Until recently, I was pretty clear where I stood and why— firmly and proudly with Team Make it Happen. There’s another team, Team Meant to Be. We’re the doers, they’re the believers. They accept, we activate. They hope. We hike. And obviously, we’re the superior team.
A funny thing happened on my way to judging and dismissing Team Meant to Be. I realized they might have something. Something I wanted, and maybe even needed. Perhaps it was time to change the way I play.
You know Team Meant to Be, don’t you? They attribute an event—painful, miraculous, or just surprising—to a higher spirit, God, luck, or magic. To an outsider, it appears they don’t wallow in what ifs, but move forward powered by accepting what is. While I do give a shout out to karma for the appearance of an open parking spot (bestowed by the universe for letting someone ahead of me at the market) I don’t understand why one would give up calling their own shots.
When a job is lost, meant to be. A life tragically cut short, meant to be. Climate change, divorce, the appearance of a soon-to-become-yours rescue dog, a double rainbow at the exact moment you needed a sign. Meant to be. A sports blowout or a courageous comeback. Sustaining marriages, miraculous recoveries, and functional families. Always meant to be.
“It was God’s will. The stars were aligned. It’s the full moon. It’s out of our hands. There’s nothing we can do about it. Magic, I tell you. It was luck. We’ll never know why. Some people just aren’t lucky. She gets all the breaks. He can’t catch a break. Good karma. Bad karma. She had an angel looking over her. Chance. Fate. Fortune. Kismet. Destiny.”
Seriously, why wouldn’t you take credit for great moments… even if that means taking responsibility for the rotten ones? Why wouldn’t you want to feel like you matter, you can make a difference, that the world depends on you?
Who really wants to hand over their power? Wouldn’t everyone rather be on Team Make It Happen?
In their shining moments, Team MIH are leaders, activists, artists, organizers and rabble rousers. They are the moms who get dinner on the table, clean laundry folded, summer camp schedules completed, and make Christmas morning happen. The dads who coach, fix, build, pay bills, maintain the vegetable garden, and teach their daughters how to backpack in the wilderness (and yes, I am speaking of my own family). Make it Happens invent, produce, and create. They are stubborn, committed, believe in their vision and act on their passion. They move. Fast. Their brains resemble hamster wheels, spinning like crazy. They are schemers, drivers and dreamers. And they get stuff done.
Our team slogan is, “We’re busier than you are, and proud of it.”
Do I hear whispers of a downside?
Maybe. Possibly. Potentially.
Yes, there is a downside.
The downside, as you may have already figured out, is that MIHs are so focused on achieving—getting to the next thing—that sometimes they can’t appreciate the last thing. It’s all up to them, and they wear responsibility as a badge of honor. They are always in charge and they always know what’s best. In their worst moments, they can even manufacturer a little drama. And they aren’t particularly good at sharing… the work, or the light. They believe that if they aren’t making something happen, then nothing is happening.
You can spot them in their chosen position—that would be in self-centered field.
“I can’t slow down, there is too much to do. It’s my fault. It’s my responsibility. If I don’t do it, no one will. If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself. They’re depending on me. I am so busy I don’t have a moment to breathe. It would take too much work to get the information out of my brain and into yours, so I will just go ahead and do it. I will make it happen, even if it kills me. I’m needed. If only I had been there, I could have prevented/accomplished/stopped/started/finished it.”
My name is Kim, and I am a recovering member of Team Make it Happen.
I am 56, and I am learning that there are other ways, and they don’t all have the word “my” in it.
I want to live a life that is a balance of believing, doing and loving. I want a little wonder with my reality.
I am learning that I don’t need to understand everything. Accepting the unexplainable might even be enlightening.
Moving on doesn’t mean I haven’t acknowledged what happened. It’s just another form of action, without a bullhorn.
There may be a higher power who helps guide us in our journey. And she might even know my name.
Maybe, just maybe, blind faith is more about faith than about lack of vision.
Life doesn’t have to be a never-ending do-it-yourself project.
Being a rabble rouser may be exciting, but it’s not always productive.
Standing in the light is much more fun with company.
The laundry doesn’t really matter, nor do the dishes, or the dirty windows. Being present matters.
Slow might actually be the way to go. And it might allow me to get to my destination faster, with a few more friends by my side.
Awe, the experiences that have stunned me into silence—holding my newborn daughters, the northern California coast, the High Sierra mountains, sitting with a poor mother in India who can’t feed her children today, but believes she can make a better life for them tomorrow—those are the most powerful moments that can move us to act. I believe in awe. Both the stunning silence and the action that follows.
Success isn’t always about what I’ve produced. Perhaps success won’t ever be about what I’ve produced. It might be simply that I am alive, I am trying, and I am loving as fiercely as I can.
While never an athlete, I have always been a collaborator and think of myself as a team player. It’s time for me to reshape my team, and certainly my position. My hybrid team name will be Team Happen To Be Me. And I will absolutely make that work.
Mojo goodness from the corners of the internet, to take you into the weekend.
We learned about Rwanda’s all woman drumming corps and ice cream shop, Sweet Dreams, at TedX Women last fall. Here’s more from NPR. So awesome!
Did you see this BBC story about a 13-year old girl eagle huntress in Mongolia? Awe inspiring and full of joy.
Because you deserve it…bookstore scented candle on Etsy. Gotta love a little clever.
The internet is a wonderful place to travel. A few gems from our week. Enjoy!
How did we ever take our eyes off Yoko? In the “surprising but delighted” finds, her collaborative website, My mommy is beautiful. And she is.
Do you follow The Reconstructionists? It’s a fantastic collaboration between illustrator Lisa Congdon and writer Maria Popova. They celebrate the remarkable women— artists, writers, and scientists, and some unsung heroes— who have changed the way we define ourselves as a culture. One of our favorite rest stops to refuel for the journey ahead!
In praise of scarves, not that we’ll admit to trading in belts for a scarf and statement earrings (perhaps we just did).
Power up! Have you seen the trailer for, A Girl Named Elastika from Guillaume Blanchet? “She’s young, dreamy and fearless, she drives cars way too fast, she’s also a yamakasi. She likes adventure, fireworks and unrelenting seas.”
Last week I was on my afternoon walk, working up a too-soon-for-summer-sweat and wondering where the magic was. It’s spring, and it’s already hot. I forgot my sunscreen. I am not ready for sleeveless. It wasn’t the mind clearing, creatively nurturing excursion I had hoped for.
At the park, there were two young men practicing their balancing skills on colorful tightropes, which were attached to the trees.
The ropes weren’t high off the ground, only a few feet. They took turns jumping up, taking a few steps, bouncing, wobbling, waving their arms, and jumping down. One encouraged the other, and they traded places and did it again. They didn’t seem to be restricted by the same rules of gravitational force that kept me grounded.
For a quick moment I imagined asking for a turn. In reality, I knew that wouldn’t end well, so I settled for watching.
I wasn’t the only one. A few children wandered over from the playground to join me. We all watched with more than just a little awe.
Jump up, step, bounce, wobble, wave, bounce, jump down.
After a few cycles, it occurred to me that they actually used the bounce. In fact, they initiated the bounce.
As if it were part of the plan. Part of their practice. They bounced to get the momentum to propel themselves forward.
So they could practice balancing. Wow. Weird.
The bounce that would turn unto a wobble, then the wave, and another bounce, and then the jump down. And repeat.
As they each got stronger, they added more bounces. Higher bounces. Until there were more bounces than wobbles. The bounces seemed to add to their confidence, and to their stability.
I kept on walking, but perhaps with a very quiet, very small, almost imperceptible, bounce in my own step. Wondering, what intentional bouncing might look like in my own life?
PS. Curious? I was too, so I poked around on this tightrope thing, which is really called a slackline. Check out Faith Dickey, aka That Slackline Girl and this beautiful video of her, balancing through nature. Really, take four minutes.
There’s a popular writing prompt called Six-Word Memoirs that’s making the rounds on blogs and magazines. Life in the Boomer Lane, AARP, and NPR have all published pieces encouraging us to craft our own. They are clever and succinct—a story in six well-chosen, magical words. Hemingway did it first, and probably best (though the authenticity of this is in some doubt): “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
I love the idea and have attempted to conjure six word stories for years, with nothing to show for it. My trouble is that I can’t edit down to only six words. I write, I am happy, and every time, I have exceeded my word count. To play by the rules means giving up one or more of my favorites. Listen, I don’t leave food on my plate, or extra wine in my glass, and I certainly don’t leave words that I love behind. While I wish I could be disciplined, it’s just not in my nature.
So I did what any undisciplined, creative person would do… I made my own rules. One line, as many words as needed. Enough to start a story, before it’s time to stop. My memoirs, my rules.
Here are my midlife memoirs. Tell me yours in the comments section. And you have permission to use as many words as you like!
Gray hair, hiding in the browns, pretending to be a wayward blond in low light.
I think it might be too late to get a tattoo, or climb Kilimanjaro or hang at Burning Man. Then again.
I never imagined this, or you. You showed up, connected the dots, and filled in the blank spaces. What it was like for you?
Nothing bad has ever happened. At least not yet. At least not to her.
She dreams of sleeping all day, mostly when she is awake all night.
I wonder if these earrings will make my butt look smaller?
Were we ever parents of two young children? Sometimes I can barely remember that moment.
I am fifty-six. I should be able to read the words “black-tie optional” without having a panic attack.
All those possibilities and potential in one full life. It’s easier to manage the overwhelm when I realize it’s not actually about me.
I may never learn how to cook a proper roast, cast off my knitting, or use an ATM. And yet, they call me a grown up.
On the ski trip she decided that marriage was worthwhile, if only to have someone to tell you that you haven’t rubbed in the sunscreen and there’s a leftover bit in your ear.
Would it be so wrong to eat a handful of cough drops and call it dessert?
There were times when the dog loved her most. His greeting alone made it all worthwhile.
She raised them to be independent—so they made their own lives, in new places. Perhaps she overshot.
Fear is a great motivator. However, as I get older, I fear less. Once you’ve accepted elastic waistbands, humiliation doesn’t hold the same power.
Just so you know, that was a very funny story when I told it to myself. With my outside voice, not so much.
Elves and an eight-day week, he said. That’s all you need to get it done. Finally, a realistic solution to my work/life/sleep/creative crisis.
How did my mother’s hands become my own? When did that happen, and what was I so engrossed in that I didn’t notice the transformation?
I pretend like we’re in midlife. But that’s only if we live to 112. It’s 66.8%, if I am lucky, and if I were the type to count my life by numbers.
P.S. I have another set of one liners on my personal blog, Tour of No Regrets, this week. Those are a less memoir, more in-the-moment. Come visit!
We’ve been wandering around the internet, so you don’t have to. All sorts of goodness out there to explore, my friends.
Dear beauty industry, I’m not buying it Beth Berry’s take on beauty–the part we already own–is spot on.
You don’t look your age and other myths by Lorraine Ladish at Viva 50! Love this line: No matter what you’ve gone through in life, or where you stand now, dare to wear your age well–no matter whether you’re 25 or 70, with pride, joy and especially gratitude!
Of course we’re not too old for the Hipster Hobby Generator. Now to choose between the recycled typewriter museum or crocheted chalkboard placemats.
Some serious reading about Tina Fey/Liz Lemon, from Linda Mizejewski at Salon. “Liz Lemonism, I would argue, satirizes both feminist hypocrisy and postfeminist bourgeois angst.” Worth the read.
Finally, a badge of optimism to wear into the weekend. We’ll take a dozen, please. Can always use a little extra.
The internet is a wild and wonderful place, and the midlife ecosystem is full of life. A few gems for your weekend:
Happy Birthday Gloria Steinem, and thanks for the life lessons.
Fine Lines, a thoughtful and thought-provoking essay on learning to re-parent by Lisa Carpenter.
Tracy Chapman turned 50 this week. Remember the first time you heard her?
Work Stew: Because as much as we’d like to imagine it, retirement is NOT just around the corner.
Don’t dress your age. Six fabulous fashionistas say no to drab.
For the summer book list, Whatever You Are, Be a Good One by Lisa Congdon. Love Lisa’s work, and exuberant inspiration is a just right summer activity, don’t you think?
This is love, and HoneyMaid will forever be my brand of graham cracker. Have you seen their awesome response, filled with love?
Have you seen these stunning photos of twins over 50?
In the category of “wish we were there” Team Yoko shows us all how to live a little more creatively.