5 Things I Feel About Turning 47

Thursday, February 22nd was my 47th birthday. And this year, I felt…different.

On previous birthdays… I’d say at least the last 4 or 5, I’ve been increasingly sad, depressed, wanting to soak every moment out of my birthday while at the same time, wanting to crawl under the blankets and hide from it. But as I said, this year felt different. And here are my 5 reasons/things why I think that is…

Embracing Letting Go … This year I’ve spent a great deal of time working on myself, on figuring out who I am, who I want to be, who I don’t want to be. I’ve been in the doldrums for a long time, in some ways, all my life. And since I started keeping a journal, I’ve been able to work through some of the questions of why I am the way I am and have been able to understand, accept, and let go of a lot of horrible feelings. I used to be somewhat afraid of what letting go of things I’d held onto for so many years (since I was 6 years old, to be honest). If I let go, what would happen to me? Who would I be if I were no longer this negative, dreary, holding onto the hurt and anger and pain and guilt? I’m a happier person, that’s who.

Yoga/Meditation/Talking to the Universe … Last year I challenged myself to walk for 30 minutes for 30 days straight. I wanted to see how I’d feel at the end of it. I wanted to see what changes I encountered about myself, what changes I encountered to my body, if any. In the end, though, the only thing I that I had to show for it was the fact that I’d done it and I was proud that I had. Other than that? Nothing. My joints hurt. My body felt bloated. I had no energy. I tried to start it up again, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to. Yes, exercise is important, but what’s more important than exercise in general, is the specific exercise that speaks to you. And a walk every once in a while is awesome. But that’s not my exercise happy place. That my exercise bliss. Yoga is. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 50 minutes, I feel incredible afterward. I am not focused on losing weight, but feeling good within my body, mind, and soul. I follow an at home practice. Yoga with Adriene. She’s awesome. Bright, open, knowledgeable, energetic and her motto is Find What Feels Good. I have embraced this. Yoga feels good. I’ve been doing it no less than 5 days a week most weeks of 2018 so far. I have noticed changes in my body, in my stress levels. I am kinder to myself. I am full of gratitude toward myself when the practice is over. Yoga helps focus me and calm my mind. I have more positive energy.

Meditation … This is new for me. Or, re-new for me. I’m trying to take at least 5 minutes a day to close my eyes and just breathe. Just exist in the breath, in the moment. It, too, has helped calm and center me. My goal is to work myself up to longer periods of meditation to help reduce stress even more, to silence the noise in my head and connect with the part of me where ideas and creativity and peace reside.

Talking to the Universe … You can say it’s God, or your version of God … I call it the Universe. It’s a free form conversation I have daily. A lot. There’s a lot of gratitude in it, a lot of asking for help in different areas of my life, asking to be of use, to be of service, to be kinder to myself and to others, to be more open to letting go, to receiving, to ideas, to change.  This has become a… I don’t even have a word for it.  It’s an experience. It’s not inside my head. It’s spoken with my mouth when I’m alone, when I’m in the shower, when I’m doing chores, when I find that my thoughts are not good, are negative, are judgmental of myself or others, when I’m disgruntled with family or friends … This conversation has been altering for me because it never ends. The lines of communication are always open.

Having a Plan … This part goes back to my recent blog posts about my writing and publishing career. Writing is a HUGE part of my life. And I needed a mindset change. We can’t change how we think or feel unless we have the conversations with ourselves and are ready for change. And as y’all know, those conversations with myself and then with you, were not easy, were not pretty, were not fun. They were, however, necessary. And I’m all the more glad for them. My plan for the moment is simple: write and release books. Yes, I need to market. But I’ve spent years dwelling on nothing, on fears, on jealousies, on inferiority, on inconsistency, on not knowing where to start so not starting at all. But now, I have a publishing plan. And starting to look at the marketing side of things, on the branding side of things. Writing, though… Writing gives me joy, fills me with creative energy and this propels me forward, this keeps me moving forward. I’ve defined Lissa Matthews and I’m working on continuing to refine the definition and pick up the momentum. And for the first time in years, I feel hope and happiness as Lissa Matthews.

I am also going to be launching a new name and I’m hopeful that I can launch Ella Claire the right way from the word GO!

Having a plan has been awesome for my mood and dedication to my writing career. I didn’t realize how essential it was to have a plan. Now I do.

Reading … I read a lot now. Over the last year, I’ve begun to read a lot more than I had in the previous few years. I read big books, small books, print books, ebooks. I read YA fiction, crime thrillers, sweet romance, chick lit, some romance, writing craft books, personal development books, entrepreneur mindset books, marketing books. I read. It lets me get out of my head. It lets me escape. It lets me experience other things, other worlds, other imaginations. It opens my mind. It empowers me. It energizes me. It moves me through the whole range of emotions. It prefer reading over television. It keeps my mind, whether business or fantasy, sharp and curious. And curiousness was something missing in my life for a long, long, LONG time. Being curious helps us embrace the child within and this for me was something I’d been missing on a regular basis. Curiosity is one of the things that can help keep us feeling younger, feeling better, feeling more open.

Mindset … I know I talked about this last week, but it bears repeating, at least for me, that a shift, a change in mindset has allowed me to become and embrace more of me, more of the me I want to be, more of the me that’s been wandering lost for years.It’s one of those things that when it comes, if you paddle and stand up to ride that wave, it’ll take you somewhere you have been trying to find, but that’s been right there all along. It’s not easy to change a lifetime of negative thought, of hate speech toward yourself, of ugly words about your appearance, of judgmental thoughts and words for things that happened to you that you had no control over. If you’re down and negative, you attract down and negative. I never bought into that until this year. But it’s true. So is the opposite. If you’re up and positive, you begin to attract up and positive. If you let go, you begin to receive because you’ve opened up. If you smile, smiles will come back to you. What you allow in is what you end up showing the world. I didn’t believe any of it. Until this year. Until I was ready. Until I stood up to ride the wave.

A year or two or five ago, I dreaded every birthday. I wanted it and at the same time, I didn’t. I didn’t want to get older. I saw older as the end coming that much closer. I saw it as wrinkles and my mind beginning to shut down, my body breaking down. I greeted each birthday with fear and a desire to go back. To be 20 again, to be 16, 14, 10 again… To go back and make different choices, different decisions. To go back and live again. But that’s not possible. We can’t go back. We can only go forward. We can do so in stagnant waters, or we can do so in an inner tube floating along in crystal clear spring waters, riding the ebbs and flows and engaging with ourselves at each interval. This is what I’ve begun to do. I am open to the Universe, to finding what feels good, to smiling at myself, to being kind and generous with myself, to being open and receptive, to being grateful and accepting of challenges, to putting myself out there and learning new things, to having goals and higher standards for myself. I have gray hairs and I’m finding I like them. I’ve lived 47 years in a bit of darkness. The gray hairs I have are more white than gray and they’re part of the brightness in my life now. I’m embracing color and sparkles and things that bring me happiness.

I’m 47 years old now and I feel as though I’ve just started my life …

~lissa

 

Movie Mondays – Holiday Style

 

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I love holiday movies. They’re sappy and unrealistic in many, many ways. But they make me feel good. They make me smile. They ultimately are about hope and family and love and returning to the simple pleasures of life. They always pose the question of What’s important to you?

I think, given the state of the world as it right now, wars on religion, on sexuality, on basic freedoms and rights… Natural disasters and illnesses… It’s vital that we find comfort and smiles and hope wherever and whenever possible. That we find ourselves.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to list the movies on Hallmark Channel or on DVD that I watch, or that my family watches during the holiday season.

So far, I’ve watched the following. Yes, I know it’s not even Thanksgiving, but these help me me find the spirit, find the joy, find the smile that I miss being away from friends and extended family during the Season…

And, they simply put me in a happy, lighter mood. So, curl up and grab the remote!

Fir Crazy – Elise has corporate marketing dreams and while out of work at the holidays, reluctantly agrees to manage the family’s Christmas tree lot in NYC for the season. Along the way, she learns the value of friendship, kindness, and to be ready for anything.

The Thanksgiving House – Is this house the site of the first Thanksgiving? The local history teacher and historian thinks do, but when it’s willed to the previous owner’s niece, a hot shot lawyer, he may not have a chance to find out. Memories and the kindness of a mother who befriends her, the hot shot lawyer may find herself with a change of heart.

A Princess For Christmas – A total fairy tale.

A Royal Christmas – Another TOTAL fairy tale!

The Nine Lives of Christmas – Confirmed bachelor fireman meets matchmaking cat who leads him to vet student Marilee, who in turn teaches him that it’s okay to fall in love.

Angels Sing – Touching and full of hope when a man who hates Christmas learns valuable lessons about unconditional love and the ability to forgive oneself.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Another annual favorite. He’s a wanderer who meets a retired cop in the airport at Christmas. She’s uber organized and a single mom who’s struggling to meet expectations. It’s all about simplicity and cutting out the nonsense.

Ice Sculpture Christmas – When the slate is blank, or the block of ice, in this case, two people from two different worlds find magic in dreams coming true.

I’ll give weekly updates until Christmas and I urge you to find the kindness and hope in the season. And if you can’t find it, be daring and be bold and be the kindness and hope for others.

~lissa

Thursdays with TED

I’ve talked about how I want to work smarter, not harder, this year. I love writing. I love what I do. But, I don’t want to work 16-20 hours a day, 7 days a week. I don’t want to sacrifice my family, my sanity, my health, or me. And I’m still trying to figure out how to do that. I can master one concept of it, or another, but not all of it at the same time. That’s the goal this year, though. All of it, at the same time. All of it working seamlessly at the same time.

I know, I know. Go ahead and laugh. I’ll wait…

Feel better?

All I’m looking for is the balance.

I admire so many authors who put everything into their work… Every breathing, waking moment. They put out a lot of great books, are beloved by readers and admired by others like myself. They are wanted by this editor and that publisher. Some have families, some have day jobs, some have all sorts of other obligations, and some just have their writing. Some have spouses who handle the family and house. Some have great health and some don’t.

I don’t.

And I also don’t want to feel guilt for choosing work over kids over work over exercise over work over family over work… Guilt causes stress. I have enough that I don’t need to pile it on in other ways… I don’t want my kids to remember that all I did was work. Sometimes sitting and watching the game is enough. It’s why I unplug a lot more now on the weekends. It’s why the notebooks come out a lot more too.

So, I’ve watched some videos during my treadmill moments about work and happiness and life balance, looking for some thing I can try to implement into my life… Some things I keep, some I toss…

This is one of those videos…

How do you balance work and family and keeping your sanity?

~lissa