I had been thinking about re-launching—or more appropriately, resurrecting—my personal blog for weeks. I’d been on hiatus for four years while consumed with getting my marketing business sturdily off the ground all the while becoming increasingly aware that my life was out of balance. I knew that I needed to add a focus that feeds my soul and keeps me in touch with the experiences of life. I don’t want to end up feeling that my life has passed me by.
The sadness of last week’s tragic death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman lingered with me for several days—far longer, frankly, than I would have expected for a man whose work I honored yet didn’t follow closely. The thought that has stayed with me is just how delicate the human experience is on so many levels. How easy it is for us to observe someone else’s life on the outside and think they have it made yet have no clue about how much they may be suffering on the inside.
As I tried to process my emotions in response to this event, I recognized that I wanted to learn more about what was touching me. Isn’t this really the experience of life—truly feeling what gets thrown at you day by day?
For decades I have heard my mother’s voice uttering, “Everything happens for a reason.” I do believe this is true. Yet how can it be true for just the big things? I believe that everything—big or small–that happens every day is an opportunity to be looked at to lead me or you to do something new or different.
So while I was in a state of wanting to explore my responses to life on a deeper level, I had a very mundane event occur that I looked at as guidance to return to my personal blog. Thank you, Sheila, from Dublin, Ireland for following my dormant blog the other day. You motivated me to get back out there. Hopefully my digging for meaning will make some kind of a contribution.
I didn’t expect the 4-mile hill run I took the other day to be anything more than a standard workout. But as I got about 10 minutes into the run and started to climb with the hilly grade, I receive another life lesson reminder. I became aware of how much my beliefs and habits play a role in what I am able to accomplish. As I tuned into what was going on in my mind, I was able to get beyond what I had let become obstacles and achieve a higher performance.
Here are the obstacles I got in touch with and lessons learned:
Obstacle: I realized that I had established certain points in this routine run where I told myself that the grade was too steep and I allowed my pace to transition from run to walk.
Lesson: I had come to let the points in the road dictate my pace without even considering what may be possible. Over the course of time, I had developed the habit to stop at certain points without pushing myself. I let myself believe it was too hard without even trying.
Obstacle: When I became aware of how I was holding myself back, I made an effort to get in tune with what thoughts were attached. I realized that I had a slight fear about driving my heart and breathing rate.
Lesson: I made the assumption that if I was huffing and puffing deeply at the lower part of the hill, that it would be too much for my lungs to handle as I made my way towards the top. It wasn’t until I pushed myself that I was able to discover that I could manage my breathing as I focused on it. The assumption that I had let hold me back had turned out to be totally false.
The fresh New Year is just around the corner. Maybe you, like me, are thinking about goals. As you take a look at what you’d like to create in your life, what obstacles might be holding you back? Might you discover like I did some thoughts that are pure false?
I got a Facebook message today from a woman who was a close friend in my early high school years. She asked about what I have been doing in the 30 plus years since we last communicated. Once I got beyond the challenge of summing up my life in one paragraph, my mind stayed focused on the question–What am I doing with my life?
When I turned 50 a few months ago, I told myself that I would be more proactive in creating the second half of my life. So far, I’ve not done a good job with that. While I am doing pretty well with carrying out some short term business goals, I continue to let some long-held dreams go by the wayside. Are you guilty of this, too?
Make Your Dream a Priority
A couple of decades ago I made fitness a priority and began to schedule my life with workouts in mind. When a potential commitment makes itself available, the first thing I think about is how I might need to schedule my workout around it. Sick, maybe, but at least it works in enabling me to maintain my fitness goals. Why has it not occurred to me to treat my dreams in the same way? I know the necessary steps I need to take; I just haven’t forced myself to do the work because I simply don’t make the time for it.
In the scheme of life, seeing my dreams become my reality is far more important than my mission to keep away a few unwanted pounds. What’s up with my priorities? Add this one to my list of “What was I thinking??”
I have dropped a few pounds of body fat since I turned 50 three months ago. While being a bit leaner certainly makes me feel good, it’s the lesson behind the lost inches that means the most.
How I Lost the Weight
- I created a new habit. One evening my abs were feeling particularly flabby so I added some weights to my routine. I was actually more focused on how my body felt than how it looked, so as I discovered the weight work felt good, I moved the weights out of the closest and next to my desk where I began to use them daily. I wasn’t really aware of the physical effects the weights were having until I put on a new tank top on my birthday, about 3 weeks after I started my new routine. Realizing that I felt and looked stronger at 50 than the years leading up to it made me happy and inspired me to want to keep it up.
- I became more aware of the control I have over what I become. I started asking myself if I was hungry before popping food into my mouth or if I was still enjoying the food as I continued to eat. As I began to look at my eating as a direct cause and effect of my body weight, I lost a bit more fat.
It’s funny, but losing just these 8 or 10 pounds reminds me of what I learned after successfully losing 40 extra pounds at age 19. Having been an overweight kid my entire life and a failure at numerous diet attempts, I never thought I would be anything but overweight. There’s no doubt in my mind that my life would have been very different had I not made the commitment to change my eating habits.
It’s Not About the Weight
The lesson at 19–
Your history does not dictate what is possible for your future.
The lesson at 50–
The actions you take every day shape what you become.
Yesterday I took my place alongside thousands of other spectators who had gathered to watch the Blue Angels roar through the picturesque San Francisco skyline. The jets flew across the bay, giving us a quick glimpse of their spectacular stunts before they were grounded due to fog conditions. Yet it wasn’t the aborted show that sent me away feeling disappointed; it was a conversation that took place in the crowd that I allowed to get me down.
Four and a half years ago I left a high-paying job because I had come to painfully recognize that I was only in it for the money. I’ve started a new business since then that has great potential, yet it is only now beginning to take off. My life lately has not exactly been a cakewalk financially as I continue to invest in my new venture.
What Does Money Mean?
I am not normally an envious person, so it took me some soul-searching to uncover why the couple behind me in yesterday’s crowd got to me when I heard them talking about the multiple homes they owned. I had let myself fall into the trap of valuing money as the gauge for success. As I listened to them discuss how they were currently looking at buying another home, I began to ask myself if I had been a fool to let go of my big paycheck, as if the amount of money you have is a determination of how wise you are.
True Success in Life
One question that always gets me back on track is asking myself what would make me feel good about my life when I reach its end. It is easy to forget that it is a series of little things that build a lifetime, not one accomplishment that defines us. My Blue Angels experience reminded me to honor how I want to be remembered, and to measure my success accordingly.
The other morning while I was getting ready for a meeting with a significant potential client for my business, a thought came to me that I should check to make sure my projector and accessories were all geared up in my bag. A few minutes later I grabbed the bag with the projector out of my office closet where I always store it, tucked my laptop into my briefcase, and plopped them next to the door. I felt relieved to have my equipment ready before it was time to rush out the door.
A couple of hours later my business partner and I were making small talk at the conference table with our three prospective clients while I began setting up my laptop and projector. I plugged my laptop into the wall plug and reached in my bag for the projector’s cord. My hand found the cable that connects the projector to the computer and placed it on the table. I reached back into the side pocket where I always store the power cord and it wasn’t there. Slightly panicked, my eyes and hands darted around the main part of the bag and back to the pocket a couple more times until I accepted the fact that the power cord was missing.
Normally I would have been shocked because I am meticulous about keeping the components in the bag to avoid what had just happened. Yet the thought that told me to check the bag came back to me during this scene and I was frustrated with myself for not following through.
Luckily the meeting went just fine, although I do believe projecting on the wall would have been much more effective than the three potential clients hovering over my laptop. When we got back to our office, my business partner, who was the last one to use the projector, found the power cord in his computer bag, which did not accompany us that day.
The lesson: Think of your instincts as intelligence you are not consciously in touch with and follow its guidance.
I celebrated Labor Day at the Sausalito Art Festival, where Jefferson Starship closed off the entertainment festivities for the weekend. While this particular festival is a world class art show, my boyfriend, Dean and I make our decision on what day we will attend by the music schedule.
As the day approached, I had been contemplating why the bands of my youth still held such appeal to me. While I looked around at the crowd today, many of whom were older than me, I got more in touch with the answer. The music is a part of our history. As we gathered there in Sausalito, it was like we were reclaiming a part of our soul. For that one hour while the band played, my heart felt an elation beyond the every day. It touched the spirit of what I felt in my youth–optimism, hope, joy of life, and most of all, a connection to those around me. We had all experienced a lot of life since we first heard those lyrics, yet despite all the changes, somehow the music reminds us of who we once were.
As I sit here on the morning after, I still feel a hightened sense of peace and aliveness. This experience has inspired me to strive to bring all parts of myself into my daily life so that the most precious pieces can live on and continue to touch me.