Life Lessons: 6 Things I learned in my 50th Year

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Ann in Prague

Me in Prague 1997

I’ve gone from a small town in Upstate New York to New York City then London. I worked my way from student file clerk to department manager and worked with my husband to build a successful international accountancy firm — based in a small rural town in Ireland. I’ve hung out with #1 recording artists and attended a Saturday Night Live end of season party; went dancing at Studio 54 and at raves in London. I won a bronze medal at the Taekwondo World Championships, second place in the local pub singing competition and came dead last in a 60km charity cycle. I appeared on an Oprah webcast with Eckhart Tolle and on Irish TV, on a game show and a morning TV show. I’ve visited many countries and seen a lot of sights that, as a child in Upstate New York, I had dreamed of seeing.

That’s a list of great experiences I’ve had over the past 50 years, but what means most to me is having a solid, happy marriage and three wonderful, smart, healthy children — which I didn’t imagine ever having 20 years ago when I was working my ass off in New York, getting ready to transfer to London.

There was no real strategy except to put myself out there, give everything I did 100% effort, more when needed, and be honest and sincere always.

With no strategy and very often a muddled approach to things, I wasn’t reaching my full potential – in  my personal life as well as my business life; but in my 50th year I learned a few things that helped bring a lot more clarity and focus into my life and I want to share these lessons with you:

1. Eating properly for me, not only makes me feel better and brings energy, but also brings more clarity of thinking.
I wasn’t a yo-yo dieter by any means, but losing weight and trying to eat better was always on my mind.  In the past few years I’ve tried a combination of low carb eating regimes and eliminated various foods in a attempt to calm my troubled colon, but it wasn’t until my fabulous osteopath, Nathalie Rousseau, told me how she had been talking to a colleague that was using diet and supplements to improve a person’s overall well being through mind-body balance. I started seeing Michelle Ryan, a local nutritional therapist, and she’s been guiding me to find this balance — getting all my organs working properly, producing the hormones and enzymes needed (I love the science part of it all). It’s a pretty strict eating plan, but it keeps my colon happy and I can really feel the difference in my thinking and when I don’t eat as well, I can feel the anxiety and muddled thinking coming back. It’s also been very helpful dealing with the changes in hormones that have come on due to menopause to help reduce hot flashes and dryness. Not everyone would need as strict a plan — it depends on your own body condition. Check out Michelle’s Skinny & Healthy Into Menopause Programme.

2. A women’s network can really help be supportive for business and personal issues — and isn’t necessarily just a whinge group.
In the past I avoided joining any ‘women’s support’ group feeling that I got more out of integrated networking groups and organisations — and this is partly true; but finding the right group of women can be a great experience and allow you to find like minded people to keep you focused and accountable for getting work done; as well as opportunities to brain storm and problem solve. I started working with life and business coach Sarah Leather, as an accountability partner, then we put together a course aimed a women that wanted to set up a business online. After the first live sessions of  How to Get Your Own Money Making Online Business in Clonakilty a group of women, led by Michelle Ryan, started meeting on a monthly basis.  All of the women found it really helpful and I started going a couple sessions in and now really look forward to it. Before I may not have trusted a woman’s group, because I didn’t trust myself as a woman, but now I do — thanks to those woman and the other work I’ve been doing.

3. Life is a series of ups and downs and you just have to go with it and be in the moment.
Until this realisation my life felt like a scary roller coaster ride, reaching wonderful dizzying heights and then falling to awful lows.  In the lows, I’d wonder why I couldn’t stay at those heights and feel like I’d never get back ‘up’ again. Sometimes during the highs I’d be worried about when it would all end and the lows would come.  Many people feel this way and this thinking limits the amount of joy you have in life and how much you will put yourself out there in the future. Again, osteopath Nathalie came to my rescue and pointed out to me that this is what life is about and you need to be present and enjoy the heights to the full and you need to live through the lows as best you can, knowing that it’s just part of life.  I’ve found that being present, which I’ve been working on for five years since reading Eckharte Tolle’s a New Earth, and working toward my goals lifts me out of those lows and each cycle I move higher and higher toward what I’m working for in my life.

brene brown

Brené Brown

4. I love myself — and what other people think doesn’t matter.
We all know this in our heads, but most of us still let what we THINK other people think control how we feel about ourselves. It wasn’t until this year and watching Brené Brown‘s TED talks and reading her books, that I’m really learning how to move away from this. This, combined with the work I am doing with Michelle Ryan and getting clarity in my thinking and feeling better physically, has really brought me to the point where I can love myself.  I still cringe a little writing this, so maybe I’m not 100% there yet, but I do feel so much better about myself and feel that I can achieve so much more with that block out of my way.  Brene Brown also points out that you can’t really be loving or giving to others, if you aren’t loving and giving to yourself.

Usually when we are worrying about what other people think, it’s just our own projections of what people think based on our own insecurities, so remove those insecurities and realizing that it’s our own projections, removes that awful feeling.  When other people really do say bad things to us or about us, it’s important to realize that it’s their issues and their problems, not yours. (I’m not talking about genuine feedback from clients and trusted friends and advisors, that is good to get and consider.) One of the things I picked up from reading Eckhart Tolle was to think that people are only as conscious as they can be at that moment. I don’t try to analyse what that issues are or make excuses for the person, like I used to spend a lot of time doing. I just move on.

inner diva5. Sometimes you need to get in touch with your Inner Diva and throw yourself a party.
Forget your inner child that needs so much attention and is impossible to please; find your Inner Diva, the one who gets all the attention she deserves! For me that includes singing and at my 50th Birthday Party I got all glammed up, sang some torch songs and had the best time ever!  I love singing and it’s one thing that really gives me joy — and I’m good at it and now everyone knows. I threw myself a big birthday party and invited everyone I knew.  Got some musicians together. Found a wonderful dress and all the accessories to go with it. One important part was having the pampering day before getting a facial, manicure and eyelash/eyebrow tinting (which makes my eyes look so amazing I will be doing this regularly). I was driven to the party in a Rolls Royce and had champagne waiting for me on arrival. I didn’t feel selfish or self conscious. It felt great and I loved sharing it with people I cared about and that cared about me.  As so many of my friends live in far away places, I included them all by sharing on Facebook.

6. Learning and Growing is a Daily Practice
When I’d mess up, be unconscious, unfocused, eat badly, yell at my kids, spend hours on Facebook; I’d get so depressed and feel like I’ve blown it all and be back at square one; but now I realise that it’s a daily practice working on being present, loving myself, being loving… You will mess up and grow from it, as long as you own it!  Which is my new favourite phrase. The good stuff, the bad stuff — you’ve got to own it! 

Thanks for indulging my Inner Diva and reading about my Life Lessons.

What about you?
What have you learned about yourself this year?  

7 Day Challenge for the Week

  • Write a blog post about the great experiences you’ve had in your life and what you did or plan to do to find your Inner Diva. Share the link in the comments below. If you don’t have a blog, write about it on Facebook, another social network or just leave a comment below.
  • If you haven’t taken my course, click here to register now to get my special 50th Birthday offer with $50 off!