I turned 40 this year. Gulp. The middle age stage. My wrinkles are forming a map of my expressions. The grey is shading my temples. My left knee aches when I try to run. Sigh. It’s just all part of the deal.
But more than noticing my physical aging, this birthday pushed me to assess my rhythms. I paused. I reflected. I realized I had slowed my capacity for learning new stuff.
So, just before January 2018 hit me with the potential of resolutions, I started a #leaveroomfornew 30 day challenge on Instagram. It was life changing. Forcing myself to learn new stuff, on a bunch of levels, left me with three valuable threads of life-long learning lessons.
There’s power in 10 minutes
My friends call me a coper. A trooper. “Hope rises above and overcomes challenges.” This is great, until there are too many challenges piling up and … I crash.
In the past month, I’ve discovered a lifesaving mindfulness habit that only takes ten minutes. Yes, sitting and meditating for ten minutes (early in the morning) creates a space to reflect on how I’m acting as a parent, partner, co-worker and ultimately how I treat myself. It sets my day up for being open to the new. I’ve explored oodles of apps and tools to support this practice. Calm.com stands out as simple and inspiring. Tamara Levitt’s sweet voice lulls me into the chillest space ever.
Step into Kidspace
I’m a parent. I’m an adult. I work. I pay bills. But turning 40 doesn’t mean I have to stop playing. I realized that even though I look older on the outside, it doesn’t mean I have to give up my kidspace inside. You know, that space where you’re able to flex your imagination and creative ideas come spurting out impulsively. My kids and play advocate friends have been encouraging me to take up drawing (and not slam the pencil down when the drawing comes out like a scraggy stick person), dress up and be kind to myself when I take on new creative projects. In the wise words of my 9 year old, “ Mummy, you always encourage us to be creative and try new things. Even if your creation looks weird and wonky, it still works all those muscles. And it’s all yours.” Learning how to play again fills my spirit gas tank.
Less talk. More Listening.
I have spent a lot of my life until this point talking and writing. In my 40th year, I’m nudging myself to wrap my head around the power of listening—to what’s being said and the unsaid truths in between the words. It’s a very cool place to sit and learn. And guess what? My ten minute sit in the morning helps with this listening stuff too.
I have found there’s oodles to glean in a work context (all that body language), marriage, parenting, not to mention the huge amount I’m able to learn about myself and what I haven’t made time to look at yet.
I think I’ll be learning this skill till I’m a very old woman. It’s hard work.
What are you open to learning? I can’t recommend the #leavingroomfornew Challenge enough. If you’re 10, 40, 60…there’s always room for new. Give it a whirl. What do you have to lose?
Hope Paterson blogs at Mama Hopey: Where Ideas Come to Be Nourished.