Our Year Of Bliss-Starts Now!

Life After Kids Bliss ListRob Reiner’s 2007 film, “Bucket List” is about the unlikely friendship between two men of different walks of life who meet while hospitalized suffering from terminal cancer. The plot, while somewhat predictable, captured the hearts of many (myself included) as these two journey to complete their bucket list. It also didn’t hurt that the roles were played by two of the greatest actors of our time, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, Jr. who start with the more juvenile pursuits of  skydiving and racing fast cars but who end up finding out what is most important to each – the things that money cannot buy – the bonds of friendship and the infinite worth of familial love. I admit I cried at the end of the film and I do each time it’s repeated on cable, which has been often lately.  And, the ultimate of message of the film, is summed up in one of my favorite quotes from Les Brown, “Life’s too short, eat the dessert first.” So the film’s “bucket list” has now become part of our popular culture and has prompted many of us mid-lifers to begin thinking about what it means to be facing the second half of our lives and how we intend to spend our time.

My mother passed away when she was only forty-six years old, and when I reached that age, her death hit me so much harder than it did when it happened over twenty plus years ago. She was beautiful, full of life and way too young to die. I realized then how “young” she really was and what she didn’t get to do with the years she didn’t have. I believe that much of my spirit and drive in my life comes from that deep seated knowledge of how fragile and fleeting life really is. The past two years of my life have been fraught with great challenges and transitions but recently I’ve been overcome by the feeling something huge is around the corner and it has to do with “following my bliss.” Or, maybe my mom’s up there behind the steering wheel?

How do you follow your bliss? Frankly, I find the term “bucket list” – probably derived from the slang expression to kick the bucket – isn’t as elegant or inspiring. So make a BLISS LIST! I challenge you to find just twelve things you’ve never done before and always wanted to do and do at least one of those things every month for the next year. It could be as simple as reading the long novel you’ve always wanted to get to, but didn’t, learning a new skill or taking a class, to visiting relatives or taking a trip to some faraway and exotic place.

The choices are endless and the choices are yours. The most important thing is to start your list, as many life-coaches say, once you commit your intentions to writing you can make anything you want happen. So you’re already logged on if you are reading this or if you prefer to start with a pen and paper and just do it!Need help? Support? Ideas? My MingleMediaTV Network “sisters” Gabbin’ Gal Nan & Gabbin’ Gal Erin (on MMTV Thursdays at 10 pm ET/7 pm PT) have decided to join me on this journey and we three have committed to support each other and all of our loyal fans and Mingle Media TV audience.

So I’ve taken the first step below, now it’s your turn.  Please post your list (even if you don’t have 12 items yet), questions or need for support here and let’s us begin A Year of Bliss!

Following Your Bliss

Follow Your BlissJoseph Campbell’s famous phrase “follow your bliss” has become my personal mantra to remind me that I want to live a life of self-fulfillment and joy.

Do you follow your bliss? With all the extra time on you have now that you don’t have soccer games or homework help duty or extra clothes to wash, there is no excuse not to spend that time on yourself doing something positive and life-affirming.

Many years ago, I learned how to country-western dance and I went from having two-left feet to competing in amateur contests. For several years, it was one of the most “blissful” times of my life, but unfortunately cut short by the disappearance of places to dance, a new job and in the past few year, a very bad back.

Since then I have found other ways to spend my free time and follow my bliss.  Come join me and to get up and dance like no one is watching  no matter how you choose to follow YOUR bliss! Just do it!

Don’t you want to re-ignite your passion for living? It’s really easy and and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  Instead of a bucket list, which conjurs up negative images,  I’ve decided to call it my “bliss list” – things I want to do while I am still healthy and able!

So why not start a list and share it with all of us!

How Empty is Your Nest?

Life After Kids
Please Join me for the debut of the LIVE Web Series LIFE AFTER KIDS this Sunday at 9P EDT/6p PDT on MingleMediaTV.

Sunday’s show will begin to explore what is known as empty-nest syndrome – the time when your child or children have grown, are no longer living home and have begun their own lives – very often not including “you.”

It doesn’t matter if you are a single parent, or a couple, this change in parental status can have profound effect on us,  for some it may be a traumatic time filled with loneliness and for others, it maybe the long awaited freedom to be an “adult” again.

I want to hear from you. What was your experience? How did it affect you? or your partner or spouse? What did you do to deal with it? I will share my experiences and I hope you will share yours.

Sunday is just the beginning of an exciting journey we can all take together to find and follow our bliss!  So, let’s start that conversation Sunday @6pmPDT/9pmEDT on MingleMediaTV!

Tending My Garden

Stop and Smell the Flowers!I  love my garden!  It has always been my place of refuge and renewal and now as spring has sprung, the energy is palpable as everything is starting to bud and bloom. So today, I took some time to sit in my backyard and surveyed the new palette of colors about to spring forth. The lushness of the green grass, the bursts of magentas, reds, pinks and yellows bursting forth and and thought how my garden had evolved since I first moved into my house three years ago.

Until I injured my back over a year ago, I was the sole CGO – Chief Gardening Officer of a large, but barren backyard I acquired I bought my house.  It was one of the main reasons I fell in love with this property.  I saw the possibilities in this brown patch of earth that was now all mine.  Before I settled in this house, I had to move 7 times in ten years (that’s a story for another time) so I would plant flowers and herbs in containers and take them with me when I left.  After all, these were my creations, living art, as it were, and I could not bear to leave my masterpieces behind for someone else.

Anyway, from the moment I settled in and until my back injury of ’08,  I would always find something to plant all year ’round.  I reveled in trying all sorts of flowers, shrubs and grasses and learned along the way why some varieties made it and some didn’t.  Was it the poor soil that needed enriching, was it the sun – too hot in some areas – too lacking in others, was it what fertilizer I used or was it too much water or not enough.   I would not be discouraged when some plantings wouldn’t take, because there were others that did, or, surprisingly enough some would come back from the dead the next season.

Nature like life is very unpredictable.  So today as I surveyed my pride and joy, I felt that my commitment to experimentation, in the face of failure, had finally paid off.  I felt a hint of sadness since I would not be able to do any planting this year and there are so many more varieties left to be tried.  But, for now, it is not to be.  Instead I have been made to realize, that it’s okay not to do, but to be.  Stop, as they say, and smell the flowers and be satisfied in a job well done.

What is your “garden”?

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Reflections on an Empty Nest

My nest feels empty at the strangest moments.  Like when I open the refrigerator to see a half-consumed bottle of wine, some coffee creamer, leftover Chinese food and way too many individual packets of soy sauce instead of a refrigerator overflowing with homemade and healthy foods, sandwich fixings, power drinks and granola bars that you packed ever so carefully your child’s backpack daily.   I mean, nowadays,  it’s cheaper to eat out or call in then to shop and cook for one.   And when your children were young, of course, as filled as your refrigerator was, there was always something one or the other needed that you didn’t have, and as a dutiful mom, you would run out at store closing to make sure they had exactly what they wanted, when they wanted it.  That was then, and this is now.

Okay, so now that they’re gone,  I promised I would write something everyday, just for me, as I would have so much more time on my hands not having to cater to boys’ the daily needs, but I have been sorely remiss.  I had been feeling joyful and happy  in my phase of  life after kids,  loving not having a strict routine, and loving being more in the moment.  But in the past month, that seems to have shifted a bit and with all the time in the world to write, it was the last thing I wanted to do.

Having moved seven times in ten years, I had accumulated more stuff than any ten people should be allowed to collect in one garage, so with my bad back, I decided to hire someone to help clear the clutter out of my life.  She would do the heavy lifting and I could sit there and pass judgment on every item.  Keep. Toss. Donate. File. Shred. Maybe. Keep. NO – Toss!

But as we dug in, the more we tossed, the heavier a fog of melancholy weighed me down.  Was it the impending milestones my sons were about to reach tugging at my heart?  My eldest was going to graduate from college and my “baby” was going to graduate from high school. Where had all the time gone?  Why are they so grown up and I am still so young? What am I to do now?

Oh the joy and the pain of it all.  I miss my babies.  I missed having them depend on me for mostly everything.  I missed feeling like  I was the only one who can give them what they wanted and needed.  But of late, the heavy lifting  as a parent is done.  I have loved, nurtured and guided  my boys in the best way I knew how. I have hoped and prayed that I have supported them and taught them enough to fly the coop and someday make a nest of their own.  I have given them everything from the bottom of my heart and sometimes from the very bottom of my wallet.

So while the media swears my nest is empty and I will attest to the fact that my cupboards and refrigerator are pretty much bare, the fact remains that my nest will always be full.  Maybe not with the pitter-patter of little feet or the wretched smell that emanates from a soccer backpack after a big tournament, or teary faces to be wiped, but full of the promise of what these boys have now become as they take the next step on  journey to become men and the pride in knowing that I didn’t do such a bad job after all and maybe I did help them a bit along their way!

Originally posted 6/9/09