We all do it.
We accidentally get routinized. We do the same things, the same ways, over and over again.
On some level, big or small, we feel emotionally dulled, listless, unenthusiastic and we aren’t sure why. It is a real vulnerability as you reach the middle of a lifetime where the “wear and tear” of the decades may have gotten the better of you. In fact, this pattern might be the genesis of the quintessential “mid-life crisis” cliché. True or not, it is a joy-robber.
If you’ve been listening to our podcast “This is Fifty with Sheri and Nancy”, Nancy and I (friends forever) have been peeling back the layers to redefine the middle of life for ourselves (read that as laying out a lot of our most embarrassing issues, patterns and history for ourselves and anybody who wants to listen). Over a year ago, we launched a Quest to make the rest of our dreams come true. We look at our lives like a landscape. A “lifescape”, we have dubbed it, beginning with our pillars, five specific areas that are the vitamins, the building blocks, of an ever expanding dream come true life. Health and Wellness. Spirituality and Happiness. Romance and Sex. Family and Friends. Creativity and Innovation (formerly known as work). What has been instructive is seeing how interconnected all those pillars are for me, for Nancy, and maybe for you too. Happiness is challenged without strong friends and family relationships. Feeling good in your body is related to the joy you feel in romance, which leads right back to your alignment to All. Without creativity and innovation, relationships can get strained as you struggle to understand what you are here to contribute. In other words, if joy is a decision, it gets so much easier to choose joy, optimism, upliftment when you feel good in every pillar. Those pillars are the vitamins and they all matter and you can’t skip one of them.
This week in an effort to keep rising up, we are adding a new pillar to our lifescape. Adventure & Discovery. Not just climbing mountains (though I would dearly love to summit Kili), not jumping out of airplanes (done it and NEVER again) or white water rafting down the Alps (fell out of the boat and conked my head). Not just the daring escapades but a lane much wider and more welcoming. It is about the concept of “new”. The energy of discovery is what we are trying to awaken in our lives. We want to reroute the worn grooves in our neuro pathways, dial up the unpredictable, stir some fresh ideas into the dream pot and by doing that deepen our connection to the visceral feeling of “aliveness”.
To that end, I launched my pillar of Adventure & Discovery by identifying something I have always wanted to do but have never gotten around to.
I want to learn how to chop things — so I can make stuff. Yes, carrots, celery, bell peppers, onions, and so on, with the kind of ease and speed that will allow me to whip up things that make me feel great to eat without always relying on Amy’s vegetarian chili and spinach pizza for a quickly prepared dinner. (Sorry, Amy, just not every night for god sake.) Oh yes, many a cook/friend has tried to teach me over the years how to chop like a pro but without getting serious and continuing to work on the techniques it always slipped away like a feather on the wind. And still the desire would call to me.
I lived in Chicago for over 20 years and vowed to attend the Sur La Table Knife Skills class every time it crossed my mind and it did many times. Year after year after year. And then… I didn’t sign up, I didn’t go. And, but for this discovery business I want to explore, it would be a faint forever feeling of “wish I’d done that”.
But two weeks ago, in the spirit of discovery, I made a decision to book the knife skills class here at the L.A. Farmer’s Market Sur La Table. This time I followed through. I showed up, met my fellow students and my fabulous teacher, Chef Gill, and his cool sous chefs. I was corrected many, many times with kindness and affection but I kept at it. I did everything wrong before I did one thing right. In the end I was one of the least accomplished of all and I cared not one iota.
I took a selfie to capture my emotional state.
Number 1. You can see how happy I am. I learned something new. (Now I can look a big fat green pepper in the eye and know I can make something good looking out of it with a finely honed blade of steel.)
Number 2. I purchased my new 8” Global chef’s knife on the spot because it felt so feminine, looked like a gleaming sword and felt so good in my hand. (I love my new knife and no, they did not pay me to say that.)
Number 3. I met some people in class who seem really fun and smart and enthusiastic. (We may meet for a drink.)
More than all of that, I did what I said I was going to do. I am throwing a hallelujah party just over that. Ten times on Saturday morning I thought about cancelling because there seemed to be more urgent things that needed my time. But I didn’t.
I am a graduate of the Sur La Table knife skills class and it was awesome and I loved every second of it and I’m still vibing over the whole thing days later.
Our original pillars — health, spirituality, friends and family and all the rest are the vitamins of a healthy, joyful life and now I see there are some minerals too like the energy of adventure and discovery. And that can mean anything. Learning about wine, speaking French, hitting the steps of Machu Picchu, knitting a scarf, playing the ukulele, practicing Kundalini yoga, attending the symphony — it doesn’t matter what it is as long it is new to you.
Good for the brain. Good for the heart. Good for the soul. Good for Us.