In this week’s episode, Billy takes on the first episode of 2023 solo. He shares a travel update as he moves from Korea to Thailand. What makes this new adventure exciting is that Billy brings with him all the social-emotional tools he has picked up along the way. So make sure you tune in to today’s episode as Billy shares one of the most beneficial tools he has in his social-emotional growth tool kit and how he wants to extend a helping hand to anyone wanting to utilize this tool kit.
If you liked this episode, check out these episodes as well:
–Episode 54--Declutter and Get Organized! with Janet M. Taylor
–Episode 3--The Only Way Out Is Through: Billy Overcomes His Demons through Mindfulness
–Episode 29--Discover Your Inner Awesome by Being Unapologetically You with Life Coach Jill Dahler
–Summer Session 7--So...What’s Next for Billy and Brian? with Life Coach Jill Dahler
–Episode 59--The Emotional Intelligence Dance Party with Rich Bracken
The Midlife Male: A No-Bullsh*t Guide to Living Better, Longer, Happier, Healthier, and Wealthier and Having More Fun in Your 40s and 50s (Which Includes More Sex ... and What Guy Doesn't Want That?) by Greg Scheinman
Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Danny Penman
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Coming up on The Mindful Midlife Crisis
Let’s go back to that quote from Greg Scheinman: “Show me your calendar, and I’ll show you your priorities.” Ask yourself: What’s my morning routine? Do I even have a morning routine? Do I know how much time goes into starting my day? What responsibilities do I have at the beginning of my day? What are some daily habits I’d like to implement to start my morning more mindfully and productively? What am I willing to prioritize, and what time sucks am I willing to reduce in order to re-prioritize that which will help me be more successful in achieving your New Year’s Resolutions?
Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. I'm your host Billy Lahr, an educator personal trainer, meditation teacher, and Overthinker who talks to experts who specialize in social and emotional learning. Mindfulness, physical and emotional wellness, cultural awareness, finances, communication, relationships, dating and parenting, all in an effort to help us better reflect, learn, and grow so we can live a more purpose-filled life. Take a deep breath, embrace the present and journey with me through The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host, Billy Lahr. Thank you for tuning in wherever you are. The purpose of this show is to provide a platform that gives people the space and permission to share their expertise and life experiences in order to help others navigate the complexities and possibilities of life’s second half, but on the first Wednesday of every month, I record a solo episode to share my travel experiences with you and how those experiences are helping me navigate my own mindful midlife crisis, which is actually more of a midlife pivot than a crisis, I would say, because if I’m being honest, I’m feeling pretty good about where I am in my life, but if you’ve been a fan of the show since day one, you know it hasn’t always been that way, so I’m happy to share my experiences with you in these solo episodes in the hopes that my trials, tribulations, and successes will inspire you to take intentional action to live a more purpose-filled life.
And remember, this free and useful information is helpful to people of all ages. Wisdom isn’t about one's age, wisdom comes from our ability to reflect, learn, and grow from our own life experiences while also learning from the experiences of others regardless of what stage of life we are in because you just never know what life is going to throw at you, so there just might be a story or two from past episodes, whether those come from these solo episodes or the experiences and expertise my guests share with us, that help you feel better prepared for the challenges you might face in life or that you’re facing right now, whether those challenges be your emotional, mental, and/or physical health, your relationships with others including your partner and children, your career… whatever curveballs life is throwing your way right now. Just know that you are not alone in your experience, and the conversations I’m having here are with people who have been there before or have done the research to help you navigate these situations with more awareness, openness, curiosity, and compassion so you can live a more purpose-filled life.
And trust me, I take all of the conversations I’m having to heart as well, and I try to apply what I’m learning from each of these conversations, which is why I enjoy doing these solo episodes because I think of this show as a running dialogue between me and you the listener because my hope is that you can see and hear the growth I’m making in my own life so that it inspires you to seek out the connections between these shared experiences so that you too can take intentional and inspired action. So if you’re looking for some ways to help you better navigate whatever you’ve got going on in your life from someone who’s been through it before, check out some of our other episodes at www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com or wherever you get your podcasts.
It’s 2023, so let me wish you a Happy New Year! This is the last episode I am recording from Korea. When it comes out I will actually be in Thailand, I’m very excited about that new adventure in the New Year. I know this is resolution-making time for a lot of people. I am not a New Year’s Resolution guy because I do not think January 1st has any magical powers that will help transform your life. Obviously, I’m going through a lot of transformations now especially in this New Year. But the great thing is that I’m bringing the same social emotional tools with me that I’ve picked up along the course of my journey, and I’m looking forward to picking up some more along the way as well because as I said in last week’s season recap with my good friend Matt Hazard, if you’re not choosing to reflect, learn, and grow as a person, then you are choosing to regress and decay. And that’s a sentiment you’re going to hear me repeat over and over in this episode. So what I want to do in this episode, I want to share with you one of the most beneficial tools I have in my social emotional growth tool kit, and then I want to extend a free helping hand to anyone who may need help implementing this tool.
So as I have mentioned in previous episodes, I am someone who needs structure and routine in order to feel the most productive on a consistent basis. One of my favorite past guests is Greg Scheinman from Episode 41–The Midlife Male, be sure to check that out if you haven’t already. Greg has this saying: “show me your calendar, and I’ll show you your priorities.” I love that saying, and I love the work that Greg is doing to help midlife males, like me, maximize their potential, so be sure to check out that episode and be sure to give him a follow on Instagram and LinkedIn. Let him know that I sent you. He also has a book out right now called, The Midlife Male: A No-Bullsh*t Guide to Living Better, Longer, Happier, Healthier, and Wealthier and Having More Fun in Your 40s and 50s (Which Includes More Sex ... and What Guy Doesn't Want That?) Yes. That’s the entire title, I’ll actually link that in the notes there so you can purchase that if that sounds interesting to you. And listen, he is a great follow, be sure to check that out. Greg is crushing this midlife thing because of the way he structures his day.
And when I look back on my own successes in life, they usually came at a time when I was more structured throughout the day. The biggest challenge for me now that I’m no longer in a school setting where bells dictated the flow of my day is that I don’t have the same structure and routine and I’m left to my own devices. I always struggled with this during summer break and as I look back on those days, I know for a fact that I could’ve maximized my potential had I shifted my mindset into a more structured day during those summer months like I did during the school year months.
In fact, my mornings almost always started off the same way, but then my afternoons and evening routines fell apart because I didn’t structure them well. I was struggling with FOMO, I didn’t want to miss out on opportunities and then I just let that structure fall apart in the afternoon. But I had a good structure in the morning. I’m not someone who does well with a lot of options. I like decisions.
When we look at the word “decisions”, the Latin roots literally translate to “to cut off.” So if we’re feeling unproductive, we don’t need more options. We need FEWER options. We need to cut off choices and make decisions. That’s why I’m such a believer in routines because if I know exactly what my mornings are going to look like, then I’m faced with far less decision fatigue.
So what did my morning routine look like during the school year? Well, I wanted to be at work by 7:30 for the start of the 8:20 school day so I could either attend morning meetings, be available for students, finish up any last minute tasks, or check email. There’s no real way to transition quietly and smoothly into the school day, so I made damn sure I took a proactive approach to getting my mind right in the 90 minutes before the school day started.
I knew that I had about a 25 minute commute to work, so I made it a point to leave my place by 7:00. That means I would wake up at 6:00 am and follow through with the following morning routine, regular as clockwork:
First thing I would do is jump in the shower. Some people need coffee to wake up. I don’t. I don’t like coffee. I do need a hot shower to wake up. I love taking a hot shower. I know there are people out there who recommend hitting your body with a splash of cold water, but I’ll tell you what: getting slapped in the face with a 20 mph crosswind when it’s 4 degrees outside from December through February was enough of a shock to the system provided by Mother Nature that I don’t feel the need to invite any more icy cold sensations into my life. But one thing I would do is I would use my Clarisonic as a mind settler while I was in the shower. Now, what’s a Clarisonic you ask? Well, they don’t make them anymore, which is a true travesty. It’s a shame that they don’t make them anymore because they are these soft vibrating facial scrub brushes that leave your face and skin shiny and smooth. And if you’re like, “Men don’t need shiny and smooth skin,” dude…get over yourself and just take care of your skin…besides, my ex works in the cosmetics, and she had one, and her skin looked great, so I asked her for one for Christmas, and people say I look younger than I really am, so take that…but I digress.
What was great about the Clarisonic is that the brushhead would vibrate for one minute, so in that one minute, I would be present with the brush, meaning, as I would clean my face, I would say which part of my face I was cleaning. So I would take it and say, forehead, right temple, right jaw, chin, upper lip, left jaw, left temple, forehead, right nostril, left nostril, left cheek, right cheek.
I would do that and it would take about a minute. I was very intentional with the way I would clean my face with the Clarisonic. Interestingly enough, I can actually feel myself settling in as I’m recalling that process. Huh, interesting little by-product right there.
Anyway, that’s why would I do it?
When I woke up in the morning, I already had a lot on my mind. I had dozens of students to think about, parents I needed to contact, colleagues I needed to collaborate with, so a lot of times when I stepped into the shower, I would bring them in the shower with me…figuratively speaking. I was bringing them with my mind. So in order to slow down my mind and bring myself back to the present, I would just take one minute to inhale and exhale slowly through my nose while the brush made its way around my face. And then after that, I was able to cool down my thoughts so that I could later respond to whatever was coming my way as opposed to react. Taking a shower usually took about 10 minutes.
After showering, I would do this 15-minute morning mobility routine, and if people are curious about what that looks like, give me a follow in Instagram at mindful_midlife_crisis because from time to time, I will do that routine live and then I post it. The reason I do it is that it warms up the body and prepares the body for the movements of the day, and after lying in one spot all night, your body gets all stiff, so this mobility routine is a great way to warm up and loosen up those muscles so you’re not going into the day all stiff and rigid. Because that has an impact on how you respond to things: if you’re feeling physically stiff, your mind might be stiff as well.
Then I’d put on the clothes I laid out the night before because remember, we’re trying to get rid of decisions ,we’re killing off the number of choices we have in the mornings so we don’t have so much decision fatigue. I’d move into the kitchen, throw some oatmeal in a bowl and toss it in the microwave to cook. While that was happening, I’d drink a big glass of water and take my vitamins, or if I had Garden of Eden organic greens, I would drink that first because I’m terrible at eating my vegetables, and I’m not gonna lie, I like to take the easy way out sometimes so I’d just drink those powdered greens. I’m a single dude…get off my case about the vegetables already. When Patches was around, my dog, this would also be the time I would take her out to go to the bathroom, which was another excuse to get in some morning movement. All of that usually took about 5-10 minutes, so now we’re up to about 35 minutes.
Once the oatmeal was cooked, I’d throw in collagen, peanut butter, strawberry jam, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper and eat. It was the same breakfast every morning. That would take me around 10-15 minutes, and then I would crawl back into my bed and meditate for 10-15 minutes. I would use a timer and I would use a guided meditation, usually from Mark Williams who wrote the book, Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. That’s the book that absolutely changed my life. It’s the book that helped me progress my mindfulness practice after my therapist had introduced it to me. Wonderful book. I highly recommend checking it out.
So that was the home routine for the first sixty minutes of my day. It may sound like a lot, but once I got into the routine, it didn’t feel like a lot. Writing it out right now makes it feel like a lot, but quite honestly, all I really did was wake up a half hour earlier so I could meditate and move, and I gotta tell you…it made such a huge difference in how productive I was throughout the day.
So that was the home routine for the first 60 minutes of my day. It may sound like a lot, but once I got into the routine, it didn’t feel like a lot. Actually talking about it, it makes it feel like there was a lot going on, but quite honestly, all I really did was wake up a half hour earlier than I normally did. So I can meditate and do the mobility routine. And I gotta tell you, just those two things alone it made such a huge difference in how productive I was throughout the day.
But then I also found a way to use my commute as a way to delay gratification, embrace what is, and improve my memory, and it was so simple because all I would do is let my iPod with over 8,000 songs on it shuffle through and play whatever song it felt like playing without hitting the skip button to find the perfect song. How was that beneficial? First of all, it allowed me to delay gratification, it challenged me to stay present, and it allowed me to experience songs I hadn’t experienced before because, when you have over 8,000 songs on your playlist, you don’t listen to them all. I would actually agree with Episode 54 guest Janet Taylor, who talked about decluttering our lives, when she said that we really only wear about 20-30% of the clothes we own. That totally makes sense because, I would argue that I probably only listened to 20-30% of the songs on my playlist, IF THAT. So letting the iPod shuffle through those songs introduced me to some really great music that I’ve since added to my regular listening rotation, like the song “Lebanese Blonde” by Thievery Corporation. But, did it also meant I had to sit through songs I downloaded on my iPod like “Thong Song” by Sisqo, stop judging that song is fun I don’t care how dumb you think it is. I like that song, listen, it’s not my favorite song but does it get me dancing? Does it make me laugh? Absolutely! I like a good mood playlist, why not?
It also meant I’d have to sit through those hidden tracks that they used to plant at the end of the last song back in the CD days, so you’d listen to the last track of the song, and then ten minutes of dead air would go by, and then you’d get some ridiculous song like “The Second Album…12 Gracious Melodies” at the end of STP’s album Purple.
But I would sit through the silence, and sit through the ridiculousness, and I would eliminate deciding on the “perfect” song, and which goes back to what I was saying earlier about the need for better decision-making skills over an abundance of choices.
So now how did I use this little trick to improve my memory? Well, I would try to keep all of the songs that played during my commute in my head as I made my way into my classroom, and then I would write them down in the order they played. This was a fun recall game for me because I would have to think about where I was on my commute when each song was playing. Usually about 5-6 songs would play during my commute, but sometimes you’d get a really heavy punk rock playlist that would shuffle through quite quickly, and then suddenly I’d have to remember 8-10 songs. But again, it was a fun way to start my day in a thoughtful headspace, and it delayed the stress and often the anxiety that came with working in a school setting.
So, let’s go back to that quote from Greg Scheinman: “Show me your calendar and I’ll show you your priorities.” Ask yourself: What’s my morning routine? Do I even have a morning routine? Do I know how much time goes into starting my day? What responsibilities do I have at the beginning of my day? What are some daily habits I’d like to implement to start my morning more mindfully and productively? What am I willing to prioritize, and what time sucks am I willing to reduce in order to re-prioritize that which will help me be more successful in achieving your New Year’s Resolutions?
If you’d like someone to help you process through those questions and to help you organize a more efficient morning routine, so that you can start your day more mindfully and productively. I’m here to offer my services to you in case anything I have shared in this episode today sounds intriguing but you’re just not sure where to start or you’re just not convinced you’ll stick with it unless someone holds you accountable. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during this first year of solo traveling, it’s this. I should’ve budgeted for either therapy or life coach. I was navigating so many life transitions that I’d never had to think about before, and I was dragging a lot of unresolved emotional baggage and residue with me, so when I tried to make a plan, I was only using the tools I had in my toolbox. Luckily for me, I was also having a lot of great conversations with amazing guests who shared their experiences and expertise, and I was able to implement a lot of what they shared into my own experiences so that I could better navigate my own life.
But when I went back to Korea in October, I made two crucial life investments: the first was I signed up for BetterHelp. Now again, BetterHelp is NOT a sponsor of this show…yet…but I am more than okay with giving them a little bit of free advertising during these episodes because I am a huge advocate of therapy because if you go back and listen to Episode 3, you’ll hear about how therapy and mindfulness not only changed my life but most likely saved it as well. And if you’re looking for some affordable mental health services, you can get a free week of BetterHelp by going to the show notes and clicking on the referral link. Just to be transparent, if you sign up, I also get a free week, but if you sign up, then you’ll get your own referral link that you can share, and if one of your friends or family members or colleagues signs up using your referral link, then you get a free week and it becomes this beautiful pay it forward cycle of emotional support and healing that allows us to experience and live with more joy in our lives, which in my opinion, we all could use a little more of these days. So check out the show notes for that referral link. Again, I wish I would’ve started using this service a year ago when I first started traveling and transitioning because when you’re doing something like this alone, it can feel overwhelming, so it’s nice to have a licensed therapist or a coach help you process everything so you can follow through on those life-changing daily habits that lead to achieving your goals in life.
And if you listened to the Summer Sessions episodes, you know how big of an impact my friend Jill Dahler had on helping me navigate this transition as well. Jill is a certified life coach who shared how you can discover your inner awesome by being unapologetically you in Episode 29, and she walked us through how she coaches people in Summer Session 7, so we’ll link those episodes in the show notes in case you didn’t get a chance to hear how Jill’s experiences and expertise helped carve out this new path in life for me and how her coaching style might be just the thing you need to achieve your goals in 2023.
Also I’ve been working with Kevin Palmieri over at Next Level Podcast Solutions, and I look forward to these conversations every two weeks because he and I have this synergy when we’re strategizing how to make this podcast one that provides more tools for you to use to help you navigate the complexities and possibilities of life’s second half. He provides me with vision and direction and instills passion in what I’m trying to achieve with this podcast, which ultimately is to help YOU the listener live a more purpose-filled life.
And like I said before, if you're not investing in personal growth, then you are investing in personal decay. The most poignant words from Season 6 came from Eric Romanak in Episode 69–Live Better, Die Slower when he said, “Move or die.” If you haven’t been investing in your personal growth, it’s time to make a move.
And I get it…personal growth costs money. That’s why it’s an investment. And listen, I don’t have a job right now, so I need to spend my money wisely because I’m currently eating into my savings right now, but to me it’s worth it because not only am I investing in myself through therapy and coaching, but I’m also investing in this lifestyle that brings me so much joy that sometimes I’m moved to tears with gratitude. I was today with my therapy session when I was talking about a friend of mine who has brought me so much joy and I’m so grateful I have that person in my life. And because I’m so grateful for these life-changing experiences, I want to invest in you.
So, if you’re looking for a way to be more mindful and productive, let me be your accountability partner. It’s my way of saying thank you for investing in me by listening to me share this advice with you today and on a weekly basis, and I want to show my appreciation to you. There’s no cost, there’s no obligation, there’s no catch. As I said before, I just want to see you succeed, so if you start falling behind, I’ll be there to help you reflect, learn, and grow.
And remember this…mindfulness is about sitting in awareness with open curiosity, compassion, and non-judgment. So if you suddenly become aware that you’ve fallen behind, congratulations! You are practicing mindfulness. My job will be to help you process that new awareness with curiosity, compassion, and non-judgment so we can let go of whatever is holding us back from living a more purpose-filled life.
Now with that, I’m reminded of Rich Bracken said in Episode 59, “I may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I’m definitely somebody’s shot of bourbon.” So if I’m your shot of bourbon, go to the show notes and click on the Calendly link and let’s set up an intro call so we can get an idea if we’re a good fit for each other. And if I’m not your cup of tea, go back through past episodes and check out the people I’ve already mentioned in this episode like Greg Scheinman and my good friend Jill Dahler. Or, if you want to schedule an intro call to talk about who may be right for you, I’ve got a long list of recommendations.
And if you’re listening to this and you’re like, “This all sounds so self-helpy…it sounds so annoying.” I get it. I too am not a fan of toxic self-help advice, which is why I’m bringing on Jordan Harbinger next week about what toxic self-help advice looks like, and then at the end of the month I’ll be talking to Jeanine Faith about how a narcissistic self-help guru and shaman lured her and many others into his web of deceit and abuse.
At the end of the day, for me, having these conversations holds me accountable so I don’t come off as one of those people spreading more toxic positivity and hustle bro culture out into the world because when it comes down to it, the purpose of this show is to provide a platform that gives people the space and permission to share their expertise and life experiences in order to help others navigate the complexities and possibilities of life’s second half. So it’s important to me to get a lot of different voices: a lot of diverse perspectives. Most of these guests have books or programs you can buy, and like I said, if you’re not investing in personal growth, then you are investing in personal decay. So let’s take action together. If one of my past guests resonates with you, go to their episode wherever you get your podcasts and connect with them using their contact info which you can find in the show notes.
But I’m also making myself available to you for free: no obligation, no catch. So if what I shared today sounds intriguing to you, then go ahead and click on that Calendly link in this episode’s show notes and let’s make a plan to reflect, learn, and grow in 2023.
If this episode inspired you to invest in yourself in a new way, please do me a favor and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. If you’re an Apple listener, please consider leaving us a five-star review with a few kind words, and if you’re a Spotify listener, give us a follow and click the five stars under the show art. There are a LOT of resources in this week’s show notes, so be sure to have a look at those as well.
Finally, remember that sharing is caring, and I would greatly appreciate it if you would share this episode with the people in your life who may benefit from having someone help them be more mindful and productive so they too can experience more success in 2023.
So, with that, this is Billy, thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. Take care, friends.