It’s been a year: She did it!!!

IMG_2465Cannot believe it, but it’s true. One year ago today, I colored my hair for the last time. In the months that followed I have had ups and downs, but have managed to keep my cool and go on. Must say once again: I love my new look!!! My hair shines, has a life of its own and I feel liberated.

Have you seen those Daily Horoscopes that come as junk into your email? I receive one everyday. Do not open them, just read the introductory sentence and delete them. Never believe in horoscopes, but find them intriguing. So many people follow these messages and do nothing without consulting them. In my case, more than once I have found these title sentences match my mood, my challenges on that day or simply I can relate to them. Who would have known!!! Today my message said: NEW FREEDOMS. How appropriate.

In the past year, I have encountered very positive reactions, but have also seen smirks, half smiles and some head shakes. What to do. Life is not meant to be lived by other people standards. Keeping positive about this has taught me more about myself than I could have learned any other way.

I want to thank my friends that encouraged me, the ones that told me I look great and they wish they were brave enough do the same and the ones that have praised my courage. I also want to thank the ones that predicted doom and gloom and old age, the ones that tried to make me see the error of my ways and the ones that told me this would never come to anything…..I would just give up and color my hair again. Most importantly, I want to thank everyone for following my journey. Thank you so much for being there with good advise or warnings. Thank you for your praise or your subtle mockery. I feel wonderful and I feel better than I have in years!!!!

One more time, here is my journey in pictures:IMG_0858

Just when I decided to go grey, as you can see I look a bit surprised!!!  Was not exactly sure if I was doing the right thing or what color would be uncovered after so many years of coloring. Glad I didn’t pay attention to those thoughts.

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Then I had grey roots, not a good look, but I was still determined. After all, my hair was still long and I could pull it back in a ponytail!!! This was the worst time. I really needed some help.

 

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Camille came to the rescue and I was treated to highlights. They looked fantastic and gave me a few weeks of peace of mind.

 

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Of course, soon enough I had to make another decision. I found out that what I needed was lowlights!!! Another trip to the salon and the first haircut. Not unhappy about the results and I gained another few weeks of relative peace.

 

Not a dull moment…….I needed another haircut because I was running out of patience with my multicolor hair. Was very pleased with the results and the time that I was given. Unfortunately,  we uncovered a problem….too much blond on one side, too much grey on the other. It seemed like I was destined to forgo my idea of doing this without cutting my hair too short.IMG_1800

 

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 “In for a penny, in for a pound” as the Brits say. Another haircut took care of the multicolor look.

Finally, I have a full head of grey hair…….short grey hair…… but the color is gone!!! Yeah!!!!! I am so glad I tossed that bottle, so glad I listened to myself. As challenges go, this was not as difficult as I thought. It was not as easy either. One thing is certain: I have found ME and I love her. Now to let my hair grow, enjoy the new me and share the results.IMG_2459

 

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Tossing Out Control!!!

DSC00706Yes, the time has come and not too soon. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be controlling.……if you know me, you know. Having some saying in what is going on around me is important to me. Well, at least it was until recently. Don’t get me wrong, I have not achieved this tossing yet, but I am listening. I still have to bite my tongue sometimes when I think I know best and should enlighten my family, friends, even strangers. A very annoying practice indeed……

In our quest to control, we lose sight of the fact of people’s reaction to our interference. All we see is that we know the answer, we know best, we can help if only people listen. A control freak just doesn’t see beyond his/her nose. Consequently, we seem out of touch. Still, we are so caught up in our own world, we fail to understand what is going on. Being in control is too much of a high!!!

For me, coming to the decision to toss out control, was gradual. I kept feeling that my comments and suggestions were not longer accepted of sought or even listened to!!! Comments from family and friends, nicely phrased and generally gently delivered, were becoming more common. There was no mistaking the obvious: I was overstepping into their lives. More importantly, I could be undermining their self-confidence. What a discovery……and why did it take so long?

IMG_1088Now, when it came to just everyone else, I was doing the same. If I heard a comment, if I read an opinion…….I was ready to put out my take on the situation. It was something I did without thinking and I was not always gentle about it. Of course, it is human to have opinions, it is alright to have different opinions or solutions to a given problem, but we must never assume ours is better or right or more important.

This takes me to another subject: being right. I remember arguments that were so unnecessary, so unimportant. The need to be right, to correct what we see as mistakes could be very powerful…….and irrelevant. Even if our solution or opinion could save the world, there would still be others out there who would disagree. So tossing out control, should go hand in hand with tossing out being right!!

In the end, what has fueled the need to toss out control and listen to a new way has been the fact that when we try to control everything, we enjoy nothing. We get caught up in our own world, we don’t listen to others, we can become isolated from our family and friends even if we see them everyday. Besides, there is much to enjoy and much to share.

This will be a challenge, no doubts about it. Something I have done for years and felt I was right in doing so needs to change. The time has come to accept others know what they are doing, their opinions might be right or wrong, but it’s not of my business. Everyone has to live their lives as they see fit and no amount of interfering will change that fact.

As with everything I am tossing in my life, I need to balance it with listening to a new idea, a new way and a new perspective. This time I am listening to others, paying attention to what they say and mean. This give and take has served me well so far as I continue to learn and to grow. In the end, it all will be for the best!!!

 

P.S. I used to buy orchid plants in bloom. So I needed new ones all the time, now I care for them and they keep blooming. Thought I share…….there is a lesson here too!!

Letting Go of Perfect

Women are perfectionists, or so I have been told. I know I tend to be. Unfortunately, this is a difficult trait to have. Still, women insist on having things just so. There is an innate desire in women to have everything perfect, and perfect doesn’t exist.

I have learned that wanting to be perfect can bring us down and make us unhappy….without reason!! We want to have perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect body, perfect relationships and perfect life. A tall order indeed and I will attempt to tackle this unrealistic wish.

In our youth, when we were so clever and thought we could change everything, we relish the fact that we looked good….at least some of us did!! We were admired, we made men turn their heads to look at us, we thought we were so hot…..at least some of us did!! The thought that changes will come hardly ever entered our thoughts, did it? Well, we should have paid attention.

When Time moved on and left its marks on us: wrinkles, grey hair, sagging skin, some of us couldn’t grasp the onslaught. It was too much and we were not ready. Never mind the emotional and mental upheaval. Other events like divorce, losing a spouse and starting over alone, becoming an empty-nester, being made redundant, retirement, came as well seemingly at once. We were overwhelmed and rightly so. What to do? How to overcome these changes?

Suddenly, we had to let go of perfect. Easier said than done and a lot of us tried to hold on…..at any cost. There were creams and surgery, untold hours at the gym, diets, supplements, fillers and Botox. Nothing was left to chance for many of us. Of course nothing can stop Time, its course is steady. Others looked for different solutions and found that Life can be so liberating once perfect is out of the way.

It wasn’t easy. Journalist Vivian Gornick, said: “Tomorrow is here. Now I am accountable. Now I must do it. More important will I?” Indeed, will I do what I know is necessary to live my life to its fullest? Accepting what we cannot change is hard, but it’s the only way forward. So some of us, just breathed deeply, looked ahead and tried to walk though this new stage. After all, the alternative was worse. This doesn’t mean we let ourselves go. We just decided we would not go to extremes.

As others before me, I decided to age gracefully, to accept that Time will win regardless of what I do to stop it. Do not get me wrong, I intent to do this with a plan. My first step was to Toss aside all my preconceived ideas about aging. Before you say anything, I want to say it was not easy and definitely not pleasant at the beginning. We live in a society that worships youth. There are few examples of fabulous women of a certain age out there. This is because the media doesn’t really pay attention to them!!! Think Helen Mirren, Christine Lagarde….I am sure you can come up with many more. Older men, however, are everywhere and are called things like statesman and other exalted names.

Here are some of the things I have been Listening to in the last year or so:

I have accepted that this time in my life is mine, it’s for me to be ME. This is very important. Women tend to have time for everyone in their lives. They play every role and most of us do it without complain. It is time to do for us. I allow myself to take ME time when I need it and strive not to explain.

I have listened to myself and realized that it is alright to be assertive. This can be a real struggle, but it’s so satisfying. As I have said before, say NO when you mean NO and YES only when you really want to. To quote journalist Katherine Weissman: “Over the years I have learned to assert my rights, own my successes, get angry and not apologize so damned often”……a lesson all women should learn!!

I have decided to truly like myself as I am aging. Looking in the mirror is painful for many older women. Accepting who we have become is the only way to live at peace with ourselves. No amount of wishes will stop the changes we are experiencing……but there are ways to make the best of them. Really, there are!!! Embrace yourself, feel beautiful in your own right, be happy and this will show in the way you look, the way you carry yourself and the way you live your life. “Make an asset of your flaws. Wear feathered hats and high heels shoes. Affect an English accent. Carry a falcon on your wrist.” Tina Howe, playwright. Isn’t this a marvelous quote?

Of course, I also have let my hair go grey and I am loving every minute of this journey. Today, my daughter told me I look and act so much happier now. Since I changed my look, she says, I am a different person. Love it!!!

Finally, hats off to the women that have always coped beautifully with the changes age brings. They accept and get ahead without much bother. I admire them!! Now, if like me, you are not one of them…….please try some of these ideas.

P.S. The quotes on this post come for a most wonderful book I just discovered:

In the Fullness of Time by Emily W. Upham and Linda Gravenson

It is an anthology of essays by 32 women about life and aging. Do yourself a favor and get it!!

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Toss and Don’t Replace……

IMG_1678I know this seems contradictory, but is not. Let’s talk about material things, the ones we accumulate constantly and then have no idea what we are going to do with them. We all do it and we should stop. George Carlin, the famous comedian and linguistics genius, once said that we work to make money to buy stuff, we even keep buying bigger houses to put our stuff……..Sadly, he was so right!!! The world has become one big pile of stuff. We all contribute and we all are guilty of not doing enough to stop. Never mind the thousands and thousands of landfills we fill every year with our trash, rubbish, garbage or whatever we want to call it.

This week, I went to help Frankie’s aunts pack. They are elderly and are moving again this Summer. Haven’t found the place yet, but they need to get rid of tons of stuff. When they retired, they moved in together and each brought her stuff. Very little was tossed at the time, I am sure!!! Now, with advancing age, so-so health and only two months to do it…..this has become a monumental chore.

Driving back home, I started thinking about all the stuff I am still  accumulating, be it stuff I buy or stuff I get as presents. What have I been doing? Do I want my children one day  to do what I did for my mother? or what I am doing for the aunts? Suddenly everything became very clear, there is no need for me to worry, I had the solution!!! I will not buy anything new and I will accept NO MORE gifts of things I need to pack and unpack. I have enough tea-sets, mugs, cups and saucers, dishes….etc… to give away or make two families happy. I can have coffee mornings for 12 or more, serve dinner for 12, entertain my whole family without having to resort to paper plates (God forbid!!) and have people over for drinks and serve my munchies in the nicest dishes. Enough!

I know this is not really de-cluttering, but I will assume it is. If you get no more stuff, you don’t need a bigger place, you don’t fret about things getting lost or broken during your next move…….De-cluttering used to be an excuse to get more stuff. Until my last move, I was in the don’t buy unless you are replacing mode. Not anymore, now I just want to toss, not replace. It’s a decision that came very naturally.

De-cluttering will mean, from now on, not getting anything I have to keep. I will buy only what can be used and dispose of after a period of time. I will get only what I can discard or give away, things like clothes, sheets and towels, books. Or things that get used up like make-up, perfume, toiletries. This is a real breakthrough!!!

There are things I will still be carrying with me, I know. My photo albums, my picture frames, my paintings, my journals, things my children made for me through the years…..I am a mother, after all, and these are part of my life forever. Now, everything they left with me, to store or take care of, that needs to go. They are adults and have lives of their own. They should start getting their clutter in their homes! It’s the way life works. This feel great!!!!

So on that happy mood, I arrived at my house. Immediately made plans for removing all the stuff I have been getting ready to give away. We have a guest bathroom and it hasn’t been used in months…….it is full of all the stuff I have taken out of closets, kitchen cabinets and drawers. Never fear, I already started making the rounds. Sale Rack, where I sold my gently worn clothes etc., was my first stop. The This “n” That charity shop was visited today. The Salvation Army will get the rest. I am already breathing a sigh of relief!!!

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What I learned in Baltimore!!!! (Part two)

P1150992I am afraid of flying, something I don’t see changing in the near future, but that is another post, another challenge. It gets so bad, just buying my ticket gets me into a panic mode. Short trips are the worst, all the anxiety without time in between to relax for the next leg of the trip. So our weekend trip to Baltimore presented its challenges. Fortunately, I have decided to Toss and Listen. In other words, a time for learning and I did.

These are simple and obvious lessons that I never spent time considering before. What was I thinking?

I don’t have to take part in any planning to enjoy the trip!! Camille and Frankie planned the whole thing with Frank’s help. After years of involvement in planning vacations, this was the best lesson. Yes, they can plan and execute without me having to decide or arrange anything. Tickets were bought, hotel reservations made, where were we going for dinner or what attractions to visit: all planned to the last detail. Splendid! All I had to do was pack my suitcase. There was something to learn from that as well.

You can take everything you need for a weekend trip in just a carry-on bag. You might think this was a given…..but then you don’t know me well. I dislike dragging a bag, pass all the TSA inspectors at the airport and then take it on board, lift the thing up to the overhead compartment, take it down when you arrive. I have refused to do this for ages. On a short trip, I’ve learned finally, this is better. Who would have known? Now, there is a trick in the packing for a short trip.

Pack only what you need. Yes, another news flash. Mix and match clothing, shoes that are comfortable and stylish, preferably two pairs only. I always pack so much, for every trip. The reality is: do not carry three sweaters if two are enough! Nowadays, all toiletries come in travel sizes: take advantage!!! If not, use the ones offered by the hotel. Travel size make-up and perfume are also available! Time to accept the inevitable.

These three seem so obvious, you might be laughing at this point. For me, these were lessons I had refused to learned for years. Leaving the planning to others was the easiest to learn. I can get used to that AND probably will. The carry-on bag and the selective packing were a bit harder, but I can do that as well. After all, if I have to carry the suitcase, I might as well pack light!!

Once we got past the planning and packing, there was the flight and the hotel. Relax with a drink as soon as you get on the plane and if the flight is bumpy……you’d not feel a thing! The hotel is another thing:  I like nice, fluffy pillows and enough covers to keep me warm. The bed should not be hard and I am picky about the room, the size, the temperature, what to do?. So you will not be surprised by what’s next.

I am too old to give up my comforts!!! This is not a lesson in itself, just a realization, but it is SO important. For years, I have been a bit accepting, telling myself: it’s a short trip, I only go to the room to sleep, we can compromise.  Well, I finally accepted that there are things in life you don’t compromise on. Let’s change rooms if we don’t like the first one we get. Ask for fresh towels everyday, sorry about the environment! Once you have the room you need, make good use of it.

Go back to the hotel during the day and take a nap. I am sure some of you think this is a given. It usually is on long trips, but never on short trips. After all, we are there for a short time, let us walk and visit and do as much as possible…we’ll rest later. Not anymore: if I walk all day and visit every museum and attraction, I’d be in NO condition to go out and enjoy my dinner….and I’ll be cranky!  Logically, get back, kick off your shoes and take a power nap before going out again. It works beautifully, especially if the weather is not to your liking. Age has it benefits, don’t forget it. You don’t have to look old or feel old, you just have to take advantage of the age thing.

Slow down and sit down if needed!!! Where is it written that you have to keep up? Traveling is a pleasure, not a marathon. Walk ahead and sit on that comfortable bench, they will come to you in time. Put your feet up while admiring a painting or sculpture. Sit down and have a cup of tea or a drink while others wander around. These are nothing new, but before, I felt a bit guilty doing them: not anymore. Accept your limitations and you’ll enjoy yourself more, trust me! I have nothing to prove to anyone and it feels great.

In keeping with my early proposal of taking each moment and make it the best it can be, I will apply these lessons when I travel from now on. Who knows, traveling might be easier and less stressful for me and whoever travels with me. That is the best lesson I learned in Baltimore!!!

2014 and How to keep your Resolutions!!!

It’s a New Year and as in every year, we make resolutions. We tell ourselves that we have been given the chance to start over and make things work out this time around. Unfortunately, it is a small minority sticking to their resolutions. I often wondered why…such good intentions and nothing to show for them at the end of the year. There must be a reason, I said, and what I found was: we take the big picture, trying to carry out too much and failing in doing so. Try one thing at a time, one day at a time.

There is also that we are not taking the real meaning of the word into consideration. I might be absolutely wrong on this one, won’t be the first time. Still, a small voice tells me I might be unto something this year. What are resolutions, after all? Here is the definition:

res·o·lu·tion
ˌrezəˈlo͞oSHən/
noun
plural noun: resolutions
1.
a firm decision to do or not to do something.
“she kept her resolution not to see Anne any more”
2.
the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.
“the peaceful resolution of all disputes”

It is fairly clear, isn’t it? Resolutions are good intentions, aims we mean to meet….but wait….there is another meaning. Resolutions are actions of solving problems!!! Now things get clear. We need to take action to achieve, we need to act to solve. With this in mind, let the New Year begin.

Writing things down always helps me. Making lists is still very much a part of my life, let’s write what we want from this New Year. I don’t know about you, but I believe we must know what we want before we can have it. If you don’t know, you will wander aimlessly, wasting time and energy.

Please do not write things like: I want to lose weight, I want a new job, I want to travel. Being vague will get you nowhere. Be specific: I need to get in shape, so I am signing up for yoga or Pilates this week. Same thing applies when you want to travel: I will visit my friend in Holland in the Spring. Then start making this possible: investigate ticket prices, dates you can go. Or if you want a new job: how much you want to earn, are you ready to get into something you really love? Make inquiries about the possibility of changing jobs. Be positive and do your research!

We also tend to ignore our inner selves. We don’t pay attention anymore to what makes us happy. That is a big mistake. Our younger selves used to take risks and try new things. Nowadays, we are more serious and cautious, more careful….and not happy!! Listen and make yourself do small things at the beginning: change your hair color or get a new haircut, buy that dress that makes you feel sexy, treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure. A visit to the salon will do wonders for your self-esteem, I should know. The new me is going grey and my hair has movement and shine. Have a drink with a girlfriend on a week night…small steps. Follow your intuition.

In this time and age, we tend to be so negative. Always focusing in what is wrong with our lives, with our jobs, with our family…..maybe it is the fact that what is wrong is what sells. Everyone focuses on the negative. Toss all that: how about finding out what are you doing right that is making you healthier? or what is happening in your life that is making you happy? Seems nobody is interested, well, you should be. Sit and write these positive things. I am starting a diary about the positive changes I will be making this year and how my life becomes better!!! I will be sure I keep up my Gratitude Journal. Remember the craze about this in the 1990s? It was a brilliant idea, we should start the trend again!!!

Finally, remain in the present. There is nothing we can do about the past, except learn from it!! Some of us just don’t want to look too far into the future, it can be uncertain. That is true, but we can do things now to shape it to our advantage. Take time to get to know what you want, it’s never too late. Trust yourself and follow your passion. Enjoy every day and every moment. This year is a blank book, fill it with the best stories you have written yet and keep making memories…..

Stress-Free Thanksgiving

imagesThis is the time to give thanks. We should do this everyday, but the idea of millions gathering with family and friends to give thanks for the blessings they have received, it’s amazing!! It gives us a warm feeling, so we celebrate. Of course, as with everything else we do as a celebration, Thanksgiving comes with much planning and hard work. Most people love precisely that and thrive on the stress and anxiety of it all. Good for you, I say.

However, this is not the case with many of us. After years of celebrating at home and stressing for days, we want something different. For the ones that find this holiday overwhelming, let’s find a better way. Yes, why not take charge of the celebration and do it your way. You still want to share with your family, right? There is a way and you can do it.

Toss aside the stress, hassle and hard work of the holiday. Listen instead to this idea for a family gathering with all the warmth of sharing with the people you love. Plan a pot-luck Thanksgiving dinner. It is not a novel idea, but it’s ideal. You’ll see. The planning would be all you do. Make a list of everyone attending. Make another list of the things that would be needed: main courses, appetizers, desserts, drinks, plates and cutlery, napkins and such. Send these lists to everyone. Flatter the ones that love to cook into bringing their favorite dishes. The ones that do not cook can bring the rest! Remember to ask for volunteers for setting up and cleaning up. Make it fun, getting people involved and excited. You’ll enjoy the day and this could be the last year you cook and stress and end up exhausted!!

This is possible, believe me!!! Since my husband and I are empty nesters, we do not celebrate at home. I did this for years because this is my favorite holiday. Nowadays, the thought of cooking for more than four people sends me into a panic attack!! Thankfully, now that we live in Miami, we have been offer a solution. We join his very large family. I prepare a dish, we bring some wine and help with anything once we get there. We spend some time with them and partake of the goodies in moderation. We then go to my sister Ana. She is a wonderful cook and loves to entertain and her husband is a great host. The gathering is much smaller, we savor the excellent food and drinks, conversation is relaxed. We come home sated and happy. Perfect!!!

Civility…..is it dead?

14_14This I have learned and continue to learn:  Civility has been tossed out the window and very few people seem to mind. Am I being old-fashioned? Am I showing my age? Well, so be it. It is driving me to distraction. Why can’t people be civil? It is an undeniable truth: good manners can get you results.

There is no age in good manners and there is nothing wrong with behaving with civility. Cannot be blamed only on the fact that technology has taken over. Yes, communicating via mobile phones, emails, social networks, has become a way of life. That is all fantastic, it’s the future, it’s the world moving forward. Still, I feel this has made us forget human contact. Face to face exchanges have become so rare, eye contact almost non-existent. Let’s not mention the need to exchange ideas with spoken words.

Exchanging ideas, there is another casualty. Answering curtly is the rule of the day. Could it be that this is the way we behave when we live in big places? There is no time to get to know each other, no desire to exchange pleasantries, not need to be nice. That is sad and frustrating. Too much to do, too little time!

Big cities don’t lend themselves to warm relationships. All work and no play is a way of life. We commute from home to work. Once there, we deal with deadlines, demanding boss, competition. Commute back home. When we get there, we need to solve every crisis that has presented itself during the time we were away at work. We need to complete tasks started before we can start new ones. Then we sit to watch the 24 hours cable news, comedies, dramas, sport events and other so called entertainment. Sitting around the dinner table is a thing of the past, and if it happens…there is little to talk about. We are cranky, upset, tired and have no patience for anyone. No wonder we explode in uncivil behavior.

When we are outside the home, we behave in the same manner. We are impatient and rude and want to get our way quickly before we move on to another thing. Is it me or shopping has become a chore most of us dread? Rude sales people, rude customers and all done at high speed! Nothing is done at a leisurely pace, there is no time. We must remember that civilization comes from civility. How is civilization going to survive is civility is the first casualty of modernization?

This is unfortunate because you can get so many things done, so much accomplished when you’re civil! Let’s listen and get back to simple things, paying attention to what is said to us before we react. We have to remember how to answer, how to ask for things and how to say please and thank you. How to smile at people!  Try it, it will surprise you!!!

No is a Complete Sentence: Be Assertive

This is a very hard one: a challenge women face everyday, no matter where they live and who they are. Every woman I know seems to be always saying yes when she means no. Women have been programmed to meet everyone else’s needs leaving their own unattended. It is nothing we are doing wrong, or something we do to ourselves. It is just the way it has been and is for so many of us. It’s time to toss that concept, don’t you think?

At this stage of my life, I feel I owe myself more time, more dedication, more care. Don’t you feel the same way? There is nothing wrong with that, no matter how badly we feel about it. Consequently, we need to start becoming assertive.

Now, that is a tricky word. This is how Collins English Dictionary defines it:

assertive [əˈsɜːtɪv]adj

1. confident and direct in claiming one’s rights or putting forward one’s views

2. given to making assertions or bold demands; dogmatic or aggressive

You can imagine……more than a few of us would have a problem with this. We do not want to appear too bold or aggressive, or too set in our ways. Absolutely out of the question! Even worse, we do not want to rock the boat and put our family, friends or co-workers on the defensive. An absolute conundrum, isn’t it? Until we carefully listen and weight the alternative: giving in, agreeing to things we don’t want to do, adding more stress to our lives and who knows what else. Oh, no!!!

So let’s start with a simple fact: No is a complete sentence. It might be the shortest sentence in any language, but a sentence it is, trust me! As someone said: it doesn’t require justification or explanation. Of course, some will tell me that we also need to be polite. If you feel this way, add something like: No, I have commitments or No, I am very busy at the moment. Use your judgement.

Throughout our lives, we have been so conditioned to try to please everyone, to keep the peace, to be agreeable and understanding that we have forgotten to set boundaries. Yes, you read right.  We may have to consider assertiveness a challenge, but boundaries are essential to our well-being!

Setting boundaries can be stressful and can take time.  Like anything else in life, we need to approach this with full knowledge that we can loose friends, upset family members, make our co-workers suspicious. You are going to be changing the way the game has been played and most people are not good at change. It comes with the territory, so don’t fret.

First things, first: what bothers you most? what stresses you more often?  Be truthful, it’s the only way. Family is usually the biggest culprit. You are always available, always there for them and this is exhausting! Start with simple things: it’s your yoga lesson night, dinner will be whatever they prepare. It’s a movie you really do not want to see, stand firm in saying you rather stay home and read. Most families will be understanding, but there will be the ones that would not accept the new you easily. Just keep at it!

Our friends are up there too. Toxic friendships, a term that is now everywhere, can drag you down and make your life stressful. These friendships are not good for us, but it is very hard to break a pattern. We all know them: the friend that needs constant advise, the one that needs a shoulder to cry on. Ask yourselves, are they there for you in the same circumstances? No?, then you have to start setting those boundaries. Real friendship will survive them, if not…..good riddance!

Finally, our co-workers….in these times when financial uncertainty is a reality we will be tempted to shy away from saying NO. That would a mistake, unless you think your job is at risk. If not, use the same idea. Start small: No, I can’t do this for you today, I have a lot on my plate or No, I will not be able to stay after hours today, I have an appointment. The ones that will get the message are the ones worth having a work relationship with, you’ll see.

This exercise will lead us to a very important place: a place where we respect and like ourselves. So, by all means be assertive, learn to say NO!!!

Reinvent, Move On and Dare

Have you noticed? There seems to be a recurring theme for a lot of people these days. Everyone has a different reason, but the result is the same: when in doubt: reinvent! This happens to be a great idea, if we take the time to think about it without fear. It is a big challenge for me, but I have to admit that it has some allure.

Research conducted in the USA has discovered that we are limited by our imagination. We have an idea of what happened at anytime in our lives and we rarely try to see if it really happened that way. What to do? It’s human nature, it seems. We are set in our ways and hate taking risks. Most of our decisions were taken because they were safe, whatever that means. We craved acceptance, so being different and taking risks, were not really the thing to do. Did you really chose your career or your lifestyle based on your passion? Did you really see the purpose of your life when you started? Some of us did, of course, but they were the minority, trust me. Most of us just chose what was acceptable and practical because we didn’t know ourselves well when we decided. I know I didn’t!!!

Then we hit our middle years. We suddenly realize we have another life ahead of us, we think of the choices we have made and pause. Maybe they were not exactly what we should have done, maybe we played it safe, maybe there is a new opportunity to do it right: reinvent. Perfect, go for it, we say……then, not so fast, we think. What do I really want at this time and is this reinventing worth it?

Doubts creep into our minds: I can’t do that, I’m too old to try this, what would people think, how will my family react, it’s too risky…have I covered every excuse? Maybe you have some others just as important sounding or as logical, you think. Well, we are all wrong! To reinvent ourselves, all we need is the desire to do so. All we need to do is listen! We know ourselves well by now, we have confidence and passion, we know our purpose, we can do this. We are not going to change who we are, reinventing is not changing, we are going to live as we truly are. Not as the world sees us, as our friends and family see us, but as we really are inside. Toss your old self and go for it, I say.

Once you have decided that reinventing is the way to go…..move on with the idea. There is no point on coming to a conclusion and then…just letting the ball drop. Absolutely not the thing to do. You need to step up and make your plan come to fruition. To do that, you need to dare, not easy I do know. Most of us were not brought up by parents that actually preached this. Think back….were you ever told that you needed to take risks? needed to just go ahead and act upon your ideas? I, for one, do not remember hearing this.

Yes, my mother was very positive and always said that we could do anything, we should dream and make those dreams come true, but there was not real encouragement on acting on them! A contradiction, indeed. My maternal grandmother used to say that if one doesn’t jump in the river, how does one know if one can swim!!!! A statement way ahead of her times, but was not a daring soul herself. So much for reinventing; not quite sure my mother listened to these wise words either, even though she was forced into decisions that changed her life.

Now, here is another crossroad and most of us are really trying to do what we feel is right for ourselves….well, some of us at least are trying to. Hand twisting, coming up with excuses, going back and forth over how we should do this. Nothing coming out of this heart wrenching exercise…so frustrating! Dare, that is the only way. It is not a matter of trust vs control, it’s not a matter of trusting others: it is daring to trust yourself. Julia Cameron, teacher, filmmaker, poet, artist, journalist, playwright and composer has said: Leap and the net will appear. Can’t think of a more appropriate quote.