AGING, Women

CLARITY IS POWER

New Year’s resolutions are powerful. They wake up my sleepy procrastinating self and propel me into a momentum of unstoppable energy that screams progress! and success!. They can also be anti-climatic. So many of us who set them on December 31st find ourselves breaking them just one or two days later. There is that line from a Jimmy Buffet song that comes to my mind. “There’s a fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning.” New Year’s resolutions are so easy to fantasize about when you are drinking your third glass of bubbly over a slice of cheesecake on Christmas Eve with only a few days ahead to make the lists about what next year will be.

Sometimes I get nostalgic and start rummaging through my old journals to see where my mind was at twenty years ago. Besides the fact that most of the writing seems to come directly from my less informed ego, there are endless lists with the intense theme of self improvement.

Do more yoga, meditate more, work out three times a week, prepare my food Sunday for the week, travel to….., save more money, spend less money,  be in nature more, spend more time with family, clean my house once a week on such and such a day.

One big tiresome and overachieving yawn from the perch of this soon to be fifty- five year old brain. The beauty of hanging on to my old journals is the reference point of before. Before the work, before the life experience, before the therapy and before I completed even twenty-five percent of the endless lists I used to make on those hopeful first days of whatever year it was soon to be.

This is the magic of a list and a resolution though, the magic itself- the hope for something different in our lives, an improvement, a change. New Year’s resolutions have power because they say, YES, Anything is possible. They are like huge buckets containing desires, dreams, plans, ideas, hope and we throw them all in hoping even one doesn’t fall through the cracks. If it doesn’t, well, there is always next year if we’re lucky. Resolutions speak to our undying belief that there will be a new year again— that there will always be another chance. We have the privilege of an undying optimism in that moment.

Personally, I take great comfort in allowing myself the freedom to even consider it as possibility. As I get older, however, there is much less of this freedom and much more of a time crunch. I find myself throwing less in the New Year’s bucket, but what I do throw in has much more substance and far less ego. 

Of all the shards of aging, the softer side of it is definitely the de-ego-ing of oneself. I know “de-ego-ing”  is not a word, but there is no other way to describe the unveiling, the unlayering, the unraveling of the mysterious ego so central to the first four decades of my life. Even admitting it takes a de-structuring of sorts. 

Like a Back to the Future episode, I am time warped into  my psychology 101 class taught by an old salty teacher, Mr. Malcolm, where I was introduced to Freud’s model of the ego, the id and the superego. I think I was a freshman in high school, 1979ish when I first heard Freud’s theory. Ego can be an antagonizing struggle in our young lives well into our adulthood. When I asked the question to google, What is the purpose of ego?, The answer came like a genie out of a bottle and answered it perfectly. 

“Ego has a big and beautiful purpose in our life. It is said that the purpose of ego is to cause you great levels of unhappiness and suffering so that hopefully one day after trying to change the world and people around you, you can look inside and decide to change yourself.” -Diego Castro

This has been my revelation lately. I don’t know if it is age, if it is being diagnosed with breast cancer twice since I turned fifty, if it is repairing my relationship with my mother, my son graduating from college this year, or a new decade, but there is something magical happening to me, and I can only explain it as a deconstruction of ego in my life. 

I have become much kinder to myself. I don’t mean kinder in a material external sort of way, like getting more facials and buying more shoes, but rather kinder with patience, self care and self love. I have notoriously been my own worst critic. Ninety percent of the things I have said to myself, I would never say to anyone. No matter how many affirmations I have placed around my environment or how many self help books on my shelf, it was the day to day moment to moment mantras that have spewed from that monster of a critic to myself. These mindless thoughts have lacked consciousness and were so often on auto pilot, that it has taken great care and mindfulness to even realize the painful inner dings that they have produced.

The mean voice, the ego voice that says not good enough, not right, not now. But fifty- five is changing this paradigm. I find myself saying if not now when? I find myself creating less internal drama about situations that won’t matter even a week from now. I find myself making decisions about decisions and changing my mind because it doesn’t feel good in my heart to stay with what I thought was going to be a good decision. And not feeling bad about the change of heart. And I am fascinated by this new found clarity. 

What has been the catalyst for this new found power, I ask myself? The shift came at last year’s resolution when I made the commitment to start meditating regularly. While the coffee was perking- basically not much more than eleven minutes almost every day. I have read that meditation actually changes your brain. I don’t know what science I can share other than my own experience with forcing myself (and there are those days when I do force myself) to sit cross legged in silence and breathing deeply.  What I do know is that I feel better, calmer, more organized, kinder, more patient with myself. I know that I care less about what is happening outside of my body and I care more about what is happening inside it. 

This is freedom, this is clarity. And I like it a lot. 

Perhaps it is everything. A compilation of sorts of all of the work I have done over the years investing in myself and my patterns in my constant quest for self improvement. It’s not that I don’t give a shit, It is that the shit is shifting. I just am starting to give a shit a little more about me and my own needs. What do I need? What do I want to say yes to or no to? Is it possible to keep some of my personal power and strength for myself instead of feeling like a vessel with a leak? 

Perhaps these feelings and realizations happen to all women heading over the curve of fifty five speeding towards sixty right around the bend, but I’ll take it. I am willing to trade in the inner voice that says, why did you eat that? How come you didn’t go to the gym today? You shouldn’t buy that. Why did you say that? I am willing to have my body shape just be good enough and the wrinkles forming from my very smiley face along with the age spots on my hands and the weird skin tags showing up seemingly overnight also be fine. I am willing to have all of that if the trade off is this magnificent clarity.

Clarity is power means that I am clear as a bell about my intentions. That I choose to live in the matching truth of my insides and my outsides. That I keep some of my personal growth and its power for me and my own needs sharing when it feels right, but being quiet and contemplative too. Of course, it has only been two weeks into this New year, this new decade, but if this is the feeling that I get so quickly from meditating and aging, I’m all in. 

I pose the question to all of my superchicks out there headed to the mid fifties tag, if not now when? What can be different right now? What changes can you make on your inside so it matches your outside? What is your clarity this year? Clarity is powerful, I send some your way today. Happy New Year and Happy New Decade.

Uncategorized

LET IT SNOW

LET IT SNOW

The snowstorm called bomb something or other was beautiful, wasn’t it? The last days of December leading to the first few days of January are chock filled with the hopes and desires of a fresh new year coming at me like this first storm of the year. There is a shift that happens this time of year as I prepare for the first month of the year and a good storm in the mix just adds to the chaos. I absolutely love a New England winter storm. Like swimming in the Atlantic in the early month of May when I take my first ceremonial plunge, the New England winter storms keep me tough and ready for anything. It is what makes us New Englanders hardy in the grayness of a winter nor’easter. Of course I get to say this from the luxury of my own super warm house that fortunately kept its power on as I wait for Mike Cordeiro’s guys to come shovel me out.

I realized midway through the storm last night that I left my shovel in my barn that has about two feet of now in front of the doors. I did go out with my kitchen broom though and dig my car out as recommended by our trusty weathermen on TV (thank you Mark Searles). I sit on my couch on my second floor while I watch the darkness turn to magnificent morning after light on the shimmery water I get to call my view and review my first five days of January. Snowstorms give that gift, the gift of pause and reflection.

And Lists.

The list I made for myself yesterday was mighty. Lists of things to accomplish with or without power and I made it through about one third of the list. As I continue to purge and reorganize I am struck by how time consuming it all is. Office supplies, art supplies, clothes, files, housewares, even food and spices require my attention. As I get older I want less, I want less things in my closets and drawers and less to surround me. My grandmother always said you spend your first half of your life collecting stuff and the second half giving it all away. As I made my way through my closets and cabinets determined to continue my purge, I am finding it easier to get rid of things that are less than interesting to my sense of order. Moving shit around for some reason is my zen space. Maybe like gardening and cooking, it brings me humbly and delightfully to the glorious moment free from all outside distractions. There is no shortage of ideas flying into my never-ending brain, and if I execute just a fraction of them, I am happy. This is the entrepreneurial brain I have been blessed with though sometimes it is a mixed blessing.

New ideas though are a process that I have learned to embrace and be patient with. First it is the grand entrance of the idea and it blasts in with a force like the first few months of romantic interlude. It then exits at the speed of light or settles in like a new sweater does as it becomes a part of my go to comfort. This is what ideas are like and I cherish every one of them knowing that only a few will survive. I have been contemplating opening a satellite home and vintage store within my existing business to have an additional outlet for retail. My team looked a little horrified when I considered bringing this into my actual space so as I made my way through the remaining piles I had the revelation that I would open my store in the spring in my barn and garden in the back of my house. Now that the original idea has a literal home, I have a new direction and this feels like a wonderful way to start my new year. A place to rest my beautiful things I no longer need and no longer need me, but are too valuable and interesting to bring to a dumpster.

As I made my way through the piles, I reached the final pile of office work and this is what my focus is this first week of January, to organize my files. There is an utter satisfaction of brand new files and folders with shiny new labels standing at attention in my three drawer white Ikea filing cabinet. “I am not going to procrastinate filing this year,” I say confidently at the start of each year. Then I do and the piles grow and I scold myself for letting the piles get to that nuisance of a place. This is how I feel about organizing technical stuff. Technical organization is a full time fucking job and I don’t like the H word but I Hate technological organization. It sucks me dry and I fantasize about the day I can delete it all. I do have one fun rule and that is when my emails build up to over two hundred I select all and DELETE. It is so fun. I have been contemplating lately doing this with everything, just DELETING. Sounds so wreckless and I can hear my comrades screaming, “You can’t do that, you own a business!!!” With the sound of pure terror in their voices. I have two cell phones, three computers, and that is just my house and office, never mind my two businesses. I have five computers there and four phone lines, two business email accounts that require checking. It is mayhem, but I am fully aware it is a necessary evil, but between texting, emails, phone calls and social media checkins and checkups this in itself requires a part of me I don’t want to give up. Not to mention the full time reminders to update every one of them. Doesn’t it seem that everything needs updating like every other day? Good thing I own a company that provides relaxing services — I need them for all of this tech chaos I call my life. This is why the old fashioned store in my barn speaks to me, no phone, no computer, just great music and great items while people meander in my garden drinking lavender lemonade and enjoying the present moment I get to enjoy. After all I my own boss, I am the conductor, the director, the line leader and if I don’t want to do something, ultimately I am the one who gets the luxury of making the decision. I wouldn’t change this for anything. Sometimes though, I want to shut it off and down and not make any decisions.

Oddly and very ironically, this is what I most relished during my last few surgeries, the forced excuse to be brought to my knees and make no decisions except to heal. Why is it that I have to wait to be brought to my knees to do this? I guess it is ultimately because I don’t want to. I like busy-ness, chaos, ordering chaos and reinventing myself on an almost seasonal basis. I enjoy change and fixing things. The best result of all of this writing has been as I write I work it out and in the process, find myself accepting the quirkiness I get to call me. This has been the best gift of all, self acceptance in the process and for this I will take all of the mayhem, good and bad, calm and chaos and let it be.