A friend at Going Om shared the following inspiring reflections on turning 50.

A REFLECTION ON BEING 50

“I receive mixed messages about aging. It is ingrained in our society that aging means decline, deterioration, and decreasing value. Medical communities label mothers ‘geriatric’ when they are in their 40s having babies. In workplaces, it becomes more difficult to get a job in your 50s, and there is certainly, generally, more value placed on the whipper snippers in their 30 and 40s. Of course, this does not go for all companies, but it exists. Although we don’t want to believe it is this way, we live in a society where ageism exists.

In addition to society’s pressures. It is human nature to grasp on to our past – our youthful past. I have seen many people call forty 39+1 and fifty 49+1… There is fear of the unknown of what the future holds. When it comes to aging, death draws nearer with time. In yoga, we speak about death freely. It can be uncomfortable for sure. But I have found speaking about death helps live life vibrantly. When we truly know in our hearts that death can be around the corner, we tend to want to live every moment to its fullest… the way we wish to live…. with fewer, if any, regrets.

I turned 50 yesterday. I am surrounded by a lot of people and communities who see aging differently than a deterioration. Rather aging means living a more liberated, content life. With age comes experience, and with experience comes a different level of knowing. Some may call this wisdom. Others may call it freedom. Many in my community embrace life with a sense of limitlessness. I have no doubt one’s perspective on aging is influenced by others. I feel lucky to be surrounded by people who accomplish amazing physical, mental, and social feats in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. I have had several yoga students in their 80s and 90s, and I always aspire to be like them.

I think I have fully embraced 50. Midlife. Maybe I haven’t but I feel good about it. As I reflect on my life, I realize I felt vibrant and able and adventurous and strong and content most of my life. Much of my 40s were a different experience. I needed to turn inwards, I guess. I learned a lot from dark days/weeks/months/years. And, to be honest, I am very grateful for being beyond those years. Maybe they make 50 that much better. Yes, I’m young for those of you who are 60 or 70 or… but I’m old to someone 30 or 20. We are all on our unique path. I know people in their 20s that are wiser than me at 50, and I know people in their 70s that are still grasping onto a youth that will never return. Some days I’m like the 20-something year old and some days I’m like the 70-something year old. I also know I live a privileged life, and I’m grateful for that too. I reflect on being 50 with this lens of privilege and realize not everyone has the opportunity to do such a reflection or live the same way.

Acceptance seems to be the best thing I’ve accomplished for remaining vibrant… or becoming vibrant again, I should say. Maybe even more accurate is knowing what to accept and what to challenge. I do not accept that life from 50 onwards is a decline. I do not accept that I need to feel crappy as I age. I do not accept that sickness comes with aging. I do not accept that I cannot do something because of my age. I do accept that there are some things out of my control – including physical deterioration such as my eyesight or wear and tear on my body. This is a tough one to accept, mind you, but I will continue to monitor where I lie in physical ability and work to remain as able and healthy as I can. I do accept that sickness may arrive – at any age – and if I don’t take care of myself, I will increase risk of disease… not because I’m older, but because I’ve lived. I do accept that I can feel vibrant until the day I die, even if that happens in a hospital bed. I do accept that it is not my age that will keep me from doing something… it might be ability or desire/lack thereof or situation but not age.

Vibrant is a mindset. A belief. I hope to feel physically health enough to live out my adventures. I hope my mental and emotional state remains healthy enough that I can maintain this attitude. And I hope red lipstick looks good on me well into my 100s

I loved this article by Mr. Money Moustache about finding the sweet spot in all aspects of your life. Read more here.

Poetry At The End Of The World by Leny Strobel

Indigenous peoples do not believe the world is ending.
The world is changing, they say.
Even before the scientists named climate change
The shamans knew it
When they saw the snow caps melting
The earth quaking and tilting
Animals and birds leaving
The Ocean rising
They say: The Earth is Changing. For the sixth time.

***
The Inuit ask: When all the ice melts, who will we be?
In Vanuatu they say: We have nowhere to go in this island.
The Kogi says: The Younger Brother is hurting our Mother
The Syrian refugees say: The war is caused by drought.
The Indian farmer says: I cannot pay my debts; I’d rather die.
The white man in Texas says: I will build me a bunker.
The white man in the White House says: I will build me a wall.
The Silicon Valley techie says: I will build spaceships to Mars.
The media mogul says: Let’s make more reality tv spectacles.
The religious say: God will provide.

***
In the meantime —
Fire says: I’m hungry
Water says: I am thirsty.
Fish says: I am choking on plastic
Bees say: Your chemicals make me sick.
Monarch butterflies ask: Where’s our habitat now?

***
Chthulune, Anthropocene,
Biomimicry, New materialism
Agential Realism, Inter and Intrasubjectivity
Mental monocropping, Hybridity
Indigenous Cosmopolitanism
Concepts roll off the brain but doesn’t land on the skin

***
Poetry at the end of the world is:
Silence
Elegant Disintegration
Just. Be. Kind.
Tender and Generous

***
Go barefoot often
Salute the Sun each morning
Say Goodnight, Moon.
Eat local and in season

***
I keep going because I belong to a village
Pay my debt for the privilege of being here for a few moments
Live poetically even if I am not a word poet
English is not my first tongue

***
Grieve now while you can
Build beautiful altars to Death
Sing and dance your prayers
Resist the temptation of bright-sidedness
Do not meditate away your grief
Do not write another self help book
Poems, yes.

– Leny Strobel

From Lissa Rankin, MD:

” I think about what spiritual teacher and collective trauma healer Thomas Hubl says about watching the news. When a student of his asked how to handle feeling overwhelmed by all the bad news in the media, he said it depended on whether we were capable of responding to the suffering of others with compassion- or not. If we are numb and unfeeling, then reading the news from a cold, detached place is like a voyeur goose-necking while passing a car crash, he said. If numb detachment is all you can muster, avoid gawking and give the people who are suffering their privacy. But if someone else’s suffering evokes genuine compassion, if you can feel their pain and respond to their suffering in ways that are helpful, even if you are only offering your prayers, then yes, he said, engage with the suffering of the world.

Right now our brother and sisters are suffering in Beirut, and many others are suffering as well. Can we be what Thomas calls “response-able”- able to respond- to this much suffering in the world? When we feel so helpless to ease the suffering of our global brothers and sisters- or even the brothers and sisters in our own backyards- can we at least let ourselves feel it so we are penetrated by it in ways that evoke our compassion?

I find that sometimes I am resourced to feel, be present, and respond. Other times, I am already flooded with my own suffering and the suffering of those up close to me. Letting go of trying to get it right, can we respond to others with our compassion when we are response-able and offer ourselves compassion when are maxed out and numb?”

I love this article by Lissa Rankin on How to Make Wise Decisions during Uncertain Times. I try to follow this advice when I make decisions.  Read more here.

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From Kate Northrup:

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Resonance

“….our future is uncertain and all we can focus upon is cultivating safety for our cubs and creating a life worth living, doing the things we love. There has never been a greater time to reinvent yourself and take a risk on your dreams as now.” – Jana Roemer

In 2006 a high school English teacher asked students to write a famous author and ask for advice. Kurt Vonnegut was the only one to respond – and his response is magnificent:

“What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”

Saturn return: the foundation of the next 30 years by AstroLada:

“Saturn return is when the planet Saturn makes a full circle around the sun and gets back to the same position that it was in at the moment you were born. For every person it is different but the first Saturn return occurs somewhere between the 27th and the 30th year and the second around 56-58.

You do not have to be a an astrologer to notice that at some moment during the first age, young people’s life attitude and life as a whole totally changes. Why is this?The planet Saturn is the one that guides all maturation process. Thanks to it we become responsible, grown up and realistic. We learn the material laws of our physical world- if we want to achieve we need to put personal effort. Up till around 28 we are still allowed to fool around and be carefree. We can experiment with careers, relationships, lifestyles and personal philosophy. We are allowed to dream of making it big somehow, sometime in the future even if we are drifting aimlessly and enjoying the dauntless passions of youth. It does not bother us, we feel protected in a way and think it will all sort itself out somehow.

But when Saturn comes we suddenly wake up! The planet evokes in us an inner state of alarm. We are no longer blaze about the future, we feel that time is running out and we are nowhere near to the planned destination. There comes a sense of urgency to act now! To tie all loose ends and get our act together. We realize we are on the threshold of maturity and there will be no more compromises from above. Only we are accountable for our failure or success. Then we might get very hard on our selves. Self criticism and despair are not uncommon at the beginning stages of this maturation process. But the more proactive ones of us will quickly gather their senses and get down to work to make things happen. Get that degree, stop smoking, stop drinking, start a healthy regime, start that dream business, get married etc. And believe me, it is the best time as you will be full of determination and serious attitude to be productive. It is no time for play! You will be pushed to overcome your fears or laziness and move out of your comfort zone on the path to achievement and responsibility.

sSaturn return

Some of you may have always been very mature and hard working but if you`ve been following paths which are not really making you happy, then this transit will give you the strength to cut the dead wood and start afresh on a much more authentic journey. If you are resisting the change, then it will be forced from outside. Many dissatisfying relationships or unfulfilling careers end at this period. However painful the process, it is a blessing in disguise. Saturn is a loving but hard teacher that wants to reconnect us with our real selves and purpose in life. You might lose a highly paid job today, only to resurrect your love of gardening and start your own landscaping business in the future. And then there is a third group of people who are neither still recklessly carefree, nor stuck in the wrong path. Those lucky ones are naturally responsible, have searched their soul through and through and found their meaning in life.

This period will bring them the fruits of their effort-they will be crowned and bask in contentment. But how few are those?! But whoever you are do not forget one thing–that whatever you build and change during your Saturn return, this will be the base of your behavior for the next 28-30 years till the next return! So get organized and serious!

The houses ruled by Saturn in your horoscope and the planets aspected by Saturn start becoming easier and more positive after the 1st Saturn return, but we only become fully accepting, relaxed and in Mastery of these after the 2nd Saturn return!
We become adults during the first Saturn return but achieve mastery only after the 2nd Saturn return.

Many people have told me that they only found out what was joy and peaceful happiness was after their second Saturn return.

Proving yourself to others and caring what others think, sense of insecurity give way to inner certainty.

Unfortunately for people who have made wrong lifestyle choices the second Saturn return can indicate health problems and it is paramount that they adopt a moderate and simple lifestyle which will be a solid foundation for hopefully the next 30 years!”

“The sacred is not the shining thing at the end of the journey awaiting disclosure; the sacred is the journey: the celebrated departure and tearful goodbyes, the blue skies of optimism that dip in the welcoming horizons, the hint of grey in foreboding clouds, the obstacles that pepper the road with treacherous texture, the marauding doubts that steal your steps, the hallucinated masquerade that tortures your sleep, the glimpsed finish line, the exhausted arrival, and the morning after homecomings when the meaning of home needs to be reiterated again and again. One does not approach the sacred: the approach is the sacred.

You might say then: well, why not just get to the point and say that the sacred is “everything”? Why go through the trouble of being specific? It is because to speak of “everything” is a lingusitic convenience that risks reinforcing the image of a static container world filled with static things with static properties. Such a world couldn’t permit the sacred to exist. Instead the “world” we live with/in is so ecstatically indeterminate in its becoming, so relationally fluid, so processually entangled, so exceeding in its promiscuity, that one must often hesitate to name it, to think of it as a “world” with finished “things”. And that there is the “sacred”, the radical incompleteness that haunts “things” and engulfs them in a murmuration of becoming that is too complex for language to represent. The fugitivity of all bodies-in-their-ongoingness. The wound on heaven’s flesh. The masquerading figure just outside the fortified walls of conviction and celebrated arrivals that dances a coded message to you: “How about we undertake a new journey?””Bayo Akomolafe

 

“Perhaps” by Bayo Akomolafe

“The word is more evident these days. It is everywhere. It has crawled to the head of our sentences and attached itself to the tail end of our sayings, wagging the whole damn dog.

‘They’ came after the pandemic explosion, slithering out of the dust and flames like a billion worms from a black hole. When the Coronavirus, like a screaming meteorite, crashed upon the surface of things and broke the familiar open, they crawled out of the cracks. Suddenly they are everywhere, these perhapses, different colours of them, different species of them, a plague of humility, a parallel pandemic of uncertainty. They attached themselves to windows, stretched their slimy long bodies on the sidewalk, curled in our dishes, and hooked themselves to our speech.

What do they do, these scary critters? They infect us, mostly humans we think, with a rash and a fever. The ensuing burning sensation renders us incapable of being absolutely confident of our plans, of next steps, of the future that was once so clear that we imagined ourselves gods. Today, in the curdling thick of the pandemic, no one knows what the future looks like. “Next week” seems like a journey from Earth to Mars through space debris the size of planets. “Tomorrow” feels like a business negotiation with dinosaurs.

Nothing is conveniently predictable anymore. Will there be a vaccine? Will schools reopen? Will the economy rebound? Will the elections happen? Long ago, we might have answered with supreme confidence. Not now. Not in this twin pandemic of virus and humility. When all is said and done, itching our rashes, all we can say is “perhaps”. May the perhapses never leave us.”

I like these words by Lissa Rankin, MD about the rituals of medicine, and especially this prayer: “Let us pray for that which is most right.”

“The rituals of medicine are powerful- the waiting rooms, the latex gloves, the surgical garb, the hand washing, the charts, the power we imbue doctors with. But during this pandemic, I invite you to create your own rituals of healing outside a doctor’s office or hospital. Create a home altar you associate with healing. Make tinctures and aromatherapy blends and anoint yourself during your healing meditations and prayers. Imbue your herbs, supplements, and pharmaceuticals when necessary with your own rituals- sage them, wave incense over them, pray to them. While rituals done to you seem to be more potent than those you do yourself, if you’re sincere about the way you engage in ritual, rather than performing the rituals in a rote fashion, rituals can put you into altered states that change your brain waves and make natural healing processes more accessible. This is true on a physiological level as well. Positive belief, meditation and prayer, ritual, and the loving presence of a true healer all relax the nervous system, taking us out of the chronic “fight or flight” that causes disease and activating the body’s natural self-healing mechanisms so the body can do what it does best- heal itself.

My favorite prayer for someone feeling anxiety about treatment or surgery is a practice of spiritual surrender. Ask your doctor if you can say a simple prayer together- “Let us pray for that which is most right.” This takes you out of feeling like you have to be in control (it relieves the doctor of that pressure to stay in control as well) and invites in Divine intervention. My mentor Rachel Naomi Remen, MD once told me that a surgeon who was asked to pray this way said afterwards, “I felt like Something Larger than me was using my hands, my mind, my skill to perform the most elegant, effortless surgery I had ever performed. And I knew that even if the patient had died, it would somehow have been ‘that which is most right.’ It took all the pressure off and the outcome was the best I could have expected.”

Just think about it neurologically and physiologically, not to mention spiritually. If we have an abiding trust that we have just invoked “that which is most right,” there’s no reason to try to micromanage life. We can just let go of attachment to outcomes, surrender to what is, and trust that a benevolent presence is always here to help guide us into “that which is most right,” which of course, is always a great mystery to our small human minds.”

You can take a self-sabbotage quiz here.

I’m not sure if I 100% resonated with the results, but according to the quiz, I am an “assumer”.

“At it’s core, this type believes, ‘I am my safest when things are familiar.’

The mission of this self-sabotaging type is to keep you in the familiar in order to protect you from change or new things that might feel really scary to navigate.

You can usually tell you’re operating in this type because you will often make assumptions about what’s going to happen, what people think of you, or how qualified you think you are. It might sound like, “well I am not going to get that job anyway,” or, “they probably won’t love me for very long.” These assumptions are often rooted in the stories or beliefs you’ve held onto for a very long time.

Because of that, you often have settled stories about what is available to you and it really limits your ability to grow. You might want to be the decision-maker, so that you can control outcomes and experiences because the unfamiliar feels incredibly vulnerable to you. You are deeply committed to these assumptions and feel angry when they’re challenged.

Growing up, you may have been forced to navigate change a lot and it didn’t go well, such as family changes, moving, remarriages, etc. Maybe you had experiences as you got older where you tried new things and it didn’t go well, so it drove this point home that to stay in the familiar is the safest thing to do.”

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