It's interesting to be a solo-preneur as I approach retirement age. I've been able to let go of the societal, workplace prejudice about the "older American" and tired work habits, and really delve into work that delights me.
Are there workplaces which truly value the skill that older people can bring to their businesses? I haven't found them. But an experienced worker as a freelancer...now that's another situation.
The entrepreneur's image is necessarily based on their work ethic, personality and talent. A young adult stepping out into entrepreneurship may be perceived as not yet having the skill and authority necessary to not only run a business, but also to provide superior service to clients.
However, a middle-aged individual (and older) has reserves of business and life experience just waiting to be tapped. The sage, the expert, the wisdom-keeper. Assuming we have good work records, we have earned the respect of our associates and network. People tend to think, "Well, if he (she) has come this far, he (she) must have a lot to offer."
I am happier in work than I have ever been, and happier in my life as well. These, of course, are closely intertwined. Now, I am grateful for that shove off the cliff, although at the time I was terrified. I have, like that wonderful bottle of Cabernet, aged to perfection...and I know I will share my "sage-ness" with clients for years to come!
Everyone is talking about resolutions for a new year - pro or con? Or about goals - pro or con? I prefer the concept of visions. No, not mystic visions, although those are fine too! But as a process of manifestation, I like the idea of creating a vision of not only what I want my life to look like, but how I want it to feel.
Many spiritual teachers talk of using emotions as your guideposts, and I agree. For decades we've heard about, "My gut instinct was...." When you are faced with a decision, for example, and one solution feels better than the other, then that's the one I'd go with. My "higher self" knows what she's doing, mingled in there with all the other spiritual energy and guidance available to me. She communicates with feelings.
When I feel "off" I know that feeling is a message, and I quietly seek the reason behind it. Sometimes there is no actual solution, as it's a temporary energetic imbalance. But sometimes the feeling is related to my thoughts, or something I should not have eaten with food sensitivities, or perhaps something I'm contemplating doing.
I remember what life was like when my feelings were awful and I didn't know that they were symptoms. My creations were usually negative. Many years later, now I have seen the results of using positive feelings to guide me to achieving my visions. And when I feel and express gratitude for my creations, I get more of them!
I like the multi-sensory (i.e. holistic) approach: vision board (literally, vision), aromatherapy, movement (keeping the energy flowing), drawing or writing my goals (kinetic), meditation. These tools allow me to connect with those wiser energies to make my visions, what and who I want to be, with a physical reality.
However you do it, allow yourself to vision for the new year!
It's a well-known fact that the holiday season (or any time of celebration, for that matter) can be a challenge after the loss of a loved one. Good cheer, family gatherings, parties, music and decorations all lose something when your life has lost someone important to you (human or animal). This was very fresh and raw for me last year after the loss of my 30-year best friend and her son (within a day of each other), but this year will be better.
I won't get into the clinical/advice aspect of dealing with grief; that's not my point here. I do want to address how I've dealt with it, in case others may find it helpful. Warning: exposed vulnerability!
My Christmas holiday was for a very long time spent with my now-deceased friends, my "family of choice," with much laughter, singing, wonderful food, and warmth. And so last Christmas found me alone, hurting, caught in that troublesome place between longing to be with someone who loved me and wanting desperately to be alone to grieve. Push-me-pull-you. Wishing for that feeling of fun and mystery I had as a young child and with my friends, and knowing it was no longer there.
This year I have healed a bit from that urgency of grief. I take great joy in decorating and music, traditions, coziness, even if just for me - always have. I know for a fact that what I focus on grows, and so, with a clearer heart and whether I'm alone or not, my intent this year is to truly savor my experiences, my close friends, the joys of nature and the season. To know that life does indeed go on. And that the love and warmth I feel will only grow from here.
Make it the happiest of holiday seasons! And so it is.
I recently wrote about how important it is to incorporate play into your time. Play can be a component of "down time" if it is restful, but if play for you is competing in sports, running, or other physical activity, it's also important to remember to rest.
I've always been a hard worker, and as you fellow entrepreneurs know, running your own business is more work than you may have expected. I love the work I do for my clients, and find it vastly fulfilling, but I tire more easily that I used to. (We all know sitting in front of a computer for hours is not healthy!)
Even after all these years as a VA, I am just now getting to the point where I remember to take frequent breaks. Every hour or so I stand and stretch, do some Tai Chi moves, or deep breathing. I take at least half an hour for lunch, and include some light housework (which I usually find restful), light reading, or simply gazing out into the woods. Then in the mid-afternoon, I'll take another "consciousness" break for a few minutes to get away from the computer and back into the real world. What an incredible difference this practice has made in my mood, stamina and productivity!
One problem many business owners struggle with is keeping strict office hours. It's easy when working from home to get so lost in the deadlines that you skip meals, rise too early, go to bed too late, and forget to hydrate. I know a business owner who has made himself so busy that he has neglected his spouse, the properties he owns, and indeed his own well-being. There can be nothing effective or efficient about that!
Take a few moments now to bring to your consciousness how often you rest during the work week. "Log off" often throughout your day, and then at the appropriate time for your business and family situation, "shut down" and let tomorrow take care of itself!
I have noticed several times in recent years that I don't play enough. And I think that's the case for many people. We get so caught up in the "must do" and "oughtta do" that we ignore the "wanna do."
Play, of course, can mean different things to different people. Racing or working out may be play for some, while artistic projects may be for others. Sometimes play is recreation, sometimes stillness, and sometimes creativity. The key is that playfulness is its own reward; the goal is not results but enjoyment.
I've always been a fairly solitary person, but what defines play for me depends on my mood. Sometimes it's having fun with friends at the local medieval fair, and sometimes it's spending hours reading a wonderful book with a cup of tea. Although I can't relate to those for whom play is very competitive or action-driven, I can understand how these activities would appeal to people.
Regardless of what play looks like for you, make sure you actually DO it! All work and no play doesn't just make Jack a dull boy, it leads to all sorts of stress-related dis-ease and emotional disturbance! We are human BE-ings, and enjoyment of that BE-ing is key to a healthy, holistic lifestyle.
It was late on a Friday evening, nearing the end of set-up of the holistic fair I manage. The event takes place in a local Universalist church, and we had the large double doors at the small lobby in the front of the building open for loading in supplies and vendor materials. Above these doors is a large window. There is a second set of double doors on the inside of this lobby area (also propped open) with an open sort of artistic framework within the transom above.
Suddenly a bird flew into the room, and (luckily) immediately back out again. However, it went only so far as the exterior wall. This starling sat on the small ledge at the bottom of the window above the exterior doors and looked around, occasionally fluttering up to bash against the glass. He continued this for at least ten minutes, struggling against a seemingly impenetrable block while ten inches below was...a wide open exit!
Is this not a message for life? We get so caught up in fluttering, striking against obstacles, fighting for what we think is freedom, frustrated by lack of motion and blocks along our journey. When if we get still and pay attention, a clear, obvious solution is right under our noses!
The struggle and frustration are what we're focused on, and so the Universe obligingly gives us more of that. "Why are you complaining? You asked for confusion!" It is in the stillness, the observation, the noticing that the healing takes place...the motion...the opportunity...the blessing...the opening!
Be still, and observe!
Recently in a spiritual gathering, the question was raised, "What if I'm wrong?" We were discussing fundamental religions, as I recall, but the question could be asked in many settings.
What if I'm wrong in my adamant, strict political view?
What if I'm wrong about what religion is the right one?
What if I'm wrong about the judgment I made about that person?
What if I'm wrong about gender preferences and relationships?
What if I'm wrong about the cause of what's wrong in the world?
What if I'm wrong about how I do this particular task?
What if I'm wrong about what my boss thinks?
What if I'm wrong about "them"?
Think about it. Whatever belief you hold onto the tightest, whatever you most believe to be true... what if it was NOT true? What if you found incontestable proof that an alternative viewpoint was true instead? How readily would you change your thoughts? What no-longer-needed emotions or thought-forms could you release? I'm not suggesting that you immediately force yourself to change. Instead, I'm suggesting that you examine the open mind...the open heart.
And...here's a really good question...what if you could release those now? Release all judgment, all condemnation, all righteousness? What if you simply lived your live according to the principle, "Love one another." What would happen then, in your life, and in the world?
Imagine that every tiny act of kindness (a smile, a donation, a referral, a service) generates a seed of light. (In my world, light = love.)
And focus for a moment on the idea of co-creation - we create our world by our focus and intention.
Pair those two thoughts - what magic we can create!
If we sow light-seeds several times a day, and those around us do likewise, what kind of world are we creating?
What can you do today to plant seeds of light?
Pet an animal. Feed the birds. Mindfully deadhead your garden to make room for new growth. Appreciate your healthy lawn.
Help your elderly neighbor with groceries or yard work. Refer business associates who would support each other. Call your mother. Smile at the cashier.
Donate to a charitable cause. Participate in trash clean-up. Respectfully write to a politician with your opinion. Donate time to a food pantry or homeless shelter.
Every act, no matter how small or large, creates a ripple effect, a wave or net of love and appreciation.
If you want to learn more about this concept and live in Northeast Ohio, I invite you to participate in my workshop, Sowing Seeds of Light, on May 20 in Mentor, Ohio.
More information here:
I just finished reading a fascinating - and creepy as all heck - book by one of my favorite authors, Dean Koontz. The very short synopsis is that it's about a man who has held onto a past traumatic event, constantly worrying it, remembering, going over each moment as if he could change it in the present, driven by the past crisis even while marrying and raising a wonderful family.
In the process, and not until the very intense turning point, he realizes that by constantly re-living the event, he has recreated it in his current life.
Koontz is a master storyteller and has the talent for deep thought, and for creating huge "WOW" moments in his stories. Here's the WOW I took from the book: We miss the joys of the current moment, and we attract the trauma or sadness or mishap, every time we relive unhappiness in our past.
As you'd know by now, I'm a firm believer in Law of Attraction and have had miracles in my life from this mindset, so Koontz's moral doesn't come as anything new to me. But in the subtlety of the lesson throughout the whole book, I realized at the climax of the story that I'd missed this main point. Perhaps Koontz meant for that to be the case.
Only light can cast out darkness. And by focusing on light in this, the present moment, we let go of any darkness that tries to keep hold. I know this from my own life. Learn to let go of any darkness in your own past in whatever way is healthy for you, so that you can clearly see the light, right here in front of you.
If you don't know of the movie "Gaslight" with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, find it and watch it. It is a superb suspense film full of mood and character. The focus is on the gradual, deliberate manipulation of a wife by her husband, to convince the wife and anyone who knows her that she is delusional. One of the chief ways he does this is to dim the gas lights in the house but insist to the wife, when she wonders why the lights dimmed, that they did not and she's seeing things.
It is unfortunate that this scenario is too often played out in our "real world." The abused wife whose husband undermines everything she says and does. The boss who tries to convince his staff that he did not say or do what he really did say or do. The political or religious leader who convinces followers that they are powerless.
With ready access to tools for communication and for assistance, it is more important than ever to speak up when someone is being gaslighted. It's time to be aware of and never lose sight of our individual power. I have been powerless, and in the past gave up my power out of learned habit. But no longer. Whether in a personal, professional or political situation, remember who you are. Remind others of who they are - powerful, creative, talented individuals. Leave gaslighting to the movies!