© 2015 jen 44

Thoughts On Turning 44 Years Old + A Round of Applause

I turned 44 this week. I don’t know what I thought it would feel like to be 44 years old, but I have to say that for me it feels better than being a 24 year old.

It’s not that I’m such a health nut that I don’t feel the affects of aging. I’m aging like everyone else. It’s not that I’m in the best place mentally, because I know I’m still in the midst of coming to terms with my place in life, also known as a midlife crisis.

Side note: if you haven’t taken the time to check out my new podcast that I produce with my friend Ana, check it out. We’re totally real and pretty entertaining.

It’s that as I get older I accept myself more and more, both the good and the bad. I was always a pretty bold person – more likely to speak my opinions, more likely not to give a shit what people thought of me and focusing more on what I think of me, but as I get older I become more this way.

With each year I think I become more vulnerable, more brave, more honest, and more myself, living up to my own standards.

At 44 years old, I have a better idea of what I’m good at, the kind of people I want to surround myself with, and the types of things I will tolerate in my life and the things I won’t.

Having said all of this, I can also see many changes in myself, even within the last few years. Sometimes I see changes that I, myself, am surprised by. If you would have told me I’d be so into exercise and fitness 5 years ago I wouldn’t have believed you. I was super anti-exercise for most of my life. I was also not into cooking my own healthy food. Most of my meals were from a restaurant, frozen or prepared, until I was diagnosed with celiac disease. It’s like I’ve done a 180, but I’m still me.

I used to find my value in my roles: mom,  business person, crafter, wife, friend, etc. and these titles made me feel valuable in my life. As I get older I am forced to value myself for myself and not the roles I inhabit. This was a rough transition at first, because I didn’t know how to value myself for me.

Here are some ways that I regularly work at to value and respect myself:

1. Try not to take things too personally – This is much easier said than done, but at the end of the day I know I can only be responsible for myself and I cannot control other people’s behavior and actions. I have very little control over the outcomes of many situations. I try to do right by myself and others and that’s really the best I can do.

2. Move away from suffering – Suffering is universal. Everyone suffers to some extent, but I think when you’ve had a hard childhood and chronic sickness, which I have, it’s easy to stay stuck in your own discomfort.  I work on this regularly: finding my own place and joy in life.

3. Surround yourself with people who respect you and who respect themselves – Did you know that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with? This can be great news if you’re kickin’ it with rad people, but if you’re surrounded by assholes, guess what? You’re one too! OK, that’s a little harsh, but we are affected by other people’s emotions and energy and if you’re hanging out with people who have bad juju then you have it too.

4. Make time for self care daily – Taking care of yourself positively impacts everything you do. I have more to give to my friends and family, I can move away from suffering and I have a better ability to not take things so personally when I am taking great care of myself. I take care of my mind and body with proper hydration, a healthy diet, and exercise, and by making time for my hobbies and quality time with friends and family.

5. Make your goals a priority in your life – I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve started to feel a little funky and I haven’t been able to put my finger on it and then I realize I’m drifting away from my goals, again. It’s hard to stay on track sometimes with long term goals and projects when you are the only one who knows or cares about them. I have career ambitions that will take me at least a year or so to fully develop and I’ve lost focus a few times already, so I decided to create a new habit. I decided that I wanted to work on my business ideas every day for at least a few hours a day. Part of my time will be spent in designing clothing and exercise accessories and part of my time will be spent on increasing my knowledge of the various tools I’ll need. One goal I have is to create a series of pinboards on Pinterest around each aspect of sewing. Think of it as an encyclopedia of all the bits and pieces related to sewing: what sewing foot is best for which application, what stitch is best for which fabrics, and so forth. This will be for my own use so I can develop more designs in a systematic way.

Because I’ve been struggling to meet my goals regularly I decided to take an online class called Design Your Habits. It was really useful and helped me identify ways to hold myself more accountable. In the class I filled out an entire worksheet around how to hold myself accountable and now I have so many new tools. I have an accountability partner, which is someone with whom I meet weekly to set weekly goals for myself, both personal and professional. I have to go to her and let her know which goals I met and which ones I didn’t meet. If I don’t meet a goal I bump it to the next week and then if I don’t do it again, I have to explain myself to her again. There is something about having to tell someone else, “Nope, I didn’t make my goal again,” which sucks. I want to avoid it as much as I can so I’m motivated to practice what I put on my to-do list when I have that external accountability. I also downloaded an app called Habit List. You can set it up to send you a reminder on your phone that says whatever you want and then you go into the app and click a button when you are doing what you’re supposed to. In this way it tracks when you’re meeting your goals and when you aren’t. I needed that. Finally I downloaded applause so that when I meet my little goals I can have a roaring crowd behind me, reminding me that I’ve done a great job. When I meet a big goal I can go out and celebrate with a friend.44 2

 

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Yourself

I find that the more I respect myself by making myself a priority in my life the better I feel. It’s not to say that I don’t have problems. I’m human. I’ve got 44 years worth of problems and almost as many solutions. I have plenty of things I’d love to change both internally and externally, but at the end of the day I can put my head on my pillow and say, “I did the best I could. I was authentic and honest. I was respectful of myself and others. I worked on goals that matter to me, and that feels pretty good.”

How about you? How are you living? Are you feeling good about where you’re at? If you’re not feeling so hot about here and now, do you feel good about the progress you’re making toward your goals?

Life is hard and we are all learning all the time. Give yourself a round of applause just for showing up and trying every day.

 Isn’t that applause satisfying? Way to go! Good job!

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