Work Aparent

I listen to my grown kids talk about their professions these days and wonder… will they ever find a profession they are passionate about? Is that even a thing anymore? You hear lots of stats that say we will change professions at least 4-5 times or more. I chatted a-bit with my daughter. She is thinking about making a change. After so much education involved in professions are we brave enough to walk away from the money and security to pursue something different? Do we owe it to ourselves to try? She said she is thinking about stopping renting her “self” out for labour. Hah, what a great way to put it. We all got to make a living but do we all get to make the most out of life? Someone mentioned universal income to me the other day. Should we have a society that pays us not to work when we chose not too? The world is such a different place these days. Maybe this is part of the shift and trend in thought? Time will tell.

As a parent, I have changed my views of traditional work theories for my kids. I have changed. Don’t just put your head down and do what pays your bills. Find something that gives you a sense of moving forward. Be brave and able to pivot even if you feel that you owe your profession something of yourself. You don’t, in fact the more the shift and change the more valuable you become to any company worth exploring.

What’s The Rush?

Our inner garden needs weeding and refinement as much as our outter one.

The balance between action and refinement

I have been enjoying reading and contemplating the Kundalini philosophy and practices. I strongly believe there is a lot I can learn from action and refinement in this area. The more I explore the more it becomes apparent that action without refinement is something I have mastered. I have always been a “jump in and get started” kind of personality. I believed I could pivot and adjust as I went but it was important to get going before I got side tracked doing something else or lost my motivation to continue down a path. It has served me pretty good in the past with work getting done and the quality being “ok”.

Now? I find myself wanting more quality over quantity. 

I have spent years building my external gardens. My yard is bursting with a variety of plant life and areas of interest. I push the growing season by planting early and extending out harvest as much as the weather will permit. This year was no different and yet it was. In the past, I would have taken the chance that it may or may not snow in my zone at the end of May. Zone 6 is notorious for being unpredictable or predictable in doing the opposite of what you expect. The weather over the past few weeks has been wonderful with highs in the mid twenties even as high as twenty-seven(80 degrees for us old timers) for a few days. Then a hint of cold weather appeared on the horizon and as is common the white stuff appeared out of nowhere. 

So why did I plant early and take the chance that everything might freezeTake the chance that I may have to start over later? I think it’s about taking calculated risks and refining goals as you go. For instance, through the years I have come to understand which plants are more likely to survive a snow fall late in the season and which aren’t. I have researched how to compensate for the low temps by covering plants and providing protection for those vulnerable. I have begun to filter my desire to have a longer growing season with a realistic expectation of what that might entail.

So what’s the rush? This exploration of balance and refinement relates to my desire for making the most of our short growing season (seems Southern Alberta’s growing season is getting shorter and shorter) and finding ways to expand what is possible to accomplish in the time given.

Can we transfer this exploration to our lives? The crystal ball that magically tells us how life will go is flawed. Most often, it doesn’t account for what happens when we are on autopilot. I find myself daily having to reset and find renewed motivation to get projects done or surrender to the knowledge that some things weren’t meant to be. I am working with a mind that has a desire to time travel through the past and leap into the future at any given moment, it takes discipline and resilience to keep it in check. To function from my centre while not giving into the flood of narratives that escape with a variety of emotion is a constant battle of will and surrender of control to a higher power. The garden that dwells within me is still being refined. The habitual paths(patterns) are well worn and maybe too comfortable to keep accessible. As I try to trench out new and healthier routes I become aware that rushing is not the answer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to start and continue to chip away at obstacles that constantly show up to distract us from our goals and purpose. What I am learning though, is refinement and checking in often with my inner guru helps me make sure I am awake and aware . It helps me to find a pace to live my life that keeps me healthy and whole while focused on what’s important for me to see to fruition at any given moment.

Namaste

Just me and my dog

Keo as a junior puppy at a dog show, wondering why we are up so early.

I have been part of the dog fancy for over 30 years. My first husband bought me a dog to ‘keep me company’ (in hindsight, that was the beginning of the end). I bought a golden retriever. She was wonderful. I decided to obedience train her and had an instructor who said, “You have a great working dog. Have you considered competing with her?”

Well…that’s all it took. I started obedience, tracking, and rally obedience with her. I then got another golden who was show quality and got into conformation. After goldens, I got into flat-coated retrievers for 22 years. I love that breed, and bred three litters under my own kennel name. I had the #1 flat-coat in Canada in 1999. I think of that dog everyday. He was amazing. I only wish I’d known then what I know now – he and I would have gone even farther.

Fast forward 20 years, and a couple of breeds later, and here I am with Keo. He is my fourth rottweiler. I got into rotties because a very good friend had one I absolutely loved. I told her, “If Ben ever sires a litter, I want a son.” Well, Ben only had one litter and it was all daughters. I was fortunate to get a Ben grandson, Kona.

After having flat-coats, who are an active, inquisitive, extremely intelligent breed – I had a dog whose entire life attitude could be summed up as “meh”. Kona never got too excited about anything. He was a wonderful dog. He helped a few friends get over their fear of rotties because he was so easy-going. He wasn’t the greatest show dog because he just didn’t care. He did it because he loved me, not because he loved showing. He became obsessed with staring at shadows, and would sit through entire movies if animals were involved. Any time anyone pulled out an iPhone or iPad, he’d bump their arms because he wanted YouTube videos of puppies and/or babies.

Makani and Quinn were two other rotties who have shared a life with me. Now, I have Keo.

Keo has a flat-coat intelligence in a rottie body. He is smart, inquisitive, self-amusing, and absolutely loves everyone he meets, especially children. He’s not always an easy dog to live with because he likes to entertain himself, but I love that in a dog. He keeps me entertained.

Keo loves to show. He gets in the show ring and he demands the judge look at him. He’s got “presence”. When I bought him, I knew he’d be my last show dog. I started my show career with a great dog in Riker, and I wanted to end it with Keo.

Imagine my disappointment when, at the age of 2, I get his health clearances done and find he has degenerative joint disease in his elbows. He shouldn’t be used for breeding. So, I had him neutered.

COVID put an end to his show career in 2020. He only needed 3 more points to become a Canadian champion. There was no reason to get the title if he can’t be bred.

I was SO worried he would not adapt to condo living. I’d contacted his breeders and asked them to start finding a home for him. Then, I found this place that allows large dogs. My unit has a walking path behind it. I was concerned he’d bark at everyone and everything on the path. I’d bought a special training collar to use in case it was needed.

Nope. He has adjusted just fine. Sure, he barks at a few – maybe one out of every dozen. There is something about some dogs he just doesn’t like. Fair enough. For the most part, he likes to sit on the backyard deck and watch the world go by.

I’m so happy he’s doing well. I love this dog. It’d break my heart to rehome him, but I’d do what was best for him. Turns out, staying with me is best. He and I have been, and will always be, “Team Keo”. He may no longer be a conformation dog, but we can still compete in obedience, tracking, scent trials, and so much more. With COVID still rampant in my area, we will start with Trick Dog titles we can work on at home.

Just as Riker and I ended up on our own so many years ago, here I am with Keo. It’s just him and me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Save Your Breath

Pranayama-The practice of breath control

If it’s true what yogis say “You only have so many breaths in each lifetime” then isn’t it worth paying attention to each inhalation and exhalation for maximum effect?

How do you consciously control your breaths?

Once you explore the wonder of something that seems to happen without any effort on our part you start to wonder if there isn’t more you can bring within your control.

We use breathing exercises for so many things: 

Just breath(calm from stressful situation)

Don’t hold your breath (release tension) or hold your breath(stop hiccups, absorb intentions)

Deep breaths (build up oxygen levels)

Count your breaths ( to help with sleep, to meditate, to focus)

These are just a few reminders of how we already use our most basic instincts to help us daily.

I have been reading about the Fourth Cakra-Anahata and the practice of pranayama. I hadn’t, in the past, got very specific about the process when meditating with breath control. In the book, Kundalini Yoga For The West, Swami Radha talks about the “Triple Process”: the inhalation, suspension and exhalation. The practice is recommended to awaken the dormancy of the Kundalini energy. You are encouraged to contemplate that you only have so many breaths in a lifetime. Using those breaths on emotional outbursts or trivial endeavors could shorten your lifespan.

So next time you become aware of your breath stop and contemplate the value it has. It’s not like you can stop and save your breath for another time or opportunity. I realize I can, however, gain control over the maximum benefits of each inhalation and exhalation. Take advantage in the pauses between each to absorb the positive energy and release back into the cosmos an excess I may have stored up.

Namaste

 

White Blood Cells

May’s theme is to “Follow Your Dreams”

Laying in Savasana (Corpse Pose)

There is a body. It’s laying on a carpet of green grass in what appears to be a room in a house. It’s face up, hands with palms up and at its side. I can’t see the face clearly.The cavity of the body is open and I can see the internal organs. On the right mid abdomen side I see what I think is the kidneys but it is made up of white milky egg-like objects. They are translucent and bunched together like grapes.

The view shifts and I am in another room talking to someone. I am frustrated and angry that I had to go pick up the body from somewhere else. The person says that the body has lost its memory. I don’t understand the comment as I saw the white egg-like objects. I understood that they were its memories.

I woke up at that moment confused. I wanted more dreams and here is a doozy. Not really clear as usual but interesting enough to want to pick apart.

I just happen to still be my dream yoga class. Yesterday, we used the Kundalini system to analyze our latest dream edition.Using the method the first thing I did was write down as much as I could remember of the dream, date it and sign it. The next step is to describe what was going on prior to having the dream.

A couple of things have been coming up for me lately. One, I have been thinking about my relationship with my dad. It wasn’t a great one. He was loud and a lot of the time it was embarrassing to be with him in public. You tended to try and distance yourself and hide when you were with him. He put himself first most of the time. That made it difficult to grow any feelings of being supported or safe when you were with him. Since I had rescued him several times throughout the years I could easily understand if the corpse was his and I resented having to go get it. 

I have also been struggling with getting the COVID vaccine. I do want to travel, I want this pandemic to go away and I want some sense of being free to connect with others to return. The type of vaccine available for someone like me in my area is controversial. There have been some reported cases of people dying from getting it. I am reluctant to put myself in that scenario.I am not an expert here. I can only make decision on the type of vaccine for me and no one else.

Conscious Concerns- The body is frozen in place at the moment, corpse like in pose. The memory of something seems to be missing. The lack of “motion” has become “emotional”.I have been worried about getting the wrong type of vaccine and having negative consequences. Being pressured into it and regretting the outcome. I have been frozen in fear,reluctance and lack of trust.

Picking of three symbols- Memory loss, White Cells, The Corpse Pose

Memory Loss-

What had I forgotten? During the class exercises it hit me clear as day. For the first 4 years of my life I was isolated in doors. I was born with low white blood cells and had low immunity to childhood diseases. I haven’t had any normal childhood infections like chicken pox or measles. I have lived this type of pandemic existence before as a child. I had forgotten. I required outside medical intervention to grow more white blood cells and increase my ability to be immune. Being closed off from others had triggered this experience to come up for me.

White Cells

Through the class I started to understand what the white milky like eggs were. White Blood Cells are essential to fighting off bacteria and infections. They rush in to help fight off illness. The dream reminded me that I have had a history of needing help to fight off infections in the past and that this time was no different. Whoa right?

The Corpse

If you are a yoga type you know this pose and enjoy the Savasanas. What I have been missing is the connection to the pose and what it does for you. Lying in corpse pose and practicing savasanas helps to calm you. Induces relaxation and peace to help distance yourself from your emotions. Think about the circumstances in a clear and rational way. The body wasn’t my dads, it was mine. I should know this by now as every time I am more than one person in the dream I can’t make out faces or gender of the “mystery person”.

Putting it into action

It’s ok to be frightened and cautious of the type of vaccine you get. Do your homework and decide what is best for you by yourself. Be informed and choose what feels right. Remember you have tools and practices that have become life changing. My husband mentioned to me that I have started to chant or hum in my sleep. My inner guru must be working overtime to keep me on the right track. I was bummed that he didn’t recognize the melody or that he didn’t tape it. I said next time to please record it as I would love to know which mantra is being repeated when I am unconscious. 

Surrender control and trust that you are making the right choice by getting vaccinated. You will be able to reduce isolation sooner and start building the community you crave. I want to stay open and willing. I have been given the opportunity before. I am a walking example of being born without immunity and by the gift of science and medicine being given a second chance.

My dreams have become essential gifts of wisdom and knowledge. I eagerly await the opportunities to learn and grow from them. We, at midlifearieses.ca have dedicated the month of May to following our dreams. I hope you will join us in this adventure!

Namaste.

Living the Dream

I’ve had a week on my own, and I love it. There is so much gratitude in me.

My son and I have a wonderful relationship. We are adjusting to not seeing each other every day. He’s learning independence and I’m learning to let him have it. He comes over to visit (and eat) every second day. I expect this frequency will diminish over time, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts. I get a heartfelt hug every time he leaves.

I have a fantastic network of friends who have, and continue, to support me. Sometimes, it’s by lending a shoulder to cry on. Other times, it’s giving me a kick in the a** and making me look at things differently. I’m thankful for all of them.

I have an encouraging, loving partner. This relationship is like no other I’ve had. For the first several months I believed it was too good to be true. I kept waiting for the “other shoe to drop”. It hasn’t, and I don’t think it will. It’s still relatively new – only 18 months – and we take it day by day. No expectations for the future; simply enjoying what we have, supporting each other, and defining who we are as individuals and as a couple. Martin, if you’re reading this, I adore you (but you already know that).

I have financial independence. I know many women are stuck in unfulfilling marriages because they can’t afford to leave. Or, if they leave, they suffer financial loss. I don’t have that. I have a great job. I have savings and investments. I may not be able to retire as early as I’d thought, but given how much I enjoy my work, it’s not a hardship.

I have my health. Sure, I have allergies and a couple of autoimmune conditions, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s good. Since my CrossFit gym permanently closed, I’ve started a “10 weeks to 5K” running program. I’m not a runner. I don’t enjoy running. Well, I didn’t enjoy it. That’s starting to change. I look forward to seeing how much longer or faster I get week by week.

For the first time ever – I was able to choose a place to live based on only my wants and needs. I wasn’t convinced I’d enjoy a condo as I love gardening. However, knowing I don’t have to spend free time mowing the lawn, weeding, or shovelling snow is appealing. I can fill my home and outdoor spaces with plants and satisfy my green thumb.

I’m having great fun choosing things for the condo. I can buy what appeals to me, decorate the way I want, and not have to consider anyone else’s likes.

Now that most things are put away, I’m bringing my dog home in a few days. I’m not sure how my 120 pound Rottweiler will adjust to condo life, but we’ll give it our best. He will be my walking/running partner, and my son will take him back to the house so he can play time in the big yard with his favourite purple ball. Keo and I have a strong bond and I’m looking forward to having him spend even more time with me.

I’m sitting here with a smile on my face. Life is good. I’m living the dream.

The Next Chapter

I like the analogy of life as a book with chapters. Some chapters are long, others are short, some are exciting, some you can’t wait to end. Every day is an opportunity to add to your current chapter or start a new one.

I’ve started a new one. I moved into my new home a week ago. I have dreamed of this day for at least five years. If you’ve read my blogs, you know I wasn’t in a good marriage. I didn’t want to disrupt my son’s life as he has a great relationship with his step-dad, so I wanted to wait until he graduated from high school. I couldn’t leave then because my dad still lived with us. When Dad moved into assisted living, there was nothing to stop me.

This new chapter is a time of adjustment. I didn’t think I’d “leave the nest” before my son, but it happened. He’s decided to stay at the house with his step-dad. I get it. All his stuff is there, it’s where he’s comfortable, it’s his home. He visits nearly every second day because, as he’s learning, my ex isn’t much for grocery shopping. The first thing he does when he arrives is go to the fridge, and then the pantry. I don’t mind. Before he leaves, I always get a hug. I commented that he’s hugging me more. “It’s because I don’t get to see you everyday.”

He and I are very close. I think me moving out is a good for him. It helps give him independence from me. He and his step-dad live as roommates. He has a great relationship with his step-dad, but even my son acknowledges I’ve always been the parent. When the time comes for him to move out of the house, he will be better prepared emotionally. Truth be told, as much as I love and miss my son, I’m enjoying the quiet and having a space completely my own.

In this new chapter, I get to put myself first. Maybe it’s something I should have done years ago, but as a wife, mother, and caregiver, it was difficult. Now, there’s nothing to stop me.

I chose a home that suited me and my dog. I’m decorating it in a way that makes ME happy. I love that, eventually, everything will have a place and will be in it. My place will always be clean and tidy. It will be filled with plants. I will do things as they suit me and not have someone telling me I’m doing it wrong or how I could be doing it differently. The people I invite into my home will be those who add to my life, not detract from it. It will be filled with happiness and contentment.

As with any new chapter, I’ve reflected and “reread” previous ones. Those are lived and written; there’s nothing I can do to change them. I’m still processing some thoughts and feelings I have about those chapters, and I’m excited to see where this new one takes me. It’s an emotional time. I’m fortunate to have a supportive partner and wonderful friends.

New job, new home, new exercise program – there’s a huge shift in the energy around me.

It feels good.

Begin Where You Are

Not where you think you should be…

I have been home from the ashram now for about a month. I knew it would be a struggle to keep up with all my new found practices. Everyday I am determined to make the habits stick. I have been trying to connect in with the ashram to keep volunteering but meetings get cancelled or rescheduled as everyone is planning what’s next. I have kept busy with yard work, creating sacred spaces in my house and doing some paintings. I have a list of things that need to be done and things that I want to do. I have kept up with morning chants, yoga and stretching. I eat in silence for breakfast and lunch at regular times. So, yes, some of the habits have stuck.

What I have realized is this…I am not doing everything I thought I would when I left the ashram. I have had to take stock of this fact and come to terms with what it means. The little girl in my dream about the stairwell is shaking her head and looking at me like “I told you so”. I could chastise myself and agree with her then make a new list and try harder to make it fit or I could surrender and accept that I am not there yet. I may never be there. 

Acceptance takes courage. It takes being honest with yourself, what’s important to you and how you manage your time.

Some of the practices I have kept doing daily is reading the books I brought back with me.  In the Kundalini For The West, Swami Radha talks about liberation from all limitations. Beginning your journey where you are at instead of where you think you should be. Unclear thoughts and expectations can become focused if you change your thought patterns. Instead of me adopting the narrative of reasons why I am not keeping up on all I thought I would, I can focus on what I am doing and go from there. Instead of trying to swallow the elephant in one bite, take a breath, then a step and see how that feels. A breath and a step everyday is a path to acceptance. Being kind to yourself isn’t weak. It takes bravery to move forward.Knowing that things happen for a reason is reassuring. I am a firm believer in serendipity as I have seen it unfold in my life over and over again. I wouldn’t have gone to the ashram at all if I hadn’t got a Facebook reminder of my first blog about my experience there several years ago. Now, I am grateful for that reminder of steps taken without conscious effort. My unconscious “Inner Guru” is always 3 steps ahead of me carving out the path before I even know what’s what. All I need to do is take a breath then a step. Acknowledge where I am and give myself space to grow my inner garden perhaps slower than I thought was necessary in the past. Each breath and step moves me forward and I am “ok” with that approach.

What Is Enough?

Thoughts on lifestyle through retirement years

I am about half way through my “66 weeks to find myself” adventure. In January I have to choose to “officially” retire or find a job. I have been exploring how I could maybe manage both scenarios at once.  In my previous life, I used to give advice about budgeting, investments and living within your means and now I find myself in a place of decision.

How much monthly income do I need to be comfortable?

That’s a tricky question. I use the  word “comfortable” on purpose. You can get by with minimum funds. I see seniors whose only source of money is Canada Pension and Old Age Security. They get by and if they are resourceful they can manage with some support.

I have a philosophy on this topic I want to share with you. Have you ever tried one of those “How much do I need to retire” calculators? The outcomes are usually very depressing and, in most cases, out of reach for people. It usually tells you that you will need to invest thousands of dollars a month to keep up your current lifestyle into retirement. What it doesn’t tell you is to think about how you see yourself aging. I am active at age 56. I do some lite hiking, I went on 2 (pre-COVID) trips a year most years. Our house is paid for, my kids are grown and moved on with no financial support from us, except for gifts. I spend money on plants, garden things, my spiritual practices (classes and tools). I have saved a bit, not as much as I probably should have but I have some funds put aside. I have a pension to look forward to which I am grateful for.

The literature I have read says you should plan for about 70% of your pre-retirement income to ensure you can still maintain your quality of life. Most articles don’t talk about how long you should look at sustaining the 70%. I think the key is that while you are in good health, young enough to want to explore and travel you should plan to have a larger amount of available funds. I am pretty sure that if I am lucky enough to live into my 80s or 90s that I won’t need the same amount of excess cash that I might in my 50s or 60s. The high pressure sales that exist saying that you need to support a lifestyle that you don’t have now doesn’t make sense to me. I found that when working with seniors and discussing their finances they did in retirement  the same things they did in earlier years. If you saved most of your life you were unlikely to start spending all your money when you stopped working. If you spent thriftly you didn’t start going on shopping sprees in your 80s. We are creatures of habits and we tend to stay consistent no matter what age we are. I would rather maintain a healthy balance of starting to draw from my income resources in my late 50s. Use up my retirement funds to give me the best scenario of quality of life while I can. Then in my late 60s and through til my late 70s I can start to reduce my spending. I believe I won’t require as much to live on then as I do now. I know you think there are some holes in this plan. Also, I should mention that I am a two income family and my husband does plan to work until 65. If the place where he works is still around until then we will have health benefits that are not “out of pocket”.

So, the question remains: How much money is enough to sustain a comfortable existence in retirement?

If you have been lucky enough to have saved for retirement in your younger years and you have a pension to look forward to, I say retire as early as you can. Use the 70% of your income as a guideline but remember you probably will only use that amount for the first maybe 10 years of retirement then slowly reduce it as you get older. When that magic factor (80 in my case) is reached, push the button. I am going to take the maximum allowed annual withdrawals and then reduce them as I get older. Supplement my income with my registered funds and then take early CPP (Canada Pension Plan) at age 60, then activate OAC (Old Age Security) at 65. Even if my husband’s plant shuts down before he is 65 there are many insurance plans we can explore for health benefits. 

My parents passed away in their 80s, my sister passed away at 62. Mortality puts things in perspective. I am not saying working is like dying because that’s not true. What I am saying is that by setting myself up with enough income to sustain my lifestyle I can choose when and how to work. Look for projects and work that brings me fulfillment. I know many seniors that are working into their late 70s even early 80s. The world has changed in this regard. As long as you are productive and have a sense of contribution to a community or company then why not enjoy it.

There are so many scenarios and options available when it comes to finding a mix that works best. I wish I would have started to explore it more in my 20s. I know that the options are greater now though when it comes to working virtual or online as opposed to when I was 20(there wasn’t an internet for the regular population when I was 20).

Next time you look at the retirement calculator and the result says you need to invest 10K a month to meet your goals, remember that it is not taking into account your resourcefulness. Plug in the worst case scenario for yourself then explore how you can supplement that amount through other means. It helps to calm the anxiety attached to not having enough. 

Maybe the commercial is true? You are richer than you think. The more you think the richer you become as an active mind has the ability to create the best possible outcomes.

Namaste.

PS-These thoughts are my own on retirement and may not be your scenario. Find a financial advisor that can give you good advice based on your circumstances.