This Musquee de Provence pumpkin that I grew last year is somewhat symbolic for me, as it represents many things I hold dear:
Healthy food, lifestyle, the beauty of nature in the Fall season, honeybees, homemade pumpkin pie, sustainable agriculture, the Thanksgiving holiday (my favorite)….
The pumpkin also evokes the Cinderella story.
I'm not in search of a handsome prince—although I will not object if the right one comes along—but I'm never content to settle for the status quo of a situation. Like Cinderella, I fulfill my duties but I am always open to finding new opportunities for growth and contribution.
The big difference between Cinderella and me is that I've never waited to be rescued by external forces. I've always worked to be proactive to grow, evolve and move forward in my life. Although I don't believe in magic, I do believe that when we have the right motivation and are open to the possibilities, that doors will open when, and as, we take action.
I tend to live my life in the present, rather than looking back often at past memories. It's hard to believe I'll turn 52 in a month. Seems like just a few months have passed since my 30th birthday.
For me, age has always been just a number. Just an arbitrary marker, nothing that has defined me. [I suppose one reason for that might be that I was always a year younger than everyone in my grade at school. That happens when you start first grade at age 5. When you're the youngest kid in your class, you try to play down your age.]
I have always enjoyed my birthdays and I've said repeatedly (and truthfully) that every year of my life has been better than the previous year. There isn't enough money in the world to convince me to return to my 20s or 30s or 40s.
I truly believe that every day, I am in the place and state I'm supposed to be in for whatever lesson I need to learn or experience I need to have to move forward in my life.
But I also like to think about the future and my path to getting there. So, as I approach my 52nd birthday in late November, it's time to embark on my annual visioning exercise.
I always like to spend my birthday month envisioning where I'm going next, thinking about what I want to accomplish in the next year, what I've accomplished in the past year, and so on.
November is actually a great month for visioning. It's less frenzied than December, when I've always been busy with year-end legal deadlines or end-of-semester grading on top of holiday festivities.
My birthday falls either the week of Thanksgiving or the week after. I use the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to solidify my November visioning efforts and create a framework to use in December when I start to really plan for the next year.
6 in 30
Related to my visioning activities, I have six priorities for the month of November.
Continue to emphasize eating a wide variety of real food, prepared at home from scratch. Real food will always be a priority for me. Hippocrates said:
“Let thy food be thy medicine.”
Real food has been at the centerpiece of my lifestyle since childhood and I'm reaping the benefits at middle-age. None of the health problems that plague so many people these days.
November priority is to ramp up my exercise and outdoor physical activity.
I slacked off way too much from August through October. 4 courses, 4 preps (2 or which are new or essentially new) has led me to push exercise off the agenda on far too many days. Even though I know how important exercise is to being efficient and at the top of my game when I'm pulled in many directions.
For the past 5-7 years or so, I've made it a practice to run on my birthday for at least as many minutes as my age. Example: 49th birthday, run at least 49 minutes non-stop on my birthday. I've always met or exceeded that goal.
In 2014, that means I will run 52 minutes nonstop on my birthday. I'm not where I need to be to do that right now, so I have 4 weeks to prepare to achieve that milestone.
Engage in my daily visioning practice to consider what's next in my life.
What do I want to do and be and accomplish over the next year? The next 5 years? Where do I want to go?
Since I tendered my resignation letter to Samford on August 15, the door is open for many new adventures. I am open to exploring a variety of opportunities and it's time to start identifying what some of those opportunities may be.
November is when I focus on the future and the steps I need to take to get on that path.
It's been a grueling semester at Samford with the teaching and service load I've had but I am determined to finish strong as we move into the final 4 weeks of the academic term.
I will deliver excellent learning experiences to the students in my classes.
Publish and Promote
I will proofread the final manuscript and layout for my ebook, 7 Days of Real Food. I will publish it and promote it. And I can use my Facebook promotion strategy and tactics as the basis for covering Facebook marketing in Social Media Practices class.
I'll also continue to write and publish daily blog posts on at least one of my websites.
And I will finish the first draft of my manuscript on the path to happiness. Ideally, I'll have it ready to publish in December.
The 6th priority for November is to have fun. I love the Fall season—the weather, the decorations, the food.
I love most of what I do each day, but I don't always take time to stop and think about that.
And I haven't been taking time to do things fun like just shuffling around in the leaves, taking in the colors, photographing the changing seasons, hiking, visiting with neighbors.
Time to Get To It!
Do you do anything special around your birthday to celebrate? Do have a visioning weekend or month like this?
I'd love to hear how you think about where you are in your life and what's coming next. Leave me a comment! I'd love to start a conversation about this.