Yes, it’s Fall….and I fell. I slipped at the gas station and fell face down in a puddle of oil as I stepped out of my car. It was a messy site.
Even though I escaped with only an ugly deep cut and sore muscles, I felt fragile. It’s interesting how one day you feel invincible and the next you recognize how vulnerable you are – in more ways than one.
After the fall I had trouble sleeping plus digestion problems. It was like placing that last block on top of a pile of blocks and toppling the whole tower. In California, on top of the virus and the election, we have fires, smoke, wind, economic fears, plus more. Sometimes it’s too much. You know what I mean.
So, I needed to regain balance. I looked at my to do list and started paring it down. There’s not enough time to work, do physical therapy exercises, practice the guitar, paint, garden, hike, bicycle, read, do housework and be social.
I let go of few things. It’s funny though. As my calendar opened up, it got filled with new activities, including recording video for the Master Gardeners YouTube website.
Surprise! Learning to shoot and edit video took my mind off my problems. I felt a sense of accomplishment. For me, the way out of sadness was learning something new. Try it. Let me know what happens.
During these unsettling times, it’s easy to get knocked “off-center.”
Last month, I asked you to reflect and take stock of your life. This month, I want to help you get back in balance by looking at where you spend your time now and where you want to spend it in the future.
There are many life-balance wheels, such as the one above created by Brendan Baker of Australia. Most include these components:
- work (paid or volunteer)
- family and relationships
- leisure and physical activities
- personal pursuits – creativity and education
- spiritual pursuits
- healthy habits – preparing healthy meals and keeping fit
- physical environment and home maintenance
Do you agree that it is important to have these elements in your life?
What would you add to the list or delete?
Look at the list above and check the areas of life that are most important to you.
- Place a number from 1-10 next to each item to indicate how satisfied you are with that area of life (10=very satisfied, 1=dissatisfied).
- How would you like to balance these areas? How would you like to allocate your time? Put a percentage next to each area.
You can regain some of the balance your life has lost. Draw a circle and divide up the pie slices. One slice for each activity in your life. Slices for activities that take more time will be proportionally larger. Sleep may take up a quarter of the pie.
Divide up the pie to show how your time is spent now.
Now draw a new circle with pie slices that reflect an ideal life balance. What activities have you added to the pie? What could you give up or reduce to attain this balance?
Sometimes it’s helpful to work with a coach on this activity and on the steps to take next. Let me know if I can be of assistance.
Covid-19, our modern plague, is tragic; but there is an upside for many of us.
Because I have some financial security from social security income, I ‘m able to step back and see over 30 benefits from the pandemic. I hope this list helps you feel more positive.
Our Collective Experience
- Globally we are all in this together. There’s shared humanity
- World-wide there’s a greater appreciation for front-line workers, teachers, healthcare providers
- We have global cooperation to find a vaccine
- More volunteerism
- Younger people are feeling inspired to create change
- Underlying inequities in our society have been exposed – in finances, education and healthcare
- We had time to watch and reflect on George Floyd’s death – and react
- There’s increased focus on how to solve the inequities
Impact on Nature
- By staying at home, we have created less air pollution. The earth will have a 7% decrease in carbon dioxide this year
- Nature has begun to heal
- Plants are healthier
- Animals are more abundant
- The birds are happy
- As a society, slowing down has made us kinder
- We’ve had a chance to refocus on what really matters
- We learned that when working from home many of us are more productive
- Zoom works well for meetings and gatherings of all kinds and for small group learning
- We’ve seen an upsurge in new music. There’s the Rolling Stones’ “Living in a Ghost Town,” plus 5000 songs on the Spotify virus playlist
- We have greater appreciation for “normal,” such as haircuts, eating out, travel
The Personal Impact
- Feeling humility in the face of fragility
- Becoming more patient. With the uncertainty, I’m learning to take things day by day
- Feeling more relaxed. Reduced traffic makes driving less stressful
- There’s less pressure – no longer over-scheduling every day
- Appreciating the quiet and listening to the birds
- Time to be one on one with friends via zoom, phone calls or walks
- Getting to better know my neighbors and their children
- Time to paint, practice the guitar, bicycle, hike, clean the house, cook, garden, and read
- Finding new TV shows
- Watching “Conversations with Authors” from Book Passage
- Thanks to Zoom, taking online classes – yoga, Pilates, sketching, guitar, and gardening
- Finding new local hikes and bike rides. Exploring local neighborhoods
- Making new hiking and biking friends
- Saving money – no gym dues and reduced restaurant expenses
A Huge Change, But Not All Bad
It’s true our world will never be the same. So, when you feel discouraged, please refer to this list. I hope it helps.
Note: I’m eager to hear your thoughts. What would you add to the list?
If you are practicing social distancing, life needn’t be boring. Scottie Andrew at CNN has lots of ideas….and I’m adding a few of my own. By now you’ve heard the basics of the new normal:
- Avoid going to places where 25 or more people may gather
- Go places where you can maintain at least six feet of distance from other people
- Keep in mind your personal risk: If you’re 60 years old and up or have a compromised immune system, you should stay home as much as possible
So, what can you do? Try this:
Make art. This is one of my favorite activities. I like to put on music and pull out watercolors or pastels. Or, perhaps, you prefer pottery.
Read a lot. Even though some libraries are closed, download e-books and audiobooks. Discuss the books via webinar or Skype with your friends or your book club. My book club is using Zoom.
Listen to music. Make music. Go on-line or pull out those old CDs and records.
Take a virtual museum tour. Use your smartphone for an online tour of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim Museum or visit Google Arts & Culture for a virtual walk-throughs for dozens of international museums.
Be in nature. Hike. Get out of the house and keep 6 feet of distance from other people.
Start birdwatching or identifying plants. Find out what birds and plants reside near you. Download bird and plant maps and identification cards. I just spotted the Douglas Iris you see above.
Do yoga at home. Keep your immune system strong.
Make that recipe. This is a great time to make chicken stock or your favorite soup.
Find new recipes. Read your cookbooks or look up all those recipes you’ve downloaded on your computer and never prepared.
Video chat. Why not use Facetime or Skype?
Meditate. I like Headspace.com. There are lots of wonderful meditation apps. And, in times like this, meditation is helpful.
Bring out the board games and huge puzzles. Get competitive or treat yourself to quiet time with a challenging puzzle.
Get handy. If something needs fixing around the house, get to work.
And watch my free upcoming webinar. On April 15, I’ll be discussing how to reinvent yourself after 50 at an online event hosted by FairyGodBoss.com. To register for this free event, click here:https://fairygodboss.com/events/HyOVnubVL/how-to-reinvent-yourself-after/?utm_source=partner&utm_medium=multiple&utm_campaign=lynnryder
Which Ones? I need your help.
When it comes to social media, I’m a neophyte…and so are many of my friends. I’ve put my toe in the water by building a website and writing a monthly blog. (The blog is two years old this month.)
Yes, I do have three Facebook sites – one is personal and two are for my workshops. I used Twitter until I was hacked and found myself with a million followers who didn’t speak English. I haven’t tried Instagram or Pinterest yet. Should I? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Which social media services do you use?
A Favorable Website Connection
Thanks to my website, I’ve made an exciting connection with the County of Arlington, Virginia. This county, which has four Park and Rec centers for people over 55, brings in a speaker annually for all members. This year I’m honored to present the Reinvent Yourself after Fifty workshop to this audience. I’ll be providing a workbook and follow-up materials in addition to giving a 3-hour interactive presentation.
I Can Bring “Reinvent Yourself after Fifty” to You
I’m delighted to be returning to the D.C. area. Travel is a passion of mine, and I’d love to visit you – wherever you are. Please let me know if you and your friends would like a presentation for your group.
Connecting from Home
On the other hand, I’m also happy to present the program from inside my home….and in April I’ll do just that. www.FairyGodBoss.com has invited me to speak on a live webinar on April 15 at 10 AM Pacific Time. To register go to: https://fairygodboss.com/ (You will need to sign-up with Fairy God Boss to attend. It’s free.) Even though my primary audience is over 50, FairyGodBoss informed me that men and women of all ages are making career transitions and will benefit from learning how to reinvent themselves.
Help with Life Transitions at All Ages
I’m aware that most of the reinvention steps are applicable to many life transitions – changing careers, getting married, becoming a parent, reentering the workforce, divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of good health, retiring from a career etc. We start by assessing our current situation, revisiting our values, getting clues to our passions by looking at people we admire, remembering the times we were happiest in each decade of our lives, learning how to get unstuck, creating a vision and plan for the future, adjusting our attitude, and living a healthy life. Sounds simple, but there are layers and layers to sort through. It’s well worth the effort since the result is a balanced and fulfilling future. And that’s what I wish for you.
Lately friends have been asking me about my philosophy. They want to know if I have a dogma, or if I’m guided by a self-help guru. The answer is I’m a pragmatist. Over the years, through trial and error, I’ve found a path that works for me. It includes having a balanced life, getting unstuck, pursuing fun leisure activities, keeping healthy, fulfilling my life purpose, sticking to my personal guiding principles, and achieving goals.
In my workshops and coaching, I share this “path” with others. And that feels great. So, as Thanksgiving approaches, I want to talk about how grateful I am to have this opportunity to teach and be a coach. It truly is fulfilling to help people who are feeling uncertain about what next steps to take, and then see them leave at peace, knowing how they want life to look and what they need to do to achieve it.
This work, plus so much more, makes me feel that my life is balanced and full. I am thankful for good health which allows me to enjoy hiking, skiing, cycling, sailing, dance, and yoga. I’m thankful for the amazing friends I’ve made while pursuing these activities. I’m grateful that as a Marin Master Gardener, I can volunteer for the Dig It, Grow It, Eat It program that teaches children about gardening and nutritious foods. I’m thankful that I’m able to travel; this year I went to the East Coast and Canada, while next year I’ll visit New Zealand. And I’m grateful for my small family.
I want to wish you a fulfilling Thanksgiving Holiday. If you have time, write down some of the things you are grateful for. Did you know that a 2012 study found that grateful people have fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people? Spend 10 minutes jotting down a few grateful thoughts before bed, and you may sleep better.
These photos say it all. Hiking in the Canadian Rockies and Purcell Mountains in British Columbia is awe-inspiring. I came home feeling joyful and grateful, but tired. It’s hard to top spending a week with dear friends from my hiking club surrounded by spectacular scenery. We hiked, drove, cooked and stayed together in a big barn. The encouragement and support of the group made it possible to hike 10 to 12 miles a day on steep switchbacks climbing up over 2500 feet.
One of my friends fell and broke her arm. Undeterred – with her arm in a cast – she made it to the summit of every trail we took. Very inspiring. And by the way, our group has hikers in their 50s, 60s and mid-70s.
If you can, get outdoors into the beauty of nature. Your soul will respond to seeing wildflowers, waterfalls, meadows and forests. Take a walk under trees or near water. You’ll clear your mind and feel fabulous.
Following are some of the topics we discuss in the Reinvent Yourself after 50 workshops. See how many of these tips you can incorporate into your life. Let me know which ones are helping you feel greater joy and fulfillment.
Explore subjects that interest you and see where it leads. Read, use Google, take workshops, attend lectures.
Have a Supportive Community
We all need community. Studies show you’ll live longer and feel better if you have a good social life. Meet people who lift you up and spend time with them. I’ve found that Meetup.com is a good way to meet who enjoy the activities that you enjoy.
Live a Balanced Life
You will be happier if you find the right balance of work (paid or volunteer), relationships, leisure, creativity, learning, and spiritual pursuits. What do you need more of? What do you need less of in life?
Leisure is a vital part of living a balanced life. Take time to relax and recharge. Your brain requires this.
Get outside as often as possible. The sun, greenery and water are all nurturing. My yellow, green and blue logo symbolizes these essential elements of nature.
Be Healthy – stay active and eat well
Exercise releases endorphins which make you feel good. You’ll feel better and be healthier if you keep moving and eat healthy foods (and never smoke).
Each day write down a few of the things you’re grateful for. When you see the good in the world, you feel happier. It’s that simple.
Keep a Bucket List
Pay attention to your ideas about things you’d like to do. (Sometimes feeling jealous of others is an indication of something we need or want to do.) People who write down and follow-up on their bucket lists are more likely to fulfill their dreams. Create a life you’ll love.
New places and cultures (even if they are close to home) introduce us to new ideas and perspectives. Travel beyond your usual stomping ground to feel inspired and energized.
Feel Passion and Purpose
Find time for activities that make a difference to others. This work will add meaning and purpose to your own life.
My friend Harry was laid off from his job at the age of 64. He took some time to think about his future….and then took some more time. His savings were slim, so he said he would look for another job. I’m not sure if he looked. I do know that he spent a lot of time on his computer, going to movies by himself, and watching TV. Mostly he was alone. Then he got sick. Then his cognitive thinking declined. He was depressed and isolated. He is one of the reasons I created the “Reinvent Yourself after 50” workshop. I want to help people feel fulfilled, joyful, and passionate, whether they are working or not.
For many people the most difficult aspect of leaving the workforce is losing daily interaction with work colleagues and the people you meet when you’re at work – the coffee barista, the bus driver, the cashier at the deli. In the workshop we discuss the many benefits of social integration and how to ensure we don’t lose it. This video demonstrates why our relationships are paramount to our longevity and to having fulfilling lives.
What does it take to live for 100 years? These are the surprising predictors of a long, healthy life.
Susan Pinker at TED2017 – The secret to living longer may be your social life