Summer Changes, Summer Chances

After a long, cold winter, I feel a bit like I’m coming out of hibernation. It’s time to get moving and doing. A friend is leaving New York City in August and has a bucket list of New York memories she wants to create before she goes. As I looked at her list, it got me thinking about what I wanted for myself this summer.And what chances I wanted to take.

I have my own agenda of places to go and people to see and kicked off the celebration of warmth and light with a conference in Orlando that felt like a family reunion.

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Since we were staying in a Disney hotel, we had a number of interesting guest appearances. I used a free morning to pop over to Universal to commune with the folks at Hogsworth. Had a great time and can now check that off my list. My advice: walk around, admire everything, stay off the rides! (I spent most of the time with my eyes closed, praying that my glasses wouldn’t fly off.)

At the conference, I focused on renewing and strengthening friendships – less content, more collaboration – and fun.

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We’re moving forward with some wonderful collaborations this year and will be connecting virtually until we are together again next May.

The Clearwater Festival was another opportunity for celebration and reunions. In the face of so many sad and terrible examples of hatred in the world, the message on Pete Seeger’s banjo – “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender” – rang loud and clear in the faces and voices gathered on a peaceful weekend. Saturday was a flashback to Woodstock 1 for some of us – music despite torrential rain. Sunday was sunny and delightful, a time for deep conversations and planning along the bank of the Hudson.

My promise to myself for this summer is to have an adventure a week, large or small. I will stretch my muscles and my mind. I wi explore my city and myself, renew old friendships and create new ones, write, learn, laugh and dance like no one is watching.

Both Sides Now (Of Your Brain, That Is)

Many of us enter a new year with all kinds of energy and all sorts of plans for personal development, improvement, expansion, change. By the time February looms, many of us have forgotten those plans.

My approach to resolutions and plans, most of the time, has been more logical and analytic that creative and intuitive. I’ve made lists and plans and this year even experimented with (uhg!) spread sheets. I’ve concluded already that another approach is called for. Logic and creativity. I’m revisiting my overarching vision for this phase of my life and revising my vision statement, then taking it a step further and painting it. I’m not creating a vision board, although I may do that for my goals. I’m creating something completely abstract.

I expect this to help my creative side kick in as I move forward. I also expect my painting to help me create richer, more meaningful goals. Then I’ll switch to logic – subgoals, action steps, potential obstacles and steps to eliminate those obstacles. At that point, those spreadsheets will take on more meaning.

This will be a shared experiment. Karen Friedland and I are using this technique in a workshop in February. It’s on the events page here. Our next step will be to repeat this in a virtual environment, so if you want to come play with us and can’t make it to Brooklyn, stay tuned for updates – both about how the experiment is progressing and how you can join.

Writer’s Block and Sunny Sundays

I now have 41 interviews completed for my book. Each is wonderful and inspiring. But the book? Well, that’s another story. It’s hiding and laughing at me. Each interview tells a wonderful story. I know that they all fit together in some incredible way. I know that there are messages here just waiting to be shared with the world. This particular Sunday, though, I just don’t know how.

And I’m feeling the pressure to have answers. And content. Immediately.

The sun is shining. I want to turn off my computer and go out to play. I tell myself that if I can just write for an hour or so I can go out. But wait – the house needs cleaning. Clothes need to get put away. Files need organizing. It’s time to rotate winter clothes away. There’s dust!

I wish I hadn’t had that second cup of coffee. My hands are shaking. Caffeine or fear? Both? It’s cold out. Sitting by the Bay is really not an option. But it still might be nice.

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I know that if I can still my rambling mind, inspiration will come. How to get there, though? I think about V–, who has written many books, or the prolific S–. did they have Blocked Sundays? What did they do?

I come back to the two cards I pulled this morning. One was Consciousness. The message was that today I have the blessing of emptiness and that I ought not be trying so hard to fill it with clutter. The other was Sarasvati, Godess of Creativity. She urges me to dance. so, perhaps, with the 11 already-transcribed interviews as my companions, I shall head out into the Sunday sunshine. I will find a spot out of the direct sunlight (sorry iPad, but you do have some shortcomings) and some herbal tea.

I will hold fast to the notion that being blocked simply means that the ideas are mulling around in my head, not yet ready to be born, but nonetheless powerfully present. I will come back refreshed. And if inspiration strikes while I’m out, well, there’s always the wonderful voice feature.

I remember a friend whose pregnancy seemed to last forever. That baby just wasn’t ready to face the world until she was ready. At 40 – yes, she did finally emerge – she’s a pretty incredible woman. My cousin’s son, less than a year ago, was in no hurry either. And he’s already gorgeous and unstoppable. My book, too, will emerge when it’s ready. And it, too, will be unstoppable and incredible.

Off to the Bay.

Spring Hopes and Dreams

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

I’ve always compressed this quote from T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, jumping from April’s cruelty to mixing memory and desire. There’s something of that to Spring. There are faint stirrings and vague thoughts of things left undone mixed in with the hopefulness of crocuses and lilacs and daffodils.

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April seems a time of hope and new beginnings. Both Easter and Passover contain that element of being saved. And if you are saved from something, shouldn’t you be going on to do great things? Or at least to feeling happy and fulfilled? Taxes aren’t the only inventory April brings. Do you have memories of paths not taken? Desires yet to be fulfilled?

April is a good time to let go of regrets. For years, I worried about missed opportunities and paths not taken. I mourned them. I saw them as indications that I was somehow unworthy. As I’ve been interviewing women over fifty, though, I’ve seen another side to this. What did I gain by losing something? How did my life change for the better because I didn’t take that job or move to that city or stay put for the sake of a pension? There’s a quote in my office:

Say no to good to make room for the great.

My Spring inventory this year is different. What was the “great”? I’ve spoken to thirty-four women so far as part of my book project, 50 Over 50. Many of them walked away from high-powered careers. Something else was calling them. Some found space to be themselves. Some found peace. Some found opportunities to serve. All found meaning. And joy.

So, back to Eliot. And the lilacs. It’s time to remember the lilacs. How have you created lilacs out of the dead land?

Are You Open to Synchronicity?

I had an interview for 50 Over 50 with the always-interesting author and consultant Shoya Zichy this morning and she reminded me of the importance of synchronicity in creating an interesting life.

The following comes from Wickipedia’s discussion of synchronicity:

One of Jung’s favourite quotes on synchronicity was from Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll, in which the White Queen says to Alice: “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards”.[12][13]
‘The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday–but never jam to-day.’
‘It MUST come sometimes to “jam to-day,”‘ Alice objected.
‘No, it can’t,’ said the Queen. ‘It’s jam every OTHER day: to-day isn’t any OTHER day, you know.’
‘I don’t understand you,’ said Alice. ‘It’s dreadfully confusing!’
‘That’s the effect of living backwards,’ the Queen said kindly: ‘it always makes one a little giddy at first–‘
‘Living backwards!’ Alice repeated in great astonishment. ‘I never heard of such a thing!’
‘–but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s memory works both ways.’
‘I’m sure MINE only works one way,’ Alice remarked. ‘I can’t remember things before they happen.’
‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ the Queen remarked.

What does this have to do with synchronicity? For me, synchronicity is all about being open to all kinds of things. It’s about looking at the world a little differently. It’s about expecting good things to happen – a parking space opening up, meeting someone who leads you to your next job or life partner or passion.

How many ways can you put the details of your life together in a different pattern? How many different groupings are there for your talents? Are you looking for new experiences? Open doors to walk through?

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Speaking to so many women who have been open to possibilities has been a joy. Helping others along this path is my passion.

Why Not?

As I begin to review the 34 interviews I’ve completed for my book, 50 over 50, I’m seeing what these incredible women have in common. All of them are willing to try new things. They are curious. They enjoy a good adventure.

And they know how to recover from setbacks. One woman had a terrible attempt to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro for her 40th birthday. So she tried again at 50 – and succeeded. Several others were forced out of jobs, only to find something better.

But what struck me about all of them is that, when presented with new possibilities, they all said, “Why not?” As one woman put it, “if I see an open door and it looks reasonable, I walk through it.”

What do you do when presented with a new option? It’s so easy to over-think the situation. It’s so easy to find myriad reasons to not do something. It’s so easy to come up with dozens of reasons to postpone a decision or convince yourself it will never work. Why not?

Saying “why not?” doesn’t have to be as big a challenge as climbing a mountain. One woman who spent many years doing data entry decided to return to work after a lengthy absence. She saw an opening for a home health aide. She had cared for her mother, but had no paid experience in home care. That didn’t stop her. She said, “why not?” and never looked back. She loves her new career and her clients adore her.

Another women decided she needed to step back and enjoy life more. She said “why not?” to the opportunity to move to Florida and live on her boat. She now has a captain’s license and just might open a sailing school.

A third said “why not?” when her husband suggested that their life would be enriched by owning a few alpaca. She’s now one of the top breeders in the country and is starting to sell alpaca products as well.

Why? is a good question too. I’ll save that for another day. For now, start with “why not?” Say it with a little shrug. Envision yourself having already made the choice to try whatever it is.

Why not?

Don’t Give Up Thankfulness

I was sitting in Marble Collegiate Church yesterday listening to the pastor speak about things we should not give up for Lent. Loving others was at the top of his list, followed by thankfulness. Don’t give up thankfulness, he said.

This is not a new message. Many of us keep gratitude journals. One friend writes daily thank you notes to the Universe.

I wonder, though, if this doesn’t become pro forma after a while. Oh yes, we think, I need to get an entry into my gratitude journal. I need to write my note. I need to say thank you. OK – one more thing checked off of my list for the day.

What if we practiced mindful gratitude every day? What if we reflected on all the gifts we have been given and focused on the one that has a special significance in this moment, on this day.

I close my eyes after I make my journal entry and bask in the wonder of each day’s gift. Some days, it’s easy – one thing jumps out at me – a special moment or a kindness or the first crocus. Sometimes it takes a lot of searching to find anything at all. Sometimes there seem to be so many things that it’s hard to single out just one. Reflection helps. Sitting with an idea, a vision, some new thing, brings clarity.

I used to make gratitude lists. Now I focus on that one important thing. I relish the good feelings that one thing brings. I close my journal with a smile.

Don’t give up on thankfulness. It just keeps the good things coming.

Midlife – At the Cusp? A Few Hints.

What happens when, at mid-life, you wake up feeling that there must be something more? Anne’s story provides some clues. Anne went from jet mechanic in the military to legal secretary to sales professional to sales management back to sales professional. In her last career, she was doing recycling – “which is pretty much, you know, what kind of trash can I buy? And now I’m doing technology sales.”

When she “got fed up” with technology sales and was also transitioning through menopause, she walked away from her job and detoured into recycling before moving into technology sales. She said:
“I moved into technology sales because I was ready for a change, but I don’t like it. I find that these kids – and they are – just kids – they’re half my age and they just don’t get it I was taught that when you’re at a job you run it for profit and you follow business ethics and you don’t cut corners. You don’t cut throats, you respect one another. There’s two type of people – there’s the kind – you know, when you walk into a furniture store and they’re all can I help you, can I help you and then there’s the kind of sales person who wants to build a relationship and develop that relationship. These kids don’t get relationship sales. They have this what’s in it for me mentality and I just got fed up with the whole environment. I was just fed up with these whiny, backstabbing kids. They aren’t taught that businesses are run for profit – that you run it as if it’s your own business – they don’t have that mentality. They have a drama queen mentality.”

This might have been a great place to do some research and some reassessment. When you suddenly feel out of place, one first step is to find out more about the people surrounding you. There are excellent resources for understanding Gen X and Gen Y. Are they truly a whiny bunch or do they simply think and express themselves differently? The newest cohorts in the workplace don’t defer to authority the way older workers do. They express their ideas and opinions. They look for ways to improve processes and they move quickly. Perhaps understanding this might have helped Anne.

Reassessment should be part of every life transition. Who are you now? What do you want? Anne did this:

“It was a real journey. Yeah – I really started to look at me as me. I mean, me as a bottom-feeder. You know, I guess I really allowed myself to feel kicked down. It lasted until I decided to get back into technology sales. Which was 13 months. And I don’t know if it was brought on by menopause – I mean, I really and truly don’t what brought that on – or post-menopause.
I didn’t realize that was my next journey – my next transition, if you will. And it was a transition, because I did feel completely kicked down. I read a lot of therapy books. And start seeing a psychologist – a psychiatrist . I mean, literally, to pick myself back up. I’ve spent this whole year reading all kinds of books. I read The Art and Science of Communication: Tools for the Effective Communication in the Workplace by P.F. Perkins – she really did do a good job writing about interracial – or different groups – she writes about working with these young kids, The Last Lecture- everybody knows that was a good book, by Randy Pausch, The Secret – and then I found a really good tape called The Secret Things to God – every Sunday now I’m pretty darned religious. I don’t know that that had popped out, but now it’s back in. Keeping the Love You Find, 7 Habits of Effective People, The Power of Positive Thinking, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Giving the Love that Heals. I mean, I was really kicked down. I really, um – Your Perfect Right, which was an excellent book by Albert Nevins.”

And she found a good therapist:

“When I was growing up – and I’m a 60’s child – late 60’s , early 70’s is when I graduated, and coming from California, Haight-Ashbury – and I know that growing up I’d always heard about a generation gap. Well that’s what I feel I’m caught up in right now. It is a generation gap. And that’s what prompted me to start seeing Dr. B – was that there was such a communication gap between myself and my peers and these younger kids.”

There are great self-help books, excellent therapists, wonderful workshops and brilliant coaches all out there for you. I love Suzanne Braun Levine’s Inventing the Rest of Our Lives. A big portion of my own coaching practice involves working with women at midlife who want to sort out what’s next. As Anne says,

“Let’s just say when you’re kicked down, it’s a a journey to pick yourself back up. It really is. And it’s a lot of self-assessment. And its not so much of looking backwards. Its living in the now and what can I do to adjust to the now.”

Feeling down? Confused? Here are a few resources available to you at www.susanrmeyer.com/free-resources/:

Creating Your Goal Blueprint Part 1: Tips From a Life Architect
Having trouble creating a clear action plan? Visualizing your goals in detail? As a Life Architect, I’ve noticed that a few simple steps can change vague plans into a detailed blueprint, a clear vision of your future, and actionable plans.

Creating Your Goal Blueprint, Part 2: Tips From a Life Architect
Do you create wonderful goals, only to flounder when you try to make them a reality? As a Life Architect, I’ve noticed that this is often true – unless you’ve completed your goals blueprint. Learn how to create a plan to create sub-goals, identify potential obstacles and plan to overcome them to achieve your goals.

Making Your Support Network Work for You
Feeling overwhelmed? Alone? Stressed out? Building and maintaining a good support network will work wonders. Find out how!

Mapping Midlife – The Magic of Friendship
Lucy and Ethel; Rachel, Monica and Phoebe; Betty and Wilma. What do they all have in common? They were – are – lifelong friends. Somewhere out there almost any day you can find a rerun of these great friends supporting each other, sometimes annoying each other, but always there in the end.

Five Easy Steps to Repurpose Your Skills For a New Career
Ready for a new career? Whether you’re re-entering, moving up or moving on, knowing how to repurpose your skills can open new doors. What do you already know that you’re not showcasing?

Look around – most coaches offer free resources; bookstores and libraries are full of books to choose among.

The “secret to a successful midlife transition? Explore, learn, experiment!

Midlife Madness? Musings from the Cusp

What happens when, at mid-life, you wake up feeling that there must be something more? this is Anne’s story. She’s now 54, long-divorced with one adult daughter.

Here’s a short career short synopsis:
From jet mechanic in the military to legal secretary to sales professional to sales management back to sales professional. And there’s a huge difference between managing and being part of a team.

In her last career, she was doing recycling – “which is pretty much, you know, what kind of trash can I buy? And now I’m doing technology sales.”

I got fed up with technology sales. And all of this occurred during my menopause. I’m very serious. All started out at about age 50 – the rollercoaster ride. From a good management position to buying trash to what I’m doing now, which is technology sales.

In technology, recycling is sort of reverse logistics – it’s where I would meet with government – federal and state and I would procure obsolete electronic equipment because there’s a lot of money in electronic equipment. There’s a lot of gold and platinum – they have a value on the market – they’re a commodity. You can’t resell government equipment. You have to break it down into the raw commodities and put it back on the market. Smelt – you know, melt it down so it can be reused. Now on the business-to-business side, which I was not involved in, yes – that’s exactly right – we would broker it out. And whatever was not able to broker out they would strip down.

I moved into technology sales because I was ready for a change, but I don’t like it. I find that these kids – and they are – just kids – they’re half my age and they just don’t get it I was taught that when you’re at a job you run it for profit and you follow business ethics and you don’t cut corners. You don’t cut throats, you respect one another. There’s two type of people – there’s the kind – you know, when you walk into a furniture store and they’re all can I help you, can I help you and then there’s the kind of sales person who wants to build a relationship and develop that relationship. These kids don’t get relationship sales. They have this what’s in it for me mentality and I just got fed up with the whole environment. I was just fed up with these whiny, backstabbing kids. And that’s exactly what – they create drama. But it wasn’t just one company. It’s that – I mean, I’ve had other positions. I’ve some 40, 42, 43 – within this 7 or 8 year stretch – companies that I’ve worked with – these kids – and they are kids – they don’t have what we had. They aren’t taught that businesses are run for profit – that you run it as if it’s your own business – they don’t have that mentality. They have a drama queen mentality.
Well, there’s been a lot written that that generation does things very differently from us.
They do, and I don’t get it. I really and truly don’t get it. It’s a frustration. There is no book out there for our generation to understand their mentality.

I did the recycling thing for a little over a year. And I will share with you that it’s a little like a being a bottom-feeder in the food chain because you’re buying trash. I mean, so it’s like from silk dresses to jeans. I mean, literally skirts and the mentality changed too. I mean, it was like going from queen to the ugly one instead of ugly one to queen.
Humbling. Very humbling.

It was a real journey. Yeah – I really started to look at me as me. I mean, me as a bottom-feeder. You know, I guess I really allowed myself to feel kicked down. It lasted until I decided to get back into technology sales. Which was 13 months. And I don’t know if it was brought on by menopause – I mean, I really and truly don’t what brought that on – or post-menopause.I took the job because I was frustrated with dealing with all these kids and the company was – I mean, it wasn’t – it’s like corporate America is just loaded with these kids, and by corporate America, I wasn’t talking about the Cingulars, the Verizons, the AT&Ts, I’m talking about corporate America. I’m talking about the companies that are going after these young kids so that they can hire them for half of what you or I would get.
Sure – and I get that – but why recycling?

So I didn’t realize that was my next journey – my next transition, if you will. And it was a transition, because I did feel completely kicked down. I read a lot of therapy books. And start seeing a psychologist – a psychiatrist . I mean, literally, to pick myself back up. I’ve spent this whole year reading all kinds of books. I read The Art and Science of Communication: Tools for the Effective Communication in the Workplace by P.F. Perkins – she really did do a good job writing about interracial – or different groups – she writes about working with these young kids, The Last Lecture- everybody knows that was a good book, by Randy Pausch, The Secret – and then I found a really good tape called The Secret Things to God – every Sunday now I’m pretty darned religious. I don’t know that that had popped out, but now it’s back in. Keeping the Love You Find, 7 Habits of Effective People, The Power of Positive Thinking, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Giving the Love that Heals. I mean, I was really kicked down. I really, um – Your Perfect Right, which was an excellent book by Albert Nevins.

When I was growing up – and I’m a 60’s child – late 60’s , early 70’s is when I graduated, and coming from California, Haight-Ashbury – and I know that growing up I’d always heard about a generation gap. Well that’s what I feel I’m caught up in right now. It is a generation gap. And that’s what prompted me to start seeing Dr. B – was that there was such a communication gap between myself and my peers and these younger kids.

Let’s just say when you’re kicked down, it’s a a journey to pick yourself back up. It really is. And it’s a lot of self-assessment. And its not so much of looking backwards. Its living in the now and what can I do to adjust to the now.

I read a book called Parent, Adult, Child – and that’s what – what prompted all this. And I must have been just on my 50th birthday or thereabouts. And I picked it up at a garage sale. And I thought, what a good book. And I guess at that point it was just a turning point for me. And I guess I allowed myself to get kicked down. And you know, the job was not bad – it’s not like I was crawling in trash or anything, but I guess I felt kicked down, because I was feeling – I knew it was trash. It was all about association, if that makes any sense to you. And I mean seriously, if you saw my wardrobe – all silk dresses, and some Cappeli’s – I mean, I’ve got some very nice attire here – to go down to buying trash. And I don’t know if it was the hot flashes, the lack of sleep, I mean, I don’t know if it was the whole pre-menopausal that led me to be fed up with corporate America. I don’t know if it was the body changing that led to this escalation. And I do sometimes think about that. And I wonder if there are any studies on that, because I do know that there are hormonal changes. And I opted to not take any hormones. I refuse. Including that Black Cohash. 100 years ago, women didn’t do anything, so why now? I will not – knowing that my grandmother dies of cancer, my grandfather died of cancer. Nope – I will not subject myself to that.

I think I came to terms with me. I’m finally at peace in my journey of life. I’m finally at the level now that I realize that everything is OK. There’s only so much – you know, you and take on jobs and go to work and come home so unfulfilled or you can just say the hell with it. And I did. When I got out of the recycling I didn’t work for three months. I spent a good month and a half not looking for work – just looking at who am I? And journaling who am I? Where do I want to be in life? What are my goals? And it wasn’t work related goals. You know – do I want to have my house paid? Do I want to take trips? Do I want to take life a little easier now? Now that my child is grown and out of the house. Do I even want to own a house any more? And those are the things I’ve evaluating right now and assessing as far as do I want to sell my home.

And do I just want to – and I’m seriously considering – do I want to just get myself a Winnebago and travel the country. I’m seriously considering it. You know, I’ve got a good 20 years left to work, according to Social Security, if we have it last. And I can pick up little odd-and-end jobs – Walmart greeter, waitress, here and there. And just not have any responsibility. I’ve had responsibility for so many years. I’m to the point in my walk of life where I wonder do I want responsibility any more, other than to myself. And owning a home is a responsibility. Or do I want to be free like I was before I got into the working world? So I don’t know why people ever contemplate whether there would be a journey, cause I’m living it right now.

But I am – because that’s where I am – at that cusp – and I think that’s what it is – a cusp of what direction do I want to go now. I’ve worked almost half my life and do I want to work hard the rest of my life to maintain the lifestyle that I have or do I just want to become free? Because I’m not married, and I have that choice.
How does that effect your going back to sales again?

My heart is not in my job. It truly is not. My heart is really weighing towards selling my home and – and getting a Winnebago and just journeying – just travelling and meeting people. You know – living in these HOA parks and just going from park site to park .site. But what keeps me from doing it are these sexual nuts that are out there these days. We didn’t hear about that growing up. We didn’t have that magnitude. And that’s what preventing me from going forward with this particular goal or journey. I’m not sure that the number of sexual predators has increased, its just in the news more.

And I agree, but what’s the volume? You know, we didn’t have the internet, so we couldn’t see how many sex offenders and my past industry was that I was hooking up ex-offenders on the release program. I was setting offenders free. And they were being GPS tracked. So it really made me aware that we’re not talking, you know, that one in every hundred thousand are criminals. So I think that being exposed to that environment was very surreal to me. And maybe that’s what prompted me to getting kicked down. Being that I was around what I was around. I don’t know – I haven’t dug that deep, I guess. All I know is when I got out of the criminal justice system I got into the trash business. That’s the bottom line. Regardless of whether I was selling or buying or whatever, those were the industries. I got out of the criminal justice business into the trash business industry. And now I’m in the school district industry.

I’m selling software to school districts. I’ve always worked selling to state and federal agencies. I’ve always been in sales. But I’m really weighing this HOA camping business. Winnebago – that’s the deal. And I wish I could find another 50+ year old who would like to take that journey with me and just shrug responsibility other than to ourselves.
I’ll bet you can.

I know I’m at a turning point. And I truly believe I’m at a turning point in my life.
If I could, I would go back to school. I mean, to get a Winnebago with the price of gas being so low and sleeping in the Winnebago you know, and buying food and cooking food on gas or a charcoal grill is very cheap to live. You know, you can live on $15 a day. So it can extend out for a long, long time. To go to school, you have to have thousands of dollars or take out thousands of dollars of loans. And at my age the thought of having $20,000 or $30,000 in notes in front of me – it’s just, no, I don’t want that burden. Ten more years and I can go to college free. Ten more years, but I think they should change that rule and make it in the 50’s. You know how they talk about men having that mid-years crisis and men have it in their late 30’s, early 40’s? Well I really believe that women go through it in their 50’s.

I truly believe it and my friends who are in their 50’s are going through the same kind of change that I am and its an unexplainable change. And its not a physical change. Its more of a whole new mental playing field. Its seeing life from a whole different perspective, a whole different vision.

Can’t Get Out? Don’t Want to Shop? Last-Minute Gift Ideas

I recently got an email saying that my Christmas gift would probably be kind of lame this year because the author was having mobility issues. Well, I’m not having a lot of holiday spirit this year, and it’s supposed to be the thought that counts, so the quality of the gift is really of no concern. The message, though, is worth looking at.

This year, my closest friends and I, having long ago concluded that we have too much stuff, decided to make contributions instead. Although I still harbor a not-so-secret desire to have a bunch of people chip in to send a llama in my name through Heifer International, there are plenty of less expensive options. I asked for donations to Occupy Sandy. One friend wants to put desks in classrooms in Malawi. Another will be receiving a thank you note from the Food Bank.

Habitat for Humanity can always use help. So can Meals on Wheels. The list is endless. One of my favorites is Africa Volunteer Corps. Do a quick search on anything that excites you. Another is Frogs Are Green.

Prefer sending a gift? Amazon is a no-brainer. You can send almost anything – or send a gift card with a suggestion. I’ll take all the Kindle gift certificates I can get, thank you. Or pods for my Keurig. Speaking of beverages, Starbucks is a great one-size-fits-all option. Practically every store has an online option – William Sonoma for the foodie, J Crew for clothing, and thousands more. Look for smaller, local merchants in your area. Shop museum stores. I like MoMa a lot.

Surprise someone with a membership or a sponsorship.

Make something. Bake something. I’ll be making chocolate truffles tomorrow for a select few friends and as a hostess gift.

Create a voucher. For my cousins who have everything they want (and who hopefully don’t follow my blog), I’m creating a voucher for lunch with (and hosted by) me.

Be creative. Get excited. What can you add to the list?