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....

CULTIVATING SELF TO BLOOM IN MIDLIFE AND BEYOND

I’m delighted to be joining Leanne as a guest for her Cultivating Wholehearted Living series. When Leanne asked me to be her guest and to base it around her WOTY - CULTIVATE, I immediately thought of Cultivating a healthy lifestyle. You probably would have thought that is what I would concentrate on, because that is what I’m known for – living a healthy lifestyle.

However, on reflection I decided to write about my WOTY which is ‘SELF’ and why it is important to cultivate SELF not just living a healthy lifestyle, physically, but also mentally and spiritually. The whole package!

WHAT IS SELF?

Firstly, SELF does not mean selfish. SELF is what defines us as a person, our individuality, our uniqueness. SELF is YOU!

WHY WE NEED TO CULTIVATE SELF

We’ve all heard about self-care, self-love and nurturing and that is an important aspect of SELF. Like flowers we need to tend to our SELF, fertilise, water and care in order to Bloom. However, it is so much more than that. 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 as a person. It is about becoming self aware of our needs and desires and making the commitment to incorporate them into our life.

In reality other people liking you is a bonus. You liking yourself is the real prize.

Too often we allow ourselves to live our life by other people’s rules and standards. Many women, I’ve discussed this with agree and find that when midlife arrives and we experience the empty nest, change of careers or retirement we are feeling confused and dissatisfied with our life.

For years we have been giving to others, spending our energy in areas that deplete us and just accepting our ‘lot in life’.

‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’ is a well used quote but it is true.

I recently wrote a post, Where are you placing your energy? based on a discussion I had recently had with a friend. The question made me reflect on who, what and where I’m placing my energy and asking myself: ‘Is this energising me or depleting me?’. It is a great exercise to find clarity.

6 WAYS TO CULTIVATE SELF

1. Don’t feel that you are being Selfish by making SELF a priority. Take some time to answer the question Where are you placing your energy? and remove anything that depletes you.

2. Make time each day to do something you enjoy and find joy in the small things throughout your day.

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it. Maya Angelou

3. Create a morning and evening ritual - It might only be 5 – 10 minutes in the morning before the day really begins to give thanks and meditate. Then 5 – 10 minutes in the evening to reflect on your day.

4. Live a healthy lifestyle. We only have one body so we need to look after it. Regular exercise making healthier food choices and taking care of our mental health and well-being is obvious, but do you actually do it? Make a commitment to SELF to take care of your body.

5. Keep learning – developing our mind and creativity is essential to living and ageing well. It keeps us sharp and exercises our brain.

Keep learning and developing in midlife

6. Stay socially connected – be part of life rather than shutting yourself off. Studies show that being part of a group has many health benefits as well as enriching our lives through social relationships. Sure, COVID has made these connections very difficult to maintain but it is vital for good mental health to stay connected. It’s also fun!

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you ready to Embrace your SELF and live your life with the focus of keeping what serves you well and letting go of what is holding you back and making you feel trapped in life?

Are you ready to Embrace your SELF and live your life with the focus of keeping what serves you well and letting go of what is holding you back and making you feel trapped in life?

RELATED POSTS


Meet Sue
I started blogging in my late 50’s because I believe that age is just a number. And I proved it to myself by starting running at age 50 and completing my first full marathon (42.2 kms) when I was 55.

And now, I’ve passed the 60 mark, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing - running, working out with my husband, or working with Women 50+ to achieve their goals - I embrace an ageless attitude. I am intent on wringing every bit of enjoyment out of this wonderful time of life.

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.
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.

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Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive

55 comments

  1. Oh I loved this Sue. I love your philosophy on self. I also love Leanne's statement about other people liking you is a bonus and liking yourself is the prize. For me, it's a work in progress! But being physically and mentally strong and healthy is very important for me and through that, I hope to get to that point. Thanks Leanne and Sue for this great post.

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    1. Thanks Christina. I think for all of us Cultivating Self is definitely a WIP but as long as we are progressing that is great. I think you are so mentally strong with all you have been through over the last year and hopefully your physical health will improve soon too. Take care. xx

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    2. Hi Christina, you've done amazingly well with all the huge health issues you've battled over the last 12 months - I think that would knock anyone's self image around - and you're coming back strong which is such a testament to your resilience. xx

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  2. Sue always inspires me and this post isn't an exception. While we *know* we should be looking after ourselves first, we're usually a long way down our own list.

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    1. Hi Jo, thank you for your lovely comment and I'm so fortunate to be surrounded by inspiring women of all ages. We are usually the last on the list for sure but that needs to change and it doesn't mean others will suffer. I believe if we are happy then we can be make a more positive contribution to the lives of our family and friends. xx

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    2. I think that's what's nice about Midlife and the empty nest - we finally get to say "my turn" and giving ourselves a bit of love and grace - it makes a huge difference to how life looks in our 50's onwards if we invest a bit of care into our "selves". x

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  3. Such a wise woman is our Sue! I love this take on your word of the year Leanne and Sue's word meeting yours in such a positive way. Great quotes and all so very true! Why do we constantly need to remind ourselves of these things I wonder? Another great guest post for your series Leanne.

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    1. I feel a bit like a 'sage' when you say Wise Woman Deb but I love it! I wonder the same as you. We hear so much about taking care of Self and yet we still find it difficult to make it a daily practice. xx

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    2. I think we still associate it with selfishness Deb - it's ingrained in us to put everyone else first, and when we finally get to invest some time and care into ourselves we feel a bit guilty. Fortunately we get better at it with practice!

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  4. Hi, Leanne and Sue - I echo the words of the commenters above. It is so imporant for us to (finally) realize that taking care of ourself, is not being selfish...it is actually quite the opposite. As numerous flight attendants have tried to teach us, we must put on our own oxygen mask first before we are truly capable of taking care of others. It is amazing how difficult this lesson can be to learn!

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    1. Hi Donna, I agree it should be our own oxygen mask first although even then I think many of us would be trying to help others with theirs. As I said to Jo, above, we make a more positive contribution to others when we are happy in our own self.

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    2. Hi Donna - you're so right, and I always come back to not being able to pour from an empty cup. Running ourselves dry trying to be all things to all people is crazy - and I'm so glad we woke up to ourselves before it was too late!

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  5. Thanks Leanne and Sue. As I was reading this the idea of 'self' for me was more about my lack of a 'sense of self'. Who I am, perhaps? What role am I playing today? Who do I need to be. I know when I was young I joked about how I was dressing. Am I the 'Country Road' preppy person today, or am I a bit edgy and wearing my paisley baggy pants and old tshirt?

    That might require more pondering....

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    1. Hi Deb, I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes I'm not sure who 'Sue' really is and I'm 63! I don't think you should look at yourself as Who you Need to be but rather Who you would like to be. Pondering is always a good thing! xx

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    2. I think we all have that feeling Deb - and I'm very good at putting on a mask to fit the occasion. I think self-acceptance is such a huge learning curve, but as we master it all those "personas" kind of merge into who the real "self" is - and that often doesn't happen until our 50s and 60s - which is one of the benefits of Midlife. x

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  6. I love how you've combined both your WOTYs to create a post that's such a good reminder to invest more in self. Thank you Sue and Leanne.
    Pinned and shared on Twitter.

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    1. Hello Corinne, lovely of you to comment and thank you also for sharing. Leanne and I are usually in sync with how we view life so it was easy to combine both of our WOTYs for the post. It came so naturally. x

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    2. I loved that Sue did it that way too Corinne and I hope that others carry on the theme - so many of us have chose a Word, so why not merge them into something really worthwhile and that encourages others?

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  7. I loved this post. So much insight into where I am at in my own life. 60 and thriving. Most days anyway. Blogging has really helped me. Thank you Leanne and Sue.

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    1. Thanks so much Sharon and I'm pleased you enjoyed my post. Blogging helped me when I retired early and suddenly felt lost. Thriving has been a WOTY for me in the past and as I'm 63 I also feel that I'm 60 and Thriving! Good for you and lovely to connect.

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    2. Hi Leslie - 60 is on my horizon this year and when I see other bloggers like Sue (who are a few years down the track) living awesome lives and just getting more and more confident and assured, it makes me feel like our 60's might be a pretty fantastic decade!

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  8. I too, love how you have combined your WOTY's for this post and Sue, I love your line about livng an ageless life. Good advice too, thanks for offering us 6 practical questions and steps to reflect on. Thank you both for this post.

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    1. Hi Michele, thank you for your kind words and I truly do try to live an ageless life. Once we start putting labels and numbers on then we start living within those limiting beliefs. xx

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    2. Sue did such a great job Michele - I always love it when she's a guest because she has something thoughtful to share that encourages us to be better people.

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  9. I just finished reading Brene Brown's book on wholehearted living. You both speak so well to similar issues as Brene. When I became an empty nester and I realized how much time I was going to have on my hands, I did something for myself - I began running seriously. and I love it! It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Thank you for the 6 questions to think about.

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    1. I started running at 50 and have never looked back. Last year I ran my third full marathon at 63. Whilst many can bring me down when I tell them that, I just keep running with my Saturday Sisters, staying active and healthy for as long as I can. x

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    2. Hi Laurie - you and Sue both inspire me with your love of running - something that I've just never been able to grasp (along with loving wine/beer - both do nothing for me!) I love everything Brene puts out there and she's the inspiration behind this series for my WOTY - I just want to encourage all of us in Midlife to become our best selves - if not now then when???

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  10. I love this concept of self and the 6 ways to cultivate it - lately I am realizing that #5 and learning has always been important to me but in midlife more than ever.

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    1. Hi Christine, I love to learn and belief that the saying 'use it or lose it' is so true. Our brain needs to be nurtured and worked just like our muscles. The more we learn the more the world opens up to us. thanks for taking the time to comment and have a lovely week. x

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    2. Blogging has been a great learning curve for me Christine - I find it keeps me on the ball with my computer skills, but it also connects me to so many women who are shining examples of living life well - I can't help but be inspired when I read what they're doing and it makes me want to live my best life too.

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  11. Thanks so much Leanne for having me as your guest and allowing me to discuss my take on Cultivating Self. I'm a little bit passionate about that as you know. xx

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    1. Hi Sue - I love that you're looking at the whole person when it comes to cultivating our "self" - not just being physically healthy (which is super important) but also being mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy too - we need all those aspects working together to really be able to thrive. You're a great example of all of these things and I love how you inspire me with how you're living your 60's in full colour!

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  12. Hi Sue/Leanne, some years ago I read "The Virtue of Selfishness" by Ayn Rand. The overall take-a-way from the book is that we are to be neither selfish or selfless, but that we are to live a life of reason and purpose, while maintaining our self-esteem. I think Sue's message and her 6 ways to cultivate the self, echoes that philosophy perfectly. Thank you ladies, much to ponder, as always.

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    1. Hi Suzanne - I love the idea of living with reason and purpose - so much better than the self indulgence of a lot of lives, or the needless self-sacrifice where you have nothing left for yourself at the end of the day.

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  13. Hi Sue and Leanne, a great and refreshing read. Thank you both. I get a better sense of self every day and one thing I DO know is that if I do not care for myself with sometime out or just some art, maybe a little drive, I get out of balance. I am learning every day to like myself more and love what I am able to do to get there. Brene Brown now has a podcast called Unlocking Us on Spotify and to hear her frank comments about how she feels about herself helps me see our connected humanity. No-one has this stuff down pat! Thanks for being a consistent, caring and contributing blogger to this community I call #lifethisweek. Next week we are sharing our snaps (photos) and that’s an optional prompt. See you next Monday, I hope, as always.
    Denyse.

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    1. Hi Denyse, thank you for your comment and so good to hear that your life experiences have taught you the importance of taking time for yourself. Enjoying the journey is the best part. xx

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    2. Hi Denyse - I didn't realize Brene had a new podcast - I'll have to check it out. I love that she's so open about her own struggles and learning curve. It's a great reminder that we're all works in progress isn't it?

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  14. Thank you Sue and Leanne. It's so important to remember that self-care is more than just treating yourself to something you love (though that's a part of it) and more than caring for your physical body (though that's also a part of it). I love your wholistic, yet basic explanation of cultivating self and tips for doing so. This month for self-care, I am focusing on my brain and trying to learn a new skill: crocheting. I can't make anything yet, but I can chain stitch and slip stitch and I am finding it both relaxing and rewarding. My husband likes to watch television in the evenings. This way I can be near him, visit with him, and be doing something creative at the same time.

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    1. Hi Christie I like to keep things simple rather thank over-complicating or over-thinking. Self-care isn't effective unless we have a holistic approach for mind, body and soul. Enjoy your crocheting, I haven't done it for a while but do enjoy it. xx

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    2. Hi Christie - I can knit (basic knitting) but never really learned to crochet - I'm thinking it might be a good skill to look into when Winter arrives down here. You'll have to put up any projects you manage to do when your competency grows further.

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  15. Fabulous list, Sue! I'm still grappling with #1: Self-care is not Selfish. Old beliefs die hard, but I know this is an important first step to living my best retirement life. Interestingly enough... this also coordinates with my WOTY: Acceptance :)

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    1. Old beliefs and limiting beliefs do take time to overcome but if we can recognise this and then work at making changes things will happen. Ah! WOTY Acceptance is a great word and the start of the journey to self-love isn't it? xx

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    2. Hi Molly - I think most of us were brought up with the idea that putting ourselves first was selfish. Learning that we can allow ourselves a little bit of "Me Space" here and there is the beginning of changing our mindsets and loving our lives a little bit more.

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  16. Well said, Sue, with your 6 ways to cultivate the Self. Each of us was born an individual. By cultivating our "self", we keep our uniqueness shining and bring our best to the world. Thank you, Leanne, for linking with #WeekendCoffeeShare. Have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. Hi Natalie - I love your link party and it was great to be able to share Sue's post with a wider audience. I really enjoyed her tips and always find what she has to say so interesting and encouraging.

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  17. What a beautiful, encouraging post!

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    1. It was wasn't it Maria? I can always count on Sue to have something worthwhile to share and to uplift us when she comes to guest post for me.

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  18. Hi Leanne, I have been looking forward to reading and absorbing this post. Sue is both gracious and wise. I greatly appreciate how Sue is focusing on the concepts of mentally and spiritually, too. The entire “Self.” I like how Sue individualizes the terms. Not a one size fits all.

    Number 3, made me stop and think. Creating a ritual. More than a habit. An excellent post! I often need all of these reminders. I am bookmarking and sharing so I can reread often. Thank you!xx

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    1. Hi Erica - I think Sue summed it all up so well when she said that it's not all about our body's health - our mind and emotions and spirit are important too. There are far too many people (esp young people) who focus on the shell and forget to cultivate what the shell contains.

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  19. "Liking yourself is the real prize." So true! -Pam

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    1. It is indeed isn't it Pam? I think if we learn to like ourselves then nobody else's opinion impacts us enough to bring us down.

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  20. Loved this! For awhile now, I've been making an effort to branch out and I was surprised at how my family reacted. They are resisting my desire for exploration, especially my girls. At first, I was feeling guilty and depressed until I made up my mind to move forward and let them catch up. So far my son is the only one who says, "Go mom, I'm proud of you!" Thanks for this additional but of encouragement.

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    1. Hi Jolie - I think others sometimes find it hard to re-focus their image of us when we step out of what they've always seen and expect. I'm so glad you're stretching your wings and setting an example to your son and daughters - in time they'll look back and I bet they'll say you set an example they were proud to follow - keep flying! x

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  21. These were great tips! Thank you!!

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    1. They were really good and I was so glad Sue summed it all up so well Kirstin.

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