Beach people are happy people, generally at least. During my sunrise runs, most people I pass on the beach are content, if not downright joyful. Fishing, walking their dogs, running barefoot along the shoreline (like me) or up on softer sand in running shoes with headphones. To me, an early morning walk or run on the beach is one of life’s greatest pleasures and a true “oasis moment”. (I believe this would be true even if I were lucky enough to live near a beach and have the opportunity to run there anytime I wanted and not just the one or two weeks out of a year that vacation currently allows. A theory I hope to test in the future!)
Recently, I realized during one of these morning constitutionals that I was so focused on the stretch of sand just ahead of me that I had to remind myself to stop and take a moment to turn to the sea, to breathe in the fresh morning air and drink in the splendor of the foamy white waves rolling onto the shoreline. As I took a moment to revel in the beauty and rhythm of the rolling waves, the sounds of the surf and feel of the salty breeze on my face and the soft sand beneath my feet, I realized that this was just like our day-to-day lives. Often, we set off running through our days – seeing only the few feet in front of us – attention focused on the immediate tasks at hand. It’s only when we remind ourselves to stop and really take in the wonder and beauty of life that we can revel in the present moment. It seems to me that one of the benefits of mid-life is this is a time we finally begin to appreciate how delightful, how important and how absolutely necessary it is to stop and smell the roses (or sea air, or first cup of coffee of the day). In our 20’s we’re usually moving fast and furiously (even if we don’t know what we’re moving towards). In our 30’s – we may have others’ needs to consider (a partner, a child, a boss…) and we tend to put our needs on the back burner. But as we approach our 40’s and beyond, it begins to dawn on us – “Hey – this is my life. No one else is going to live it or enjoy it for me. I better starting doing some things that I want to do for a change!” Mid-life oasis here I come! And, if by chance you haven’t had that though yet, let me by the first to share it with you – take some time today, (take some time every day), to treat yourself to an oasis moment. Turn towards the waves and the rising sun in your world and revel in it. Paint your toenails or a canvas or a t-shirt. Toast your girlfriends or some marshmallows around a campfire in your backyard. Take a walk – even if it’s just around the block and notice five things you’ve never seen before. Dedicate the experience to yourself. Be fully present in the moment and let it fill you with delight. Then watch how little bursts of joy seep into other aspects of your day. You may find yourself smiling for no particular reason other than it just feels better that way. Beach people are happy people…and my wish for you today is that you enjoy a little bit of beach people attitude wherever you may be.
Beach vacation, day one. Our cars were packed with beach towels, sunscreen, Scrabble, paperbacks and the several electronic devices that my daughter “needs” for a road trip. (I bit my tongue rather than launch into a “back in my day we played travel bingo and we liked it” tirade.)
About an hour and a half into our drive, we stopped in Waco, Texas for a quick break. Once back in our cars, mine (which had just been serviced that week in preparation for this trip) failed to turnover. Nothing. Just the dreaded click-click-click of a dead battery. Great. Neither we, nor my parents, whom we were caravanning with had jumper cables. Great. The temperature was already creeping up past ninety degrees. And we had our dog in the car with us. Great. Then the nicest thing happened. A man in an old white truck pulled up next to us and asked if he could help. He had jumper cables. He had tools. He had patience and know-how and, in the end he took my dad to a local auto parts store to buy the battery that we needed. He didn’t want to accept the money that we offered as a thank-you. He said, “I just like to help people.” Wow. The entire inconvenience lasted about an hour and was worth every minute because it restored our faith in humanity. It reminded us that there are still good people in the world, willing to take an hour out of their Saturday, in hot, sweaty temperatures to help out some people that they don’t know and will more than likely never see again. Beach lesson #1 – people are good.
Ahhhh… the rewards of stepping out of your comfort zone. Recently, my sister-in-law turned me onto a week-long detox diet that she found on GOOP. For those of you who don’t know squat about GOOP (I didn’t either until two weeks ago) it’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s newsletter, filled with fun facts about Gwen’s glamorous life and helpful hints to boot. (Apparently she’s so nice and down-to-earth with her advice that we can’t hate – her even though she’s a runway thin, beautiful movie actress married to a rock star!)
I’d been curious about trying a cleanse of some sort, but wasn’t prepared (and doubt that I ever will be) to exist on water with cayenne pepper, maple syrup and lemon juice for two weeks. Most cleanses I’d heard about sounded so difficult…so stringent…so unappealing. What sold me on GOOP’s particular plan were the beautiful photos of fresh green soups and salads, brightly colored juices and creamy smoothies. Now, maybe that I could live with for a week, I thought. Even though I’d have to cut out all processed foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and grains for a week? Gulp. Still outside the comfort zone, but, perhaps doable? Luckily, I had the support of my awesomely wonderful sister-in-law, Shannon. (I have forgiven my brother a mountain of past transgressions for bringing her into our family.) We talked each day and sent encouraging e-mails. We shared tips. (try freezing half the rice milk for your smoothie to make it creamy like something from TCBY) And within a few days, we both had the realization that this was not, in fact, going to kill us. There was even a good chance it might make us stronger. (not to mention a bit lighter) Here’s the reward – I stepped outside my comfort zone (a week with coffee or wine…really?) and ended up feeling better than I’ve felt in months. And, I can honestly say that after the week was over, I’ve had no desire to dive right back into my pre-GOOP ways. It has been a nice fresh start for me. I’m not suggesting that you all run out and do this detox – but I would encourage you to take a step (even a small one) outside of your comfort zone. Think of something you’ve been toying around with doing, but just haven’t been able to muster the oomph you need to try it. Do you pass a yoga studio and think, “Gee, I’d like to try that, but I’m afraid I can’t bend that way anymore?” Have you always harbored a secret fantasy to belt out a tune at an open-mic night but can’t seem to find a wheelbarrow to carry a tune in? Would you love to take a drawing class, but haven’t drawn more than a conclusion in years? Maybe you just wish you could say “No” for once to the person who keeps calling and asking you for favors that she never returns (you know who you are – shame on you.) I think this is fitting quote to leave you with: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.” – Mark Twain. Why not get something new? All the best from my oasis to yours, Jill
(as featured on MOREmagazine.com)
The idea of a Mid-Life Oasis™ came to me back when deciding what to name my creative lifestyle coaching business. (www.creativeoasiscoaching.com)
I realized that many women around my age (40-somethingish– give or take a few years) were thinking more and more about the term “Mid-Life” and how it applied to them. More often than not, when we see the words “Mid-life” –the word “crisis” – follows closely behind (like piece of toilet paper stuck to your shoe – lovely, right?). Yet, as I contemplated my own life, I realized that my experience seemed the opposite of a crisis. It felt more like an oasis. I had learned to create time and space in my life for the things that truly matter to me and make me feel good. I was more comfortable in my own skin than I had ever been in my 20’s. For me, mid-life meant living the life I really wanted to live, being the real, authentic me and making time, even in my busy day-to-day life, for deep, personal satisfaction in mind, body and spirit. So, how did I manage to find this Mid-Life Oasis ™? Several years ago, I felt stuck, overwhelmed and a little bitchy a lot of the time. I began working with a creativity coach, the amazing Jill Badonsky (www.themuseisin.com). With the help of a supportive,compassionate coach, I began to make time for my love of singing and songwriting again after years away from it. It opened the window to a creative new way of living a fulfilling life. And, most surprisingly, it introduced me to my wonderful mid-life career change into a creative lifestyle coach. Now I have the satisfying role of helping other women discover their own oasis. I’ve done a bit of blogging in the past, but recently, while working with my fantastic business coach, Jennifer Moore (www.pinkheels.com) – I’ve decided to devote more time and energy to it. (As you can see, I think personal coaches are wonderful and if I were queen everyone would have at least one to help them live their best possible life!) I believe we can all use some inspiration and encouragement when it comes to creating an oasis in our lives – and that’s what I promise to provide here. Please feel free to drop me a line and tell me about your mid-life experiences – whether you’re just now beginning to discover your oasis – or you’ve been happily doing so for some time. When we treat life as our greatest creative expression, we transform our day-to-day existence into a joyful adventure – rich, fulfilling and fun! I hope you’ll join me. All the best from my oasis to yours, Jill