Making Friends with my Inner Critic


This morning, my life was full of argument with my Inner Critic.  We all have one (at least one), that inner voice whose job it is to deflate our enthusiasm, remind us of our failures, call out each mistake we’ve ever made and track the tally of our short-comings.  My Inner Critic’s name is Cathy.  I’ve known her for a long time and we’ve had many heated arguments, just like the one we had this morning.

Her criticism this morning was about my business ventures.  It included the usual litany of reasons why I cannot accomplish what I’m intending to do.  She reminded me how old I am, how insufficiently tech-savvy I am for today’s business environment, how difficult it is to get the time and attention of those who might help my business grow.  She chided me for even thinking I could succeed.  She’s like that.

I get why she’s with me – we’re wired to have an inner voice that pulls us back from the brink of danger, who sees all that might go wrong and prevents us from taking that leap of faith.  She’s got a job to do, and over the decades, she’s done it well but this morning was different.  We came to a new understanding of each other today.

I do imagery.  What I mean by that is that I’m a certified Interactive Guided Imagery practitioner and have been for decades now.  So, when I say “I do imagery” it simply means I use imagery with clients AND I use imagery myself. As a result, many of my “images” – characters in my own story – are very familiar to me.  Cathy is one of those characters; she’s been an active voice with a name and a face for a very long time thanks to my vivid and therapeutic imagination. 

Today however, after a couple hours of being irritated at each other, Cathy followed me to yoga class.  During the ending meditation, she showed up and peeked out from the shadows of my brain. There she stood, a five-year-old with pig-tail braids, wearing a fall-plaid jumper and saggy socks.  She was crying. So, I did what any compassionate adult would do, I folded her into my arms and she sat there, cuddled in my crossed-leg pose and melted into my imagination.

As it turns out, Cathy, my Inner Critic is also terrified of life. She’s risk-averse, afraid of heights and would never be the first to raise her hand in class.  She does keep me from danger’s door but she can also get in the way when I need to move forward and say YES to what’s next in my life.  This morning, she gave in.  She let me cradle her with all her fears while we made our way through a Loving Kindness Meditation guided by the yoga teacher.  She is after all, a five-year-old.  I have nothing to fear from her. She only wants what’s best for me, but her judgment is flawed; she’s a kid and to her everything looks scary!

What’s your Inner Critic like?  Have the two of you met? Do you know why that voice in your head is always telling you, “NO, you can’t do that!” – perhaps it isn’t just to bring you down, deflate your enthusiasm and make you feel unable, unworthy, insufficient. You are enough, you know – and sometimes you need to remind your Inner Critic of that.  Today I did.  Will you?

Caregiver Conversations


What do caregivers want to talk about?

Being a family caregiver touches every aspect of your life. So, when caregivers get together to talk, the questions go in every imaginable direction!

In one conversation we might talk about money because the cost of caregiving can be astounding! And, it can be hard to calculate when you consider the time a caregiver may spend looking after the needs of their loved-one.  It isn’t just the hands-on care…

You have to consider the countless hours on the phone with insurance companies, home-medical supply companies or home-care agencies. There’s the time it takes to set up Mom’s medications or calendar-out Dad’s physical therapy visits.  And, don’t forget the regular arguments that are predictably inconvenient when you’ve made the time to help your loved one shower and they’re “not interested” just now!

All that time accumulates to money – time away from your job, time away from your kids, time away from your life!  So you begin to calculate what it might cost to have someone else do some of the work. And that means, you’re balancing what you spend on care against your earnings or, if your loved-one has money of their own, what you can afford to invest in care services vs. just doing it all yourself!

These are hard decisions.  Especially now, with COVID-19. Do you want strangers (visiting caregivers) in your house (or your Mom’s house, or your Dad’s apartment, etc.) especially if they’ve been in 20 other houses this week alone?  And what about consistency – will you get the same caregiver for each visit?

Generally, that answer is maybe – unless you’re both the customer and the employer, which adds to your administrative responsibilities.

There’s no one, right answer to all this confusion. Every caregiving situation is different. But, it helps to talk about it.  It helps to learn that others are in similar situations, and to hear what they’ve tried.  It is useful to discover what’s possible, where you might turn for assistance and who is a reliable source of help.

That’s what caregivers talk about when we get together – and that’s just ONE topic we might encounter.

What’s on your mind about caregiving?
We all need support, acknowledgement, and fresh ideas! Happy to have you join in. Each time we’ll pick a fresh topic, explore it briefly, entertain questions and concerns and help you see that you’re not alone it all this! And in every session, we’ll explore self-care because it is absolutely essential to YOUR well-being as a caregiver!

Join us for Caregiver Conversations – the first Sunday of every month at 2 pm, via Zoom. To contact me for a Zoom invitation, just message me with your email address!

Labor Day


It’s Labor Day Weekend and the dictionary offers this definition of labor, “work, especially hard physical work” as well as the side-note that we describe the human transition of childbirth as labor. Well, if childbirth isn’t hard physical work, I don’t know what is!

So, I’ve begun to consider what “hard work” I’ve been up to this summer, since school ended in May and summer cruised by bringing us to this beautiful weekend leading into fall.  What has been my “hard work?”

Well, a couple of thing come to mind:

  • I’m learning to create interesting, productive online courses (this is hard work!)
  • Along with each online course there must be useful, instructive, and elegant tools – fortunately, I have help with these, as I am not a designer – but they too, have been my work.
  • I’m learning to produce videos and while that sounds easy, it is more complex than I expected, and ultimately, a good bit of work!
  • I’m formulating a theory about the “Arc of Life” and soon, that will become at least an essay, maybe a book, so I guess that counts as work too.
  • I’m building an office (fortunately, I have a real carpenter doing the heavy lifting) so that when we can once again be in each other’s company, I have a place for welcoming clients!

But, while all these projects feel like work, and they certainly occupy my time and energies, they are not the only labor I find myself engaged in.  I’m also trying to delve into the literature and discussions of racism which envelope our community today.  I’m digging into three books this fall (as if one would not be sufficient). . .

  1. Dying of Whiteness by Jonathan Metzl, MD, who postulates that the right-wing policies that resulted from this white backlash put these same voters’ very health at risk—and in the end, threaten everyone’s well-being. I can see it happening, even in my own family – a curious phenomenon!
  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo a sociologist who challenges the common definition of racism, “intentional acts of racial discrimination committed by immoral people” and offers instead Omowale Akintunde’s definition to her readers, “Racism is a systemic, societal, institutional, omnipresent and epistemologically embedded phenomenon that pervades every vestige of our reality.” Not every Black critic appreciates DiAngelo’s writing, but for most newly-woke Whites, it has moved onto the Required Reading List this summer.
  • I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown, a New York Times bestseller that offers an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female and explains how white America’s love affair with “diversity” so often falls short of its ideals.

For myself, an older White woman, this reading is becoming my real “labor” of 2020. It involves discovering on a deeper level what I believe about myself and my relationships, how I move in the world and respect (or fail to respect) other people, and what lies ahead as a realistic role for me in a changing world that embraces anti-racism and strives for equity and justice in our communities and society at large. 

What’s your labor like right now?  Have you found a “labor of love” worthy of your time and effort? Will it touch your life deeply? Will it change how you think, act or respond to others.  I hope so.

Loving Kindness Meditation


This morning I revisited a practice I used to do daily.  I can’t give a clear reason for why I stopped, but I got out of my routine and sooner or later, abandoned the practice – too bad, it was valuable and clearly, given my experience this morning, worth renewing.

The practice is simply the Loving Kindness Meditation. I perform it while walking. This morning was blessed with glorious weather, bright sunshine, and a slight breeze – a perfect time for a walking meditation.  The Loving Kindness Mediation has four phrases or affirmations which can be used in a variety of ways.  There are several versions of these phrases, but the ones I use are:

  • I am Safe
  • I am Happy
  • I am Healthy
  • I live at Ease

When I repeat these as a walking meditation, I do so using the cadence of my step to keep me breathing slowly and steadily, and to focus on the phrases in the order I’ve listed them here.  Given that I was intentionally taking a 20-minute walk, I was able to concentrate on each of the affirmations for about five minutes. 

Here’s how I focus my attention when I do this walking meditation. . .

I am Safe. . . and then, I list the many ways in which I experience safety in my life – easily a dozen or twenty ways come to mind. Some of them include:

  • I am Safe in my neighborhood
  • I am Safe in my marriage & relationships
  • I am Safe in my home
  • I am Safe in my automobile
  • I am Safe in my work-life

I realize even as I write them here, how very privileged I am to be able to say each of these affirmations and mean them – my life is amazingly safe, secure and anxiety free as a result.

I am Happy. . .again, how many reasons can I list for my current happiness? A few that came to mind this morning included:

  • I am Happy with my friendships
  • I am Happy with my progress to build an office in my house
  • I am Happy with my study plan for the upcoming board exam

You get the gist, I have much to be happy about and I am one who believes that happiness is largely an inside job – we choose to be happy by seeing our circumstances as full of possibilities we can work with and improve, rather than seeing ourselves as the victims of circumstances.

I am Healthy. . .when I get to this phrase, I have a lot to list, some of my morning’s iterations were:

  • I am Healthy because I sleep soundly and solidly
  • I am Healthy because I choose healthy foods
  • I am Healthy because I have fresh water to keep me hydrated
  • I am Healthy because I embrace exercise and movement (which isn’t always true, but I need to hear myself say it and begin to make it my truth!)

I live at Ease. . .this phrase and the affirmations that followed it this morning really caught my attention. I do live at ease. I have so many reasons to be grateful for the ease (peacefulness, calm, tranquility) in which I live my life. This made me realize, especially in this summer of turmoil, how very privileged and blessed I am in life.

Next time you’re out for a walk, consider turning it into a walking meditation. Employ the four simple affirmations of the Loving Kindness Meditation and see how just a 20-minute stroll can change your outlook on life.  If you’re on a longer walk, you can extend the meditation to include other people, using each phrase as a blessing of sort.

Allow a person you care about to float into your mind. Simply change the pronoun to match the person you have in mind and repeat:

  • May he/she/they be Safe
  • May he/she/they be Happy
  • May he/she/they be Healthy
  • May he/she/they live at Ease

You can go through this cycle for any number of people who come to mind and, if you’re feeling particularly courageous, you can invite thoughts of people who are particularly difficult in your life. Taking the time to “bless” those who are not necessarily part of your close-knit tribe can be a life-changing experience; I urge you to give it a try!

I didn’t sign up for this!


Have you heard yourself make that declaration?

What was it you did not believe you volunteered to take on?  For many of us that phrase is used when a relationship gets stressful.  Even when it is someone you love, when the demands and expectations of your role as friend, family member, co-worker or even harder, caregiver, it is easy to collapse under the load and forget that at some point, you did indeed sign up for the trial and tribulation you’re facing!

What? When did I sign up? Was I drunk? I’d never agree to this!

Well maybe you don’t remember. Or, maybe YOUR understanding of how the future would unfold didn’t include any hardship, upset, misunderstandings or physical change (like illness, disability, or mental health challenges).  Your crystal ball didn’t show you that sometimes, we’re called upon to figure it out on the fly – to struggle to be our “best selves” amid the chaos and conflicts that are created within relationships when we’re pressed to our limits.

Consider this, until this point, you may not have even known what your limits were!  Had you known, you might have built a boundary, instead of obligingly saying YES every time the question came your way, “Can you do this, too?”  None of us knows what will be asked of us in this life. We don’t know what hard times will come our way, how relationships may change, roles may stretch and even snap.  But knowing your limits is important information because now, instead of saying “I didn’t sign up for this!” you can instead say, “Okay, I can help, but here’s the limit of what I can do. . .” That’s a boundary. We all need them to stay safe, to stay well, to manage our stress and to define who we are and who we’re willing to be.

I’ve said those words, “I didn’t sign up for this!” And then, I realized I had indeed done just that. 

  • I didn’t sign up for a husband with Alzheimer’s disease – but I did take a marriage vow, “in sickness and health”  — so, apparently I did sign up for this.
  • I didn’t sign up for early retirement – but, I did make the decision that I’d help my husband age in place, if that could be humanly possible, and it is, so I do – hmm. . .looks like my choice again!
  • I didn’t sign up for COVID-19 (right, me and 328 million other Americans – and billions more around the world) – but we did choose world-wide travel freedoms, open boarders, oops – looks like our preferences brought us a virus, as well as a modern, well-traveled, lifestyle.

So, when you catch yourself about to say (often in anger), I didn’t sign up for this, consider, it is likely you did with the choices and preferences that preceded the event by months, years, even decades.

A wise mentor taught me this question – “What part of this is mine to own?” If you take that question to heart, you begin to realize that anything that brings you grief, that adds to your stress, that makes you angry or causes you upset, YOU had something to do with it.

We cannot change the world until we are willing to change ourselves. Now might be the perfect time to examine the choices and decisions that got you here – maybe they were GOOD decisions, yet the outcome still surprises or disappoints you. Maybe they were bad decisions, and you’re living with the consequences of your own poor (or premature) judgment.  Whatever you discover in your honest questioning, you still can change – both yourself and your outcomes.

You’re still able to make fresh choices – so, look around and, if you feel you didn’t sign up for the circumstances you find yourself in, perhaps it is time to chart a fresh course and be the change you want to see in your world!

Change is good! Hey, I’ll even go first!

COVID-19, it’s here to stay. . .


It is hard, isn’t it? It is difficult to isolate for yet another month. We’re headed into our fourth month of this uncomfortable, uncommon, and unfamiliar situation and it is taking its toll on us.

CNBC reported,  that as of “Wednesday, the nation’s seven-day average of daily new Covid-19 cases was 31,172. This number has increased more than 34% compared with a week ago, according to the analysis of Johns Hopkins data. Cases are growing by 5% or more in 31 states across the U.S., including Arizona, Florida, Texas, and California.”1

It’s hard to be careful every single day. It’s challenging to remember your mask every time you run into a Caribou for coffee or dash into Target for toilet paper. But, it is still important; as important as it was on March 18th, when we all got sent home.

So what do you do with all the whining that happens in your head?  The voices that say, “But, it’s the fourth of July, I’ve got to celebrate!” – but do you?

If you don’t know (personally) anyone who’s had the virus, it is really easy to thing it has gone away! If it hasn’t hit close to home or seriously harmed anyone in your family, it’s dangerously alluring to imagine that you’re immune. It can’t happen to me, can it?

It can happen. It is happening.

MPR news quoted Kris Ehresmann, Minnesota’s infectious disease director, noting that our early sacrifices to limit COVID-19’s spread “will be undermined if we don’t get cooperation from all Minnesotans, especially younger Minnesotans, who are most active and social. . .We desperately need younger Minnesotans to take it seriously.”2

But all of us have experience with acting against our own best intentions. Speaking purely for myself. . .

  • I know I should choose the salad over the donut, but sometimes I just cave-in to the gooey satisfaction of a salt-sugar-fat hit and all that it does to my brain chemistry.
  • I know I should be getting up off my butt and be exercising every day, but days go by and I’m tired of walking around my own neighborhood, so I binge-watch TV instead. 

It is just so easy to quit on ourselves, on our own resolve to act wisely on our own behalf, and on behalf of others.  It’s easy to give up, to cave-in rather that give each action, each choice-point, our best.

I can’t speak for you, but I know that for me, my self-righteous-indignation kicks into high gear when I notice how many people in the grocery store haven’t bothered to bring, let alone wear, a mask.

Or when I do venture into a public space like a restaurant, I see families who barely bother to corral their members as they wander mindlessly close to me as if the words “social distancing” form a phrase they’ve never heard before.

It is hard not to be judgmental; to give into the ever-so-human tendency to say to myself, “I’m right – they’re wrong!” But that’s definitely NOT the person I want to be. So, what to do with the messages that swirl in my brain and defy my best intentions to be my higher self?  Well, I’ve come upon two strategies that seem to be working for me:

  • I repeat the mantra, “They’re doing the best that they can!” – (just as I am) and offer grace.
  • I turn my attention toward the many things going on around me that are amazingly well done (and there’s always something to notice that warms my heart and encourages my soul).

What will you do to keep on going, to be your best self, to be true to your values and your highest intentions? It is a daily, conscious choice to live your best life, especially in the midst of COVID-19. Will you choose to do it with me?


  1. Kim, J. (2020). Record spikes in U.S. coronavirus cases push up hospitalization rates in 16 states.
  2. MPR Staff (2020). Latest on COVID-19 in MN: Number of confirmed cases climbs past 35,000.

Best Traffic Jam in the World


Sunday morning, May 31st I went on an errand.  My intent was to follow my heart and bring two simply packed bags of groceries to a middle school in Minneapolis. I had seen the call on social media, for very specific pantry goods, and gone shopping because, that was something I could easily do in my third-ring suburban neighborhood where stores were still standing and open for business. 

I dutifully bought the apples and carrots, the tortillas and rice, the beans and the soup, the box of cereal and the bag of cookies. But the bread was absent from my store’s shelves.  So, I went to a second store and finally, a third in order to find two loaves of bread.

I’m not the sort of person to do whatever social media tells me to do, but this particular week, the request touched my heart.  It was something simple that I COULD do.  I had the resources, I could afford the time, and I could get it done almost before my husband woke up on Sunday morning.

You see, I can’t go out and march for hours of endless protest, even if I might be moved to do that.  I can’t spend all day sweeping up the debris or covering the broken windows with plywood, these are not my skill-set and my arthritis would itself protest.  My path is already determined; I am my husband’s caregiver.  He has Alzheimer’s, and there is no back-up for my role; Managing that work requires most of my time and much of my attention.

But I did make time to go grocery shopping, even though I had to travel to three stores to complete my task.  I did fill my two bags with groceries. I did get up and dressed and checked the delivery address again, putting it into the GPS of my phone.  I wrote my husband a quick note, not explaining myself in much detail, so when he woke and came to his usual chair, he would know I’d be back as soon as I could.

So I drove the 20 miles to my destination, a relatively quiet corner of town where the middle school is situated.  On my way, I passed a burned-out gas station, one I used to visit when I worked in that vicinity, near the Mississippi River Parkway. It made me sad.  As I approached the school’s address, it became clear that I was in the right place, cars were everywhere, lined up for blocks, for miles.  They were filtering through narrow city streets.  Some folks were parking and emptying their cars of groceries, diapers and laundry detergent, to walk the last block or so to their drop-off destination.

I stayed in my car. I followed the orderly line of traffic. I yielded at the intersections to the community members who were directing the cars and the foot traffic for a measure of safety.  I finally got to a place in the street where a small band of volunteers helped me unload my donation. I was amazed by what I saw, thousands of bags of groceries, wheel-barrows filled with laundry soap, red wagons loaded with Pampers.  It buoyed my spirits, lifted me up and carried me all through the day.

In the end, that middle school was able to feed not only its own children (having estimated their need at 85 bags of groceries) but to send hundreds of bags of donated food to neighborhoods across Minneapolis.  I had been part of the best traffic jam in the world, in the midst of a week full of heart-wrenching tumult that had torn our cities apart. The phrase that came to me was, “loaves and fishes.” I felt I had been privileged to be one small part of a miracle.

How can I help?


School is nearly done (my certificate in Integrative Health & Wellness Coaching) and it is time to get out into the world and serve as a genuine, health coach to actual, private-pay clients! It is kinda scary (truth be told) but it is also very exhilarating! I’ve been wondering just what to say to people who might ask what I’m up to, beyond my elevator speech that sounds like this. . .

“I’m Paula, a retired RN and newly-minted Health and Wellness Coach. My business is called Co-Create 4 Life and it serves the needs of caregivers, especially family caregivers. I am a family caregiver myself, so I deeply understand the stresses, emotional turmoil and demands that anyone in a similar role naturally feels. I’m also a researcher, so I know the literature on caregiving which reminds me that one in five of us, caring for loved ones with degenerative neurologic disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, will die before our loved one does. It is the stress that kills caregivers! Knowing this, and so much more about the challenges of the role, I’m committed to serving the needs of family caregivers and even professionals who may need my help. My business focuses on teaching self-care, in keeping with my recent book, Self-Care Strategies for Family Caregivers. I offer one-on-one sessions, group coaching and even a course that follows the key elements of the book available through on-line learning. (as I hand out my card) Know anyone who needs my services?”

What else do I do to launch? Everything imaginable! Anything visible, useful, helpful, and honest. I’m writing this blog, I’m recording Zoom presentations for several audiences, I’m seeking out other speaking engagements (for the in-person future), I’m sharing my tools on coping with COVID-19, and I’m blasting a celebration e-mail to everyone I know. I’m also unabashedly asking my friends for referrals and thanking them profusely when they send someone my way! I’m volunteering my services where the opportunity presents itself and I’m asking for help wherever friends seem to have information or ideas.

It is a special time and it is happening at a very weird slice of American experience, our stay-at-home, isolated from everyone, curious, chaotic time in our shared history. I wish my coaching launch was not concurrent with this uncomfortable time of life, but it is, which tells me it is also the PERFECT time, destined by the Universe to occur right now. 

Sometimes, when the timing seems wrong, the circumstances seem stacked against you, the obstacles loom large and the “yes-buts” are plentiful, it is actually the exact time to stand up, be seen, have courage and do what the Universe has called you to do. I invite you to stand with me!

Normalizing all that’s NEW. . .


Today I listened to Brene Brown’s new podcast, Unlocking Us, available at:

In this initial broadcast she talks about HER discomfort with being “new” at things and this is a sentiment I absolutely share.  I mostly hate being new, unfamiliar and bumbling with technology.  Every semester, there’s been some new technology to master and that has, for me, been the most uncomfortable part of being back in the University as a student. 

Right now, we’re all dealing with being “new” at staying home alone or in the company of our household members and for many of us this is a very uncomfortable new normal.  None of us likes the discomfort that comes with being “new” – we feel embarrassed, incompetent and, unfortunately stuck.  The discomfort of doing new things is, according to Brown, the Secret Sauce of living! She says plainly: “Learning how to stay standing in the midst of feeling unsteady and uncertain – that’s the beginning of courage!”

Her wisdom to us all is:

  • Name the emotional mess we’re all feeling – like shame that I can’t figure out this supposedly simple app, disappointment that my friend didn’t call when she said she would, feeling clumsy and awkward doing yoga over Zoom in my ill-equipped living room.
  • Normalize the feeling/situation – recognize that everyone else experiences the same sorts of chaotic emotions that I’m feeling and give myself (yourself?) a break. Put it into perspective!
  • Reality check your expectations – Oh, I’m NOT going to crush this? Oh, okay.  I’m actually going to suck at it (not something I’m accustomed to!) and yet, getting used to this struggle with “new” reminds me that I’m so totally human. Just like everybody else.

Most of you know, I’m a 5-Type on the Enneagram – a total head-case.  Living in my head has been my life-long endeavor, a pattern I’m struggling to break.  Lately, coaching has been the place where I’ve had the best chance to practice living from my heart (not my head) and as is always the case, it is my clients who teach me exactly what I need to learn. It is for me one more place where I struggle with the feeling of being “new” at things I’d love to say I’ve mastered.  I haven’t.

The future is uncertain (that’s a certainty).  Most of us, me included, are facing a long list of new things. For me, that list of “new” includes building a coaching practice (now that school is over), preparing for the certification exam which means studying all summer, building a new office which requires construction guys in my house and launching a website that really works – at a cost that means, for me, a genuine “gulp-swallow” and trusting the Universe that the pay-off will come. 

I would recommend Brene’s podcast to everyone.  It has (as her books have) helped me figure out what’s really important for me in this new and unusual slice of life.  She reminds us that we’re living in a time that is “harder than we thought” – and for me, just learning to admit that my emotional state is unsettled, in upheaval, unstable and confusing – that’s a lot! it is terribly unfamiliar territory and at some level, we’re all in this together!

Re-discovering Passion


You think by now, I’d have this thing we call passion down pat.  And, it isn’t that I haven’t known passion in my life; I have.  But, I’m finding that passion is different at my age. 

When I was young, passion was all about accomplishment, acquiring “firsts” and doing “better than last time” each time I was invited to put forth my best effort.  In those days, passion seemed to come easily – it was the energy of life that flowed into each new experience.  The first time I spoke before a ballroom full of people and realized they were hanging on my every word – that was intoxicating!  The first time I had my words published and got feedback on the importance of what I’d had to say – amazing!  The first time I was invited to be a keynote speaker and fly to a distant city to open a conference of thousands of colleagues – what a rush!

But, now, passion is harder to come by.  And, what fills the spaces of life is less about passion and more about Zen. Some people would say that passion is bringing your best to each endeavor.  The difficulty comes when life’s endeavors are mostly mundane, like doing laundry, washing dishes, shoveling snow, tending to the cat’s box or taking out the trash.  Those are the every-day, every-week, regularly scheduled and constantly recurring activities of my life now. Along with those are the care-giver chores of seeing to my husband’s health and well-being, getting him to medical and dental appointments, making sure he’s got fresh clothes for each day, assuring his transportation to and from adult daycare, giving his medications, looking at his skin, hauling him to haircuts and making sure he shaves – at least occasionally.  None of these feed passion. Many of them can be done with a sense of calm, confidence, repetition and Zen – wax on; wax off.

So, I’ve begun exploring where my real passion lies, now. It doesn’t lie in fantastic “firsts” like it did in my 20s or 30s.  It doesn’t come from travel and exploration, trying new things and putting myself in unfamiliar places and cultures like I could in my 30s and 40s. And it can’t be found in the excitement of learning new, exotic things anymore.  Of course learning is lifelong, it just isn’t as astounding as it was decades ago; now it is more like growth – shedding an old skin, like a snake and growing a new one.

What are my passions now? Several simple things come to mind:

In each of these, what I notice is that passion is not something I do, not an action I take, but a quiet realization that goodness surrounds me and I am constantly invited to participate in it, to lend my energy in simple, quiet ways – unplanned, often unnoticed and usually imperceptible. But when I give myself to the invitation fully, I am reminded of that youthful passion that fills me with the warmth of connection.

What feeds your passion these days?