unprofessional networking

Until the last few years I’ve seen myself as a bohemian mother, artist, memory maker and caretaker/gatekeeper of developing minds. I’ve viewed my life’s work as the unrealized career of a woman who struggles with organization and focus…not anymore. Actually now that I even saw myself like that, it seems like total bullshit.

I thought as my children grew up that they might be disappointed in me that I didn’t have a traditional career. Talk of the other moms who were doctors, lawyers or therapists sometimes resulted in a sense of less than for me. I assumed my children would all want the total opposite of my life—high powered jobs with days spent kickin’ ass and taking names. Not days filled with kids, carpools, chores, errands, creative work (rarely sold), homemaking and hanging out with friends.

I know many families are unable to have a parent at home, a luxury indeed (especially regarding health insurance). However, increasingly folks find themselves in work/home situations that require a lot of strategy to keep things humming along. Commuting to other cities during the week, working remotely, running home businesses or freelancing are such common scenarios of modern life.

Now, five months into the identity shift of my empty nest, I thankfully see those family years so differently. Creating a home, trying to model a healthy marriage, nurturing my community, making art and being the historian-in-chief was an education deeply connected to my values and interests, there wasn’t a moment wasted (OK, maybe a few).

My years of unprofessional networking created my superpowers.

The world should watch out for parents who stayed home to raise their families. We maybe don’t have the references, titles or 401Ks that our peers have. However, we’re digitally savvy, well practiced in the art of endless diplomacy, good listeners and mighty grateful when our efforts are acknowledged. And now with the dailyness of busy family life behind us, we can do damn near anything.

homesteading my psyche

At fifty-two, I feel betwixt and between, no longer young and not yet old. Looking back I can see my life as remarkably valuable training and experience. To hell with regrets. I can’t change a damn thing. I know myself much better in midlife and that’s truly a gift. I also know I still have a lot to learn.

Like my prairie ancestors, I have an inherent longing now to settle or “prove up” one hundred and sixty acres. A sort of cognitive Homestead Act of my midlife psyche. A bit of a gamble, rife with elements of uncertainty, the heady buzz of adventure and the resilience to know I can handle whatever comes my way.

Funny to think about cognitive growth using these terms. However, metaphorically, it works pretty well. Claim my section. Select the crop.  Prep the land. Plant the seeds. Irrigate. Fertilize. Monitor growth. Harvest. Review.

These 3 simple questions help me often and perhaps might’ve helped my prairie ancestors as well. The trick is being able to actually answer them.

What’s working?

What’s not?

What’s next?

Homestead Act of 1982 “…and that such an application is made for his or her exclusive use and benefit, and that said entry is made for the purpose of actual settlement and cultivation, and not either directly or indirectly for the use of any other person or persons whomsoever…he or she shall thereupon be permitted to enter the quantity of land specified.”    

growth mindset vs. fixed mindset

brain changes carol dweck lisa lillibridge

When I read through these traits I was struck by a few things.

1. I’m so grateful to know that a fixed mindset doesn’t have to remain FIXED.  Think about it?  FIXED means unchangeable.  WHO POSSIBLY WANTS TO HAVE A BRAIN THAT IS UNCHANGEABLE?

2. I get really tired of people throwing up their hands and saying, “that’s just the way I am, the way I learn, talk and so on…so get used to it”.  No. I won’t, because it’s untrue.  However, this statement is—we have to believe that change is possible or real growth is way less likely to occur.

Neuroplasticity allows our brains to create new pathways by doing things differently.  It isn’t simple, I understand. However, the good news is that meaningful change in our lives is BOTH very difficult AND very possible.  One of the growth mindset traits: sees effort as necessary.

“Neuroplasticity refers to the potential that the brain has to reorganize by creating new neural pathways to adapt, as it needs.”    —http://www.whatisneuroplasticity.com/

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT NEUROPLASTICITY

“The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile”

― Tal Ben-Shahar

(Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment)

It’s so necessary to feed our brains novel experiences, thoughts and ideas for growth and it sure makes life a helluva lot more interesting.  Don’t you think?

Try something new today.  Your brain will thank you.