Thoughts: 50 not out

So, today is my 50th birthday. I’ve been approaching this date with a degree of trepidation. For me it’s a big number. And no, before you think it, 50 is not the new 40. It’s 50.

I have returned from a few days flying solo in Raglan. Raglan is quite possibly the best town in New Zealand to head to for a time of reflection and resetting. And reflection and resetting has been very important for me to do this week.

At the top of the list: My life has not turned out the way I expected.

An upbringing in an environment of Mum, Dad and the kids probably set the expectation that that was what life was supposed to be. Study hard, get a good job, find a girl, settle down etc. etc.

This is the Kiwi multi-generational procedure on repeat.

I did these things.

And they never quite fitted.

I find myself at 50 on the cusp of something new.

I don’t have the ‘happy family’ I once expected and was conditioned to expect. But I do have a happy family and I am happy and content. My kids are my pride and joy. They inspire me.

I don’t have the house, boat, bach and BMW which was the aspirational cry of my youth. Life has thrown me curveballs, which I seriously miss-hit. I’ve de-materialised significantly. Yes, circumstances dictated that I needed to, but it’s also been of choice. Some things have simply become less. It’s healthy.

I have learned what is important to me and what isn’t. I have learned what adds to my journey and what doesn’t. I have learned what values I hold true to and what values can be improved upon.

Most crucially, I have learned to choose wisely.

I have learned a lot about the nature of people and being human.

I’ve learned that people come into your life for a reason. I have learned that It’s not immediately apparent what that reason is and I’ve seen that sometimes years pass before the reason manifests. But it always does, and you have to be open for it.

I’ve learned that human connections are not things I can control. So I relax and see them for what they are and enjoy them. I do like to meet people and connect, recognising that that connection could be for a lifetime, for some years, or only for some minutes.

People come into my life and leave, sometimes without a trace. And you know what? I’m cool with that. They are on their own journey. As I am on mine.

All I can do is strive to make the connection, however fleeting, as meaningful and healthy for both of us as possible.

I’ve learned that the people you surround yourself with influence who you are. Your character. Your attitudes and beliefs. I am who I am in part due to the friend choices I have made. I have learned that it’s ok to end friendships if they are causing harm and making me a worse person.

Choose your people wisely.

I’ve learned about work/life balance. I’ll let you in on a secret: there’s no such thing. It’s just life, and you only have one life assigned to you. Everything you do with the hours in your day is subject to choice.

Choose your time investment wisely.

I’ve learned to look for the good, the humour, the fun, in everything. It’s about getting of the beaten track. Walking down that alley. Going around that corner. Just because it’s there. I adore exploring and talking and discovering.

I’ve thought long and hard about success and failure. I’ve had my share of both. By conventional standards and expectations it could be said that I’m a failure but I thankfully no longer hold conventional standards as my yardstick.

I’m still standing. I’m still smiling. And I have new goals and aspirations.

I feel that I have lived several lifetimes in my 50 years and I am looking forward to seeing what the next few lifetimes bring.

For me:

I will continue to care.

I will continue to communicate.

I will continue to listen and to learn.

I will continue to be open.

I will continue to risk being hurt.

I will continue to tell people I value them.

I will continue to tell people I love them.

I will continue to trust.

I will continue to wander and to wonder.

I will continue to be the best Simon I can be.

^SD

Thoughts: Focus on the Positive


Over on Facebook I’ve been posting a ‘Good Thing of the Day’ each day this year.

Why?

It has occurred to me that we spend far to much time thinking and worrying about the bad things. And not only the bad things that actually happen and impact us but also the imaginary bad things we dream up that could possibly happen. 

Some of you know that the last couple of years for me have been fairly challenging. 
Thankfully I am wired that I tend to not let these challenges occupy my head too much, but there are definitely times when the dark twin comes out of the shadows and reveals himself. 

I have learned to focus only on the things that I can control and change, and I am actively engaged in this process at present. I have zero control over the actions of others. I have total control over how I respond (note: not react).

My positivity posts are designed to reinforce one idea: That no matter how crappy your day is, there has to be One Good Thing that you can find. I have found it to be incredibly useful for me to take a few minutes, disengage from the busy-ness and simply reflect. Reflect on the people met. The conversations had. The tasks completed. The new thing tried. The successes. The opportunities.

The more I’ve done this, the more my outlook has changed. It gets easier to see the good things in my life, and easier to acknowledge these good things. It gets easier to be grateful for the good things. And easier to express my gratitude.

Will I continue to do this? Yes. Will I continue to post to Facebook at the risk of being boring and repetitive? Probably. I don’t have an endless supply of cat GIFs after all.

That’s that then.

2013 is done and dusted.

I am pleased to see the back of what was, for me, a particularly challenging year. (I also note that it has been a particularly challenging year for many people. The Year of the Snake, perhaps?).

It’s time to reflect. To remove the old stuff of the year from my life to make room for the new stuff that will come my way in 2014.

The absolute highlight (and the thing I’m most grateful for) is that I spend time with my kids often and I am loving seeing them continue to grow into very cool, very promising people. They’ve both had a great year at school and I’m really looking forward to spending time camping with them in January. Their presence in my life is grounding when all else is swirling about uncontrollably.

I didn’t achieve a great percentage of the Resolutions I made this time last year. This was primarily because the majority of them required finance which wasn’t readily available.

That being said, I did establish a gym routine (which suffered in the last third of the year due to routine changes and business distractions). I did tone up and strengthen, and I anticipate re-establishing that routine in 2014. I did learn that I don’t find going to the gym a solace or ‘me’ time. I don’t actually find it relaxing. I’m not sure how to go about changing that. It would be helpful if I could.

I did go on more walks (making good use of the boots I bought for this purpose). I did explore more of Auckland and its surrounds. I had a very enjoyable long-weekend in which I explored Northland (as far as Cape Reinga) with the girl. Amazing scenery and lots of wine.

I still loathe running (or more accurately, walk-jog-walking) so I tend to avoid the opportunity to do this.

I did get to read and relax. I am very happy in my own company and do need this type of time to recharge. I have learned that if I don’t get to hermit, I start to hate people. This, of course, isn’t entirely helpful.

I totally failed in my grand plan to learn to speak Japanese. There is a significant time factor involved. Perhaps I need to calendar it, and set up conversational Japanese classes regularly. That one goes in my 2014 list of to-do’s.

I’ve not traveled overseas since late 2011, my expectation is that I will make up for this absence in 2014. I didn’t get to Malaysia for a friends wedding (regret). I didn’t get to the UK to see my mother and family (regret). Even my kids got to California this year. I love to travel and discover new cultures and people, and I feel bereft if I don’t do it.  It doesn’t help that I do some work for a travel agent so I get to see email after email of travel bargains and exciting destinations. I’m extremely twitchy and the idea of hopping onto a Boeing or Airbus right now is appealing.

Business has been interesting this year.  I’ve been focused on getting my business stable and cutting unnecessary expense across the board (achieved). There has been a lot activity missed out on, but I’ve had my eyes firmly fixed on the end result. January sees a new beginning and the efforts of 2013 will have paid off. I’ve had some great clients that I’ve been working with, as well as some that turned out to be less than ideal. I’ve learned some tough lessons with respect to separating business from personal. In learning how to detach emotion. I’ve come out of 2013 a little harder and a little wiser than when I went in. I am grateful to those that supported me through these trying times.

Emotionally, I think I’m in a better place than I was a year ago. I do hope I’m more open and vulnerable. The guards still go up pretty quickly if certain buttons are pushed, but I think I’m getting better at verbalising what I’m feeling and reacting to. I do feel I did not spend enough time with people this year. I certainly didn’t spend enough time with those closest to me. I’m hoping to be more visible, available, and out-and-about in 2014.

2014 is the Chinese Year of the Horse (Jan 31-Feb 18, 2015). I like this overview for us Roosters: “Those born in Ox, Snake, and Rooster years will use patience and determination to support a foundation for success. What you sense about people and environments will be quite accurate. People are drawn to you. It’s an ideal year for research and developing your skills in any area of interest.”

Bring it on.

2014