essays

An "Accidental" Life

diet mealFirst of all, I'm sick of the news. Truthfully, I hardly turn on the TV. At age 63, more than 1/2 way through my life, I don't want to be scared to death every day. I'd rather live in lala land, with my head in the sand.

Second, I'm working as fast and as hard as I can just to create new opportunities for work AND to keep myself occupied. Don't know about you, but the economy is hitting many independents just as hard as those being laid off... and we don't have the benefit of unemployment compensation.

Third, I'm on a very strict 3-week food plan -- a nice way to say "diet." Yes, the dreaded "diet." I can't eat sugar, dairy, bread, rice, pasta, ketchup, vinegar -- anything that creates mold or yeast. It's boring, challenging and so far, after 9 days, I haven't lost a pound and I'm feeling deprived. I'm craving popcorn, cokes, wine and chocolate, of course. Now, why am I doing this? Well, first, honestly, to be healthier ... need to definitely lose 20 to 25 pounds. But, there's more. As this 60+ single, boomer woman ... I want to be THIN so that men will be attracted to me. Is that sickening or what. You've heard me rant about this before. There's not a profile on Match.com where these men (often a bit overweight themselves) are demanding that their match be thin and fit (and being 30 would help too.) So, in my efforts to have companionship (well, that's one way of putting it), I think I have to be thinner so that they will find me attractive. Besides, there's no way I'm getting into any kind of intimate relationship with a flabby body like this. And, if it would only stop raining and going back and forth to Winter weather, I'd get out there an start walking long distances to firm up that flab. Okay, enough about this one.

Fourth, and this is the one I really wanted to write about -- The Accidental Life. I do some work with clients in corporate America. I'm seeing many people, because of the layoff situation, becoming Accidental Managers. They're working along, doing a good job, their boss gets the axe, they get asked to "step up" into that management position, and voila, they're a manager. And, they know not what to do!!! Well, many of us in our lives are being called into an accidental life. We had work coming in and we don't now, so we're scrambling, trying to figure out what to do to make money. We used to have some money to spend for extras and things we enjoyed and, well, we're down by double-digit percentages and we're accidentally now figuring out how to have fun without money. We've fallen into a "default" life and trying to fight our way out of a brown paper bag.

So, let's reframe that for a moment. Remember, I'm the head mustacheboomer -- old, wise, knowledgeable so they think. I can figure it out. When you have lemons, make lemonade, right? So, when something unexpected befalls you, how do you react to it proactively and not be a victim of the Accidental Life? Easy: First, you cry, if that's your nature. Second, you do an internal examination, remembering how you've coped in the past when things didn't go your way. Third, you "reinvent" your way of being. Example: Go through your closet and start a new image with what you have -- get funky, or more or less stylish, change your hairstyle (men, shave off or grow a mustache), be more or less colorful. Another example: Do the opposite of what you normally do. If you immediately get up and go on a rampage to find work then, instead, sit quietly and meditate or go for a walk, then come back and work. Or, if you find yourself complaining a lot (like I often do) then don't let anything negative come out of your mouth -- demand only positive thoughts and words from yourself.

You get the point? Things might appear to happen "accidentally" and we all know we can't always control what happens, BUT, we can control how we react to it or handle it. Handle it with grace and ease and fun and laughter, be practical where you can and throw the rest up at the ceiling and see what sticks.

See the "accidental" as "serendipity." See what happens. Ride it out.

Ann Fry calls herself Head Boomer but she's also a professional speaker, trainer and corporate coach. You can read about her company at It's Boomer Time or check out her blog or have fun solving serious problems at Humor University.

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