On stumbling….

Yes, life is a dance, that whole two steps forward one step back…sometimes one step forward two steps back.  I get frustrated with myself on such occasions where my stumbling lands me back at a place I struggled to get out of.  Recently I quit smoking, for what seemed like the 100th time (in reality it probably was my 10th really good one…meaning longer than 3 weeks with really good intentions of being DONE).  Well, the last time I quit prior to this I went through quite the ordeal, the bad moods, the restless sleeps, the headaches and worst of all, the weight gain.  I swore it would be my last time putting myself through it.

Now I’ve quit again, a month into it and I went through it all again, all for the non-pleasure of falling back into the trap for a mere month.  It was a colossal waste of energy and time. Yes, I am proud that I made the choice to quit again, but I don’t want to spend my life fighting the same battles over and over again all because these battles are familiar and I know how to win them.  I need next level business. I need a new view of life, this one has become dull.  Going back to the gym to lose the same 5 lbs I’ve lost 100 times before, instead of moving towards a new level of fitness.

I am taking on new things this year, I am finding my way back towards the dreams I had before I learned to doubt myself. That requires NEW beliefs…I have become certain I know what is best for me, how to attain the goals I wish to achieve, now its time to put new plans into action.  Now its time to do and be not want and need.  Theres a saying “When you know better you do better”.  Yes we are supposed to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, but the “moving on” requires that we learn from them and then MOVE ON…no more repetition for me…goodbye cigarettes, hello new and healthy body!


On returning to your dreams…

When I was young I believed everything I needed to be, I  needed to be while I was still young.  I did not account for a life past 40. I did not account for the 40 something version of myself to finally be the person who had the guts and the wisdom to understand what “following your dreams” meant, and what it really took to do it.

Sure, life requires a little luck to get things done, the right place at the right time, the right moment that you  meet the right person under the right circumstances etc…but the glitch is…if we’re doing everything we can to prepare ourselves for that moment, well…that moment inevitably arrives.  I have no proof of that as of yet, but a wise voice inside me knows it to be true, and I find (in life past 40) that I am able to recognize this voice, and know it to be a teller of truths.

So what does “preparation” look like in my life, at present? It looks like working out, it looks like letting go of resistance, it looks like playing my guitar, it looks like showing up…to class, to work, to the gym, to my life.  Showing up if I feel like it or not, showing up when I’ve gained 5 lbs, showing up whether I’m sad or happy or crampy or tired. I have yet to perfect this, but I’m working at it….every day getting a little bit better, and that to me is what progress looks like.

I am glad that I have learned that I don’t need to be young, youth is a lie, or rather, a moment, in the life of someone that is always evolving, it is a gift, though most of us don’t use it as such (I know I didn’t). Youth did not, as I once thought it did, define me. I define me…this spirit, this smile, this fight, this desire…I survived my youth, which is a wonderful thing, now I wish to thrive.  I have finally learned that there truly is “no time like the present” and that today is the youngest you will ever be again…

On what Ive learned, what Im learning, and what I’ve yet to learn……..

My mother once said (though I’m sure she did not coin the phrase) “You may be a late bloomer, but you smell as sweet as any other rose” I think that may have meant more to me than she would ever know (especially since my mother is apt to be my worst critic as much as she can be my biggest fan).

Its a solid truth that my second chapter in life (now in my forties) is a much more stable, and pretty chapter than the one preceeding it. (See ya later 20’s, you were NOT my best friend).  I, like many, if not all, other women, do not want to get old, but man do I love getting older, I am very good at it, and getting better all the time.

It is nice to know that my “glory days” are in the now and not in the past.  Its nice to now my friendships may have grown fewer but, oh, so much deeper.  Its nice to know my laugh lines are from, well, laughing! Its nice to know that the dreams I didn’t chase are coming round again and have started chasing me (time is a frenemy, that scares us, sometimes, so much, that it kickstarts us into taking action we may not have otherwise taken). Its nice to know that when love comes its never too late, actually its divinely on time. I’m very happy I never pressed that issue.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that we are born overcomers…our spirit was made to be resilient. Our paths were meant to teach us, all those bumps and blocks…all of them, strategically placed to give us our unique human experience.  Its NOT what we have been through, but what we have overcome that defines us…me? Im a warrior.  The most delicate kind, but still in the ranks, and for now ‘Im ok with that, as I said, I’m getting better all the time.

What I’m learning now is that one is never truly ready…not that we shouldn’t make great efforts in our life to prepare ourselves for opportunities, but our work should be spent more on creating opportunities and then jumping straight into them vs. preparing ourselves for the elusive opportunities we have yet to call forth.  I am learning how to trust…everything…the process, life, myself (the hardest one), the unknown, the unknowable….just trust.  Waiting on the right time is wasted time.  Do your best…it will never be perfect, but it will always be better than waiting to do it later…later is not a real time.

What I hope to learn is that I can really do this. That I can shift my way of thinking, move forward with all these new(er) beliefs, and really succeed…get that level of fitness, never pick up another cigarette, travel, help others, adopt that child, love my partner as well as I want him to experience love in this life, and do the same for myself. I want to learn that practicing what you preach makes all the difference in the world, that my mind, my heart, and my soul can all operate on the same level and bring forth more and more of all these beautiful changes that I am feeling, and always seeking more of. I hope that this learning never ceases, I hope that my later chapter in life will amuse me, as I look back on a life that was lived dancing and tripping and running and falling and jumping and sobbing and laughing and loving and that it somehow all comes together to make a beautiful story…one that I am proud of, one, that I am lucky enough (and wise enough) to already be proud of. Loving myself is by no means an easy relationship, but it is one I am fully committed to.

On being 40

Forty is the dawn of a new age.  Yes, we live in a society where the age forty has been redefined, we are not our mothers forty.  Forty is said to be the new thirty, Forty is when a woman peaks, not just sexually but also mentally.  No longer burdened nor distracted by the shallow pursuits of youth, a woman is now free to pursue greater (more meaningful) things, all while still looking pretty damn good.  This decade proves to be the very best one…looks, intelligence, wisdom, its all ours, for one brief decade.  Now Ive got nothing against 50 or 60 or even the 70’s or 80’s…if anything I hope and pray Im lucky enough to get to experience them all.  Ill be that little old lady in the retirement home making dirty jokes with my friend while we check out the sexy Spanish intern (I wont go to a retirement community that does not have some of those) but those decades will be different, they are…less sexy.  Not saying that a woman cant be sexy in them, Im just saying certain outfits, certain attitudes will have to be adjusted and things other than “sexiness” will become of more importance…as they should, as they will, and with my blessings.  When something has been lived and done, it naturally loses its appeal as we are catapulted into a new way of thinking or being.  Those that try to hold on to what “once was” find no happiness in it and seem a little desperate when it comes to the outside perspective (cue the 50 somethings in mini skirts and hair extensions with all the wrong plastic surgery).  There has to be a time when we are willing to say goodbye….there has to be a time we let go.  Turning 40 for me meant letting go of some of my more youthful dreams, which is fine because they were replaced with newer more relevant ones, but what of the things in my youth that I never got to do? Now that its too late (although for some I know it isn’t, but for me, yes…yes it is) what will I never get to do that I can make peace with? Well here goes:

I will never attend Burning Man…that’s ok by me.  Though in theory I would have loved to be the modern day hippy who dons fairy wings and finds spirituality in some mdma while dancing to the repetitive beats by some current dj all whilst lining up for porta pottys and sleeping in a tent…that was never me, and I make peace with that…power to you, you twenty somethings that don’t care about comfort and just want to party…do it now…because there will come a time (much sooner than you think) that you will choose a weekend at a cottage by the lake and the idea of a music festival will not even cross your mind.

I will never be a cheerleader/professional dancer/model….all the dreams that dance in a little girls mind have been quietly laid to rest…perhaps I can still get a cheerleaders outfit and wear it for my boyfriend…THAT still sounds like fun.  What I have learned is that all those dreams don’t die, they become integrated into who you are, they get lived in little doses every day. I am not a professional dancer but I dance almost every day, I am not a model but I love my make up and my fashion and I will often make an entrance using my best catwalk and yes, sometimes it turns heads, and that’s all a girl can ask for. As for the cheerleader? I am my boyfriends, my friends, and my nephews biggest one…I have learned that the enthusiasm for the success of others translates into my own happiness…and as far as Im concerned I have the best team in the world.

I will never travel the world with a backpack booking rooms in hostels along the way.  I have recently travelled a lot, and I sleep far better and have way more fun in a clean and private hotel room than I think I may have ever in a hostel.  To travel to a new city/country with a strict baggage allowance is not something I would have ever been good at, I tend to bring more hair product than could fit in a knapsack so Im fine with the idea that I have never travelled with one. Also? I like a minibar…

I will never have purple hair…that one hurts, lets move on…

I will never look like I once did at 20.  Im one of the lucky ones, I feel prettier now.  I didn’t know I was pretty at 20, it took me till 40 to figure that out.  It is somewhat tragic in a comical way that I realized my beauty as it reached its fading years, but Im ok with that because my idea of beauty has matured right along with the rest of me and how I define beauty now is health, healthy is beautiful at any age, and I am healthier in terms of lifestyle now than I ever was in my twenties. I assume my ever growing love affair with integrating health into my life will continue to grow and the idea of health playing an ever growing role in my life makes me excited for the passing of a few years, some time to see the effects of what this lifestyle will bring.

I will never be the girl with a million dates.  I never was that girl, and now I never will be.  I take solace in knowing that the few times I did try to date like a single, young and pretty girl about town, I hated most of it.  I found being on a date the equivalent to watching bad acting, uncomfortable, awkward, and a whole lotta show without substance.  Well, now I have a boyfriend and the days of me checking out other men are over….thank God.  I find myself lucky to be with the one man who I always want to date for the rest of my life…

I will never be at the clubs on the weekends again…unless its a friends birthday, or new years I cant foresee myself involved in the nightlife the way I once was (and loved). A night of a few drinks and dancing used to make me very happy.  I think…I don’t really remember…I was drunk.  This one was maybe the most difficult…because no one told me it would end.  I didn’t think it would…it didn’t necessarily have to.  It ended when the nights became less fun.  When getting hit on by drunk guys seemed a juvenile way to spend ones time, when the dance floor started to seem uncomfortably crowded, and the crowd seemed to get either uncomfortably younger, or worse, uncomfortably older. Nights at the club started to become nights that I would wait for my friends to be ready to leave, eager to get home to my dog, angry about the waste of money the whole evening was.  I grew out of clubs before I was in a relationship so I don’t blame my relationship for that. I will say that a night of netflicks, a homemade dinner, and a glass of wine at home on a Saturday night makes me really happy, The kind of happy I remember in the morning.

Theres no doubt about it, age settles a person, some see that as a bad thing, I do not.  I see the ability to settle into the very things that make my life wonderful a wonderful release from the years where I had to actively search for the very things that I am blessed enough to be settling in now. There is great freedom in age, there is great revelation, evolution, and enlightenment.  I would not trade my forties for any other decade.  I do not dream of reliving any part of my past (though I do wonder what I might have made of myself if I had had this wisdom then…but we all wonder that don’t we)?  There were many mistakes made, but theres no going back to fix them…I picked the wrong men, but ended up with the right one, I didn’t know my beauty, and have never felt more beautiful. I lived a lot wrong to end up with so much right, and for the parts I didn’t live? Well…. they now rest in peace.

On Quitting Smoking…

I don’t remember how I started, Im sure it was my way to claim some kind of independence as an early teen, thinking I looked cool, thinking I was making some kind of statement about how I felt about my parents (not good), thinking it helped me fit in to a crowd I was perhaps better off not having had fit in with.

I cant say I didn’t enjoy my habit. Throughout my twenties it was my best friend, my me time, my party accessory, my private consoler when times got tough (a break up, a break down, a 20 something period of angst or self created drama)  It wasn’t until my mid thirties that I started to have disdain for the habit.  The world had changed, smoking was no longer allowed in bars and restaurants…or anywhere for that matter.  For a short time businesses scared of losing money built separate rooms, closed off from the people who didn’t want to cut short their lives or reek of the toxins being expelled from the unhealthy lungs of others.  These rooms were, for lack of a better word, repulsive.  They stank.  Badly.  They were enough to make a smoker want to quit (which is not, as every smoker knows, the same thing as being ready to do so).

By my late thirties (a good 20 years into my habit) smoking had begun to take a noticeable toll on me. I was always tired, my skin was not the healthiest of colors, my teeth were yellowing despite a rather committed regimen of whitening toothpaste and various bleaching trays/strips. I also started seeing the toll it took on my fellow smokers, my friends who were just as much in bondage as myself, the strangers outside in the dead of winter, anxiously trying to suck back on their cigarettes just enough to kill the craving before frost bite set in.

There was a commonality amongst smokers over the age of 40….we looked unhealthy, we smelled unhealthy, we sounded unhealthy (with our raspy voices and our speech often interrupted by unexpected bits of phlegm expulsion from our weary lungs).  I don’t want to overgeneralize, but we were also out of shape (it is almost impossible to be a person who loves themselves enough to adhere to a consistent workout schedule and put efforts into eating well and living right and also be a smoker, it is simply inconsistent with a self-love state of mind)

Over the years I have managed to overcome many things, some quite naturally as the obsessive nature of youth fell away. I have kicked my addiction to love (being a hopeless romantic is not as pretty as it sounds),  I have gotten past a pretty detrimental eating disorder (though I would think twice before leaving your cinnamon bun unattended with me in the room) and I have championed over other addictions that Im not quite ready to reveal to anyone but my therapist yet…smoking seemed to be my final frontier….

Heres the thing….the thing smokers don’t know, the thing I didn’t know until one day I just knew it…and it changed everything. We are who we decide to be.  Yes quitting smoking is hard…but it is so much easier than thinking yourself so weak that you cannot end it.  Whatever pleasure is derived from smoking, the bottom line, is it is an abusive relationship.  It has you believing you are too weak to leave, it has you believing your life will not be the same without it.  No one smokes anymore because they love smoking, they smoke because they  fear what their lives will be without it.  Smokers have decided they are smokers.  They have decided that they cannot picture their lives without it.  They believe that without cigarettes there will be nothing to comfort them, nothing to calm them, no joy in coffee, or wine for that matter….and whatever is there to do after sex?  Some people wont quit smoking because they don’t want to gain weight, others because they don’t want to crave for a moment something they cant have…it seems cruel.

Lets “clear the smoke”  so that we can see things clearly…yes, you might gain some weight , I did, I also lost it, and will continue to get even more fit now that I can run, now that I can breathe.  Coffee and wine…will ALWAYS be good, actually better as you can relax while enjoying it rather than feel the anxiety of fitting a cigarette into the equation (for the record, I don’t know a worse smell than coffee/cigarette breath). Waking up becomes a delightful experience, no sore throat, no dreariness, a clarity of mind I did not have as a smoker, and an excitement to begin a day free of any addiction.  I did not have to rummage to find my cigarettes, did not have to curse as I get into my car and start driving to realize their not in my purse. I am in control of me, and I am beaming…because I know, I am taking care of myself.  There is no better feeling than knowing you are your own best friend, that to the best of your ability you are treating yourself kindly, you are honouring your health, you are actively participating in your own health and well being.

I boil it down to this….once upon a time I made a decision to smoke, I was uninformed, rebellious, full of the false immortality of youth. Today, I decide NOT to smoke (because I can) because Im an adult now, and I am informed, and I don’t want rebellion I want love, and I know Im not immortal, and I want to be, choose to be, healthy.  I realized smoking was a selfish choice, that I owed it to my nephew, my sister, my friends, hell… my dog, to put out that cigarette…to not be the person whose risky behaviour could inadvertently bring sadness into the lives of those who love me.  I don’t want my dreams cut short because I believed a lie that I could not choose otherwise.  I cant in good faith hear stories of women fighting breast cancer, children with Lukemia, etc…and then be so unaffected, so ungrateful for my own health that I light a cigarette.

This is my journey, and these are my reasons and I do not judge anyone for their habits or addictions. I am frustrated by the ones I love who still do take to their cigarettes, I see their lives so ill affected by an inability to see how easily they could end  their addiction just by believing that they can…but then….there I was, not long ago, inhaling like that nicotine was more precious than air….and I don’t know what changed, I don’t know why I suddenly understood, but I have never been more grateful, I have never felt so free, or proud. I pray daily all my loved ones do the same. I hope something I may have written here can help. Nothing good comes easy, quitting smoking is no exception, but my God, if we only knew the power we had, if we only tapped into it, we would see smoking for what it is, the biggest lie weve ever been sold (which is worse than “told” as we pay for the privilege of making ourselves sick). “If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” -Thomas Edison