Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Take Your Time

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When I lived in Santa Fe, I used to housesit and dogsit for people. When a friend’s mother  passed away, she asked if I would stay at her mother’s house until she and her sister decided what to do with it.
This was no ordinary house. This was a gorgeous ranch with a guest house in one of my favorite places on earth. I was sure everyone was mistaken and I was really the one who had died because this was my idea of heaven. The days I got to spend in that home among so many beautiful things were unforgettable.
My friend’s mother was a remarkable woman who had crafted an astonishingly elegant life for herself and the friends, family, horses, and canines that kept her company.
One evening as I sat on the porch watching a spectacular sunset the idea occurred to me that I couldn’t hang on to this place or this experience any more than my friend’s mother could. The only thing I could do was fully appreciate the time I had there.
This is why I’m so protective of this time at the end of the year and seem obsessed with making sense of the year coming to a close.  I’m acutely aware that, as the classic Seals and Croft song goes, “We may never pass this way again.”
So I want to make sure I’m present for it. That I don’t rush through it in my desire to move on to bigger, better, faster, or flashier. I want to take my time and give it the attention a full year of my life deserves. I hope you’ll do the same with yours.
With that said, I’ll take you through the rest of the Year in Review template and tomorrow I’ll give you a different one to look at the year ahead.
What were the products that rocked your world? Every year there is at least one thing I wonder how I ever lived without. Usually it’s an upgrade or improvement to something I use every day. It could be as simple as a new electric toothbrush, slim velvet hangers, a new skincare product, or an app that reminds me to meditate, move, or feed the fish. What are those things for you?
Who were the people who rocked your world? Just as there are products you can’t live without, there are people who make it all worthwhile. It could be your yoga teacher, your rabbi, a rock star, a writer, your next door neighbor, Alexander Hamilton, or the dog-treat-dispensing bank teller. I was inspired by so many people that this will have to be a separate blog post for me.
What books, blogs, movies, music, concerts, conversations, or workshop/seminars/coaching programs/retreats changed the way you think and feel? The thing I like to remember is I am only one thought away from a new perspective and a few dance moves or dog walk away from a better mood. As much as I like to think about things, I don’t act on them until I feel something. Often times I need a nudge in the form of reading material, listening material, phoning a friend, or giving in to the unbridled enthusiasm of two dogs who think they are going for a w-a-l-k.
How did your relationships change or shift this year? Did you get engaged, married, divorced, have a baby, lose a loved one, start a business, hire a coach, fire someone, rekindle a romance, move to a new neighborhood, or retire from your job? When your circumstances change, usually your relations shift as well.
What health, fitness, food, or spiritual practices did you try, tweak, test out, or keep up this year? Maybe you took up archery or turned into a total foodie, much to your surprise and delight. Maybe you started a hip hop class or became a Buddhist. Maybe you did a 21-day cleanse or tried acupuncture. Or maybe you suffered a debilitating illness that turned your world upside down and forced you to do everything differently. How have these new practices defined you or allowed you to reinvent yourself?
What is the smallest change you made that had the biggest impact? Did you start meditating for 5 minutes in the morning or stop drinking soda? Did you start leaving love notes in your spouse’s lunchbox? Did you take up taekwondo with your kid? Did you give up lattes for Lent and never looked back?
And finally, what were your greatest contributions this year? Maybe you spent a Saturday afternoon being a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. Maybe you took 3 carloads of career ready clothes to Dressed for Success. Maybe you sponsored a child, saved yourself and your children and left an abusive relationship, or fed some local families during the holidays. Whatever you did, make a note of it. It mattered.
Tomorrow I’ll look at what you want to call in for 2017.  But for today, take your time and tell me about your year in the comments below.
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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan "T"

Old golden alarm clock with red berries
It’s “T” time in our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge.
As tempting as it may be to take you back through the Top Ten Tension Tackling Tunes to Keep You Humming through the Holidays for today’s tip, I think I’ll touch on a new thread.
It’s easy to get your tinsel in a tangle as you tick the days off before Christmas. A tirade of to-do‘s that torment your tired and troubled thoughts are not easily tamed or transformed without a little tampering with the terms of their tyrannical hold on you.
So try this.
Toss them out. Terminate those to-do’s that terrorize, torture, or tap you out. Tiptoeing around them or treading lightly only increases their tenacity and tempts you to head to the tequila tasting table before 10am.
Trust yourself to tune in to what wants to happen next, not what you assume must happen next. Try this reframing tack. If you have to do it, then choose to do it. Make it a choice, not a chore.
Also try this.
Take your time. Or as I love to say, “Move at the pace of grace.” Thrashing around to accommodate someone’s tight timetable can make you act abominably.
Transcend the moment of angst, anxiety, or irritation and trade it in for a temporary time-out that tickles your funny bone or tends to your tightening muscles. A quick body scan will tell you where you’ve tucked your tension.  And then maybe you’ll be able to talk someone into teasing those tensions away with a little tender loving care.
I’d be thrilled to have you teach me your favorite “T” tip, tool, or trade secret in the comments below. Or give me a thumbs up if you feel like you are not just surviving but actually thriving this holiday season.
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P.S. Have you ever noticed how whenever clocks are pictured the hands are almost always on the ten and two?  It makes the hands look like a smile.  Just like the arrow in the white space of the Fed Ex logo, now you’ll notice the time on pictures of clocks. Tricky!

You're Not Getting Older, You're Getting Better

Colorful sparkler, close-up.
It was the early seventies when I first heard a commercial for Loving Care reassure me, “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better.” At the impressionable age of 7 or 8,  I had high hopes of getting older and better.  However, it’s taken me decades to truly appreciate the wisdom of this bit of marketing.
Contrary to popular belief, getting older does not mean stepping off a cliff into an abyss of aches and pains, memory loss and incontinence, age spots and unsightly facial hair. These things may or may not come with the territory, but they definitely don’t define what I’ve come to see as this grace period I’ve grown into.
I went begrudgingly into my forties. I was attached to being relatively young, reasonably attractive, and readily available. I feared crossing the threshold into middle age would catapult me into oblivion. I assumed I’d immediately become invisible, undesirable, and unemployable.
That was not an appealing option.
The better option was to own my throne and step into a Queendom of my own making. The world needs more Kings and Queens, grown up men and women who know who they are, understand what they have to offer, and are not afraid to contribute to the well-being of the world. Instead of depending on the world to define them, who they are defines the world.
We live in a youth-obsessed society. Letting go of the goodies surrounding princes and princesses isn’t easy. We’ve all grieved our glory days. Yet every age has its upsides. Unfortunately, we tend to focus more on the downsides the further on down the road we go.
As founder of the Midlife MacGyver Movement and an enthusiastic advocate of Getting Your Groove Back, I’m here to put a stop to all the trash talk about aging.
As I settle into my fifth decade, I’ve never felt more confident about my ability to move about the planet, share my ideas, open my mind, inhabit my body, learn from those who are different from me, relax into the unknown, and trust my ability to handle whatever happens next.
I’m living the dream, albeit a very different one than I imagined when I was half my age. If someone would have suggested to my younger self I’d be living where I’m living, doing what I’m doing with the people I’m doing it with, I wouldn’t have believed them. And yet if I connect the dots, there’s no doubt I would be here now.
I recently read an article by Ramit Sethi called Why Successful People Take 10 Years to “Succeed Overnight.”  It caught my attention in part because I’ve always joked it’s taken me 40 years to achieve overnight success. And by “success” I mean the way I measure it these days. This, too, is very different than I would have defined it even a few years ago.
Sethi talks about the underappreciated power of sequence and using the domino strategy to take one small step.  Like dominoes, that first small step is followed by a little bit bigger step and so on, creating the momentum that can ultimately move mountains, or at least very large dominoes. He explores the invisible scripts that run and often sabotage our lives, and how the treadmill of disappointment can derail us right when we’re on the verge of a breakthrough.
If you’ve lived long enough, you’ll recognize where you’ve succeeded and where you’ve strayed. And if you’ve learned anything, you’ll know without a doubt, you’re not just getting older. Fortunately for all of us, you’re getting better.
Today I embark on another trip around the sun, chalking up another year to experience. Of the many things I’m grateful for, one is getting to show up in your inbox unannounced and share stuff that catches my fancy.
Thanks for reading and allowing me to do the thing that makes me feel the most alive and the most vulnerable.  Open a vein and let the words pour out.
 
 
 

No Matter What – Day 18

Welcome to the No Matter What Game where Gillian, the world’s greatest coach, asks a question and I answer.  No matter what. You can play, too.  Leave your response in the comments below or write your response in your journal.

The image of a man who wastes time. We often do not give enough importance to time, we take it for granted and do not know to use it well. Wasting time concept.

G:  My greatest time wasters are . .

P:  How do I waste my time?  Let me count the ways….

Today I seemed to be like one of those plastic bags floating about whichever way the wind blew.  And for the record, it was and still is incredibly windy in my neck of the woods.  Consequently, I’ve been everywhere, man.

Yes, I managed to cross a few things off my list but it felt like no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t take the deep dive into doing the kind of really productive work I usually reserve for Fridays from 4:30-6pm or right before leaving on vacation.

The greater challenge is focus. That’s why I’ve attempted more 21 and 30-day challenges in the past year than I ever have. These periods of sustained focus help me practice discipline and give me confidence that I can achieve what I set out to do.

Make no mistake. They are brutal.  But they are absolutely essential to catapulting me out of my comfort zone and into the productivity zone. Read more about this in this post.

To quote Michael Hyatt,We lose our way when we lose our why.” Today my why went missing. 

The best thing I can do in the morning is to state my intentions and map out a game plan for the day.  I’ve recently discovered a method called Future Mapping that is surprisingly useful and gets my creative juices flowing.

Just the act of being intentional about the direction I’d like my day to go can make a huge difference.  Especially when I add the way I want to feel to the mix.

Could I have grabbed that free flowing plastic bag of thought bubbles out of the air and grounded them at will today?  If I hadn’t been so enamored with the buoyancy of drifting through the day, yes. I’ve been on a regimented schedule for the past couple of weeks and I needed to decompress today.

But tomorrow I must reign it in and put professional Penny back in the driver’s seat so I can promote an event, answer questions, advise students, and write. Because this is what we do. We create. We produce. We deliver. No matter what.

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What about you?  What are your greatest time wasters? Have you ever thought something was going to be a waste of time only to have it change your life or vice versa?  Share if you dare in the comments below.  To have Gillian send you a post, contact her at www.gillianpearce.com.

Could You Be Part of a 4am Conspiracy?

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It’s 4am on a Saturday. I think about the TED talk by poet Rives detailing his theory about four in the morning and all the references to it in films, songs, and other works of art. Clearly this is the bewitching hour, the time when downloads from the divine are most likely to occur, the time we walk between the worlds of waking and dreaming.
If I’m lucky, I’m sleeping at 4am. Not because I’m opposed to the particular gifts that 4am bestows, but because I desperately need the sleep.
So much depends on a good night’s sleep. From my attitude to the way my body metabolizes nutrients and burns calories to the way my brain processes thoughts to the amount of energy at my disposal, sleep is a biggie in my book.
The unbearable lightness of being a light sleeper is that anything and everything can jolt me out of dreamland and into full on monkey mind chatter that requires more than a few brain bananas to pacify.
If my noise cancelling headphones are near my bed and miraculously attached to my iPod which is geared up to my sleep paraliminal meditation and happens to be next to my Rescue Sleep Bach Flower Remedy, I have a chance of falling back to sleep.
Otherwise, the best thing to do is get up and blog.
I think about my friend Gillian from the UK who I met in Los Angeles in January. She is back in Los Angeles this weekend and most likely awake at 4am due to serious jet lag mixed with excitement and information overload from three days of brainstorming with her Mastermind group.
I am filled with excitement as well. I’m teaching the material I’m learning in my coaching program and meeting incredible people along the way. From the participants to the guest speakers, people are opening their hearts and minds to me. Consequently, I’m brimming with purpose and consumed with creating meaningful change and immense value.
I’m also apprehensive. My dog Abbey, the instigator of this 4am wake up call, has grown old and uncomfortable almost overnight.  Suddenly she has something going on with her eyes that is serious enough to warrant an 8am vet visit. My heart is heavy with sadness for this sweet dog who waits on the step for me every night and wags her tail profusely as soon as I return from work. Her unconditional love, loyalty, and companionship have healed my heart more times than I can count. Now I need to do whatever I can to help her heal and bring her ease and comfort.

This morning that meant letting her out to sit under a tree and sniff the air. When I went out to retrieve my retriever, the grass and trees glistened like an enchanted forest. No wonder she wanted out.  She wanted to play her part in the 4am conspiracy.

She’s now sleeping blissfully, having accomplished her mission of getting me up and at the keyboard. She knows a writer needs solitude and silence, the precise conditions present at 4am.
At some point today, after my words have found their way into the blogosphere and Abbey’s eyes have been examined and soothed, perhaps I’ll curl up next to her and nap. Until then, I have to assume sleeping in on Saturday or Sunday is a covert  attempt to conceal the 4am conspiracy theory.
What about you? Is there a time when you are perpetually perplexed, vexed, or called to create? Are there certain times during the day or night that compel you to act?  Share in the comments below.