Seeking My Best Self

trying to make sense of my life – and lose some weight


Back to the FOCUS list. Sorry. I got distracted. Do you know why women over fifty don’t have babies? They would set them down and forget where they left them. My women friends warned me that when I turned fifty, my brains would fall out on the floor. I turned fifty, and I was fine. I turned fifty-one, and my brains fell out on the floor. I discovered that, whereas before I was able to juggle ten or twelve different tasks at a time, now I was limited to one or two. Usually one. I bemoaned this to my son, Gabriel, and he said, “Welcome to the world of men, Mom. We never could multitask.”

I responded, “Wow. It stinks to be you!” But over the past four years, I’ve discovered that it’s good to lose the ability to multitask. The job of ruling the universe no longer belongs to me. I am no longer responsible for EVERYTHING. I can’t be. I’m too busy trying to figure out where I set the damn baby down.

A woman once told me, “We’re not juggling balls. We’re spinning plates on long poles.” She mimed running from long pole to long pole, twirling them like mad. “And the plates fall off and drop. But it’s not a big deal, because we have a whole garage full of plates. We just grab another one and keep spinning.” It was a strangely comforting thought. I have a garage full of plates, so it’s OK to break them. Oopsy! Didn’t keep that one spinning? No worries. I’ll just go get another one!

FOCUS list. I’ll get there, I swear. This is what my FOCUS page on Ariyawen says:

It’s important to know what’s important.

To lead fulfilling lives, we need to spend the majority of our time and resources on the things that are important to us.

That seems obvious, doesn’t it? Don’t we already spend our time on what’s most important? If you’re like me, the answer is probably NO. The reason is, we often mistake the urgent for the important, and they aren’t the same at all.

The urgent is the stuff that constantly leaps to the front of the line, flaming dramatically and shouting for attention. The urgent is often high-emotion and time sensitive. It throws us into fight-or-flight mode and gets our adrenaline pumping. Anything that feels this exciting MUST be important, right?

Wrong. Usually, the urgent isn’t important at all.

Why, then, does the urgent get all the attention? I think it’s because we’ve never taken the time to identify what’s important to us. If we don’t know what truly matters, we’re like April’s pink petals, blowing wherever the strongest gust carries us.

I have many interests, passions and causes. In the past, I tried to ‘do it all’, and wound up feeling stressed. Worse yet, I wasn’t as effective as I could have been if I’d concentrated on just a few things. So, every year, I spend an hour on an exercise that helps me to focus on what’s important. It’s truly changed my life. If you’d like to do the focus exercise, you can find it here: FOCUS EXERCISE

This year, my list 1-7 was:

2. My husband, Bryan
3. Creating Art
4. Knowledge/Learning
5. Health
6. Global Justice and Peace
7. Finances.

Here are my statements:

1. I pursue Spirit, and I help others do the same. I am a holy listener, spiritual speaker, author and artist.
2. I love and am loved by my husband. Bryan and I enjoy improving our artistic home in Portland, which is filled with positive people, good smells, sights, and sounds.
3. I write and photograph the visions of my heart.
4. I pursue academic knowledge (math, science, literature) for the joy of learning.
5. I am normal weight, healthy, pain-free and strong.
6. I write and speak out for social justice and peace.
7. My finances are secure. I have enough for my needs and passions, and to give freely to others.

Are all of these statements ‘real’ right now? No. But they are all true, because they are the truths for my life as I intend it to be.

I read this list every day, so I will remember what’s important. If I find myself feeling torn between different things, I ask: Which of these is on my focus list? and I choose accordingly. If something urgent tries to wiggle in, I point my finger and send it to the back of the line, because the focus list comes first.

I read once that our life’s purpose is where our greatest talents and passions meet the world’s greatest needs. It’s not selfishness to spend our time focusing on the things that are important to us. It’s what we’re supposed to do.

I wrote this before we moved to Portland. Before we planned to move to Portland. We knew we wanted to be there, so I made it a focus list item. The beauty of the focus list is that you don’t have to DO anything with it, other than read it every day or two. Our subconscious or spirit guides or guardian angels or brain synapses or whatever fall in line with the list. It’s like magic. When I first did this, I wanted to travel abroad. My son Gabriel and I spent two-and-a-half weeks in Scotland that year.


Leave a comment »


I need goals. How will I know I’ve achieved my target if I don’t have goals? The thing is, despite the fact that I majored in Mathematics in college, I don’t want numeric goals. We live in a neurotic world where success or failure is determined by measuring against a predetermined outcome. I need to feel successful today, not some time three months in the future. I’ll be too discouraged to continue. It’s happened before.

I want a slimmer silhouette. I want my joints not to hurt. I want to be able to lift more. I want to be more connected with the Divine whose path I follow. I want to remain centered and calm.

It occurs to me that I already know my goals. It’s my FOCUS list. I create this list once a year, to enable me to spend my time, energy and money on the things that are important, rather than the things that are urgent.

I created a spiritual website called Ariyawen a couple of years ago. The stuff I write for Ariyawen is really good. I wish I could consistently live by it.

Goal #1: Live by Ariyawen.

What does that mean? I have no idea. For today, it means, spend time at my home altar and keep my cool. Stay centered. I’ve been having trouble with that lately. I’m so emotional!

Leave a comment »

Hello World

First, the good news:

1. My husband tells me I still turn men’s heads. Just today, someone told him I was a ‘looker’. (He didn’t know B was my husband at the time.)
2. I can walk two miles to the library and back without keeling over.
3. I don’t have any ‘conditions’. No diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.
4. I eat healthy. Ridiculously healthy. Moderation in all things, except portion size. (Oops. That belongs in the bad news category.)
5. I’m married to a much younger man who thinks I’m the prettiest, brightest and funniest girl ever.
6. I live in Portland. Woo-hoo!
7. We just moved to Portland two months ago. Our little place overlooks a pond and a creek. As I sit at my desk and write, I watch a duck cavort in the pond flora, giving herself a lace-like cape of duckweed. Super duck! And Super Me, for (finally) getting back to my beloved hometown.

The bad news:

1. I’ve gained weight over the past year. A lot of weight. I took photos of myself today, to see the honest, awful truth.
2. I’m tired all the time. I used to be a hummingbird, always busy, always flitting about. But last November, I hit burnout, and I still haven’t completely recovered.
3. My joints hurt. Especially my knees. And my back. My right hip. My wrists and hands. OK, my joints hurt.
4. I’m getting forgetful. Don’t expect me to remember anything you’ve told me. Send me an email or a text. If it’s not in writing, eight minutes later, it ceases to exist.
5. I’m exhibiting classic symptoms of anxiety. I’m cranky, easily overwrought, quick to take offense, and reclusive. I’m overeating. Duh. You don’t get these hips from a lean diet.
6. The tenth anniversary of my prior husband’s suicide in one week away. Truth is, I don’t think I’m dealing very well with this milestone.
7. I turn fifty-five in one month.

Except for the husband’s suicide thing, I don’t think I’m that much different from most middle-age women. We’ve worked hard all our lives, we’re getting tired and forgetful, and our bodies are a little worse for the wear. But I’m not really known for accepting ‘the way things are’. I’m the person who’s still working on a consistent mathematical universe that includes division by zero. Hey, don’t laugh. We have square roots of imaginary numbers. Surely we can figure out a way to divide by zero.

So, here’s the deal. It’s time to take care of myself. I’m going to eat less, find some type of exercise that doesn’t make me hurt more than when I started, get serious about getting spiritual, and see if I can’t regain some of my old spark and energy. What I’m not going to do is weigh myself. I’ll let photographs tell the story. This isn’t a numbers game, it’s a whole new thing. Game on!

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: