TAKING TIME TO SMELL THE ROSES

Are you busy rushing towards the next new thing, or returning to old habits? Maybe it's time to pause and allow yourself to smell the roses.

FINDING INSPIRATION

One of the things I love about blogging is that it introduces you to new people and new ideas. So many women in Midlife are exploring interesting concepts and Michele Vosberg recently shared a post where she recommended some great books to help with achieving our dreams. I'm not a big dreamer, but one book sounded particularly interesting and I thought I'd download it and see what it had to offer.

The book was 
I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What is Was by Barbara Sher

ENTICED BY A TITLE

I have to admit that the title sucked me in immediately. I had a friend who had made this comment once and it made me smile back then and caught my eye immediately when I saw it in Michele's post. I've often felt like I was a passenger on the journey through life - basically I was letting life steer me from job to job, or from situation to situation without me having a lot of say in the matter. I didn't really know what I wanted to be when I grew up (and I still don't) - so maybe this book would finally answer all my unasked questions.

Barbara offers a lot of suggestions, questions, exercises, and examples to work your way through to discover what lies buried under all the expectations we put on ourselves. In the process of working my way through some of them I could see that there was definitely an ingrained need (possibly from childhood) to earn the approval of those around me - my parents, peers, employers etc and this came at the expense of choosing what really made me happy. I was so busy trying to do the right thing that I forgot what I wanted along the way.

WORKING MY WAY THROUGH THE CHAPTERS

There were 14 chapters in the book and a few didn't apply to me at all - the introduction told me I could skip over these, so I skimmed over them and worked my way steadily through, waiting for the big moment of revelation. Barbara had so many tips about how to go back and find our original dreams and passions that had gotten lost along the way - the only problem for me was that I couldn't find any forgotten dreams that really pulled at me.

She asked what "meaningful work" looked like and explained that it didn't have to have meaning for everyone else, just for me and that it was all about finding something I'd love to do. I think my takeaway from these chapters was that I didn't need to do "responsible" work anymore, I could look for what made me happy, and challenged me, and engaged my interest - blogging ticks a lot of those boxes for me (so maybe I'm already on the right track?)

ROTTEN LUCK AND CHANGE

It wasn't until I reached the last few chapters, that things started to click into place for me. One chapter was entitled "Rotten Luck" which explained that it's a fact of life that sometimes we lose something through no fault of our own - it's just bad luck. It can become more than a minor setback, and may sometimes mean the complete end of an era (that resonated with me in regard to the end of my horrible job). She says that it causes us to lose something precious and takes the heart out of us, we lose confidence in a system we trusted in (yes, I could relate to that too).

But it leads to change, and with sudden change there is also a wide range of new choices that come into play and the beginning of a second life. I really liked the idea of a new second life - the first one ending when I no longer had children at home, a house to pay off, a job to go to, a responsible life to project to others. My new second life can be all about what feels right to me, what makes my heart happy - and how great is that? Rotten luck can be the beginning of something totally unexpected and so much better than what we had before.

GRATITUDE FOR THE PRESENT

My biggest 'light bulb' moment came from the suggestions Barbara makes about moving on after that Rotten Luck episode. She suggests you can use your past connections to find a similar job, you can find what you love and try a new career path, OR you can relax and smell the roses. You can become a "goal-free person" - which is when you're grateful for where you are, and you take each day as it comes instead of trying to manage and control it. How lovely does that sound?

She says: being responsible and goal-centred was a necessity for your first life....

But in the process it made you miss so many moments, people, beauty, feelings, the opportunity to learn wonderful new things, and so many good times.

Now, life stretches out for miles all around you and a fascinating world shows up, just waiting for you to open your eyes and see it.

I don't know about you, but I really like the sound of that. I like that I've put in the hard yards and I don't have to keep putting them in. I don't need to find another job or jump through the hoops I thought other people held out for me. I can settle into my second life and start savouring the moments, people, beauty, feelings and opportunities that are constantly flowing in and out of my life - how perfect does that sound?

being responsible and goal-centred was a necessity for your first life....  But in the process it made you miss so many moments, people, beauty, feelings, the opportunity to learn wonderful new things, and so many good times.  Now, life stretches out for miles all around you and a fascinating world shows up, just waiting for you to open your eyes and see it.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Have you reached your second life yet? Or are you still working your way through the first half of life? Does taking time to smell the roses appeal to you or are you revving your engines and looking for the next adventure to leap into? I love how it's different for all of us don't you?

RELATED POSTS


Are you busy rushing towards the next new thing, or returning to old habits? Maybe it's time to pause and allow yourself to smell the roses.

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Are you busy rushing towards the next new thing, or returning to old habits? Maybe it's time to pause and allow yourself to smell the roses.

37 comments

  1. Before I even opened up the email, I thought about how Leanne’s posts inspire me. And then, the title of your post. I love your subheading, “enticed by a title.” I will often begin a library book just based on the title. I appreciate your candor on trying to do the right thing. Thank you for reminding me how I am now at a time in my life, I can find things to do that make me happy. Instead of roof over our heads, taking care of loved ones and so on. ‘Making my heart happy’. I LOVE this! I will give some thought to this second life. I still have to be careful how I add too much to my plate, instead of savouring less. Thank you for the inspiration, Leanne xx

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    1. Hi Erica - you always make me smile with the little snippets that you take away from a post. I think that the book was yet another reminder that we've done the hard yards and it's okay to not want to jump back on the treadmill - that working until we die isn't the big prize. For me it's like I'm finally holding the prize and now I just need to give myself time to savour it - and to not feel guilty for how lovely it is to do so much less than I did before!

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    2. The word "savour" continues to appear in my radar. I need to pay attention. Have a great day/night and I look forward to connecting soon. xx

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  2. This book sounds like a great read Leanne and I am all for becoming a goal-free person - that suits me just fine! I'm glad you got some things out of the chapters and the biggest take home for me is that we all need to stop and smell the roses from time to time and this stage of our lives is just perfect for doing that - if and when we want to- it's up to us. I enjoyed this and have pinned it to my embracing midlife page on Pinterest. I must admit I'm a bit slack with my pinning lately as I don't tend to use it much myself, but I always try to share your posts this way.

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    1. Hi Deb - I don't think Pinterest is a fabulous as it used to be, but it's always lovely to pin each other's posts in the hope that other people will find us! And yes, I also think it's lovely to have the choices we have now - some choose to keep working or to stay really busy, and some choose to slow down and do some rose smelling. We have more options than we did with mortgages hanging over our heads and kids to raise - I'm just slowly getting my head around the fact that it's so lovely to be able to do whatever I want - how blessed are we?!

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  3. Hi Leanne, I'm going through that rotten luck phase at the moment, and I haven't seen a path through to the next phase yet. I'm trying to get back to that first phase. If that doesn't happen (or I can't make it happen), then I can see that I'll have to reassess the rest of my life. It's just hard to let go of a career that you've done for 30 years, when it wasn't a choice that you yourself made. I might have to read that book, it sounds intriguing. Thanks for another excellent blog, regards Christina

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    1. Hi Christina - I know exactly what it's like to be in the Rotten Luck phase and to watch your career go down the gurgler through no fault of your own. It really hurts and it takes such a bite out of your sense of "self". I thought I'd re-invent and jump back on the wagon, but when that didn't happen, I realized that what I have now is so much better than what I'd have had if I'd stayed or if I'd found another job working for someone who didn't appreciate their staff.

      I hope you find your way through, and I hope that you take a moment to really look at what you want - and not what you think you should be doing - or what others think you should be doing.

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  4. Hi, Leanne - Great questions, and insightful suggestions! I am definitely on my 'second life'. Taking time to smell the roses, notice the bubbles in the champagne, and just be me are now priorities. There was a time when I would have considered the first two items on this list to be absolutely frivolous. It is amazing how things change!

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    1. I feel the same way Donna - I never thought I'd be sitting here relaxing on a Monday and not thinking about work or something work related. I actually do a little happy dance in my kitchen sometimes on a Monday morning when I realize I'm not at work and I have the whole day ahead of me to do whatever I like - you just can't beat that can you?

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  5. The book sounds wonderful, Leanne. It sounds like it helped you accept and move on after losing your horrible job. I can appreciate the advice you shared with us here. I was a teacher for 30+ years. My life was very busy - I taught science so I was in charge of a lot of student projects - and I never had time for some of the things I wanted to do very much. I never even read a book during the school year - all my reading was reserved for summer months. Now, I have had several requests from private schools or colleges to come back and teach part-time, but I have no desire to. I have plenty of things I like to do to fill my time. I feel like that was a chapter of my life that is over. We do have to move on and live the life that is right for us. It sounds like that is what you are doing too!

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    1. Hi Laurie - how lovely to have those offers on the table and to know that they're not what you want any more. I see job advertisements popping up every so often and think about applying - then I re-think and ask myself if it's really what I want to do......and the answer is always "no!"
      The longer I'm away from it all, the less I want to ever go back to the 9-5. I love the freedom and the flexibility of being on my own timetable and having each day full of things I like doing - not having to wait for the weekend or for holidays anymore - I think we're both on the right track!

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  6. Leanne, I don't think I could live 'goal free', at least not for long, but I get the author's intent- being grateful, not forcing anything, simply being happy with 'what is.' Personally, I need structure (mini-goals) that isn't too rigid or too loose, in order to feel good about myself. I think 'retirement' is mostly about embracing flexibility and being kind to ourselves. We are still relevant beings, just in a different way than when we were working.

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    1. Hi Suzanne - I think most of us like a little structure in our lives, but what this second half brings with it is the flexibility and the acceptance (if we allow it) that it's okay to follow whichever path takes our fancy. It's so different for all of us - and that's part of the freedom isn't it?

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  7. Now this is a book I'd really like to read. Thanks to the pandemic, my priorities have changed and I'm starting to reevaluate my goals. Most importantly, I want to be healthy and at peace - both of which I am at present - just need to figure out how to stay there! :)

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    1. Hi Corinne - I think a lot of us have found a new outlook on life since the pandemic and it doesn't involve doing more, it means re-focusing on the little things and appreciating what we have. Staying healthy is a priority - and so is family, peace, doing what feels right, and not wasting our precious lives.

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  8. As an achievement focused person, I still need goals. When I am truly goal-less, I feel disconnected and adrift. Not a comfortable feeling. My goals these days are more life goals - intentional connection creation (needed right now with the pandemic), daily movement (also needed with our stay-at-home situation), activating my love of learning, and even new things tracking. I get feeling of satisfaction when I hit milestones against these life goals. They are not career goals, or even big goals like run a marathon or write a (another)book. But goals, none the less.

    I read that book a while back and still could not figure out what big thing I wanted to do. Never did answer the question who do I want to be when I grow up or what was meaningful work (volunteer work even) in my future. So I am happy with my little life goals. Finding moments of happiness in each day, savoring things more, and being open to possibilities, and having little life goal accomplishments every day (even if that is just reading the Monday morning blog posts!)

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    1. Hi Pat - I felt the same way through a lot of the book - I kept trying to figure out what my passion was that I missed out on. When I came to those last chapters it was like she was giving me permission to say "you know what? I'm happy with how things are right now. I don't need a new big goal, I don't need to be part of the rat race, I can just do "me" - and that's lovely". It was such a relief to feel like I'd reached a point where it was okay to not be competing anymore.

      Small goals that challenge us and fuel our hearts are definitely still the way to go - but they are so different for each of us and I like that too.

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  9. Hi Leanne - That books looks interesting. I am someone who likes to take life as it comes. It's good to have dreams and goals, but I think it's also important to be realistic.

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    1. I think we need to see that we're not getting any younger Pradeep - that life is slipping by and to be wise in how we spend the time we have left. For those who love being busy or working or whatever, that's great - but for those of us who don't want to do that any more, it's perfectly okay to enjoy the roses.

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  10. Hi Leanne, I'm glad to hear you found the book helpful. I'm 100% in the life enjoyment phase and feel grateful to be where I am.

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    1. Perfectly said Natalie - this "life enjoyment phase" is pretty darn fabulous isn't it?

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  11. That rings bells for me. Every life changing decision we've made has been on the back of either rotten luck or decisions made by others. They've forced us to sink or swim - and we've chosen to swim every time.

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    1. Hi Jo - that's the difference between proactive/positive people and "poor me" people - one rebounds and finds the next "thing" and then rebounds again and again - hopefully in a direction that brings them contentment, while the other sinks into disappointment and bitterness - I know who I choose to be!

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  12. I re-shared (on social media) a post today from four years ago that talks about success and how it can look different over time. Of course - as you know - that is still something I'm grappling with but I think I'm learning to be more appreciative and accepting of where I am now and what I have.

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    1. I think that something a lot of us are needing to find Deb. We can fight the situation, or accept it and start looking at the positives it brings with it - I know that 10 years ago I'd have killed to have what I have now - so I'm going to relish every minute of it!

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  13. This post was so reassuring to me at so many levels. Having quit my highly paid job and sitting and trying to search whats my passion, i could relate to so many things. Surely going to read your recommendation.
    ruchi nasa https://thevagabond.me

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    1. Hi Ruchi - it's soooo hard when you leave a great job - it opens up a Pandora's box of "what's next?" questions and I've certainly had my fair share. I think the secret is to tune out what you think you "should" do next and focus down on what you actually would like to do. I realized that I'd reached the end of jumping through other people's hoops - maybe you just need to find a happier hoop?

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  14. In my retired life from education I never want to see or make goals again. That was my job. I am happy to be noticing how I am feeling: well, a bit overwhelmed or whatever and now I am much more cognisant of these feelings and moods I know they eventually go and I do not have to hang onto them. It's been a big, big learning curve for me to actually BE and since recovering from cancer and the other surgeries this year, I am so enjoying picking and choosing what I do. This Friday I am driving to Sydney to spend time with my youngest grandchild and her dad as I never got any grandma time with her as I did with our other 7. So excited! Thank you for linking up for #LifeThisWeek. Next week is the final #TakingStock optional prompt (still others to come!) in 2020. Hope to see you there too. Denyse.

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    1. Hi Denyse - that's the key isn't it? The freedom and flexibility to have plans or to just "be" - to do things on your own timetable instead of someone else's. I can't believe how much I love my life now compared to the quiet misery and resentment I lived with for the last few years leading up to it. I sometimes actually do a little hop, skip and jump of happiness - how crazy is that?!

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  15. I love this post, Leanne, and the book sounds intriguing. Just before my husband and I married, he was laid off from his job. It was devastating, but he decided to take that opportunity to go into business for himself. It was absolutely the best thing for him, but a path he probably would not have taken, if it weren't for the "bad luck" of a layoff. As for living that goal-free life, living in the moment, when I think of retirement, I've wavered back and forth between that and looking for the next big goal. I guess I'll let it perk for awhile and see what comes up! Thanks for the book recommendation.

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    1. Hi Christie - I think some of the approach to retirement depends on how you get there. For me it was a sudden and unplanned full immersion - I'd thought it would be a carefully planned slow entry where I had time to plan and to have new "productive" things in place. I'm coming to see that this last year or so was my adjustment time, and that it's allowed me to throw out some of those notions about what I "should" be doing and it's allowing me to savour the fact that I can do whatever the heck I want and that's a pretty radical idea for me - and one I'm starting to grab hold of and relish - can't ask for more than that!

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  16. OMG I needed to read this today Leanne. I've basically travelled the same path as you - swept along in life going from job to job, pleasing people and doing what I felt was expected of me. Then along came the rotten luck and change and here I am still grappling with what to do with myself, who I am, what my purpose is. I very much would like to take all the burdens away from myself, go with the flow and take time to smell the roses! xo

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    1. Hi Min - yes we've definitely had similar "instant retirements" where we thought things would pan out differently and instead we are where we are. I think the last 18 months has taught me that it's okay to be happy with a calm life - it's okay to not be climbing the corporate ladder anymore, it's okay to relax and to enjoy the things that I'd missed out on during all those working years. My life is a lot slower but it's also a lot less complicated - and it revolves around people rather than a pay packet - and that's perfect for me.

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  17. This sounds like a book right up my alley. I can relate to your description of feeling like you are riding through life in the passenger seat. Great description. In so many aspects of my life, I feel that same way. Like life is just happening around me or to me. And I don't get a lot of say in what happens. Heading to Amazon to check out this book. Thank you for the review. You may have helped so many of us who are, as Min says 'grappling with what to do with' ourselves. XO

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    1. Hi Leslie - I thought the book might give me that light bulb moment when I'd find my calling in life and what I'm supposed to be doing to be productive. Instead it validated my "Rotten Luck" episode and gave me permission to really enjoy where that episode has brought me. I'm so tired of jumping through everyone else's hoops, and I think all I really want to do is savour all the little things in life - where I make it about people and not about "stuff". I hope you find your happy place too xx

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  18. Hi Leanne, and oooh books. I love books and thank you for the link to Michele's post. I've already seen some that I'm going to download. I love your point about second life although I wonder if I have a bit of a blend at the moment. Goals can quickly become overwhelming and I do love simply appreciating life. We do often forget to do that don't we? Thank you for the lovely reminder :)

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    1. Hi Anne - I think you're back a little bit down the road from me - and working is still an important and necessary part of life. Once I woke up to the fact that work wasn't essential any more, it allowed me to open my eyes to the fact that I could focus on the lovelier things in life - and stop beating myself up about the fact that my life is so pleasant these days - I can be my own worst critic and that's something else I'm working on atm!

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