A Firefighter At Forty

My brother, 50 feet in the air during a firefighter's  training exercise.

Dipping my hand into a bowl of jelly beans,I leaned in closer to my brother. I hadn’t seen him in a while and wanted to hear how his midlife change of career was going.

My brother, like many of us, took the long and winding road, the slow, scenic tour to find himself, to find his passion, too.  In his earlier days, his life was filled with rocky starts and stops –some successes even–as his entrepreneurial spirit met the reality of  a new interest or changing economy. To put it plainly, his life wasn’t always easy.

As an aside, my brother would give you the shirt off his back, run through a burning building to save you, but be forewarned: don’t cut him off in traffic, or even in conversation. Or bullshit him or try to upsell him in a car dealership or anywhere else because he knows how to put the impolite in polite.

But as time has a way of coaxing out our youth, so has it done with my brother.  In recent years, I have seen him morph into a more mellow and mature man.  And at the age of 40 or so, he has found what so many of us long for—purpose. He has now taken his volunteer job as a fireman and turned it into a full time career.

My little brother, or “Paw Paw,” as his twenty-something-year-old fellow firefighters call him, runs into burning buildings, rescues babies and heroin addicts who puke and overdose in accidental glee, and he does it all in a day’s work.

So, I leaned it closer as he talked about his daily work, his new fulltime career as a   firefighter at forty, and his EMT training. “I can’t tell you what it’s  like to know I am making a difference. Sometimes, I get to save people’s lives, and it is incredible to know that,” he said with a mix of pride and humility. The room grew strangely quiet for a moment, maybe in  homage to the horrors he has seen on his rescues, and for what we could not know.

He also talked about how he wished he had found his new career earlier. And I remarked that the sum of all of his other journeys is what likely led him to where he is, who he is now. Because sometimes our journey is wild and wooly, it takes us through back roads, valleys, over cliffs. And as much as we might want to question if we are there yet, the journey can’t be rushed.

Maybe, just maybe, it is the journey that seasons us, tenderizes us for future possibilities.

Maybe our souls have an inner plan, a map from which it journeys, and it uses its own compass and time table.

Reaching for a few more jelly beans, I settled back into my chair and thought about all of this. And about how proud I am of my “little” brother, Keith, a firefighter at 40.

If you’re interested in more thoughts on integrity, compassion and grace–if you’re looking for exploratory questions to unearth pieces of your soul, check out my book Tao Flashes. Or visit me at http://www.facebook.com/taoflashes or on twitter @taoflashes.

Be Your Own Beau This Valentine’s Day

blog pic1-1I’ve always secretly loved Valentine’s Day. From the time I was a little kid, I loved everything about it. I loved the exchange of silly, sweet cards with action heroes, magical princesses and funny-faced animals; and I loved the little boxes of Sweet Tarts and the juicy heart-shaped suckers with messages like “Love Me” etched across them in sugar. Remember?

As youngsters we were so open and pure in our expression… so generous in our sharing of goodwill, that  the ritual of card  and candy giving was almost like a sacred exchange between the giver and the receiver. We shared our cards and our dime store candy wildly and with abandon, and we did it for the sheer joy of sharing joy, of expressing love.

 

But as we grew older, it got more complicated. And Valentine’s Day became serious, commercial, maybe even a little manipulative. But I still loved it; I loved it even when I was no longer married and without a steady relationship. I still went to work with grade school valentines and candy hearts and handed them out to coworkers feeling the same silly surge I felt as a kid.

I know Valentine’s Day can be hard on some people who are not in romantic relationships. I am fortunate myself now to have a man in my life who regularly brings me a fresh-cut flower from our courtyard with my morning coffee, who understands that romance and expressions of love are necessary to keep the fires of my heart stoked. And he also understands Valentine Day, as commercial as it is, is a good day to bring me dark chocolate, or bird of paradise flowers–not because it is expected–but because it is appreciated.

But for those of you who feel lonely or sad or in need of attention on Valentine’s Day, I offer you these thoughts. Love yourself. Love yourself with the steadfast commitment and respect you desire from others. Self-love is the precursor to all healthy relationships and the relationship we have with ourselves sets the tone for our relationship with others. So be your own beau on Valentine’s Day and every other day of the week.

We women are such natural care-givers. We give at the office, we give to friends, we give to family members. We give, give, give until we are often depleted of our power and of our will to care for ourselves. Now, especially at midlife, is a good time to get in the habit of giving to ourselves. In my book Tao Flashes, I talk about the need to fill ourselves up first, to snatch the juicy pieces of life we have been denying ourselves, and to live a rich and inspired life.

So, whether you’re in a relationship or not, how about practicing the art of self-love this Valentine’s Day? Indulge in a piece of Godiva dark chocolate, take yourself out to a matinee, treat yourself to a spa day. And when you’re feeling really good, share the joy that is you…buy a valentine card for a perfect stranger or a co-worker.

Share the love. Share it like a kid, joyously, openly and with abandon. And watch as it boomerangs back to you, multiplied again and again in its loving power.

If you’re interested in more thoughts on integrity, compassion and grace, particularly at midlife, read my book Tao Flashes.  Or visit me at www.facebook.com/taoflashes or on twitter @taoflashes.

The Birth Of A Blog

front coverLast year, on Dec. 24,  I published my first blog. While blogging has been popular for more than a decade, it was new to me. I rarely read blogs, didn’t know the rules (still don’t) and had no particular vision when I started.

I created my blog initially to support my book, Tao Flashes. I wanted to write about themes related to authenticity, peace, flow, grace, beauty and integrity.Early on, I discovered there is a flow to blogging. Sometimes the blogs write themselves, sometimes they get stuck in the creative drain pipe and need a little encouragement. I’ve found when they’re really stuck and don’t want to move, it’s best not to disturb them until the words are ready to flow. For this blog, the words arrive on their own schedule.

In my year of doing this I have flowed/fumbled along, bumping into scores of creative women with big voices. I know few of these people personally. But I read their posts and comments, and somehow, I feel I know them intimately.

I know Sharon is a big reader. I know Chloe went to Haiti. I know Cathy is a tireless advocate for people with MS. I know Connie has a crazy-fun mom. I know Sheryl is a Libra. I know Amy likes those colored clog shoes. I know Lisa adores her young son. And Laura Lee tells it like it is. I also know the class clowns and Chanel lovers.

I know their hopes, hobbies, fears and passions.  I know the names of their kids. And their best recipes.

I’ve found kinship with a virtual family of midlifers and others who are seeking to express themselves creatively. Generation Fabulous, Midlife Boulevard, Mothering in the Middle, Best of Boomer blogs and others have introduced me to new people and concerns, and in the process, have allowed me to strengthen my voice.

They’ve also reinforced my belief that we are all connected, tangled in a web of hope and love and fear and joy that transcends borders and ZIP codes. We’re all on the same journey…we just take different routes. Most importantly, our experiences are universal and our support for one another is as solid as any rock formation.

I’m grateful to my blogging friends and to my readers. I write my blogs to give voice to that which is me….but even better than me. I pray I bring joy and inspiration and insights of value to you on this journey.

So, in honor of where it all started last year, on Dec. 24, 2012, I am sharing my first blog below. Except for the year, most everything still rings true. And since I had maybe three followers at the time I wrote this, I’m thinking most of you have never seen it. Blessings.

Finding Peace in the Crawl Space

As we close out 2012, it is easy to focus on the last few weeks or months of hysteria.  From the end of the world predictions, to fiscal cliffs and mass slayings of innocents, many of us want to slam the door shut on the chaos that was 2012.

To say it was a difficult year for many, is like saying that Christmas comes in December. Which is to point out the glaring truth, truth that is unarguable, truth that meets you at the front and back door of your residence.
So, how is one to remain peaceful in these less than peaceful times? How do we keep calm in these times when everything feels accelerated, our tempers, our fears, our reactions to things outside of us?

My answer is to find that little crawl space within, the place where I can hole up and find comfort in the safety of spirit.

I’d like to think that I could reason and ration my way out of darkness, but the truth is for me, it never works.  If you are feeling helpless, frustrated, unsure of your next step during these times of change, be it from outside forces, or from internal changes, consider this:

Pray. Pray to God, to Buddha, to Source, to whatever divinity or higher source you believe in. But pray.  Pray for strength, not for petitions. Pray for love, for understanding, for grace.  Not stuff.

Meditate. There are a thousand ways to meditate. It doesn’t matter if you light a candle, or sit, or kneel, or close your eyes.  Repeat an affirmation, or not, but breathe slowly and just empty your mind of chatter for a few minutes daily.

Read inspirational work.  Distract your mind from things that do not serve you by filling it with beautiful thoughts, words, poetry.  The spirit needs to be nourished with beauty less it grows dark from lack of light.

Spend time in nature and with loved ones. The Tao teaches how we are all connected, and this feels like truth to me.  Plant your feet on the earth and feel the divine all around you, in the grass, the wind, the fragrance of a flower.  We are all part of this divine beauty and we must recognize its power and potential.

Birthdays Matter

Today is my birthday. I am enjoying a completely self-indulgent day honoring my secret –or not so secret–introvert.

It is past noon as I write this, and I am struck by the thought that my birthday is already half over. It reminds me that years fly on a tailwind and I can only hang on wide-eyed and wishful.

I am sitting here in the quiet of my inner world, having given myself permission to take the day off from work, noise, outside distractions. It is me and my beloved wind chimes. And I listen to their sweet, clumsy noise and imagine them singing happy birthday to me in a language foreign to my ears, but native to my heart.

It is me. I am in awe of the magic healing power of my wind chimes, of sound, and I listen to them serenade me. They are accompanied by the flowing sounds of my fountain, the ancient healing sound of water pouring like grace from the angel that stands guard over my courtyard. And the inhabitants of this house.

It is me. I feel blessed to enjoy this solitude for a few hours. I need time to remember who I am, what I’ve gained and lost over the days and the decades that have marked my life. I am older now, yet more child-like. I am fearful, yet braver. I am uncertain, yet wise. Oh, so wise.

It is me. And I look back at the years that stretch for miles behind me, years that were littered with trash –wrong choices, wrong words, wrong timing, and a general feeling of wrongness–and with treasure–authentic relationships, creativity, mindfulness and an expanded consciousness.  I am equally grateful for the polarity that both have created within me.  And I remember every hug, every kiss, every ass-kicking, every kindness and every mistake– except for the fact that there are really no mistakes. I am old enough to know this now. Every thing has a purpose, a reason, a rhyme scheme, and I am here to serve it all. And to let it all serve me.

So this coming birthday year I promise to make mistakes.  I promise to kick ass. And I promise to dust myself off when my ass gets kicked. I promise to love harder. I promise to prioritize my relationships–including the one I have with myself. And I promise to find ways to righten what has gone so terribly askew in this world. I will do it with love, and grace and meditation and roll-up-my-sleeve activism.

Because birthdays matter. Time matters.

If you’re interested in more thoughts on integrity, compassion and grace, particularly at midlife, read my book Tao Flashes.  Or visit me at www.facebook.com/taoflashes or on twitter @taoflashes.

The Girl In The Mirror

I was captivated by a series of photos by Tom Hussey, who shot with marksman-like accuracy, the bittersweet story of aging.

In one photo, he showcased an elderly man staring into a mirror. The image staring back from the mirror reflected a twenty-something-year-old soldier, a purposeful young man with blazing eyes that looked to a future filled with all of the unknown adventures and treacheries he had yet to experience.

Another photo depicted an elderly woman sitting in front of a vanity mirror. The reflection that looked back at her was that of a stunning and sophisticated young woman, a beauty who called to mind Audrey Hepburn with her movie star poise and good looks. She was breathtaking, and resembled in no way the woman who sat in front of the vanity.

The photo essay is called Reflections, and it gives you much to think about as it showcases elderly men and women reflecting on their younger selves in mirrors.

There was something so moving to see the juxtapose of past and present…to see how the years washed away the youth of these men and women. And it caught my breath and seared my heart to see how the subjects likely still see themselves…as youthful, elegant, brave, purposeful, even if society doesn’t view them that way.

Let’s face it. We live in a youth–oriented society, and we become painfully aware of this fact by the time we hit midlife. We women, in particular, place such a premium on our appearance….because we know that’s what society values. And it’s our beloved beauty magazines that betray us the most, showcasing 20-something-year-old beauties on the covers of publications targeted to women in their 40s and 50s.

As women we should know that holding on to beauty and youth is not really about botox or the latest anti-aging creams. It is about holding on to that beautiful, enchanted, magical and gentle spirit that shines from within us. This is the place where ageless beauty resides.

I know this. I even write about it in my book, Tao Flashes.

But I too have moments when I become fearful of aging. Of growing old. Becoming invisible. Losing my looks. Losing my health. Even losing the attention of strangers.

I think many of us midlife women feel this way at times. At least on a bad day. But thankfully, I have many more good days, days when I feel confident and strong, wise, and even grateful for the life lessons I wear on my face. I earned my wrinkles. And since I have a penchant for learning things the hard way, I think it’s good that I have some visible reminders of my lessons. LOL.

Since seeing those poignant pictures, I’ve thought about what my younger image would reflect back to me. For some reason, I think I’d see my seven-year old self smiling back.

As I get older, I like to tap into my inner child, my guide, the little girl who asked too many questions and wore red and black oxford shoes when everyone else was wearing black patent-leather.

Me, at around seven.

Me, at around seven.

I call on her quiet confidence, her gentle spirit sometimes when I feel old or invisible.  Because I know she is very much alive.

I think this is what I discerned from the moving photos of the elderly that this brilliant photographer captured with such clarity. These older people still see themselves as young. Virile. Vital. Alive.

When they looked in the mirror, no matter how gnarled with age or disease-ridden their body, the person staring back at them was their youthful spirit. It wasn’t just their younger selves; it was their younger spirits, alive, ready for adventure, ready to go on one more walkabout.

So, here’s my challenge to myself. And to anyone who struggles with self image, particularly at midlife. Let’s be gentle with ourselves from now on when we look in the mirror. Let’s see more beauty and less flaws. Let’s see our aging selves as we really are: divine, alive, grace-filled spirits and reflect that out into this world. I suspect that what we’ll see is our higher selves mirrored back.

And now, here are the moving photos from Hussey’s series, Reflections.

If you’re interested in more thoughts on inner beauty, compassion and grace, particularly at midlife,  read my book Tao Flashes.  Or visit me at www.facebook.com/taoflashes or on twitter @taoflashes.

Waiting for Grace to Catch Up

55I have a friend who is going through a difficult time right now. Like many of us, she is stuck between the rock and the hard place that is sometimes midlife. She juggles a demanding job, demanding teenagers and demanding in-laws. And she does it all with nary a complaint.

But lately, her brown eyes have lost some of their sparkle. The demands have escalated and she is frustrated, angry even.  But mostly she is frustrated with herself for not having the “grace” to deal with it all…well, more gracefully. Her words.

Sound familiar? As females, we’ve been both the victim and the perpetrator of the “perfect  woman” myth. It’s the one that purports that “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never forget to let him know he’s a man.”

Sounds good in a “I Am Woman Hear Me Roar” kind of way. Until we gauge our pressure meters and realize we’re about to blow. Because let’s face it, most women do the heavy lifting when it comes to the caretaking of a family. Add on work pressures, menopause, aging parents, kids flying the nest…and it’s enough to make any woman blow a fuse.

But what do we women often do when we find ourselves at the breaking point? We apologize for not being able to handle it all. Instead of asking for help. Or, we pretend we can handle it all. That is until we break down. Or, we beat ourselves up for feeling frustrated, angry, anxious. And for not handling the situation with more grace.

I’m not an expert on grace, but I’ve been reflecting on the subject a lot lately. By its very nature, the word grace implies ease. But, grace is not always a cake walk.

I do believe there are times in our lives when we are graced with wisdom, the right words, the courage to stand on principles, the courage to keep going, the courage to say yes… or no. Grace in this form is a virtue and it comes from a higher power.

But I also believe there are other times when we must actively seek out grace. Pray her home, invite her in for a visit.

This might take some inner work, some personal reflection. It might take meditation, affirmations, study and prayer.

What’s important to know is this: grace is a powerful, mystical force. And always near. Grace is in the pause where you catch your breath and reel back the one game changer or cruel thing you can never take back…before it ever leaves your mouth. Grace lives in those split second decisions that sustain your dignity, your relationships and most of all, your higher spirit.

But given all of this, there are times when finding grace in difficult circumstances feels elusive. Maybe you’re not ready to forgive. Maybe you’re grieving an empty nest, or a job loss. Maybe you’re divorcing, or moving from one stage of being to another and you just haven’t made peace with it yet. Many of us experience an array of these challenges at midlife.

And so I say to you–and to my friend who is having difficulties adjusting to changes that are beyond her control–sometimes, you just have to wait for grace to catch up.

If your intentions are worthy and you take a small step to align with your higher self –even if your spirit isn’t completely in sync yet–grace will catch up with you. Just wait for her.

If you’re interested in more thoughts on grace, particularly at midlife, read my book Tao Flashes. Or visit me at www.facebook.com/taoflashes or on twitter @taoflashes.

The Natural Order of Things

file000325161223THERE IS A NATURAL FLOW to the universe just as there is an ebb to life. Sometimes things are working in our favor, and sometimes our world turns. One day we are feeling well and know we are gifted with abundance, and the next day our shadow appears and we see nothing but darkness.

Light does not exist without dark. Nor can you truly enjoy a beautiful day without having experienced stormy weather. The Tao teaches us that yin and yang exist in everything–and is necessary to balance all things.

We are all part of this earth. The seasons change, we grow old. There is a natural order. We must trust in this rhythm and know there is grace and purpose in it. And when we understand this, and relinquish our need for control, we find peace.

Maybe instead of working harder, it is time to relinquish some control. Grow quiet, and see what evolves in your life.

Journal Question: Are you in the flow of things or have you been fighting too hard to achieve something?

Affirmation: I know I am part of a larger universe and my life has purpose.

This blog entry is a sample chapter from my book Tao Flashes, A Woman’s Way to Navigating the Midlife Journey with Integrity, Harmony and Grace.

Beauty is Truth

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,–that is all

Ye need to know on earth, and all ye need to know.” John Keats, Ode to a Grecian Urn

IMG_5721THERE IS BEAUTY IN TRUTH. Even when the truth is harsh and grey and I’d like to color it another way, I still see its beauty.

As I mature, I appreciate the truth and those who speak it with a native tongue. I’d prefer the truth to be served with civility and compassion…it is much prettier that way and easier to digest. I don’t care so much for the ranting and raving of those who profess to know the truth and walk away from their soap boxes convinced they’re treading on higher ground.

You know these people. But even in their self-righteousness, the ugly truth of divisiveness is reflected and revealed. And that in itself is a beautiful thing.

The truth is, as I see it anyway, often grey matter. My truth is mine and I can embrace it, hold it near, and know what it feels like, what it looks like, to me. Sometimes my truth appears in the form of goose bumps on my arms, and when it does, I know it’s a sign that what I’m feeling, seeing, sensing, is a message from my higher guidance; and what I’m hearing in that moment, is a whisper of truth. I listen closely to it.

I’ve told many a friend how I live and love in the grey….this is where my truth resides. And I’m comfortable there. But it can be a lonely place at times, especially when so many live in the black or the white.

Truth: Your truth might be different from mine.

But when we live in truth, we live in integrity, and we live in beauty. I believe truthfulness to one’s convictions, to one’s self, is beauty personified.

Beauty is truth, truth beauty. No truer words were ever spoken.

In my book Tao Flashes, I talk about how truth is strength, power. Take responsibility for your truth. Share it and guard it and know always, truth is the equivalent of integrity. It is your authentic self in dialogue with yourself.

Yes, beauty is truth, truth beauty.

Affirmation: I live in truth and take responsibility for my power.

If you’re interested in more thoughts on compassion and grace, particularly at midlife,  read my book Tao Flashes.  Or visit me at www.facebook.com/taoflashes or on twitter @taoflashes.

Shame Be Gone!

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I had intended to write a blog about authenticity today. But I am watching Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday this morning and I can feel my intentions shifting. They’re being hijacked by the topic her guest, Brene’ Brown, author of Daring Greatly, is speaking about.

She is discussing shame. How it limits us. How it corrodes our self-esteem.

Brown has studied shame. She defines it in part as the intense feeling or belief that we are unworthy of love. According to her, we’re all infected with shame. She says it’s lethal.

And the less you talk about it, the more of it you probably have.

Brown believes shame can happen in an instant or can manifest from a lifetime of subtle programming. She also says that shame correlates strongly with addiction and depression.

Her comments got me thinking about the subject. Where does shame come from? What does it look like?

I think shame can come from everywhere. From anyone. Maybe it’s a teacher who humiliates a student in front of the class for not knowing how to solve a math equation. (Me, in the seventh grade.) Maybe it’s a parent who second guesses a child too much under the guise of being helpful…while inadvertently eroding their self esteem in the process. I know this one, too.

Sometimes circumstances like divorce are a source of shame to people.

Shame affects the way we think, the choices we make, how we carry ourselves in the world. I think it affects what we think we deserve.

How does shame present itself? I’ve seen it manifest in perfectionism. I‘ve got to be perfect, be the best employee, be the best mother, the best wife. . . so I can be loved.

I’ve seen it present itself in the opposite way too–by not showing up or doing your best work. Why bother trying if you already know you’re not good enough or smart enough?

I think as a culture, we use shame a lot. And not just in schools. We find it in politics. In religion. In parenting techniques. How many of us have heard (or gulp, even said before, “Shame on you!”) to someone you’re trying to control? I guess, I’ll raise my hand on that one, too.

When I think about it in the context of Brown’s talk now, I feel a little ashamed.

The truth is…sometimes we are the perpetrators of shame.  We can be the worst offenders when we shame ourselves for being imperfect. When we beat ourselves up for a host of sins like:being too chubby,  making poor financial decisions, being attracted to the wrong relationships, being addicted to drama or drink, or whatever.

And it occurs to me as I write this, that shame keeps us stuck. It’s a dark place where we can hide ourselves from the world. Because maybe, maybe, it feels more normal to us. And if we’re totally honest, maybe it gives us a hall pass to do less, and maybe accept less from ourselves…maybe even from others.

So how do we dissolve the pain? Brown talked about the importance of bringing light to it. Talking about our shame, bringing it out in the open is a first step to healing it. Though she cautions that you must be careful who you share your shame with.

I agree. But I also say, you can start by sharing your shame with yourself. But do it from a place of compassion. Look at yourself through “your soul’s eyes,” and know that you are a divine spirit. As many inspirational leaders have said, “we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”  The truth is…there is no shame in being human.

So love yourself though it. Learn from your shame. And move on.

In my book Tao Flashes, I speak about compassion as being an important value and principle in life, and particularly at midlife. Compassion is also one of the basic tenets of Taoism. And Christianity. And Buddhaism. And all credible religions.

So remember, you are lovable. And there is no shame in being human.

Question: What shame do you need to forgive and release in your life?

Affirmation: I am lovable and honorable. I release any old stories that have left me feeling unworthy and ashamed of myself.

What Winnie the Pooh Can Teach Us

DCF 1.0When I was a child, I loved Winnie the Pooh. He was a sweet, chubby, simple-minded bear that seemd to spend his days in the pursuit of two things: fun and honey. Pooh didn’t seem to be too stressed about where his next meal was coming from, or the fact that his friends considered him to be a bit of a simpleton. He just lived his life joyfully, staying in the present, and always, always trusting that somehow things would turn out right.

Pooh, unbeknown to me at the time, was living some of the basic tenets of Taoism. Simplicity. Humility. Peacefulness.

Just recently I re-discovered Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh, and have delighted in reading it with a new understanding. Now, with many more years (and yes, sigh, maybe a few extra pounds) tucked under my belt, I understand Pooh was not so simple…he was actually wise, and what the Taoists would call an Uncarved Block.  He was living a life free of worry, free of arrogance, free of complexitiy…in other words, Pooh had discovered the path to a joyful, simple life.

This made me think about how we women spend so much of our lives in fast-motion, running, doing, tending to other people’s needs. Many of us lead lives that are far south of simple. And sometimes in the process of daily living, we lose track, we lose ourselves, we lose our way… and we trade our authentic needs to keep pace.

Other times we get caught in the trap of more, letting “stuff” substitute for spiritual or emotional substanence. In the process we exhaust our spirits and we become disconnected emotionally, physically, to the little joys that surround us. Life then becomes about the next task, the next project, the next errand, the next demand.

I believe by midlife, we deserve more. As females, we tend to be the caretakers, the wish-granters for everyone else’s joy, often prioritizing the happiness of other people before our own.

It’s time to re-calibrate. Pull the plug on your perfectionism, tear up the to-do-list, and head out in search of your joy. Your bliss. Your honey.

How do you do this? You start by saying Noooooooooooooo. As much as you want. As much as you need. And then you start investigating what makes you happy, even joyful. Maybe it’s curling up with a good book (or a naughty one like 50 Shades of Grey). Maybe it’s playing King of the Hill in your backyard with your children (or  grandkids) while dinner waits. Or maybe it’s just enjoying the simple joy of silence, the chaotic-free sound of quiet time. All to yourself. 

Trust me, the world won’t fall apart when you step forward and demand your right to bliss. (Though you might upset someone else’s applecart when you say NO, remember, it’s okay to prioritize your happiness.) The laundry can wait, but your authentic happiness can’t. For if not now, when?

In the Tao Te Ching, a basic guideline on the principles of Taoism, its author Lao Tzu talks about tempering a busy life. In his profoundly simple and yet complex verse he says, “By not doing, everything is done.”

Pooh seemed to understand this basic philosophy.

How do you do it, Pooh?”

“Do What?” asked Pooh.

“Become so effortless.”

“I don’t do much of anything,” he said.

“But all those things of yours get done.”

“They just sort of happen,” he said. –The Tao of Pooh

Looks like that silly bear wasn’t so silly, after all.

If you’d like a different view of the Tao Te Ching, from the point of view of a midlife woman, check out my book Tao Flashes.  Or visit me at www.facebook.com/taoflashes.