badass Nesties

Discovering your "badass" self after your kids leave the "nest"

Lost and Found

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Once upon a time, I found joy and contentment in creating things.  Some of these things were useful and had purposQuotes-From-Elizabeth-Gilbert-Big-Magice.  Others were created for the sheer joy of creating.  I am not sure exactly how or when I lost my creativity mojo (for lack of a better word) but I did.  I wish it were as simple finding a lost set of keys or a wallet, which usually only requires retracing my tracks and starting with when I last saw them.  When it comes to lost creativity, I am uncertain how to pinpoint the moment of loss.  Either way, I woke up recently missing it terribly.

Let’s start with this blog for example.  In 2014, after experiencing the life changing event of becoming an empty nester, I decided the best way to explore this new chapter was to share through this blog (badassnesties.com).   After 19 years of focusing my energies on raising my two boys, I was finally able to shift the focus to myself.  This focus was not intended to be selfish but more to discover how I would continue to find and share joy in this next chapter of my life.  The bigger goal was to discover a purpose that intersected with a career choice.  I wanted to explore the meaning behind “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”  Having always wanted to find expression as a writer, this blog would not only be a place to start but also create a place of self discovery.  However, after only three posts, it was retired into a pile I like to call “the creative graveyard.”  It joined my long-forgotten scrapbooking, photography, knitting, jewelry and music pile.  I am fairly certain they ran away with my “hit the gym” pledge of 2012.

So where does a person go to find their lost creativity?  What does a “Lost and Found” look like for an intangible such as this?  I have spent the past 5 years making my living by helping people and employees find affordable health care.  Although it provides a respectable income, I have never felt connected to it.  Yet against my inner voice, I continue on despite my inner calling to do something else.  My heart cries out for a connection to purpose and my head wants a connection to security.  My head says, “You spent so much time preparing and learning your trade so why would you want to start over?”  Somewhere along the way, the head won out and I followed what was practical and never looked back.  There is always tomorrow for pursuing what brings me joy.  Right?  Perhaps tomorrow I will learn the guitar or get back to writing.  Well, time has a way of getting away from you so “perhaps tomorrow” is a broken promise disguised as regrets evil twin.  Like a neglected spouse or lover, I don’t think my creativity got lost as much as it got tired of waiting and went to find a better caretaker.  I don’t believe it ever gets lost, it just dies without a willing host.  Am I alone in this?  Does anyone else find they put off their creative pursuits to only wake up and realize tomorrow arrived without bringing along these long forgotten desires?

The bigger question is why did I abandon things that bring me joy for work that doesn’t?  Why do I continue to put off until tomorrow the things that make my heart sing and brings me joy?  Perhaps it is fear of failure or having my creative work mean nothing or be less than good.  Who am I to consider making a living from the impractical?  Can the practical and frivolous share a space together?  There is only one way to know for sure.

Although there is no “Lost and Found” for lost creativity or joyful pursuits, there is a way to reclaim this part of your soul.  Take the time my friends for the things that make you smile.  Create something for no other reason that it brings you joy.  Perhaps if your practical pursuits and creative side meet often enough, you just might find a new career or hobby.  If not, do it anyway if it makes you happy!

Love and Laughter,

Cheryl


 

 “Do you have the courage to bring forth this work?  The treasures hidden inside you hope you say YES!” – Elizabeth Gilbert #Big Magic

 

Confessions of an over-packer

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"Did I forget anything?"

“Did I forget anything?”

If life truly is a journey and not a destination, I have over packed for the trip. Those who know me (and love me anyway) will confirm that I am a compulsive over-packer. My husband and boys have often brought it to my attention since they are the one’s that get stuck carrying my luggage. What can I say, I hate being caught unprepared for ANYTHING! Need first aid? I’ve got you covered. Having trouble sleeping? I have lavender oil to help relax you. Bee sting or sunburn? No worries, I have something for that too. This is not to say that I am a pack rat or hoarder. At home, I live by the principle of less is more. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, it is donated, recycled or disposed of. I like the feeling I get when I create more space in my life. Clutter without purpose bothers me. For some reason, I take a whole different approach when traveling. Since I rarely (if ever) end up in the wilderness or far from a store, this over preparation makes little sense to my co-travelers.

This propensity to over-pack had me thinking about all the extra “baggage” we carry around throughout our lives that  isn’t kept in suitcase.  As I begin this next leg of my journey as a Badass Nestie, I have decided to lighten my load a bit. After much soul-searching (which I highly recommend), I have decided to unpack and get rid of anything that no longer serves my higher purpose or keeps me from living life to its fullest. It’s amazing what you’ll discover as you start rummaging through all your “stuff.” My “stuff” included: Outdated excuses, unnecessary distractions, fear, worry, misguided beliefs and a harsh inner critic. Quite a load for a journey let alone one small blog. So here is what I discovered as I traded in my extra-large luggage for a light portable carry on.

1. Fear and Worry have been long-time companions on my journey, which makes dumping them quite a  challenge.  They have been faithfully by my side as I raised my boys and launched two businesses.  Upon close inspection and review, I confess that they have never actually changed the outcome of any situation for the better. If anything, they rendered me useless to accomplish even the simplest tasks.  They are even there when every thing is going well to remind me that perhaps I overlooked something.  I must confess, they get in the way quite often when I step out of my comfort zone to try new activities.  Snow skiing for the first time with my family is a perfect example (see previous post).  The final straw for me was the day I realized that fear was holding me back from leaving an unsatisfying career to try something new.  Warning:  If you too decided to unpack fear and worry, it is important to note that other’s will gladly share theirs with you.  It is helpful to think of fear as something  exclusive to each individual (like a toothbrush) and sharing is absolutely a no-no.

“Fear is like a rocking chair.  It will give you something to do but it will get you nowhere.”  – Proverb

“Everything  you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield

2. My Harsh Inner Critic (a.k.a. my own personal bully) has really overstayed her welcome.  She has wasted countless hours of my time focusing on every flaw and failure.  This freeloader must go.  We could also label her a time-waster and distraction.  Funny how easily (for good reason) we are appalled when we witness or hear of an incident of bullying, yet we allow ourselves to say (whether silently or out loud) terrible things to and about ourselves.  I am truly blessed to have a husband that sees me through a lens I have named “Love Goggles.”  After 25 years of marriage, he still thinks I am the prettiest person at every event and continues to see only the best in me.  Perhaps it is time we trade that harsh inner critic for a pair of fabulous “love goggles.”  I promise they will fit nicely in that light portable carry on.  Try a pair on for size and take a look in the mirror (at least daily) and say “Hello, gorgeous!  Looking good!”   

“You can’t change what’s going on around you until you start changing what’s going on within you.” – Unknown

“You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

3. Finally, let’s  dump  the Out-dated Excuses and Distractions.  The reason I lump these last two baggage hogs into one category is because they both have one thing in common –  They are the protective cloak I have donned to avoid possible  failure while pursuing my dreams.  The out-dated excuses are too many to name but here are a few oldies but goodies: “I don’t have enough time.  I don’t have the skills or experience.  I’m too old.  It’s already been done.  I can’t afford to do it.”

For more years than I can remember, I have wished I could be more fit and lose 15-20 lbs.  I have made attempts at losing it by eating better and walking.  I finally resigned myself that those extra pounds were just a right of passage for “women my age”.  This of course was just an excuse.  I had yet to do the real work needed to reach my goal.  I started and stopped more fitness activities than I can remember.  As the Chinese proverb states, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  So finally, I stopped the excuses and hired a personal trainer.  This was a big deal for me.  I am the person who slinks out of yoga early because I pretty much suck at it.  I hate the gym with its smelly odors and intimidating machines.  But I threw out all the excuses and far too many distractions that kept me from reaching my fitness goals.  After a painful evaluation, which included body fat analysis and tons of measurements from my 24-year-old trainer, I committed to a year.  I even threw out the “I’m not a morning person” excuse and booked my sessions at 7 am twice a week.  I promise you it isn’t pretty.  I have woken up in a panic when I couldn’t lift my arms.  I have had days I couldn’t walk up and down stairs.  What has amazed me is that after 4 weeks, I am getting stronger and doing things I could barely do before.  The feeling of accomplishment is worth every achy muscle.  With my harsh inner critic put to rest, I decided that my goal is not those 20 lbs or a dress size.  Instead, I am working toward being fit enough to enjoy an active, adventurous lifestyle.

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own.  No apologies or excuses.  No one to lean on, rely on, or blame.  The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.  This is the day your life really begins.” – Bob Moawad

“When we are being truly authentic with ourselves and others, we remove all distractions to living our greatest lives.”  Emmanuel Dagher  

“Sometimes there is no next time, no time-outs, no second chances.  Sometimes it’s now or never.”  Alan Bennett

So fellow travelers, join me in lightening the load.  Take only that which serves you and your higher purpose.  Your journey has molded you for the greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be.  Just make sure you aren’t carrying more than you need.  Most importantly, take only what allows you to find joy in the journey.

Love and Laughter,

Cheryl

Who is the main character of YOUR story?

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Take the leap!

Take the leap!

A few years ago, I tried skiing for the first time.  Although I lacked the basic skills to ever be called athletic, I felt inspired to learn something new and exciting.  Also, with my boys recently taking up snowboarding and family located in a premier ski location (Park City, Utah), I thought “Why not?”

Remembering how inspired my boys were when I tried wake boarding a few years earlier, I understood the importance of teaching them to try  new things.  I can remember deciding to throw in the towel after experiencing one too many  “water wedgies” that day when my son announced, “My mom is awesome.  She never gives up.”  The love and faith he showed in me left me with no choice but to continue.  I knew if I was ever going to be dry again, I had to let go of my fear  and let the boat do the work of pulling me up. Thankfully, it only took two more tries to reach my goal.

So here I was in Park City, trying yet another activity outside my comfort zone.  I would love to paint a pretty picture of how it turned out but basically I sucked at skiing.   I took some lessons and made it to the top of what was called the green run (about a 3 mile run for beginners.)  The experience was a combination of letting go and being in the flow to sheer panic and fear.  Between making an entire chair lift of people wipe out to considering faking an injury to get ski patrol to take me back down the mountain, I was locked into fear big time.  Even with the abysmal results of day one, I showed up the next day to try yet again.  With my son and husband by my side, I decided I could do this.  After making the decision to “go for it” and get rid of the negative “mind chatter”, not only was I much more successful (albeit not elegant or graceful) but I was truly having fun.  Unfortunately that only lasted for a few runs.  After almost colliding with an out-of-control skier, I began thinking about all the things that “could” go wrong.  It was amazing how quickly I went from adequate skier to disaster once I invited fear back into the story.  The lesson I learned that day and remind myself of daily is how powerful fear is in changing our script.  In contrast, my sons who never gave fear much of role (our many visits to the ER are proof of this) were on the double black diamond runs after only 3 days of snowboarding (ever) and having the time of their lives.

As graduation season is upon us across the country and within my own family as well (My son, David, is graduating with a degree from Penn State University this month), I am inspired by the well-prepared words of wisdom by some incredible commencement speakers at universities across the country.  My favorite so far is by Jim Carrey, Comedian and Actor (I will post a link to his speech shortly) who also addresses the topic of fear and it’s effect on our life stories.  Jim, along with many others, seek to inspire and assist our young graduates as they enter the next chapter in their lives.  A prevailing theme in these speeches is that our graduates have a chance to make a significant difference in the world as well as in their own lives.  They are the narrators of their unique and wonderful story.

What I’d like to share with my fellow Badass Nesties is that the advice given to the graduates embarking on a new chapter applies to you as well.  If you are here, reading this blog, then you most likely are exploring the possibilities for the next chapter in your life.  A chapter less focused on raising kids and more on you.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Mr. Carrey’s speech that I hope will inspire you on your path:

“The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.”

“How will you serve the world?  What does the world need that your talents can provide?”

“Your need to be accepted can make you invisible.  Risk being seen in all your glory!”

“Relax and dream up a good life.”

“You are not your story.”  “If fear is a character in your story, remember you have a choice how much of a role (if any) it plays in that story.”

“Fear is often disguised as practicalities.”

“Now is all there really is.  Decide if you are making decisions based on fear or love.”

“Dare to ask the Universe for what you want.”

“Life doesn’t happen to you, It happens for you.”

“You can fail at what you don’t want so why not take a risk on failing at what you love?” (This is my favorite.)

What strikes a chord with me after watching this speech is how much of my life story has been affected by including both fear and love as lead characters.   Sometimes fear was an uninvited guest who I picked up from someone else’s story.  At other times, I was the creator of the script. The consequence of letting  fear play a lead role my story was regret and lost opportunity to be free and happy.  In contrast, when love held the lead role, the story took on a fun and interesting narrative.  It may have even included an unexpected thrill at making it down a ski run in one piece.  As I write today’s blog, I’m “on the fence” about continuing my insurance practice or exploring a new career more in line with how I want to serve the world.  As I think of what I really want to do and feel the excitement and joy in getting there, I am already playing out a script in my head of why it wouldn’t be practical or feasible.  Sound familiar?  So what is the cost of playing small and choosing fear over love?  As Jim Carrey stated “You can fail at what you don’t want so why not take a risk at failing at what you love?”  Hmmm..Sounds tempting!

As we roll into summer and find time to kick back and relax, I challenge each of my fellow Badass Nesties to consider how they would like the next chapter in their lives to read.  Who will be your main character?  Will you dare to ask the universe for what you want?  Will you focus are where you want to go and not on what you fear?  It’s your one life!  Begin writing!

Love and laughter,

Cheryl

 

Jim Carrey Commencement Speech

 


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“Are You Ready to Write Your Story?”

“Take the first step, no more, no less, and the next will be revealed.” – Ken Roberts

As the reality of an empty nest has finally taken root and set in, I realize it’s time to start creating the next chapter in my life.  With both boys off building their lives and working toward their own purpose, I have finally accepted that my role in their lives has changed forever.  Although, I do occasionally still serve as mentor or adviser, even that is a huge change from the role of stay-at-home mom that I held for the past 20 years.  I am hesitant to admit that now that the dust has settled, I am enjoying my new found freedom. I am excited to explore the possibilities of this new chapter.  For the first time in many years,  my decisions, schedule, and choices are all about me.

After the initial shock of an “empty nest” subsided, I entered what I call the liberation stage.  My husband(Bob) and I were back to being focused on ‘Us’.  We were excited about our future together and all the possibilities this new chapter held.  After a few months, we realized that we had more time on our hands than we anticipated.  I was also trying to decide if I would continue with my insurance practice or go work for someone.  There were so many options yet we felt stuck in indecision.  I can remember as a kid getting a quarter from my dad to go to the penny candy store (yes, we actually could buy a lot with a quarter back then).  My brother and I were always so excited with this unexpected treat.  Being raised at the time by a single dad meant that money was tight and that every penny counted.  While standing in the store filled with so many yummy treats, we felt overwhelmed by all the choices.  With that said, it took a considerable amount of time to decide and then purchase our treats.  Choose unwisely, you were left disappointed and had to wait another week for a shot at candy paradise.  Needless to say, this was a treasured childhood memory.  It also calls to mind how so many choices can be challenging.

So here I stand with options to spare and no idea what I want to do.  Not very “badass” huh?  What I do know for sure is that I don’t want to live so carefully that I miss out on truly living  my purpose.  Although it is not clear what that  is yet, I wish to explore the possibilities.  Hopefully you do too.  The heart of the Badass Nestie blog is to inspire others to live this stage of their lives with purpose and on purpose, so that when we reach the end of our lives we do so with great enthusiasm and few regrets.

Here are some tips to take the first steps (and then another) toward your next chapter as a Badass Nestie:

1.  Give yourself a ‘Time Out’.

Everyone, not just toddlers, deserves a time out to collect themselves and reflect.  First, and foremost, take a moment to reflect on what a great job you did raising your children.  Whether or not things turned out the way you had hoped does not matter.  Parenting is a tough job and perhaps the toughest you might ever have.  It does not come with instructions and is a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of deal on most days.  Before stepping into your next chapter, you need to take a breather and congratulate yourself on getting your offspring ready to enter the world.  It  is also a confirmation moment that you can really do ANYTHING!  If you survived the countless sleepless nights, constant demands for your attention, endless first-day-of-school paperwork, doctors appointments, car pools, more sleepless nights once they can drive on their own, the transition from best friend to parent of a hormonal teenager (embarrassed by just about everything you do), and the many other countless challenges involved with raising children, then you deserve a moment to reflect on all you’ve accomplished.  It is also a moment to realize that you are equipped to do anything you set your heart on in this next chapter in your life.

2.  Make a List.

Make a list of all the things you’d do if money and time were not an option.  Have fun with this.  How would you describe your ideal job?  What hobbies or activities would you like to try?  Have you always wanted to write a novel?  I call this my “shoulda’, woulda’, coulda'” list.  What things do you hope to do or accomplish before your time is up here on earth.  What would make you say: “I should have done this?  If only I would have done ____?”  Be bold.  This list is about living without regrets. When I first made my list, I laughed at the idea that any of these could come to fruition.  Seriously!  Who was I to dream so big?  Then I realized “Who was I not to dream big?!”  The best way to start is by taking one small steps and then another toward something and feel great about the possibility of where those steps will take you.   Feel free to revise your list often and keep adding ideas.

3.  Try something New

One of my biggest challenges in this new phase in my life was figuring out what I wanted to do.  So instead of doing anything, I put myself into idle.  With the past 20 years being primarily focused on raising my boys, I had somehow lost sight of my own individual wants and needs.  Which leads to my second challenge:  taking the time to reconnect with my own passions and interests.  I find myself talking myself out of a whole lot of things based on logical reasons why it wouldn’t work or why it isn’t practical.  Seriously the opposite of  badass!  Then one day I decided that I was too concerned with making a big leap and not focused on the journey.  That shift in mindset alone has helped me step out and start trying new things without concern of whether it leads to anything.  Without the contrast and variety of experiences, it is difficult to know what you want.   So far I have tried paragliding, white water rafting, rappelling, hiking, running, writing, driving cross-country, purchasing a manual car, gardening, and yoga. What I learned is that I love being outdoors and connecting with nature.  I prefer exercising outdoors and hate the gym.  Although I love trying new adventures, I am scared out of my mind of heights and lack the physical ability to do difficult physical tasks without assistance or lessons.  There are many things I have yet to try and I am so excited to see where trying new things will lead me.

4.   Get Real about Social Networking

I love Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter as a way to stay connected to friends and family.  However, it is hardly a great substitute for sharing a laugh, a hug, or a story with them in person.  After having to say goodbye to too many loved ones over the years, I realize that life is too short and precious not to spend time with the people you love.  Make time to be with friends, family and people who get you.  Make new friends too.  It is important to get off the internet and spend face-to-face time with people.  Not only has it been proven to reduce stress and make you happier overall, there is no better mirror and source of feedback on your journey than through the people who love you.  We’re social beings and despite having social networks to do our social biddings for us, you know that sometimes sharing a cuppa with a friend while you hide away from the pitter-patter of the rain in a café with a nice ambience and good music can be a more rewarding experience than you ever thought it could be. And if there is one thing that people can offer you, which technology can’t, is emotional and moral support, and the motivation to continue striving.  This connection and support will go a long way as you explore this next chapter in your life.  So let’s get our noses out of our phones and digital devices and reconnect with people!!

 So are you ready to get started?  Or are you already on your way to being a Badass Nestie?

The point is to remember that you will never get there if you never get started.  As for me, I am writing my story and whether or not it is a best seller or barely makes the top 100 list is beside the point.  This is my journey and we only have one life to share with others.  Make it one for the books!!

Love and laughter,

Cheryl