Stepping WAY outside of your box!

November 5, 2009

yoga stretch comfort zoneI wish the Oprah Show was always as inspirational as it was yesterday!

She brought on a few women who had been feeling midlife awful, with issues like divorce, single motherhood and job loss.

They were feeling helpless and hopeless, like victims in their own lives.  One women described herself as “paralyzed by fear.”

Oprah gave Ali Wentworth the means to help these women step beyond their own internal limitations.  She introduced them to their new selves.

The women first tried a few rounds of roller derby, then took a sky dive together, and finally disrobed on a beach and ran naked.

You may be thinking “So what!”  If so, go try a few of these challenges and then get back to me.  Stepping outside of your own box changes lives!

How do I know?  Believe me, I know a thing or two about stretching my comfort zone.  I left mine entirely back in 2004, and I’ve been living outside of it ever since!

First I started my own dating service after I lost my job.  I figured I needed a job and a date, so what the heck!  That led to an amazing new relationship.  Falling in love at 49 felt like a gigantic leap of faith!

Since then, I’ve tried out a few different but related careers: writing, public speaking and even writing my first books.

I want to spend my time here on earth doing what I’m best at, and there’s only one way to find out what that is, experiment!  One thing is for sure:  I LOVE living outside of my comfort zone and I’m never going back into my BOX!


Depression and Anger

May 22, 2009

“Have a sense of gratitude to everything, even difficult emotions, because of their potential to WAKE YOU UP!   -Pema

I get many requests for information on the boundless anger which can arise out of midlife crisis.  Here I’ll try to explain further the connection between depression and the rage that often hides beneath it.

Underneath most sadness or depression is an inexhaustible fountain of rage stored up from decades of stuffing most of our feelings.  For women this usually comes from very early training which taught us that being pissed is not lady like.  Nice girls don’t feel and certainly don’t show rage.

For men the same is true, but it is definitely more acceptable for men to show righteous indignation than women.  When men get angry in our society, it is often seen as justified.  When women get angry they are just bitchy.

Most of us become extremely uncomfortable when we feel like our life situation requires some show of anger.  We fear that if we release any of our righteous rage at the circumstances of our life, it will all come roaring out and consume us and everyone around us.

When I was in training to learn how to release my anger in a healthy and controlled way, I would sometimes start hyperventilating at the very thought of really getting angry and expressing myself.  This may come from early learning where any show of anger was punished severely by our parents or others.

Even though most of us don’t have a very positive view of anger, it is actually our best measure of when or whether we are being abused.  Anger comes straight from our own body wisdom and warns us that the situation we face is contentious or perhaps unfair, and we need to react in order to protect ourselves.

Deciding how much anger is required and mediating its release is a method we must learn from carefully studying our own history with depression and anger.  I attended an excellent anger workshop back in the 1980s where I learned all about my own history with anger, and why I felt so uncomfortable accessing and expressing my own anger.  Depression and self-blame is so much more acceptable in our society, especially in women.

But to be healthy human beings we must have access to ALL OF OUR EMOTIONS.  When we are abused or treated unfairly, we must show a strong response to make it clear that this is not acceptable behavior.  Protecting ourselves and our right to be who we are is the beginning of true self-responsibility, self-empowerment and self-respect.

If we cannot access our anger, we also have no access to our joy.

“How to love a 50-year-old man”

April 21, 2009

healthy-interdependence-for-blogis  an interesting Google search that got somebody to this website, but it left me wondering how loving a 50-year-old man is any different than loving anyone else.

So how DO we love another with enough closeness and distance and acceptance of our differences?  The first question is WHY we love any one else.  Is it only because they fulfill some of our needs?

Or because we find new and interesting parts of ourselves by hanging out with them?  Or simply because we feel good being around them.

When I first met Mike over four years ago now, we both immediately felt seen and appreciated in ways neither one of us had ever experienced before.  We also felt understood without much explaining necessary.  The best way I can describe it is that we created a unique energy field between us when we were together.

There was absolutely no question that we  completed each other in some very essential and yet indescribable ways, like we had been searching our whole lives and yet never really expected to find such a safe place to be in the same space with another human being.

How do we love each other?  By caring enough to notice everything about how each of us are feeling moment to moment.  By being sensitive to when we really need to be alone with ourselves, and when we need to be together to experience true connectedness.  By telling the other when we’ve had a bad day and crave extra attention and love.  By taking full responsibility for ourselves and our actions towards each other.

I now know more than ever that mature love is defined by being more concerned about the health and comfort of the one you love than yourself, but in a healthy way.  It’s called healthy interdependence instead of co-dependence.  I believe it is the highest level of human connectedness, feeling strong and loving enough within yourself to have something to offer others.

It’s probably best to think of learning to truly love yourself as your basic training ground for learning how to love others well.  How do you know when you are loved?  How do you feel about yourself right now?

Recent Book Reviews

February 18, 2009

I have been so touched by a few reviews I have received recently of my new book Midlife Magic.  I actually sold a copy to the woman at my bank when I went in to open my business account.  She has a great name: Laura Lee just like me!  So I asked her yesterday what she thought of it.

She said she loves to savor it during her “quality time” on her breaks from work.  Her main comment was: “Laura, you are very REAL in your book.  No mincing words for you!”  Loved it!

Then Brigit, a wonderful new Australian friend I made through this blog wrote:

“I’ve loved your book. ‘Hang on, it all changes,’ is a truth we so often forget when we are going through our tough times, and sometimes we need to be reminded of it.

Your book lives by my bedside. I can open it at any page at the end of a day, and go to sleep feeling positive.”

Brigit also took the time to write a more complete review on her own blog today.  Go see her cool blog: Brigit just lost one of her jobs so she definitely feels our pain!

I enjoyed her final comment:   “Midlife Magic has bits of magic on every page!

Let your best self start shining through!

January 31, 2009

The secret to positive midlife transformation, is the slow, gentle process of falling in love with yourself all over again.  We probably all remember a time when we were very young and found ourselves simply delightful. This was long before the world told us to quit being so full of life.  Much like my new puppy, every new thought and action seemed exciting, like a first discovery, and the world was our oyster!

Crazy as it may sound, you can actually recapture that feeling in the midst of a midlife depression. After acknowledging your grief over the many disappointments of life and aging, try turning a new leaf. Begin putting all of your energy into remembering how optimistic and cool you used to be, and then add on to that how amazing you have become over the past 30 or 40 years.

What happened to that kid who loved him/herself so much? The world happened. We had to learn all the rules and reasons why we couldn’t allow our true selves to blossom at that particular point in time. Well, guess what? It’s high time for your best self to start shining through…in fact it’s now or never!

For me, this was a time of rediscovering all the positive, creative things I loved to do, but had not done in ages, things like watercolors, writing poetry, walking my dogs in beautiful, natural settings, and redecorating my house in all my favorite colors. I also kept a journal where I focused on what was great about me, instead of my old pattern of complaining about what a mess I was.

With divorce and unemployment I lost a lot of “security” but gained a wonderful new sense of freedom. Now I truly could do anything I wanted…who was there to stop me? Luckily I had months of severance and unemployment checks to free me up for a time, and help me decide what was next.

My point: you get to choose what happens next, and no one else can choose for you. I recommend the path of self-respect and love over the path of negativity and destruction.

The Moment I First Believed: A book review

January 8, 2009

Just finished Wally Lamb’s third novel, and what a book it is!  I thoroughly enjoyed She’s come undone by Wally.  Could not believe how well he captured the internal life of an emotionally disturbed, obese young woman in that book!

This new one is the story of the ultimate midlife crisis.  In the midst of dealing with the common midlife issue of burying a beloved aunt who helped to raise him, Caelum Quirk finds himself working in the same school where the Columbine massacre occurred.  He happens to miss that day of  school because of his aunt’s funeral, but his wife Maureen, the school nurse, barely misses annihilation by hiding in a cabinet in the Columbine library.  There she develops a lifelong case of PTSD while listening to the killers shoot a number of her students to death.

To Caelum’s credit, he sticks it out with his damaged wife, moving back to his family farm in Connecticut.  This novel is the story of all he discovers about himself by loving his wife through thick and thin while also learning about his crazy family history in the process.

This is also the story of what violence does to people through time.  The violence others do to us, and the violence we do to ourselves through not acknowledging our own human frailty.

Caelum knows when he returns to the family farm in Connecticut, that there are far too many memories there for him.  His line:  “The place was radioactive with memories” was a standout.

But, to his credit, he stays and works through it all, solving many mysteries about how he came to be.  In the end, he is rewarded with a much better life.  He confronts the crisis instead of trying to run away from it once again.

Though definitely long and very convoluted, this novel is well worth sticking with to the end.

Finding the courage to properly mourn

January 6, 2009

Oprah revealed the fascinating story behind her recent weight gain yesterday.  It seems she may know now what a midlife crisis is after all.

That’s part of the problem with us human beings.  We find it far too easy to deny we have a problem, especially an emotional one.

What usually ends up happening when we deny our emotional problems for too long?  They turn into physical problems which are much more difficult to ignore or deny.  We then may turn our focus to solving the physical manifestation of our emotional problem, and still deny the anger, frustration or depression underneath.  Aren’t we amazing beings!

One of the most enduring lessons I learned from the excellent counselor I saw for  a few years in my thirties, was how important it is to allow time and space to have our feelings; truly grieve our losses and feel the many joys life offers.

But, I can hear you  saying: “I don’t have time for that! I have a million things to do today.”

Well guess what?  It all catches up with you sooner or later.  Denial does not get rid of any of your problems.  It just delays and intensifies them over time.  And in the meantime it eats away at your physical health in very serious ways like heart disease, GERD, and cancers.

When you deny your true feelings about yourself and the life you are choosing to live right now, you are like a ticking time bomb, just waiting for some overwhelming, inciting disturbance to blow your fuse and lead to true chaos in your life.

These overwhelming occurences seem to crop up in our middle years, things like serious injury or illness, divorce, job loss, empty nest, etc.  This is our body telling us:  “OK, cut it out now!  Quit trying to deny you are human and have feelings and needs just like everybody else!”

That is why courage is essential in this stage of life.  We must have the courage to face our feelings, feel them at the deepest levels, and listen to their lessons.

When I am dealing with personal grief, I take days off from work to allow myself to feel everything that’s going on with me.  My ability to fake being a happy, well-adjusted human being is gone.  It is time to be honest with myself and others.

That is why I sometimes think those of us who finally breakdown and have a crisis are the lucky ones.  We cannot go on denying.  We are forced by circumstances to stop our life for a while and fix the problem.