The Thing About Aging

roses-3194057_1280Aging was okay when I was young

When I was 25, I swore I would grow old gracefully. I was young and naive and had great skin. So I couldn’t possibly envision an older version of myself. I also didn’t understand that there was so much more to aging than just wrinkles.

Aging in my 40s

Now that I’m 43, I see aging as so much more than the spots and lines on my face, the greying and thinner hair, the sudden, incomprehensible aches, the changing hormones and more pronounced, bizarre monthly cycles. Those are physical markers of aging. I do what I can to keep looking my best and keep physically healthy. However, I’ve gathered that aging has a little more to do with feeling my best.

Every day, there is a decision to be made. Either embrace life with the zeal I had in my early years or succumb to the cynicism and negativity which the world readily doles out. Therein lies aging. The moment I complain about the weight of my responsibilities and the pressures of adulthood, my life instantly feels worse. I feel worse. I feel weary and, well, old.

It’s not easy to talk myself into having a good day when I know it’s full of things which need to be done, have to be done, are waiting…to.be.done. And, just as I’m about to fall into the pit of aging, I’m saved by the reminder of a story I once read. A simple and very sad story, about a woman who lost her best friend and had to watch her friend’s daughters grow up without her. Every day at school, she met a father who claimed to be “living the life” each time he was picking up his children. And those words stuck with her, because her friend could no longer “live the life”.

To be “living the life” usually implies grand wealth and easy living. But, to most of us, that isn’t the kind of life we have. What is accessible is the life we have designed for ourselves. Which includes hard work in a career of our choosing (sometimes), endless responsibilities in the home, with our children, our parents, and trying to maintain a healthy relationship with our spouse in the hopes we will live out our years together.

I have begun to use this little phrase to break me out of my funk. I feel grateful to be “living the life” because it means I’m alive. It means I’m here to be with everyone I love. As soon as I recall this, I feel lighter and all the things don’t seem so burdening. I also feel energized and, well, young.

The thing about aging is that “it beats the alternative”

(one of my dear friends quotes this from one of her late relatives)

The thing about aging is that you’re either aging or you’re not. Procedures might erase the physical markers of aging, but the energetic feeling and endless possibilities you believed in your youth cannot be injected into you or carved out of you. I for one, choose to “live the life”, embrace the chaos and love every minute of it (or not, but at least somewhere in the struggle, remember I’m lucky to be living it).

I will also purchase the best anti-aging cream I can afford because great skin is nice.

How do you keep yourself youthful?

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Buh-Bye, January!

calendar-3045825_640When I rung 2018 in, I felt a definite shift in my life. I vibrated with energy, ready to focus on the goals I wish to accomplish over the next year.

Within a few days I was barely mobile due to major back and shoulder pain on the left side of my body. I refused to let it hold me back. I iced. I massaged. I decreased inflammation with ibuprofen and used every stretch I could think of to help alleviate the pain. This was when I started my #yogaeverydamnday

This was also when I finally understood the true meaning of listening to my body.

My practice was not the same. My body forced me to slow down and modify poses. My body also forced me to really feel the integrity of each pose so as not to aggravate my injuries, nor add new ones. I did it all without judgment. Each time I moved, I did so deliberately and patiently.

I used to hear my body try to tell me to slow down, but I just thought I was being weak and forged through. I would ignore the signs of fatigue and keep going because that’s how we get strong, right? *sigh*

My modified practice helped me to heal the pain. And, I learned first-hand how patient, gentle treatment of myself helps me to feel so much better. I can be there for me – physically, but more importantly, emotionally.

Then my son caught the flu…and then I fell ill to an awful cold. And, my practice stopped. In the past I would have forced myself to continue practising. But, this time I became curious about why I was so ready to just stop.

Could be January blues. Or, it could be that I was finally listening. Go slow when needed. Be gentle and patient with yourself. Rest when needed – really rest. This last one feels nearly impossible when you’re a mom, but it is absolutely essential. Critical even.

It has not been an easy January. And, while the lessons of this month will help to shape my course as I harness my energy again towards accomplishing goals, I am so happy to see it end.

Tomorrow, February and another chance to start fresh.

Will you be starting something new in February?

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Vulnerable. Worthy. Authentic. Take Aways from The Gifts of Imperfection

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Oh, this Book! I will write about this book again, and again…and maybe even again as I re-read it, and let the lessons unfold.

For now, I will say that my biggest take-aways were:

We can choose with whom to be vulnerable.

Not everyone earns the right to see our vulnerability. Holy Crap. That’s huge! Let me tell you something about Colombian families….everyone knows everything. Always. And, they all have an opinion they believe is meant to be heard – which can create a lot of shame even though that might not have been the intention. So, I guess you grow up believing your life/triumphs/failures have to be an open book. Don’t get me wrong here. I didn’t misinterpret Brown’s words. I’m not saying she’s advising to close ourselves off. She reminds us of the power we have to select who has the right to our vulnerability. We can choose those who support us, nurture us, and challenge us to be the best version of ourselves with compassion. These people have earned that right.

Stop the hustle! We are worthy as we are.

That’s it. So simple…yet, so hard to do, right? This is the equivalent of teaching our children: never try to get someone to like you. We are perfect in our imperfections. Shit happens. Life happens. Stop trying so hard because regardless of what happens or what does or doesn’t get done, we are worthy of love. The End.

Remaining true to ourselves. Using another, very popular term du jour, be Authentic. 

Authenticity goes beyond being truthful. Brown defines it as “the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are” (50). I guess it means shedding all of the ways in which we’re expected to show up in our different roles. I remember I had a therapy session with a friend of my mother’s. I was feeling extremely depleted at the time; she worked with my energy and chakras. During the session she asked me to bring to mind all of the expectations I had of myself, or believed others had of me, and to see them, as though I was looking in a mirror. She asked me to hold that vision for a few seconds. And, then, with all my might, I was instructed to shatter that mirror. As the pieces fell away, she asked who was left. The only answer, of course, was me. It was one of the most powerful moments in my life. I go back to that moment often when life becomes too demanding; when I need to go back to me and let go of the bullshit.

Perfectionism Sucks

While this wasn’t a new lesson for me, it was a great reminder to let go of any nagging need to satisfy appearances. It’s part of the everyday flux…what to let go of because it doesn’t serve and what to embrace because it makes up the imperfect person I am.

I think this book has something to offer everyone. From those well into their vulnerability journey to those who are toying with the idea of facing down their shames in order to live a fuller life. Brene Brown teaches, reminds, guides with compassion, humour and stories which show she is in the trenches with us.

Hope to hear about your own journey, whether through this book, or another you might recommend.

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Breathe…You Can Do This!

inhale exhaleWhen the alarm goes off and you think you have at least 10 minutes to shower before the kids get up, but surprise! They’re both awake and telling you they’re hungry…breathe…

When your husband asks what’s for lunch on a Saturday afternoon, and instead of committing murder because you’ve been juggling the three year old, the house, the coming home from the soccer game, and are desperately hoping to squeeze in a yoga class…breathe…

When deadlines sneak up on you at work and you’re staring at the calendar wondering how that happened…breathe…

When a co-worker flags a student which you should’ve flagged a few weeks prior and now that kid is probably struggling more than he should be…breathe…

When the teacher calls because your angel of a child has not behaved like an angel and now this mothering business is gettin’ serious…breathe…

When you watch all of the precious writing time be eaten up by practices, games, rehearsals, meetings, appointments, cooking, playing, homeworking…breathe…

When you look at the coming month and automatically close the calendar because it’s not possible…breathe…

When you wonder how you get the energy to do it all…breathe…

When you stop to thank your lucky stars for your health, happiness and pretty awesome life…breathe…

When you realize how freakin’ amazing you are…breathe…

Perfect in our imperfections and our imperfect lives. It’s a beautiful thing.

Hope your week’s a good one!

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Journey Into Vulnerability: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

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A very inspiring woman (lookin’ at you Jackie), eagerly/enthusiastically/totally/robustly recommended Brene Brown’s TED talk. And, now I’d love to share each one with those of you who like me, until very recently, had no idea who Brene Brown is.

I went home and immediately watched both of her TED talks on Vulnerability and Listening to Shame.

The next day I found myself at Indigo as part of my kids’ P.A.Day/Fun Day (we went to watch Coco afterwards, which ended up being awesome). We all left with a haul of books. My haul was Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection and Rising Strong.

I’m into the third chapter of The Gifts of Imperfection and will review it when I’m done…but I think you can already tell that I’m absolutely loving it. I’m feeling the fierce pull between gobble it up and go slow…take it in…a friend (who is a life coach, you can find her at Joanna Durkin) out in Alberta said she makes it a yearly read. And, I can see why.

Why Vulnerability?

I didn’t realize how damn frightening this word is for me until I started reading about it and began to feel so squirmy. The more I read and think and look at my life, it has become clear that I’ve been keeping vulnerability at bay because it means exposure.

The invitation to take a trip into my own vulnerability has been extended. And, I accept. Stay tuned for more on that topic.

Please use the links above to watch each of Brene Brown’s TED talks (about 20 minutes each). There are beautiful insights which I think we can all bring into practice with ourselves, our spouses, our children, our families, our students (for my teacher friends).

Who knows…it may spark your own vulnerability revolution.

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