A Whiter Shade of Gray

senior-3336451_1920In the last several years, there has been growing popularity in older women and men being chic, fascinating and featured in magazines. Well, why not? Older people have this “been there, done that” attitude and are going to continue doing what they want. Old does not mean slow, stupid or even about to die.

Our bodies are aging, each and every day. We know that. Yes, our brains do too, but that does not equate to being senile. We have a wealth of experiential knowledge that helps us to make quick and powerful decisions. We are no longer burdened by the “image” society has picked for us. We can sky-dive if it so pleases us. We can get married when we are in our 90s. If we want to wear florals, stripes and sequins all in the same outfit, so be it. “Insta-Grannies” are all the rage now. I won’t list them, because by now you will have seen, read or are following most of them.

Is this a fad that will slowly fade away as many of these icons pass on? A fad is something that gets worn out and loses its appeal. If we are all aging, then we are all fads. So why not be so individually cool that you never outlive your time?

active-cyclist-elderly-264073What these ultra-cool elders are really showing us is that you must keep going and growing in order to live your best life. Having your 60th birthday, or whatever age you deem to be old, is not an automatic indicator that you must now move to an assisted-living facility and wear Velcro shoes. A continually stimulated brain will spur you into stimulating your body. Walk, dance, climb, hike, swim, sky-dive, whatever challenges you want to place upon your body – just go for it. Be safe; just because you can do it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care for your body. Our muscles don’t recover as quickly as they used to, and our bones aren’t as strong as they used to be either.

barca-473854_1920Are you a widower and think that because your spouse of 50 years is gone, you should just sit alone in your tiny new apartment? Au contraire, my friend. Loneliness will kill you faster than your one martini with dinner. Why not a companion to share that martini with? There is no social demand that you be married. Living in sin, if you call it that, is far more fun than withering away by yourself.

Many seniors become entrepreneurs. Done with the working-for-someone-else world, many active adults start new businesses built upon hobbies or passions. We have a lifetime of skills and workplace savvy to make it lucrative.

How about a little Botox, sculpting, or other cosmetic enhancements? False eyelashes and eyeliner aren’t just for the 20-something set. Whatever you choose to make yourself look and feel better should be just to make yourself feel better, and not about what anyone else says.

old-2742052_1920Growing older isn’t an easy thing. The changes in your body can be very frustrating. The lapses in memory are annoying. Don’t let them overwhelm you. Be kind and loving to yourself. Use them as opportunities to slow down and savor the moments of each day. You now have time to do all the fun things you put off while you were working and raising children.

You might even have time to go sky-diving with your grandkids while wearing your new purple-sequinned jumpsuit.

The Mating Game

butterfly-743549_1920Spring is teasing us with 70 degree days. Pasty white skin is showing beneath shorts wrinkled from winter storage. Straw hats and sunshades are getting dusted off. We’ll need those polarized specs to ward off the glare from the snow that will still make itself known before the earth heats up.

Spring brings flowers and flowers get crafted into beautiful wedding bouquets as young couples tie the knot in a ritual as old as Spring. Love, hope and promises swell the heart as they shout out their vows. Then begins the ritual of learning how to live together in peace and cooperation.

Statistics being what they are state that not every couple stays together. Sometimes it is big issues, those red-flags that were ignored in the heat of desire. A person will tell you everything you need to know when you first meet them so pay attention. When you are older and the sexual part of your relationship is in the waning stage, then you want to be best friends with your spouse. Too many good relationships end over power struggles that can be prevented.

Most couples fight over responsibilities and money. I have found some solutions to these issues that have worked well. First of all, share responsibilities. If one of you works outside of the home and the other in the home, SHARE responsibilities. It is very easy to have the homebound person take on most of the duties, but they are working too. Taking care of a home and children IS work. If one of you is a better cook, then the other can do the cleanup. Most resentments revolve around one person feeling that they have the bulk of responsibilities, usually housework. ASK for help when you need it, don’t expect that the other person can read your mind or will just pitch in. Ladies, this will help you avoid getting mad so ASK him.

In terms of money, the best way to avoid most fights is to have different bank accounts. Have a joint account that pays for housing and its upkeep, food, travel or any other thing that is shared. Put in an equal amount, even if you earn unequally. For example, if you both put in 80% of your income, then it is fair and equitable even if one of you makes $5,000 a month and the other $8,000 a month. The person with the higher income will put in more, but at still the same percent. Then you each need a separate personal account for discretionary money. You will have money you can spend for things you enjoy without harming either your living costs or having to justify to the other person. Just remember, do no harm. So if one of you smokes, then you aren’t using shared money to purchase them. The non-smoker doesn’t get to judge the spending either. Although I don’t recommend smoking as a spending habit. But before any expenses, be sure to save a portion of your income each month. You will want to retire someday and, trust me, you will be glad you did.

Your mating dance can last a lifetime. Patience, acceptance, cooperation and lots of laughing go a long way. And the occasional disco twirl on a warm spring day.

Tour of Duty

soldier-996536_1920A tour of duty is generally related to a military or diplomatic time of service. Since I work for a local government, I also consider this a tour of duty. My tour is coming to an end. I expect to retire at the beginning of the year. I will have dedicated 18+ years to public service, but it is time to begin service to myself.

I am approaching my upcoming change with excitement, knowing that all I anticipate can fluctuate from moment to moment. I have no expectations of any given thing, just the intent of learning what makes me tick. I have worked since I was a small child, first on a family farm, and then many different private and public organizations. I most always put the needs of others before my own. This seems typical of most women I know, we’re just wired to care for others first. It is only when we get into maturity, the “menopause” years, that we begin to steam with the need to define ourselves. Hot flashes are more than just physical.

The desires, wishes and creative thoughts that have long been nudged aside to carry out our self-proclaimed duty are boiling up and demanding to be released like the steam in a kettle. We see outward expressions of purple hair and riotous clothing. We see grey-haired rock guitarists, intrepid globetrotters and small business startups. An army of blue hairs slowly taking over the world.

Our tour of duty is being passed on to our children. They are being asked to take up the reins and lead the world into a peaceful existence. We have fought the wars and fought for our rights and new-found social freedoms. We ask that our children continue this quest for a better world.

And we’ll throw a helluva homecoming parade for their every victory. We’ll even provide the band.

Puzzled

puzzle1I love jigsaw puzzles and have since I was a small child. My great-grandmother started it with a 500-piece beauty. I got so good at them, that I figured out she had three all from the same jig. I put them together one on top of the other, matching the pieces. These days I can do a 300 piece in an hour. Not bragging, just my enjoyment of the challenge.

Puzzles are a great brain stimulator. They are also good for relaxation and to help you focus. I use them as therapy when I’m stressed.

puzzle2Jigsaw puzzles and their cousins, crossword and sudoku are great tools for stress or boredom. I think boredom is just stress turned outward. Both involve some mental obsession with an overlay of rapidly random thoughts. Your mind keeps churning over and over, but you can’t find a solution. A puzzle of some sort helps you to focus your thoughts on each individual item. You are searching for a particular piece, be it shape or color, and your mind begins to zero in on that which you seek. If you allow those random stressful or bored thoughts to just whirl around in your head, they will begin to form shapes not unlike the puzzle pieces. Soon they will formulate into clues to your issue.

By giving your monkey brain something to do, you turn your subconscious or Higher Self over to the Universe to receive solutions. Not to mention, how quickly you can put that puzzle together.

Your Green Is Showing

st-patricks-day-1255621_1920Happy St Patrick’s Day to all Irish folk and those who want to be. Today is the day when everyone dons their best green glitter, beads, headgear and alcohol-themed items and makes a parade of the day. Sort of like Halloween, but all in green. What’s not to love about a happy-looking shamrock, or leprechaun waving about? Especially with a live band playing a dance-inducing jig. Nothing like a little celebration for getting us out of the winter doldrums.

I’ve often wondered why people go a little nutty on this day. I think it goes much beyond just the celebration of St Paddy. I think it is the unleashing of Spring. Three days from now is the Spring Equinox, the balance of day and night. Spring flowers are pushing their tiny noses up through the melting snow. Birds are chirping and starting their mating dance. The sun is higher in the sky and much brighter than its winter tone. Lakes and ponds are slowly losing their glaze of ice.

And humans are unleashing their cabin fever in a crazed dance of Celtic partying.

It’s mid-March and volatile weather still lurks. Hail storms and tornados threaten to wreak havoc on our property. All the while, a riot of color begins to explode from the earth into perfect petals.

Many of us, me included, look longingly at our tarp-covered patio furniture and wonder how soon we can toss those covers aside. We stand at patio doors and windows, sipping our green beer, and wait for the shamrocks to grown in the lawn. Soon, the warmer air promises. Soon, you can come out and play. Soon, but not soon enough.

Do I have Spring Fever? So much so, that my toenails are green.

Chewing My Cud

cow-44702_1280Last week, my workweek was a little rough.  Too many meetings, which I hate anyway, and one that included a person that seems hell-bent-for-leather on demeaning my work and reputation.  I think she is carrying a grudge because I made a prudent business decision without getting her permission, of which she really has no authority over, but it pissed her off.  My manager and director were on board with the decision, so it wasn’t as though I ran wild on my own.  Needless to say, she was once again a nasty b*itch in last week’s meeting.  It is getting OLD.

Today is President’s Day and a work holiday.  I decided to use the day to ruminate and try to come up with some ideas on how to deal with the situation.  Being around this person is extremely toxic and I am not the only one that feels this way.  Because I am very empathic, her nastiness coats me like tar and it takes awhile to recover.  I am left feeling worthless and depressed.

This morning I told my Sweetie that I was going to ruminate today and he said “oh, like a cow regurgitating and chewing their cud”.  I laughed and looked up “ruminate” and one of the definitions was “chewing your cud”.  The funnier part to this was the further comment of “cows release more methane while ruminating”.  I guess it seems apropos that I named this blog “Loving Your Sh*t”.

apartment-3677491_1920As I ruminate on the situation, a recurring theme comes up with worthiness and responsibility.  I often feel as though I continually need to prove my worth, which causes me to take on too much responsibility and them I am tired and resentful of those around me.  Being an empath causes me to feel chaotic energy, which results in a deep need to have an organized, near-perfect environment.  To get that, the need to control takes over and then I must do it myself to meet my standards.

cow-1983720_1280I’ve done enough study and research to know that I am not alone in these feelings.  Many people, especially women, are caught in this recycling trap.  Chewing our cud, so to speak.  This emotional bind is very often caused by emotionally unavailable parents.  For women, it is primarily the mother and causes a deep loss of self.  There are typically two types of coping mechanisms that result: Mary Marvelous and Sally Screw-Up.  Both play out the core wound of Not Good Enough and the efforts to portray this result.  I happen to be a Mary Marvelous and overdo everything I tackle in order to be recognized and valued by someone.  It is a pattern that is extremely difficult to break, although I have progressed greatly within the last decade.  I may never be able to completely break the pattern, but I’m damned sure going to try.


Much of what happened last week centers around our budgeting process.  It is something I have prepared since I first started working there, and I took responsibility for it all.  To the point that I only had the managers add the discretionary spending.  They didn’t even have to be part of the justification process, which is endless questioning about why we need to spend money for something.  Our department’s budget has many complicated funding sources and programs, so there is a lot to the process.  These complications don’t fit in with the basic process as dictated by this woman, and she is making this year’s process difficult.  She wants it her way.  It hit me that why should I continue to take the brow-beating and not let the managers be responsible?  I will be gone before next year’s budget so I think it is time that they learn how to do this. 

cow-2896329_1920I realize that I created this whole deal with my un-ending need to prove myself.  Well, I’ve done that and now all my effort is being stripped away by this person.  I must step back and begin to withdraw from so much responsibility.  I must teach them how to do the work and provide the justification.  They need to meet with the person and deal with her dictates.  I know all of this, yet it is difficult.  My core wound doesn’t want to disappoint nor deal with the b*itching that is sure to come.  My core wound says you aren’t good enough to ask others to do the job they should be doing.  If I don’t, the cost is my well-being and possibly health.


So I’ve been praying to the Universe for help.  I’m asking for courage, for strength, and for the words to ask for these changes.  This truly is about “Loving Your Sh*t” and I must walk my talk.  Or else I end up face first in a cow pie and I’ve stepped in enough real ones to know.

Love Is All Around Us

hug-2702900_1280Tomorrow, February 14th, is Valentine’s Day, another retail gold mine involving chocolates, roses, teddy bears, more chocolate and occasionally something sparkly.  A time when we declare our love for someone through gifting.  Nothing wrong with that, gifting is always about expressing our love and appreciation with material items.  A gift, like our love, is with the intent of lasting value.

But for many people, tomorrow is Thursday, just another Thursday in a long list of Thursdays.  That is not meant to be sad, either, some people just don’t care about V-Day.  Some people don’t have a romantic partner and don’t care about that either.  But for those that don’t have one and do care, tomorrow can be a difficult reminder of the single state.  It is during those times, that one must remember that love can come in many forms and from many places.

We were created out of love and joy, not just from our birth parents, but from the Creator.  No matter your upbringing, environment, personal characteristics or anything about you, you are loved and you are lovable.

Have you ever reached down to pet a puppy?  Unconditional love and joy bounces up and licks your fingers.  Or waved at a baby in a stroller in the grocery store.  Their little eyes focus on you, sparkling a little as the hint of a grin curves their lips.  A hug from a friend you haven’t seen in a long while.  I could keep going with a list of every molecule of love that surrounds you, but I don’t have that much time to write and the file would be too big to upload.  That’s a lot of LOVE!

But the biggest love of all, is the love you feel for yourself.  When you love yourself, accepting all your warts and faults and farts, you will never do without love in your life.  You are lovable so there is no way you can’t not love yourself.  Got that?

Love is not just all around you, it is eternally within you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thar She Blows!

mount-st-helens-164848_1920Many of us have been taught that “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.  At the same time, spewing nasty, foul, never-to-be-taken-back, words of hate is not the way to go either.  But like the pressure relief valve on a water heater, you have to let out some of the heat or you will blow up.  And like the water heater, you don’t want to become a missile and go through your roof, or at worst someone’s head.

If someone offends you or steps on your toes, holding back your comments does neither of you any good.  First, you just taught them that it is okay to be unkind to you.  Second, you just deposit resentment energy in your body.  And we all know what that does.  (Create dis-ease, if you didn’t know.)  You need to respond immediately and tell the person that you didn’t like what they said or did.  Screaming at the top of your lungs is not necessary, unless they physically hurt you, and then maybe you need to deck them in return.  Just kidding.  An eye for eye isn’t always the best strategy either.  Sometimes that gets you a free ticket to jail.  A very simple “please do not talk to me like that”, is often all that needs to be said.

It’s not always easy to respond quickly.  Sometimes we are caught off guard, with the “I can’t believe what I just heard” thought delay.  And then it seems like the moment is lost.  Sometimes a lifetime of being treated as though you don’t matter keeps your voice silent.  Resentment begins to build in your body like a water heater on full throttle.  It is times like that when you need to find a safe zone to let off some steam.  Some people do well with releasing anger through physical exercise.  Others need to vent to a friend.  Whatever is your preferred method, use it. 

When you release your anger, it subsides and you are able to look at the situation more clearly.  You will give yourself the opportunity to replay it in your mind and develop a new response to future situations.  Practice what you would say if it happens again.  If it is a situation or a person that can never be resolved, share your feelings with a trusted friend.  Venting is healthy.  Wallowing in it is not, because that is with the intention that you don’t want to resolve it in any way.  Venting releases the toxic anger that could cause you illness or erupt in harm to something or someone.

Heat-seeking missiles cause destruction and you don’t forever want to be known as a nuke.

You-nique

img_0628Cleaning up your stuff and your life is getting rid of what does not serve you or doesn’t make you feel good.  Cleaning up means allowing your authentic self to come out.  If you can’t be you, who will?

Living a good life means being yourself.

Some people say that they don’t know who they are.  Well, if you have done the clean up work then you know who you aren’t.  What you are left with helps to define you.  Living your life as a lie can cause deep suffering within your body.  Trying to conform to other’s ideals of who you should be can actually cause cancer and other life-threatening diseases.  Who wants that?  You can only live your life for yourself, because you must live within yourself.

Being authentic does not mean harming others or things.  It does not mean you get to be an a$$hole.  Being authentic is treasuring the uniqueness of you, the beautiful, spontaneous, quirky, creative, sparkly inner being that radiates with joy.  Now that’s what I’m talking about!

 

Maybe you think you are weird.  So?  What is wrong with weird?  A lot of people are and like weird.  Find them and buddy up.  Maybe you are very traditional and old-fashioned.  Nothing wrong with that either.  Lots of alike-you’s out there.  Spirit wants to grow so therefore, interesting, unusual and quirky people were created.  Spirit loves this.  I think Spirit has a giant paintbrush and a bucket of colors and has an absolute riot dashing them on the canvas of life.  Now isn’t that just a beautiful thought?

 

We just finished some of our decorating projects.  It was a joy for me, because I allowed my artistic side to come out.  I went for bold, with a little bit of quirky humor and that suits my Sweetie too.  It turned out fab, if I say so myself.  I’m sharing a few of the pics with the hopes that you’ll be inspired to allow your inner delight to come out.img_0629

You do you.

Keep Calm and Clutter Down

pillow-650243_1920So hopefully by now you have cleaned out your closets, cabinets and the dreaded garage.  Did some soul work and let go of old issues.  Unfriended your unfriendly friends and put some effort into your romantic relationship.  Maybe you followed the feng shui lessons and amped up the living areas in your home to bring in more of what you need.

Now it’s time to settle in and enjoy your rejuvenated space and self. 

Don’t fall back into those old habits of tossing your dirty clothes on the floor.  Don’t junk up the kitchen counters with dirty dishes.  And for God’s Sakes, do not pile boxes and a bunch of other sh*t in your garage!  (I can’t let go of the garage thing.  My sweetie works out of our garage and it is in a constant state of change.)

Clutter got you into the emotional mess you just cleaned up, and, like the awful relationship you just ditched, don’t go there again.

Practice being organized, by starting with your closet.  If you read the Mari Kondo book, you will know that she recommends sorting your closet by color, then light to dark.  I did this and there many advantages to it.  First, you’ll really know what colors you like because you’ll see you have a lot of certain ones.  That’s good, you won’t buy the ones that don’t look good on you.  Secondly, it makes it easier to get dressed in the morning, because all you have to do is reach for your favorite color and have several styles to chose from.  Once you have taken something out of your closet to wear, put the hangar back in the same place you took it from.  Then you can put the garment back on the same hangar and you’ll be just as organized as when you started.

Follow this simple practice with all your newly organized things: after use, put it back in the same place you took it from.  You will always know where it is and you won’t create new clutter.  Life will run much smoother by following this simple step.  Sure you might annoy the other people in your household, but they are not you.  And who knows, they might follow your lead and suddenly the entire house will be like this Zen peaceful place.

You might feel so calm you’ll have time to sit down and read all those books I’ve recommended.