In the midst of celebrating the forty six trips around the sun I’ve taken so far on this planet, I realized that if I’m lucky enough to live into my 90’s, that puts me smack dab in the middle of the road of life.
Somehow, being in the middle of the road of life sounds a lot better than being middle aged to me~probably because the latter term makes me cringe a little and brings images to my mind of a creepy, old guy with an identity crisis driving a convertible with a young blonde by his side.
I'm pretty sure I’m nothing like that middle aged guy, and I don't think I'm like that young girl either.
I’m a grown up woman who has been a lot of things~ a student and a teacher, a traveler and a homebody, a wife and an ex wife, a partner, an artist, a writer, a friend and companion, a goat herding/ crazy-chicken-lady, a stay-at-home / homeschooling mom, a working, primary-breadwinning, single mom, a bonus mom-like person, along with a random assortment of career titles and jobs.
But none of that life experience makes me feel middle aged~ a phrase that just has a sad tone to it to me.
And I don’t feel sad about where I’m at in my life the least.
In fact, I actually feel pretty wonderful about a lot of things in my life.
When I look in the mirror, I do see a lot of evidence of a life well enjoyed up to this point. There are laugh lines and scowl lines and fresh out of the shower, I can attest to the fact that gravity is a force, and not a very pretty one.
But I still don’t really see a what I think of as middle aged woman looking back at me. I just see me.
Thankfully, I feel like I've at least acquired a smidgen of wisdom to go with these silver highlights sticking out of my head.
And what I've learned is this:
No matter how many days you get to live, life is way too short to deal with unnecessary negativity, drama or BS.
In one of those weird ways of the universe, drama is both horribly unpleasant and at the same time, addictive. It's easy to get caught up in and then it's really hard to shake once you're in it.
Negative energy spreads like a plague, and I’m far from immune. I can only be around small amounts before I start absorbing it and just like that, my joy is gone.
So, while some may think it sounds snooty, for the last few years, I’ve been trying to be as intentional as possible with who I spend time with and what I spend it doing.
Sometimes, I still find myself feeling bummed or stressed about situations that really aren’t my problem and grinding my teeth, losing sleep and deepening my forehead wrinkles because I’m wanting to fix things that don’t even belong to me.
But, I'm working on it.
I suppose it will always be hard to watch people be miserable over things that look solvable or to see them lose out on good opportunities. But really, I know that I could probably do myself and the world a lot more good if I just focus on my own stuff.
Along the same lines, I’d say the next best thing I’ve learned in life is:
Point towards your happy as often as you can.
Really, a good deal of the time, the things that stress us out and ruin our happiness are things we make up in our own heads, or that are spewed upon or seeped out at us by the people we’re surrounded by.
You know how there are some people who are just really kind of hard? I don't mean hard like they've been in prison, but it's just not an easy relationship....
Some are actually unpleasant and leave you with a feeling of “blech” and with others, you just don’t ever feel like smiling when you’re around them. Maybe it’s an awkward and forced relationship that you’re “supposed” to be a part of by default of some sort?
There are also sometimes people who you like a little, but for the most part, it’s just a lot of work and you end up doing all of it?
If you’re spending your time and energy on relationships like this, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate?
I’m not saying that you should run out and dump everyone in your life who isn't easy. People are human, so obviously there’s gonna be some degree of work involved in dealing with them.
Life happens, and almost everyone will annoy you on occasion. But if your heart usually feels happy and at home when you connect with them, they're your people.
On the other hand, if it’s all or even mostly work and no smiles, what's the point? Prolonged misery?
It also goes for foods, events, and pretty much most of the things that take up the minutes and hours of life.
If it doesn’t make you happy or provide some benefit, maybe you could put your energy into things that you actually enjoy and come easily rather than continually struggling to improve or make yourself happy with things that don’t fit?
I’m sure most people have hung onto a pair of pants or a dress that didn’t fit well for waaaaaay too long, in some vain hope that if we waited long enough, somehow it would magically look good and we wouldn’t have wasted our money and time on a bad choice.
Just let that mess go already and accept the fact that it isn’t a match. Hopefully someone else will like it better, and the opening it leaves in your metaphorical closet will free up some space for something that looks and feels naturally great on you.
I can’t even begin to imagine how much time I’ve wasted on trying and worrying and stressing and trying some more. Time I’ll never get back.
And these days, time feels like one of the most precious commodities I have. You can probably make more money in life, but you can’t make more time.
And that’s probably the biggest life lesson of all.
Time is meant to be enjoyed and spent on endeavors that make our hearts smile.
You can spend your time scrolling screens or talking smack, or you can spend it making art, food, love and memories.
Every one of us will probably do a little of both, but as for me, I’m shooting for more of the latter.
On that note, I’m happy to say that for the last 2 years, I spent my birthday in pretty much the exact way I wanted and needed to~ with people I enjoy in beautiful places and of course, with amazing food.
And by some crazy fluke of manifesting awesomeness, I managed to get lobster and margaritas on my actual birthday two years in a row!
Since I like to celebrate, I plan to continue for the rest of the month, albeit in small and mellow ways to match my current state of being.
And I plan to pay attention to my own wisdom from the middle of the road of life.
Wherever you are along the road of life, I encourage you to do the same.
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“Big Daddy’s, Sugar Daddy’s, Baby Daddy’s…. Alllll kinda daddy’s in yo life and allllll dem daddy’s need some love!”
When I heard the beachside merchant hollering incentives in an attempt to get buyers for his goods, I literally laughed aloud.
I’m not sure what he was selling, but I appreciated the point behind his marketing ploy~ there really are all kinds of dads in the world, and most of them could probably use a little appreciation~ especially this time of year.
I was on my way to dinner at the time, and not in the market for Father’s Day gifts. A few weeks later, I’m still without a gift, but that’s OK. I’m pretty sure my dad doesn’t really need or want stuff.
I’m sending my father a thank you email because I don’t actually know where in the world he is at this moment, although I think it’s on some adventure with my aunt and uncle. Wherever he is, I’ll send him my best wishes for a wonderful journey because I know he values experiences over things.
Father’s Day is one of those loaded holidays where some people post loving public declarations of gratitude and adoration for the men who raised them, and others silently ignore their dads for whatever leftover childhood hurts are still haunting them.
While “Best Dad in the World” and “Daddy’s Little Girl” kind of comments tend to incite eye rolling and sometimes a small gagging reflex out of me, that’s mostly just because I’m slightly inclined towards natural cynicism.
And also, I can’t relate in the least bit to what they’re talking about.
My Dad and I get along really well now, but I didn’t see him at all between the ages of about 3 and 14. The reasons why this happened aren’t agreed upon by the adults at the time, but they don’t really matter because there’s really no reason in the world that’s going to explain that kind of thing.
Which is why I asked them to quit trying.
For me, at 14, I didn’t want to hear what sounded like excuses and by 19, I knew I was never going to understand and just wanted them to stop talking about the whole thing and move on.
Thankfully, they did, And that allowed me to as well.
Once I became a parent myself, I realized how very human we all are.
And that sucks because even if we try our best, there will be times when we’re going to miserably fail the people who we love most in the world when they’re counting on us to make everything better.
Being human is hard.
Realizing your parents are human is hard too~ not just because you realize that they’re imperfect. Most of us figure that out by our teen years and spend plenty of time judging them harshly for it.
It’s hard because at some point, it means you realize that you might need to forgive your parents for being human, and let go of the angst.
It’s also hard because you realize that someday your kids are going to judge you too.
Typing that comment actually elicited a hissing sound and head shake from me because that reality right there is a harsh one.
Most of us are trying to do the best we can with the tools we have, but sometimes, we’re going to blow it. Some people just get better and better at blowing it and get stuck there, but if we’re actually trying, we can probably learn and hopefully do a little better the next time.
While my Dad may have blown it in my young years, he did try really hard after that, and has offered all kinds of love and support and advice, whether solicited or not. He’s inspired me to follow my dreams and chase after all kinds of crazy schemes, and done whatever he could to help me through some really hard times.
Even without any regular childhood exposure, I got some adventure loving traits from him along with a passion to make the world a better place and to try to fix everyone’s everything, regardless of their desire to be fixed. There must be an overly enthusiastic idea gene he passed to me in my DNA, and I'm grateful for it all.
This day also makes me think about my step dad~ while I didn’t appreciate his efforts at shaping my teenage self into an adult at the time, and I may possibly have been slightly obnoxious in making sure he knew it, I later realized that he really did care, I may not have agreed with his methods, but I do value his contributions to my life.
Today, I’m lucky enough to get to see lots of awesome Dad’s in action. My younger brother has amazed me with his Dad skills, and I’m blessed to be partnered with one of the kindest, most loving Dad’s I have ever known. And I’m really, really happy to see my kids connecting and in a good place with their Dad as well.
Hope you took some time today to celebrate all the Dad’s out there in your life~ Your Bio Daddy’s, Your Step Daddy’s, Your Baby Daddy’s~ Cheers to allllllll the Daddy’s in your life who are trying, even when they aren’t perfect.
And if you missed sending them some love today, do it tomorrow. It's never to late to say thank you.
Happy Father's Day!
It’s almost midnight, and I’m still awake~ exhausted physically, but with a brain that won’t shut down. There’s still so much to do, and it won’t do itself, and I’d really like to lighten tomorrow’s load if I can.
I already know I’ll be awake at 6, not because I want to be, or even because I’ve set an alarm, but because the sun creeps in past the edges of the curtains, and some dang internal time clock I have turns my brain back on when sunlight hits it.
The same internal clock tells me to stop and close my eyeballs for a few hours every afternoon for siesta time, but unfortunately, I don’t live in a culture that supports naps for adults, so more often than not, I usually power through.
Even though I have a schedule that could probably flex enough to actually pull off naps in the afternoon, there are all these weird feelings of guilt over the fact that most people can’t and lingering thoughts that I should be getting stuff done, not sleeping.
But the thing is, no matter how much I manage to get done by staying up working past midnight or skipping afternoon siesta, there will still be more to do on the list.
Like most people I know, I go through way too much of my life feeling as though I don’t have enough time.
I know it’s ridiculous, because I have the same 24 hours in a day as anyone else, there’s just a lot of stuff I want to get into it, and the ideas are all ping ponging around in my brain, not helping me focus one bit.
Aside from the day to day things that aren’t that exciting but keep my world and home running smoothly, there’s also the awesome and important stuff I really want to make happen~ the things I am creating and learning that I struggle to squeeze into my day, and often fail.
The National Anthem of too much to do, and not enough time.
On the flip side, I was recently telling some people about an amazing handmade costume I had seen at an event. It was a bodice, skirt and armor, all made from playing cards that had been hand stitched together. It was seriously amazing.
I hadn’t even gotten to the part about the shield and battle ax, when the response came.
“Clearly, that was someone who has too much time on their hands.”
I’m fairly sure my face showed confusion and mild annoyance, not just because an old Styx song starting playing on repeat in my head, “tooooo much time on my hands, take it away with my sanity….”
I was annoyed because not only did I have to resist the urge to start singing (if this audience wasn’t impressed with the costume story, they sure wouldn’t be impressed with my remedial level vocal skills...) but even more so because I can't understand why this kind of comment is so common when it comes to creative endeavors that appear to take any amount of time.
It’s as if time spent creating is somehow time wasted, or as though a person who makes cool things must have no other responsibilities.
Personally, I’d thought the costume was brilliant, and was blown away at the talent and creativity of the maker.
Creating things is one of the absolute best things we can do with our time. I’d go as far as to say that the world would probably be a better place if we collectively spent more time creating that consuming,
And, most of the creative people I know have to juggle like crazy to scrimp and save up time to make their creations into a reality. It’s not like they just get to sit around all day with nothing better to do. They generally have families and jobs and are as busy as the rest of us.
The difference is that the creative people who end up making the coolest stuff out there chose to spend their free time creating. They focus and they produce.
That probably means they have less time for playing video games or scrolling through social media or otherwise consuming things other people made. They’re busy actually making things themselves.
I’m not sure what’s behind the common semi-negative attitude about creative projects and people that seems so prevalent amongst those who are stuck in the modern American version of adulting.
Perhaps it makes us feel better about our own unfinished dreams if we pretend that it’s somehow easier for others to complete theirs?
Personally, I feel a mixture of mostly inspiration along with a wee bit of jealousy because these people have actually figured out how to work with the time they have, and make their creations come to life.
Even if I don’t understand or really have any interest in the finished product, I have a huuuuuuge admiration for the people who have the consistent focus to complete their projects because while I’d like to think I’m all super productive zen lady, the reality is that a good portion of the time, I’m all over the place getting sidetracked and feeling scatterbrained with too many half cooked ideas.
So, rather than mocking or resenting the people who spend 12 billion hours making their weird ideas come to life, I’m trying to learn from them.
And what I’m learning is that the trouble isn’t with time~ it’s with focus.
Seth Godin (AKA Mr. Super Productive Guy) says, “When you have a lot of balls in the air, it's easy to just ignore the ones that make you uncomfortable or that might fall.
Success comes from doing the hard part. When the hard part is all you've got, you're more likely to do it.
And this is precisely why it's difficult to focus. Because focusing means acknowledging that you just signed up for the hard part.”
Ugggghh already. I know he’s right. I probably have to push through the hard part to finish, even if it’s really, really, really hard for me to ignore all the new shiny things that come across my radar.
Sure enough, amongst the shiny things in my inbox was something from Marie Forleo, who concurs that sometimes, you just need to just focus on one thing until it’s done.
"Creative success means balancing your love of starting things with a habit of finishing them."
It's a simple concept in theory, but not an easy one for a person with an active brain full of crazy schemes and what seem to me to be good ideas.
But, if I’m ever going to get any of these schemes out into the world, I know I need to actually put more effort into whatever it takes to get the idea into completion.
Maybe that’s what keeps so many people from ever even starting things? It’s easier to just let your brain be lulled and distracted in a world of ever present screens, and there’s no real risk of failure if you never try.
For me, starting isn’t the hard part. I love starting projects. Finishing them is where I struggle, and having 47,000 going at once probably doesn’t help anything..
So, after giving in to sleep around 1, I started over at 6 something in the morning, and after mentally hemming and hawing about how cozy my bed was for a good while, I got my arse out of it, and headed out to write in the back yard. Not just to write, but to finish a frigging blog post.
It didn’t go smoothly nor easily, but I stuck through the hard part and didn’t give up~ not even when my laptop decided to restart and do updates that took 20 minutes, which was just long enough for my SweetHeart to wake up and have coffee with me and the dogs and baby chickens to start making a racket demanding food and by the time all that happened, all of a sudden, it was after 9, which was when I had planned on starting my other work for today.
I still hadn’t stretched, or walked the dogs, or journaled or looked at my to-do list for the day yet to see how far behind I was. Heck, I hadn’t even showered.
But I sat my butt down and wrote.
And I’m proud to say that I finished this post (well, I’m wrapping it up now anyway)
OK, to tell the truth, I actually still got sidetracked a few dozen times and a whole other day of working and family life passed before I got to this point of wrapping this up, but dang it, I got here!
For the most part, the distractions I succumbed to ~ connecting over morning coffee with My Love and making sure my animals wouldn’t die of starvation~ those were actually worth being temporarily sidetracked.
And the other stuff was just life. It happens and you deal with it.
When you find yourself way behind schedule, but finally in eyesight of the finish line, you can choose to be bummed at yourself for getting so far behind, or be glad that you finally got there.
Trust me. Pick option 2.
You may not be Mono Focused Zen Mom either, but we all know it’s the kind of thing that comes from actual practice more than reading about it.
So, for today, let’s practice not wasting time by fretting about lack of it, and instead do something to enjoy what we do have.
How about you? How do you handle trouble with time?
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Writer, Artist, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, FunSchooling Facilitator / Former Goat-Herding HeadMistress for our Mostly Happy Homeschool, Semi-Crazy Chicken Lady and Mamacita Extraordinaire to a couple of Cage Free Kids.