Some Funny Things Happened on the Way to Being 50 . . .
Life Lessons and Random Crap I Learned in My Half Century!
By Leslie Sturgeon, Women Inspiring Women Founder
This is a 2 part blog series – stay tuned for the final next week!
Christmas Eve was a big day . . . not only because Santa and his reindeer were preparing for all their deliveries but yours truly turned the big Five-Oh! Admittedly I found turning 30 really difficult, but I have a profound sense of peace with being 50. Having suffered a lot of loss over the years due to cancer, I have come to look at each day as a gift. I also know that while the present is pretty darn awesome, the best is still yet to come. It gets me giddy with excitement!
As many of us often do this time of year, I reflected on the last year and began dreaming about the New Year. I thought about my first 50 years and all I have learned along the way (and who I have become in the process). I then began jotting it all down and here is all the random stuff that was floating around in my head since that time . . .
- We all know that we can’t tug on superman’s cape, we can’t spit into the wind, we can’t pull the mask off the old lone ranger and we can’t mess around with Jim (thanks Jim Croce for those inspiring words).
- Everyone has something going on in their lives . . . we often think we are inadequate or different than others. We are not. Everyone has something challenging them or some drama or BS going on in their life. We all have insecurities and self-doubt. We are all equal in our “dysfunction.” Don’t put anyone on a pedestal and be envious of them thinking they are better off than you are!
- Say no to volunteering, especially as you progress in your career. We all have to do our part to make the world a better place, but there is a time and place. Just because someone asks you to serve on a board doesn’t mean you need to. If your heart isn’t in it, then you aren’t bringing your best to the position. And they deserve the best of you. Conversely, if you aspire to volunteer more or serve on a board for an organization that means a lot to you, go for it. Nominate yourself if you have to!
- It’s okay to be vulnerable because in doing so, you may be inspiring others (and it is so freeing, too).
- Be imperfectly perfect. Be 100% authentic all the time and embrace your quirkiness (exploit it in fact!). Own it and don’t apologize! Be consistent – no one likes to encounter someone who is moody and unpredictable. Blaze your own trail, sista. No one wants to encounter someone who is fake and not being their true self (they can tell, believe me).
- Do what brings you joy – in your work, in your community, in your family, in your private time. If it doesn’t make you happy, don’t do it. I can hear you now, “Oh, but Leslie you don’t understand.” It’s bullshit.
- Don’t hold meetings for the sake of holding a meeting. And say no to those who invite you to one! Ask if it can be done via telephone instead. Meetings are such a waste of time. If you are leading a meeting, distribute the agenda in advance, stick to it and accomplish it in record time. Set the example to others of how a meeting should go.
- Storage containers are better than sliced bread! Life is so much better with storage containers, use them and eliminate clutter and chaos in your life. Everything in its place and a place for everything as the saying goes!
- Always have ingredients on hand to make chocolate chip cookies and a good meal (advice given to me by a former teacher).
- Another friend’s advice to me . . . don’t be afraid to rock the f’ing boat. These simple words changed my life.
- Advice from another friend . . . what is the worst that can happen if you take a chance or you ask for what you want? Don’t ask, don’t get.
- Do your best to not be an ass. And stay clear of those who are.
- Which leads me to . . . guard your time and only be with people who make you happy and lift you up. Take inventory of your friends and ask yourself what you really feel about them, how they enhance your life (or whether they suck the life out of you). Doesn’t make them bad people, but they are perhaps not YOUR people anymore. If you own a business, look at your clients and decide if they are someone you still want to do business with. Maybe they take up too much time and actually cost you money. It’s okay to fire a client.
- Be with someone who is a good kisser (and make sure you are one, too). Do you really want to spend your days with someone you can’t stand kissing? Never under-estimate the power of touch with everyone you meet. In fact, the motto in Women Inspiring Women is “hugs instead of handshakes” as life is better with hugs.
- When you have an idea or thought, somehow capture it – no matter where you are or what you are doing. As quickly as it came into your head, it will leave! In this day and age with so much info coming at us, it is easy to forget important things. I highly recommend Evernote for material you want to save long term, otherwise pen and paper are fine.
- Speaking of pens, use a pen that makes writing enjoyable and sometimes just write in your best penmanship to show you can. Sounds odd, I know! Even consider sending a nice card once a week to someone special. As for me, I like Uni-Ball Jetstream retractable pens and used to only like blue ink. Now I have surrendered to black ink (trying to conform to societal pressures).
- Coloring reduces stress. Trying to be perfect at it does not. Adult coloring books are a great invention.
- Always have Kleenex in your purse along with a pen and something to write on. In this instance, any pen and paper will do!
- Always have an updated resume on hand (even if you are self-employed), have gifts and cards for all occasions, a nice dress ready to wear to an interview, funeral or party, copious amounts of marketing materials ready and food in the freezer or pantry.
- Even if you wear granny panties, make sure they fit you well. A wedgie all day changes everything – same with a bra. You know what I am talking about, ladies!
- Gaining weight is a solo endeavor but losing it takes a team. Surround yourself with people who can help you get to your goal!
- Engage in meaningful conversation everywhere you go. Of course it is fun to be juvenile and off color occasionally, too.
- Trying to over-analyze ‘rock, paper, scissors’ will just drive you nuts and rob you of time you will never get back. Right Lani Voivod?
- Technology is our friend. Invest in a Tivo or DVR through your cable company. Watching commercials also robs you of time you will never get back. If that isn’t possible, read personal development, business or self-help books during the commercial breaks to make good use of your downtime. Do online banking and bill paying – not only does it make your life easier, but you pay bills on time without the hassle.
- Don’t be afraid of death – be more afraid of not living a full and rewarding life. And if you are with someone as they end one journey and go on to the next, try to fully comprehend what a blessing and honor it is to be there even in grief. It is okay to break with tradition and honor the deceased with an unusual obituary or tribute/funeral/party, too. Learn from my unfortunate experience . . . if your name is in the obituary, have a house sitter during all ‘events’ so your house doesn’t get robbed.
- Communication is key to everything in life. Ask for what you want. Speak up. Be inquisitive. Don’t take anything at face value as oftentimes issues are just a breakdown in communication. Get clarification. Talk, talk, talk! Sometimes that means being the bigger person and initiating a conversation. Your life is worth a few moments of uncomfortableness.
- And sometimes know when to shut the hell up and take the high road. Pick your battles.
- Understand yourself. I mean really get to know yourself and what makes you tick. Ask yourself what skills you need to develop to live up to your potential. Identify your bad habits and develop a plan to change those if you want to.
- Recognize that you are 100% responsible for your life – your actions, reactions, etc. For further clarification, read Chapter 1 of The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. In fact, read the whole book as it is life changing.
- And along those lines – be a lifelong learner. With all the information that is available to us today, we can take in oodles of educational and motivational info every day even in the smallest of doses. It all makes a profound difference. It is great to end the day smarter than you started!
- Don’t multi-task. We women used to wear it as a badge of honor that we could multi-task but don’t do it!! I am reformed multi-tasker! Be completely focused on one task or one ‘thing’ at a time. If you are on the phone with someone, be totally engaged in them and the conversation. If you are working on a project, complete it with laser focus! If you are eating, be “one with your food” or the people you are eating with.
- When you are feeling restless, try to understand why. Does that mean you are ready for a big leap? Is there something not working in your life? Sometimes just sitting in quiet reflection makes all the difference.
- Embrace your work style. If you like to work late at night, work late at night. If you do your best work first thing in the morning, go for it. If sitting at a desk doesn’t ignite your creative juices, move your tushy to a different seat. Understand how you do your best work. If you work for someone else vs. being self-employed, express your needs to your boss. Maybe they will agree to meeting your needs!
- Believe in yourself and all that you bring to the world. If there is something not working for you, change it. It is as simple as that. Don’t play the victim. Don’t be envious of others. Believe in your talents and wisdom – and your uniqueness.
- Have cash in your wallet – even $100 gives you a strange sense of freedom (even when plastic is right nearby).
- If another woman thinks you are less than a woman because you didn’t (because you couldn’t) give birth or because you had your lady parts removed, bitch slap them because they deserve it. You never know what another woman has been through and we should always love and honor each other.
- Stop beating yourself up. If you feel you failed at something, learn from it. If you feel you didn’t give something your best, do better next time. If something isn’t going your way, ask yourself “Am I doing all I can?” If the answer is “No,” then get your butt in gear and give it the old college try. It is easier to leave no stone unturned than to bounce back from disappointment.
- Occasionally do a brain dump and get everything out that is on your mind, right down to the littlest, most inconsequential things (such things as people you need to contact, items left undone, repairs that need to be made around the house, the shoes that need to go to the cobbler, etc.). Then you have a master to do list and can develop a plan to get it done!
- Often ask yourself if what you are doing at this very minute is a good use of your time? Obviously reading this blog at this moment is a GREAT use of your time, tee hee. Ask yourself if you waste other people’s time, especially in the workplace (do you interrupt people’s day, could you make a list of things to discuss with a co-worker and do it all at once vs. whenever it comes into your head, etc.)
- It’s okay not to answer the phone when it rings. If you are in the middle of something and can’t give the caller 100% of your attention, then don’t answer it. They deserve your best – when you have time to give it. Plus it is hard to refocus on what you were doing when the phone rang. And please don’t talk on your cell phone in the grocery store and other public places. Don’t be THAT person that we all complain about!
Stay tuned next week for even more random brain droppings (plus a downloadable PDF) . . .
Leslie Sturgeon is the founder of Women Inspiring Women and a lifelong entrepreneur. She embraces her imperfections while learning about herself and others, supporting the fabulous women in the WIW community, journeying through life with optimism, and laughing so hard she snorts or pees (sometimes both simultaneously). www.womeninspiring.com