It’s my Journey

“It’s ok if things unfold differently than the plan. I learned that the business is just part of me, but it’s not who I am. It’s just what I do. ” – Emily Maynard

I came across this quote from an article in Forbes, How This Founder Reinvented Herself and Her Business to Find Happiness. How easy it is to look outside of ourselves for happiness, and how futile that search can become.

I’ve been doing some soul-searching lately after making a career change that hasn’t exactly been a good fit for me. I’m slowly working through this dilemma and recently met with a career coach who is helping me figure things out.  In the meantime, I am learning more about myself and my need to seek outward affirmation of my worth. My work has always been a big part of my drive for success. Ultimately this type of approach leads to a feeling of emptiness and not being true to oneself. The older I get the more I realize I only have so many days left on this earth, so I need to expend my energy on finding a peaceful balance between my inner and outer worlds.

I’ve never forgotten this line from the movie, Out of Africa. It says it perfectly:

“I don’t want to live someone else’s idea of how to live. Don’t ask me to do that. I don’t want to find out one day that I am at the end of someone else’s life.”

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Practice Accepting What We’re Given

“The reward for practicing accepting what we’re given is we become intimate with everything that’s not us. We become intimate with the nature of life.  And it’s the rhythm between our own nature and the nature of life that allows us to find the thread we are — the thread we are in the unseeable connections that hold everything together.” – Mark Nepo

I love the concept of finding the “thread we are” in nature.  Sometimes I find it hard to get out of my head, especially when I am trying to make a decision or solve a problem. It seems counterintuitive to simply let go and accept where I am in the moment, not to mention incredibly difficult given my obsessive compulsive personality.

The other day I decided to take a walk and as I strolled along, I realized I was stuck in my head, oblivious to nature around me.  I remembered what Mark Nepo said in his Book of Awakening about dealing with difficult thoughts and emotions by finding something in nature that most represents how you are feeling.  I started looking for things during my walk, and slowly I was able to stop the obsessive thinking.

I would recommend giving this approach a try, and remember to go easy on yourself if you have trouble letting go of your thoughts — they are part of nature too.

A Life Lesson for All Ages

Yesterday I struggled to see the good in my day. Everything was harder than normal, and I was feeling just plain gross and out of sorts. I was frustrated with my job and annoyed that I am not an expert at it yet. I missed my old job, but at the same time cursed it. I wanted to throw my uncooperative laptop out the window, and on the way to my doctor’s appointment I missed my exit. I was disappointed to find I hadn’t lost a pound despite eating a healthy diet and was reminded by the well-meaning doctor that my age was a contributing factor.

On the way home the contents of my purse spilled all over the floor of my car, and I was honked at several times for my distracted driving. I felt needy,  weepy, and isolated from my friends, whom I  haven’t gotten to see as much lately. I almost canceled a dinner because I didn’t think I was invited, but traffic was so bad I went any way. I’m glad I did, even though it felt a little awkward.

When a bad day is happening, I don’t always realize the reasons why I’m feeling out of sorts until it has passed. Today I am fairly certain most of it had to do with being tired and not knowing when to slow down and take it easy. Today I’m finding it a little easier to lighten up about things, probably because I’m not trying so hard.

Over the weekend I read a book to my grand-daughter called My No, No, No Day by Rebecca Patterson. After I finished reading, she looked up at me innocently and said, “Why was she having a bad day Mimi?”

My daughter, who was folding clothes on the bed was quick to remind the sleepy toddler of the bad day she’d had recently, after she missed her nap and threw several temper tantrums. What better way to let a small child know that bad days happen to everyone than by telling her a story.

Thank goodness there are books like this one and the popular kid’s book, Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, that provide valuable lessons to children about life’s ups and downs, and thank goodness for the reminder to me as well.

Vulnerability, grief, and loss

Vulnerable: Synonyms: helpless, defenseless, powerless, impotent, weak, susceptible

From time to time we all feel this way. Now is my time. I haven’t felt this vulnerable since initiating my divorce after 30 years of marriage. This time, it is because I am on another new path, changing jobs after 20 years in the same one.  Now that the initial excitement has worn off, I am becoming more aware of all of the ways in which this change has impacted me. It was a brave move at this stage of my life and very empowering. Just like when I got a divorce after years of wondering if I should. I can look back several years later and know it was the right choice. At the time it didn’t feel like it. I have to wonder though, is there any such thing as a right or wrong choice? Don’t we learn from all of our choices.

Is it possible to change course at any time if we don’t like what we’ve decided?

There are times when there is no turning back. This is one of those times for me, and that is a good thing. I will not fret about it too much, though I miss many of the people and experiences I enjoyed all those years. It’s hard to be open to anything when one is grieving what’s been lost. I wonder how I could have taken it all for granted, and wonder even more at how selective my memory has become to the times that weren’t so pleasant. It makes me weary thinking about it, so for now, I will just let it be.

Today, I walked through the cemetery where Otto Warmbier was laid to rest earlier this week. The same cemetery in which my mother and sister’s baby are buried. How sad it made me feel to see how quickly his life changed from one bad decision in one brief moment. Haven’t we all had many such moments in our lifetime;  not all come at such a high price.

Simple Pleasures

Thanks to all of you who offered words of encouragement and wisdom in response to my last post about finding success. It was nice to be reminded that living in the moment and finding peace within is always the best approach to uncertainty. This past week I have found some relief from my questioning by applying those strategies as much as I could remember to, and when those stormy thoughts entered my mind, accepting them.

I’ve just spent the weekend with my adorable, lively 3-year-old granddaughter and my precious daughter.  I wish they lived closer but 5 hours away isn’t so bad.  It is amazing how many things one notices when walking with a toddler. The ants crawling on the sidewalk, the scent of a pine cone, and the sounds of a baby bird hidden in a nearby bush.

Today is a beautiful day and the only dilemma I’m feeling right now is how to spend it. Gardening? Hiking? Bike Riding? How grateful I am to have so may choices.

What is Success and Where do I Find it?

I haven’t posted in a long time and I am not sure why. I could say I have been busy, but it is more than that. Busy is such a meaningless word. I have been filling up the hours in my days no more or less than usual.  I’ve been scurrying a long from activity to activity, while intentionally avoiding my blog.  The truth is,  sometimes it seems weird to share so openly about my life, and it makes me uncomfortable.   And yet when I don’t, it feels like there is something missing.  Maybe it is because my only true passion is writing, and blogging will probably be as close as I ever get to being a writer, even if it is for my own enjoyment.  It felt good to take a break, and now I am happy to be back.  Maybe writing again will help me deal with my latest identity crisis, as it seems to have done in the past.

Over all it has been a pretty good year, at least from the outside looking it.  I finally finished graduate school and started a new job.  I am in a loving relationship, and I just came back from a wonderful vacation.  Yet I have been feeling  an increasing malaise recently, and I am trying to come to terms with the reasons why.

The biggest reason I’m struggling is probably internal in nature, and revolves around the question of what defines success. I thought I knew what success meant to me, and now I am not so sure. I moved on from my old job this winter for several reasons, burn-out, frustrations about hitting a ceiling, and wanting a change after 20 years.  As a feminist, I believe that I ought to strive to achieve to my fullest potential and I’ve pushed myself accordingly.

Now I am learning that success doesn’t always equate with job title or salary.  Success is about being true to oneself and liking what one does. Neither of which I am experiencing right now. My new job doesn’t seem to fit my personality, despite my being good at it, and it is causing me a great deal of angst. I know I should give it time, but that’s hard to do when I dread going to work each day.  I miss what I did before, and wish I could have found a way to make it work and have some growth without throwing the baby out with the bath water, as they say. Sitting at a desk now looking at spreadsheets all day and going to meeting after meeting is wearing on me. I thought it was the angst of transitioning but it hasn’t gotten any better so I am starting to wonder.

Now I am holding my hands up to the sky, as if there are answers waiting to be captured as they fly towards me in a gust of wind.

I am going to give it some time to figure out what I want.  In the meantime, I will make sure to fill my days with the things I enjoy, like writing this blog.  I will take it one day at a time and try to remember the hardest lesson of all…

Retrieved fromhttps://www.facebook.com/WildWomanSisterhood/

I’ll keep you “posted” on how it is going.

Why the Word Feminist?

“Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

How true are these words! I am fighting for the basic rights of females around the world, who have been subjected to all forms of repression, abuse, and exclusion, just because of their gender.    emilie in hawaii

I like to pretend

1 tara flower

Each day when I walk out my back door,

Taking the well-worn path to my garage, where my gray car sits

waiting to take me to my next destination,

Barely noticing the tender buds of the crocus

sprouting up around me,

I like to pretend

I like to pretend that I know what is going to happen that day,

I like to think that I am driving, rather than being driven

That I am accelerating, rather than being accelerated

Breathing, rather than being breathed

I like to pretend that I am working, rather than being worked

That I am choosing a path, rather than a path choosing me

I like to pretend that I am in the know,

Rather than the know being in me

I like to believe I am embracing life,

When in fact, life is embracing me.

Amy Jones

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Keeping our young girls safe

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Image retrieved from NPR.org

I heard a segment on NPR called Teen Girls and Social Media: A story of Secret Lives and Misogyny,  about some very disturbing activities that young girls are engaging in on  social media in an attempt to gain attention and fit in.  If you didn’t hear it, I would highly recommend clicking on the link, especially if you are raising a young daughter or son. If you think they aren’t being impacted by this new trend, I would encourage you to take the extra steps to find out. As parents, we have the right to know about and intervene in activities that may be jeopardizing our children’s safety and well-being.

I am somewhat fascinated lately to hear young women’s take on feminism and how they believe they are no longer faced with the same struggles as the females in my generation. When I was young, sexual harassment was a part of life that we were taught to live with. Even though our society supposedly now denounces these activities, I am not so sure it hasn’t come back with a vengeance, albeit packaged differently now.

It seems like the more powerful women become in our society, the more backlash there is to attempt to undermine that power.  The message that women are now free to express rather suppress their sexuality can be a positive thing, yet now more than ever, there is a tremendous backlash that is fooling our girls into believing certain types of misogyny are okay.

The types of misogyny that are being encouraged by the thousands of over-sexualized portrayals of women our young girls are exposed to each day can have a cumulative effect on their psyche.  Having to deal with too much too early can ultimately lead to feelings of insecurity, self-loathing, and low self-esteem in our young women. These feelings can follow them into adulthood and undermine their attempts to be taken seriously.

As I contemplate the world my 2-year-old granddaughter is being raised in, I am both excited at the prospect of so many more opportunities she will have and fearful of this new brand of hyper-sexuality that threatens to stand in the way of everything women have worked so hard to achieve.

I would like to see more focus on the women who are achieving positions of power through their accomplishments in science, public service, athletics, and academia, and less focus on the one-dimensional hyper-sexualized version of women that we are subjected to each day.