don’t get me wrong is perfectly great, but whether it helps in other ways, I’m never quite sure.
Until stuff like this happens. This week I realized that without my gratitude practice I’d probably be frozen in front of the television in a state of despair rather than moving in the world with a realistic attitude that now more than ever we need to be more present and kinder to ourselves and each other.
AS I write this, a few days before Thanksgiving happens in the U.S., I know that many of us love this time of year because we’re encouraged to go into a state of gratitude. It’s a beautiful thing. But I think one of the awesome things about living in the world now is that there’s actually scientific proof of the importance of being thankful all the time, of appreciating the stuff that we tend to take for granted. It builds a sort of resilience, a protective barrier during a time when we need it most.
So my suggestion is to give the whole “gratitude every damn day” thing a try using this “most wonderful time of year” to act as a kickstarter. I think you’ll find, like I did, that the little effort it takes to do matters in magnitudes when you need it most.
And by the way, thank you very much for taking the time to read this- I appreciate you. xx Sue
In this week’s vlog, I’m sharing ways to deal with judgment and criticism that are based on personal experience. I can’t tell you how many times I speak with women who want to do big, glorious, amazing things but they just can’t take that first step and it’s down to one thing. They’re worried what others will think. Some are so worried that they don’t even dare tell their partner or closest friend.
There’s a very cool blog post by Seth Godin that explains that failure is certain. Regardless of how successful you are or how special a project you create is, someone is not going to like it. It’s a guarantee. Even the most beloved figures of all times from Jesus to Madonna have had their fair share of critics.
Godin puts it this way ,”Once you realize that failure is certain, it’s a lot easier to focus on impact instead”.
I think in the back of our minds we believe we have a combination of an endless supply of time to make our dreams happen and that a “knight on a white horse” is going to come to our rescue and deliver our dream to us. When I realized that neither of those scenarios would happen, I knew that I simply didn’t have the luxury to worry about what others thought. It was time to get busy.
What would you do with your life if you didn’t have to worry about what others would say? Watch my video and hopefully there’s something from my story that will show you that when you back yourself – even if you get judged – the world doesn’t stop turning. In fact, I think it turns a little bit smoother and sweeter, simply because you ignored the faceless thoughts and voices with opinions and did what you needed to do to live your purpose.
It’s been a big few weeks. I’m on the final days of editing the audio version of my book Gray Hair Adventure. There are many steps that I have to take to get it done and It’s been a bigger job than I expected. That’s okay though. It’s a massive learning experience but I’ve really loved doing it and hope it will reach others who prefer to listen to their books rather than read.
But by the time that I finally go to bed, I notice that my head has been spinning and no matter how much I work on chilling out before I hit the sack, I’m still trying to figure things out and plan and….you know what I mean. It’s hard to shut down.
I stumbled upon this practice recently and I have to say, it really helps. It allows me to get out all the stuff that I need to and finally, when I’m ready, I can get into it. Like any practice, you have to actually do it, again and again and again. Even if the mind resists and even if you’re too tired to do it. I think putting a little picture by your bed, like Dr. Dyer does could be a powerful way to always remember to do it. I love that pic and love how intently he is looking at the sign.
So give this a try and let me know what you think. It’s really helping me and it’s a habit that I can see working for me through the rest of my life.
I regularly get asked,”Is it too late for me to….(fill in the blank here)? On every subject from starting a new business to learning yoga, there seems to be something buried deep within us that either doubts or rejects the concept of starting over because of the numbers of candles on our cake.
But when it comes to not trying again, the numbers just don’t add up. To not go after a major goal at any age, especially at midlife is just plain sad. Look at it this way. If we’re gonna live to see triple digits – and many of us will – not taking a chance could mean years, and I mean possibly decades of not living the life of your dreams.
Society doesn’t want us to look at it this way. There’s a good chance that you’ll have friends or family that don’t look at life like this as well. That’s fine. But just know you have a choice.
This week I’m a little light on my blog post and I hope that’s okay. I’m getting to the very pointy end of publishing my book on gray hair as well as finalizing my first video course which is based on my book How To Find Your Purpose After 40. and I’m stretched to the limit. It’s a good thing but it’s intense. I should be back to normal in another month or so but I do want to say that these projects are just a couple of examples of how I use the long game strategy that I talk about in the vlog. They’ve required discipline, practice, baby steps and haven’t happened over night. In fact they will evolve into other things I’m sure. But the one thing I can tell you is that they’ve come from a place of starting over and not questioning that journey even when it feels like the goal post is so far away.
If you’ve got a possibility of starting over and aren’t sure what baby step to take, please leave me a post and I’ll be happy to give you a direction.
A little over a month ago I decided to commit to something that for me is completely insane. I took on the challenge of taking cold showers for 30 days. I’ve heard of this challenge around the interwebs and while there are so many reported physical benefits I didn’t learn about the idea from a well-being website. The seed was planted from marketing gurus and a bunch of business sites like Fast Company and Career Addict. The reason? According to them, and actual for real research is that cold showers deliver alertness, increased productivity and mental toughness, all of which I need big time as I get ready to launch my new book Gray Hair Adventure: Things I Learned About Life When I Stopped Dyeing My Hair.
The book wasn’t the only reason that the benefits of experimenting with extreme temps caught my attention. I’ve been doing a lot of things right now, as I get to the business end of this perimenopausal adventure, to try and crack my personal code. I want to feel good. But boy it takes some elbow grease. As I’ve mentioned in past podcasts and vlogs one of my main symptoms has been being super tired. For that reason I’ve put my life under the microscope and have taken active steps to rejig my system. I recently spoke about how I’ve reduced my alcohol and coffee consumption to a very impressive level, at least for me – right now I’m at about one coffee and one wine every couple weeks. That feels good for me and considering I was only going to do it for the month of July, I’m happy. I’m also doing other things to get myself out the door in this chapter of my life.
The beauty of this 30 Day Shower Experiment is that if you have a shower you can try it. It doesn’t cost anything but water and will probably save you money because, based on my personal experience, long cold showers aren’t that popular. You don’t have to dress up or leave the house to do it. It all comes down to whether you can wrap your head around the idea. If you’re curious but are like me, a practically card carrying member of the “I Don’t Like To Be Cold” club, here are a few tips that might help get you over the line.
1. Create Your Own Cold Shower Rules – There are a lot of ways of doing this challenge so do what you need to do to take it on. For me that meant starting with warm showers before turning on the cold blast. I learned later that this is called a “James Bond shower” because supposedly that’s how 007 rolls.
2. Work Your Way Into It – My first attempts were pretty hilarious. I don’t think I lasted more than 30 seconds and it was like I had the wind knocked out of me. I could barely breathe. It was only because I felt so good after, like for hours, that I was able to try again. I doubt if there was some rule that I had to stay in there for any longer that I would’ve made it that first time, let alone kept it up. By about Day 10 I noticed that I started getting more used to it and was able to extend the time a bit without hyperventilating. So, trust me, it does get better, or at least more doable.
3. Give Yourself An Opportunity To Bail Out – This is a strategy I’m using a lot in my goal setting and it’s basically giving myself an out if I need to, without abandoning the whole challenge. For example, there were many days on this challenge, that I couldn’t imagine that I could do it. It was cold outside (I did it during winter), I felt mentally weak, etc. So I told myself that I didn’t have to 007 it if it didn’t feel right at the time. Of course, when the time came, I manned up and went for it and I think that psychology of giving permission versus being rigid with goals is very powerful.
4. The Cold Shower Challenge Is Good To Do In Winter – That I did this challenge in the heart of winter really surprises me. It surprised me that I didn’t feel chilled to the bone afterward. Of all people, this is where this challenge would’ve gotten me the most and it just didn’t happen. In fact, I feel my tolerance to cold might have been beefed up a bit because I found I was less bothered by cold days and I even have in my head that I might get in the ocean water earlier this season, simply because I’m not so freaked by cold water.
Have you taken the cold water challenge or have I convinced you to give it a try?
It’s definitely one of those “when it rains it pours times”. And as exhausting and challenging and sometimes scary as it’s been – because I’m doing new things- this is me living my purpose. And as exhausting and challenging and sometimes scary as it’s been, I’ve continued to take care of myself. My yoga has become mandatory rather than something I should push under the rug because of time. My mind seems to finally stop dancing so much when I do my morning sitting, after nearly a year of solid practice, this meditation thing seems to be working. And funny enough, I’m doing this without wine, coffee, refined sugar, dairy and wheat. I want to feel good not only now while I’m going through all this but when I emerge from it.
And another thing. I’ve recently had to learn how to do so many things and on top of that, all the things that I learned recently have had to go another level. If you could’ve told me five years ago that by this time in my life I would have three books under my belt or that I would be able to write, produce, present, edit and everything else that’s needed for a twelve lesson online course I would’ve said “No way”.
I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m bragging. What I’m trying to say is that my age has not factored in to anything in my life. It doesn’t keep me from taking care of myself and investigating what I need to be healthy. It doesn’t keep me from learning new things and getting out of my comfort zone. It doesn’t keep me from taking 100% responsibility for my words and actions.
I feel grateful that somewhere, somehow, I learned how to question the idea that a number determines not only what I’m capable of but how people respond to me. I had to have learned that from someone right? I guess that’s why when I hear someone blaming age for something I recoil. I don’t want to hear it and I don’t want my daughters to hear it. It’s not that I live with my head in the sand but so far, I see no reasons whatsoever why age has to play a role in how we want to live and move in this world.
If I did, I certainly wouldn’t be typing this now.
Change happens. And it surprises us. We’re trained from a super young age to expect that life is going to tick boxes. We’re primed to have a vision of ourselves conforming to a certain plan and even when we grow up and know that life often has other ideas, we get very surprised when they actually happen to us.
It might be a job that you feel you have to tolerate – even though you don’t love, or even like it. It might be that you had to move somewhere without much of a choice. Maybe a parent has had to move in with you. Those are just some of the ways that change can feel like an enemy.
When you’re in the thick of this situation, it can be hard to have a shift of perspective. The mind almost wants to stay in a place of only seeing the problem. It feels good and comforting to long for the way things were and reject the present. In many ways, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to practice the tips that I talk about in the video all the time, not just when things suck. That way you have built in reinforcements that you can use – almost on autopilot. You’ll find if you do this, you’ll have a much different outlook on challenge that will give you an advantage to working out ways to make things better.
But of all things, changing our minds about change – knowing that this is what life is about, like it or not, is the most important concept of all. A crummy situation, will change, even if it’s just a willingness to see it in a different and higher way.
If you’re familiar with 12 Steps, you’ll know about that very anchoring prayer, The Serenity Prayer. It’s a very eloquent nudge for us to surrender to challenges when the time calls for it and to somehow, ditch enough ego and gather up enough courage to be okay with change, even when it feels brutal. The words are non religious and worth knowing.
There’s a very cool musical version of the Serenity Prayer by One Giant Leap, that I used to love finishing my yoga practice to. Have a listen:
Have you ever experienced a challenging period that you had to ride through? How did you handle it? What did you learn about yourself by going through it? I’d love to know – post a comment and share with me.
Something inside told me that red wine was doing me no good and rather than ignore it, for the pleasure of a temporary buzz, I listened and obeyed. And guess what happened not long after that? Another “something inside” told me that my ritual double espresso was also doing me no favors. So, guess what? Rather than ignore it, I listened and obeyed.
I have to admit, my first thoughts about taking a reprieve from wine AND coffee at the same time seemed intense. But these feelings all happened at the same time which makes me think that our bodies are sooooooo damn smart. They know exactly how we need to heal but often, our monkey minds think it knows best and can override that “silly” talk.
We get pretty attached to our “things” don’t we? “I need my coffee in the morning” or “I wind down with a glass of wine while I cook.” Both common declarations that I’m sure you’ve said or heard others say throughout your life. These rituals are enjoyable, a pleasure. But what happens when your body starts giving you blatant signs that these aren’t what it needs right now? Would you be willing to take a break from them?
That’s what happened to me recently. I’m 53 and while my transition through perimenopause has been relatively smooth, over the past few months I can tell that there are changes afoot as each month goes by. I got my first night sweat – although jury is still out on what that was as I was very bundled up with blankets. I felt more wiped out than normal and even with naps, I’ve been walking around with less clarity. Weird symptoms like an aching scalp and stuffy ears also came into the picture a week before my period happened, and immediately vanished once it did.
I do a lot of things to support my body. You know that I practice yoga and I walk. You also know that I have a sitting practice. I also eat really well. But the occasional wine and the coffee seemed like they were clashing and against what I need right now. My system just wants to be loved up. It doesn’t want things in it that drain it or make it work harder. And so I decided to take a break.
Taking regular wine and caffeine breaks is something I’ve done quite a bit of over the last few years. It’s definitely inspired by going through this whole transitional journey of my cycle and trying to find that sweet spot for feeling good right now. More than that, I’m very interested in a long game plan of taking the best care I can of myself so I’ll be loving life 20 years from now.
One thing I want to say, I’m not into punishment. I’m also not extreme with how I treat myself. I’m very into moderation. I love having fun. Actually fun is a priority in my life but I also want to feel amazing. I use these breaks as ways to recalibrate my system so that I never have to rely on these things to get through my day or get through a social situation.
So I first took a break from wine and funny enough, I didn’t miss it at all when others were partaking around me. I didn’t feel boring. I did feel great the next day and that’s what I’m loving the most. Even if I have an interrupted sleep, I wake up feeling clear headed. Taking a break from coffee was the biggest surprise because I like my coffee strong and I was certain I would have withdrawal symptoms. I had none. No headache. No desire. Nothing. Clearly, my body needed a time out from it and I’m so glad I answered the call rather than cling to a notion of “I need my coffee in the morning.” Sometimes we think we have to do things when in truth, we don’t!
As per the weird symptoms that I’ve been having. I need a few more months to be able to really say if this break specifically eases or wipes them out all together. I’m also doing other things that could be helping as well. Bottom line is I’ve brought out the big guns to feel good. And more than that, I’m having fun doing it. This break hasn’t been a chore or a marathon of punishment. Probably that tip I gave about knowing I can enjoy if I really want to, helps keep me from feeling deprived. It’s actually the opposite. I feel empowered that I let myself have a choice in my actions rather than letting a habit or a pattern lead the way.
So my question to you is what are you doing that isn’t serving you but you’re doing it anyways? Do the tips from my video give you any ideas for maybe taking a break? I’d love to hear.