Who do you want to be today?

One of the nice things about reaching midlife and beyond, I’ve found, is that a lot of us naturally worry less and less about what others think about us.  If this hasn’t yet happened for you, be mindful of the fact that worrying about what others think of you and the choices you make, can keep you trapped.

Who do you want to be today - visualiseandbloom.com

It can stop you getting that tattoo, piercing your nose, cutting your hair short.  It can stop you wearing those pink shoes you have hidden away in your closet.  It can stop you joining that chakra dancing class, because your friends think it’s a bit ‘woo woo’ and you worry what they would think if you signed up to it.

Worrying about what others think can stop you from striving to reach your full potential and enjoying your life more fully.  It can stop you from being YOU.

Now, whilst this post is not about the book in the photo, I hope the title makes you stop and reflect on just who do YOU want to be today (tomorrow, next week, next year, and for the rest of your life)?  Yourself, or will worrying about what others think define who you are today (tomorrow, next week, next year, and the rest of your life)?

Change your mindset……and….change your life…….

Colour: Purple

“Be eccentric now.  Don’t wait for old age to wear purple”. ~ Regina Brett

Visualise and Bloom/Chi Chi GemmesPurple, associated with the crown chakra, is known as a cool colour (mix of red and blue).  I think its quite timeless and can classy or boho.   It contrasts well with black, grey, aqua blue, lime or olive green as well as yellow and even red.  It is said to be one of the colours that suits all skin tones.

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Positive associations - spiritual awareness, luxury, royalty, regal, truth, self-knowledge, sophistication, calmness. 


Negative associations - decadence, inferiority, depression, confusion, flaunting of power, fanatical.

Some purple gemstones/crystals - amethyst, garnet, fluorite, opal.

Colour: Pink

“I don’t think I will ever get tired of wearing pink” ~ Emma Bunton

Associated with the heart chakra – pink is said to be the colour of universal love.  Colour authority – Pantone, named Rose Quartz  (a lovely pastel pink) one of its colours for 2016.  Therefore, pink has been a hot favourite this year on the catwalk – from light pastels to strikingly strong fuchsia or raspberry shades.

Did you know – Kitten Kay Sera (known as the Pink Lady of Hollywood), aged 52,  has worn nothing but pink for the past 35 years and lives in a pink themed house.  Even her pet dog is dyed (with vet approved beetroot juice dyes) pink  (source:  Alison Lynch, Metro.co.uk, Jul 2016).

Good to know then, that pink is not just for little girls.  I (at aged 56)  can wear pink and you too can wear pink.

Visualise and BloomBUT….it’s about knowing which shades of pink suit ones skin tone.

Pink goes well with blue, green, cream, brown, grey, black, silver, metallic gold and even orange.

Positive associations: soothing, nurturing, feminine, comforting, romantic, frivolity, imagination, girly.

Negative associations: inhibition, emasculation, physical weakness.

Some pink gemstones/crystals:  rose quartz, rhodonite, rhodochrosite, morganite.

Pink has also become associated with breast cancer awareness – via the international symbol of a pink ribbon.

Colour (Clothes and Accessories): Black

“Women who wear black, lead colourful lives” ~ Neiman Marcus

In 1954 Christian Dior said of the colour black  “The most popular and the most convenient and the most elegant of all colours. And I say colour on purpose, because black may be sometimes just as striking as a colour. You can wear black at any time. You can wear it at any age. You may wear it for almost any occasion.”

What I love about black, is that it works well with so many other colours, white for example or warm colours such as red, violet, pink, yellow and green.  Also black doesn’t date does it?  I mean, the fashion industry brings out new shades for each season, but if you buy a black dress this week  – you could still be wearing it 5 years later (depending on the style of it of course).  Coco Chanel creator of the little black dress (LBD) dressed mainly in black and is quoted as having said “women think of all colours except the absence of colour. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony”.

Visualise and Bloom (Valerie Lewis)

Black looks good on most skin tones, although, too much black near to the face may not suit your complexion.  If you are pale skinned it might make you look washed out, tired or older.  As for the debate as to whether or not black is slimming….I personally think it is – especially if the outfit is well cut and suits your shape/figure.

Positive associations:  power, protection, glamour, formal, mystery, strong, sophistication, sexy.

Negative associations:  cold, aloof, depressing, mourning.

Some black gemstones/crystals: tourmaline, jet, onyx, obsidian.

SHE Yearned to be an Artist

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. ~ Carl Jung

SHE wore black, because her mother told her it made a woman look slimmer.

Since SHE was a child, she’d had a desire to be an artist.  To draw and paint, to sew, to write, to make all manner of things and be creative.  But life got in the way…..plus her parents always told her that being ‘arty farty’ was for dreamers.  Real people worked in shops and banks or joined the civil service.  So, SHE had gotten herself a job in the bank…….

SHE worked late every day and sometimes over the weekend, because she was a good employee and hey, someone told her that was the way to get noticed and rewarded, maybe, with a hefty pay rise or promotion, but secretly, SHE yearned to be an artist.

bigstock-Young-artist-painting-an-autum-38710426

SHE  wore black because her mother  and her husband, told her it made a woman look slimmer.   

Portrait of a senior woman outdoors, thinking

Today, SHE celebrates her birthday………SHE retired ages ago.

SHE still wears black, because a long time ago someone (SHE can’t remember who, perhaps it was her mother, and, oh   yes, her ex husband) told her that black made you look slimmer.

SHE still yearns to be an artist…..perhaps it is too late now…… isn’t it?

 

She Still Had a Voice

“When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time.” ~ Laurie Halse Anderson

It was too late – nothing they could do to save her eyesight.  No more holding up the needle to the light to see the eye-hole to insert the cotton thread.

Closeup of needle and thread in hands on white background

No more looking in the mirror and loving or hating what and who looked back at her.

But…..she could hear, she could feel…..she could touch….she could talk. Even if she could no longer see what she wrote……

Mouth…..she still had a voice………

Colour

In my late 30’s I undertook an introductory interior design course – the principles and psychology of colour was an important component.

beauty rich brunette woman in luxury interior near empty frames, wearing fashion clothes, lifestyle pretty real people concept

But, I have always been fascinated by colour – from the colours in the fabric or wool used by my mother in her sewing, crocheting or knitting, to the colours of the interior wallpaper and paintwork in our family home, painted and decorated by my father.   Oh, and I remember ‘seasonal colour analysis’ by Colour Me Beautiful (Carole Jackson), which was popular back in the early 80’s, do you?  It was based on the seasons and depending on your skin tone, eye and hair colour, you were classified….. either Autumn, Winter, Spring or Summer.  This analysis helped you choose clothing and makeup in colours that flattered you.  Naturally over time the system has become more sophisticated with further classifications and sub-divisions, plus other companies have developed their own versions.

Colour came up again as I discovered complimentary therapies in my early 40’s.

A background of hydrangea flowers, in a colour palette with complimentary colour swatches

As author and Feng Shui expert Mary Lambert says ” colour permeates the world, and all cultures are influenced by it.  We see it all around us in nature – in the blue of the sky, the yellow of the sun, the green of the grass.  We take in colour from the rays of the sun, absorbing the entire spectrum of colours through our eyes, our breath, and our skin.  The colour’s health-giving vibrations help our bodies to function normally.  Colour also works deep inside us, on our mind and emotions, changing the balance of our moods and feelings of wellbeing – even our spiritual psyche” (The Colour Compass, 2001).

 

 

 

 

 

Autumnal Reflections (and Review)

“If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before”. ~ Mitchell Burgess

Autumnal Reflections (and Review)

Autumn is a good time to reflect on how the year has been for you so far.  I’d like to share with you the following simple but powerful and mindful exercise, I’ve devised for my own use.

Find time during the day or one evening to set aside an hour. You will see that I have allocated timings to each aspect of the exercise – this serves as a guide, feel free to adjust (for example you might want to spend much longer than 6 minutes on breathing/visualising).

Grab a notepad, pen, make yourself a cup of tea, and find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed for the next hour or so.

Autumnal Reflections (and Review)

Get yourself comfortable in your chair. Close your eyes, relax your shoulders and take several slow, deep breathes in and out.

6 minutes

On each out breath imagine that you are releasing all the tension, negative and self-critical thoughts, that have been stored in your mind and body for the day, week, current month or last year. Visualise these tensions and thoughts as murky grey smog, and as they are released into the air they change and become clear bubbles which slowly evaporate into nothingness.

As you breathe in, imagine, bright golden yellow sunshine entering your toes and creeping upward to the crown of your head, flooding your body with warmth, positivity and vitality.

15 minutes

You should now be feeling a lot calmer and relaxed. Close your eyes again and reflect on the following:

How has the year been so far for you?

* Did you managed to achieve all the things you wanted to?
* How have you grown and in what ways?
* What experiences caused you pain or stress?
* What made you happy/sad?
* What lessons did you learn?
* Were you surrounded by supportive and loving people?
* Did you make time for you (self-care)?

15 minutes

Open your eyes and in your notebook, write freely, anything that comes to your mind, let it all out on paper. Close your notebook.

10 minutes

Sit back in your chair, close your eyes and relax. Breathe evenly, reflecting on what you wrote in your notebook. After approximately 7 minutes, open your eyes.

7 minutes

Open your notebook and write a list of all (or some of the things) that you have been grateful for and appreciated this year so far.

7 minutes

Close your notebook, put your hands together as in prayer and give thanks for BEING. Also, give thanks for all that you experienced this year (the good and the bad) – to your Higher Power (be this God, Goddess, Spirit, the Divine, Jesus, Angels, Budhah, Allah or the Universe, etc).

Stand up, have a good stretch and then and give yourself a big loving and comforting hug.

Now go and make yourself a cup of tea/coffee or pour yourself a glass of your preferred tipple – you deserve it!

The rest of the year

Do feel free to adapt this exercise to suit your needs and lifestyle. To enhance the experience you might want to have some music playing, on a low setting, in the background, light a candle (if it is safe to do so) or burn some incense. You might also find it useful to do the exercise with adaptations once a month to ensure you are on track with your objectives or to help you rejuvenate and refocus.

I hope you’ll give this exercise a go, let me know in the comments section below.  Also, feel free to share with your friends and family!

Unhappy at Work – Creating Flow

Following an organisational restructure and knowing that her senior management post was going to be deleted,  Carol Stewart decided to opt for voluntary redundancy. This enabled her to study for an MSc in Coaching Psychology and at the same time pursue her passion in starting up her own coaching business (Abounding Solutions) to help high achieving introverted women excel in their careers and businesses.

Carol had been with her employer since the age of 16.  She was 44 when she left.  Had she stayed, she would have been placed in a role which she feels she may not have necessarily enjoyed and thus, after careful consideration, made the decision to take control of her own career/destiny.  I previously wrote about Carol’s journey which you can read about via the link at the end of this post.

Now, it may be that you are unhappy or plain bored with your work but a change of job/career is just not an option for whatever reasons, nor (unlike in Carol’s situation) is, restructuring with voluntary redundancy on the horizon.

Portrait of tired and stressed senior woman at work

What to do?

I asked Carol, what women who were unhappy or unfulfilled in their work, but not in a position to leave, could do.

She recommends the following:

Creating Flow

  • Look at the source of your unhappiness or un-fulfilment and identify what is within your control to change. For that which is outside your control, look at what you can do to accept that you can’t change it and how you can learn to live with it without letting it have a detrimental effect on you, or comprising who you are.
  • What you can do is learn to love the job you are in by creating flow in what you do. Flow happens when you become so immersed in what you do that it is as if you become oblivious to what is going on around you. The conditions needed for this to happen are, undergoing a challenge that stretches skill and that skills and capacity are sufficient to deal with the challenge.A middle aged woman working on a computer
  • It is about having a high level of challenge and the skills in which to do it. The challenge and skills need to match, otherwise it can become stressful if the challenge is too high and the skills too low, or lead to boredom if the challenge is too low and the skills are high.  Ways to help this happen are, making sure that you have the necessary skills to do your work, setting yourself goals to complete your tasks that challenge you and provide you with feedback as to your progress and maintaining full focus and concentration on the task at hand.

Carol concludes “positive emotions are experienced after a flow moment and if those of you who are unhappy or unfulfilled can experience flow moments, it can help to increase your happiness at work”.

If you are unhappy or unfulfilled with your work, and not in a position to leave your current place of employment, what will you do?  Put up with the way things are, ‘create flow’ or do something else?

Click on this link to read about Carols journey. 

Losing One’s Parents and Reinvention at Midlife – Cathy Lawdanski

            It takes strength to make your way through grief, to grab hold of life and let it pull you forward.  ~ Patti Davis

It is hard losing a parent, no matter how old one might be.  But, the thought of anyone losing both their parents in quick succession (within the space of less than 6 months apart) – for me, is just incomprehensible.  Sadly, it does happen though.

It happened to Cathy Lawdanski.

Cathy-Lawdanski-Headshot (1)

In January 2015, Cathy’s, 82 year old mother had a stroke, which resulted in her passing the following month.  In June of the same year, Cathy gave up her full-time post as a non-profit executive, to help care for her frail 90 year old father.  A month later he broke his hip and passed away in September.

Coping with grief

The most painful moments and memories eventually lead to the greatest strengths and growth in life. ~ Kemi Sogunie

Following the death of a loved one, there is a process of grieving.  For those of us, who have experienced loss, you may feel as I do, that there isn’t a blueprint or ‘one size fits all’ way of dealing with or coping with grief.   We are all so very different.

Cathy’s way, was to take time away from her day job to rest and take care of herself.  Her intention was to go back to work in the New Year.

But,  this period also provided Cathy with time out to reflect and re-examine her own life and how she wanted aspects of her future to be.   She came to realise that as much as she enjoyed working in the non profit sector, she didn’t want to go back to that environment.

New beginnings

Cathy, who describes herself as a 50 something wife, mother of 2 grown daughters and grandmother, realised that, she wanted to challenge herself.  She wanted to:

- try new things

- not be concerned about what people say or think

- be brave

- just have fun

One of the ways in which Cathy has challenged herself is to become a writer.

a cup of coffee and laptop on wood floor with flower vintage style

She had not done anything like this before, but embracing her ‘new self’, she set up a blog ‘mysideof50’ and published her first post in December 2015.  She has gone from strength to strength and has also spread her wings becoming a featured writer on online magazine ‘Making Midlife Matter’ and a social media and blogger influencer on the ‘Blogher’ platform.

Cathy says  “it takes courage to try something new.  Sometimes life’s circumstances forces us to”.

 

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post, please comment and share!

If you would like to share your story of transition or reinvention at midlife or beyond – with the hope of encouraging and inspiring other women, do get in touch with me. 

Want to know more about Cathy and her thoughts on the new adventures and challenges we face this side of 50,  visit: mysideof50.com