Aint no half steppin. Well maybe just a little…

Editor’s Note: Big Daddy Kane lyrics aside, we’ve all heard the expression, “one step at a time.”  But what if you feel like you don’t have the time/energy/motivation for even one step?  What about a half-step?  In the latest post on his website Zenhabits, Leo Babauta shares some wisdom on getting unstuck, a challenge so many of us face in our 40s.  He reminds us that sometimes getting unstuck doesn’t require a huge leap. Sometimes all it takes is a tiny half step in the right direction…

The Half Step That Will Change Your Life – by Leo Babauta

You’d be surprised to know how many emails I get where people are stuck in their lives.

They’re broke, or unmotivated, or in a job they hate, or they can’t find their passion, or they can’t get motivated to get healthy.

And they don’t know where to start.

It hurts to read these emails. It brings back to life the pain I lived through not too many years ago, when I too was stuck.

I know the feeling of despair when you are unhappy with your life and don’t know how to change. When you’ve tried lots of changes, but couldn’t find the discipline to make them stick. When you feel crappy about yourself because you know you should get off your butt and start improving your life, but you’d rather put it off for another day.

Problems go away when you ignore them, right?

I also know that there is really only one way out of this mire of despair.

It’s to take an action, no matter how tiny.

You don’t need to fix everything in your life right now. You don’t even need to fix one thing.

You just need to do one little, miniscule, almost nothing thing.

Make a list. Go outside and take a walk. Get rid of some of your junk food. Clear off your kitchen table. Cancel something tomorrow so you can make time to create something, no matter how small.

Don’t do all of these. Do one. Or half of one, or one thousandth. It doesn’t matter how small — the smaller, the better.

Take that first step. Celebrate that first step. Love the step, not the destination. That step, even the motion of taking the first foot off the ground and moving it forward — that’s everything.

That’s the truth, and you’ll not read it in many self-help books: put every microparticle of your existence into that half step, and be nothing but that half step, and love it with all you have … and your life has changed.

With this half step, everything is different. You haven’t achieved any goals … but you’ve moved. You haven’t created something amazing … and yet, more than ever before, you have.

You’ve created beauty and joy and movement where none existed before, where previously only constriction and paralysis and confusion lived. You have changed the world.

The First Habit

Choose one little habit to add joy to your life. Just one, and tiny is miraculous.

It can be writing or painting or making music for 2 minutes a day. It can be a ridiculously easy walk or jog or enjoying a bowl of fruit. It can be 2 minutes of meditation or reflecting in a journal.

Enjoy the hell out of it.

Create this one habit, and you have a success. This is a foundation, a first step, to build on.

Then you can do a second, and a third, but you can’t do those without a first.

Don’t change your entire life. Just change this one little thing.

You’d be amazed how much that matters. I was.

What’s one little thing  you can change in your life today? Will you take that half step?

Read Leo Babaut’s original post on half stepping here.

Everybody shouldn’t like you:10 things I’ve learned in 40 years

Lat week I was reading humor columnist and author Dave Barry’s classic list of 25 things he’s learned in 50 years. His list included things like: you should not confuse your career with your life, a person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person, and you will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight-savings time.

Barry’s list inspired me to write my own…

I feel like I’ve truly learned something when the lesson stops repeating itself. I stop dating that guy. I don’t like the way I feel around certain people so I change the nature of those relationships and never experience those bad feelings again. I stop apologizing for doing/being who I am or am not. You get the point.

I encourage you to create your own list – you’ll be surprised to discover all the lessons you’ve learned, and the ones you haven’t. That list is next – the harder one, the one requiring complete honesty with myself when I admit that there are some lessons in life I still haven’t grasped, even in 40 years, and ask myself if I ever will.

But today, here’s to what I have learned…

  1. If you’re doing it right – living your life, being true to your beliefs, everybody shouldn’t like you. Some people won’t like you. That’s a good thing.
  2. Sometimes if you really don’t feel like doing something, don’t. Some call it gut, others intuition, but whatever it is, it’s dead on.
  3. Even if you’ve fought to hold onto something – an idea, a person, a relationship – sometimes it’s just time to let it go.
  4. The one thing you want the most in life will be the thing you have to work the hardest to get/feel/achieve – and you’ll have to work at it for the rest of your life.
  5. It is ok to forgive and remember. If you forget, what’s to stop it from happening again?
  6. Your yesses and your nos, verbal or otherwise, teach people how to treat you.
  7. When it comes to relationships don’t ignore the subtle signs you see at the beginning – that is who he/she is.
  8. There are worse things in life than being corny/geeky/nerdy – ask Bill Gates.
  9. The pressure to “fit in” never really goes away, what changes is your desire to.
  10. Money really can’t buy happiness, but not having it can significantly contribute to sadness.

What have you learned in 40 years? Share yours in the comment section or on our Facebook fan page.

 

 

9 Basics for a Budget Friendly Birthday Bash

Editor’s Note: Whether your celebrating your 40th, 50th or something in between, if budgetary considerations have you scaling back, today’s post from consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch will help you find ways to celebrate your special day on even the tightest budget.

Thanks to Facebook’s weekly reminder of your friends’ birthdays, more attention is being paid to natal anniversaries than ever. Adults particularly tend to celebrate landmark birthdays that end in a round figure. The cost for such parties, however, can easily get out of hand. In the spirit of creating a back-to-basics bash, I offer the following nine tips.

1. Discount Decorations
Dollar stores are your go-to place for party decorations. You’ll save up to 70-percent off party store prices and the selection is equally nice. Dollar stores also are a great place to finding inexpensive wrapping paper and reusable gift bags.

2. E-invitations
Facebook is one of the best ways to create a simple invitation using the “Event” function, but not everyone uses the social network. Several websites, including evite.com and SmileBox.com, offer free electronic invitations that do the trick while providing RSVP feedback.

3. Serve Finger Food
A four-course meal takes a lot of time, skill and money. Instead, keep guests happy with simple hors’ doeuvres created in your kitchen. You’ll want to avoid the pre-packaged appetizers from your grocery or specialty store as they’ll cost you 40 percent to 60 percent more than homemade.

4. Borrow Your Finery
Stepping out in a new outfit or dress shirt will surely impress your guests, but it’ll do little for your budget. Borrow something to wear from a friend for that special birthday-outfit feeling. If that’s not possible, check out second-hand stores for a bit of frugal frippery. Continue reading 9 Basics for a Budget Friendly Birthday Bash

The Today Show: How Gen Xers are reinventing forty – Do you like what it’s become?

 

“It used to be that turning 40 symbolized the end of youth. Now it’s the beginning of something better.”  

That’s how The Today Show’s recent segment on Generation Xers turning 40 began. Here’s a look at the segment…

Seems like health, fitness and renewed goals are common among women turning 40. But what’s also common and somewhat less talked about are the new pressures associated with turning 40. Women, like the ones featured in the segment, are competing in marathons, working on being in the best mental and physical shape of their lives, kicking ass and taking names. The Jennifer Anistons and Halle Berry’s of the world show us that you can look and feel fabulous at 40.

But, what if you’re not one of those women? Not yet anyway.

Has the “40 is over-the-hill” mantra been replaced by an image of a 21st century “super-40 woman” replete with magnificent body, burgeoning career and unparalleled fabulousness? Because if it is, I am so not living up to it and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to.

Despite the recent media push to feel otherwise, there are times when 40 just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.There are times when I feel like I should be farther along in the pursuit of my goals. There are times – like this past weekend when I was wedged so tight into an airplane seat that I saw Jesus and the angels – when I kick myself for not being fitter and healthier at 40.  40 has not been all reawakening, Zen moments and enlightenment. This is real life so it can’t be. And real life is no less real at 40 than at any other age.

I’m not alone – I get emails from women who feel the same way. Those who aren’t over the moon about turning 40 but don’t want to express that (sometimes unpopular) sentiment on Facebook or in post comments.  But that’s the reality of turning 40 – and that’s what this project is all about – it even says it in the tag line – “Life.Love. Reality. In our fortieth year.”  Don’t be afraid to express your true feelings about 40 – your 40 is your own and no one should dictate how you “should” feel about it.

So, what’s your 40 looking like? Share in the comment section and on our Facebook fan page.

(Turning 40 shirt design by : Zazzle.com)


Backspace. Delete. Do-over…9 months later

Editor’s Note: I first wrote  the following post in September 2009. I’d only been blogging for a little while and The Women at Forty Project was brand new. One of the things I was struggling with was regret. I regretted some of the choices I’d made that lead me to where I was in my life in September 2009 and I’d regretted many of my mistakes. Fast-forward to 2011 and I’m still (shockingly to no one at all) making mistakes. So when a WAF community member posted this as her status updated last week, “There is such joy in turning a mistake into something beautiful” I looked up this old blog post and used it to remind myself why mistakes aren’t always such a bad thing…

I remember when correcting mistakes wasn’t as easy as tapping a couple of keys on a keyboard.  Today, hitting the backspace or delete key can save the day by pulling you over before you shoot off that irate email you’ll regret later, create a seemingly flawless page of text and undo that thing you just did that’s the exact opposite of what you meant to do.

If you’re a member of the Women at Forty club, then you remember correcting tape (vaguely?), white out and trashcans full of crumpled paper. You remember a time when you’d have to think things over a hundred times before committing them to paper once. As a rule, we spent more time developing and preparing everything prior to putting it out there because it was hard to correct our mistakes and harder still to live with them once they’d been made.

I think the same holds true in other areas of our lives as well. Relationships, career choices, family. As we get older, we tend to make choices and decisions at a different pace. Today, women in their twenties start dating and break up in a matter of weeks, all by text message, tweets or status updates.  They’re making major decisions and mistakes quicker than ever.

When it comes to mistakes, I’ve made some big ones (one was 6’2 ”.) And none of them, sadly, came with a backspace button or delete key. I had to live through the consequences of making every one of my bad decisions – big and small. And while it’s really Zen to say we wouldn’t change a thing about our past, given the opportunity I would gladly delete and backspace some of mine with a vengeance.  6’2″ for one, burning my eyebrows off in a tragic but comical barbeque grill lighting fiasco for another, and remind me to tell you about “The Catfish” someday. In fact, I’d much rather have learned many of my life lessons the easy way, less intent on trying to thwart the “I told you so’s” and more interested in paying attention to the voices of the women who’d been there, done that, and saw the likely outcome from a mile away.

I’m grateful for backspace and delete keys. God knows I use them both every day.  But while even I would call a do-over on some of my stupider younger woman moves, I think that just as in writing, overusing the backspace key can stifle us, causing us to constantly edit and over-analyze ourselves – preventing us from living full, authentic lives, mistakes and all.

Would you call a do-over if you could?