Today I Give Myself Permission to be Patient #atozchallenge

Letter PIt’s hard to believe that we have already arrived at P on the permission list. It’s another one of the big ones. and it took a conversation with a friend this morning to remind me of it. Up until that time, I was ready to give myself permission to be playful. It actually doesn’t take much to make me playful because I love a good laugh and a bit of innocent mischief. And there’s nothing like bonding over playful banter. True friends engage in banter, it’s the elixir of relationships. At least in my world.

But for the purposes of today’s post I’m going to focus on patience, because for most of us it’s harder to achieve than playfulness.

Before reaching this stage of life, I always thought that the older one became, the more impatient one got. In fact, I probably saw it as a benefit of older age, as a bi-product of the freedom of not having to impress. It’s amazing how one’s perspective changes as the reality of being of middle age sets in.

As a younger person, I never had any patience for patience – didn’t see the value or the need for it. I’m not talking about the patience needed for waiting for a bus or for a movie to open or a book to be released.  Never having been one to stand there impatiently looking at my watch, I used that time to people watch or distract myself with other things. However, having made a decision, I used to go for it and go for it hard.

Now, not so much. Not because the hunger is any different, but now I see the value in picking my moment and scoping out the landscape.

chasing butterflies

This holds especially true for any area that involves relationships and friendships. Too often, we get blinded from the relentless pursuit of our own agenda and our own needs and fail to see that the other person is not quite on the same page. By pushing ahead with too much haste, we often burn our chance at the brass ring. And often we don’t get another shot, although we think we might.

It has been said that patience is the companion of wisdom. And I see that now. For it is hard to engage in patience or see the value of being patient without that hard fought wisdom. Over the past few years I’ve had many people come into my life to teach me the lesson of patience and frankly, my children have been trying to teach me the lesson over the past eighteen years. Quite honestly, there is no better teacher of patience than your own child or spouse. The lessons are never easy, but they are essential if we are to have the skills necessary to find happiness in the second act. For patience with ourselves is just as critical as patience with others and will become even more critical as time marches on.

We owe it to ourselves to give us the time and space we need to master new skills, obtain new outlooks and make the changes necessary to orient ourselves to a new direction. You cannot turn the Titanic around on a dime. And to turn the Titanic you will need patience and lots of it.

And people who are meant to come to you or back to you, will. As someone I know is fond of saying, what is meant for you will not pass you by – truly.

yoda patience

Is patience something you struggle with? What’s the best lesson in patience you have ever received?

 Today I give myself permission to be patient

Today I Give Myself Permission to Embrace Originality #atozchallenge

a-to-z-letters-oWe are all born an original, each leaving behind the broken mould of our birth. However, as most of us grow and travel through our teenage years we start to see that originality is perhaps the harder road to hoe, at least for a child, and the drive to fit in overtakes us. We then move onto our adult years carrying that need to fit in. This time though the stakes may be a little higher, with a promotion, bank loan, long-term relationship or a business opportunity at stake.

For some brave souls who turn their noses at societal pressure, the original child becomes the highly original, memorable and successful adult. The one that you secretly now admire and envy for having the courage to march to the beat of his or her own drummer. Rhetoric abounds, but in my experience the corporate world does not value originality or if it does, it is confined to originality in ideas and not in respect of individual attributes.

Dark suits, business shirts and black pumps have been my business wardrobe staples for the past two decades. But a look a little closely and you will see a few of my salutes to originality.

Let me start by saying I was born without the accessorizing gene. Really, I am accessory challenged. I’d love to be able to tell you that I solved my originality conundrum with funky jewellery, fantastically memorable earrings, unique handbags and sexy scarves. However that would be misleading and probably a little boring.

In the early nineties when I first stated work, original males wore funky ties to work. How I loved those ties filled with amusing cartoon characters, Snoopy was a favourite. Sometimes, the guys actually engaged in an originality double act by also wearing funky character or slogan socks.Perhaps they only wore them out of deference to the tastes and gift giving activities their spouses, but whatever the reason they brightened my day.

Remember these? Guys had it easy in the originality stakes.

 

Snoopy Tietas devil tie

I clearly couldn’t get away with either, so my ode to originality came in the form of the Swatch.

The Swatch is a wonderful invention of Swiss ingenuity, not only that, it actually tells time!  Love them, the more colourful the better. I’ve owned at least one Swatch for the past twenty years. A splash of colour under the dark suits and a small window into my personality. I wonder what our choice of watch says about us? Over the years, I have received many positive remarks about my choice of watch, not only for the colour but also for the kooky designs. Rainbows, fish, falling numbers, stars and moons I have had them all.

English: Swatch Flik Flak Fifa World Cup Spain...

English: Swatch Flik Flak Fifa World Cup Spain Edition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More recently, my originality push has extended to the Converse shoe. I purchased my first pair a couple of weeks ago and have since worn them to work. I am told they are very me – a pair of purple high tops with small white flowers over them. Love the funk factor and the surprise on people’s faces when they see them on my feet. Didn’t expect that, did you? Sweeeeeee!

Not mine, but rates high on the originality factor

Not mine, but rates high on the originality factor

As time marches on, the need to conform is waning and it is so liberating. I plan to continue to celebrate originality in others and embrace it in myself.  Middle age is a great time to try the new and experiment with identity and it is full of possibilities. It is probably no coincidence that a lot of women this age obtain a tattoo, a permanent sign of originality. Whilst I’m not tempted by tattoos for my own body,  I applaud those who decide to express their originality and individuality in that way.

Fortune favours the brave and the original.

meercats

 What do you do to embrace your originality?

Today I give myself permission to embrace originality. 

Today I Give Myself Permission to Do Nothing #atozchallenge

letter N

 

Today I give myself permission to do….

 

NOTHING

 

NADA

 

ZIP

 

ZERO

 

Lying by the sea

NIL

 

NIX

 

ZILCH

 

BUGGER ALL (Aussie vernacular meaning… nothing)

 

SFA

 

NOUGHT

 

smiley-sticking-tongue-out

What’s your perfect idea of doing nothing?

Today I give myself permission to do nothing. 

 

Today I Give Myself Permission to Matter #atozchallenge

Letter MSelf esteem can be a fickle beast. Some have it then lose it, some don’t have it then find it, some never have it and some have an abundance of it. Yet others use the lack of it as an excuse for all that is not right with their world.

We are all at different points in the spectrum.  We will also be at differing points during the course of our lives. Traditionally, middle age is associated with a dip in self esteem. It is said that this is the time when women enter the invisible stage. But I’m not buying it. I may yet be proven wrong, but for now, I refuse to don the cloak of invisibility. I refuse to accept that I no longer matter.

A couple of months ago there was a great article in one of our Sunday supplements about a 46 year old women who recounted her recent experiences with dating. She had four children and told the story of how she had no shortage of dates. In fact she had dated approximately six men in the last four months and put it down to an inner confidence and not shying away from  opportunities to meet people. In the article she lamented that in the media there were a lot more stories of women at that age bemoaning the passing of youth and complaining of feeling invisible. She is right. In preparing for this Challenge, I looked for material in our mainstream media which painted middle age in a positive light. I wanted to be inspired by stories of women who had found themselves at this age, changed an unhappy direction or otherwise took control of their lives. Apparently, this does not sell newspapers.

So what sort of message are we sending middle-aged women? With the push into fifty and the change in demographic, apparently our spending power doesn’t matter, at least not to advertisers. Our looks clearly don’t matter, unless they are used to compare or contrast with youth.

The fact of the matter is (no pun intended) we all matter. And the main person to whom we should matter is ourselves.  Hubris is never attractive and that’s not what I’m advocating. Rather,  to be aware of the small and subtle things we do everyday that diminishes our needs in our own eyes.

Take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in particular the top three. How many of us inadvertently sabotage our chance at meeting the top three? For example:

Maslow's heirachy of needs

Belong and love needs: Do you always put your needs last? Do they matter less to you than other people’s needs? Do you matter less to you than other people? You should be on par, for we were created all equal.

Esteem needs: When someone pays you a compliment for something you did, do you belittle your achievement by making a flip comment or by saying “it was nothing”?

Self actualisation: Do you seek fulfillment and growth or do you belive this is all there is and you have to settle?

I’ve done all of these at various times, but no more. I’ve gone from if you mind, I don’t matter to if you mind, I still matter. Humility is important, but too much of it and it can diminish.

And the last word on mind and matter goes to Mark Twain:

mark twain mind and matter

Mr Twain I couldn’t have said it better myself! So forty is not the new thirty and fifty is not the new forty. It just doesn’t matter. What matters more is the way we see ourselves.

What matters most to you?

Today I give myself permission to matter.

 

 

Today I Give Myself Permission to Listen #atozchallenge

Letter LWe spend our lives believing we have to talk to impress people. We spend more of our lives thinking about what to say next even if what comes out of our mouths is an emotional reaction to what we just heard.

By doing so we are missing out on the best that life has to offer. For at middle age, I have learned to appreciate the cues that the world sends me. Cues come to us in a whole lot of ways and we use a variety of senses to pick up on them. Listening and seeing are obviously two of the most important. The third tool that is generally needed is intuition. However, if we are always talking, trying to get our own point of view across we are less likely to pick up on these cues and more likely to miss opportunities.

The same can be said if we are constantly looking inward and fail to consider our relationships and the needs of others.

To listen well and often, takes wisdom as Oliver Wendell Holmes alluded to in this wonderful quote:

wisdom to listen

To pickup on cues,  it is not enough to be knowledgable it is also necessary to be wise. And more often than not, it is necessary to still the rehearsal of our own impending performance in our head.

Listening to others is the first requirement of understanding. There is no better compliment you can pay someone in this day and age than to give them the benefit of your full attention. It’s part of the reason that therapy and counselling thrives, sometimes all that is needed is to feel that one has been heard. Therapists, counsellors and best friends know that validation can only come from within and by active listening and strategic questioning they will lead you to find your own answers and that validation. I think the same philosophy applies in a marriage. The feeling that you are listened to by your spouse is fundamental to relationship longevity.

peanuts cartoon about listening

I will admit to being an expressive. Never shy about coming forward in a business meeting or in public speaking, it has served me relatively well to date. But I can now see bigger value in just sitting back and listening more often than speaking. This insight has led me to see that more often than not, it’s the same people always doing the talking and therefore the opportunity for new ideas and progressive input is unnecessarily limited. A great leader knows how to listen and to empower even the wall flowers in the team to share their ideas. It is no different in social circles. Sadly, it doesn’t happen too often, probably because we tend to equate talking with power or more importantly silence with weakness. Neither is actually the case.

I have also found that listening has another dimension, that of listening to yourself. We all need to strategize about the decisions that need to be made in our own lives. And we need the physical and head space to do this. We need to stop listening to the noise of business (laundry, cooking, cleaning, car maintenance etc) once in a while and focus on the strategic issues that will affect the bigger direction of our lives. Busy will get you through the next day or week, but strategic will determine the road ahead and create the platform for your busyness. We cannot work out life goals, priorities and identities unless we give ourselves permission to listen to our heads, our hearts and work out the questions we need to ask ourselves. At least I can’t. I need to stop my external talking and find the space to process all the inputs and self-dialogue.

So space to listen and process is not a luxury it is a necessity and I have given myself permission to create it.

Listening is not a weakness. We will not be measured by the number of words we speak, but the impact of them. Blogging is a case in point.

listening-doggy-ears

 

Today I give myself permission to listen.

 

 

 

Today I Give Myself Permission to Knock Back Balls In Play #atozchallenge

letter KWe are all jugglers. Multitaskers all, we juggle not only the balls of our own lives and at times we also juggle the balls of the lives of others.

If you are a parent or have ever been a parent you will know what I mean. From the moment they are born, your kids’ schedules take up residence in your brain and as they get older the more balls you need to keep in the air. As a parent you accept the juggle and willingly catch the balls your children throw you. And one day you hope to be in a position to through them right back, shinier then they were when you first caught them.

But what about those balls from people who are more remote to you? And what about balls that are thrown and you don’t even know you’re in a game of catch?

Confused with all this metaphorical ball talk?

Let me explain what I mean.

All of us derive our self esteem from different sources. There is usually something about ourselves that makes us proud of who we are or that is otherwise integral to the way we define ourselves. Rightly or wrongly, if something happens to that integral thing, we start feeling off and a little less than ourselves. For some that thing is parenting, for others their ability to run a marathon, write poetry, volunteer in the community, recite limericks, make great videos, cook gourmet meals. Whatever.

A moving GIF showing a basic 3 ball-cascade ju...

A moving GIF showing a basic 3 ball-cascade juggling pattern: good for juggling explanation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For me, it’s being able to solve problems or at least moving the problem a few steps forward if a complete solution is not within my skill set. So I love it when people come to me for a solution and I love to help them out. But I’m only just learning that this does not mean that I have to catch every ball that’s put in play. Seriously, this is my latest permission and is only really new.

And the late realisation is not because I can’t say no or because I am a people pleaser. I can say no plenty, just ask my children and the Italian Stallion.

So with this permission, I have set a few new rules:

  • identify early on whether an inoccuous question is really a ball you don’t want to accept or can become such a ball after a bit of back and forth. If yes, knock the ball back. If no, continue playing
  • you don’t always have to play ball to suit another’s agenda
  • it’s not only permissible, but essential to knock back the balls that may became too heavy or don’t add to your ball collection
  • beware of those trying to suck you into a ball game that you don’t want to be in, by stealth.

Most of us want to lighten another’s load. However, we also need to take care that by doing so, we don’t drop our own balls.

No more guilt. I’m now OK with this.

As for the balls in the parenting scenario. It is incumbant on all us parents to start knocking back our kids’ balls at some point. For if we do not, how will they ever learn to juggle? The job for us is to know just the right time to do this. We need to be alert enough to see the signs that show us they have the fledgling skills to not only catch the balls, but to also keep them in the air.

And one day, like it or not we will have to throw a few of our own balls their way.

One of my fellow bloggers wrote a fantastic post today about his special other half. In it he describes her empathetic nature and that at some points in her friendships, she needed to distance herself. K is also for kudos and I have nothing but kudos for BTG’s post today, which is very much on point. Please hop on over and read this little piece of special.

Today I give myself permission to knock back balls in play.

dog juggling

Today I Give Myself Permission To Just Do It #atozchallenge

Letter JWhen Nike started using the expression “Just Do It’ as their slogan, I was already a Swoosh convert. Nevertheless, the advertisements really resonated with me because until recently, I have never been a “Just Do It” person. It wasn’t so much the feeling that I could put it off until tomorrow that was the issue, it was more the feeling of “Just Don’t It Because [insert myriad of reasons here]”. I’d like to think that my thinking was because risk analysis and mitigation are part of my profession and sometimes it’s hard to turn off the attributes on which  you rely 40+ hours a week. However, I’m not going to let myself off the hook that easily.

About four or so years ago something changed in outlook and my default position went from “Why Do It?” to “Why Not Do It?”. Perhaps it was the feeling of time passing by or that I finally found where my confidence resided. Now I’m determined to have more JDI moments as I call them. This is not to say that those JDI moments need to be inherently physically risky – I have no desire to try extreme bubblegum blowing, bungy jumping or extreme extremism – but living a totally safe and comfortable life is no longer for me. Not at the moment, anyway.

Is this what it means to have a midlife crisis?

I’m not sure about the answer to that question, but if a crisis is what it takes to move away from the paralysis of analysis and by default adopting the negative position for more abundant caution then I say bring it on. Don’t get me wong, I’m certainly appreciative of the ability to reason and think things through with which I was bestowed. It’s just that the calibration of that ability sometimes requires adjustment.

just do it

Some people want to go through life knowing they always pursued the smartest course. Bested by none, never being ripped off, never stumbling and duly diligent. If that’s what works for you, then wonderful. From my observations though, it is those who are fleet of foot and less concerned about examining every facet of every consequence that inherit the earth. True it is, they might not get it right every time and let’s face it we all have to live with the consequences of our decisions, but how many of us close ourselves off because we simply don’t contemplate applying the JDI philosophy at times? I shudder to think how many opportunities have passed me by, because I was unwilling to take a small risk.

Now kids, I’m not advocating that you start taking huge risks and please don’t try that at home. More a balancing of our adult intellect with the childlike quality of wonder and amusement. Sometimes we need to heed that child voice and tell the adult one that things will be OK or that if not, both the adult and the child can handle what is likely to come. There will also always be washing to do, a house which needs cleaning, a drive that is just that bit too far away or an expectation of another person to be met. There won’t always be tomorrow, a better time or another opportunity. As they say, there is no someday in the week, only Monday through to Sunday.

I have this hanging on my fridge

I have this hanging on my fridge

Just like there is glass half full thinking, so too there is JDI thinking.

May we all open ourselves to a world of opportunity and in some small way, the concept of  JDI thinking.

Today I give myself permission to just do it!

Today I Give Myself Permission to Indulge #atozchallenge

Letter I“Indulgence”, even the word itself sounds a bit naughty, much like a piece of contraband blowing in the wind. Maybe because it connotes an element of excess or avarice.

However, I’m here to advocate for a little indulgence every day, indulgence that is neither excessive nor avaricious. As indulgence is often linked to the concept of self consciousness, we often feel that we should not indulge ourselves or that we should indulge everyone else ahead of ourselves. There is often guilt associated with our indulgence, often diluting what could be positive outcomes and effects.

Indulge doesn’t have to be time consuming, lavish or expensive. The key to indulging is to pursue whatever feeds your soul and nurtures your spirit. It could be for as little as 15 minutes out of your day, it could be for an hour. We all need to take time for a little self-care, so that we can carry on for those who count on us.

So, let me introduce you to some of my favorite indulgences:

red sox at Fenwaypeanut butterfoot massagebushwalkinghabit of reading

cleaning laughter

 

 

 

 

 

 

No raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens here.

Rather, and with apologies to Julie Andrews:

Baseball with Red Sox

And peanuts with butter

Massage for footsies

Makes my heart a flutter

A great stack of books all tied up with string

These are a few of my favorite things

Laughter and smiles

And tears of pure joy

Walking the bush

With hubby and my boys

A road trip to somewhere

Adventures it brings

These are a few of my favorite things.

By the way, who really needs bread with peanut butter? Or a knife? Or a plate?

Give yourself permission to indulge your soul without guilt daily. Fifteen minutes just for you. It could be something as simple as enjoying fresh air after being stuck in air-conditioning all day or catching the sunshine on your back and face after a cold spell. The best indulgences are probably free.

dominant thoughts

Today I give myself permission to indulge.

What are some of your favorite indulgences?

Today I Give Myself Permission To Heed The Red Flags #atozchallenge

Letter HFriendship. There’s nothing like it.

Even in marriage, friendship is the foundation upon which love is based. No friendship and marriage can be a real lonely state.

Hand in hand with friendship comes loyalty. Hand in hand with friendship comes give and take.

Can there come a time when enough is enough? And how come we usually never know we have reached “enough ” until long after that point has passed?

And why are we wracked with guilt even when walking away was the only real option left to us?

Who can argue with Kenny Rogers’ great line from The Gambler?

You gotta know when to fold’em, know when to hold’em, know when to walk away, know when to run

But how do we really know when the time comes?

Loyalty is a huge one on my list. I was always taught to stand by my friends.  In midlife my friendships mean even more because I have a healthier appreciation of the odds against really connecting with someone. But loyalty can’t be blind.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is said that in midlife people commonly go through their phone books and scratch off names. The realization usually comes that it is better to focus on quality rather than quantity. I haven’t deliberately done that exercise, but I have become a bit more discerning about with whom I spend my time. That’s not to say I’m not wracked with guilt about those I choose to distance.

So, I have to remind myself to heed the red flags.

The following saying has become my recent favorite:

true colours

I want to believe the best of people, I think most people do. But it has come at a personal cost. Perhaps I have befriended too easily in the past. The challenge, I think, is to remain open and receptive enough to avoid the cynicism that comes with being too protectionist. There’s totally safe and then there’s social.

Liars, drama queens, attention seekers, manipulators and passive aggressors need not apply.

Today I give myself permission to heed the red flags.

Is this a tough one for you, too?

Today I Give Myself Permission To Go With The Flow #atozchallenge

Letter G Well, I’m back for another week of A to Z Challenge posts.

This week is brought to you by the letters G to L and by the numbers 7 to 12 and I could tell you how to get to Sesame Street, but I left my GPS in my other bag.

Yesterday was a blog free day  – one of only four in April and so in keeping with my new-found permission, I decided to just hang and go with the flow. This ended up in me cutting the pad of my left index finger with a kitchen knife in trying to tame a piece of pork shoulder. So far it’s pork shoulder – 1, Judy – 0 and all I’m going to say is I’m looking forward to the rematch. What this means though is that my key board skills are currently compromised. Do you know how essential the index finger on your left hand is to touch typing? Even if you’re more than a two finger typist? So every time I type the letters “r”, “t”,”c”, “d”, and “v”, the pork shoulder comes back to trumpet its victory. And whilst my writing skills are almost legendary, I have yet to master the art of writing a blog post without the letters “r” and “t” and “d”. I’m thinking “c” and “v” are probably more dispensable, but the Challenge is not the time to prove that theory. And just to rub salt into the wound, guess what came next after cutting my finger. That’s right, I had to rub salt into the pork shoulder and you can guess where some of the salt ended up. It seems my pain impulses are in perfect working order, seriously good to know! Anyway, now that I have set the scene for the week of blogging ahead with the appropriate degree of pathos, never let it be said that the show hasn’t gone on.

Yes, I could have pre-programmed my Challenge posts, but I didn’t because there is some part of me that loves the thrill of winging it and of being flexible about writing what I feel like on the day. The irony is also not lost on me for the topic of this post….. for there it is, a perfect example of going with the flow.

Control, what an illusion? No really, it is. And it only took me forty plus years to realise. Clearly, I’m a slow study. Over recent years, I have become acutely aware of what I can’t control and have come to accept that that’s the case.

Escape key but still here

The notion of objective fairness used to loom large in my life. My expectations of certain outcomes as a result of other people acting fairly or life treating me fairly were keeping me hostage. Mind you, I expected no less of myself (and I still don’t), but then it occurred to me that the only one who was interested in my expectations was me and the only one who suffered when my own expectations were not met, was me. There was no lightening bolt from the heavens on the person or circumstance that didn’t exhibit the appropriate degree of fairness. They carried on as if nothing had happened, because in their reality nothing had!

How many times have you heard or said the following expressions?

He/She should have done this 

I can’t believe he/she didn’t/did do that

She/he should have realized X and therefore done/said Y

This is the language of control and I’m not going to lie, I used to say these quite a bit.

The energy I spent in trying to determine outcomes was huge. The fact is, I can’t. Everyone has freedom of choice as to how they respond to external stimuli. YOU have freedom of choice as to how you respond to external stimuli. That’s the only thing we can control, our response and our thoughts and actions. The rest is up for grabs.

Every day brings new stimuli and situations, particularly at this midlife stage. More rapid change is now inevitable and the longer we hold on to what WAS, we cannot enjoy what IS and nor can we smooth over the necessary transitions. Flexibility and patience are needed to locate those doors that are now opening. Your flow will determine which ones you open and enter.

growing out of middle age

So, it’s time to move from control to acceptance and respond by kicking the crap out of middle age!

Today I give myself permission to go with the flow and to indulge my left index finger.