Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lifelong Goals

Real Simple magazine posed the question: What are your top three lifelong goals? This is a fairly simple question when first read, but it takes on depth as you think about it. Two nights ago, sitting on the front porch enjoying the early evening warmth and sun, my husband, our 19-year-old pseudo-son and I discussed the question. It was immediately interesting to note that, at 50, my husband and I have goals that go beyond the routine; they are more in line with Maslow’s level of self-actualization. Our 19-year-old friend, however, had goals that were related to the more primitive needs of employment, confidence and resources. Our top goals, even lifelong goals, can and should change as we complete our education, advance in careers, tuck experiences under our belts. What was a dreamlike goal in our 20’s or 30’s might move up to a top position as other, more crucial, lifelong goals are achieved. Perhaps one of the benefits of getting older is that we have, hopefully, achieved the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy and can begin to focus more on that which will truly enhance our lives; goals that we want to accomplish “just because”, not because they will pay our bills and put food on our tables.

As we discussed the question, we also wondered about whether these types of lifelong goals are the same as what you’d want to do if, tomorrow, the doctor gave you six months to live (as in The Bucket List). If I had only six months to live, I think the goals I would want to accomplish, would probably not reflect my top three lifelong goals. I’ve struggled with that conflict. If my lifelong goals are different from what I would do with only six months to live, does that mean that the lifelong goals really aren’t that important? Supposedly the activities I would want to partake in for the next six months would be those that are truly most important to me so shouldn’t those activities be my top lifelong goals? It’s a conundrum. I do know that my number one lifelong goal is to write and publish a book and, if I were given just six months to live, I would want to write, write, write – to my children, to my friends. The two goals aren’t exactly the same, but they’re close enough that, for now, I’ll just keep writing.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Mickey Mouse Day

I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: It’s all about attitude! With school out last week, an out-of-town trip over the weekend and the beginning of summer camp schedules starting this week, I’m feeling a bit over-extended. I wake up at night worrying about how I’ll manage to fit in everything that must be done, which then leaves me feeling tired and lethargic during the day so that I don’t get as much done – it’s a vicious cycle. This morning, as I prepared for the day, I decided I needed to break this cycle, so I put on Mickey Mouse jewelry. I know, that sounds pretty hokey, but sometimes hokey is the push I need to get myself moving. I’d like to think that wearing a Mickey Mouse watch, necklace, earrings and bracelet will imbue me with some of that famous Disney Magic. I have to admit, though, I’m not feeling it yet. Maybe I need to take more drastic measures. If you see a woman driving around today wearing Mickey Mouse ears, wave to her because it might be me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Last week I flew to Denver to meet my husband for a business function and then we went on to Omaha to attend a Men’s College World Series game. As I sat on the plane in Portland waiting to take-off, I marveled that I should find myself sitting on an airplane, by myself, calm and anticipating a fun weekend when only a few years ago the idea of flying anywhere left me with shaky knees and runny bowels. Sometime in the last eleven years, when I flew to Korea to pick up a child, I have not only come to grips with the idea of flying, but I have come to enjoy it – or at least I enjoy the travel experiences enough that I no longer worry about how I get there. I think my change of attitude is probably because I’ve been able to overcome my irrational fears with positive repetition, i.e. repeatedly flying without crashing. If that’s the case, I want to think about other fears and imagined obstacles and figure out how I can overcome them with positive repetitions – I want to fly in all areas of my life.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mary's Mountain

During my 50th birthday luncheon Mary, a friend and family member who recently retired, told me of her plans to climb Mt. Shasta with her son the following weekend. I was so impressed that she was going to take on such a big challenge. The next weekend, I wondered off and on how the climb was going, if they were safe, if they’d reached the summit. Mary hikes, but she isn’t normally a mountain climber, so this was truly a big event for her. This was her son’s first attempt at being the guide and timing and conditioning were misjudged and the weather wasn’t as good as they’d hoped, so they didn’t make the summit, but they did go a long way up the mountain, achieving a secondary goal they’d set. I have no burning desire to climb a mountain anytime soon, but I am so impressed that Mary set a goal, worked toward it, adjusted the goal and achieved at the adjusted level without being completely disappointed. She says now that she wishes she’d trained more and had been able to go faster, but what I really love is that she’s now looking to next year and figuring out what she needs to do to make the next climb go even better. Way to go Mary!

Check out Mary’s son’s thoughts on the climb and some great photos by clicking here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I Love My (blank) Life

Redbook magazine does this thing where they ask people to fill in the blank in the sentence, I love my _______ life. When I think of that sentence lately, my immediate response is: I love my over-extended life. However, when my life feels over-extended, I’m not sure that I actually love it. My other choices would be: I love my entire life. I love my full and wonderful life. I love my charmed life. When I feel over-extended, as I have for several months, I sometimes wonder why I would even consider loving a life filled with this type of crazy schedule. Yesterday, sitting at a Father’s Day Mariners baseball game with my husband and all six of our children plus our extra one and our future daughter-in-law, I realized that, while over-extended is a bit too much, for the most part, all of those descriptions are really one and the same. It felt wonderful to be able to look down a row of seats and see all of these great kids and young people and to realize that you can’t have that kind of commitment and caring without having a full and wonderful life, without sometimes being over-extended. I love my life!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Samantha Turns 50!

Last week my husband and I went to see the new Sex and the City movie. I won’t give away anything about the movie, except to say I enjoyed it while my husband would have preferred a root canal, but towards the end of the movie, the girls are out for dinner and the waiter walks up behind Samantha with a little birthday cake with “5-0” candles on top. The sight of that cake took my breath away and I made a little, audible, “Oh!” Having joyously celebrated my own fiftieth birthday less than a week earlier, I was taken aback by the thought of Samantha being fifty. For the last week I’ve been trying to figure out why this knowledge struck me so powerfully. Is it the thought of someone I thought of as younger actually being a peer? Is it that Samantha has a body I can only imagine in my dreams? Is it the lifestyle she leads that doesn’t quite fit with society’s image of a fifty-year-old? It’s a funny contrast that, at the same time I was shocked to learn that Samantha is fifty, I also felt happy for her and for the positive transition that I know this birthday can be. I still don’t know why I felt such immediate surprise, but I like the idea that this felt like further evidence that I’m now part of a pretty cool club – the “Wonderful Women over Fifty” club!

P.S. Yes, I know that Samantha is only a fictional character -- I haven't lost my mind completely.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

On A Wave!

Years ago we saw the movie, The Four Seasons starring Alan Alda. I don’t remember much about the movie, but I’ve always remembered one particular scene: Alan Alda and some other men are walking through a forest and Alan Alda’s character starts to talk about his theory of marriage. Basically, he states that the feelings within a marriage are like a wave, sometime the wave is crashing against the shore and the emotions are intense, other times the wave ebbs, the water is quiet and we don’t feel so worked up. Throughout the years of our marriage, I remember occasionally referring to “being on a wave” or “the wave is ebbing right now” and feeling that these highs and lows were okay and a natural part of the marital path. It gave me comfort to know that a low time in my emotions wasn’t the end of the relationship; that I could acknowledge the feeling and look toward the day when the wave would once again come crashing to the shore. And so the first 25+ years of our marriage went by with a flow of intense feelings and more emotionally quiet times. But somewhere within the last few years, we’ve noticed that we seem to be on a wave all of the time! There was something about preparing for our big 30th anniversary celebration last year that helped both of us acknowledge and appreciate the relationship we’ve developed, and now, a year later, the high of the 30th anniversary celebration has not waned. Perhaps we’ve gotten through the shallow water and now we’re riding the long wave.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

50 for 50

My 50th birthday was last Saturday and to help me celebrate fifty friends and family members joined me for a Ladies Luncheon at a local restaurant. Prior to the luncheon, I asked each of the women to think about how they would finish the sentence, If I knew then what I know now, I would/would not have __________. At the luncheon everyone received a small piece of paper on which to write their sentence and I read a few random entries after lunch. Eventually I plan to type them all up and send them out to those who attended. Last night I finally had time to read through all of the submissions and what I found was an amazing wealth of attitudes and advice. Here is a sampling of the entries:

· I would not have been so stubborn. –age 14
· I would not have been so cautious. –age 50
· I would not have been so mean to my mom. I love her. –age 36
· I would not have done things so late at the last minute. –age 9
· I would have enjoyed each day without any regrets from the past or worries about the future. –age 45
· I would not have lost touch with some very close friends. I would love to be sharing their lives. –age 42
· I would have worked harder and studied in school more. Taking time off to figure out what I would be passionate about. –age 49
· I would have started my own business 25 years ago instead of working for dorks. –“ageless”
· I would have cherished my family more deeply and told my mom that I loved her everyday. –age 49
· I would have been less stressed out over unexpected changes and events and more open to the adventure of not knowing exactly what comes next in my life. –age 45
· I would have appreciated my “young” body that was fine but that I felt wasn’t. –age 41
· And my personal favorite: I wouldn’t change a thing. My mistakes and achievements have been the building blocks of who I am – I just can’t imagine removing any of those building blocks because that would change the magnificent person I am because of them. –age 43

When I first came up with this exercise, I hoped that it would show the girls and young women attending that there is so much they can do. While I think the words can definitely be addressed to those in the 30-and-under category, I also think they’re applicable to all of us today. We can all use a reminder to enjoy each day, to stay in touch with friends, to tell those important to us that we love them, to appreciate who and what we are now rather than waiting another ten years to look back with appreciation. As one person wrote: Be happy. Be present. Live in the now!