#midlifepurpose #hourglassworkshops #transition #starting over
Finally, California is seeing real winter weather after several years of drought! What a difference in my garden in just a few short days of heavy storms. The strong winds left just a few bright orange persimmons hanging on the brown bare limbs. Beautiful, strong ripe fruit, they stubbornly hold tightly to the tree without regard to the forceful winds.
New vibrant shoots have popped out of previously trimmed bushes in defiance of the winter season. Obviously very happy with the abundance of rainwater, only frugally available in the past years, they seem to have come alive in this dormant season. My rose bushes even have several buds forming. Don’t they know its winter?
While the garden isn’t at its seasonal peak, freshly trimmed, orderly, fruits and vegetables planted for the late summer harvest, it has a vibrancy, life and unpredictability to it that defies the season. Like a wild woman in midlife!
While we are no longer in the spring/summer high growth season, woman demonstrate a strength and power at this time in our lives. We hold strong and steadfast to those values and people who are important in our lives, much like the last fruit on the tree, regardless of the “storms” in our life. We grow and change in new, unpredictable ways in any season. And many of us, blossom at this time in life!
Don’t you want to be a wild woman at this time of life? I do!
I am a recovering workaholic and busy-ness addict, which in Silicon Valley valley is not only encouraged, but lauded. To actually slow down, relax and receive the world in all its wonder at this time of my life (recent retirement from a long successful career) has been challenging to say the least. The seduction of this “disease” is powerful. But I’m learning and enjoying the process along the way.
I came across this quote from Virginia Wolff which says it all….
“If people are highly successful in their professions, they lose their senses. Sight goes. They have no time to look at pictures. Hearing goes. They have no time to listen to music. Speech goes. They have no time for conversation. They lose their sense of proportion and the relation between one thing and another. Humanity goes.”
One of the reasons I joined Nancy in our Hourglass Workshops adventure several years ago is because I wanted to regain full use of my senses—all 5 of them (plus better use of my women’s intuition). I want to share such experiences with a community of like-minded women, as well as learn to more fully appreciate and attend to the world around me. More importantly, I wanted to regain my sense of proportion, a stronger connectedness with life, family and friends, and the bigger community around me. I’m doing all those things and savoring the process.This blog and our Hourglass events reflect part of this journey, and I’m very interested in the experiences of other women during such transition points and what they’ve discovered for a book I’m writing.
Back when I was growing up, this was known as the Valley of the Heart’s Delight and I’d like to know it again as that. There is no better time than right now, today, this Summer and this lifetime to turn up your tunes and dance, try a new recipe, smell a beautiful summer rose, and really listen to the voices of those you love.
From the age of 16, I’ve always loved to travel after a life-changing experience as an AFS exchange student to Brazil. With my newly issued passport, I clearly remember sitting in SFO waiting for a flight to New York City and then on to Rio De Janeiro. Looking back at my parents as they waved good-bye at the gate (obviously back in the pre-TSA days), I still remember the excitement, fear, and heightened sense of anticipation as I boarded on my very first flight. Since then, I seem to always be planning the “next trip”. I thrive on travel. Not only the trip itself, but the planning, anticipation and the pre-trip excitement. I just don’t understand people when they say they rarely ever go on vacation!
With all its frustration, too small seats in crowded planes, extra fees, and petty inconveniences, travel continues to fully engage me and during trips I really stay in present. Studies show that travel improves our physical and mental well-being. I’m sure its partly due to the heightened awareness we have when we are out of our routines. Also, I always walk more when I’m on a trip than I ever seem to at home and it feels so effortless. (A real bonus is regardless of what I eat, I never gain weight while traveling.) I remember a recent trip to Paris and all the walking we did. Who hasn’t walked from dawn to dusk all over a new city, exploring streets, aware of architecture, people watching, and the variety of sights, smells and sounds? I have been keenly aware of the sensory feast in a Greek spice market, the sounds of waves crashing as we walked along on a Hawaiian beach, and the stunning vibrant autumn leaves along the Blue Ridge Highway in Virginia— all remain vivid reminders of travel. I was fully engaged in those experiences, my level of everyday stress was reduced, and I felt much more in the flow of life.
In an excellent article published by the Global Coalition on Aging , the authors discuss the physical, mental and emotional benefits of travel. Perhaps it’s not that healthy people travel, rather people who travel and remain active are healthier! In one study, women who travel twice a year are statistically less likely to have a heart attack than those who travel once every 4 years! So, for your heart’s sake, plan a trip!
There are many, many wonderful travel blogs and one I suggest is The World According to Barbara, a delightful travel log by a woman in mid-life…well written and inspiring.
More later as I share some of my travels and insights, and of course the health benefits! And if you have a favorite blog or a comment about how travel has made you healthier, let us know in the comments below.
Finding myself in this new, often strange “in between-place” of a midlife transition, I can’t help but wonder how I got here. One year I’m loving my long successful consulting career and then the next year, I’m aware I’m done, totally spent, declaring my career finito! This begs the bigger question in my mind, what are the forces which propel us from one place to another in our lives? I believe there are three primary forces which launch us into a new place or state of being.
The first force seems to come out of nowhere. We are literally “jolted” out of our present state by an event not of our own conscious choosing. After many years of marriage, a husband comes home and announces he doesn’t want to be married anymore. Our boss summons us into a conference room and we are told our job has been eliminated. Our best friend suddenly decides to move away to another state. You know what I mean. Our initial response is to sit dazed for awhile until the dust settles and we can wrap our mind around it.
The second force of change also shows up unexpectedly, but as a positive, great “opportunity”. We are suddenly drawn to something new and interesting. It seems to magnetically pull us out from our currently comfortable life. This could be an invitation to join a nonprofit board and you become passionately involved in their mission, instrumental in gathering resources to affect a positive change. It could be a long-single woman unexpectedly meets and falls in love with her perfect mate and decides to give marriage another chance. An opportunity could show up as a book idea one morning, and you suddenly begin to live a new, fascinating life of a writer/author. In situations like these, we feel positively drawn forward by an event, idea, or person and our lives are changed dramatically.
The third force initially feels like a slow, deliberate energy shift or “transition” over time gently moving you in an entirely direction. Barely perceptible, small, incremental changes in activities, interests, and decisions, slowly send us on a new path or into a new direction. It is like that lobster in a pot of cold water on the stove, never noticing over time the water begins to boil. I’d always enjoyed short morning runs, which over time became a bit longer and faster. Then one day I started signing up for half-marathons, thereby becoming a “runner”. It could be like a friend of mine who enjoyed beading, creating bracelets and necklaces. Her keen interest in beads, color and composition lead her to Italy to take classes in Murano glass bead-making and she now creates exquisite art pieces. Such change typically occurs over a longer period of time and is not necessarily in response to a singular, discernible event.
Whichever force sends us to a new place in our lives, it is best we sit for awhile as the sun rises over the change, get comfortable with the change, relax and enjoy this new view and appreciate where you are.
Agree or disagree, we encourage you share your perspectives and experiences with our community. We’d love to hear which force has moved you recently.
Several women I know are going through major changes in their lives. At midlife, this seems to be the norm for us, not the exception. Life as we knew it 10-15 years ago and the roles we had, have changed dramatically. Often change slowly transitions us to new awareness or situations. In the best cases, change is anticipated and appreciated. However, there are times when we must initiate a major change in our life which at the time is painful for ourselves and others, but we “know” its for the best. For example, a seriously declining relationship leads to a woman’s decision of separation or divorce. Or, we’ve lived in the same place for years and we need to move. Other times, we’re thrust into change. An example of such a catalytic change is when someone is given a totally unexpected health diagnosis. Either way, the direction of our life is forever changed.
There is much written about change by change experts which can be extremely helpful. I want to share a few insights you might find helpful while in the midst of the swirling energies of change.
1. Change is a predictable process. At first, you feel awful, terrified, sad and lost. These feelings seem to come in waves. This won’t last forever, but it’s important to have a few touchstones in your day and routine. Perhaps it is your morning coffee in your favorite cup, walking your dog, gardening, or a good supportive friend to chat with regularly.
2. You don’t need to know the end result, just know you will get through it. Greater clarity will come with more information and in time. And the right person or resources will seem to miraculously show up. They always do!
3. There’s work and effort and alot of trial and error, you won’t get it right all the time. But you’ll learn, make adjustments and move ahead. You have the strength and wisdom to get through it. If one person has done it, it’s certainly possible for you.
Look at the road you’ve travelled to get here today and the experiences you have survived. Appreciate what you’ve learned about yourself, life and your strengths. None of us got here untouched by life, yet all of us are still here.
Trust you have what it takes and the courage to get through it. You do have what it takes and you will get through this.