I was having a conversation with a friend the other day who’s going through a divorce.  She’s filled with anger towards her ex.  Whether it’s justified or not, it’s how she feels.  But what I pointed out to her is that this anger that’s raging inside of her is not changing or affecting him in any way.  I mean, it’s not like she made some sort of voodoo doll and was able to cause him some real physical pain (although I’m sure she’d like to.)  The only thing that her anger is accomplishing is making her stress level go up, most likely causing health issues and definitely preventing her from moving on with her life and being happy.

As I’ve begun my journey as a motivational speaker and blogger, I’m coming in contact with many people who are struggling with anger at their significant other, friends, kids, co-workers and neighbors.  And yes, they’re even angry at themselves for choices they’ve made that they deeply regret.  Their thoughts are consumed with how they’ve been wronged and how life is unfair.

Whether it’s trying to understand why a good friend has chosen to walk out of your life, why an ex-spouse continues to try and hurt you or why a family member has said hurtful things, you’ll probably never learn the reason.    You could also be struggling with feeling like an inadequate provider for your family, a “slacker mom” who never does as much as the other moms or poor body image.  The holidays tend to accentuate these feelings as we think back on previous years when things might have seemed better.

Let’s face it, it’s hard letting go of a grudge and equally hard letting go of feelings of inadequacy.   But the old cliché is true – the only person you’re hurting is yourself.  And so I’m asking you to give yourself the most valuable gift you could ever receive this year – acceptance.

Accept that people are making the choices they’re making and that’s there “thing.”  Stop trying to forgive or even understand.  Allow them to go on their way down their own path.  You can’t control them or change them but you canturn the energy inward and make peace with yourself about the situation.

And next, accept yourself.  The idea of “perfection” is imposed by outside people and doesn’t exist.  You’re strong, beautiful and have the power to create the life you want.

Are you ready to be happy?

How the hell did I get to be 50-some-odd years old?! I remember not too long ago where I thought 50 was OLD. And now here I am and….. I don’t feel like how I thought 50-some-odd was supposed to feel.

We’re so hard on ourselves when it comes to aging and, for that matter, a bunch of other stuff.  And it certainly doesn’t help when we have teen-agers pointing out even more deficiencies than we considered ourselves.

Today I’m having a great day – I had a date night with my husband last night, went to a yoga class this morning and had some afternoon delight with said husband (sorry kids but yes, we do indeed have sex!)  But there are other times when I feel exhausted, overwhelmed and emotionally drained from all of the stress and obligations in my life.

And so, while I’m in this good place, I’ve decided to write myself a birthday letter.  I intend to pull it out when I’m 70 and see the advice I gave myself and whether I took it.  I also intend to look at it when I need some reminders about how to be happy and healthy.

Dear Alison,

Another year – time flies.  Hey listen, I know there are times when you don’t think you’ve accomplished enough, don’t look good enough or feel guilty that you haven’t done enough for your kids.  Guess what?  You ARE fabulous not in spite of  being 50 some-odd years-old but because your 50 some-odd years-old.  In case you forget, here are some of the bits of advice you live (or try to live) by:

  • Be passionate about something (or maybe more than one thing.) Advocate for it, fight for it and put your heart and soul into it.
  • Keep dancing whenever you have the chance and hop up on the bar to do it at least once every year.
  • Laugh at people who try to criticize you or bring you down – honestly it will diffuse them immediately.
  • Don’t dwell on friendships that didn’t survive. Take ownership for your part of the demise but then let it go.
  • Exercise your body and mind – A LOT. Learn something new every day.  Don’t be embarrassed to try a new class at the gym (people aren’t really staring at you if you trip.)
  • Consider it a win if you can do something that embarrasses your kids at least once per week.
  • It’s OK to get Botox or Juvederm if you want. If that makes you feel good why not?
  • Make smart healthy food choices but also indulge every now and then. Life is too short not to have a chocolate lava cake.
  • Keep creating your vision boards. You know that you’ve actualized everything you’ve wanted, why stop now?
  • There will be people who don’t like you. It’s OK! Act honorably, respectfully and kind and you’re good.  As long as you can look yourself in the mirror and be proud of who you are there’s no one else that you need to impress.
  • Maintain a stable of good friendships – we always need our girlfriends to lift us up. ????
  • Try something new that’s out of your comfort zone as often as you can. Go to dinner by yourself.  Take a swing-dance class.  Make calls on behalf of a political candidate.
  • Don’t regret the past or fear the future. We can’t change the past and the future will never be as we imagine anyway.
  • Have faith that all your kids will find their way in life. Be OK with the evolving relationship you’ll have with them.
  • Be brave enough to be vulnerable to the people who love you.

Enjoy being 50 some-odd years-old – laugh, love and have wild adventures!

Love, Me

 

 

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Are you living the dream of our forefathers who fought for our freedom?  Maybe freedom meant something very different to them but, for all of us, doesn’t it come down to what it states in the Declaration of Independence – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

My work as a motivational speaker and personal life coach is booming because there are so many people who are not happy with their present circumstances and feel trapped.  They are afraid to declare their own independence!  

In both your personal and professional life, happiness is about having the freedom to live out your dreams.


I learned this professionally many years ago.  I was working for a large corporation and, while I loved my job, I didn’t have the freedom to be with my kids as much as I would have liked nor did I have the opportunity to work with clients the way I wanted to.  I wasn’t living my passion.  After the death of my son to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and the diagnosis of my second son with Intellectual Disabilities, I realized that life is too short not to live as fulfilled and joyously in the present moment as possible.  What I really wanted to do was to create a business where I could share my experiences, help women and their families and, at the same time, be with my kids.  And that’s exactly what I did.

This is the secret of successful entrepreneurs – creating a business that provides freedom as well as profits.

On the personal side, it took a little longer.  I felt trapped in a marriage and unsure how to get out.  I knew that it would financially devastate me but I also knew that it was not a healthy relationship for any of us.  I had “lost myself” and the happy, self-confident person I had once been.  So I finally took the scary leap and declared my independence.  I work with so many women who are scared and unsure what their future would look like.  Is it easy?  No.  In fact, starting over after a divorce was probably the hardest thing I ever had to do with the exception of coping with the death of my son.  But as I sit here today, with five years of perspective, I realize that not only was I worth it, but my kids were worth it.  Yup – they are happier because the tension and unhappiness are gone. 

Today, my life is filled with an abundance of supportive friends, a new husband and two step children whom I adore and a career that I’m passionate about.  

Are you ready to declare your Independence and start living a joyous life?

 

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  • We follow our passion – I’ve often said, follow your passion and the money will follow.  Whether you leave a high-paying corporate job to start a small gourmet cookie company or are a teacher in an inner-city, if you’re doing what you love, you’ll bound out of bed in the morning excited for the day and how you can make a difference. 
  • We’re mentors and mentees – Ask almost any woman who has a successful career and she will tell you that she had a mentor.  The opportunity to learn from someone who’s “been there and done that”  and be coached is invaluable in developing your soft and hard skills.  At the same time, paying it forward and becoming a mentee to someone creates a feeling of personal fulfillment.
  • We network   – I’ve found that networking for men and women is quite different.  Men seem to view it as a sport, never really connecting but rather trying to just accumulate as many connections as possible.  Women collaborate.  We find commonalities and ways in which we can mutually benefit.  We also encourage and learn.  Whether it’s true networking meetings or business groups such as the one I joined, women leave feeling inspired, jazzed and empowered.
  • We keep priorities in order – Every successful woman is multi-faceted.  She’s also a mom, spouse, daughter, friend and community member.  We are, undoubtedly, far better multi-taskers than men and, while that can often leave us stressed, it also enriches our lives.  We know that careers can come and go but spiritual and emotional bonds with friends, children, family and even ourselves, are the basis of who we are.  This keeps everything in perspective for us.
  • We acknowledge failure – The stories of “overnight successes” who failed at something at least 20 times prior are everywhere.  Successful women know that moving forward will require some mistakes along the way and without these missteps, we’d be frozen in place in fear.  Whether we’ve made a mistake on a client’s order, done business with someone who’s screwed us over or miscalculated the viability of our business model, we dust ourselves off and retool.   Women are usually their own worst critics but, once we learn to love ourselves and forgive ourselves, we find peace.
  • Share success and acknowledge others – It truly does take a village to not only raise a child but grow a business.  No one gets to the pinnacle of her success, whatever that is, without people helping us along the way.  Just as a sports team wins together, so does the successful woman.

Regardless of whether you’re an entrepreneur, volunteer or employee, if you’re not happy doing what you’re doing, you will never be truly successful.  GO FOR IT – whatever “it” is!  Life’s too short to not be happy.

Alison Jacobson is a mentor for women in midlife who are ready to get past self-doubts and achieve their goals