It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: #A-Z Challenge

“…although it may take some trial and error, it is possible to find a routine that can begin to feel like a spiritual practice, opening you to guidance, energy, and creativity. Creating routines for yourself that comfort you will quiet your mind, and it is this quiet mind that allows inspiration to spring forth.”

It’s Never too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond by Julia Cameron

Cameron’s daily routine begins with her own invention, Morning Pages. Have you heard of them? Before doing anything else, before even getting out of bed in the morning, do three pages of longhand stream of consciousness writing. Be aware of the thoughts swirling around in your brain, and dump them on paper. It’s that simple.  Cameron says, “It’s a rare day when the pages fail to dictate the next right thing.” Here’s a 2:36 minute video of Cameron explaining the benefits of Morning Pages.

My Routine is RAW NEWS

I retired early–at age 55–after burning out in my big career. You can learn about it in this 5 minute animated whiteboard video – Joining the Club of the Living Dead.

I didn’t do much of anything other than sleep and destress for quite a while. But when I felt better, I got antsy about the fact that my intentions and actions weren’t aligned. I was enjoying pleasant days, but not doing the things that I kept saying were important to me.

I needed a routine for my days and weeks, one that was supportive, not restrictive. A few months ago, at the end of October, I came up with RAW NEWS. This acronym stands for Reading, Art and Writing (my creative passions) built on a foundation of Nutrition, Energy, Wonder (learning and spirituality), and Self-Care.

At the end of each month, I write a post summarizing my actions in each of the categories. There are posts available for October, November, December, January, February, and March.

What’s Your Routine?

Cameron has a helpful exercise if you’re trying to determine your own ideal routine. She says to complete this sentence five times – “I would be relieved if I made time to….”  Then analyze your list for clues as to what you’d love to include in your framework.

Do you have a routine that is working for you? Please share.

 

Join the tribe:

54 comments

  1. I really like how you’ve drilled down to what’s really important to you (I also loved your “Club of the Living Dead”!) I don’t think I’ve ever been able to whittle what’s important to me down to just a few things – I don’t have any great passions and I tend to just toodle my way through various interests. Maybe when I retire I’ll have to narrow it down more.

    Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au
    I for If Opportunity….

    1. Hi Leanne,
      It took a long, long time (a couple of years) to get to my RAW NEWS framework. I know I couldn’t have done it before retirement. I was too caught up in work and all of the daily stuff of life. It will be so exciting for you, and for your readers, to see what choices you make when you retire.
      Thanks for watching Club of the Living Dead.

      1. Hi Karen – thanks for sharing this on #MLSTL and I’ve shared it on my SM too. BTW I’m starting a guest post Saturday series in June and I’d love you to be part of it. If you’re interested can you flick me an email at leanne.lecrasatgmail.com (I had to write the ‘at’ because your comments tagged it as spam!) and I’ll fill you in. No topic rules – just something upbeat that you’d like to write about xx

        1. Thanks, Leanne. I’d love to be part of your guest post series. I appreciate being asked. I’ll send you an email after I finish replying to today’s round of comments as well as reading and commenting on all of the other A-Z posts I’m following. Back to you soon!

  2. Helpful post Karen! My routines right now are centred around an outside entity – my job takes up a good portion of my life, still. I tend to wake up very early, to have some of the “best of me” (as I’m a morning person) for MY stuff, before I go to work and give the rest of it to my employer. I like Cameron’s exercise for determining an ideal routine. I am going to employ that, after the A-Z.

    Deb

    1. Isn’t it fascinating, Deb? I too am talking in terms of “after the A-Z.” Even though I’m not panicking at the last minute and feel quite well prepared, the A-Z is consuming life and it’s only the start of the second week. Wow. I feel as if we’ve already run a marathon. How can that be?
      By the way, for what it’s worth, I think that claiming “best of me” time early in the morning is a great routine to have, working or not.

  3. Hi Karen,
    Right now my routines are all messed up. My calendar is getting fuller and fuller though. I may have to come up with my own RAWNEWS strategy to feel like I am focussed on the important things!
    Fran

    1. Hi Fran,
      Since I know you, I know that you’ve got some really great home renovation reasons for your routines being toast! The full calendar is just a different approach to retirement. I went for “no commitments” while you’ve gone for maximum commitments. Both paths lead to the same destination – an authentic and enjoyable life. When the dust settles, literally and figuratively, you’ll work out what really matters to you. I’m sure of it.

  4. There is so much in here, Karen, and I toyed with the thought of just letting it slide by, but …..
    This is a moment-of-truth time, and I don’t do this very often, so I apologize in advance for the long comment.

    When I first started reading your blog, I was highly resistant to your messages. I’m pretty good at building walls. However, every once in a while, certain thoughts and ideas you presented would rock me back on my heels … and today is one of them.

    First, Cameron’s video about Morning Pages and her comment about “taking your negativity out for a coffee”. This ties in so beautifully to your post about Overcoming Resistance and giving our resistance a chance to express its voice. Guess what’s hiding behind all my walls? Ding! Ding! Ding!

    Then your video about the Club of the Living Dead. Could I relate? Yes. Am I proud of how I’ve grown as a retiree in past 7 years? Yes. But there are still holes that leave me unsettled. Today, reading about your RAW NEWS again (something I love, btw), I recognized the nature of my holes – I’m not working on the foundation effectively. Ding! Ding! Ding!

    Lastly, “I would be relieved if I made time to….” This morning I actually took the time to answer that question, something I usually resist. The things behind the walls aren’t allowed out to talk.
    Holy Crap on a Stick! To say I had a major AHA! moment would be a gross understatement.

    This post has seriously rocked my morning.

    1. Oh, Joanne.
      I’m grinning as I’m reading your comment, but my lips are trembling too because I want to cry.
      You have made my day, week, month, year.

      Thank you from the bottom of my heart for not just letting it slide. Thank you for your moment-of-truth time.

      I don’t remember when you started following Profound Journey, but for the first probably nine months I wrote almost nothing personal. Someone told me once that even my defences have defences. I’ve always read all this kind of stuff – part of my quest to fix myself and become perfect forevermore. But there was no way I was going to be vulnerable enough to share it.

      Shifts happened, as they are wont to do in retirement/ on a quest/ when tribe members like you read and comment and care and speak.

      I am so glad that there was a shift for you today. I am so happy that your morning has been rocked. And I am so grateful that mine now has been too.

      1. I’ve noticed more peek-a-boos in your writing about your vulnerabilities, while I RARELY write anything truly personal. I am so not there, and perhaps I never will – however I embrace a shift 💕
        It’s all about baby steps.

  5. I’m trying to start a routine where I go for a walk early in the morning. As the weather gets warmer, I’m going to try to make this a routine.

    1. That’s a good idea, Cathi. And it’s actually one of the practices, along with Morning Pages and Artist Dates, that Cameron urges all of us to consider. She’s written a book about it called Walking in This World where she talks about walking, and other physical activities, as supportive of the practical side of creativity. I don’t know if that’s why you want a walking routine, but I thought you might like to know that it’s a natural byproduct.

  6. I think your routine of RAW NEWS is a genius solution to follow your passions, stick to a format and feel accountable at the end of the month.

    Doing the Morning Pages would be a great way to start the day and put your thoughts down. In my case, it would be a decluttering of my chaotic mind tonstrat the day fresh. But, two facts prevent me from doing this now: I already write all day and finish every day with my diary, and, my current days are extremely busy and I need to start them, when getting up. My morning routine is checking my emails and attending to the urgent things, so I can start work after breakfast.

    The burn-out you describe sounds familiar, Karen. I’ve only had this happen once, after a decade of travel, the last year being very challenging for many reasons. I was so exhausted, I needed to rest and get away from it all. It was the only time in my life I wasn’t interested in anything, not even my passion, travel.

    These days, I’m, unfortunately, heading the same way, for different reasons. It’s not the lifestyle that is exhausting, but our current situation. Hopefully, the deserved break can come at some point this year. We are, yet again, pushing things…

    1. Oh dear, Liesbet. You’ve experienced burnout before so you know how it feels. It is a living death. Please, please don’t go back there. Stop that train. If you have to, run it into a smaller wall so you don’t end up running it into a big one.

      But if you can’t stop it due to current circumstances – and I get that, believe me – how about a very temporary break? One day only where you walk away from the situation and the work and whatever’s going on. You don’t feel guilty about it, you don’t think about it, you do exactly what you feel like doing every moment for just one day. It’s actually the topic of tomorrow’s post, but I want you to be reminded now. Please do it, Liesbet. Don’t put it off until the work is done or the situation is resolved. You’ll come back from that one day stronger, more productive, clearer and calmer in both mind and body.

      1. Thanks for the reminder, Karen. A break would be awesome, and maybe Mark and I will get to take a long weekend later this month. The problem is, because of our business, returning to work after such a short time off is 100-fold worse. This is also why Mark usually tries to keep on top of things during the weekends.

        One day off helps for me. We actually did just that on Sunday: we stayed home, relaxed, did not go on a sight see trip, rested, read, hung out; I haven’t felt like having this much time in a long while! Unfortunately, there are two of us in the exact same situation, and – just like that last year on the boat – my energy to remain the positive and encouraging one is about gone. I’m sure you understand. 🙂

        That being said, by the summer, things should look better. Then, we will have to assess the damage done (again, like at the end of our sailing voyage), and hopefully, it is fixable with time, rest, and love.

        1. I do understand, Liesbet, and I’m really sorry to hear that things are tough right now. I’ll be thinking good thoughts and hoping that restorative break for the two of you comes very soon.

  7. Karen,
    My routine right now consists precisely in not having a routine and enjoying doing whatever spurs me in the moment. While I am not yet retired, I am self-employed (3 years now) and a recent empty-nester — finally making enough with my business to not stress about money. For the first time in my life, I get to decide! Loving it! I have designed a rough schedule for client hours — but outside of that, I do whatever hits me. That might mean staying up into the wee hours of morning writing, taking long walks when the sun is shining and the weather above 35 degrees.
    All of that being said, I love your RAW NEWS idea. I hope to integrate this concept of finding the framework as I develop my own style moving forward. Thanks!

    1. For what it’s worth, I think you’re very wise, Janet, to not have a routine right now. From what I’ve read of your background, we both spent much of our lives locked into routines governing our every moment. They were different routines for sure, but equally constraining. As you say, it is a delight to have time to breathe and decide. Even now, although I love my RAW NEWS routines, I am still resistant to engaging with the world. I just don’t want any commitments after a lifetime full of them.

      1. Absolutely! I attended a mid-life transition two-day retreat/workshop last May. The final exercise was to commit to one specific activity you would do every day for 30 days to help form a habit. I simply said I would commit to not committing.

  8. I love my morning journaling with coffee! It’s a combination of what I accomplished yesterday, what I plan for today, how I’m feeling about both. I get out the negative and sometimes even plan on how to deal with it. That might take a day or 2 of morning journaling. Or 3 or 4. I often do emotional assessments, practice gratitude, pep talks, identify why I’m feeling the way I feel. This aspect of my morning routine has been life changing.

    I also have my variation on your RAW NEWS. Nothing as clever, but my own list of value-based action areas. My SOAR focus this year is helping me to activate many things on the plan. Some building more daily routines for healthy living. Some just trying new things. Because it’s never too late to start living the life you envision.

    It’s been interesting to see folks “I” posts! Not quite the words I expected. But super fun.

    1. I really like your SOAR focus, Pat.
      Note to other readers who might not follow Pat – If you click on her name at the top of her comment, it will take you to her site. Probably everyone in the world knew that but me. I just discovered it last week.

      Back to you, Pat – You’ve got your own version of Morning Pages going on, morning pages as befit a planner. Terrific!

  9. What a wonderful post. The writing longhand for three pages in the morning–not going to happen (because of my RA). I think doing it on the computer wouldn’t be as effective. But I see where she’s going with and I like it.

    I just watched your video. I am taken by it. We followed much the same path (teachers, writer, speaker) though mine is much less steep and probably why I don’t feel burned out. Thanks for sharing. I’m subscribing to your blog!

    1. All right, Jacqui! Thanks for subscribing. I will be subscribing to yours too. I’m really keen to stay connected through our blogs.
      If your path is less steep, it means you are a sane, intelligent woman with a sense of balance. Sigh… I always wanted to be one of those. It’s my journey, my Profound Journey.

  10. Hi, Karen – I wholeheartedly agree that it is “never too late to begin again.” Just before my husband turned 50, he shared a secret regret that he had not worked overseas when he was younger (as he originally planned). That spurred on my “it’s never too late” attitude. We then spent the next fourteen years living and working overseas. We are both extremely grateful for Richard’s hidden wish…and the reality that it indeed was not too late. Great post!

    1. Now that’s taking never too late seriously! Good for you for doing that when Richard was turning 50. Lots of people would definitely consider that too late and they would have missed out on so much.

      1. Hi, Karen – I shared this comment with Richard. He reminded me that he was 52 when he first told me about his ‘secret regret of not ever working overseas’. For our work years in Beijing, Richard was 53 – 68! I stand corrected from my original comment! 🙂

  11. I love the RAW NEWS framework! I have a list of 24 items in my Bullet Journal’s “Habit and Activity Tracker,” that includes everything from working at my outside job to writing Morning Pages to flossing. Categories are Work, Home, Personal, and Health. The only things I consistently do every single day are make the bed, Morning Pages, read, and keep up with the entries in the bullet journal. When I took your (Cameron’s) advice and wrote “I would be relieved…” studio, exercise, walking, writing and tidying were the things that came up. Good to help focus!

    1. Hi Cindy,
      24 items are a lot to track! If it helps you feel better when you don’t check them off, it’s not that you are a slacker. There’s research showing that the more goals we have, the less likelihood of achieving any of them. And that’s when we have just four things to do in a day so look – you’re already being super successful and self-disciplined!

  12. I was sitting at my computer mindlessly strolling through Facebook and said to myself, “I’m wasting my time.” Then I read your post and it was exactly what I needed. I am reading and working through Julia Cameron’s book that you reference in this post. I have done morning pages almost every day for over 2 months and love it. I have been tiptoeing around my memoir. Yesterday I did the best Artist Date ever! I was overthinking it. I went for a walk and my brain solved several writing problems. This truly is a magical process. Now I need to answer that question you and Julia posed.

    1. I was thinking of you when I wrote this post, Molly, remembering that you are working with It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again.
      Morning pages and artist dates really are incredibly awesome, aren’t they! And your walk is perfect. Julia Cameron has a book about walking. Called ‘Walking in This World’ its subtitle is “The Practical Art of Creativity.” Your walk yesterday proved the value of the activity and the subtitle 🙂

      1. Ooh! I must read “Walking in This World.” I had already discovered how important walking was to my creative process before I read Julia’s book. My routine when I was able to do it was to write a first draft, then leave it and go for a walk. I would rush back to write the ideas and changes that came to me during my walk as ideas flowed with each step I took. It has been difficult to carry this pattern on during winter months when I can’t walk outside. I’m back on the walking trail now and can’t wait to see what happens!

        1. Wow, walking REALLY works for you, Molly. That’s awesome. More awesome is the fact that winter has let up and you can walk again. Other than walking outside with the dogs, which fits into the ‘no choice’ category, much of my walking this winter has been on the indoor track at our local community centre. A pleasant enough walk, but more akin to hamsters running on a wheel than to inspiring creative thought.

  13. Hi Karen,
    I could not see me doing Morning Pages if my life depended on it. LOL, in the morning it is hard enough getting out of bed and getting to my first cup. I do have a bit of a routine once I am up though. I turn on my computer and check on my YouTube channel, I check on Analytics which tells me my current numbers and categories so I can plan how to adjust my videos etc. to better capture my subscribers and non-subscribers interests. Since paying attention to these numbers consistently for the past several months my channel has flourished.
    I also have a bedtime routine where I turn off the computer – hubby and I watch a movie during dinner and relax. I also read before going to sleep as this helps my eyes get tired enough to close and my brain to stop obsessing about things and get hooked into a story. If I don’t read I lay awake for hours with my brain spinning through all the thoughts so reading derails that.
    What I do seems to be working for me, at least so far. I hope to add walking down our country road on a semi-regular basis with our landlady once the weather starts co-operating more (we are supposed to get another winter blast with a significant snow dump). It has me wondering if winter weather will EVER leave! 🙁
    Perhaps I will try finishing that sentence five times and look for clues to what I need to do to set up a routine for myself that may work better than what I am doing right now. Oh, and one last thing, have you noticed since you started this A-Z challenge these daily posts are getting a lot of conversations going? I am loving that there is so much interaction on here. 🙂

    1. I have indeed noticed that there’s great conversation going on in the comments sections of these A-Z posts. I’m especially thrilled that it’s not just conversation with me, but that people are sometimes reading each other’s comments and referencing or replying to them. I’d always hoped that Profound Journey would be a place for conversation about big ideas and important things in life, and it seems to be happening. Yahoo!

      If your routine is working for you, nothing wrong with that old saw – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 🙂

  14. My exercise is pretty routine — alternating from treadmill to stationary bike with a couple days off in between. Would love to write more.
    Love the idea of “I would be relieved if I made time to …” exercise. Looking forward to compiling the list. Also the book sounds good. Thank you, Karen. And great reading your experience aligning action with intentions.

    1. I expect you’ll find the “I would be relieved if…” activity to be quite revealing. Many of the activities in Julia Cameron’s book serve that purpose. I’ve read most of her books and liked them all for different reasons. One of the biggest advantages with this one is that it uses a series of questions you ask yourself for each chunk of seven years of your life. The answers to the questions are helpful for readers wanting to write either autobiography or memoir.

  15. Hi Karen another great post and loved your video about the Club of the Living Dead. We do have much in common as I retired at 57 but when I did I was actually quite lost and had no direction. It is definitely never to late to begin again. My almost 92yo Mother-In-Law is living proof of that. 2 years ago we celebrated her 90th birthday together with her 70th wedding annivesary. Two weeks later she had shingles and had lost her husband of 70 years. She was going downhill fast and we didn’t thinks she would survive it all. She was forced into aged care and from there her life turned around. She is into all the activities, does armchair yoga, goes to the gym, has started art classes and enjoys happy hour. She is living proof that you are never too old to begin again. xx

    1. P.S. I have a weekly guest series running at the moment. It is called Over 50 & Thriving and each week I introduce a guest who has written about what this phrase means to them. I would love to have you as a guest, so if you are interested could you email me at the email address below and I can send you further details? Enjoy your day xx

    2. Hi Sue,
      I’ve been reading of your mother-in-law in some of your posts. She is even more impressive now that I know her backstory. I had an aunt in Scotland who was quite similar. She died when she was 97. Prior to that she won national medals for her volunteerism, entered line dancing competitions and went rock climbing in Gibraltar. Even in the last three years of her life, when she’d lost much of her eyesight and her hearing, she had groups of women coming into her house so they could spend hours make greeting cards by the dozen. They sold the cards for Kate’s church.
      These models of positive aging are so few and far between. We certainly need to celebrate them and live up to them.

      1. Oh how wonderful your aunt was such a role model for us all. Unfortunately, my own Mum passed away at 63 but I know if she had lived she would have been into everything. She was a wonderful role model for me during her lifetime. Thanks so much for taking the time to link up at #MLSTL it is great to have you join us! Have a great week!

        1. I’m sorry to hear that you mum died so young. That’s heartbreaking and, I imagine, could feel quite scary when you come close to that birthday.
          Thank you for inviting me to link at #MLSTL. You have a great week too.

  16. I love the idea of an acronym to help remember your morning routine. I guess mine would be
    Shower
    Coffee
    E-mail
    Duel with the kids to get them up
    Use my computer to put up my blog
    Lecture my kids (I homeschool)
    End my morning with lunch and a nap.

    Okay, it doesn’t work as well as yours. 🙂

    1. We need an H after Coffee, Heather. Let’s see — help myself to some breakfast (because no one is getting it for me?) Or how about we move duel with the kids and make it Harp at the kids to get them up. Then we’d need a D. Dance on the head of a pin because I’m just that darn good! Yup, that one applies to you from what I can see 🙂

  17. I love routine, and one day will be able to indulge in daily routine again. That “one day” will happen when the Barbarians leave home, or at least are old enough they are living their own lives. Until then I’ll just keep muddling through each day o_0

  18. I imagine you already have a daily routine of sorts, AJ, if only to survive the Barbarians. But I can see how it isn’t wouldn’t quite fit Cameron’s definition of being “almost like a spiritual practice.” Muddling makes sense. You’re playing the long game 🙂

  19. Reading Julia Cameron’s books was a game-changer for me when I first began reading them a couple of decades ago. I credit her wisdom as a big factor in my giving myself permission to start painting and writing again. At the time, I tried writing morning pages and it didn’t really work for me, but maybe now that I have retired and am in a different stage of my life, I should give them another try. I did do the “I would be relieved if…” exercise, and it opened up the whole can of worms about why I feel so anxious about the next step after I get to the end of my first draft of my current novel. Hmm. Maybe this topic is something I should write a blog post about.

    Jude

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