WHAT ARE YOU CULTIVATING IN YOUR COMFORT ZONE?

A comfort zone can be a beautiful place where peace, contentment, satisfaction and gratitude grow in abundance.

COMFORT ZONES AND RISK

There's a well known saying that goes:
A comfort zone is a beautiful place, 
but nothing ever grows there
All the super busy, ambitious go-getters immediately nod their heads because it's a fact that you have to step out of your comfort zone if you want to take a leap forward into the unknown or into something bigger and riskier than you usually experience.

But......

HOW I BRIGHTENED MY SMILE WITHOUT BREAKING THE BUDGET

How to get a brighter, whiter smile without spending a fortune or having to DIY at home.  You don't have to spend a fortune to have a great smile.

BRIGHTENING A DULL SMILE

Have you noticed that your teeth have gotten duller and dingier as you've gotten older? I've certainly found that mine have been getting darker and less attractive since I hit Midlife and I wasn't sure whether I was just being vain or whether I wanted to get serious and do something about it. I used to be a Dental Therapist/Hygienist in my younger days, and I also worked for an orthodontist for many years. Teeth are something that I'm very aware of - and I also know how much it can cost to get a fabulous smile.....A LOT!!

AN UNBUSY RETIREMENT IS FINE - IT'S NOT A COMPETITION

Retirement isn't a contest to see who's the busiest or whose bucket list is the longest. It's okay to be unbusy and relaxed.

BEING - NOT DOING

One of the biggest payoffs for me when I decided to retire early instead of returning to work, was the chance to wind back on my commitments and to spend less time "doing" and more time "being". I loved the idea of being un-busy and avoiding being over committed and stressed all the time. The serenity I have in my life these days has been hard won and I wouldn't swap it for the world. But......

WHOLEHEARTED LIVING - CULTIVATING NEW ADVENTURES

Meet the Midlife woman who walked 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail during the pandemic.

INTRO

Today I have the next guest in my series on Cultivating Wholehearted Living - thriving in the second half of life. My guest goes by the unusual name of Person Irresponsible, her “trail name” - nicknames like this are often used by the thru-hiking community. This amazing woman decided to walk 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail in 2020 during the pandemic!

You’d think she was fit, fabulous and nowhere near forty. In fact, she tells me that she was hurtling towards fifty, fat, and in her fourth year of sobriety - hence her anonymity*. She has since written a book “Everything You Ever Taught Me” where she recounts not only the hardship of living in the American wilderness, but also her recovery from alcoholism. I've included her Amazon links at the end of the post, but for now I'd like you to meet Person Irresponsible....

LIVING MY BEST LIFE EVERY DAY - UPDATE #2

Choosing a life of positivity one day at a time. And looking for those moments of joy that each and every day contains.

LIVING LIFE WITH A SMILE EVERY DAY

So much has been happening over the last few months, and seeing I still want to keep my blogging to one post a week, I decided to spin out my monthly update and make it a quarterly one - so today's post is what's been happening in my world for the second quarter of 2021 - it's the Autumn edition (with a little bit of Winter sneaking in at the end).

My focus this year is on moving towards 60 with a positive mindset and gratitude. Cultivating what makes my soul feel happy, and aiming to live my best life every day. Life will never be perfect, but it's full of perfect moments and a lot of little joys if we choose to look for them. These are the happy moments that have popped up over the last few months in my life.

BEING PRESENT AND RECONNECTING WITH THE REAL WORLD

As life returns to a new normal we need to ensure that we begin to reconnect with the world around us again.

WHAT'S BEEN MISSING IN MY LIFE LATELY?

Over the last six months of so, I've been feeling a little out of sorts. I thought it might be due to the imminent approach of my 60th birthday later this year (I always have issues with changing decades). But then I realized it wasn't anything to do with that, it was the realization that my online life had taken over my in-real-life. Covid played a large part in tipping the scales in that direction - it's been so easy to stay home and to chat online, to write blog posts, to update my blog's Facebook page etc etc. But in the process, I can now see that my real world has shrunk and withered away due to neglect over the last couple of years.

Have I actually become a stay at home recluse? Or do I just need to make a few adjustments?

WHY THE PROVERBS 31 WOMAN AND I WOULD NEVER BE BFFS

Who is the Proverbs 31 woman? Why I don't like her very much. And why it's time she stopped being a role model.

WHO IS THE PROVERBS 31 WOMAN?

If you haven't grown up in the church, the Proverbs 31 woman would be a complete unknown to you. For a lot of Christian women she is the Instagram Mum of early biblical days.....you know.....the woman who does everything, and does it so perfectly that she's used as the shining example of womanhood - and preached about every Mothers Day in churches all over the world.

This woman has been lauded throughout biblical history and even has a magazine and several websites devoted to her perfect example. 
But that kind of perfection is a little daunting, and I don't think I'd ever have wanted to spend much time with her. 

Here's why....

WHOLEHEARTED LIVING - CULTIVATING CREATIVITY

3 great tips to cultivate creativity in all areas of your life - Fuel, Ritual, and Practice.

INTRO

Today I have the next guest in my series on Cultivating Wholehearted Living - thriving in the second half of life. Jennifer writes a really interesting blog called Unfold And Begin, and advocates for the use of Vision Boards for life planning, she even runs workshops on how to create and use them for goal planning and other creative outlets.

Jennifer is sharing some of her tips on how to bring more creativity into our lives - so on that note I'll hand it over to her to tell us her three steps to cultivating creativity...

TURNING THE VOLUME DOWN A LITTLE (FOR NOW)

Turning off the comments to turn down the volume. Having a little break from being online too much.

TIME FOR A CHANGE

When I began this blog (back in September 2014) I was a complete blogging novice. I never expected people to find me online and I was hugely concerned that I might be trolled or have negative comments. So.....I turned the comments off for the first six months of blogging.

Over that time I connected with some lovely Midlife bloggers and they told me they wanted to leave a comment and couldn't. So.....I turned them on, and they've been on ever since.

But......

5 GREAT CHOICES FOR CURATING A SIMPLE AND SATISFYING LIFE

5 simple choices to help you find a life of satisfaction and contentment

YOU GET TO CHOOSE YOUR LIFE

So many people feel like their life has a set course and they have very little control over the direction they're heading in. There are bills to be paid, career ladders to climb, mortgages to be paid, investments to be made, chores to be completed, families to raise, and a million other little tasks. 

But what happens when you start ticking some of those necessities off the list? What happens when the mortgage is under control, when the nest becomes empty, and when getting up for work every day becomes a chore in itself? Do you have to keep heading along the same beaten track, or can you start curating a new and more bespoke life to carry you through the years ahead? Today I'm covering a few choices that can lead towards curating a life that's simple and satisfying - and who doesn't want that?

WHOLEHEARTED LIVING - CULTIVATING JOY AND GRATITUDE

If we let go of the worst case scenario and reach for joy, life begins to open up in so many wonderful and unexpected ways.

WHAT IF I FALL?

There's a fantastic little quote from Erin Hanson that's all over the internet - it says....
What if I Fall? 
Oh but my darling, 
What if you Fly?

Life is full of "What if moments?" that often hold us back from moving onto the next stage of life. Or they keep us small because we're too afraid to stretch our wings. I wonder how often we choose scarcity thinking and risk aversion instead of opening ourselves up to joy and gratitude? If we let go of the worst case scenario and reach for joy, life begins to open up in so many wonderful and unexpected ways.

3 REASONS WHY I'LL NEVER BE A BLOGGING QUEEN

I'm no blogging queen - I don't have the drive, I'm not prolific, and I'm not a trend setter. But that's perfectly okay with me.  Image: https://wallpaperaccess.com/beautiful-queen

BEING THE NEXT BEST THING IN BLOGGING

Every new blogger thinks they're going to be the next big thing that sets the blogging world on fire. We all leap in and start hammering away on our keyboards, sharing our thoughts, our ideas, our hearts, and our souls. But as time goes on I've seen so many bloggers come and go - the ones who burn out the quickest are the ones who came with the biggest aspirations. There are 4.4 MILLION blog posts published EVERY day, so I'm wondering if starting small and being content with being a small fish in a very big pond can sometimes be a better game plan than trying to set the world on fire and failing to live up to your own expectations?

WHOLEHEARTED LIVING - CULTIVATING A WRITING LIFE

Have you ever thought about writing a novel? It's not just having an idea, there's so much more. Here are 10 tips to keep you on track.

INTRO

Today I have the next guest in my series on Cultivating Wholehearted Living - thriving in the second half of life. Jo is an amazing blogger who also manages to be a successful romance novelist, a cordon bleu chef, takes fabulous photos, holds down a busy job, walks every morning before the crack of dawn, and on top of all of that....she is a great friend and always good for a laugh. 

Jo doesn't just blog, she BLOGS! Somehow or other she maintains not one, but THREE blog sites - a personal one, an author one, and a cooking one (links are at the end of this post if you'd like to check them out). I'm feeling a little bit exhausted just thinking about it all! Somewhere in the middle of all her writing and cooking, she's found time to be my guest today and so I'll hand it over to Jo from here.....

3 UNEXPECTED DECISIONS THAT OPENED NEW HORIZONS

Sometimes the smallest decisions can lead to the biggest changes. Be brave and follow your heart.

UNEXPECTED DECISIONS AND NEW HORIZONS

Have you ever made an on the spot decision that resulted in big, unexpected changes? I was thinking about this the other day and a few came to mind. I thought I'd share them today because they were little stepping stones that opened new horizons for me. Small decisions at the time that were made for good reasons - but they also had far reaching and life changing results.

I wrote a couple of months ago about courage having consequences - there are always costs and pay-offs when we make decisions, but sometimes the pay-offs far outweigh the costs and today I'm sharing three decisions that paid off far more than I ever would have expected.

WHOLEHEARTED LIVING - CULTIVATING NEW DIRECTIONS

How lockdown brought about a change of career, a new book, and a new direction.

INTRO

Today on the blog I have a guest who many of you won't have met previously. Angelique from Hags with Attitude, contacted me after finding me through Pinterest (I do love to Pin!) She has recently had a new book published and has a really interesting story about lockdown igniting her creative side again and sending her on a new path to help other Midlife women with their wardrobes and with adjusting to this new phase of life.

So without further chatter from me, here is Angelique to tell you about her journey...

FINDING MY QUIET PLACE WITH COLOURED PENCILS

Adult colouring in reduces anxiety and stress, and creates focus. It helps replace negative thoughts with pleasant ones.
from Johanna Basford's Secret Garden

BEFORE MY TIME

I have always loved colouring in, from my own childhood through to joining in with our children and colouring one page while they did the other. From there I had a break because it was a “kid thing” and nobody coloured in when they were adults.

One day in my 40’s I thought to myself that I’d ignore what was considered “normal” and I’d buy myself a colouring book and use it to zone out and enjoy the simple pleasure of adding colour to paper without having to think too hard. I found a Barbie colouring book that had lovely white pages that made the colours look prettier and I used to colour a page or two here and there when I had a little bit of time to myself.

WHOLEHEARTED LIVING - CULTIVATING A BOLD STREAK

I am on a crusade to grow bolder in my decisions, in how I present myself, how I think about myself and how I tackle challenges.


INTRO

Today I have the next guest in my series on Cultivating Wholehearted Living - thriving in the second half of life. My lovely blogging friend Deb from Tumbarumba (my husband always says "where?" when I say Deb from Tumbarumba - just so I get to say it again - it really rolls off the tongue). She writes a fabulous blog called Deb's World and always has something upbeat and engaging to share.

Deb decided to stick with the theme from my previous guests where she shares some thoughts on is how her Word of the Year (Bold) intersects with mine (Cultivate) - she's sharing about Cultivating a Bold Streak and embracing a new sense of confidence and courage. So here's what she has to say.....

LIVING MY BEST LIFE EVERY DAY UPDATE #1

Choosing a life of positivity one day at a time. And looking for those moments of joy that each and every day contains.

LIVING LIFE WITH A SMILE EVERY DAY

So much has been happening on the blog over the last couple of months, and seeing I still want to keep it to one post a week, I decided to spin out my monthly update and make it a quarterly one - so today's post is what's been happening in my world for the first quarter of 2021 - it's the Summer edition (with a little bit of Autumn sneaking in at the end).

My focus this year is on moving towards 60 with a positive mindset and gratitude. Cultivating what makes my soul feel happy, and aiming to live my best life every day. Life will never be perfect, but it's full of perfect moments and a lot of little joys if we choose to look for them. These are the happy moments that have popped up over the last few months in my life.

I'M LIVING MY BEST LIFE EVERY DAY

Life isn't perfect, but it's full of perfect moments every day. Let's look for those moments, and live the best life we can every day.

I'M LIVING MY BEST LIFE EVERY DAY

I used to feel envious when I saw other people living really happy and content lives. I'd wonder how they could have it all when I was so busy trying to keep all the balls in the air. I think a lot of my discontent came from the scarcity mindset I'd lived with all my life. I never felt like I was on top of things - there were always bills to be paid, work to be done, chores to finish, responsibilities to juggle. Life kept rolling along and I was so busy trying to keep up with it all that the days passed and I never really felt like I was living.

It took until I was 50 before I began to wake up to myself and see that all that diligence might have been tiring and at times made me feel a little resentful, but it had paid off and set us up for what we have today. I realized I could throttle back on all the "should do" and "would do" and "must do" and could start asking myself what living a good life would really look like, and the answer surprised me.

WHOLEHEARTED LIVING - CULTIVATING EMPATHY

Empathy is seeing the world as others see it, being non-judgmental, and understanding another person's feelings.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO CULTIVATE EMPATHY?

Empathy is a tricky concept to get our heads around. For many years I thought sympathy and empathy were similar concepts. It wasn't until I read some of Brene Brown's work that I finally understood that sympathy is feeling BAD for someone, and empathy is feeling WITH someone. Sympathy leads to the oldest child coming out in me - I want to try to fix the person's pain or problem - or I've been known to try to identify by relating a similar story of my own - neither of these approaches have anything to do with empathy.

So what does empathy really look like when it's put into practice? Brene Brown (I'm a bit of a fan girl) has a fantastic little video that shows what empathy looks like in less than 3 minutes and I've included it here in case you haven't stumbled across it previously.

WHERE I'M FROM - THE AUSSIE VERSION

Taking up the challenge to describe 1960's Australia and then the 2021 version, using the "Where I'm From" poem template.

WHERE I'M FROM - THE AUSSIE VERSION

I don't know about you, but I find that there are times in life when something resonates with you on a heart/soul level and because of that it sticks in your mind for the long haul. One of the little things that captured my interest a few years ago was a poem written in 1993 by George Ella Lyon entitled "Where I'm From". 

I think I liked the "feel" of how she wrote and the images it evoked for me - and it challenged me to want to write something similar for myself.

WHOLEHEARTED LIVING - CULTIVATING OUR "SELF"

We need to cultivate SELF to live the life that is right for us, on our terms and to feel comfortable and confident with who we are.

INTRO

Today I have the next guest in my series on Cultivating Wholehearted Living - thriving in the second half of life. Sue from Women Living Well After 50 has been my blogging inspiration and greatest source of encouragement since I first met her 5+ years ago. We began blogging around the same time and have cheered each other on ever since. 

Sue was gracious enough to share some of her wisdom, and today's post is how her Word of the Year intersects with mine - she's sharing about Cultivating our "Self" and becoming the women we're designed to be. So, without further ado, I'll hand you over to Sue....

CELEBRATE GIRL POWER WITH A NEW LOOK

Have you tried online glasses and sunglasses? The range of styles and value for money make it a fantastic option.

INTRO

Today on the blog I have a really special collaboration with VisionDirect in honour of International Women's Day that arrives on the 8th of March. It's a great occasion to spoil ourselves with something a little bit different - and if you're like me, you're wearing glasses more often these days. I use mine all the time for reading and blogging and I'm never without a pair of sunglasses in the car or when I go for my morning walk. 

There's so many options available to us these days that I haven't even begun to tap into - including buying prescription glasses online (my daughter and son-in-law swear by the value in doing this). There's also a myriad of really amazing designer sunglasses at great prices and I spent far too long scrolling through Vision Direct's site choosing a pair! I thought in honour of IWD I'd share a few finds I discovered while I was checking out their products.

I'M FINALLY OKAY WITH NOT BEING A JOINER

There's so many new and interesting opportunities out there to discover - but what if you don't want to join in with every new challenge?

LEARNING SOMETHING NEW ABOUT MYSELF

My blogging friend Jennifer (from Next Phase In Fitness) made a comment in her "67 Things About Me" post saying "I’m a boring person and really don’t care". It made me smile because I think we often see ourselves as boring and wonder how we can make ourselves seem more interesting or engaging, and I loved that she's reached the point where she doesn't care.

I know I sometimes feel the urge to make myself seem more interesting. In the process I look at all the wonderful online options that are available (especially since COVID shut down a lot of face to face events). There are virtual hikes, virtual book clubs, virtual exercise classes, virtual yoga sessions, virtual paint and sip events, virtual cooking classes.....the list is endless. But seeing the huge range of things on offer taught me something new about myself.

WHOLEHEARTED LIVING - CULTIVATING AUTHENTICITY

Being authentic isn't something we magically have all figured out, rather it's about making choices about how we want to show ourselves to the world.

WHAT IS WHOLEHEARTED LIVING?

Brene Brown talks a lot about the concept of "Wholehearted Living" in her book "Daring Greatly" and to sum it up in a couple of sentences it means: Engaging in life from a place of belief in your own worthiness - cultivating courage, compassion, and connection. It also involves cultivating a sense of being "Enough" which is the the opposite to scarcity thinking - where we feel that we never have enough (especially compared to what we believe we see others having).

CULTIVATE is my Word of the Year for 2021 and Brene mentions Cultivating in her 10 Guideposts to Wholehearted Living from another of her books "The Gifts of Imperfection". Today I'm focusing on an area I've been working hard on over the last decade, and that's Cultivating Authenticity - and how it applies to Midlife and living our best life right now.

COURAGE HAS CONSEQUENCES BUT PLAYING SAFE DOES TOO

Making changes takes courage. No change comes without some kind of cost. Often to gain something you need to sacrifice something else in its place.

COURAGE HAS CONSEQUENCES

Making changes takes courage. No change comes without some kind of cost. Often to gain something you need to sacrifice something else in its place. It's been almost two years since I took my courage in both hands and wrote my letter of resignation from a job that had slowly become a nightmare. Anyone who read my blog through 2019 would know that I was at rock bottom and it took a lot of time and effort to get my resilience back.

What I found in the process is that having the courage to make a change will always have consequences - both good and bad. Looking back at the last two years I can see that there has been a huge shift in my thinking process and in my world view since I put in that resignation letter - and rode the waves of fallout that resulted.

WHOLEHEARTED LIVING - CULTIVATING A POSITIVE MINDSET

To have a more positive mindset, you need to change things and one of those things is your inner voice. It's time to lose those self-limiting beliefs.

INTRO

Brene Brown's writing about Wholehearted Living and cultivating positives in our life is the inspiration behind my #WOTY "Cultivate" and I'm delighted to introduce my first guest blogger for the year who's sharing what she's cultivating in her life. Pat writes very thoughtful and well-researched posts on her blog Retirement Transition and she's sharing some of her story today about how she's progressing in her journey of getting to know herself and her strengths.

On that note, I'll hand you over to Pat....

WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN YOU HEAR A "POP" IN YOUR CALF?

What happens when you hear a pop sound in your calf? It means you've strained it. Here's what happened to me.

HEARING A "POP" IN YOUR CALF

I'm no fitness fanatic and don't often experience muscle problems or injuries. I'm not a runner or a gym junkie, and my main way of staying healthy, fit, and mobile is to walk every day - aiming always for those magical 10,000 steps on my Fitbit - and generally enjoying being outside in the fresh air. I've taken my physical health for granted until something bizarre happened at the beginning of December.

We'd just returned from a lovely week of vacationing on the beach - bike riding, walking, and relaxing without a care in the world. Then, on my return home I bent down to pick up a box and as I straightened and turned, I heard a "POP" in the back of my left calf - I'm sure it was an audible pop, or maybe it was internally audible? Whatever, there was a "POP" and I knew that wasn't good.

SUPER EASY CHOCOLATE CAKE

super easy chocolate cake - great for afternoon tea or for a birthday cake.

INTRO

After reading and giving up on all the tricky, interesting, exotic recipes I see shared on blogs everywhere, I decided to work from the other end of the spectrum and share some of my super easy recipes that are guaranteed to taste good, be easy to prepare with basic ingredients, and they always turn out well.

Today's recipe comes from "Cookery For Young Australians" which was the cookbook we used in early high school home economics. So, if a 12 year old can successfully bake this then I knew I could too - and it always makes a great last minute cake if visitors are coming and I even used it successfully for our daughter's spontaneous 30th birthday visit.

IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO BUY A SCOOTER

What have you been wanting to do that feels frivolous and fun? Stopping thinking about it and just do it - right now!

JOY IN THE LITTLE THINGS

I read an interesting article recently about allowing yourself the pleasure of small joys. To let yourself feel excited about something - even if it seems a little bit ridiculous . When it comes to joy, Leslie Ralph says:

To begin, start by saying yes to yourself a little more. Yes to that little spark of curiosity, yes to that little smile that you shrug off, and definitely yes to that burning feeling inside your chest that screams, “Listen to this. This is joy.”

It doesn’t matter if it feels ridiculous, it doesn’t matter if it’s “wasting time,” and it sure doesn’t matter if you’re any good at it. What matters is the feeling you get when you do it.

 Those words sparked something in me - the new "Me" who is willing to cultivate experiences and ideas that enrich my life - and there was one "ridiculous" thing that had been sitting in the back of my mind for years - something I'd thought about and discarded many times. But with 60 looming on the horizon towards the end of this year, I had to ask myself "if not now, then when?"

SUNSHINE, LOLLIPOPS AND RAINBOWS ~ WHAT'S MAKING ME HAPPY #5

There's always something to be grateful for, something to smile about, and something silly to laugh at - we just need to look for them.
 

IT'S TIME TO BE HAPPY

December and Christmas are behind us and we're into 2021 already! I can't believe how quickly time has flown by - so now it's time to share some "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" ..... Sunshine - what's been happening to make me happy, Lollipops - silly things and memes that gave me a smile, and Rainbows - what I'm grateful for this month.

CULTIVATING WHOLEHEARTED LIVING IN MIDLIFE

Have you thought about cultivating qualities that will enrich and enhance your life in the years to come?  I'm sharing how to do this intentionally.


CHOOSING MY WORD OF THE YEAR

At the beginning of each year I've chosen a Word to represent how I want to grow and develop in the months ahead. I've had some that appeared in my head without a second thought, and others that have taken a lot longer to filter through. Last year I chose Symphony and it was something that came to mind in the dying weeks of 2019 - and actually worked very well for the highs and lows that 2020 brought with it.

This year I have a new word. I actually had several that presented themselves during last year, and I duly noted them down - Courage, Emerge, Harmony, Discovery, and Self-Acceptance. Each had meaning for me and each spoke of growth and balance. As I was mulling them over, a picture popped up on my Pinterest page that perfectly tied them all together...