Overwhelmed? Ask yourself this question

Ever have one of those days when you don’t know where to start, when you feel overwhelmed, when you ask yourself, what should I DO today?

Luna under blankets 900 x 600

There are so many conflicting priorities and you just wish a big, fat genie would hand you the answer. Or do it all for you.

I woke up that way the other day. But when I asked myself what I should do I felt worse — more unfocused and overwhelmed than ever.

So, I started asking myself what I really wanted to do instead.

That’s when the magic happened.

The answer was writing a blog post about how women should never let themselves be limited by age, labels or society’s expectations.

Writing it allowed me to share something I feel passionate about. And that meant I was being fully myself as I wrote. It was what I wanted to do.

After I finished the post, I was energized and much more productive for the rest of the day. I even got some of those “shoulds” accomplished because I was feeling strong, centred and positive.

What do you really want to do today?

If you are feeling overwhelmed ask yourself this question: What do I really want to do? What do I want to do right now? What would make me feel good?

If you can’t act on your answer right away, make note of it and do so the next opportunity you get. Even better, create that opportunity by scheduling some ‘me’ time into your day.

Your answer may be nudging you towards taking a risk — changing jobs, ending a relationship or moving in a direction that you’re not sure about.

Or it may just be reminding you that you need to write a blog post.

Go where your answer takes you

If your answer makes you uncomfortable don’t come up with a million reasons why it won’t work. If you do, you will just stifle yourself and feel even worse.

See where your answer leads, instead. It will help bring you clarity and probably improve your mood.

Call to Action

Whenever you get sidetracked by obligations your heart just isn’t in, ask yourself this question because none of us has time to waste.

Why spend today doing something that doesn’t serve you?

Make 2014 the year you finally own it – who you are, what you are good at, what you want to do, what you don’t want to do, what makes you feel good and what you want to contribute.

You have a lot to offer and it’s time the world knew it!

c 2016 by Kathy Barthel

Blogs for women 40+ need more sex, fewer labels

I was trying to expand my blogging community recently so I went looking for blogging sites for women over 40. But I kept running into online communities that were downright depressing.

I came across one blog where the locals were discussing their preference for being addressed by age-defining labels such as “ma’am” while eating in restaurants.

One participant noted that this was the “polite” term for a grown-up female.

I’m just Kathy

If that’s polite, give me rude any day. I’m nobody’s ma’am; I’m just Kathy, always have been, always will be. Even when I’m 90.

Kathy on the ledge 851 x 615

I know, unless a server is writing “Kathy” on my coffee cup at Starbucks, he or she is unlikely to know that.

If anything, I’d rather be called, “hon” by a certain male voice. That pretty much undoes me but being labeled based on some linear, age continuum before I can order my lunch, not so much.

Respect is just — respect

I don’t need a gender-specific, age-defining label to know that my server is treating me with respect.

A polite, “What would you like to order?” with some direct eye contact, will do.

I’d rather talk about sex

The other thing I noticed about some of these blogging sites for women 40+ was that they didn’t talk much about sex and how awesome it can be.

There was lots of information about nasty medical issues related to it but not much about the fun stuff.

Many women over 40 are having the greatest sex of their lives and trust me, they’re good at it. 

I’d rather talk about that — and be called “hon” by someone who could serve me lunch anytime…

c 2016 Kathy Barthel

Why loving yourself will bring you success

Do you love yourself?

Funny question I know, but your answer is crucial to everything you do.

Think about all the things you do for the people you love — the sacrifices you make, the time you spend to help out in any way you can.

Baby Amanda and Kathy

You want to support those people. You want them to know you’re there for them. Most importantly, you want to see them succeed and be happy.

So, you say things like —

  • Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
  • Call me anytime, even if it’s the middle of the night. I’m always here.
  • No, I’m in no hurry; keep talking.
  • You’re wonderful. 
  • I love you.

Do you love yourself?

You probably do most things for your own well-being, out of a sense of duty or responsibility.

Maybe you exercise, try to eat healthy food or get seven hours of sleep at night. You pay your bills, do the dishes and the laundry. The grass may even get cut or the snow shoveled!

You don’t do those things because you love yourself or because you want yourself to be happy, healthy or living in a nice environment. You do them because that’s what a responsible person does.

And that’s OK, up to a point.

But if you do more things for yourself out of love than out of duty or obligation, you’ll get more done and create more success in your life.

Why loving yourself will bring you success

I have been investigating this concept recently thanks to the work of a woman named Louise Hay. She has written extensively about the idea of re-framing your mental approach to life, including using the words, “I love myself; therefore….”

If you apply those words to the tasks involved in developing a fulfilling career, to becoming healthier, to having great people in your life or to becoming more financially secure, the result might look like this:

I love myself; therefore I will —

  • create a kick-ass portfolio that shows what I can do
  • volunteer with organizations that can help my career
  • do some physical exercise every day
  • stop buying junk food
  • stop working through lunch
  • ditch partners who don’t support my highest good
  • heal my heart before I start dating again
  • set up a tax-free savings account with automatic withdrawals
  • update my budget for the year
  • make an appointment with my accountant

When you approach tasks with this mindset —  as things you do out of love for yourself — you automatically see them differently.

You see them as positive actions that will bring you success, not nagging obligations to avoid. You feel energized, rather than stressed.

That’s because saying “I love myself…” puts you in a positive, empowered frame of mind. If you love yourself, you’ll want to do something good for yourself, something that will move you forward.

When you operate from the heart, what seemed so hard, becomes easier. 

Start loving yourself and changing your life, one action at a time.

It’s time to be a brat — to rip the rug out from under that old, negative thinking focused around guilt, fear, obligation or duty.

Think of where you want to be in your life, career, health or relationships. Then, think of the things you could do to help make that happen.

Finish this statement with the actions you want to take:

“I love myself; therefore I will ___________________________ .”

“I love myself; therefore I will ___________________________ .”

“I love myself; therefore I will ___________________________ .”

Pick one of these tasks and start working on it. If you get sidetracked, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t waste time feeling guilty and stressed. Just re-focus on the statement. You’ll soon be back in the right frame of mind to continue.

**********

If you’re still not sure about this “love” approach to success, consider how well things have gone with discipline, duty or obligation (and maybe fear and worry) to motivate you.

Why not try something that will feel good  — and might actually help?

Like the song says, all you need is love. 😉

c 2016 Kathy Barthel

An entrepreneur’s moment of zen

One of the joys of being an entrepreneur is being able to step away from the computer for a moment of zen at the litter box.

On days when your writing is a tad constipated, chances are the cat didn’t have the same problem.

Tidying up her productivity provides you with a sense of accomplishment —  and a moment of quiet reflection that puts everything in perspective.

Litter box haiku

Litter box haiku

This moment of zen was inspired by the late, great Luna, an entrepreneur’s best friend.

She was always happy to help make the bed…

Luna making the bed 2

…or share some TV after a hard day’s typing.

Luna watching TV Julie Andrews love scene Torn Curtain

(Luna watching Julie Andrews in Hitchcock’s “Torn Curtain.”)

c 2014 Kathy Barthel

Transforming loss into gratitude this Thanksgiving

This is my first Thanksgiving without my mom but as the holiday approaches I feel such gratitude — not only because she was a wonderful mother but because of how I believe she’s doing right now.

As I’ve mentioned here before, my mom’s last couple of years weren’t her best. She would tell me all the time that she just didn’t feel like herself.

As it turned out, some of that may have been because her cancer had returned, even though none of her tests had shown it. But it was more than that; my mom didn’t feel like the person she’d been all her life.

Anxious days, restless nights

Her resilience, humour, even her faith, seemed to have deserted her. In their wake were anxious days and restless nights full of worry and fear.

That is not to say that my mom didn’t experience moments of joy with family or friends, but something in behind that temporary happiness, was missing.

After I returned home from her memorial service, I thought about how upset she’d been and I prayed that she was feeling better.

Then one night as I was doing that, I had a very strong sense of her calm, secure and confident presence. I knew that she was content and happy. The stress of the last few years had evaporated.

Temagami Trail, c. M. Romig Dawson (my mom) pastel, 1997

It seems incorrect to call this my first Thanksgiving without my mom because in some ways it doesn’t seem like she’s gone. It seems like she moved and lives somewhere else, some place I can’t reach by phone.

But I know she’s fine and that’s why I’m grateful. My mom is herself again.

In fact, that is the idea that drives BrattyKathy — to really live is to be fully yourself, no fear, no apologies, no holding back.

Happy Thanksgiving, Mom.

c 2014 Kathy Barthel

You can’t play it safe, in mid-life love

How many divorced women have fantasized about asking their boyfriend’s ex-wife what he’s really like?

Sure would save time. Maybe years!

You’d avoid the breakup anguish too because you’d have the goods on the guy before you got emotionally involved. And who knows him better than his ex?

That’s the irresistible opportunity presented to Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) in “Enough Said” when she accidentally meets and then becomes friends with Marianne (Catherine Keener), the ex-wife of her new boyfriend Albert (the late James Gandolfini).

Middle-aged TV historian

Albert is a TV archivist with an incredible passion for old TV shows going all the way back to Sid Caesar and Jack Benny. “I was kind of raised like a veal,” he says. “I was put in a dark room and fed and told not to move.”

Albert is also overweight and balding but that doesn’t make him any less attractive to Eva (or to women in the audience, including this writer).

Middle-aged love is sexy

Eva says that Albert is kind of flabby but she admits that “our middle-aged-ness is comforting and sexy to me.”

That’s one of the best things about the movie; it’s realistic. Anyone who has ever fallen in love after having been married, raised kids and divorced, knows that it is the sweet imperfections of their new partner that are the most irresistible.

. Enough Said kiss-1

(the late, great James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus)

Albert is very dear, very sexy and he makes Eva laugh. They have a wonderful time together, including in bed, until she gets the lowdown from his ex, Marianne:

Albert is clumsy in bed, terrible in bed. In fact, Marianne was “completely repulsed by him sexually.”  She got the bedside tables in their divorce and he has yet to replace them, which shows that he is not building a new life for himself. He doesn’t even eat guacamole the right way! He is a “loser.”

In spite of her attraction to Albert, Eva starts to become critical of him, turning into a mini-Marianne. Things get even worse when Albert discovers that the two women are friends.

Albert was really hurt by Marianne (she never respected his job and she cheated on him) so this is just too much. “Sounds corny,” he tells Eva, “but you broke my heart and I’m too old for that.”

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it

Turns out when you get the scoop on your guy from his ex, the information can be a tad negative.

Eva was trying to avoid getting hurt again (something any divorced mid-life woman can understand) but she got hurt anyway and wounded a wonderful guy.

There are no shortcuts and no safety nets when you date after divorce. But that’s a good thing. Allowing yourself to feel again is part of it.

The best middle-aged love stories are as sweet and tender, as wild and raw and as unpredictable, as anything you experienced at 20. It can get messy but you’ll never feel more alive.  

If you get as lucky as Eva and Albert, go for it.

c 2014 Kathy Barthel

If you’re really in love, break some furniture ;)

If you’re in love and having the time of your life, go ahead —

  • break the couch
  • bust your zipper
  • kiss till your lips peel
  • practice reaching high C

Blistex on the headboard

(Blistex on the headboard is always a good idea;)

When you get tired, cuddle up and listen to the rain outside your window, and to him, breathing beside you. There’s no better lullaby.

If it’s love, go deep.  

You will never be more blessed than you are right now.

c 2016 Kathy Barthel