Saturday, December 27, 2008

Life Plan...

The snow is falling... I'm still in my jammies, and it's almost noon... I have no desire to really do anything, but my mind is such a whirlwind of thought that I feel the need to write it out. My hope is that by seeing words in print I can better analyze where I am, and where I want to be.

I'm titling this blog "Life Plan" because that's what I'm supposed to be doing this week. Part of the coaching I go through is creating/writing your "Life Plan". This is where I am to analyze where my life is, what's most important to me, and how I'm going to live my life. The first time I was asked to write mine, I couldn't get my mind around the "plan" part. I have always been a spontaneous person, so to plan my life seemed foreign to me. Eventually I came to realize that it's not about structuring and organizing your life, but rather about recognizing and focusing on the parts of your life that are most important. The way the plan is structured, you decide which "accounts" are priorities in your life and then choose how you want to fill them (so to speak). For example: family is my number one account. I wrote out how I saw our family in the future, the type of relationship I want to have, and how I would go about ensuring that relationship. There were other accounts, such as personal growth, spirituality, romance... for each account I envisioned the outcome and then decided how I would get to that outcome.

My first life plan was written about 2-1/2 years ago. Recently my coach asked me to revisit it and see if it needed updating. I did so, and found that yes, it needs updating. I realized that 2-1/2 years ago I was very apologetic, very focused on the past, and didn't have a very clear vision of who I was or who I wanted to be. This week I'm re-writing the plan, and hopefully will be more focused on the outcome. I'll need to dig deeper into myself to really discover what I envision my life to be.

I'm writing today to get ready for writing the plan. For some reason I'm feeling very off today... very... incomplete. I won't go so far as to say I'm unhappy, but perhaps feeling some discontent. I feel as if I'm drifting along with the tide as opposed to moving in the direction of my choosing. Perhaps it's because I have failed to identify that direction! I feel the two accounts I'm most off track with are career and romantic relationships. Career is obviously because much of my success is determined by the housing market. I can do much to be successful regardless, but there are some very real limitations, such as, people buying homes and people having enough equity in their homes to refinance. So, I'll do the best I can with what we have to work with, and make sure I'm still positioned for when the market turns. Okay, that's all pretty good, or at the very least, I'm doing what I need to do.

So... on to #2. Perhaps where I feel my strongest sense of discontent. I have been "single" now for about 2-1/2 years - and not unhappily so. I have been fortunate to have met and dated some wonderful men, but have always felt that there has been at least one key element missing. Having been married twice and in one long term relationship, I finally learned that I can't make a relationship be what I want it to be. Either the person and I truly connect on a deep level, or it just isn't going to work. Ah, that sounds so vague and "new-ageish", doesn't it? But does it really matter if the two in a relationship enjoy doing the same things? I don't think so... I think having separate interests and time apart strengthens a relationship. Does it matter whether their backgrounds are the same? Not if they can learn from each other's life experiences. I think that what really matters is that when the two are together, they can grow and become better individuals.

I find myself physically craving someone I can grow with. While some may fantasize about romance and flowers, I fantasize about an in-depth discussion about life. While some women fantasize about getting diamonds as a gift, I fantasize about getting a book that truly touches a chord within me, because the person in my life understands that chord. I want to be in a relationship with someone who truly wants to know me, and makes the effort to do so. Someone who listens to what I say about who I am. Someone who will share with me who he is and allow me the opportunity to appreciate it and learn from it. Someone who will open his soul and allow me to cherish and share that beauty.

I've been told that "men aren't wired that way"... but I disagree. Perhaps all men aren't, but I believe that some are. I'm reading "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch - Randy Pausch was wired that way. I recently read "The Art of Happiness" by the Dalai Lama with Dr. Howard Cutler - they're wired that way. I've read numerous books by Andy Andrews - he's wired that way. My coach, Bill - he's wired that way. I could go on and on, but the point is made.

So, my dilemma: do I continue to "serial date" in hopes that I someday stumble upon the person who satisfies my internal craving? I don't know. I'm tired of dating, I'm tired of the mating dance, the games, the rituals and rules... it seems to be such a waste of time and energy. I'm tired of the compromises, the disappointments, the emotional baggage, the "ex" trauma. I'm tired of it all. Yet on the other hand, I'm also finally, finally tired of being alone. I'm tired of not having someone to share the deeper parts of my life with. So, I guess that means I continue to date.

But I don't want to. I can no longer muster up the excitement when going out with someone new. I'm becoming cynical.

Herein lies the biggest problem with life after 40 - or at least, single life after 40. Finally I have come to know what I want, but don't know where to find it. It seems elusive... I can't reach it, I can't grasp it... I see a glimpse, and when I turn the corner, it's gone.

I wonder sometimes... do I want too much? Are my expectations unrealistic? Part of me feels that the type of person I'm seeking has already been found and is sharing his soul with some very lucky woman... I find it difficult to believe that someone like that would be alone.

So, even after all this writing... this two hours of introspection... I feel no closer to solving my initial dilemma. I feel no more ready to write my life plan - because I'm not convinced that I'll be able to fulfill it. I do feel better having unloaded some heaviness in my heart, and seeing in type what I'm looking for... but I'm not sure that truly knowing what you want is a good thing if you don't think you'll ever find it. If nothing else though, perhaps I've relieved some of the pressure from keeping all this inside my mind.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's Different This Year...

Wow... four days 'till Christmas, and I've hardly bought a thing! Four days 'til Christmas, and I'm not behind on my Christmas shopping...

Chris, Kayte and I decided to do Christmas very differently this year. Initially the thought was borne of pure economic necessity... it's been a tough year financially, and who needs the additional stress of buying things people don't need with money we don't have? Then it seemed that all around us people were going through difficult times. A single, self employed mother going through breast cancer, a 37 year old mother of two with rectal cancer, friends laid off, it went on and on...

We talked... does Chris, who makes $7/hour really need to spend his hard-earned money on Christmas presents? Did Kayte, who has two very high-maintenance pooches, really need to spend hers? Do the kids, at 24 and almost 22, really need a pile of stuff to open yet again? No... we don't need any of it... the stress, the pressure, or the expense.

So we decided to change it up this year. We'll buy each other something small, a book or video, and just enjoy family time. We decided to spend some time volunteering, so Kayte arranged for us to serve dinner at the City of Light Battered Women's Shelter on the 30th of December. Kayte and I decided to donate the money we would have spent on Christmas to the two women going through cancer treatments right now.

We aren't the only ones doing this - the beautiful thing about tough economic times is that it brings out the goodness in so many people! I shared our Christmas idea with friends, and found that many of them are doing the same thing! When people are hurting, and times are tough, it's kinda hard to care about getting the latest and greatest Wii game for the kids. We tend to focus outward a bit more! We're more aware that yes, times are tough for us, but there's always someone going through a tougher time, and we may be able to help. I'm seeing it all around me, every day.

Yesterday I delivered what I call a "Chemo Care Package" to the single mom with breast cancer. I was in awe at all the wonderful things her friends and acquaintances had done to help her through this time! A freezer full of food, cards with money and well-wishes, hats, slippers... all the things that would make this experience more bearable for her were there.

Christmas is different this year... it's brighter, more beautiful, and less stressful. I haven't missed fighting the mall crowds, searching for the ultimate sale, standing in line... I won't miss wrapping gifts, baking cookies that don't get eaten, running around like a chicken with it's head cut off... I don't miss having my living room rearranged to accomodate a 7' tree that we only care about two days!

Okay, sidenote... I do have a tree, I just decided to go simple with a 42" tabletop, pre-decorated, pre-lit tree and a wreath on my door.

I've enjoyed relaxing with my friends, buying a few stocking stuffers when I happen to run across them, and not stressing. I plan to have a wonderful German Christmas Eve, with friends, family and games, and a fantastic Christmas dinner with turkey and friends and family.

I'm excited about all the new and wonderful experiences we'll have this Christmas. I'm so proud that my kids have embraced the idea of making Christmas more about true giving where it matters. I hope that even when the economy improves and times are easier, that we'll make this our new tradition!

Oh, and in case you're wondering, or ever need to put together a Chemo Care Package, I got a lot of wonderful ideas at our local co-op that I'll share here:

First, our church has a prayer shawl ministry, so I brought a blessed shawl. This ministry is fantastic, and rather than me try to explain it, go to to learn about it.

The "stuff" in the package consisted of:
Mint tea
Ginger tea
Ginger Ale
(all three should help with the nausea)
a buckwheat hull neck wrap that can be heated in the microwave (helps with the body aches from the chemo drugs) with mild aromatherapy
Ginger and regular mints (the chemo drugs leave a horrible metallic taste behind)
Ginger cookies (again, nausea)
Aromatherapy bath salts (with epsom salts to help with body aches and to relax)
Mildly flavored lip balm (the natural kind) for the dry lips that go with it all

Since we all either know, or will know people going through cancer, I wanted to share this with you so you can use these ideas. The one thing my friend told me yesterday is that she is so utterly, completely exhausted. So, other ideas to help are: clean and organize the house, drive to and from treatments, pre-write thank you notes and help update websites.

Okay, as usual, I got a bit off track here... but off-track is a great place to be sometimes!

I'll end with this: However you celebrate your Christmas this year, I wish you joy, blessings and health today and always.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Another year older...

Another year more deeply entrenched in this "Life After 40". Yes, there was the inevitable ribbing, ("you're how old?"), the children's teasing ("wow Mom! You're like, half way to dead!) and of course the humorous cards that either referenced aging equivalent to fine wine, or old people peeing their pants...

I love every minute of it...

Cuz every person who either teased me or complimented me, cared about me... Birthdays aren't necessarily about becoming another year older, but rather (in my opinion) about being reminded of how many people in our lives care.

Ever since my daughter threw me a fabulous surprise birthday party a few years ago, I've loved having informal get-togethers on my birthday, and this year was no different. I asked the owners of our tiny little wine shop here in Star, Idaho if I could have my party at their shop. Doug graciously forewent (is that a word?) Thursday night poker so I could bring my friends in for wine & fun. We ordered pizza, friends brought food, we did a private little wine tasting, and had an amazing time! I'm sure Helina Marie's didn't mind having an extra 20 or so paying customers on a Thursday night, and Doug took wonderful care of us!

The best part of the evening was feeling the love of my friends and my children. Times and events like this are such a reminder of how many people we have around us who truly care about us. I remember looking around the wine shop and thinking, "if I were to die tomorrow... every one of these people would be at my funeral, and they would mourn me..." Yes, a strange thought to have on one's birthday, but a comforting one...

Whether it's a birthday, a holiday, or some other event, it's beautiful to be reminded how much we are loved. Our legacy in this life isn't how much money we made, how successful we were, or how many races we ran... but rather, how we have touched others' lives, and how others' lives have touched ours.