“It is what it is.”

Wait! There’s more to the “story”!

How many times have you heard someone say “It is what it is”? Countless times? That’s pretty much true for most of us.

So…what does “It is what it is” mean to you? While I know what it means to me — I’ll get to that shortly! — I decided to Google the idiom and found that some folks feel very strongly about this little phrase!

In a 2015 article on inc.com entitled The Stupidity of ‘It is what it is…’ author Peter Economy (Is that a real last name??) declared that “It is what it is is especially damaging when used to frame a response to a problem…an admission that the problem is too hard…This all too common phrase has no place in the lexicon of leaders who rely on the intellectual, emotional and creative power of their people.”

Okay Peter, you’re right to a point. However, let’s not just say “It is what it is” and leave it at that. Instead, let’s say this…                                     

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Now that is about acknowledging the reality of a situation and then making a conscious choice about how that reality will impact us and what we are going to do about it!

Case in point: I’m 70 now. (Yes, indeed, it is what it is!)  And…I choose not to bemoan the fact that I’m not younger. I choose to embrace the fact that I’m still waking up in the morning, have people to love, and can still make a contribution to this world. I choose to accept responsibility for my attitude…and I choose to be an optimist.

It is what it is, my friends!

Toto, We’re Not In Kansas Anymore…

And that could be a GOOD thing!

Dorothy 2 with borderHow many times have I seen The Wizard of Oz?  Too many to count! Many lessons could be learned from that enduring old movie. Today I’m thinking about how Dorothy’s “We’re not in Kansas anymore” observation applies to those of us at 70 years old – or older – now.

Not so long ago being 70 often meant watching the world pass you by. It doesn’t have to be that way! Today at 70 we can choose to be a part of the world around us…and be happy and content. While the media and even some of our contemporaries might suggest that folks our age are depressed and lonely, thankfully that is often simply not the case.

An article in The Guardian entitled Could your 60s and 70s be the best decades of life? shares great insights. For example, “Research suggests that…sixty-five to 79 is the happiest age group for adults…” Is that not a “delicious surprise”?!?

This article also quotes Monica Hartwell, 69, as saying, “The joy of getting older is much greater self-confidence…It’s the loss of angst about what people think of you: the size of your bum or whether others are judging you correctly.  It’s not an arrogance, but you know who you are when you’re older and all those roles you played to fit in when you were younger are irrelevant.” Such liberation! I love it!

Will all of us in our 70’s be traveling, running marathons, or creating unbelievable adventures? No. The lives we create in our 70’s will be as diverse as the lives we created in our younger years. Each of our journeys through the 70’s and beyond will be both personal and unique. What’s really important is that we surround ourselves with kindred spirits – people who share our perspectives, interests and values. And don’t forget. Even if we can’t get “out and about” to do that, we can connect with those kindred spirits virtually…like we’re doing right now, “as we speak”!

No, we’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re not 40 or 50 or even 60 now. However…we can choose to be joyful and grateful…and embrace life with a positive spirit!  Let’s view our 70’s as an interesting new beginning.

In the words of an old Swedish proverb, “Those who wish to sing always find a song.”

So…let’s find our songs!

Shhh…What’s that quiet voice whispering to me??

Oh! That’s my intuition!

Clouds Hope IntuitionWhether we describe it as a passing thought, a hunch, nudge, a gut feeling, a sensation or a sixth sense, my guess is we have all at one time or another heard a little whisper – a “secret voice” – telling us that something was right…or it was wrong. Maybe we listened. Maybe we didn’t.

A really simple example comes immediately to mind.  Were you ever about to say something when a little voice inside your head told you not to say it? That has happened to me many times over my lifetime!  Sometimes I listened to that little voice. When I didn’t, I usually regretted it.

In any event, what I’m describing is our intuition, our “inner wisdom” that can give us a sense of direction. Oxforddictionaries.com defines intuition as “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.”  I do like that definition!

In a HuffPost article entitled 10 Things Highly Intuitive People Do Differently, Sophy Burnham, author of The Art of Intuition, defines intuition as “the subtle knowing without ever having any idea why you know it.” I like that definition even better. Sounds like an “Aha!” moment to me!

Perhaps you’ve read or heard this wonderful poem entitled The Voice by children’s author Shel Silverstein.

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you – just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.

I think Mr. Silverstein is encouraging us to listen to our intuition and let it help us make choices that are right for us…not right for someone else.

Let’s take up that challenge! We’ll start with an open mind, listen with our heart, pay close attention to our “secret voice,” and then trust ourselves to make good choices.

Are ya with me??

Are you like Tigger…or maybe more like Eeyore?

And…who are the other characters in YOUR Hundred Acre Wood?

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When I set out to write this post I simply thought it might be fun to think about Tigger and Eeyore, beloved characters from Disney’s Winnie the Pooh. Little did I know when I “Googled” this seemingly playful topic that so much has been written about the Winnie the Pooh characters!  Some of what’s written is positive…some not so much. And…I had absolutely no idea that the movie Christopher Robin recently opened in theaters, offering us a chance to get reacquainted with Tigger, Eeyore, Pooh and the rest of the gang!

In any event, I will take a light-hearted approach to the oh-so-compelling Tigger or Eeyore question.

Tigger is generally a glass half full type of person – optimistic, happy, energetic, outgoing, and fun-loving. Eeyore, on the other hand, is more glass half empty – pessimistic, gloomy, tired, shy, fearful…and also a very kind soul.  We may see a bit of ourselves in one or even both of them. Or maybe we’re more like one of the other Winnie the Pooh characters?

I found a quick quiz online that helps us discover which Winnie the Pooh character our own personality favors! There are only eleven questions (and you can easily “skip” one ad).  Click here if you’d like to give it a try.  While you may or may not agree with the outcome of the quiz –- Let’s just say I never thought I was like Piglet! –- it is a fun little quiz. Do keep in mind that each character has positive attributes!

Now that we’ve thought about which Pooh character we might be like, here’s another interesting question to ponder. Who are the other “characters” in your very own Hundred Acre Wood? I’ll bet your “world” includes some very interesting personality types. I know mine does! (Hmmm. Is a Negative Nelly the same as an Eeyore…?)

I’ve heard it said that as we grow older we become “more of” who we really are. Whether we’re like Tigger, Eeyore or another Pooh character, we always have the opportunity — the choice really — to interact with the world around us in a positive way. From my perspective, my friends, that is ultimately — always — the best approach!

Would you agree??

Discovering Our Own Unique “Right Life”

So…do the people, places and activities in your life contribute to your happiness and well-being??

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Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

If I read a book and learn something new that I remember for a really long time, then reading that book was worth my time.  Reading Finding My Own North Star by Martha Beck – which I read at least ten years ago – was definitely worth my time!  In this book Dr. Beck shares her advice on discovering our own unique “right life” – or, as she refers to it, our Own North Star.

Before I get to what I remember most about this book (and please keep reading!), let me share a few valuable insights that Dr. Beck provided. First, none of the individuals that have touched our lives have the ability to control our choices. We do sometimes forget that. Second, accepting impermanence means embracing the world as it is, complete with loss. That acceptance becomes even more important as we grow older. Next, it’s important to “hang out with our favorite people” – our “tribe.” Can’t argue with that!

Now on to my very favorite part of Dr. Beck’s book!  The Lifestyle Profile allows us to plot along a negative-to-positive continuum how our body reacts to the people in our lives, the activities in our lives, and the places where we spend our time.  I’ve attached a somewhat abbreviated version of the Profile if you’d like to give it a try. Please take a look!

Now, hopefully we inherently know what and who have either positive or negative impacts on our lives. However, seeing that “in black and white” can be eye-opening – at the very least – or even at times alarming.  Right there in front of us, on that piece of paper, we can see where we just might want to make some changes in our life!

All in all, Finding Your Own North Star offers some helpful advice for “turning your life into a work of art.” Just as the “real” North Star up in the heavens helps sailors navigate on stormy seas, our own North Star can help us find our way back “home” when we veer off course, which we sometimes do. Personally, I’ll take all the help I can get!

And our journey continues at the great University of Life!