How To Minimize Drama At Midlife

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?

How To Deal With A Complainer

The other day I spent an hour with a complainer. And it was fascinating. Whether it was talking about her job, her age, her health, her husband, her, well, everything, it didn’t matter. Everything was sucking.

 

 

At first, her complaints were easy breezy, just flowing in and out of our conversation. Fair enough. We all have bad days and sometimes it feels good to unload. And in that conversation, I bounced back a bit of easy breezy advice.

Waste of time.

Fortunately it didn’t take me long to get that I was in the company of a professional. This was more than just complaining. This woman took complaining to a level of fine art. And I knew there was nothing I could do but watch and learn.

A couple of the learnings:

Once was enough: Walks like a duck, talks like a duck, is a duck. Sometimes we think if we give people another chance, that they might be different but then curse ourselves when nope, they’re exactly the same. It’s perfectly okay to not continue a relationship with someone who isn’t aligned with your values (and anything else that’s important to you).

Helping others isn’t always necessary: When I offered some suggestions to solve whatever it was that was being complained about, that was actually my bad. This is especially important for coaches, or anyone who’s a “fixer”  to be reminded about and that is we have to be sensitive to the needs of others and know that help isn’t always wanted, even when it seems obvious that it’s needed. If I would’ve held off for about five more minutes, I would’ve seen that I was spending my time with someone who speaks via complaining the way some people speak with accents. It was just business as usual for her and wasn’t meant to be fixed by me.

Everyone and everything is our teacher: Once I got that this wasn’t a conversation, this was a classroom, everything was so much better. That’s a good mindset to have whenever you find yourself in a situation or with company who challenge you. I left the conversation knowing that it wasn’t enough to just focus on what a drag the past hour had been. That would’ve been complaining right? I needed to remember that this was a message to me. What words come out of my mouth in general conversations? Do I communicate in a way that serves the conversation and who I’m with? Is there room for improvement?

Thanks to this fascinating conversation with a content complainer, you can bet that my focus will be on ensuring that the answers to those questions are yes.

 

How To Stop Feeling Guilty

What do moms, Sanskrit chanting, funerals and dill pickles have in common? Well, this is a stretch, but these topics, which I discuss in this week’s podcast all involve making a decision to do the best you can with what you’ve got. The challenge is that a lot of us are great at being Monday morning quarterbacks. We’re quick to find kinks in our past thinking and willing to drag ourselves over the goals rather than to remember, at the risk of repeating myself, that we do the best we can with what we’ve got.

 

Click to listen or download on iTunes or Stitcher

 
In the podcast I mention a few inspirations I’ve had this week. First off, I’m exploring the world of probiotics and when I was trying to use up the veggies in our fridge, I spied a half head of cabbage and figured, let the experimenting begin. Turns out it’s outrageously simple to make fermented veggies – that’s what they call it – and there are a lot of videos that walk you through the steps.

This guy “Craig” from Craig’s Kitchen has some videos that are incredibly straight forward and low key. Plus he drops things and stuff so they’re pretty relaxed!

 

 

My sauerkraut has been sitting in the cupboard for a good few days so I’m going to have a taste and see if it’s ready. To be honest, I haven’t had sauerkraut in a gazillion years and have no idea what it tastes like. I have a feeling when I did have it, probably on a hot dog, it was something that I didn’t particularly love, otherwise I would’ve had more of it. Anyhow, I’ll be going in with an open mind and be willing to let it be an acquired taste. The things you do for gut health.

The cool thing about trying something new is that one thing leads to another. Same for this probiotic adventure. Once I did the sauerkraut, I thought, “Whoa! Would it be that easy to make dill pickles?” I might not know jack about sauerkraut, but I KNOW dill pickles. Sure enough Craig had another easy how-to on making these as well.

 

 

Now, these I can’t wait to taste and I’ll certainly know whether they’re right or not and if they are, I’ll assume so it is with the sauerkraut! 

These probiotic experiments were created under the influence of some classic Sanskrit chants. I’ve been hooked this week on the lessons of Deva Premal and Mitan’s 21 Day Mantra Meditation Journey. You can listen to it on Spotify. As mentioned, I find mantras kind of a cross between calming and focused music and a sort of prayer. As per cooking and food preparation, you might be interested in Day #15 of these chants which focuses on healing. They explain that in Aruvedic philosophy, cooks will chant this mantra to infuse the food with healing and nourishing properties. Perfect for creating guilt-free magic with anything you prepare to eat, probiotic or not.
 

How To Deal With Difficult People

The most epic thing about doing the “work” of personal development, you know, taking care of your emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health is that as you change, the things around you change. You start noticing that there’s less of an “ick’ factor. You have better people and opportunities around you because you’re holding yourself to a higher standard and stepping up.

 


 
But in this real world, every now and then there comes a test to everything you’ve been working on in the shape of a human who is just plain difficult. It might be a colleague. Maybe it’s a family member. Maybe it’s someone in your social circle who you’ve been putting up with for years, even though they completely compromise your principles.

This is where the concept of reframing a situation really comes in handy. What if you treated this challenging relationship as an opportunity to stretch and grow even further? What if figuring out a way to deal with this difficult person actually was a training ground for frying bigger and more complex “fish”? And the big what if….What if learning how to engage peacefully with someone on your turf throws a pebble in the ocean of all the peace we need to create in the world? It’s a start right?

In the vlog, I mention that I listen to mantras and this particular one, “Gayatri Mantra” is one I love. It has a lot of translations but I take it to mean something along the lines of searching for the ultimate truth, beyond ego, beyond material things. The musicians Deva Premal do an epic 2 hour kirtan (call and response) version of this song and if you practice yoga, like peaceful music, or just have a bit of hippie in you like me, you’ll love having this in the background.

 


 

A Lifetime Of Healthy Enjoyable Sex

I was thinking about sex the other day and how it stacks up to the energy we give our other biological functions. For instance our bods. We know we gotta move ’em and we know the healthy ways to fuel them. And then there’s our minds. We know the importance of learning and having practices to calm and still our thoughts. I’m sure there are plenty of other ways I can explain the various levels of extreme care that we at least try to give these prongs of our health but when it comes to sex, a lot of us are okay with looking the other way.

Obviously this happens because of a few things. We haven’t been trained from the get go to see our sexuality as an integral part of our health or we were raised in a time where sex was way more taboo than it is now or we were brought up to believe that sex is just for young people and maybe even just for men. I’m not even going to touch religious beliefs or trauma.

I might not be a sex therapist or a doctor but I’ve been married for over 30 years and I’ve come to feel that a healthy sex life is as important as all the other things my body needs. It’s simple. It makes me feel good in just about every aspect. I don’t buy into the common thought that interest in sex drops after a certain age and these thoughts are acknowledged in growing research that suggests people who have an overall attitude of positivity, an emphasis in wellness and a life long interest in sex, continued to have a life long  sex. Yes hormones might mean we have to look for options and yes there might be times when we don’t have partners but the long and the short of sex is that a lot of it is in our minds, not our genitals. Sex is about how we communicate and how we think and how much we prioritize it.

I wanted to say all this in a podcast and I think it’s the start of some more conversations but what helped me focus it a bit more was when one of the subscribers on my newsletter mentioned that Viagra was playing havoc in her life. The tiniest bit of research revealed this is a huge problem. Women were actually getting hurt from their partner’s reliance on the drug and rather than talking it through, they were suffering in silence.

So here’s the deal. Sex is the same as all the other things we do for ourselves like eating well, exercise, sleep, and meditation. At its natural best it demands intelligence, patience, effort and communication. What would happen if you brought all of those things into the bedroom with you for the rest of your life? I think like all the areas we put effort in, the answer would be simple. You’d just feel better

Happy Mother’s Day! In this week’s podcast I give some advice to two gals from our community. The thing is they asked for some help on completely different issues but they had one thing in common. Their mothers had strong opinions on the way they were living their lives and it was preventing them from making a decision on their own, big girl terms.

In the podcast I mention some interesting studies that highlight the huge cultural and societal divide between our generation and that of our mothers. The first one, where the lives of their adult daughters caused lower levels of self esteem in mothers was published in Social Psychology Quarterly by Deborah Carr.  Further research revealed that a significant number of mothers of adult daughters reported that they were generally concerned about their daughters and didn’t intend to come off critical. More on this can be found in this book.

I also mention in the podcast that I’ve got a video on how to use a podcast player on your phone. If by chance you haven’t ventured further that this page for listening to my podcasts, this will really help expand the experience so you can take me on the go. Click here. 

So talk to me. What tip for dealing with an opinionated mother resonated with you? How can you be the change in the relationship with your mom? I’d love to know so post below.

Take A Midlife Reality Check

What if the concept of a midlife crisis was completely made up? What if all the angst and soul searching that feels pretty real was actually some sort of weird Matrix- thingy? And the most eyebrow lifting “what” of them all, What if a midlife crisis was an actual luxury? This line of questioning seems to always come up for me when I travel and while often it’s just a passing thought, on a recent trip it stuck with me and I brought it back home.

Download and Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher

In this week’s podcast I talk about aiming a reality check flashlight at whatever’s going on in your life. I pass along three elements to look for that might just take the “crisis” out of your midlife experience (or at the very least, put the brakes on it a bit).

Have you ever considered the idea of a midlife crisis as an actual luxury? Tell me about it below.

 

 

 

Getting A New Style When You Grow Gray Hair

When it came to dealing with hairdressers since growing my hair out gray, I thought I was doing pretty good. After all, I learned early on that a stylist might not necessarily think it’s the right choice and that made me tough. Even if I just got a blow dry, I’d stare down the barrel of any seasoned professional and introduce myself with the line “I’m purposely growing my hair out gray because I think it looks super cool, so make me look sexy!”

 

 

So imagine my surprise, during the biggest haircut of this whole adventure, when I completely regressed to my pre gray days, back to that place when I let hairdressers be the boss of me. I dropped my guard and left my hairstyle into the hands of the gal with the scissors. In some cases, this works just fine, but the hairdresser made an assumption about what would be right for me, and in turn, gave me that kind of cut.

I’ll tell you a secret. The haircut kind of bummed me out. I couldn’t even film the “after” of this video until a few days had passed and even then I was still feeling yuck about it all. Even though it’s fine when it’s blow dried will be back to normal length eventually, there’s no weirder sensation then getting a haircut you don’t like. I’d asked for a hip, long bob with long layers and all I got was a shoulder length, mom style, bowl cut. I could’ve gone back and gotten it fixed, but honestly, I couldn’t be bothered. I’ll get it done, with someone else, who I’ll communicate with better, when it needs another trim. But man, it’s the oddest sensation walking around with a haircut you don’t like. I could barely think for a week.

Fortunately my hair grows fast and my mind is always searching for ways to interpret and soothe discomfort. And if there’s any big takeaway, it’s to always stand up for yourself. If you can do that in a beauty parlour, I reckon you can do it anywhere.

Here’s a link to Narcissista.me – a beauty blog which I quote in the vlog. I really like the writing in this, smart, sexy and fun.

So what about you? Have you let your guard down during your gray hair adventure and walked out of the hairdresser with a “safe” cut? Did your hairdresser make an assumption about you that was off the mark?Tell me your story!

My Mother-In-Law Has Alzheimers Part 2

A few podcast episodes ago, my husband Dale and I introduced you to his mother, Leonie. Leonie has Alzheimers and we’re doing a series of podcasts during what seems like a pivotal time, the transition between her independence and full time care. If you haven’t listened to the first podcast, click here. I recommend it because it might fill in some blanks that come up during this current interview with her.

 

 

In the podcast I mention that Leonie is on a controversial drug called Risperdal. We were unaware of it until the staff at her day care center mentioned their concern about it. It only took the simplest Google to understand why. Risperdal is an antipsychotic drug that was prescribed to manage her anxiety and while the drug is approved in Australia, it’s very controversial in the United States and the U.K. and was the subject of a BILLION dollar settlement for misbranding and false claims that it was beneficial for dementia in the elderly. You can read the FDA press release here. In addition to Risperdal, her doctor has also added Diazepam (Valium) to the mix. Again, a simple Google, reveals that mixing these two drugs is, at the very least, questionable. While we’ve passed this info and our concerns on, nothing was resolved. I gotta admit, I’m kind of freaked out about how mood soothing (all the varieties) drugs are so easily doled out by doctors and accepted by their elderly patients. I’m convinced that knowing how to work our way around technology and not worrying about upsetting our doctors is an essential part of health care, especially as time goes on.

So that’s where we’re at, tethering between the world of what used to be and what’s ahead and somehow trying to find appreciation in right now. We’ll keep you posted on how things go.

If you liked the podcast, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please post your comment below.

 

 

A Chat Around The Campfire With My Husband

I haven’t been going through midlife alone. Right next to me is my husband Dale who is only a couple weeks older than me. This year we’re celebrating our 30th anniversary and just like how we were pretty much kids when we first met, we’re navigating this latest chapter in our life together. We’re looking back at the lessons we’ve learned and making plans and working out the directions that we want to take for our future.

We’ve traveled many times as just a couple but recently we did something that we always did with our kids. Camping. Even though our kids are all out on their own, some things, like the old family tent still remain. The timing felt right to unplug from all our devices, get down to basics and sleep close to the ground. And so we took off.

aspen

Family, traveling, and talking about life has been a constant for Dale and I. In fact, we’ve worked together on these exact subjects, taking our young family on camping adventure and writing about them for The Los Angeles Times and Australian Associated Press. You can get an idea of what we did in some old archived articles here.

Dale and I are going to be doing a podcast together and this episode is one of our experiments. We really just shoot the breeze on what this camping trip was like and some of the things we’re up to – including our new interest in a cross between Paleo and Vegan eating. It’s early days but we just try to avoid dairy, refined sugar and gluten/wheat. We’re wrapping our head around it and the bottom line is we’re actually having fun.

Honestly, just about any packaged or processed food that you secretly like, say a candy bar, can be made with real ingredients and even be healthy. For example, here’s a recipe for Reese Peanut Butter Cups that can be tweaked from Vegan to Paleo.

Ingredients

Chocolate base and top

Raw Cacao Powder

Maple Syrup

Coconut Oil

Peanut Butter Filling 

Peanut Butter or use Sunflower Butter (if you’re a stickler for paleo)

Maple Syrup

Himalaya Sea Salt

Instructions: Mix the chocolate base ingredients to a sauce consistency and spoon half into a cupcake liner, leaving the remaining for the topping. Stick in fridge to harden. Mix the peanut butter filling, can be done by hand no problem. When the chocolate bottoms are hard, spoon the peanut butter filling on top, spreading it so it’s even. Top with the remaining top and place in fridge to harden. I know I haven’t given the amounts but if you cook you can probably guess how much you need right? In any case, this is pretty insane tasting as well as exciting to eat because it has to be better for you than the original thing!

reeses

 

What I LOVE about the idea of doing another podcast with Dale is that we can also get a man’s POV on midlife and beyond. Maybe it’s something that the men in your life might enjoy as well and give us all the chance to get this conversation going about making life great, from this point on.

So on that note, I’d love your feedback on the idea of Dale and I doing a collar. Let us know what you think!