Things You and I No Longer Have Time For
I’m 53 and a half — because the half matters again — each and every strand of hair is silver, my kids are grown and flown, and sometimes things hurt for no logical explanation (I’m talking to you, left hip). Realistically, I can no longer say, “When I grow up, I want to be a writer.” And the day it hit me that I was all grown up, I came face to face with the things I no longer have time for.
In no particular order, these are the things I (and you) no longer have time for.
Good Intentions and Craft Ideas That Sit in the Closet
Let’s face it, if I was going to make that wreath by now I would have, and if those scrapbooks were that important to me, they’d be complete. My mom left this earth with bags of craft materials in bags, hoarded away in closets for all the things she was going to do “someday.” She also left behind dreams hoarded in her heart. When good intentions turn into stressful shoulds and then digress into embarrassing, undone messes, it’s life draining.
Let it go. Move on. Pour your time into what you really want to do. Travel. Volunteer. Learn a foreign language and then travel.
Good intentions never change anything. They only become a deeper and deeper rut. -Joyce Meyer
Senseless Fears That Scream What If
‘What if’ is just a more mature version of “I am scared of senseless things.” What-if is fear cleverly disguised as smart, watchful, or aware. But, here’s the secret you need to know: fear isn’t real. It creates the illusion of something real but it doesn’t exist. How can it? Fear is always based in the future and the future doesn’t exist.
What if I go on a trip by myself and get sick? What if I get on that plane and it crashes? What if I book the trip and something happens and I can’t go? (I see a travel theme, here) What if. What if. What if. It can become a drumming life mantra if I let it.
I’m auditing my thoughts and reminding myself that ‘what-if’ is the lie that tempts me to live in the future. And I no longer have time to live in a place that doesn’t exist.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” -Jen Sincero
It’s never too late to blossom.
For years this thought hammered inside my heart: You are not afraid of failure, Mary, you are afraid of success. Does such a thing exist? It does. While other writers express the fear of failure or the fear of trying and not succeeding, I’ve secretly hoarded the fear of success.
What if (there’s my old friend again) I do write and what if people like it and what if I have to be accountable to a deadline or what if I have to get truly vulnerable and what if….
To avoid having to cross the what-if bridges, I’ve chosen to self-sabotage. I say chose and I say self because I also no longer have time for the blame game or for playing the victim.
“You will see the world in what you carry in your heart.” -Creig Crippen
Playing the Victim
She didn’t recognize me. I didn’t get the promotion. I feel like nobody notices my efforts and gives me credit for my ideas. I could go on but you’d probably stop reading at this point. The long and short of it is, self-sabotage is an offshoot of the victim mentality. As long as I can blame someone else for my failure, inertia, or lack of progress toward my dreams, I can remain a victim. Victims take no responsibility for their own lives. It’s a cozy cop-out, but one I no longer have time for. P.S You shouldn’t either.
“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” -Brene Brown
Thank you, Brene Brown. Shame wormed its way into the core of my being and boy did it know how to attach and strike at the first sign of vulnerability. Everyone feels shame (if you don’t you are a sociopath — please seek help) but some of us allow shame to cripple our hearts. Simple things could stir deep shame within me and convince me I was Eve hiding from God scrambling for my deerskin bikini. And you can see how shame hold hands with playing the victim and self-sabotage, right?
After reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, I renounced shame. Seriously, that’s all I did. I didn’t go to a counselor or seek a support group or take 15 courses on identifying shame. I saw it for what it was and told it that it no longer had a place in my life. Remember, I'm 53 (and a half), I don’t have time to mess with this stuff anymore. When that little tingle of shame starts inside me and I want to crawl into a hole and hide, I just remind myself that I am not valued by what others think of me, nor am I perfect, so shame is not needed.
“We can either walk inside our story and own it or stand outside our story and hustle for our worthiness.”
And That Leads Us to Perfectionism
How I believed this ever served me I do not know, but learning about the Enneagram has helped me understand it better. And tame it. And did you know that the Enneagram is not your life sentence? It’s actually the false self you give yourself to cope with and make sense of the world.
As you mature and realize these false ways no longer serve you, you can begin to uncover your true identity as a child of God. Now, that’s freedom, right? And now you see, how at 53 (and a half), I no longer have time for a false self that holds me back from being my true self.
When you show up in the world as your truest self, you serve the world. True, you’ll never be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re a chai tea then don’t water down the spices. Your life is a book that someone needs to read. And a book that’s written for everyone, is written for no one.
If you’re still living with the false self or chained to a life sentence of performing for the inner critic (you know who you are), this podcast will change your life!
Regret Is a Descent Into the Devil’s Hole
Regret is like the Devil’s Hole near Niagara Falls. It’s a steep descent into a gorge where a promised tranquil spring of water bubbles up. The going down is steeped in inquiry and curiosity, descending 300 vertical feet until you arrive at the hole in the ground. My husband and I made this treck once only to turn around and eye the ascent back up those thousands of steps, realizing this place had not been worth the visit.
Contrast this adventure to the time we took three hours to ascend an off-road trail in Sedona, Arizona and climb to the top of Merry-Go-Round rock to view the world in the most tranquil and peaceful place I’d ever been. Regret never leads to peace, because the descent it will take you on is aptly named the Devils Hole. Don’t go there, friends.
I have had to look back in order to assess some places I got off course in my dreams, but I put a guard around the door of regret. “You can peek down those steps, Mary, but you may not descend,” my guard gently reminds me. Once there, your journey back will be exhausting and you’ll find nothing down there you need to carry back with you.
“If you must look back, do so forgivingly.
If you must look forward, do so prayerfully.
However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present…gratefully.” -Maya Angelou
Channeling my inner Carly Simon, I’ll sing this one for you. I haven’t got time for the pain.
Sometimes we can be foolish young people and sometimes we can carry our foolishness into middle age and beyond. And there is one thing I got right in my youth! When I met my husband at 19, I could not embrace how nice he was to me. My role models, sadly, had taught me true love hurts, it sears, it scars. Love meant pain, sometimes physical, surely always emotional, and that was the price you paid for love. Or so I thought. So I did the most logical thing I could think of: I broke up with him.
And somehow, God, or some sage wisdom, or a benevolent angel, snuck this thought into my mind and I paused on it long enough to see the sense of it. “What if you can have a man who treats you nicely? What if that’s God gift to you?”
Simple, I know. But it wasn’t what I thought I deserved. Have we talked about self-sabotage yet? 29 years later, I have learned that I don’t have time for pain and my heart is so full I don’t have room for it either.
“There are people who take the heart out of you and there are people who put it back.” -Elizabeth David.
Choose the latter.
Have you ever deferred a dream? There may be good reasons to do so. Love. Love is probably the only reason to do so. But what I hope you never do is defer your dreams in order to make someone else’s come true.
It occurred to me a few years ago that I was giving my best to people and an organization that was never going to get me closer to my dreams and certainly was never going to have my best interests in mind. I had an epiphany when I said out loud to the Labradoodle and the Beagle at my feet, “I’m too good for this place.” And I meant it. I worked hard to help others achieve their dreams of promotions and opportunities and none of it was feeding my dream. Be careful that you don’t trade your dreams for security or confuse responsibility with destiny.
“No amount of security is worth the suffering of a mediocre life chained to a routine that has killed your dreams.” -Maya Mendoza
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. -C.S. Lewis