My big fat European vacation and why it’s taken me two years to take it

Remember when I wrote this post about what I’d imagined I’d be doing at 40? It involved writing – a blog post, a short story, anything really – while at a cafe in Italy. But it involved a version and a vision of myself that didn’t exist back then. Even if I’d been able to financially swing the trip, in my head I just wasn’t ready.

And I am always in my head.

And my head kept asking “What if you can’t get it together?”, “What if you’re not in the shape you want to be?”,  “What if things don’t go the way you planned?”, what if, what if, what if…

So for two years I let my head talk my heart out of taking a trip I’ve always wanted to take.

This year my heart wins out.

The interesting thing is I’ve made this trip before. In 2005 I flew to Europe, alone, met up with friends and spent 3 amazing weeks in London and Florence.  So what’s so different now?

That trip was pre-40, I was in better shape and was in a completely different mindset. This time, post 40, I felt like I wanted this trip more but that somehow I wasn’t ready for it. Doesn’t make much sense does it?

So what’s changed? Why this year and why now? Because life doesn’t wait for us to be perfect, or even ready, for it to happen. Time passes while we talk about the things we want and think about the things we want. And then before we know it, we’re wishing we’d done it – whatever it is.

I’m tired of wishing and tired of waiting for my life to be perfect.  I’m tired of being so afraid of moving in the wrong direction that I don’t move at all.

My life will never be perfect. I may one day have the financial freedom I’ve always wanted, the relationship I’ve dreamed of having, and the health and fitness that’s been a lifelong struggle for me. But even if those things miraculously fall into place all at once, my life will still never be perfect. But it will always be my life. One that for all its ups and downs I’m blessed to have.

So I’m off to Europe for two weeks in the fall to enjoy my wonderfully imperfect life. It’s my own personal self-indulgence tour, one in which I plan to reawaken my senses. I even wrote my own little travel manifesto, which I’ll share next week. Spoiler – it involves being less self-conscious, more spirit conscious, eating without obsessing, and maybe even a gorgeous Italian or Frenchman or Brit…

As I plan for this trip, I wonder why so many of us put off doing the thing(s) that we really want to do. I wonder what we’re so afraid of and what separates those who “just do it” from those who don’t. What have you always dreamed of doing and what are you going to do to make it happen? Share your thoughts here or on our Facebook page.

 

 

Life advice from Pinterest

I confess. I’ve fallen into the deep, dark hole that is Pinterest.

Pinterest is the adult version of those paper doll games we used to play as kids, except now we get to dress up our imaginary bodies, in pretend clothes, while decorating our dream homes with the man (or men) of our dreams. At least that’s what I do on my personal boards. Oh – and collect recipes of dishes I will never cook in my pretend kitchen. Image in masthead: My backyard. On Pinterest.

The Women at Forty Pinterest boards are a bit more mature. Just a bit.

For all it’s time-wasterish (I know) elements, Pinterest is also a good place to get inspired. A really good place. Whether you’re looking for motivation to write, design, eat healthy, or workout, there are thousands of boards dedicated to helping you.

I love the quotes I’ve found on the boards there, and I’ve corralled a few of the most meaningful sayings (to me) in one image.

None of it is anything you haven’t heard before, but it can serve as a daily reminder of the things, dreams and goals that are most important to you. Take from it what you need and discard what you don’t. Or better yet, figure out what inspires you and create your own.

Do you Pin? If so, share some of your favorite pins on Women at Forty’s Pinterest Boards or on our Facebook page. And, let me know if you need an invite!

 

 

 

 

It’s not who you are that holds you back,

it’s who you think you’re not. 

When I saw this little saying on Pinterest I was all “That’s me!” Then sadder and quieter, “That. Is. Me.” 🙁

Here’s an honest list of the things I’m guilty of telling myself I’m not.

I’m not…

pretty enough, as pretty as her, any combination of statements about pretty where the conclusion is, I’m not.
smart enough
bold enough to… (fill in the blank)
that girl
the kind of person who wins things
the kind of person who works out regularly
good at math
smart enough
good enough
popular enough
worthy
young enough

Any of these sound familiar? Unfortunately, I could go on and on. And on.

So this little image I saw on Pinterest has challenged me to acknowledge the truth about the internal dialogue I entertain and begin a new conversation.  I’ve spent an awful lot of my life convincing myself of who I’m not, instead of reminding myself of who I am.

Among other things, I know that I am…

a child of God, made in his image
smart
kind
funny
loving
a good cook
creative

…and now the things that are true, but much harder for me to say out loud (or out blogged), but I will say them, over and over, until I finally believe it. All day. Every day.

pretty
sexy
worthy of being loved
a great catch for the right fisherman 😉
brave
confident
strong
powerful

Whew…

What are some of the the things you tell yourself you aren’t? And now, who are you really? Not the sum of all the things you aren’t, but all the things you are? Share your thoughts in the comment section or on WAF’s Facebook page.  And, I’m just getting in on this Pinterest craze, so join me over there too and add your visual goods to the WAF Pinterest Boards.

Less Intention – More Direction, or How to Throw Your Big Plans Out the Window

If, like me, you’ve been a life-long planner only to realize that at least half of what you plan never turns out the way you planned it, then you’re probably looking for a new approach. I wrote, at the close of 2011, about how I was trying to approach 2012 differently. No big plans or goals and few definite timetables – less intention and more direction.

It’s a good thing too, because in the first month of the new year, my workload has unexpectedly increased, a couple of unanticipated projects have come my way and…my laptop crashed. Died. Destroyed. Failed. So there go my big plans for January, 2012 …except I hadn’t really made any. For once.

Instead, I’d been making small changes to get rid of bad habits and replace them with good ones. Every single day – not declaring intention, but instead heading in the direction of the place I want to be.  And no, (ok, very few) goals. In his guest post on Zen Habits, Jeff Goins wrote about what to do instead of setting goals…

There is an alternative to setting goals that will bring you closer to the life you want. Focus on a few practices you can enjoy doing on a regular basis. The trick here is consistency. These four helped me:

  • Get up early. When the world wakes up, distractions abound. If you are going to focus on creating a new life for yourself, you’ll need to find the time. The best way to do this is to work while others are sleeping. At first, I didn’t like waking up before the sun, but eventually my body adjusted and I began looking forward to the solitude.
  • Over-commit. The adage “under-promise and over-deliver” is a farce. It only propagates the status quo. Real difference-makers push boundaries. They test, prod, and poke until something gives. You can do this, too, by saying “yes” to more things than you’re comfortable with. Learn to stretch yourself. You might be surprised by what you’re actually capable of. Your confidence will grow, too.
  • Talk to strangers. Relationships are what make the world go round. This is true for your career, personal well-being, and inner life. When you meet new people, you make connections that can lead to all kinds of future breakthroughs. Even when it’s uncomfortable, reach out and introduce yourself to new people. The worst they can say is “no.” Fortunately, many won’t.
  • Practice generosity. Give away your time, money, services, and ideas. When you do this, you will get a lot more than you give. People will learn to trust you, and if you really help them, they will tell others about you. This will build your reputation, and you will have more friends than you know what to do with. And as the saying goes, what goes around really does come around.

You can read Jeff Goins’ entire post here. How much closer are you to giving up the life you’ve planned for the life that’s waiting for you? Share your thoughts in the comment section or on our Facebook page.

 

The Best of 2011: A funny thing happened on the way through 40

The life we planEditor’s Note: I wrote this early in 2011, a little past the halfway mark of my 40th year. It’s about how differently the 40 I’d planned was turning out to be. I’m 41 now, and a lot of this is still true. Maybe it will serve as a reminder that life isn’t in the planning, it’s in the living.

A funny thing happened on the way through 40 – nothing went the way I planned. Well almost nothing. But considering the previous 20 years, it really shouldn’t have come as a big surprise. One of my favorite quotes is by Joseph Campbell and it’s “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” So you’d think that by now I’d get it, yet I keep designing these elaborate plans only to have them morph into something they were probably supposed to be anyway.

Let’s see, my plan to grow the biggest-bad-ass-est blog to ever hit the blogosphere (and retire at the age of 40.5 from the tremendous rush of advertisers and sponsorships,) morphed into a nice, quiet little blog which gets pretty good notice, decent traffic and most importantly has a following of phenomenal woman (and men) of all ages, from all over the world.

My plan to be fit at 40 was sidelined by a ridiculously unbelievable but very real knee injury, and it’s taken longer to get back to the place I was before I tripped on the way to my printer (it’s funny now, but not so much when I heard my knee pop.)

Let’s see, there was also the plan NOT to go back to work but to make WAF my employer – the WAF being my employer thing worked out exactly as planned, the part about it paying me…not so much. Not yet anyway. But the ideas are still coming, the desire to hear and share stories remains, and hundreds of thousands of women turn 40 everyday – my audience, thankfully, isn’t going anywhere.

I also planned to return to Italy sometime during my 40th year, and while the year’s not over, as of today, the chances of that happening are slim to none. But like women turning 40, Italy isn’t going anywhere, and God willing I’ll get there one day soon.

So the funny thing that happened on my way through 40 is that I realized that sometimes the things we plan evolve while we’re in the middle of them, and we can go with the flow and evolve with them, or we can moan about the things that didn’t happen. I choose to appreciate the 600 plus Facebook followers the site now has and the truly awesome women I’ve met along the way. I‘ve chosen to use the knee injury as an opportunity to focus even more on a healthier lifestyle, not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally as well…and to be more careful when retrieving items from my printer. As for the job, I’m writing and editing and doing things I enjoy doing every day, for a company that’s making a real difference.  I’m slowly learning to move the life I’ve planned over to the side to make room for the life that’s waiting for me.

Update: That Italy trip, it’s happening in 2012 – God willing and the creek don’t rise 🙂