In recent years, I’ve become much more aware of how our life can be divided into chapters. Whether we’re sorting photos and memorabila, going through books and papers, even kitchen appliances and dishes, or sports equipment and hobby supplies, it’s interesting to note what we hold on to from earlier chapters of our life, as well as what we might need (or not need) for future chapters.
As I begin a new chapter in my life (turning 75, getting married for the 2nd time, working less, playing more), I become very grateful for every chapter that has brought me to this new beginning. From early childhood, school and college years, marriage, parenting, divorce, empty nest, volunteer and career commitments, through many years of personal, spiritual and professional growth, to grandmother, teacher, facilitator and author, each chapter has built one upon the other to create where I am and who I am now.
Most of the time I moved from one chapter to another without giving it much thought, but in recent years, as my older sister started writing her life story, and I sorted through multiple boxes of family photos, memorabilia, art work, school papers, etc. (no, I never took the time to put everything in albums and scrapbooks!), I not only became more aware of each chapter in my life (and sorted these things accordingly), but began to appreciate them more.
This last year was a bit odd for me, because I found myself not wanting to continue some of things that I’d done for a very long time, and there were many moments of confusion and frustration. At the same time, I was having a wonderful time with my sweetheart (now fiancé!) creating a home environment that really supports our less stressful and more relaxed lifestyle (in the house we bought nearly two years ago).
“Less stressful and more relaxed” has become a mantra for me, and thus I began the process of making even more of my life less stressful and more relaxed. If I were to summarize the process I went through to get the clarity and peace I am now experiencing, it would be as follows:
- AWARENESS. Become aware of what is working and what is not. What you want and what you do not want. What brings you pleasure and what does not.
- ACCEPTANCE. Accept where you are right now. You can’t go back and change anything that’s happened thus far, only your attitude about it. You can’t do anything about the future until you know what you want in the future. Do your best to be in the present moment, without blame or judgment, just noticing what is going on. Once you accept where you are, it’s easier to move forward.
- ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. It is so easy to focus on what is NOT working. Our culture and media remind us constantly. That’s why it’s important to acknowledge what IS working—what does feel good, what is in order—no matter how large or small. Focus on what you want more of!
- BE GRATEFUL. Gratitude is one of the most powerful practices I know. It creates a whole new attitude and experience of life. Be thankful for everything that has happened, in every chapter of your life. You would not be the person you are today without everything that has happened to you. Be thankful for every blessing you now have in your life—there is always something to be thankful for! Be grateful for what you would like to experience in your life. What we are grateful for increases.
- BE OPEN. Be open to new ways of looking at things—new perspectives. Be open to receive information and support from both expected and unexpected sources. Pay attention to “signs” (words in a song, on a billboard, in an email) and those who show up in your life when you are making changes for the better.
- BE PATIENT. Change takes time, so do your best to allow things to unfold in what I call “P.D.R.O”—Perfect Divine Right Order. When we push and force and sometimes try too hard, it can interrupt the flow of inspiration and Good ready to come into our life.
- CONTEMPLATE. Take quiet time to ponder your thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions. Allow time to simply “be”…that’s when some of the greatest clarity can arrive! Prayer, meditation, walking in nature, smelling a rose, watching the sunset and/or taking a series of deep breaths can bring great peace in any moment.
- CULTIVATE. Be aware of what you want to experience and create a mental and physical environment that increases your well-being and productivity. One of my new best practices is cultivating kindness toward myself. I am really good at being kind to others, but I’m still learning to be kinder to myself. It takes practice to calm the self-critic and turn her into an encouraging coach!
- CELEBRATE. Whenever there is a moment of greater clarity, a task or project completed, a space cleared, celebrate it! Take time to take in what you have accomplished. Even the smallest accomplishment is worth celebrating.
May each chapter in your life bring you greater experiences of order, clarity, peace and joy!