Raise your hand if you are a giver? One who gives out of your abundance, or from your lack thereof? Doesn’t matter, you give and give and give some more. You cheat your self when there is not enough food to go around; you drink the cheap wine so everybody else can have the good stuff; you give your new clothes to your daughter before they reach the hanger or have the tags removed; give up the front seat; give up time and resources, energy and peace of mind so that those around you are more comfortable…happier…content…safe and sound. Not really a big deal; not really a choice, just a lifestyle.

Well I say BRAVO…you are in good company with most of the females on the planet…

The other day I needed help…not lots, just a skosh….a ride, a snack, an open door. Could I ask…NO NO NO.

Fortunately I was in the company of my surest of SURES; truest of Trues, safest of Safes!

“if you don’t ask me, then I can’t ask you..and If I don’t ask  you , you will go stark raving mad. Here is a chance to save your own sanity.”

Okay, I need a ride.

Better?

Ask.

aging gracefully…

January 2, 2011

Starting another new year…which is following right on the heels of 57 other new years, I am considering what it means to age gracefully.

I don’t mind telling you that while I curse, curse, curse the notion of plastic surgery, or injections of any kind to aid in my appearance, I do stand in front of the mirror and oh so gently pull up my slightly limp checks to get an idea of what I might look like with just a tuck here and a pull there. I am aware that if I pull too much, or in the wrong direction, I can look like the Japanese version of myself…not that that is a bad thing, just a radical thing given my Norwegian heritage.

My husband caught me standing naked in front of the mirror, both hands grasping my “soft” belly while vigorously shaking it up and down..it .looked a bit like a taffy pull and I felt a bit like a Shar Pei. His sweet and I am sure supportive comment? ”Honey, the trend is not UP”.

Was I recently tempted by the patent pending Chin Up? Hell yes! At $19.99, and guaranteed result in just 2 weeks! That sagging turkey neck (their words, not mine) was bound to disappear for good and they had pictures of Brittany Spears, Minka Kelley and Katie Perry to prove it…wait, aren’t their combined ages less than mine NOW? Of course they look good after trying Chip Up, their’s were never down to begin with. Still I was enticed.

We, “women of a certain age”, are desperately trying to find peace with the fact that our appearance is changing, and we are looking more and more like our mothers. As intelligent, politically correct and mature females, we are supposed to embrace the wrinkles with little care and in-fact pride and honor that we have earned them and more, much more.

Still we jiggle, and stretch and buy the latest cream made from the egg yolks of endangered sea turtles. We make deals with the mirror…”okay, that’s enough now…if the wrinkles could just stop here, I could live with that.” A month or so later when a new wrinkle or line or droop appears, we offer up a new deal…”okay, that’s enough now…if it could just stop here, I could live with that.”

Truth about women aging…we don’t really want to have our face or bodies match our years. We welcome the wisdom, enlightenment and freedom;  the fact we no longer date one loser after another; feel dependent on someone else’s validation of our self worth, or stress over what the neighbor lady thinks of us… We also would like to think that our appearance has little to do with how we feel about ourselves at this stage in our lives…

Truth is we do struggle…don’t want to but we do. We buy the cream, the Chin Up, the “guarantee to cover gray” hair color…because we care. We care. We are aging. We are learning to let go and accept… and sometimes, just sometimes we just have to jiggle and see if the trend might be changing.

Chin Up my friends…we are in this together.

My Private Tony Award

December 31, 2010

who among us doesn’t have a story…one we tell others and one we tell ourselves. There isn’t a person, given enough time, that can’t teach us a thing or two about overcoming adversity, fear and insurmountable challenge. It always makes me feel like a small part of something so powerful when someone confides in me what they have had to do to wake up and face yet another new and often impossible day. The experiences each of us goes through contributes to the depth and richness of our lives. It is the things we face, the heartaches we bear that do in fact make us stronger and our lives richer…eventually.  If we manage to survive what often times feels like un-survivable, we have stories to tell that prove the notion that we are each stronger than we think we are.

then there are the secret…dirty little secret…stories we tell ourselves. the theater is dark, the stage is empty and yet we execute an entire drama inside our heads; stories of self loathing, stories of inadequacies, stories of worthlessness. I have one…over and over again I see it and hear it and it tells me that I have never been, nor will I ever be successful at anything. depending on my circumstances, levels of depression, lack of self-confidence the story can render me helpless. My story of inadequacy, as ridiculous as it may seem to others, makes perfect sense to me. I know it, I have cultivated it and shaped it for years and years…It is my story and I am sticking with it (no matter how much therapy there is).

yet the “stories” that others live by, listen to and believe are so completely ridiculous to me. how many amazing writers among us, wake up each day and feel that today is the day they will be discovered for the fraud they know themselves to be. or how many gorgeous young women spend day in and day out comparing themselves to any number of photo-shopped images and find that they are disgusting by comparison. how many young devoted mothers tell themselves every minute of every day that they are doomed to be the same kind of distant, unfeeling parent who raised them. how many men live day in and day out with feelings of inadequacy around what they can provide and how they can compete; young teens who beat themselves up on a regular basis because they are different from the norm.

what is it about the negative thoughts that claim the lion’s share of our thinking brain cells? why does one or two or even ten disparaging remarks/thoughts carry so much more weight than the thousands of uplifting ones we are likely to hear in a life time.

I am voting that the mantra for 2011 be… I AM ENOUGH. How about that for story…how about that replacing the countless hours of self doubt; the wasted comparisons to those who look like they have it all…because I know those people, and the stories they tell themselves are the same ones you tell yourself and I tell myself. the secret dark theater thoughts where the story comes alive and is real enough and vivid enough that the Tony Awards should have a category for performances such as these. those people, the ones who must be so very confident,  are looking at you and thinking that you’re the one who must have it all together.

each of us deserves a break from self-imposed suffering. we do.

I know you, I read your brilliant thoughts; I am humbled by your beauty; in awe of your unlimited capacity for love, creativity and stunning accomplishments. You are more than enough. And the deal is if you don’t know and live as if you are, you confirm the shameful story I tell myself. Because I watch you, am inspired by you and follow the examples I trust you to create.

You are enough, and I hope to be just like you someday.

  

 PEEC Presents:  WOMEN LIVING FULLY…INVESTING IN OURSELVES 

 

 Oct. 24 – 27 2010 

Imagine yourself nestled in beautiful, inspiring surroundings, your only goal to rest and indulge in self discovery.  Imagine meeting like-minded women who come prepared to explore the same questions that run through your mind constantly… “Now What?”  …“Who Am I?… 

 “How do I make the most of the life that is ahead of me?”  “…What is it to be a true friend – to have a true friend?”…“What matters the most to me at this time in my life?”… “How can I  make a difference in the world?” 

PEEC (Pocono Environmental Education Center, Dingman’s Ferry, PA www.peec.org) is holding this, their  first annual Women’s Retreat, and have invited  inspiring authors, experts in their field and other speakers who will gather to explore all of those questions and more. 

We all know that our lives and daily choices are best governed by ourmost deeply held values, beliefs and priorities.  Yet there is much to distract and dilute even our best of intentions.  This glorious three-day women’s retreat offers you the opportunity to reconnect with that which is most important to you and find new ways to live that are reflective of who you are and what your value.  This is an experience dedicated to women’s complete well being, both individuallyand collectively. 

 You will be inspired by award winning and internationally published authors and other experts, including: Amy Ferris: Marrying George Clooney: Confessions of a Midlife Crisis –   

 Kristine Van Raden & Molly Davis (www.mattersthatmatter.com) : Letters to Our Daughters  

 Monica Holloway Monica Holloway – Cowboy & Willis;  Driving with Dead People, and others.  

Gregory Anne Cox of  midlifewithavengeance.com 

Robyn Hatcher, Amy Litzenberger, Hollye Dexter…and more! 

This one of a kind retreat will provide an insightful and inspiring program highlighting the things that are vital to women in mid-life, and encourage living life to the fullest.  Topics range from living authentic and meaningful lives, financial well being, health and wellness to the need for women to move beyond competition and towards mutual support, completion and collaboration. 

Believing that learning can be a collaborative and supportive experience,  all offerings will be participatory and introspective, inspiring and challenging.  Sessions will include a combination of teaching, discussion and thoughtfully designed writing and thinking exercises. You will write, rest, eat amazing food, drink great wine, voice your ideas and opinions, reflect, rest and renew. You may even be cast as a character in the new play Common Threads…interested? REGISTER SOON, AS SPACE IS LIMITED 

  

You are invited to participate in an experience that will both inspire you and allow you to inspire others.   

Space is limited.  

Cost is $560. which includes lodging, meals and all workshops & activities.  

To register:  Call – 570-828-2319 and ask to register for Women Living Fully

Inspired

June 18, 2010

What is it about women? Those who see hurt and lend a hand…those who see pain and lend a shoulder, those who see possibility and commit to a cherished outcome? Where do they come from? How do they know that there is enough for everyone and thrive in generosity?I am surrounded by those women and inspired.

“When we are mindful, we notice that another person suffers. The other person may be a husband, a wife, or a child. If one person suffers, that person needs to talk to someone in order to get relief. We have to offer our presence, and we have to listen deeply to the other person who is suffering. That is the practice of love–deep listening. But if we are full of anger, irritation, and prejudices, we don’t have the capacity to listen deeply to the people we love. If people we love cannot communicate with us, then they will suffer more. Learning how to listen deeply is our responsibility. We are motivated by the desire to relieve suffering. That is why we listen. We need to listen with all our heart, without intention to judge, condemn, or criticize. And if we listen in that way for one hour, we are practicing true love. We don’t have to say anything; we just need to listen.      “The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves “inside the skin” of the other.  When we are in contact with another’s suffering, a feeling of compassion is born in us. Compassion means literally “to suffer with.”    –Thich Nhat Hanh

Thank you Quma Learning & Dennis Deaton

Morning Offering

April 14, 2010

Thoughts On Grace:
“I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.
All that is eternal in me
Welcomes the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.
I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Waves of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for

And waste my heart on fear no more.”

poem by John O’Donohue

THE BEE.

Like trains of cars on tracks of plush
I hear the level bee:
A jar across the flowers goes,
Their velvet masonry

Withstands until the sweet assault
Their chivalry consumes,
While he, victorious, tilts away
To vanquish other blooms.

His feet are shod with gauze,
His helmet is of gold;
His breast, a single onyx
With chrysoprase, inlaid.

His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee’s experience
Of clovers and of noon!

by Emily Dickenson

The Elk Ate My Ivy

March 25, 2010

It was a full moon…so much moon light that night looked like day.

We were watching some horror(ish)  thing on t.v. , so my skin was crawling a bit anyway. Out of the corner of my eye, just beyond the window, I saw movement. Holy Creepers! First reaction to fear?…punch the husband. He hadn’t noticed, but agreed to take a look.

There were at least 100! The size of horses on steroids. They moved out from  the shadows of the pine forest towards the house; like The Bloods  moving in on The Crips.  Step by step, without a sound, they surrounded the house. LITERALLY.

We turned off all the lights to get a better view…eventually daring to open a window so we could  listen to the power of the masses destroying our yard, garden, hedges of ivy…the occasional slurp from the pond. Massive beasts daring to dine on the hours and  hours of our gardening labor.

IT WAS MORE THAN WORTH IT…I can’t begin to tell you the power that these animals have. They stayed for several hours, munching their way through acres of new spring growth. This morning, it looks like a thousand tiny bombs went off in the yard. Not a green sprig in sight.  The hub and I decided that it was like a free pruning service and that everything will probably come back bigger and stronger…thanks in addition to all that free fertilizer they left behind.

They came, they ate, they pooped!…Kind of like a family Thanksgiving.

The moral of the story? Sometimes the things we cultivate serve a  completely different purpose than what we intended. Let go and look for the gift.

OPEN YOUR EYES

March 16, 2010

Linda and Jack...the perfect man!

Home-made apple pie and lots of smiles

Molly and Jack...the perfect man!

Judy of Guler and Linda of the Harbor

Our own Volcanologist...the handsome Tom of the Mountains

Jean and Candy in the SUNSHINE

Linda and Judy, sisters

Cindy at Peace

who is that woman hugging my husband?

Gathered Our Courage Together

Anna: light and spirt

The girls mixing glue stick and soup...huh oh!

Speed scrabble...endless possibilities

The MATTERS THAT MATTER W OMEN’S RETREAT.  A room filled with courageous, bright, authentic women. We ate, we danced, we drank good wine & coffee (as promised), we laughed, we cried, we drummed, we napped, we created, we learned from one another, we loved with all of our hearts and souls. Women gloriously being women. Could it get any better? Well maybe if Amy Ferris (Marrying George Clooney) could have been there!

What If We Were “PERFECT”

February 26, 2010

I recently read a book by Geneen Roth, Feeding the Hungry Heart. She is amazing and every person should read her. She speaks to the human condition regardless of the condition a human is in. She dares to suggest that we might consider that we are ENOUGH just the way we are. That if we accept where we have been, what we have accomplished or not,  the insecurities we carry, what we weight, the mistakes we’ve made; all contribute to exactly where we are supposed to be and who we are supposed to be. By accepting our very flawed selves as ADEQUATE, we could possibly  eliminate the ever-present whispering voice of anxiety. The voice that requires so much  attention trying to figure out how to create something different from what we really are.   MISTAKES and IMPERFECTIONS  are abundant.  But there isn’t one that doesn’t offer the opportunity to move ahead.  If we worried  less about what should have been, or how we should be different, we might just find the brain cells to be more content with all the amazing things we truly are. Imagine replacing the voice that says you are inadequate with the voice that says  I AM ENOUGH!
Artist Lynn Hoppe     http://lynnehoppe.blogspot.com/

 

Recently I opened my email and was greeted by these words from Kristine …”to the one person who knows me…the good, the bad and the ugly… and loves me still.  Thank you.”  

That is the essence, the soul, the spirit, the definition of friendship.  
Friendships matter…. no matter what!
Jill Schlesinger
Editor-at-Large
CBS MoneyWatch
www.CBSMoneyWatch.com
http://moneywatch.bnet.com/economic-news/blog/financial-decoder/?tag=col2;blogroll
Lessons from Molly and Kristine: Fear and Courage

 

I recently was fortunate enough to meet two extraordinary women, Molly Davis and Kristine Van Raden, authors (“Letters to our Daughters”) and public speakers who present seminars called, “The Matters that Matter” (for more information, go to their web site, http://www.mattersthatmatter.com/), which is intended to help people “clarify the things that matter most.” Over the next three days, I will attempt to apply some of Molly and Kristine’s messages to your financial life.
They began with an examination of fear and the power that this emotion has in our lives. I could not help but think about the clients who have told me that fear has been a major contributor to numerous financial problems that have arisen in their lives. There is the overall fear of dealing with finances (“I hate money stuff”); the fear that prevents taking action in our portfolios (“What if I sell ABC stock and then it goes up?”); and the fear of not dealing with the scary topics of death and illness (“I can’t even talk about drafting a will because that means I have to imagine not being with my kids”).
In each case, fear becomes immobilizing, a way of ignoring some of the core financial issues of your life. But what if you could take specific steps towards tackling some of your financial fears? The three steps described in the “Matters that Matter” include: identifying your fear, gathering information about the topic and then taking one step closer towards where you want to go.
So let’s break that process down and apply it to the first of the three financial fears. I find that most people actually know that they have fear around financial issues. But if you do not know it, one clue to understanding your fear is when you find yourself continuing the same behavior and are frustrated by the outcome. Once you realize that it’s fear that’s holding you back (not your spouse or your parents!) you might start to dig around and find out how to build your own financial plan (there are a myriad of resources on line to do this) or start researching financial planning firms in your area – make sure that the firm and the professional is registered as an investment advisor so that he or she acts as a fiduciary on your behalf. Then, the one step to take to bring you closer to conquering your overall money fear is to complete an online mini-plan or schedule a meeting with the planner.
You can take yourself through this process in almost any area of your financial life. For investment management, it may mean that you have to admit that you may not be the best person to manage your own portfolio. After all, if your fear of “missing out” prevents you from properly diversifying your portfolio, it may be time to interview a dispassionate professional, who has the resources and expertise to do the job. Likewise, if the idea of drafting a will makes you anxious, start to ask a few friends for the name of a good estate attorney and schedule a meeting. You will likely find that once a well-versed professional is there to guide you, the next set of decisions is easier to make. After all, as Molly and Kristine say, we’re not going to eliminate fear, but we need to acknowledge it and then step over it.