Mentoring

My Possible Selves & Their Awakeners

Recently I read about a book called "Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own," by Kate Bolick.

It is probably worth mentioning that, as of today, I have not actually read the book yet. I'm not sure if I will or not.

But the article, written by Time's Elliot Holt, certainly gave me plenty to ponder.

In the article, Holt references a 1986 study cited in the book. The study looked at how our own imagined future - our "possible selves" - influences our present identity.

Study results indicated that, in particular, women tend to become "very focused on their possible selves."

Bolick calls the mentors who have the power to jolt us out of such unproductive ruminations "awakeners."

Personally, I have had several such awakeners in my life - mentors who have challenged me to challenge my own ideas of what I want, who I am, what feels wrong or right, what my life "should" or "shouldn't" look like, and so forth.

Not all of these mentors have been women, although my longtime personal mentor, Lynn, is certainly one of them.

Over the last decade, and the last few years in particular, my entire sense of my possible self has undergone a makeover.

My attitudes and beliefs about spirituality, sex, romance, career, connection, friendship, marriage, and death (just to name a few) have been radically revised.

To be honest, before reading Holt's article in Time, I would have readily attributed this to my ongoing progression through Erikson's 8 Psychosocial Stages.

I really love Erikson's Psychosocial Stages.
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Celebrity Mentors

My New Style Role Models


In my last post, I shared my delight at discovering the modeling industry is experiencing somewhat of a....well...makeover.

In a nutshell, women ages 50-90+ are suddenly everywhere.

I LOVE it.

The more I researched, the more I discovered that there is a backbone, a foundation, to this sudden surge of interest in the over-50 set.

His name is Ari Seth Cohen, and he runs the blog (and now book and now movie) Advanced Style.

Cohen says the inspiration to create Advanced Style came from his closeness with his two grandmothers. He wanted to share their wisdom and beauty with others through photography.

When I popped onto his blog this morning, I was delighted to notice he is now photographing fashionable men of the same age as well.

All I can say to this whole movement is - it's about time. 
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Celebrity Mentors

A Sudden Spurt of Senior Style – and Why I Love It


All of a sudden, "women of a certain age" are hot.

This, perhaps more than any other phenomenon I have witnessed in my 44 years to date, showcases that fashion trends are just that.....trends.

They are literally meaningless until the masses (aka us) give them meaning.

If no one pays attention, the trend doesn't catch on, and the fashion industry moves on to something else, hoping for a better response.

Somehow, when 14 year-old British model Twiggy was first introduced to us masses in the 1960's, her look caught on, especially amongst other kids her age, who could see themselves in her somewhat androgynous, boyish appearance.

This ushered in the "age of thin," which has persisted to this day (although recent fashion trends of a different sort are beginning to signal a shift here as well).

But now, all of a sudden (or for at least a year or two back as the fashion industry has been planning for its own future trends) we see Helen Mirren, age 69, as the face of L'Oreal Cosmetics in the U.K.

Jessica Lange, age 66, is representing Marc Jacobs. 
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Celebrity Mentors

Candice Bergen on Why Beauty is Terrifying


Bergen's response:

Because it's so vitally important to people, and they treat you very differently from other women. You have to work a little harder to find out who's underneath your face. You have to make people comfortable with you. Of course, I'm grateful beyond words that I had it, but beauty's very often the elephant in the room, and you're the elephant handler.

The interviewer then asked, "Is there any cure?"

Bergen replies:

Getting older helps.

Can I just say how much I loved reading this?! 
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Animal Mentors

You are Wonderful


"You are wonderful."

Those have to be three of the most, well, wonderful words in the world.

I say them about 2,500 times a day to my parrot, Pearl, and my baby tortoise, Malti.

I often share that having pets is like having built-in reminders to say my daily affirmations.

This is because, even though I'm speaking the sweet words to other beings, in a way I'm saying them to myself at the same time.

I can tell this is true because I also feel more wonderful after telling someone else I think they are wonderful.

After a time, after so many affirmations spoken very authentically from my heart, I begin to believe they apply to me too. 
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Mentoring

Being Alone Versus Lonely


Ahhhh.....alone time.

I used to simultaneously crave and dread it.

(This was because I was such terrible company to spend time with.)

Today, I just crave it.

Sometimes I crave it so much I struggle when it becomes clear it is time to go be with people again.

As an introvert, I do most of my recharging by being alone, but every so often that balance swings so far to one side that I need to go do a different kind of recharging by being with people.

Often, the signal I get that this is what is needed is depression (yuck).

I start to notice falling self-worth, fearfulness about the future, dread of being lonely (as opposed to being alone - in my life today, these are two very different experiences).

When "alone" turns to "lonely," it is time to step out.

But unless I am in one of those rare cycles, I gain so much from keeping company with myself. 
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Mentoring

My Body, My Self-Worth


It happened again.

Even while I was still happily occupied with consuming my morning carbs, two brunching friends began discussing dieting.

One was on Adkins, the other just beginning some new diet focused on counting (and then subtracting) sugar calories.

Irked, I piped up with a gentle, "I hate diets. No diets!"

One friend (let's call her Ms. Sugar Calories) replied, "This isn't a diet. It is an eating plan."

The other friend (let's call her Ms. Protein) reinforced, "And the cravings really do go away after the first two weeks."

And we wonder why I don't get out much these days.

I mean, with all the pain and struggle in the world today, what IS it about whittling down our thighs (butt, belly, etc.) that has us so riveted?

I have a few friends who are further up in years than I am (I'm in my 40's, and they're in their 60's-70's) and STILL the obsession remains.

I don't want to be 70-something and still contemplating a tummy tuck.

I mean, to be perfectly frank, I don't want to be contemplating a tummy tuck at any age, but by the time I reach age 70, IF I reach age 70, I definitely plan to exempt myself from any further such contemplations.

I also don't want to diet. ever. again. And I don't plan to either.

Unfortunately - if I must admit it - this actually makes me feel left out sometimes.

This is because I don't have anything to add to this still-favorite topic amongst practically everyone I know....and my attempts to shut down the topic typically lead to equally unwelcome side conversations where I am simply left out entirely.

It is like the whole world is still happily sucking down heroin and I'm the sole token abstainer....and I'm also the only one who seems to be aware that the stuff is bad news, toxic, not to be trusted for, well, anything at all.

Worst of all, the part of my mind that is still recovering from my own 3-decade obsession with body shape and size often feels fragile enough to get sucked in, wondering if perhaps I should at least hear my friends out before assuming their shape and size issues don't apply to me.

What if they do?

The other day I tried to be companionable as my mom was talking about her new "healthy eating plan." I told her it sounded interesting and she should send me the link to learn more.

Really, I just wanted to check out this book and its author to be sure there wasn't anything dangerous about what my mom planned to try.

But in the process, somehow I communicated the idea that I was also interested in reducing belly fat and reshaping whatever remains.

It is all so frustrating.

Because it is not as if there isn't - potentially - belly fat to reduce or other areas to reshape. There certainly is that, if I wanted to go there.

And a part of my mind will probably always be interested in - and concerned about - this exact issue....and wanting to go there.

But here's the thing.
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Mentoring

If I Had Only Known


Today I went to the chiropractor, like I always do on Thursdays.

Afterwards (like I always do on Thursdays) I stopped at the cupcake shop.

I got my usual - hot chocolate (with whip) and a cupcake.

I love going in the cupcake shop.

The people are always so happy in there.

The counter staff, the customers, even the "frosters" - visible through a glass wall as they work hard to frost and decorate cupcake after cupcake - everyone is smiling.

And why not - we are all there for a sweet treat, whether for ourselves, for others, or both. No one is there to have a root canal or pay their taxes.

We are all happy, anticipating something tasty we don't get every day.

But today for some reason, as I left I remembered a time (actually a whole decade or two) when a visit to a cupcake shop wouldn't have made me happy at all.

I would have been anxious, miserable, stressed out.

I would have felt like all eyes were on me (instead of on the delicious colorful cupcakes in their little display cases).

I would have been oh-so-conscious of my body as it carried me into the cupcake shop, moved around, looked at everything, stressed some more.

And this would have been because, during these years, I didn't know there was any other path to happiness than through changing my body shape and size.

I didn't know I could be happy - ridiculously happy, actually - without being smaller too.

I had no idea I could live a totally happy, totally fulfilling life at a healthy weight, shape, and size for me.

If I had known this - had known that "happy" and "thinner" had nothing to do with each other - I don't think I would have tried so hard to change the way my body looked.

But I didn't know. 
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Celebrity Mentors

Stephen Hawking In His Own Words


I haven't seen the new Hawking film, "The Theory of Everything."

But the Stephen Hawking I met in "Hawking," a 2013 film in which Hawking himself narrates the story of his life, is a man I won't soon - or ever - forget.

At one point in the film, long after his body has become virtually useless due to the ravages of ALS disease, Hawking shares:

Because every day could be my last, I have a desire to make the most of each and every minute.

We are all different, but we share the same human spirit. Perhaps it is human nature that we adapt and survive.

This is a man who states he does not believe in any concept of a god or the afterlife.

So to Hawking, this life - one day by one day - is what each of us is given.

Today is the only "known" we have (and as such, the only "proof" we have to rely on that our life is even taking place!)

Hawking has three kids and has been married twice.

He has appeared on the "Simpsons," "The Big Bang Theory," and "Star Trek" (his favorite sci-fi show).

His book, "A Brief History of Time," has been a worldwide bestseller for years.

To review all the awards and honors he has received would be - well - these have been catalogued quite admirably elsewhere.

But what inspires me the most is how clear it is that Hawking does not inhabit his body - rather, he inhabits his mind, his emotions (in the form of passion for living and for connecting people with the science he loves), and his relationships. 
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Emotions

Why I’m Afraid to Die


Yup. I said it.

I said the thing I said I would never say.

I said the thing I have sworn for years I do not feel.

But the other morning I woke up and realized I'm afraid to die.

Here are my reasons (not necessarily in this order):

I'm afraid I will be unhappy after I die.
I'm afraid I will be lonely after I die.
I'm afraid I won't be lonely (i.e. "death" will be crowded and chatty and my introverted self won't tolerate it well).
I'm afraid nothing will change after I die (if one is going to face a big fear like death, there'd better be a big payoff afterwards!)
I'm afraid dying will hurt - a lot.
I'm afraid I won't like death....and there's no take-back.

There are other fears too - but all seem to be variations on these basic themes.

As my longtime mentor knows, I really like to flow chart my life.
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