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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.
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.
I’m not going to hide from it. I am turning 50 this year. A year and a half ago I attended my 30th high school reunion and reconnected with a number of people from my youth who are also turning 50 this year. Suddenly I’m noticing the statement, “50 is the new 30” being thrown around. Hmm, I ponder. Is it true, or are we just fooling ourselves?
I’ve always believed that age is very much a state of mind, yet decorum and a dose of reality do come into play. I have four beautiful mini skirts hanging in my closet that I can’t bear to part with, but I know will never again see the light (or dark) of day, at least on my body. I can’t leave the house now without a pair of glasses because I can’t read a menu, ingredients on a label, or anything I might have to sign my name to without help. And the gray hair that I have inherited has made me recognize that I can choose to replace it with any color that I want.
If these are the biggest grievances I have about turning 50 (and they are!), then I consider myself pretty darn blessed. Although I still fit into and wear clothes I had long before I was 30, I’ve come to the conclusion that, at least for me, I don’t feel 30. And that’s a good thing.
Why 50 is better than 30:
- I’ve come to value a nice man over a bad boy.
- It’s no longer all about me.
- I’ve come to prefer authenticity over sizzle.
- I’m way comfortable with myself.
- I cherish every moment with my parents.
- I’ve come to value meaning over money.
- I’m in touch with the fact that I’m not going to live forever.
- I no longer care about what people think.
- I think about how much I am blessed.
- I’ve experienced some painful, challenging times and have come out stronger.
- I’ve learned to trust myself.
- I’ve taken some big risks and survived.
- I’ve learned that being true to myself is more important than security.
Am I missing something in the “50 is the new 30” statement? If so, please enlighten me.
Today is my father’s 74th birthday. I recognize how blessed I am to be able to share it with him, and I don’t want to wait until he’s gone to reflect on what I’ve learned from him. In no particular order:
- Give help without being asked.
- Hard work really does pay off.
- It is possible to create a new life in foreign land.
- You don’t have to hold a college degree to be intelligent and educated.
- Love is expressed by what you do, not what you say.
- Having someone you can count on is one of the greatest gifts in life.
- What’s inside is more important than what it looks like on the outside.
- A strong commitment will keep you going when the road gets rough.
- Don’t ever assume you know how a person will respond.
- Don’t take your blessings for granted. Life can change in an instant.
Last weekend I went out in search of a book that could set me into the new year with an inspired focus on the unlimited possibilities that I know are true for all of our lives. I came home with Jack Canfield‘s The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. The title perfectly expressed what I was looking for.
Fifty seven pages into the read, the book has surpassed what I set out to receive. It’s not that the principles that Jack Canfield writes about are new, it’s that his ideas are a rare mix of spirituality and business. They’re grounded in practicality and yet they speak to the soul. He reminds me that it’s possible to achieve your dreams, but first you need to get in touch with those dreams, break them down into goals, and above anything else, believe in your ability to bring your dreams to life.
I sat down to do a couple of different exercises, and it blew me away to discover just how vague I am about what I really want from my life. How can I focus on building the life of my dreams if I haven’t focused on what my dreams clearly look like?
Jack Canfield has left me with a number of gems so far:
- Believing in yourself is essential to success. If you can’t believe in your ability to succeed with something, ask yourself why not? Identify what you need to do to feel confident about your ability to succeed and do it.
- Get clear on your vision and create very specific goals. The more definition you place on what you want to achieve, the better equipped your mind is to support the building.
- Make a habit of focusing on what you want to create through visualization and mental review of your goals. Keep your visions and the energy that supports them engaged and fully alive. Review your goals several times a day.
- Carry a written description of your most important goal with you. Make it a part of your life by reviewing it constantly.
If you haven’t already, take the time to create a vision of your ideal life, and break that vision into specific goals. You can never be too clear on what you want to create.
Like you, perhaps, I’ve been thinking about what I want to create in the New Year of 2009. When I focus my complete attention on creating my life, a few things come up that I know are vital to the process:
- A clear vision: Knowing specifically what you want to create enables you to play an active role in building it. Vague goals don’t give you anything solid to believe in, visualize or reach for.
- Give yourself permission to be prosperous. Financial success comes from thinking that prosperity is your natural right, just as much as breathing. Work on making this belief your habit if it isn’t already.
- Adjust your beliefs about your life with what you want your life to be. Become keenly aware of that little voice that is constantly telling you what it thinks is possible for you and make the commitment to override it with statements about what you want to be true for you.
- Understand the power of visualization and use it to create the reality you want. Think of yourself as a co-creator of your life and see visualization as your tool for molding your creation. Read more about visualization.
- Make a habit of consciously creating your life. Start each day focusing on your vision, be sure that your beliefs are aligned with your vision and follow through with a visualization that brings your vision to life.
How to Consciously Create Your Day – Part 2
How to Consciously Create Your Day
San Rafael Lighted Boat Parade
Eleven years ago I came home from my holiday shopping spree to discover a lighted boat parade happening along the canal I’d moved alongside two months prior. Boats decorated with lights in all colors and holiday shapes drifted through the water to the sounds of holiday carols and voices yelling, “Merry Christmas!” I’ve never been a parade kind of person, yet this event has since been a remarkable expression of joy that I never want to miss.
Last night I shared the event with the six people who are closest to my heart, and now I want to share it with you. Click on this link for a 2 minute chunk of holiday cheer. http://tinyurl.com/7qnl7c
The Silicon Valley chapter of Experience Unlimited, ProMatch, a state sponsored career resource center, has swelled to maximum capacity while a list holds names of unemployed professionals waiting to get in. The volume is so strained that the maximum membership time has been reduced from 9 months to 6 months in an effort to support more people.
The New York Times this weekend reported similar crowd scenes, yet in a different type of venue. The article opened by describing an affluent Long Island town evangelical church so packed that an overflow room with closed-circuit TV with 100 folding chairs set up to accommodate the crowd. Similar stories were reported in Seattle, Brooklyn, and other cities throughout the country.
Bad times draw big crowds in church. It seems that fear returns us to that faith that there is something to believe in that will enable us to feel safe.
If we can feel safe in the most challenging of times, then isn’t the challenge worth where we’ve arrived?
I hate to admit this, but I’ve been neglecting my meditation practice lately, big time. I’ve allowed myself to become “too busy.” The result? Well, let’s just say that I haven’t been my usual joyful self. I gave myself an inner boost this morning, though, and it made such a difference that I felt inspired to share.
Here are just some of the benefits you might receive in a 20-minute meditation:
- Be reminded that your life is not about the outside world and all its complications.
- Experience a sense of privilege to have been given the opportunity to live.
- Feel closely connected with the energy behind all of life.
- Remember how you are really supposed to show up.
- Become refreshed with a deep sense of peace and joy
Would you agree that this list of benefits reads like a seminar you might pay hundreds of dollars for?
Meditation is free. Here’s a great wikiHow article to help you get started.
I’d love to hear your comments on what meditation has done for you.
I’ve been invited by Dress for Success San Francisco to give a presentation next week on managing stress. As I finished my initial preparation, it occurred to me that with all that is happening in our world these days, everyone could benefit from these 10 simple tips:
- Eliminate the idea of lack. Recognize that opportunities to create more abundance are all around you. It’s just a matter of focusing on them and following through.
- Look to see a benefit in the stress point – a silver lining or a valuable lesson learned. Choose to see tough economic times as opportunities to work hard and learn how to do what you do better to get and keep the job.
- Exercise your right to respond peacefully. A challenging situation does not require an emotionally charged response. Your choice to react peacefully does not mean that you agree with or support the stressor; rather it demonstrates your choice to minimize its negative impact.
- Take 15 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly, relax and surround yourself with the energy of peace.
- Learn to accept things you can’t change. Choose to believe that the universe knows more than you about what is best.
- Find an exercise you enjoy and do it regularly.
- Avoid negative people and environments as much as possible. Do whatever you can to surround yourself with peaceful influences.
- Learn to say no. Don’t promise too much. Give yourself enough time to get things done.
- Trust in the goodness of the universe. Expect that what you need will be provided.
- Join a support group or seek out professionals if you can’t cope on your own. Consider seeking help as a sign that you are smart enough to know it and strong enough to go for it.