Welcome to the Rest of Your Life! …. Staying curious and fascinated with life

This Rambling is filled with questions and not personal commentary. This is the culmination of many of my previous Ramblings and is one of my more personally meaningful Ramblings. I hope you find the questions help create a “Welcome to the Rest of Your Life Road Map” for you (and partner, remember when doing with a partner, this is an US! not a ME!) as it has for me and you find the questions as thought provoking as I have!

I have a friend and good client who religiously reads and comments on many of my posts. Jim (his real name) always adds an appreciated, interesting perspective and color to what has been written. The most recent post on Scuba and Trust is no exception. Jim’s comment regarding my going outside my comfort zone and the great feeling of stretching was:

“Welcome to the rest of your life Bob.”

I found Jim’s feedback so timely as I had already started this Rambling (a follow-up to the scuba Rambling), “Staying Curious and Fascinated with Life.”

What does this topic really mean and how am I looking at it? This question has caused me to pause and actually think about this in more depth. My response to this question is that I wish there was someone that I could do this reflection with and think about the rest of OUR life as it’s not just about me. I’ve been accustomed to being the solo author and architect of my life but I’m am moving to an attitude of flexibility for when the day comes that there is an “us.” However, for now, it is me and outward focus on others.

A while back, I had a real life personal experience that helped frame why I’m more intentionally practicing “welcome to the rest of your life”:

I go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester every 18-24 months for a full body (I do mean full body), two-day physical (nothing is left to the imagination). When asked by my personal Mayo physician why I am coming to MAYO EXECUTIVE PHYSICAL DEPT, I responded that my goal is to stack as many chips on my side of the table as I can that will provide me the best chance to live a fully engaged, vibrant, and meaningful life—to age 100.

My hope and dream is that I will be on this planet for another 36+ years. Yikes, 36 years, that seems long, however I am learning that time goes by so quickly; that time will pass in a blink and I do not want to do it alone or be left with a lot of “I SHOULD HAVES!”

I am embracing with open arms the richness of the Rest of My Life by staying curious and fascinated with the world and those people around me!

What does that entail? I am not fully sure myself. However, I am asking the following questions of myself knowing that the answers may change based on whether someday I have someone in my life. Perhaps you’d like to do the same with your life partner? it could be rewarding and I am sure will enhance the intimacy and meaningfulness of your relationship.

  1. Am I a Conscious Incompetent in who I am? (Do I know what I am not good at and need others help to improve? If not, is it time to figure it out?)
  2. Based on what you (we) discover in #1, do I (we) care?
  3. How do I (we) become a Conscious Competent? (How do I (we) become intentional in personal growth, maturity, and relationship growth? Do we understand that disagreement and agreement is healthy and adds intimacy to a relationship?)
  4. What should I be doing to be selfless? (It is not all about Bob or US!)
  5. What actions and behavior are significant to actively being committed to my (our) family?
  6. How should I (we) grow in outward giving?
  7. How do I (we) grow in spiritual relationship with God?
  8. What actions and behavior should I (we) embrace to enhance our relationships and significance with friends and those around us?
  9. How do I (we) further master and honor the value of what others have to offer?
  10. How do I (we) define and continue to grow together?
  11. What experiences should I (we) take to see and feel the wonders of the world?
  12. If doing alone, can I remain flexible enough adjust this road map when I do with that life partner?

Perhaps there are additional questions I should consider? I do not have a corner on great growth questions. I would be interested to hearing from my followers. 

Would it not be meaningful to be able to reach that final chapter in our lives and be able to feel that we did our best with the gifts that God has blessed us with, that we’ve grown in our personal and spiritual relationships? That life has been a mutual endeavor with a partner? That we’ve touched others’ lives in a meaningful way? Could all of this intentionality further define a significantly deep relationship with your life partner through meaningful conversation and heartfelt, courageous, and vulnerable sharing and growth?

Welcome to the rest of your life!

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Trust and Scuba

Lessons from Scuba Diving: Listening, Trusting, Learning How to Breathe and Comfort in Growth

I decided to take scuba training and certification—something I have always wanted to do. Why? In short, because I am fascinated with life and all it has to offer. I enjoy trying new things and challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone. As a Facebook friend told me, “Bob the world is about to get so much bigger for you, congratulations!”

Indulge me as I “ramble” about my first “controlled” underwater experience.

Confronting fear I enjoy swimming and have no fear of water (although I may fear what’s in the water below me). However, I do have fears and some anxiety of scuba diving: I fear I might get claustrophobic; could drown; or an eel or shark might get me. During a scuba diving training session, the instructor was talking of the beauty and peacefulness of open water ocean diving with fish and sharks. As he said, “for the most part, the sharks are harmless,” I was thinking “most part?!”  On the other hand, as a child one of my favorite TV (black and white of course) shows was Lloyd Bridges’ “Sea Hunt.” I could visualize myself coming to the rescue, spear gun in hand.
Outcome: I loved my first dive (ok, it was in a pool at a maximum of 12 feet and 80-degree water, but still my first). I did not experience as much anxiety as I had anticipated but it was still there. I was not claustrophobic and although I had an initial fear about being able to breathe underwater that soon became increasingly natural. That in itself was a great reminder that fear and anxiety can be overcome by confronting the fear head on and not hiding from it. To continue to practice and engage in different behavior becomes increasingly natural and instinctual. It helped that I knew there would be no sharks or eels in the pool—one less thing to be concerned about (I will save that for the real ocean certification dive!). I also have, as a result of the actual experience, a much greater respect for Lloyd Bridges in Sea Hunt.

 Experiential learning is the only way to either validate or overcome a fear. Until we have experienced something, being critical or overly confident is most likely a misplaced behavior.

 Stretching our comfort zones! Staying within one’s comfort zone may make us feel safe, however it does not offer the opportunity to grow. Growth is comforting and, in fact, possibly even more rewarding than staying within a safe comfort zone and not stretching our personal capacity. The thought of “I should have done _______!” scares me as I have had too many of those in recent years. I feel that I cheated myself out of God-given gifts.

Have you ever thought of stretching outside your comfort zone in this way? I have found it more rewarding than avoidance.

 Outcome: Going outside of my comfort zone and relying on breathing from a tank, even inimg_6440 a safe 12-foot pool that I knew posed no risk to my survival, still created a bit of anxiety and caused my heart to beat a bit faster. Was it anxiety or excitement? Quite possibly it was both. However, I found by the end of the session that I had settled into a new normal rhythm. My comfort zone had been expanded! Now the next test: Will this comfort transfer to open water (lake or ocean) scuba diving?

 Expanding our capacity for trust My scuba diving training has helped me learn more about trust: Trust of the instructor who assured us the equipment worked; trust that the breathing regulator would do just that (regulate the air flow); and trust that there was air in the tanks (even though it could not be seen or touched). Sort of sounds like the trust we place in our faith and belief in God; another lesson I hadn’t expected. This showed me more about my relationship with God a growing faith and how to better grow in personal and business relationships.

Outcome: Listening to others who have deeper knowledge, additional perspectives, and who are receptive to questions helps build trust, not just with me, but also the person sending the message…what a great lesson that is. This enhanced the outcome of my experience and broadened my perspective to expand my comfort zone. I am also experiencing this as I consider a trip to Mongolia for a mission outreach, an invitation to explore opportunities with Haiti Teen Challenge, joining a group on a bike ride across (part of the way anyway) Iowa (for the RAGBRAI), and a Crossroads bike trip in Napa and Sonoma…all requiring an expanded comfort zone that creates excitement and need for trust. Learning to trust adds value to many of our experiences.

Sit back and think to yourself or with your partner/spouse: What are you (or we) doing to expand our comfort zone(s) and build trust?

Explore interests and embrace life! Living a wholehearted life requires having a broad spectrum of interests and experiences—those that can add substance to life and our relationships. Experiences can expand our learning to embrace life and to respond to life’s challenges with grace and open-mindedness. Others in that first scuba class were there for similar reasons as me and it reminded me that sharing new experiences with someone else would be even that much more rewarding and meaningful—to share the anxiety and the fear and then banter about it afterward.

Outcome: Being underwater, hearing only the sound of your own breathing (something we usually take for granted) is calming, peaceful, and almost spiritual as you are reminded of the magnificent miracle of life and how our bodies were put together to sustain life.

Listening for understanding How critical this was for my first dive in a controlled environment: There was potential danger if I didn’t listen and learn the correct way tofullsizerender-2 breathe underwater (keeping my mouth shut). It’s a lot like life: There is a time to listen and a time to keep our mouths shut. To listen not just to the words of others, but the meaning behind the words as that is how true learning and understanding is grounded. Listening intently for meaning and understanding is the foundation to almost everything, my scuba instructor not excluded. (There is a great book entitled Keep your Love On! by Danny Silks, possibly one of the best easy-to-read yet substantive books on communication and relationships I have read and embraced).

Outcome; I learned the “why” of what we were being told by the instructor. I felt the “ah ha, I get it!” I was reminded of the power to restate what I heard for validation and understanding. I wanted to make sure I heard correctly as discovering while underwater that I heard incorrectly was not a good time to learn. I was reminded that being challenged by the instructor was for my own good and not to take offense or get defensive as there are clearly others with greater knowledge and perspective than mine.

Scuba is going to be great. It has many parallels to life and I am excited for the added dimension it adds to life. Again as a Facebook friend commented, “Bob this will expand your world!” How cool! 

What dimensions and experiences have you considered alone or as process of co-authoring a book of “US” for your wholehearted life ahead? May I borrow from a Nike commercial and say:

JUST DO IT!