If color has a hometown, it must be Oaxaca City, Mexico.
The streets, stores and people are brimming with colorful handmade items. Food here is a picturesque patchwork of dishes that satisfy before you even eat. The flowering trees lining the stony streets mock the stern reserve of the Spanish architecture. It is a beautiful, energizing place to reflect on the changes happening for the women here as well as some conversations I’ve had recently with American women. It has me thinking about the colors of our dreams.
The conversations I've had recently were with women in midlife around changes they would like to see in the next 6 months. Nearly all of them referred to some sort of change in their work.
It’s not always comfortable but it’s totally normal - it makes sense that after a couple decades of working we would step back and say, huh. What am I doing and why?
I’ve thought about that as I’m learning more about the changes that are occurring as Oaxacan society continues to respond to an increased demand for weavings and other crafts that started in the 1970s. Oaxacan women and men have participated in efforts to retain majority control in the development of their economy. Women are now better educated and leading in ways they did not before; managing businesses, showing up at meetings that were previously male only, making collective decisions that may have previously been handed down by one or two male leaders.
(That gives a very broad brushstroke to a complex subject that I can’t cover in depth here. I’ve noted a reference that I’ve been reading at the bottom of the blog post. )
We can see an analog in the U.S. with female entrepreneurs, especially women of color. An American Express Open study from 2016 reports that women-owned firms are increasing at five times the national average rate, and nearly 8 in 10 new women-owned firms are being launched by women of color.
Like the women in Oaxaca, many female entrepreneurs of color in the U.S. are organizing around a common cause - to share learning and resources, to have a say in how changes affect them and their families, and to keep each other accountable to their bigger goals.
Contrast this with another approach that many women fall back on. They have worked like crazy for years, many have gotten to a place of accomplishment, but are feeling like something is missing.
What got them there isn’t interesting to them anymore. One woman said “I tend to be extremely resilient, no matter what comes up, I focus, follow through, and then get back to where I want to be. Until now. I just can’t seem to find that motivation right now. Its really surprised me.”
The challenge I am observing ( and have lived myself) is one reason we get stuck is that we are bringing the same set of tools that worked before for us (or our mothers) to try to progress, or bump along, or even procrastinate to stay in our comfort zone.
Does this sound familiar - “I need to think about it, do some reading, research, plan a little more, see where I’m at in…” - in when?
I’m not saying that research and planning are unnecessary. I am saying that by this point in our lives we know a hell of a lot more than we give ourselves credit for, and for sure more than our culture gives us credit for. Why don’t we give ourselves credit for our hard-earned moxie?
We live in a society that is so obsessed with youth that American women, with all our education and first world trappings, are less validated for our wisdom than middle-aged indigenous women in Oaxaca!
The messaging of our popular culture is this: the older you get, the more irrelevant you become.
Try this: take a moment and disconnect how that feels emotionally - step back and look at that as a fact and not have a feeling about it. Now, who or what is served in our society by this messaging?
It serves commercial interests, primarily.
I’m calling it out because we cannot expect the message to change for us.
We can choose to see it for what it is and to take action in spite of it. We can choose to work compassionately with our fears around money, aging, our changing body. (More on that in future posts, I only bring it up here because nothing in midlife happens in a vacuum. If we are disconnected with and resentful of our amazing bodies, it affects everything else. )
What is happening, especially for this generation of women in midlife, is that we are being called to leap.
In general women in midlife way overdo the planning and thinking. Studies and our experience tell us that women are actually fairly confident in our zone of expertise. We are much less confident than men when we are out of known territory. One study showed that women were much less likely to apply for a job if they couldn't check off every requirement. Men applied even if not completely qualified. Men tend to do, women tend to wait
Yes, there are external obstacles to our progress, but we also hold ourselves back.
f you’ve been feeling unsettled or discontented for awhile now, you don’t need to think, research, plan or see how it feels 2 weeks from now.
You need to take some action, something sharp enough to get your attention, something that pokes a hole in your routine or comfort zone.
Macro view: As I’ve pointed out before, while this generation of midlife women was growing up, the world began trending at an exponential rate on almost every major indicator. For those of us in midlife, it may not seem like it matters personally, but changes in society and the planet are moving faster than ever and it IS the energetic backdrop of our lives.
Micro view: Many of the women I talk to are accustomed to figuring out their lives by themselves, really. Some have had extensive leadership development paid for by their employers, and that's fabulous, but we all know that we show up differently to things when we have sought it out and paid for it ourselves.
In my own journey, I woke up one day at 52 years old, newly single, with lots of question marks around my “job”. I had always put my spouse’s career first; he made more money, and we unquestioningly prioritized money as the priority goal in designing our lives as a couple with young children.
After my divorce, I had some savings to work with. I looked at it and thought, I could shrink my life, get 2 jobs and several roommates (I was living in Northern California at the time), and spoon feed my retirement account in little bits for the next 15 years. I could spend my 50s - the last decade or so of relative youth and energy - working for someone else. I could put my faith in the questionable ethics of Wall Street and cross my fingers that the market wouldn’t crash again in the meantime.
For what? Let’s face it, at 52, if you don’t make much money, the amount you can put into savings is not going to move the needle much in terms of return. I’m not a financial planner and actually would love to find a brave one help me create a chart of diminishing lifestyle returns.
What is the flexion point in your 50s where saving doesn’t make much difference to your retirement budget unless you can sock away a good chunk from one salary or double income?
For me, the outcome of being “sensible and safe” would have (maybe) been a few more dollars every month from Social Security at 65, at which point I would shrink my life even more, and probably still work at least one job on the side for low pay so as not to endanger my monthly check. That seemed like a life drained of color.
Leaving my former husband was the hardest thing I have ever done. I didn’t tear a piece out of my family’s heart to settle for shrinking my life.
I decided to sell what I owned, get scrappy about side work and cutting expenses, take some risks, see the world, meet a bunch of new people to enrich my network and influence - so I can begin to contribute to them and others as well.
I’ve had anxiety attacks looking at my numbers sometimes, but I’m the Boss of Me, right? I have a plan and I’m working it. My progress is imperfect and fabulous. Money doesn’t get to rule my life anymore, it’s a part of the puzzle but it's not the only goal. And right now I’m working to make ends meet, just like most of you and the women I have talked to.
This is my experiment now. Unlike most “how I did it” stories on the internet, I can’t tell you that this approach has made me wealthy in monetary terms. (Yet!)
I can tell you that I’m living my dream. One of my motivations is I'm creating a scrapbook for my 80 year old self (Try it!)
I show up to life in full color. I’m traveling the world, living where I want to, and making significant trade-offs (such as drastic downsizing) to make it sustainable because I don’t have a trust fund or alimony to rely on.
I’m not saying that my dream is yours or that it should be. Its different for everyone.
What I am saying is I know you have a dream, and I know you are capable of so much more than you probably give yourself credit for. It is the risk is what makes your dream pop! It fills your dream with colors. If it wasn’t risky, it wouldn’t be a dream because you would be doing it.
How do we do this?
If I had stayed where I was, trying to figure it out on my own, as I had always done, I would have stayed stuck.
Its almost impossible to blaze a new trail in your heart, soul and life alone. The difference is I am connected to and accountable to other women now. I have a mentor and a coach. When those arrangements end, I’ll look for creative ways to replace that accountability.
The reason I’m so passionate about connecting us to one another is that it’s the only way to make our own rate of change and progress match the rate of change in the world around us.
And that is the way our contribution stays relevant and we increase our influence, something the world desperately needs right now.
I invested in some personal development programs and coaching in the last couple of years. What I see is that there are basically 2 camps.
The women who break through and really leverage what they have learned the first half of their careers are the ones who invest in themselves - yes, spend money on a program or coach - so that they are accountable to other women for some significant stretch goals. This is because knowing we have to show up pushes us to move a little faster and take a little more risk.
The point is, I used to sit on my couch, alone, and try to recreate my life in a silo. Guess what happened? I was chronically discontented with my progress. I had friends and clients, of course - but that is different from the accountability of other women when you have put some skin in the game. That is what gets us taking action and risk, learning faster, and increasing our impact.
And here is the proof: The women who are changing society and their lives in a big way are organized and accountable to one another. Just ask the strong women of Oaxaca and thousands of female women of color entrepreneurs in the U.S.
Our apt. looks like a hurricane just hit - its that intensely chaotic state that makes me crazy, right before my sweet man takes all this hot mess and packs the bags neatly into our car. We are heading out to Oaxaca today, I'll be working and playing from that beautiful state in Southern Mexico for about two weeks.
I've been supportive of women's international entrepreneurship and micro-business formation for years, so I'm especially interested in learning more about the women's cooperatives there. Many of them are built around regional crafts - you may have seen the colorful shirts, capes and skirts in the marketplaces of Mexico, with large, densely embroidered flower motifs. There are also weaving cooperatives. Textiles are one of my favorite things, in a parallel life I'm sure I'm a gypsy rug dealer. Magic carpet anyone?
Weaving and rug production became an industry in Oaxaca after tourism increased in the 70s due to the completion of the national highway that leads right to Oaxaca City.
If you are interested in what women are doing in microbusinesses all over the world, check out KIVA, a portal that allows individuals to invest small amounts of money in tiny businesses all over. KIVA is our pay-it-forward partner at YinCaravana, where we have a small but growing portfolio of loans.
There are also some complex societal twists in southern Mexico - in the Zapotec culture a muxe is an assigned male at birth individual who dresses and behaves in ways otherwise associated with the female gender; they may be seen as a third gender.
Check back in this week, we'll be posting more info and pics at Instagram, too!
Here is some more context if you are interested:
I want to start this post with the Truth.
The promise of midlife is this: Your experience is ready to come together and renew you in a way you cannot imagine. Your brilliance is already created for you, all you have to do is claim it if you haven't already.
But it doesn't always feel that way, does it?
Have you noticed lately? Everyone in stores and restaurants looks about 24 years old.
We have to speak up to order at the bar whereas before we attracted attention just by standing there.
The man who smiles across the room is looking behind you at a younger woman.
We show up to situations feeling the same inside and people begin to react differently based on our changing looks.
These moments can ruin your day, or your week, or your life, if you let them.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You may be jolted with the realization your family hasn’t seen you for years.
Did you see the movie Bridges of Madison County? Francesca, Meryl Streeps character, is a WWII Italian bride, living on a farm in Iowa years later with her husband.
He and her children have a very specific mirror they hold up to her, the only problem is the reflection is a simplistic line drawing that only reflects her domestic role in the family.
She has an complex, passionate colorful dimension hidden inside that is unleashed by a handsome stranger during a visit one week when her family is out of town. With him, she feels “seen” for perhaps the first time in her life.
If you saw that movie, I imagine many of us were holding our breath as Francesca sat at a red light in the pickup truck with her husband, debating jumping out and rushing through the rain into the waiting arms of her lover, who was in his truck just in front of her about to make a left turn on his way out of town.
How did you feel when the light turned green, and the truck in front didn’t move, and still she stayed put? When her lover finally turned left and drove out of of her life. When her husband switched on the radio as she started to cry?
That scene still gives me chills to this day. And to think the book was written by a man! Wow.
But we are not in a movie.
Feeling invisible is something we need to tackle head-on, because its the biggest threat to you living the most amazing 20 - 30 years of your life.
Its the biggest threat to you staying with or finding a passionate relationship.
Its the biggest threat to our responsibility to be strong, positive mentors for our young people.
Its a big threat to society because it weakens our collective contribution, from a generation of women that is quite frankly the best equipped to be leaders in this moment. It’s not the Boomers and its not the Millennials. Its Gen X.
I do not feel invisible. My outline is crystal clear now, I know who I am now and don’t care too much what others see or don’t see in me.
However, it is pretty rare for an American woman to come to that place of confidence without a fight. Losing my edges was the core of my midlife crisis, and something in me that refused to become invisible rose up and fought back.
Redefining my edges again is the outcome of my midlife transformation.
Before we go on, I want to put “feeling invisible” in perspective.
I saw a poignant response in a FB group for midlife women where the “I feel invisible” thread was on fire. The comment was from a woman in a wheelchair who had never felt conventionally attractive. She pointed out that there are many of us who have been “invisible” our whole lives.
Minority women have also grappled with feeling invisible for decades.
We can learn from and admire women who craft inspirational lives even though they were never celebrated in our mainstream cultural messaging to begin with.
Can you imagine a teen girl who may be realizing she has no interest in attracting boys, trying to sort out her emotions while navigating the hypersexualized ads targetted at young people? Where does she “see” herself in all of that?
This at the same time when her straight friend is suffering a lack of self-esteem from over-identifying with advertising, beginning to believe that she has to be thin and sexual to be noticed.
And that, of course, is where it all started for most of us. Our looks = attention = approval = being seen.
Here is another truth: whatever our situation, once we get clear on our edges and our gifts, we will attract people and attention that is authentic, not just based on what we look like - which is mostly about their ego noticing ours.
We feel invisible because we don’t know what we look like without someone else’s mirror reflecting back to us. We look to others to define our edges.
Feeling seen is about self-acceptance and self-confidence. Its about recovering your feminine brilliance no matter what society says. Then we can be strong mentors and help the young people in our lives navigate toxic media, too.
The inner critic starts out there
If you are in midlife - your 40s and early 50s - you probably already know you are sandwiched between 2 huge, very different demographic groups - the Baby Boomers and the Millenials.
Marketers have tripped over themselves for years in a frenzy to be relevant to one or both of those demographics. Women do 85% of the buying in the U.S. - so you can imagine the amount of ads targeted at women over the years.
For better or worse, in the U.S., marketing defines the collective ego of our culture. Marketing messages are woven into storylines of popular shows; product placement in shows, movies and videos accelerate this affect. Marketing has become our social narrative.
Midlife women today, who are by default members of Gen X, are not very well represented in this narrative. A study of midlife women by SuperHuman marketing agency found that 91% of midlife women don’t believe advertisers get them.
So in a society where marketing is so influential and pervasive, it is easy to confuse being invisible to marketers with being invisible in general.
Let’s turn that around and consider it a gift that we have not been as heavily marketed to as women in their 60s and 70s.
I have interviewed many women over 65, retired from successful careers, lives filled with contribution to family and community. For too many, you would never guess that from talking with them.
Their language is peppered with self-doubt. Second guessing has become a reflexive habit. I have a theory that life long exposure to advertising is one reason for a lack of generational confidence among many (not all) baby boomer women - which is crazy considering what they have accomplished.
For decades, on a daily basis, society’s messages have told them that they are lacking and need to buy product x to be whole, beautiful, loved and accepted.
Fast forward to today, where the marketing landscape for women is all about the millennials. In the same SuperHuman survey, 84% of the (midlife) women surveyed used products and services they felt were aimed at younger women. This is why we raid our daughters’ closet.
This is potentially toxic for us as we spend time immersed in advertising and media that is aimed at younger women. That is not going to help us feel better, much less celebrate, our middle age changes.
Internal vanishing point
When we are young, we see ourselves through our parents. Later, through our peers and still later through our lovers and partners. Some women see themselves through their children.
This is natural, I think 99% of women do this to some extent without knowing it.
In our 40s and 50’s, we start to look for ourselves again. Who am I without my roles - if my parents pass on, I split from my partner, and my kids leave the nest?
We feel invisible because we have lost track of our definition. After so many years of seeing ourselves through others, we can’t even feel our edges anymore.
Here is the problem: If you feel invisible, you are looking for validation in an unreliable place - other people.
Can you see yourself in any of the following?
If you feel invisible, try this:
Think of Francesca in the rain - will you turn left into the unknown with a new muse to rediscover yourself, or stay comfortable and rarely seen on the straight and narrow?
Choose to fight for your visibility and brilliance - it is one of the turning points in midlife.
Questions? Beginning February 7 I'm once again offering a free 30 minute Mirror Your Brilliance Sessions, including a Dream Speed Date. Book your session here.
Think of someone you know who self-sabotages.
When they are facing a risk, or a difficulty getting to the next level of a stretch goal or life change, how do they they distract themselves in the moment and never quite get around to the next milestone?
Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Boston University's Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD) says "Turns out there are many reasons why, instead of shooting for the moon, we end up aiming right for our foot. Self-sabotage is any action that gets in the way of your intent."
Now, think about yourself. How do you get in your own way and stay there? I offer several common examples later in the post; I have used each one at some point. You may be able to relate.
But first let’s look at Why do we do this:
We are afraid. Of what?
So how do we go all crazy on your dream and get that premium pass to spend some time bingeing on the possibilities and making passionate progress?
I have a theory that one reason the motivation industry thrives in the US is because we have an individualistic culture. Our starting point is with the individual. We fail and think its because we need more self-motivation, self-discipline, knowledge, etc.
But I am pretty self motivated and I believe the main reason its almost impossible to make consistent progress by yourself is this: Lack of accountability to someone other than ourselves.
In other countries and cultures - think of China, Mexico, India - the starting point is with the group - family, friends, associates. In Mexico, doing anything by yourself is pretty rare. Shopping for new undies? The whole family comes along. Starting a new business? Talk to every cousin you have, and their cousins and friends. You’ll find what you need launch in a week based on what and who they know.
So to wrap all this up:
In our culture, we have to create accountability for ourselves. We have to “nurture our alliances”, “build our teams”, “recruit others to our mission”.
Or maybe just find a friend or group of friends.
Finding an accountability buddy will help mirror back to you how you get in our own way. Once you push past the resistance to quit, the reason you wanted to try in the first place gets clearer and clearer.
Our Mirror Your Brilliance circles are an excellent option for women who are truly ready to stop kidding themselves and want to get started on what is next.
If "what is next" isn’t clear, we can help. Sign up for a one-on-one session where I will mirror your brilliance and also facilitate a Dream Speed Date - you’ll come away with renewed enthusiasm, a first draft picture of your Big Picture and 3 immediate actions steps.
This offer ends on January 19, which is in 2 days by the way.
Sign up for your Mirror Your Brilliance session HERE
You will receive an immediate email confirmation with more details.
OK see you tomorrow, when we close with a doozy -
Boss of Me Series #10 - I Feel Invisible.
Big Love, Kala
Got time for one more?
Boss of Me Series #8 - I'm Worried About Money
Reference link to good article about self-sabotage:
Ahh money. Moola. Dinero. Cash.
Money issues are like a vine that spreads into every area of your life. It can be a blooming vine that helps tie things together, or an overwhelming dark growth that chokes out the light - or something in between, a work in progress.
We can prune back the most aggressive tendrils. We can be the boss or our pesos, but we may have to fight for it, like a warrior queen. More about that in a minute.
Here is some context for the money landscape we face in midlife:
Middle class squeeze:
Healthcare costs - I know you know. Raise your hand if you are putting off important check ups, dental preventive care, and have unanswered questions about your changing body. If you aren’t 65 yet, you are paying a ridiculous amount of money for health insurance and out of pocket costs.
I lost my US based health insurance a couple of years ago when I decided to travel for 18 months. I switched my permanent residence and the great state of Texas declined to offer me insurance based on my new single person income at that time. That’s fine with me because I don’t want to pay an insurance premium in a state I don’t spend much time in anyway.
I had surgery last year in Mexico City, with excellent care and outcome, that cost probably 25% of what it would have in the US. Health care costs are one major reason more people - including single women - are considering living and retiring outside of the US. More on that in a bit.
Higher education: the cost of a college education had increased exponentially in the last 20 years, far outpacing inflation. For those of us wanting to go back to school, or trying to save for kids college fund, this is a challenge.
Cost of housing - this is good news and bad news, depending upon where you live, if you own a house, and how much equity you have. On the emotional side, that house might be taking a big chunk out of your emotional energy if it is filled to the rafters with years worth of stuff that you “can’t get rid of” but that does nothing for you. More about that in a bit, too.
Divorce: The divorce rate for women over 50 is over 50% and climbing. More women now are initiating the split, as compared to 20 years ago. In spite of the chance to start a new life, there is no question that except for the very wealthy, divorce is hard on the finances for both men and women.
For a variety of reasons, the “typical” retirement .is becoming more and more rare - a dual income pension that comfortably covers the high standard of living most Americans are used to. The ripple effect of the 2008 crash still shows up in many people’s finances.
Pensions are being cut and layoffs happen. I know of a woman who made major life tradeoffs to stay with a good job into her 50’s, counting on retirement in her early 60’s - when she would finally do what she wanted to do. The corporation she worked for was acquired and the new owners systematically started laying off people in their 50s and replacing the with younger people. She lost her job.
We are starting to see the reality of this play out as more couples and single men and women are retiring overseas. The place to start is to take a couple of vacations to areas you are interested in, get to know the expats and the locals in that area.
I could go on about this at length, in face, I’m thinking of creating a “blueprint plan” for women considering retiring overseas - step by step process of discovery and implementation - let me know what you think.
Ostrich or warrior queen - our own accountability to the numbers. I just had a fascinating call with Donna Colfer, AFC, CMC, a Money Coach and owner of Building Wealth from Within, and also a very generous, intuitive person. She uses a quiz that tells what typical behavioral “archetypes” we use to respond to money in our lives.
(Archetypes are symbolic figures that represent personality types recognized as common to all humans, this work was pioneered by psychologist Carl Jung, a student of Freud).
I have to say Donna diagnosed my relationship with money more clearly in 60 minutes than any therapist I ever saw in the past could in several weeks.
One of my archetypes is the Warrior. (I know that sounds so cool, right? Before you think I'm bragging, I'll tell you another is the Fool. ha!)
I say Warrior Queen because it helps me see the Warrior in female form and, not to get all woo woo on you, but the Queen showed up in my meditations as a new Guide about a year ago. In my experience, she's not a warm and fuzzy Guide, and if I don't keep up my end of the bargain she is outta here. So when Donna started talking about the Warrior I thought, huh. I'll ask the Queen about her.
Ostrich is not one of the archetypes, although I certainly hide my head in the sand sometimes!
What energy do we bring to our money relationship? Do we have a healthy relationship to a budget? Do we know where the money goes? Do we understand the basics of our retirement fund, if we have one? Do we have goals for saving?
I will be honest with you - 3 years ago the answer to all of those questions for me was, no. I was not just in Ostrich mode, I was totally underground about it, more like a mole.
I spent some time catching up on that situation after my divorce. It’s definitely a work in progress to this day because I don’t want money to always be the primary deciding factor in what I do next. I also factor in the value of new experiences, what I am going to learn, who I am going to meet, into the equation, too.
No surprise, this sometimes leads to risk and spending more money than feels comfortable in the moment.
Unless we are wealthy, we have to make tradeoffs. I don’t have the funds to maintain a house in the US, travel like I want to and start a business. My tradeoff has been to live very simply in less expensive countries with few possessions.
Did I have to get rid of sentimental things? Yes, of course. But things sitting on shelves and in boxes do not pay my Visa bill, help me with my business plan, or teach me anything new, to be honest.
That isn’t everyone’s dream - to downsize in order to have more flexibility and a seed fund for a new start. I don't bring it up to say you should do it.
It may become your reality, though, if you reach retirement age after a divorce or a financial downturn in the market, with half the pension you were counting on, a houseful of stuff, maybe some debt, and a lot of questions. Then you are facing a wall of emotional challenges at the exact moment your confidence is shaken and your emotions are in tatters.
Money and Relationships
Money may or may not be the root of all evil, but it certainly can be the root of lots of tension in a relationship. If these conversations are hard to have with your partner, perhaps your next ''investment" can be with an objective money counselor or coach.
Looking money in the eye with your partner may unearth some challenging relationship issues. How we respond is different for everyone but here is one thing I know - those issues do not go away. They get worse as the reality for both you sinks in that you will not live forever, there are things you each have dreamed of doing, and have not done yet.
When my youngest child was in high school, my husband at that time and I started talking about what our life would look like after she graduated. It became painfully clear that we were not at all on the same page.
I had plans I had put on hold for my kids, I know he did, too.
My dream for us mostly involved radical downsizing, some intentional travel (as opposed to leisure travel) to refresh our minds and relationship with new perspectives, and craft a vision for what our next phase would be, perhaps starting an interesting new business together.
Which is basically exactly what I have done as a single woman.
As I started sharing some of those ideas I realized I should have been talking with him about this much earlier and more often.
I didn’t because they were hard conversations to have, raising a lot of fear and questions I didn’t know the answers to yet. And one reason was because I was not in touch with our money and I was not showing up to my own ideas and capacity to generate more revenue.
I didn’t know then what I know now - the answers to almost any goal come in having a plan, networking with others who know something you don’t, and taking some baby steps. The answers don’t come in tense conversations on a couch about what may or may not be an outcome in 10 years.
When I downsized I took hundreds of pictures of sentimental “things” - souvenirs, children’s artwork, wedding gifts we never used, decorative objects, love letters and cards - and then I let it all go. Now those photos are stored safely in my Google photos account, where I can actually find them, see them, enjoy what they represent without having to pay to store them someplace while they deteriorate.
Money and downsizing with less trauma are closely related - if you can sell those treasures and turn them into a seed fund for a dream you are excited about, it may be much easier to let go of them.
My hope for you is you make a money date with yourself - a weekend where you get all the information out in one place, get clear on your accounts, set up a simple budget, and start your list of questions. Then you can put a weekly money meeting on your calendar - a time to keep caught up and get your questions answered.
I did this early last year and then, well, quit coming to my own money meetings. My talk with Donna made me admit I have been putting off a refresher date with myself and my money.
Time to let the Warrior Queen help me dive into the numbers.
This is what I’m doing this weekend. I’ll be thinking of you. Anyone with tips around this tricky topic, I would love to hear them so please comment below.
PS I'm offering Dream Speed Date sessions through January 19, free one on one calls to help you get clear on a 6 month goal and 3 immediate steps you can take to get started. More info here
Got time for one more?
# 7 in the series was " I'm Behind Again".
# 9 in the series is "How Do I Get Out of My Own Way?"
Selected Sources, I have tons of research so if you are curious just email me:
In-state tuition and fees at public National Universities increased 237 percent since 1997. There are too many reasons to go into here, but I very much hope the day is coming when more parents consider helping their kids start a business around their passion for $40,000 instead of helping them take on that much and more every YEAR in student loan debt. They can always go back to college if they want to later. The institutions certainly aren’t going anywhere, as they have a sweet deal that is heavily subsidized by tax dollars in the form of federal student loans, which have also increased at the same upward curve in the last 20 years.
"If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." Happy Birthday Dr. King.
Thank you for your sacrifice, for taking the actions that so many others could not, and continuing to inspire millions to achieve what they did not believe they could accomplish.
This picture is from a park here in Mexico City, Dr. King faces Abraham Lincoln across the way. Two of my favorite #Americans. We were walking on election day last year, and ended up in this park even though we had not planned it and it was the first time I had seen these statues. Coincidence? Yes. Chance? I doubt it.
Seeing these 2 men, honored in this way here in Mexico, helped my frame of mind very much.
I wish all Americans could see ourselves the way the world wants to see us. The world wants us to be who we have said we are, open, generous, diverse free people living up the standard that Dr. King and President Lincoln insisted that we strive for.
I don't know what the fall-out of the current administration is going to be, but the one thing that ugliness and fear cannot kill is the essence of the American spirit. However, its not "ours". We are way too egocentric, we did not invent what we embody, its a common deep desire of all people.
I don't care who you are, what color you are, your gender, your age, your challenges - if you are a sane American citizen, there are at least 1 billion people on the planet that would trade places with you in a heartbeat, even on your worst day. Maybe 2 billion. Let that sink in. And then go get busy manifesting your brilliance.
We show people everywhere what is possible. Its an incredible honor and responsibility. The "American Experiment" is being played out still, and no one knows what the final outcome will be. It doesn't matter, the ideal has been unleashed. Once tasted, people do not forget it. Its our gift to the world, and it will outlive "us".
I hope you have had a great week. I’ve been settling in again after the holidays. I wanted to share a quick story with you. Well, and a secret, too.
I’m wondering if you do this too:
I have some dream goals I write in the margins of my sensible plans, because I’m not sure how they will manifest...
Which really means - I’m not sure I should even ask for it -
Which really means - my fear dragons are hissing and telling me I don’t deserve it.
One of my dream goals is “global entrepreneur”. I wrote it, sort of off to the side, during a goal-casting session 3 years ago on a mountaintop in Montana, house sitting with 2 sweet yellow labs, fresh from ending a 26 year marriage, no permanent address for the first time in my life, trying to come up with a plan for what was next.
I had no idea at that time that I would now be living in Mexico City - with a bona fide apt lease, a 4 year residency card and a guapo Mexican.
I had no idea that I would be accepted into a fabulous program for women entrepreneurs and meet a woman from South Africa.
And of course I had no idea back then that I would see with her last month when I was in London, where she is based. She has projects and contacts all over the world. We talked about possible collaborations in Mexico. She’s agreed to mentor me with one of my projects in the US for 6 months.
After she left I just sat there, thinking, “Did that just happen? Did I just have a business meeting in London?”
How about you?
When was the last time you had one of those “Am I here, now?” moments, when your reality perfectly lines up with your purpose?
I returned to Mexico City, pretty much the opposite of London - colorful, chaotic, messy capital of the New World.
I was met at the airport by my sweet man, who, since the first time we had coffee a few years ago, still looks at me like he can’t believe I’m real and refuses to let me carry my bags.
He drove me home to a spotless apartment with soup on the stove. I ended a very long day and trip with extreme gratitude for a comfy bed and his warm presence, too.
None of this has transpired according to a rigid “plan”. I don't know why, but the key IS in the planning, even though the plan changes often. Eisenhower said, "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."
That is because we don’t have a crystal ball or control over the world, but we do have control over our actions.
Oprah is a fabulous inspiration - she is a master at striking a balance between long term vision and being fully present in what is happening right now.
So, now I do have a long term vision that informs my short term plans. I have been planning with intention since that day on the mountain top in Montana, and staying flexible when things go off track for a bit.
There are 2 ways to stick to your plan to reach your goals:
I’m offering free Mirror Your Brilliance sessions through January 19. I've had some questions about what that means.
What will we do in your session?
Everything starts with your “why”. That is why I’ve included my favorite chart of values. If its been awhile since you did a values check in, take a look and pick your top 3.
This is part of our 10 day "Boss of Me" email / blog series, action tips for common midlife stumbling blocks.
#6 in our Series was "I often feel distracted".
Today, we'll tackle that feeling of always being behind.
Honesty time - I am wrestling with this right now. Last fall, I imposed a challenge schedule on myself. It has had some great results but, as all plans do, some things came up and I had to push out a deadline. That puts everything else behind then, too.
I can see it’s not sustainable in the long run - I have been working in “just in time” mode and the maintenance of my personal and business administrative life is getting behind.
I have a plan for February to get caught up. I can’t wait. But I am.
In the past I rarely had an overall strategy, so when things got off track a bit I did stop "to get caught up" - and that killed the momentum I had built up. I would be “caught up” but to where? Often I lost interest after that, too. It wasn’t very motivating to say the least.
This is why its helpful to have your long term goals clear and present, all the way down to your daily to-do list. They are not set in concrete, because life happens and we adjust, but long term goals do provide an anchor for today’s energy.
In the meantime, I’ve asked for help and delegated a few things when I finally saw that if I didn’t, the entire challenge would grind to a halt.
Get some help or delegate - this is the male version of multitasking. They delegate.
This gets confusing and emotional because for a very long time, men have delegated to the women in their lives. When women started working in the male dominated workplace in the 60’s, they didn’t have the second half of the equation - the wife at home. They WERE the wife at home. In many cases, women still have the majority of responsibility for domestic life and they face the second shift when they walk in the door.
Studies and our own observation tell us that women are better at juggling than men. We tend to lean on this skill, but it does affect our energy.
Pretend you know how to juggle for real. Maybe you do!
You spend energy and focus to keep a few balls in the air at the same time. Add more balls to the juggle, that’s more energy and focus. Then add more time to all of that and how are you going to feel at the end?
How are you going to feel if you feel it will never stop?
So if you feel behind, is it a temporary or chronic situation? If its temporary but getting worse, can you get some help?
If you look at successful women, they have the confidence to ask for help, and if that involves hiring someone, they do that too. That is where I got stuck in the past.
If its an ongoing situation - you always feel behind - try simplifying your life first.
Whether you have money to hire someone or not, simplify first. The more stuff you have, the more there is to delegate. Simplifying will make managing outside help easier, and it can also make a hard conversation about getting more help from your partner and kids (if they are in the picture) easier if there is less stuff to negotiate.
After you simplify, delegate, hire or barter for some help.
And last pitfall to watch for - if your partner agrees to help, don’t nitpick the results.
I live with a Mexican man who didn’t grow up with much security or stability. He interrupts the laundry wash cycle to soak the clothes, and then saves the rinse water to wash his car. This drives me crazy because a load of laundry takes 2 hours instead of 45 minutes, especially if he forgets he stopped the cycle.
He has an unconscious fear of not having food for later, so he doesn’t like to finish off a serving. He has a hard time throwing plastic containers away. Now I see why he hoards them - we end up with several random plastic tubs in the fridge with a couple tablespoons of food. He can stretch one avocado for a week and he never throws food away, ever.
But he also cleans up most of the time and is happy to do laundry at least half the time. I'm not going to bug him about his quirks, which I have to admit are less wasteful than my habits.
So if your partner doesn’t load the dishwasher the same way you (and your mother) do, or they miss a spot vacuuming, or the kids socks don’t match that day - who cares? Accept that it’s done, thank them, and move on knowing you can finally start to feel ahead instead of behind.
If this sparks any thoughts for you, I'm offering FREE 45 minute Mirror Your Brilliance Sessions to hear about your goals and offer insights and information about our Mirror Your Brilliance Circle experience.
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All My Best -
Know a friend who could use this info? Feel free to forward it to her!
Got time for one more?
Boss of Me Series #6 - I'm Distracted
Boss of Me Series # 8 - I'm Worried About Money
How busy was your mom (or the adults who raised you)?
My mom worked full time, did all the grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning, made time for friends and volunteered too. She was usually bustling around, but I don’t remember her being crazed and exhausted.
She didn’t stay up late at night working, and she didn’t bring work home (that I remember). She watched Love Boat with me and my brothers and painted her nails several nights a week.
One obvious big difference between our mom’s lives and ours - the level of distraction for us has increased dramatically, thanks to social media and the internet.
Our generation is hitting midlife at exactly the same time as social media has taken on exponential adoption rates.
This has not been a gradual adoption, like phones, radios or TVs in the home. It has happened since the internet of the 90’s and continues to increase.
We can be always on, if we choose. We hear about disasters across the country almost in real-time on our new defacto news source - twitter and reposts by friends on Facebook. Major corporations now know more about our preferences and habits than we do.
The boundaries between work and off time have disappeared. I remember very distinctly when my ex-husband bought his first laptop computer. After the initial excitement at having this cool new gadget in the house, it hit me - suddenly work could come home. I am on my phone now too much, so I’m not judging, simply pointing out that we are the last generation to remember a time when work couldn’t come home unless it was a file folder or two.
How ironic is it that all this connection can lead us to feeling disconnected and distracted.
I’ve read countless posts demonizing technology and smart phones, and I weigh in a little differently here - its a waste of time to clamor for the past, no one with the resources to have a smartphone is going to give it up without a fight.
It does mean that we have to be the boss of our phone and not the other way around. Its like rules on TV watching in the old days - in some houses the TV was on all the time. Others you got to pick 1 or 2 favorite shows a week and that was it.
Cable TV, Internet, smart phones - they are neutral distribution tools for information. Have they crept up into the drivers’ seat? Who is the boss of your toys?
There is legitimate concern about gadget use among young people. Part of it is setting limits - the other part, which is more important, is the amount AND quality of attention they get from us when they put their phone down.
If we start with setting limits, the best way to do that is to model doing that for ourselves.
If you don’t have a meditation practice, start slow and with 10 minutes in the morning, before you check your phone. Meditation slows time down.
Don't use your phone as your alarm clock.
Hold off on checking social media or email until after you have completed your morning ritual (You do have a morning ritual, right?)
Limit multitasking. Mainstream advice says “stop multitasking!”
I don’t say that because, well, we aren’t going to stop multitasking.
Women have been multitasking since the days we kept track of busy little cave-toddlers around the campsite while we prepared food, or hunted for berries while training a little cave-puppy to stay close and be a good watchdog. Our families and men have benefitted for eons from our ability to multitask.
Our gadgets allow us to multitask more efficiently, and that can help but its also a trap. It can make you feel more distracted because it is distracting!
If this post sparks any thoughts for you for your plans for 2018, I'd love to hear about them. I'm offering FREE 45 minute Mirror Your Brilliance Sessions to hear about your goals and offer insights and information about our Mirror Your Brilliance accountability circle experience.
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All My Best -
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Got time for one more?
Boss of Me Series # 5- I don't have enough time.
Boss of Me Series #7 - I'm behind again
This is day 5 of the daily "Boss of Me" 10 day series to help you take action around some common midlife challenges. Day 4 included tips if your hormones are driving you crazy.
Today's all too common thought for the day is "I don't have enough time".
This is a close cousin of "I'm too busy" from Day 2.
I belong to some FB groups for midlife ladies. Its eye-opening reading. These ladies are sharing things in a group of a couple thousand strangers that I KNOW they are not telling their friends and family.
I read one post about a woman who cleans her own house, does all the shopping and cooking and most of the errands, holds responsibility for administration of the family. Her spouse helps but it’s only the chores of his choosing, and sort of only when he feels like it, so its not like she ever feels like his list “is handled”.
Oh, and she works full time, too. It's no wonder she feels like she didn't have enough time to work on some of the stuff that was tugging at her soul.
What to DO:
These tips have worked for me and others:
If you feel like you don't have enough time, let's go look for some.
Step outside of yourself and take a calm look at how you spend your time.
Ask yourself, what are the roots of those activities?
Really pull each one up and look underneath it.
What process, system or relationship dynamic is being nurtured or propped up by that task?
Based on your values and goals, is this something that you still want to spend your time and energy on?
If no, then refuse or delegate it.
This, like downsizing, is one of those things that sounds so simple and in reality is quite difficult.
It is an interesting experiment to try. I really advise you to have some support from other women before your start because this can unearth some challenging conversations with those that are used to you filling up your calendar and time with their priorities, like the woman in the example above.
The women in our Mirror Your Brilliance Circles offer this exact type of support for each other. They aren't for everywoman - if you are resonating with this Boss of Me series they might be for you. Sign up below for a free session!
I'm offering FREE 45 minute Mirror Your Brilliance Sessions to hear about your goals and offer insights.
SIGN UP HERE
You will receive a confirmation immediately upon sign up.
All My Best -
Know a friend who could use this info? Feel free to forward it to her!
Got time for one more?
Boss of Me Series # 6 - I Often Feel Distracted
Boss of Me Series # 4 - My Hormones are Driving Me Crazy