Are you Putting Off Your Midlife Reinvention?

Does Your Reinvention Feel Stalled?

MidLife Reinvention
Is your MidLife Reinvention stuck?

Does your midlife reinvention feel stuck someplace? Is there something holding you back from taking that next step to getting a fresh start in your personal life or your career? You might be surprised to find the problem – or the “glitch” – could be a something small. Or maybe it’s not a glitch but a piling up of a bunch of small things.

Little Tasks can Overwhelm You and Stall Your Goals

Here’s my story: Last week I got two things done that I’d been putting off.  Two things doesn’t sound like a lot, does it? Not only was it just two things, but neither one was a big deal. In fact, I’d call both of them mildly important and neither one had a real deadline – so, frankly, I wasn’t overly motivated.  The first one required resending a Christmas card. I sent it in mid-December but put the wrong address on it. It came back a few weeks later. I could easily have just forgotten about it, but I always send Christmas cards – it’s sort of my holiday “thing” instead of doing gifts. Also, by the time it came back, I had news for the recipients, so I wanted to add an extra note. So I put it in “my pile” – the stuff I’m going to get to doing at some point.

The other task was cancelling a subscription. I delayed cancelling it because only part of me wanted to cancel. I could have let the subscription ride and cancelled it next year. But doing either made me feel bad. So it, too, ended up in “my pile” of to-do stuff.

A week went by…then two…tree… And I just wasn’t getting them done.

Have Your Midlife Reinvention Plans Stalled? Are You Feeling Stuck?

You know…you aren’t sure what to do, so you do nothing …but then can’t get away from it, so it’s always on your mind? Somehow doing nothing weighs on your mind. It’s like they nag at you…making you feel like a slug and putting a guilt-shadow over your whole mind.

That was me. In the month I delayed taking action, those two little thing nagged at me. Every time I went through the pile, I saw them…and put them back…always with a feeling like I was screwing something and disappointing someone (me!) and, of course, that made me feel bad.  Every time I did it I felt a twinge of something – indecisiveness…guilt…something that didn’t feel good.

Reinvention Solution: Block Out Time for the “Little” Tasks

One day I got so annoyed that I blocked off an hour in my daytime to do it (yes, really…it just took an hour).  First I made the phone call. I was half-hoping that person on the other end would have talked me out of it, but he didn’t. So it got cancelled. Done!

Next I typed up a short note, cut it to fit flat in the card, signed it, found another envelope, put them together, and sealed it. Took me about 30 minutes. I put the letter in the mail pile. It would go out in the next day’s mail.

Whew! Those two little things that nagged at me for over a month were finally done. Yayyy!

What Happened Next is the “Big Secret” to Achieving Your Midlife Reinvention

Once both things were done, I went back to work. What surprised me was how different I felt – like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Or like I could breathe some wonderful fresh air for the first time. I noticed that felt more relaxed.  I found it kind of amusing…until I started to getting some good ideas for a project I was working on – ideas that simply hadn’t been coming, no matter how hard I tried to inspire my creativity.

Then  I remembered…

Little Tasks Weigh on our Minds, Stifling our Creativity & Motivation

A while back I learned about something called the “Clean Sweep” program. I did it while I was in coach training class.  It’s an old, but tried and true method developed by the late Thomas Leonard for [what was then] CoachU.  The idea behind the Clean Sweep  is “that by strengthening the accompanying 100 items in your life, you will reduce stress, increase your energy, and attract better people and opportunities into your life.” When I used it regularly, I got more done , more easily, with less stress. That was because all the little nagging things weren’t slowing me down or holding me back.

What’s Hanging Over You?

“I’m going to [lost weight, start exercising, go back to school, start my business, return to teaching, get a divorce, or whatever] – as soon as I [get through the holidays, when winter is over, organize my files, catalog my crafts/writing/courses, get enough money, find the right school, digitize my pictures]. Then you don’t. Every day or week or month, and every time you feel down or read about someone who is doing what you want to do, it nags at you. It’s lowers your energy level, zaps your creativity, and pushes you in front of the TV for some mindless viewing.

Do You Need a Clean Sweep to Get Your Midlife Reinvention Back on Track?

Give this a try, it can’t hurt and you might just find it really helpful! Here’s what to do:

  1. Set a goal for yourself – something related to your reinvention
  2. Do the Clean Sweep and input your scores.
  3. Decide how often you’ll repeat the Clean Sweep. Once a month for the 1st 3 months is good. You can lengthen or shorten the space depending on what you need.
  4. Pick a couple things to get started with and do them.
  5. Notice what happens – mentally, emotionally, physically.
  6. Keep track – file your clean sweeps, keep a journal, or get an accountability partner.

 

Ready for your Clean Sweep?

Use this worksheet to guide your Clean Sweep!

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Hey Dear Abby: Don’t Tell Women in Relationships to “Suck it Up.”

better marriage advice - dear abby

I have always wanted to be his wife,” explained the forty-something woman looking for relationship advice from Dear Abby. She was talking about her live-in boyfriend of five years. She laments, “I want to get married and he knows it. We have discussed it — but every time I bring it up (and I always bring it up, he never does), he has an excuse. He says it’s only a piece of paper, we’ve both already been married, I have some debt, etc…. I am tired of being just “the girlfriend.” She signed her letter “Wants the Piece of Paper.”

In her response, Dear Abby tells her that “if he feels as strongly about you as you do him, he may come around one day, but there are no guarantees. And yes, you will have to ‘suck it up’ if you’re not prepared to leave, and while you’re doing that, make the best of it.”

Women Should Put Up With Being Unhappy? Really, Dear Abby?

The woman is clearly unhappy with things as they are; she feels powerless. Every woman in a relationship knows that sucking it up and making the best of it is what women have been doing for ages – to our detriment. We know how being consistently dissatisfied with your most intimate relationship will eat away at your self-esteem. That lack of self-esteem will permeate every part of your life until you are living a “half-life.”

However, at the same time, her sweetie has a real reason for concern. While most people know that nearly half of all first marriages end in divorce, few know that second marriages only have a 40% chance of success. So if she thinks marriage will seal some permanent deal, or guarantee some happily ever after, she’s wrong.

Based on a 2019 report from Pew Research, 55% of adults think couples are just as well off if they stay together without ever getting married, compared to 45% who think long-term couples ought to get married eventually. And 69% say cohabitation is just fine with or without plans to get married. At the same time, the success rate isn’t any better than with marriage.

The Two Questions to Ask Yourself & Your Partner About Marriage

There are two questions “Wants the Piece of Paper” Lady needs to ask. The first one is why it’s so important to be married. She wants the piece of paper, but why? What is it about being married that matters?

The Pew report found that married couples experience greater trust and higher levels of satisfaction. Is that her reason? Or is it about health insurance, taxes, security, legal issues…or something else? For example, unless there are legal papers in place, couples who live together don’t have first rights if their sweetie gets sick. If her sweetie got sick, his parents and children have more to say about his health care than she does. They can even restrict her visitation rights.

The second question is “why is he so adamant against it?” Was his divorce so devastating that he can’t face the risk of a repeat? Is it about freedom, money and alimony, or is he hiding something – like does he have secret property or a mistress on the side? OR, is the idea of vowing to be together “for better or for worse” until you’re dead terrifying to her sweetie? He’s been through it once. He knows how life changes and couples change. It can get ugly.

So what can they do and be happy?

The Five-Year Marriage® Offers a Better Way to Do “I DO”

What “Wants the Piece of Paper” Lady could suggest is The Five-Year Marriage. She can start with a Curiosity Conversation to find out if he’s open to a short-term (five years), agile marriage. Then she and her sweetie can make agreements about their relationship now – ones they can agree to live with – for just five years. At the end of five years they can continue some of those agreements, renegotiate others, or toss out the ones that aren’t working and replace them with more doable ones….or another five years.

What the The Five-Year Marriage does is help couples sort out their thoughts and feelings and translate them into spoken promises based on clear and written understandings. The Five-Year Marriage contract is NOT a pre-nup – which is usually mostly about money, property, etc. Instead, Five-Year Marriage agreements can include decisions about shared values, shared household responsibilities, budgets, children from the previous relationship, holidays, friends, in-laws, free time, date nights, and any of the things most couples ignore until there’s a problem.

Solve Marriage Problems with Agreements & Family Meetings

In the Five-Year Marriage, couples keep track of themselves and their agreements through family meetings. over time they get better at and more comfortable with accountability, communication skills, problem solving, and negotiation.

At the end of five years, the couple sees where they are, where they’ve been, how they’ve changed and where they want to go – and if they still want to go together.

For Wants the Piece of Paper Lady, maybe after a Five-Year Marriage discussion, she might decide she’s happier just living together. Or her sweetie could feel comfortable enough to take the step toward changing his marital status.

The Five Year Marriage by Annmarie Kelly Book Cover Art

Either one is better than living stressed and unhappy in “suck it up” mode.

Learn more about The Five-Year Marriage here: The Five-Year Marriage

Connect with Five-Year Marriage Creator Annmarie Kelly

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The Fix for the Biggest Marriage Problems

a fix for the biggest marriage problems

Getting married soon? Or are you a newlywed? This is the kind of relationship advice millions of divorced or married-but-unhappy women and men wish they had gotten sooner, when they were single.

If you’re in a committed relationship, and marriage is on the horizon (or you got married in the last couple of years), this is a heads-up. A recent article in Brides Magazine got my attention. The article lists the 6 biggest problems in marriage:

  • Disinterest,
  • spending habits,
  • jealousy,
  • going in different directions,
  • intimacy, and
  • boredom.

From my experience, I can agree – it’s a good list.

Are you experiencing them yet? If you haven’t yet, you will! It’s inevitable…but not hopeless, if…before you that walk down the aisle, you take some time together to think things out and make some agreements. What about? Read on…

Are these the same relationship problem?

Of the six problems listed, three of them – disinterest, boredom, and different directions – are in the same family. That means they could have the same root cause: a lack of caring and/or excessive self-interest or selfishness. Think about it. If you are into something and I’m not part of it, why not? Do I see it as “that’s your thing, not mine” and disengage? Or do you just not want me to be involved in things like your career, hobbies, friends?

Either way, eventually one of us is going to feel hurt, then I’ll get angry or bored – first with what you do, and then with you. Next I’m going to feel resentful. After a while I’m going to think “screw you” and find something that makes me happy. I decide to “do my own thing” – without you. Before either of us realizes it, we’ll have our own lives and, if we stay together, our common ground for conversation will be the kids. We’ll only get together as a couple for dinner with friends, holidays, weddings, and funerals.  

It happens. A lot! You already know at least one married couple like that, right? Maybe that’s what you saw your parents do when you were growing up. Or are watching it happen now to your best friend.

OK, you think, “that’s about them but it won’t be me.” True…for now. Today it seems like you won’t ever lose interest in your sweetie because s/he is so smart or funny or whatever. And you love football or soccer or dancing or music too (or whatever s/he is passionate about), so no problem…right? Wrong!

A few years from now, when life invades your love pod and you have a thousand things on your plate with four of them pressing hard on your brain, you won’ t give a flip about the latest news related to that passion. In fact, just hearing about it will set you off and could easily result in an argument and some icy feelings.

You don’t want that to happen, right? It doesn’t have to, but it’s up to you and your partner.

What Can You Do About Your Marriage Problems Today?

Your marriage is a partnership. Like all good partnerships, both partners look at the known problems and figure out how to handle them before they happen. It helps you in the short-term because you’re creating a pattern for problem-solving between you. Down the road, when unknown challenges come you way, you’ll already have a format for solving them and some history of success.

Figuring how to handle a problem in advance is a behavioral technique you are probably already familiar with from Weight Watchers. What WW tells you is to recognize what you crave (like chocolate or pizza) and, being honest, know you’ll crave it at some point. So, before you get into trouble, figure out a good alternative to that thing, e.g. a WW treat or low-cal pizza. Then, when you get that craving, you already know what to do and won’t sabotage yourself. The same with emotions. If you know you always eat when you are angry or depressed, WW tells you to recognize the “trigger” or warning sign and set up a system of what to do instead of eating that hot fudge sundae.

Of course, your marriage isn’t WW but the concept is the same. You look at a well-known issue (like any of the 6 mentioned here) and figure out a solution. You ask “how will we know it’s happening?” or “what are some things we can do to prevent that from happening?” And, like WW, you have regular meetings – Family Meetings – where you step away from your daily routine and focus on your relationship.

Big Benefits for Making Relationship Agreements

What you two are figuring out is how to create equality in your partnership. When you start early – while living together, during your engagement, or even early in your marriage – you get into a healthy pattern. You do it before anger, resentment and hurt feelings dominate, or before you think you’re being ignored or disrespected.

In addition, and this is one of the beauties of the Five-Year Marriage, you already know that things in life and in your relationship, are going to change. So you talk about them in advance and start figuring out your how-to-do-it and create a set of agreements now. Over time, some of those things will naturally need adjustments as jobs change, children come along, money problems creep in and more. As you live your life, and your marriage, you can make conscious adjustments along the way In The Five-Year Marriage: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm there is a whole chapter dedicated to things you need to talk about together, including lifestyle preferences and your agreements. Taking time to discuss those things is crucial to the long-term happiness of your relationship. Admittedly, planning your marriage is not as much fun as planning your wedding, but it’s way better than planning a divorce.

The Agile Marriage

Marriage is like life (with or without a partner). It’s a series of challenges, and a lot of curve balls get thrown your way. The secret of success for your Five-Year Marriage, for any marriage, is that you two regularly review your agreements. You decide what’s working and what’s not. You can either keep them as is, renegotiate parts that aren’t working, or ditch the bad ones and make new ones. You aren’t stuck “’til death” with any of them. And, because you’ve been working together, it isn’t scary or uncomfortable.

The difference can be profound, The choice is yours.

It’s a Brand New Baby Year! 3 Tips to Reach Your Goals

advice for achieving goals

It’s a brand new baby year, Victory Chicks! And Yayyy! The last one grew whiskers pretty fast and we were ready to see it go months before it was over.

This fresh new year gives you a blank slate. You can write whatever you want on it. What do you want out of this year – besides “back to normal?”

Of course, it’s a given to write your goal down. Note  that I said “goal” and not “goals”. Just pick one that is important and/or meaningful to you. If you have one big goal, break it into small doable goals and focus on just the first one. If you have a list of different goals, it’s OK – but just pick one right now as your starter goal. When you achieve that goal, you can set another one, Success and victory feed off each other!

Start Here for New Year Goal Success!

You already know to write your goal down. If it’s not written, you’re not accountable to it. Also, choose a realistic date to accomplish it.

That feels good, right? It’s easy to get started, but realistically-speaking, you can expect your enthusiasm to wane. Statistically it take about 6 weeks for the new year – new you honeymoon to be over.

Three Tips to Keep Your Success Going

For your success, here are 3 tips to keep your motivation going: 

  • Know your why. If you pick a goal and don’t have a compelling reason, you’ll easily get off-track. Why do you want your goal?
  • Make daily mini-goals. Big goals can overwhelm, but making 3 phone calls to clients or  doing 20″ of exercise…those are doable.
  • Make a reward jar. Think of 20+ small rewards for yourself. It should be something that doesn’t need a lot of time or money. Write each one on a separate piece of paper. Each time you finish the days mini-goals, take a piece of paper and reward yourself.

You can make more of this year by adding those three small tips.

Want More Purpose & Direction for the New Year?

Join me for the first Savvy Sizzle workshop of 2021. I’m starting with a free class on January 19. You can register here: Savvy Sizzle

Is There Room in Your Relationship?

Manger of Annmarie Kelly - Womens Empowerment Coach

This year I decorated my house for Christmas. Not that I don’t do it every year, but when I started going away for Christmas a few years ago, I switched to “decoration-light.”

Not this year. I needed more help getting that “festive” feeling, so I went full throttle. Taking out old ornaments and trinkets brought back memories of Christmases past…and happy feelings started coming back.

While Joseph trimmed the tree, I went through the “Christmas boxes” and, as I unwrapped this little thing or that one, I thinned out the stash. I let go of anything that didn’t have a personal or emotional significance, or that I once felt “obligated” to keep. You know the kind I’m talking about, right? Well this year I decided I’m old enough to toss whatever reminded me of anything or anybody that didn’t bring back a happy memory. It was good – I felt lighter!

Among the “keeps” are my two mangers. One was my parents’manger from their first Christmas. It was displayed under the tree throughout my childhood. Most of the porcelain figures broke long ago, but the Baby Jesus, a few animals, and the manger itself are still there.

The other nativity set is my first one. It’s Avon, bought from a friend who was selling Avon (of course) when I lived in my first apartment. It doesn’t have as much character as the older one, but still has its original parts.

Both nativities are displayed on the living room window seat. They’re easy to notice…which is how, one night last week, I got to thinking about Christmas in New York…

Christmas in Manhattan

It was 2018 when Joseph and I took the train to Manhattan on Christmas Eve morning. We stayed at a funky little place across the street from Grand Central Station. After checking in, we took a paid tour of the iconic landmark with a guide who gave us all the juicy history, from the station’s beginnings to Jackie Kennedy’s efforts to keep it from being demolished and even shared The Campbell, a “secret” lounge popular during the 20’s – the last one 🙂

The weather was very mild for late December, even at night. So we walked everywhere – east side, west side, and all around the town – including to the beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Christmas Mass.

Not surprisingly, the church was packed, but thanks to Joseph’s initiative, we got a great seat – end of the pew on the main aisle.

We were right there listening to the beautiful choir sing O Come All Ye Faithful as the altar boys and priests processed to the altar followed by the well-known Cardinal Dolan. It was neat to see and hear, and the majesty of the moment wasn’t lost on me.

The Mass itself was standard for the holiday…until the homily. It was a short and simple talk. Yet, for me, it turned out to be the most meaningful sermon I ever heard.

Dolan started the homily with a cute story about his nephew, but quickly wound his way to retelling how Joseph and his very pregnant spouse, Mary, were told there was “no room at the inn.” So, turned away from everywhere, the couple ended up in a stable, where Mary gave birth to Jesus. You know the story…me too.

Frankly, it was standard Christmas fare – until the Cardinal asked, “What about you?” He asked if we ever thought about making room in our hearts for Jesus, or had we been so wrapped up in the busyness of “doing Christmas” that we too were saying “no room.”

In all my years of hearing or reading that nativity story, I’d never thought about it that way. I never internalized it enough to ask myself “am I making room in my heart — or am I saying ‘no room here’ too?” It brought tears to my eyes then…and now.

For those of us who celebrate the meaning of the season, it’s a good question to ask ourselves, right?

Is There Room for Your Relationship?

However, the reason I want to share that story with you is this: You and I are at the end of a year filled with loss — so many kinds, and at all levels. It challenged us in ways we never expected. Many couples – even the most positive of couples and with the strongest marriages –  discovered holes in the fabric of their relationships. And,  for as much as you’ve been through this year, if you’re like me, your heart is struggling between being sad, angry, frustrated, and stuck in some lockdown-induced rut.

Yet there’s the promise of a return to normal sometime soon. It can’t be soon enough, right? What’s next?

Try this…
While we’re waiting for the promised “herd immunity” you have some time to ask yourself, or think about – and maybe even meditate on – this question: “What can I do right now to open my heart so that, in the new year, I won’t be saying ‘no room’ but to be more open to love?” Figuring out that answer will change everything…

If both of you do it, then this will be a good time for you and your sweetie to talk together. Whatever difficulties your relationship went through, with open hearts, you can find the room to be more open to rethinking and resetting your relationship.

I wish you a fabulous Christmas and a wonderful holiday!

With love and in victory,
Annmarie

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

holidays put stress on most marriagesThe Holidays Add Stress to Most Relationships

Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s…It’s supposed to be the happiest, most wonderful time of the year. For some it is. Not everyone. For many, it’s a time filled with stress, and often leads to arguments between couples. Sometimes it results in bad things – from hurt feelings and silence to flying off the handle blowups and domestic violence.

“Divorce Month” follows the Holiday Stress

It wouldn’t surprise a lot of married people that January is (unofficially) called “divorce month.” After months of lockdowns, January 2021 could be a record-breaker!

With so many people out of work, working from home, and home schooling, this holiday season may be the most challenging for couples ever. It’s hard to be happy when you feel confined. It gets harder when you can’t visit your family, or can’t buy gifts because you aren’t even paying your bills on time, and you’re stuck in the house for what seems like forever.

Will this season go down as the worst in your life? Maybe. Unless…

If there’s one thing Covid confinement has given so many of us,  it’s a focus on what matters most in life. Many – maybe you – are surprised by how much family matters. Not that you didn’t know it before, but Covid brought those feelings home for so many of us – and in a whole new way. Yet, at the same time, in most households, tensions have been running high.

During this unique holiday season, if you’re home alone with your family and missing the usual parties and family gatherings, here are a few things you can do to make your holidays bright.

Have a Plan to Deal with Holiday Stress.

Do you want to be Santa or the Grinch. If it’s Grinch, no more work necessary. But if it’s Santa, then sit down with your sweetie and decide how you’re going to do the next two weeks. It’s going to take some mental and emotional effort, but the plan will be your guide.

While making a plan is mostly for you two, if you have kids, bring them into it and ask for their cooperation.

What to Include in Your Stress Management Plan:

  • Be nice. Covid confinement doesn’t feel good, and everyone knows it. It’s sucked the politeness and kindness out of many of us. And, of course, our loved ones are likely to be the most affected. We’re more likely to make an  effort with “outside” people, but let our guard down for those closest to us. That’s a recipe for disaster. So agree to make an extra effort to be nice. Start with saying please, thank-you, and excuse me.  And keep track. Make a point to notice at least five things each day and thank your sweetie. Just that tiny courtesy can soften stress and create a positive shift in energy – both in you and with them.
  • Make space for crabby. It’s hard to feel love, kindness, and tenderness when you are hurting – and you feel like nobody is listening or cares. You feel “crabby” and show it. So give your crabbiness an outlet in a short but acceptable way; it’s simpler to do than you might suspect. At the end of each day, you and your sweetie can take ten minutes (five minutes each) to express your anger, sadness, fear, or pain. No feedback necessary because this is for venting. Include your kids if you want. Note: this isn’t a “pointing fingers” time but judgment-free zone for expressing how you feel.
  • Say “I love you and I care about you” to each other daily. When was the last time you said it – honestly and deeply? When was it that you focused on each other, looked into each other’s eyes, and said the words with feeling? It’s really hard to be mean to each other when you know the person you’re being mean to really loves you…and vice versa.

What happens next: Assess if your Plan Worked

After the New Year rolls in, decide how the plan worked for you. Did it revive forgotten good feelings? Did it rekindle your love? If it worked well, you can make your plan part of a New Year’s resolutions.

Or, maybe working your plan helped you both recognize that you need some outside help. That might mean you need a simple tune-up or a reset. Or it could let you know you have a problem that needs third-party help. Marriage therapists have seen a huge uptick in business – and most are willing to do online visits. It could be a relationship-saver!

The Holiday Season of 2020 will be one for the books for sure – for lot of reasons. For you, let this Covid Christmas be one to remember…for the good, not the sad.

You can Fix a Relationship that is Off-Track!

Many couples find that their relationship got off-track over the past few years. Covid confinement brought  that realization to the forefront. You still love  each other, but with kids, carers, the house…and everything…you got off track. What you need is a reset…and I have it for you.  Learn more: Relationship Reset

Is Change Killing Your Marriage or Relationship?

“It’s not the same,” Sue said, annoyed. “We used to be so connected. Now it feels like we’re going in different directions.”

Sue’s complaint isn’t unusual. For most of us, there are few things that jazz us as much as that euphoric feeling called “in love,” right? Then, when that early bliss of a relationship wanes, couples often feel sad.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could be “in love” all the time? Maybe, but more likely, not

A few years ago I had a conversation with twenty-something Ed, who’d just gotten engaged. Though not normally excitable, Ed was clearly really happy to finally be with “the one” he loved and who loved him. And, as I tuned into his upbeat emotions, I felt happy too.  “This is this most delicious time in your relationship,” I gushed.

Then, thinking about the kind of intimacy that can only happen with time, I told Ed, “this is better, but what you two have now is simply delicious. Enjoy every second.”

A few hours later, thinking about Ed and his very sweet fiancé, I wondered why that “delicious” feeling dissipates and one or both people feel more like Sue than Ed. I asked myself if I would give up the comfortableness, emotional safety, and affection I have now for that “in love” feeling.

The answer came fast.

No. I wouldn’t. That always-ecstatic feeling was fun then and I’m glad for the memory of it. But what I have now is great. And, unlike that constant over-the-moon feeling of new love, this is actually sustainable.

The truth is that the emotional level of new love is impossible to maintain in the real world. Also, insisting that it be that “thrilling” is damaging to the relationship; it thwarts your growth as a couple.

Is Change Disappointing?

My spouse, Joseph, and I met on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. When we were still together a year later, we decided to celebrate the one-year anniversary of meeting. We’ve been marking that day ever since then. This year, we celebrated covid-style with a 2-hour drive down the shore and a walk on the beach. Then, on our way home, we returned to the quaint, tree-lined where, 35 years ago, we were both on our way to a meeting at one of the homes, and met on the sidewalk.

When we got there, what a disappointment! In recent years, the growth of the nearby hospital has spilled onto Summit Grove Avenue. Gone are most of the sweet twin homes, replaced by a parking garage and a medical pavilion. The house where we met is still there, but the sidewalk “spot” isn’t.

The biggest disappointment? The street sign is gone. In fact, if I didn’t know where Summit Grove was already, I probably wouldn’t have found it (I’m glad I snapped a picture of the sign a few years ago). Still, it felt like something special had been taken away from us.

Is Change a Relationship-Wrecker?

While I sort of mourned the loss, the truth is that nothing and nobody ever stays the same. With change comes the opportunity for growth, for something better. As disappointing as seeing that once-charming little street become something else, the reality is that the hospital is now serving its community better.

And as cute as Joseph and I were in 1985, we changed; we’re better. It’s true that some of the changes have been difficult ones. They could have destroyed us, but we didn’t let it.

That’s the key…choosing  together to work through the challenges as a team. If only one person works, the whole thing doesn’t.

You need a plan to make it work. Here’s one.

Dealing with Change in Relationships

Change is going to happen. Expect it and prepare for it. You can start with these three tips for dealing with change in your relationship:

  • Acknowledge it. The change could be external, like getting or losing a job, having kids, or moving. Or it could be internal, like when you have kids or you are caregiving for aging parents, and you see life differently. You owe it to your partner to clue them in to what it is. Maybe you’re overwhelmed, or bored, or having problems at work or with in-laws. Keeping it inside will only make you anxious, angry, and resentful.
  • Schedule Family Meetings.  In The Five-Year Marriage, I recommend having regular Family Meetings, either weekly or twice a month. Start your meeting with what’s working (your high fives) and what’s not (everything from scheduling to feelings). If something isn’t working for one of you, you find out pretty fast. Once you know what it is, you can problem-solve and fix it together.
    If it’s about externals. like kids or household chores, you can redistribute the workload. If it’s internal stuff, the Family Meeting becomes a safe space for discussion. Or, if you can’t fix it yourself, you know to get third-party help before you hate each other. And remember: what happens in Family Meeting stays in family meeting.
  • Celebrate it. Change is almost never easy.  When you come through a rough patch, make sure you pat yourselves on the back. A date night or a getaway weekend usually works – and, when you do it, make sure you both understand this it’s a celebration of your partnership. Couples can’t overestimate the value of high-five-ing it when you successfully solve a problem, together and a s partners.

Finally, marriage and relationships are hard. They take work between two people. Sure, when your head is in the clouds, it feels nice. But unless your feet are firmly on the ground, you can’t move forward. If you can’t move forward, you cheat yourself out of the partnership and true intimacy of love. Instead, the result is a breakup. And, as the old song  says, breaking up is hard to do.

If you want more detailed information, you’ll find it in my book, The Five-Year Marriage: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm.  It’s available in paperback and Kindle (for any device).

Can You Be Nancy Drew?

Nancy Drew - empowered woman role model

A recent segment on Sunday Morning featured the Nancy Drew books and got me thinking about midlife reinventions.

In the beginning...

I started my first book series with the Bobbsey twins. By the time I had my fill of those, and some of the classics like Heidi, I was so ready for Nancy Drew.

I bookishly looked up to Nancy. She was older than me, a mature 16. She had two besties – Beth and George – who were also her sometimes-assistants in crime-solving.

Nancy also had a boyfriend, Ned. He was the best! Ned was a mature older man (he was in college), which automatically made him sooooo cool. Ned even occasionally helped Nancy catch the bad guy. I remember Ned as being the kind of guy who, though Nancy’s sleuthing made him nervous, he supported her. I don’t know if they did a lot of kissing, and Ned never pressured Nancy for sex – which was good because it probably would have flipped my prepubescent brain into turmoil.

However, in Nancy’s world, no matter who was around, she was always the mover and shaker. Nancy Drew was my first example of a female who bucked the system (Katherine Hepburn, in those old 1940’s-50’s movies was my second). In my too-shy childhood, Nancy was my friend. The quiet hours I spent with Nancy were some of the sweetest, safest, and best of my childhood.

For Midlife Women, the question I ask is “Now What?”

Nancy is getting up there in years – she’s 90 now. Yet her antics since she solved he first crime in the 1930’s are still inspiring young girls.

So are yours! What you’re doing and how you’re living is being noticed by your children and grandchildren. What are you doing about it?

Starting Something New

Almost as old as Nancy Drew is one of my mentors, Robbie Motter. She recently turned 84. After an almost-storied life of personal and professional challenges, including breaking through a couple glass ceilings and – more recently – beating breast cancer, you might think Robbie would be happy lounging around playing MaJong, She isn’t.

Robbie’s made herself comfortable with pushing ahead and taking risks. Her passion is helping other women succeed. She’s been doing it for years but she recently started something new. Not surprisingly for Robbie, it’s a non-profit women’s organization, The Global Society of Female Executives.
Robbie Motter is still spreading her wings. Women are watching her – and she’s inspiring them.

Legacy Matters – It’s Never Too Late For New Adventure!

Same with Susan, a resilient woman who passed away…way too soon. Last year I attended her memorial service during which several grandkids delivered eulogies. One by one, four young adults told funny stories about their grandmother’s little quirks; they made us all laugh.

They also shared the lessons they learned from their grandmother, and they each seemed to share these two: it’s never too late for a new adventure and never give up. Those four young people are taking their grandmom’s lessons into adulthood.

What About You? What Goals are on Your Mind?

As we wind our way out of this incredibly challenging year and into a fresh new – and hopefully more normal – year, what goals are you thinking about now?

Are you simply willing to hold on to what you’ve got? Or are you ready for a new Nancy Drew adventure? Did you learn something during the covid lockdown that could become your business? Did you get a good idea for how to help hungry people? Or did the lockdown make you realize you need to have more fun, or more travel, or more of something you’ve been missing?

Life Change – Go for it!

Whatever it is, this is your time to reinvent yourself – no matter what your age!  And BRAVA! for stepping up to do it!

Need Some Help Finding Your Own Adventure?

If you need some help and support, join me for my 2021 Savvy Sizzle workshop – on zoom – starting soon.. Check it out here: Savvy Sizzle
#ReinventingMidlife #Startingoverafter40 #reinventingyourlife

Is Someone Stepping on Your Toes?

boundaries for midlife happiness

Stepping on your toes, invading your space, crossing a line, ignoring your wishes – whatever you call it, when somebody does it to you, it feels bad. It means they went beyond your personal limits, also known as boundaries. Your boundaries are a reflection of your personal Identity. They define who you are and area measure of your self-worth.

Boundaries are Important for Women’s Empowerment

Boundaries are important for you to have. When someone doesn’t respect them, it says that person doesn’t respect you. You feel like you don’t matter.

Also, and more often than you – or anyone – would like to admit, when someone doesn’t respect your boundaries, you feel powerless, even unsafe. Safety is a too-often unexpressed or hidden fear, especially in women.

In the workplace, it could be anything from office gossip or dumping extra work on you to asking you to do something inappropriate. In relationships it can include interrupting, over talking, muzzling, criticizing, yelling, and physical violence….and those are just the big ones.

When it happens to you, what do you do? I used to suck it up. Then, in therapy, the therapist told me I had terrible boundaries. He was correct, and I knew it. I needed to make a change. I did.

If you know what I mean, and want to make a change too, read on…

How Midlife Women Can Create a New Boundary

The thing about boundaries is that very often you don’t know what your boundaries are. You can turn that around. Here are four steps you can take:

  1. Decide on the boundary or boundaries you want. Pick a period of time (a week or a month). Notice what happens and pay attention to how you feel. Do you have a co-worker who consistently interrupts you during meetings, You’re annoyed, yes, but why?
    Does one of your friends talk down to you, and when s/he does, you feel “less than” or stupid? Is it the words, the tone of voice, or something else?
    When you and your spouse argue, does s/he go from 0-10 on the anger scale fast and starts yelling? What happens inside you?
  2. Once you identify the offending behavior, figure out what you want instead. This is is important because  you can’t just complain. It’s unproductive. For example, you want the co-worker to hear you out before speaking, or your friend needs to change the tone, or nobody – not even your spouse – can yell at you.
  3. Decide how you will tell the offending person. When you have a boundary, you have to know what to do when someone crosses it. That can be a challenge – especially if you were raised in “good girl” mode. So you have to know what to say.
    Start by giving the other person the benefit of the doubt; many people don’t even recognize what they’re doing. So sometimes a simple “I don’t know if you realize it but you [behavior] and when that happens, it makes me feel [your reaction]. I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t’ do that anymore.” Chances are that person will be surprised, and apologize. And then you can let them know that you’ll have to stop them if it happens again.
    If the offending behavior doesn’t change, create a signal –  word (like STOP!) or a gesture (Like a “talk to the hand” sign)
  4. Practice. Like anything you do in life, you aren’t going to get good at boundaries right off the bat. You’re likely to experience stressful signs, like a red face or fast heartbeat. That’s normal. It’ll get better with practice.

Live a Life You LOVE!

You deserve to live the life you love with a good sense of self-worth and the feeling of emotional and physical safety. Boundaries will go a very long way in giving those to you!
Start now! If you need help creating a life you love, check out my Savvy Sizzle “No Regrets” Workshop!

#victoriousWoman #Women’s Empowerment #MidlifeREinveniotn #confidnece #Self-Worth

With the election behind us, what's next for YOU?

find your purpose for 2021
Whew! For months I thought Election Day 2020 was never going to come. Didn’t you? I felt stressed as the day drew closer – were you feeling it too? Political ads were all over TV, with only a break when the Medicare ads came on 🙂  And, just in case you managed to veer off into non-political thought, phone texts brought you back.
So now that it’s over – OK, almost over – except for the final counting…and it looks like it may be a little while before we know who is officially the next president. Who knows? It’s 2020!

So now…take a deep breath and think. What’s next – FOR YOU?

In spite of being up in the air politically here’s the most important thing you need to know right now. Whether your preferred candidate wins or loses, the reality is this: you’re going to be here, living your life…every day. You’re going wake up, get dressed, and go about your day. No matter what else is going on, good, bad, and indifferent, for the most part, you are and will be in control of your everyday life.

What will that mean for you?

If you ever doubted your personal power, this pandemic year proved you’ve got it. Remember at the beginning, how you felt lost? You couldn’t go to the store whenever and however you wanted, you scrambled to get basics like toilet paper and bleach…and sometimes food. And, omg, even wine or alcohol. You masked up and social distanced and there was fear everywhere.
However, as the months rolled on, you settled into a routine. You found ways to keep in touch with family and friends, created new workspaces in your home, binged TV series, did online yoga and exercise…and made a hundred other adjustments. You even managed to find some good in things that you otherwise wouldn’t have known about or noticed in the busyness of life before covid. So…

Now what? What’s next?

Here’s a thought…Research shows that what you focus on expands. That like attracts like. So what’s your focus – for right now, for the New Year, for your future? If you focus on the worst, you’ll get it. If you focus on the best, you’re making space for it to come into your life.
What do you want in the coming New Year? Do you need to create more satisfying goals? Rebuild a business? Focus on your health? Reset your marriage or relationship? Find a new partner?

I can help you!

Whether it’s you need to get your life back on track, or shore up your marriage or relationship, in January and February I’ll be offering BOTH the Savvy Sizzle and Relationship Reset workshops – designed to help you rethink, regroup, and move forward. I’ll talk more about those dates and topics next month.
In the meantime, join me next Tuesday, November 10, at 2pm for some Victory Chick Chat in a FREE zoom meeting. We’ll be talking about the five questions I asked in my last email…about what happiness and success are, what things make you feel special, and what brings you joy.
We’ll have an easy exchange of thoughts and ideas via zoom – and start thinking about the new year…which is bound to be better than 2020!
You can register here: SAVVY SIZZLE 
Use this download with the questions to think about so you can start jotting down your ideas between now and Tuesday. Find out what other Victory Chicks are thinking and feeling at the FREE zoom meeting. And, hey, invite your guys too. You’re in it the together, right?
I’ll look forward to chatting with you on Tuesday!
With love and in Victory,
Annmarie