LINK IN EPISODE:
What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up: Register HERE
Hello friends and welcome to The Midlife.
Today I wanted to talk to you about the freedom of fresh starts and what I’m up to for the summer in the hopes you may be inspired to join me.
If you’re a regular listener, you know that I was on vacation last week with the fam. We had a super fun time chock full of all sorts of activities; a concert, a baseball game, mountain bike riding. All things we absolutely could do in our buzzing metropolis of Los Angeles. But we don’t. There’s a lesson there. And it definitely figures into some of my thoughts for my personal summer. More on that in a minute.
First I wanted to share with you that it was the first vacation that I can remember in recent time where I didn’t do a stitch of work. I didn’t think about work. I didn’t brainstorm podcast ideas. I didn’t think about my courses; new ones or improving the existing. I didn’t think about my social media marketing or ways to improve The Midlife community. I answered emails with basically “got it but I’m not answering until next week.” And I didn’t feel a stitch of guilt. I was completely in the moment and present with my husband and boys. I was completely relaxed and gosh darnit, I’ll say it outloud. Happy. That was a new experience for me. And I know exactly why.
I have spent my adult life feeling like I was always behind. That I had a million things I was supposed to be doing and in not doing one or even the full million, I was failing. I was on the hamster wheel with no end in sight. I was unable to feel any sense of accomplishment because all I could see was what was looming ahead, or worse, what had been left behind unfinished or not done to my ridiculously rigid standards.
So I’d spend most vacations strategizing about how I was going to do better or be better with no break for the rest and relaxation that my mind and body truly needed. Honestly, when I look back, I want to put that poor woman in a medically induced coma. Take a break, honey, it’s all going to get done, and life will unfold to you exactly as it’s supposed to.
Can you relate?
If you can, perhaps you’ll allow me to put forth this theory. The problem isn’t that you’ve got too much to do. The problem is that you don’t have enough of the right stuff to do. You are filling your time with endless tasks to force meaning to your life instead of creating meaning for your life and supporting that goal with the tasks needed to feel fulfilled. That’s why you’re constantly exhausted. That’s why you’re constantly on edge. That’s why your baseline is busy, not content.
Towards the end of summer, I’m going to start running a workshop called What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up: Midlife Edition. If what I just described to you feels a little too familiar, I want to be sure you get an invitation to join me. If you aren’t on my email list, there’s a link in the shownotes to add yourself and be sure you get the updates.
Until then, I wanted to share some things I’m doing for myself and suggesting to clients as a summer focus.
Back to fresh starts. I have never been a fan of New Year’s Eve. It’s just so much pressure to think about what you’re going to accomplish or change for an entire year. Don’t get me wrong, as you know, I am a huge believer in setting big goals, but also I advocate breaking all those big goals into more manageable bite sized chunks. And that’s why I love any excuse to reflect, regroup and restart. So coming back from vacay and the start of a new season is as good an excuse as any so here goes.
I know a lot of people took advantage of the shutdown to nest and clean out their houses and reorganize. I did not. I think there were two reasons for this. One, all my organizing skills and focus went towards The Midlife. It’s so interesting to me to reflect back and wonder if I would have been inspired and energized to expand The Midlife if it weren’t for the pandemic. Who knows?
What I think it proves to me and I hope serves as an example to you is that there is a purpose and flow to life when you stop trying to control so much and just let the path illuminate itself for you. Don’t be afraid to stop pushing so hard and instead jump in the backseat and let life pull you in the direction intended for you. Just to be clear, though, you have to actively act on the signals. There’s not a people mover to purposefulness and bliss.
The second reason I didn’t participate in The Great Clean Up of 2020 is because I have learned not to purposely set myself up for frustration and rage. And that’s exactly what I would have experienced with all the people home all the time. Know that if I die, they will be featured on an episode of Hoarders.
But now I’m ready to begin The Purge but the only thing I’ll be murdering is the accumulation of stuff; things we don’t use, don’t need and don’t serve any purpose.
Now if you’re with me on this task, I bet your next feeling is complete overwhelm followed by shutdown. So I will be employing, and I am encouraging you, to take a very slow approach. Like at a snail’s pace. I am choosing one drawer or one shelf a day to attend to. Not a room, not an entire closet, not an entire category. For example, my chore isn’t clean out my shoes, it’s clean off one shelf of shoes. It’s not clean out my tshirts, it’s clean out one drawer of tees. Also up for personal discussion is why I need more than one drawer of tshirts. And I’m not even a shopper. But shit accumulates.
Ooo if that isn’t a metaphor for Midlife. Stuff and thoughts and feelings accumulate in your head until your brain is so cluttered in Midlife, you need a massive clean out. But for today, let’s just focus on the stuff.
I realize that this is going to take a very long time to go through my entire house at this controlled pace. But I can tell you how much I’ve cleaned out thinking about the chore in total is way less, zero, than the amount I’ve cleaned out with my mini daily task approach.
I do want to acknowledge that this approach flies in the face of what I usually advocate as a strategy for creating more time in your day for doing the things you want to be doing. When it comes to the tedium of life, I recommend batch processing chores by activity and day. This is a special project category and for me, was just too daunting to imagine tackling all at once. Also, I didn’t want to devote a whole day, which no doubt would become whole days to what will be oh so much more than what Marie Kondo quaintly calls, just tidying up.
If you want to play along, you can post before and after pics of your drawer or shelf in our facebook group Muddling Through The Midlife. I’ll start posting my progress too.
The second thing I’m going to pay some attention to is seeing and talking to friends. In my course Midlife Re*Imagined, I teach a strategy, based on something I call your blueprint, where we evaluate all the rooms of your life. Friendship is a critical room when crafting a life you love and forging new or strengthening existing friendships results in exponential happiness points.
I have a tendency to burrow down in my hole when I’m hyper focused on something. It’s not the worst quality in the world but I will admit that I have some dates requested that the ball is in my court and calls I need to return. It’s inexcusable to say but it’s easy to push check ins when you have solid relationships that are easy to pick up wherever, whenever. So I’m going to personally employ the plan I lay out in the course where I am committing to making in-person plans once a week with a local friend and calling one away friend once a week.
I’m also saying yes to any and every invitation. A friend texted me Friday that she was going to be in my neck of the woods, did I want to have lunch? Before the voice in my head could outline all the reasons why I was too busy, I said yes.
We tend to be slaves to our sense of responsibility. And in the end, what does that get us? It gets us stuck on that hamster wheel of eternal to do lists. It has us justifying denying ourselves and setting up unwinnable bargains. I’ll reward myself if. I’ll deserve it when. The problem is most of the good, fun stuff, the stuff that fleshes out our lives, that brings us joy and excitement, generally has a best by date expiring quickly.
There was a time in my life where I would have denied myself the pleasure of lunching with my friend because I had determined that day was clean out my closet day. The mess in the closet can and will wait. The opportunity to sit face to face with my friend would not.
So let’s make this the summer of yes, the summer of connection and the summer of manageable effort towards the mundane.
Let me tell you what this summer shouldn’t be for you. I get angry and sad at the barrage of ads and social media posts revolving around getting in shape for summer. Especially because “in shape” is a transparent veil for get skinny.
I know that weight and appearance are a thing. For ALL of us in Midlife. And it frustrates me to no end that women are more willing to put constant time, energy and money towards trying to mask the symptom rather than fixing the problem. That is if there is even an actual problem.
You know I get really nervous to jump into the weight slash eating convos because they are so heavily loaded for women and because I have a very contrarian view on the subject. So buckle up and hear me out.
First off, here’s a novel concept. Women come in all different shapes and sizes that are absolutely NOT interchangeable. So why is there a multi billion dollar industry centered around making you feel badly about your factory issued packaging and convincing you that not only is it possible, but that you are falling short if you are not trying to aggressively alter it? So can you just have a heart to heart with yourself, acknowledge which variety you are and let’s only work to make you the best version of THAT make and model.
Now with that hornet’s nest out of the way are you caring for yourself, your body and mind, lovingly on a daily basis? If you are using food and or alcohol as a way to numb, distract or soothe yourself, simple diets or deprivation or empty promises are not going to be long term solutions. You have to be willing to do the work to uncover what it is that you are avoiding or running from. Successful habit building of the good and productive category are only sustainable when you are adequately satisfied and amused in the rest of your life.
So by all means, use this change of season to eat a little healthier, exercise more consistently, ditch the foods or alcohol that aren’t serving you. But if that’s not an easy switch for you to throw, it may be time to dig a little deeper into the triggers and motivations you have for not treating yourself with the care and compassion that you deserve.
As for the state of whatever size your body is at the moment, please don’t let that stop you from throwing on a bathing suit and jumping into whatever body of water you happen to live near or vacation to. Don’t let it stop you from throwing on a dress or going bare legged and certainly don’t let it stop you from getting naked with the one you love.
Am I oversimplifying things? A little. But I think simple is good. Simple is somewhere manageable. Lay the groundwork and then you can up the routine difficulty.
Make no mistake, summer is not a work break for me. I continue to have big goals to fulfill my mission to help you create your next best chapter. But in addition, I’m going to strengthen my friendships and get rid of the clutter.
Care to join me? This is an open invitation to join me. How can I help you take advantage of this change of season window to reset, restore or rebalance areas of your life? Know I’m wishing you a happy, carefree, fun Summer. God knows we’re owed one.