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Who will you be in the next phase of life?

Transformation
image by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The need to “do”, to be productive, is engrained in us. Therefore, “But… what will I do?” too often becomes the inevitable question that completes the statement, “I’m thinking of retiring …” However, before you go there, consider an equally important question and one that should be addressed first as you transition into retirement or into any phase of life: “Who will I be?”

Don’t get me wrong. “What will I do” is a good wake-up question because, as sure as dust follows dusting, life will pull you into its slipstream. If you wait until the first morning of retirement to figure it all out you may not make the best decisions. And be assured that there are plenty of folks who will be happy to tell you how to answer that question!

(Just a brief sidebar here: my suggestion to that question is always “plan to do nothing for a while,” the emphasis being on the word being “plan.” More on that another day.)

And I understand that concern about what to do. However, I also know that finding the answer to the question of “who will I be” is a better way to start and a much more satisfying way to drive your actions going forward. It is inner driven rather than outer driven.

Finding answers to “who will I be”

Finding an answer to who you’ll be probably feels a lot of work. Starting with who you are and peeling back layers. Scraping off life’s gunk and stripping away labels to get to who you are at your innermost core. Like the alien in the movie Cocoon who undresses and reveals her non-human status, who the heck are you beneath all the layers? After all this time?

So, yes, it may feel like a lot of work. And, really, who needs more work?

Because I know that by the time we’re contemplating retirement, by the time we are at an important phase of midlife transition, we have been at life for a while. We have adapted, instinctively figured out ways to cope and many of us have switched to auto-pilot. So, any task that can’t seem to be wedged into the rest of our “stuff” isn’t very appealing. It calls up our Scarlett O’Hara persona and we put if off for another day.

Been there; done that!

What if I told you there was an easy, fun way to explore the question of “who will I be?” That the process can be easily wedged into the rest of your stuff?

All it requires are four simple things:

  1. Formulate the question.
  2. Remember to ask.
  3. Pay attention.
  4. Capture what comes up.

Formulate the question

“Who will I be” is broad. Instead, narrow the question’s focus and consider these areas:

  • Who am I now?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • What am I really good at?
  • What did I love best as a child?
  • What shoots that bubble of delight up through my chest?
  • What’s most important to me at this point in my life?
  • Where do I find awe?
  • Where do I find meaning?

Questions like these will loosen up your imagination and allow you to find your purpose. That purpose doesn’t have to be big or TikTok ready. It only has to be right for you!

As you go along in this process, more questions will come up and these may change slightly. Go with it.

Remember to ask the question

Sounds simple, but new habits are squirrely and asking a question on a regular basis is a habit. What do you do to remind yourself of other tasks or events? Use that. Or go totally analog and write the question on some post-its. Place them on your vanity mirror, your dashboard, the back of your phone.

The goal is to see it – and ask it – often. Do not labor for an answer. Your only job here is to ask. And to ask frequently.

Pay attention

When your question is handy and asked often, the brain will be engaged and answers will emerge. You will notice news or magazine articles. Random conversations will hold clues. A billboard, a song, a stray memory. Don’t discount any of them. As one of my old co-workers used to say, “radar on, antenna up!” That’s all you need to do. It really is this simple, so resist the urge to complicate it. I’ve also been there and tried to do that!

Capture what comes up

You may think you’ll remember the answers that pop up, but the odds are not in your favor. It has nothing to do with age and all to do with busyness and distractions. Come up with a way to capture what emerges. The memory, the idea, the crazy scheme, the business idea, the volunteer organization, that place or thing you’ve always wanted to visit or do but never had the time.

Capture it all. You are only gathering data at this point. Don’t edit or censor and please don’t judge! And also, be very discerning with whom you share these ideas. Even the most well-intended remark can squash dreams like a bug.

You could try on some of the answers and do a little body check. “I am curious and love learning.” How does that feel? “I love helping others to do ____.” How does that feel?

If you have more time…

Try this exercise:

Make of list of words to define and describe yourself. Pay close attention to your language. Yes, you are a woman, man, partner/spouse, parent, son/daughter. You are an accountant, nurse, doctor, lawyer, baker extraordinaire. You have built a business, a career. Perhaps you’ve traveled the earth or gone to space. Wonderful.

Now go a little deeper. Go beyond the labels; peek underneath. At first, this may be uncomfortable or feel difficult. You may think that nothing’s there. Nothing’s coming up. Who the heck are you outside of what you do or your role in the world? (You could use the questioning format above for this.)

As you begin to list the labels, you may find yourself moving from nouns to pronouns. From pronouns to metaphor. From metaphor to analogy to a story of who you are without the labels. Eventually you will find yourself at the core of who you are.

Years ago, I attended a workshop to learn tips on running writing workshops for children. The teacher suggested a writing prompt that had them list what was in their backpacks. When you let them keep going, the tangible shifts to the intangible. The books and pencils lead to hopes, dreams and fears.

It will be the same for you if you keep going beyond the discomfort.

From there you can build outward. Reassembling yourself into who you’ll be and what you’ll do.

Pause for transformation

All of this requires a Pause. It requires time to think and wonder and ponder. Things we don’t normally spend too much time on in our second act or the first half of life. This is where all the good stuff comes from, the juiciness and richness.

Would you like to continue the process? I provide a very safe container in which you can pause, think out loud, say whatever you want, be outrageous, be hesitant, explore, experiment, course correct. It is transformation – deep and lasting. Contact me to schedule a coffee chat to see how we might work together.

Hello again

Hello!
Image by Benjamin Sow on Unsplash

Hello again! It’s me. It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It must be months since I’ve written about what is important to me and why I do what I do. The last few months have been tough and, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been off my game. The sudden death of my youngest brother knocked me and my family for a loop. My husband’s recent health problems continued to keep me off balance.

This is not to say that I haven’t been working. I have. But to resume deeper dives into writing about topics that are important to me – topics such as the power of writing and re-imagining our “third act” … that hasn’t been happening.

Tasks are often easier than deep thought. I can make a list and check it off and that is satisfying. At the same time, I’ve started and stopped several blog posts. I can’t give specific reasons, only that my focus wasn’t there.

It’s time.

So, here I am.

What I have found is that challenges and loss can throw us off track, particularly in our second half. If we’re not careful momentum will keep us that track.

However, what I know is that writing and creating bring us back, give us resilience and hope.

Right now, for me it feels a bit like starting over and that’s okay. Each of us gets a chance to start over – every day. Even every minute of every day. As long as we are here on this mortal plane, possibilities live.

So, let me introduce myself once again. As a reminder to both of us.

I am a coach, blogger, writer and ardent advocate and supporter of women in midlife.

I want for those women what I want for myself: to thrive in our third act as we creatively navigate career, life and business changes and design an awakened, meaningful, rich and purposeful, multidimensional second half of life. I love to help other women figure out what’s next and, as so beautifully put by one of my clients, create “Me 2.0”. Or 2.2. As I said above, every day is a chance to start over, re-create, re-imagine life and self.

I want to see the spark that is in every one of us catch fire and grow. To watch the transformation that takes place. To watch us come alive in ways both big and small. It all counts.

Let’s talk

Are you a woman in midlife? I’d love to start a conversation with you and hear about where you are in your life, what your dreams are and what you need to step into them. Not a sales call. No pressure. Just a chat over coffee or tea, in person if you’re local, or virtually. An open-ended conversation.

Because every conversation tells me more about what is needed in this challenging yet exciting time of life.

Every conversation makes me better able to work with the next person.

Every conversation makes me a better midwife in the process of bringing to life the essential you in your Third Act.

Every conversation moves us all one step closer to the amazing women we are.

Click here to schedule your 30-minute coffee chat.

Joyous Contentment and a Multidimensional Life

Image by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

I recently wrote about doing the joyful work. It was in the context of individual coaching and our Find and Follow Your Spark program. The topic lingers in my mind. Along with the question of whether I’m talking about joy or deep- rooted contentment. Are they the same thing? Do I need to redefine Joy? Is it Joyous Contentment? It’s definitely part of your Multidimensional Life!

How do you define joy?

Is it a beautiful sunrise or sunset? The radiance of a full moon? A leaf turning from green to copper? The magnificence of nature that makes you gasp?

The birth of a child or a life-defining moment or milestone can also be a source of joy.

The smile of someone you love? The fist pumping elation of success?

All of this is joyful. But it’s also generated outside of YOU. I believe that JOY is an inside job.

Here are three things to help you redefine/rediscover JOY:

  1. Joy can be rooted in the ordinary.
  2. Joy can be found by simply paying attention.
  3. You need to be open to recognizing Joy.

What is ordinary JOY?

I believe Joy can be an everyday state, not an exceptional state. It doesn’t have to be spectacular. Or awe inspiring. It can be a very deep-rooted satisfaction. In life, in your work, in your surroundings, in your purpose. It can be contentment. Let’s begin to think of it as Joyous Contentment. I love this poem by Pat Schneider “The Patience of Ordinary Things”. There’s such simplicity and pleasure in her words.  Not a clamoring joy but rather a deep appreciation.

Joy also doesn’t need to be something for which you strive or struggle. That seems antithetical to Joyous Contentment. It can be as simple as enjoying bubbles in a bubble bath or just feeling good. For me it’s often found in the early morning in the quiet kitchen, the sunrise, a cup of strong breakfast tea. Joyous Contentment settles on me as I pause and notice the spiraling steam, the fragrance, the deep color.

How do you find JOY?

Mindful presence. Yes, mindfulness has entered the mainstream lexicon to the degree that it can begin to feel stale. But truthfully, if you don’t pause and pay attention so many things will pass you by. Those moments when you feel good about where you are or what you’re doing. The moments of Joyous Contentment. You need to be paying attention in order to find them. Not constant high alert. Just the occasional picking up of your head and asking where am I finding/seeing joy in this moment/what else brings me joy? (By the way, if the answer is nowhere, widen your search. Let it be simple and small. I’m pausing as I write this, looking out my window and loving how the fallen leaves make the grass look greener and lusher. Mmmm… I sought the joy in nature as opposed to stumbling upon it.)

Someone who is new to my list responded to my request to tell me three things about herself by telling me that being authentic brings her joy. I thought it was a wonderful example of being present with what is. With who she is at her very core. I liked that, that present feeling as a source of joy. Later she clarified this. “Being authentic is comforting,” she wrote. Other things that brought her joy included “hiking to the top of a mountain and looking at the view, a good book, learning new things, a good cup of coffee…” Even without my asking she answered the question of what else brings her joy.

How will you recognize JOY?

Discover where you feel joy in your body. Recall a situation that you would define as joyful and notice where you feel it. Identify that as your Joy-meter.

For me it’s that savoring Mmmm. Sort of like this smiling emoji 😊 Yes, I have fist pumping woo-hoo moments, too but I don’t wait for them. Ordinary, everyday Joyous Contentment is lovely and sustainable.

By contrast, there’s a lot in the world to give you a feeling of dread. Also notice that in your body. Don’t push it away immediately. Some small questions around that:

  • Is it real? True? Am I in danger?
  • Is there anything I can do about it? (Even small actions make a difference.)
  • Is there another way I can look at this? (A reframe or shift in perception.)
  • Does my feeling this way make a difference in the situation?

You may need to feel sad for a bit. But you have the choice of returning to Joyous Contentment.

I invite you to ask yourself what where am I finding/seeing joy in this moment? To pause and recognize the everyday, mundane, simple joy. A deep-rooted joyous contentment. What is it that brings you joy? And what else?

Why bother defining/discovering/recognizing JOY?

First, we are not on this earth merely to suffer. However, as we approach and travel through mid-life and beyond, stuff piles up. We lose sight of the simple joys as we tend to life. A bit of the “forest for the trees” situation.

But if you want to experience a Multidimensional Life, Joy has to be part of it. Joy will feed your creativity, have a positive affect on your health and happiness and bring more balance into your life. Creating a Multidimensional Life is the conscious work we do to make the second half of life richer, more meaningful and creative. Joyous Contentment evens out the good with the bad, the sweet with the hard, the beautiful and the not beautiful. It’s life, real life, your life.

This is joyful work we can do together. Contact me find out what a path to a Multidimensional Life could look like.

It’s me, your inner voice.

Microphone
Image by Israel Palacio on Unsplash

Hi, there, Friend. It’s me, your inner voice. Call me Ivee if you like.

[Tap…Tap…Tap…] Is this thing on?

I’ve been trying to get your attention but it’s so darn noisy out there. Bright lights, people vying for your attention. All the siren songs luring you to a rocky shore, their beautiful voices drawing you in.

And here’s the thing. When you’re listening to them, you’re not listening to me. After all, their song isn’t your song. And, furthermore, when you try to match their voice it’s not sustainable. Your voice begins to wobble, your throat gets dry. You can’t hit that high note anymore. Trying to sing someone else’s song, competing with the singer who seems to have it all, doesn’t work well. Oh, it might for a while. Until it doesn’t. Oh, and, by the way, that other singer? She really doesn’t have it all. And yet you continue to try.

I’ve heard that this happens a lot. I talk to other inner voices, you know. We have our own version of Zoom: virtual, virtual Zoom or Vavavoom.

Here are some things I’ve learned.

Can you still hear me? [tap tap]

Okay, good. Let’s talk about you and where you might have some challenges. Because this is really important. On every level of your life.

One area you might be struggling with is your career. You’ve probably been quite successful. But it may have come at a cost. Or maybe it’s run its course, outlived its joy. Work became a “job” for the income instead of a passion. Or, as so many of you, you work for the benefits. I’ve heard this is a big one for women in midlife.

Second, you are probably operating on autopilot. It happens. I mean, reflect on what you do every day. Sometimes it’s out of habit; sometimes out of need. However, what I’ve learned is that autopilot drives you into a deep rut.

I get it. You do what you need to do. One foot in front of the other.

But it can be different.

What happens when you don’t listen.

When you go for long periods of time tuning me out, you know, that route you’re traveling on autopilot? It gets old. It feels uncomfortable. You become filled with unease. Maybe dis-ease.

It. Just. Doesn’t. Fit. Anymore.

Ultimately, you end up sacrificing the very things that I’ve been trying to talk to you about. Those important things that energize you rather than the daily fire drills, the hamster wheel, the blur of life passing by. The things that make life juicier and more meaningful.

And when you go on like this for too long, you experience varying degrees of burnout. Stress and all its attendant ills can be very subtle or it can hit you over the head. A few examples: lowered immunity, poor sleep, lack of focus, overeating/undereating. These lead to other things. It’s a slippery slope, not a pretty sight. And then there’s that huge hole right next to me where your heart is.

I can help you fill the hole but we need to be in touch more.

What happens when you begin to listen.

When you start listening you might notice me telling you that you don’t have to settle for the status quo. You begin to hear my sweet voice inviting you to imagine how you can begin planning for something new at this stage of life. Not a radical, ditch everything and start from scratch new. But a start. In fact, take a moment and try to imagine that right now. What would it feel like to believe in possibilities? Is it hard? Try to let it in just 10% of the way.

When you tune me in you begin to realize that you’re not too old to make meaningful changes. That you can make different choices in how you spend your time each day. That it’s okay to make yourself a priority, rather than putting yourself last in service to everyone around you. Yes, I know that last one’s a toughie.

And you can also begin to express your creativity – whatever way that wants to show up – in ways that will make you come alive.

What has to take place in order to be able to hear.

Two things have to happen, however, before you can begin to hear me.

First, you need to get comfortable with the unknown and with your own vulnerability.

Part of the reason you’ve had a hard time hearing me and thus getting started, is that you’ve built a silencing wall around me. I know you didn’t mean to. You probably don’t even realize it’s there. But, listening to me is risky. What I have to say might fly in the face of everyone around you. And then what?

Well, okay, then what?

You begin to experience discomfort. Call it fear if you like. You begin to feel vulnerable.

Much of what I have to say comes from that place of vulnerability, that very tender part of you. And that is why you often check out.

But questioning your particular status quo, allowing the yearning for something different to become visible, finding the spiritual courage to fill that emptiness that resides beside me? That’s a scary vulnerable.

Beginning

Once you decide to let yourself be vulnerable, a second obstacle may appear. You realize you want to begin this process of change but you don’t know where to start. That can be overwhelming and cause you to hit the brakes. That’s okay. I’m here for you. Starting can be as simple as being quiet, (that in itself can be a challenge!) and asking the right questions. And, of course, trusting me, your very wisest self.

This is also where a good coach can help. A good coach (contact Kathy here)  is one that will make you feel comfortable with not knowing where you’re going at first. She will make you feel less vulnerable and eminently normal. She will help you tune in to me and discover what makes you come alive.

Between the two of us? Oh, the places you’ll go!

A letter to Thomas Jefferson and The Case for White Space

A White Space
Image by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash (altered)

Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing – advising his daughter Martha, 1787. – Thomas Jefferson

Dear Mr. Jefferson,

It saddens me that you instilled into your daughter the belief that “always doing” is beneficial. I wonder how that worked for her. Perhaps it was the way of the 18th century, but with all due respect, I say poppycock!

This is a myth that needs to be dismantled. It’s time to redefine idleness and challenge the need to be “always doing”.

This notion that we get more done when we are constantly doing is a great example of the law of diminishing returns. It ignores the need for rest, recharge, re-creation. Where and when do we get to think and dream? To just noodle?

Sloth or idleness?

How do you define idleness, TJ? Did you never walk around the grounds of Monticello while dreaming up the Declaration of Independence or working through a gnarly design problem? I find a walk to be an amazing stimulus for my creativity. I’m re-creating and enjoying the fresh air while I write in my head or marvel at the ideas that pop up. I often use the voice-recorder on my iPhone. You would have loved that.

What about sitting down with a beloved book?

Perhaps you consider staring out the window to be idleness? Again, I disagree. Sometimes it can be hard to do sit and woolgather. However, when I do I find that the quality of the ideas and creativity that come up is better than anything that emerges when I have my nose to the grindstone that is my desk!

For me, the concept of idleness or what could be considered non-productivity is a struggle and something I work on and toward. Yes, I hear the irony in that. But I have come to understand its intrinsic value. Now, understand, I not talking about sitting around the house in curlers and a housecoat, a cigarette dangling from my mouth, watching Jerry Springer. That is sloth, not idleness. There’s a vast difference.

Idling or recharging

But I get it, this tug of constant productivity. The way that even downtime has to be structured and busy. It’s an attitude that has carried over from my years of working in corporate where busy-ness was a measure of my value. When I slip back into that mindset, no matter what I do it’s never enough. I go down a rabbit hole and fizzle out. Then I need to recharge. And in that situation my recharging choices are not always the best. Surfing the internet, computer games… You have no idea, TJ, of the ways we can be “idle” here in the 21st century.

Therefore, I’d rather weave “idle” recharging into my day. Even as I write this I will occasionally turn around and gaze out the window. The sky is autumn blue and the leaves are getting sparse. The sun slants in at a lower angle and casts long shadows. My mind relaxes and thoughts untangle. Sitting and looking out the window is just what I need at times. And then I turn back to the page.

White space

So, did you ever consider the beauty of white space on your calendar, TJ? A block of time that has no commitment. Expansive and luxurious. Where all things are possible. Yes, it may also produce anxiety, bring up the habitual need to fill it with something productive, something meaningful and purposeful. However, what I’m finding is that meaningful and purposeful don’t live on the hamster wheel. They live in our heart centers and if we are constantly “doing” as you are advising your daughter, we will never learn what they have to teach us. We will never hear their song that carries us into our Multidimensional Lives.  Here’s a beautiful article by Leo Babauta titled “Life’s Missing White Space.” He discusses how white space in design provides greater legibility, luxury, breathing room and balance. And then he applies these concepts to life.

What would white space look like for you?

The reality is that staying in that high activity mode, 24/7 is not healthy. It keeps the adrenaline pumping, causing stress and all those things that cascade down from that state. That state begets more need for productivity and the feeling that whatever we do is not quite enough. Certainly, I could do more. It keeps us on the hamster wheel.

Am I alone in this?

I’m curious, reader. What does idleness bring up for you? Do you need to be always “doing” or knowing what’s next? Could you use help in slowing the hamster wheel of endless productivity and defining what your white space might look like? Contact me and learn how working together can bring ease, possibilities and, yes, some of that well-deserved white space into a busy life.

Tracking Time

Clock

Recently, I started tracking my time. I was inspired by a comment on a recent call with my coach, Isabel Parlett. It got me curious. Where does my day go? Am I living the Multidimensional Life I want to be living where those things that are important get the same attention as the urgent? Where there is some space in my day to breathe or think, or do both at the same time.

Whoa! This little experiment immediately snapped my head back into a mindset that had whips cracking and deadlines breathing down my neck. That is a familiar and, unfortunately, comfortable mindset. It’s a perfect illustration of a hamster wheel that resides in a very deep groove in my head and into which I can easily fall. It was constrictive. I’d rather my time be expansive.

I’ve done this type of exercise before: while I was still working in corporate, when I first left and started my business.

It never felt good. I don’t respond well to whips and things breathing down my neck.

But…

This time was different.

I woke up from the wheel induced coma much quicker.

I paused to evaluate the results of this tracking.

I observed what got done and what didn’t.

I wasn’t thrilled with what I found.

Granted, I got a lot of tasks done. Work tasks, household tasks, personal tasks.

But do you see what was happening? Everything became a task. Just the word task has a certain crackling quality to it. It’s not onomatopoetic (you have to love that word!) but it may as well have been, because it sounded just like a bullwhip snapping close to my ear.

Important vs. Urgent

There was no space woven into my day. It was a race to the finish so that tangible results could be documented. List items could be checked off. I could hear the “good girl, Kathy” in the back of my head.

No! No! No! Get off the hamster wheel!!

Here’s what I know about life off the hamster wheel:

  • We can still be productive.
  • Thinking and dreaming are essential to a full and fulfilling life.
  • Hard, tangible lists can be replaced with curiosity and creativity.
  • The cracking whip can be replaced with an inner GPS check.
  • We can get the urgent done while leaving space for the important.

The important is what is woven into a Multidimensional Life, what gives it its dimension and sparkle. It should be given the same priority as the urgent.

Actually, it should be given a higher priority so we’re sure to get to it.

The intangibles

Because often the urgent is easier than the important. That’s an interesting phenomenon, isn’t it? The edges of urgent are easily defined.

Set up a landing page for an offering? Easy. Yes, there are some tech challenges but there will be steps to follow. We figure it out.

Other things are not quite as simple. Get to the next chapter of my book. Ooh, now we’re in the amorphous world of “I don’t know what happens next.”  Adding more movement/exercise to my day – also important.  Not always simple steps to follow if I want to keep and loose and intuitive.

What’s important to you? What might your day feel like?  Is there a creative project or a refresh of your day-to-day rhythms called for? What about noodling about a new business or retirement? There’s no real template so it’s hit or miss. It’s curiosity and practice. It’s not knowing and trusting.

It’s never an end result like an urgent task that has a starting and ending point and can be given a neat little check box that you tick off.

But it’s so very important.

The thrill of the process

It’s a process, a journey and guess what? That is where the good stuff is. That’s the juice, the thrill, the joy.

It’s messy and complicated and simple and fun all at the same time.

I know. This is what I am reminded of when I come out of my hamster wheel induced coma and remember what’s important.

That next chapter of the book. The garden dreams. My business. My clients. What I’m doing at this very moment.

Does this whet your appetite for your own Multidimensional Life? I hope so. I hope it gives you a yearning for what could be. That sensation of “I can taste it but I can’t put my finger on it…yet”. This is where I shine in helping you shine. Are you being called to do the work you’re called to do?

The other stuff will get done. This is the Multidimensional Life we all crave. And deserve.

I’d love to talk to you about getting you off your hamster wheel and into your Multidimensional Life. Click here to book a consult with me.

Help with the Midlife Journey

You Can Lighten Up Your Journey

Do you find it hard to ask for help? Do you feel that you need to do things on your own? After all, why would you work with a coach for help in the passage into midlife and beyond? To lighten up the journey? That beautiful unfurling of a Multidimensional Life? After all you can read a book or talk to your friends. And hiring a coach feels frivolous. I used to think that way.

Lots more road ahead

At a certain point in life we start to sense feelings of disappointment. It can become a close companion. Regrets, ruing, what if’s, the road not taken. I know I’ve been there. We aren’t that 21-year-old anymore with starry dreams and no road dust. We have been through the thick of it. We have worked and nurtured, we’ve laughed and shed a lot of tears. Tears of sadness, happiness, anger, frustration, laughter. We’ve been knocked for loops, left adrift, fallen down, gotten up, been pulled up, been knocked down. So, how do we put it behind us and move on? Because there’s still more road ahead.

And, here’s the thing: You’re still here!  All the stuff I just listed? This is the stuff that will be used for the next leg of your journey. This is the stuff that you can sort through, dialogue with, toss out. You can thank it for its lessons and let it go. You can use the Marie Kondo method – does this bring me joy?  No? Toss it. This is grist for your personal mill, lead to be transmuted into gold.

You are an alchemist.

Moving forward

Now, you can certainly go it alone. You’re smart. This isn’t your “first rodeo”. However, my personal experience is that without support dreams just float by. It’s hard to get momentum and easy to slip back into the rut of the status quo. The pages of the calendar fly away at an ever-quickening rate. Oh, well, you sigh. Maybe I’m too old for change. Maybe it’s too late. Life isn’t so bad.

You’re not too old.

It’s not too late.

Life can be richer, deeper and more meaningful.

I’m not talking huge epiphanies or complete 180’s. I’m talking about beginning an exploration of possibilities with small questions, small steps, curiosity and joy.

Why go it alone?

Getting support, hiring a coach, taking courses…this was hard for me in the beginning. I always thought that I should be able to fix whatever wasn’t working. I thought asking for help was a weakness. It didn’t fit in with the image I had of myself as a strong, self-sufficient woman. Yes, my ego was quite fierce!

But, the reality? Staying in my own head, having no objective person to bounce things off didn’t work. Yes, I have a great husband and friends and siblings but their views and feedback will usually be biased. They know me as they think they know me.

Fresh ideas, fresh tools, fresh mindsets? That has made all the difference. Finding new people who resonate with the person I was becoming and who weren’t stuck on the old me (like I also was!) was life changing.

That is what I do for my clients.

What else I do

I also:

  • Remind them of their dreams
  • Help them create small questions and determine next small steps. (There’s an art to this!)
  • Provide accountability, celebration, deep listening and someone to reflect back their words.
  • Have an array of creative tools to make this process more intriguing and fun.

By midlife we carry so much. We are containers that life has filled to the brim with all our experiences – both good and bad. Up bubbles the regrets, the disappointments.

It’s time to tip that container over and sort through things. It’s time to stop being weighed down by this slag.

What worked, what do you love, what is important to you, what are your values – have they shifted, what brings meaning into your day, your life? What about joy, delight, a giggle?

Work with what is working

Let’s shine the light on that, expand it, thank the other stuff for their contribution, for their strengthening power, for making you who you are. Know that there will be more challenges and tears but the depth and richness of your MD Life will be able to contain them, hold them and let them move through and out of you.

Now is the time to begin living as if you believed you have a lot of life left and that the quality of that life matters. Because when you do, it begins to come true. It’s magic. It’s alchemy. You are golden.

You are so much more. Contact me and we’ll uncover the you that is in waiting. Let’s show the world all your beautiful layers. Your Multidimensional Life.

Hamster wheels, Merry-go-Rounds and Sisyphus

Crashing Wave Like Overwhelm
Photo by Todd Turner on Unsplash

What do hamster wheels, merry-go-rounds and Sisyphus have to do with each other? Simply put, they provoke and exemplify stress and overwhelm.

So many successful, professional women spend their lives on a hamster wheel. It’s a constant push, always focused on getting things done and accomplishing things.

Or their lives are a merry-go-round. With that incessant music – someone else’s music – insinuating its way into our veins, taking over our natural rhythms.

We are like Sisyphus, pushing the rock up, struggling, paying for sins long forgotten. Perhaps just the sin of gender and the need to prove ourselves. The need to try harder.

Enter stress and overwhelm.

Sisyphus dared to fiddle with the plans of the gods. He was punished with a job that will never be done. Is that you?

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

(Opening lines from Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese)

Here’s the truth.

You are already good. You can stand tall in that. And you will go on being good: at what you do, at who you are, at what you stand for. Stop wasting your energy trying to prove it. Come out of the desert into the cool green glade of your essence.

What I know is that when we try so hard to be all and do all, when we struggle, all we see is the struggle. All we see is the rock teetering above us and we lose sight of why we’re pushing. And, at the same time, we teach others to let us do the heavy lifting.

When we struggle, we get exhausted and those pieces of ourselves that renew and restore get lost. We don’t have time to do the things that make us a multidimensional human. For me, well, who had time to meditate, journal, play with watercolors. The garden was on the list but at the bottom. If I were to invite a friend out for a walk…wait, what friend? Most of my friends were really acquaintances or work colleagues. Ten-hour work days plus a long commute left no energy to meet new people, volunteer, join an organization that aligned with who I am and who I want to be.

I had let go of who I was and tried to become what the world thought I should be. Is that you?

Here’s another truth.

You can climb the ladder of success without a boulder on the rung above you. You can let loose your creativity in your business, your home, your interactions with the bigger world. And it can be joyful and satisfying and meaningful. It can be a model for the women who are coming up behind you. Because you do not have to sacrifice your whole self to attain this. I am still learning this; unraveling years of habitual, reactive behavior.

You can stay moored in the depths and riches of who you are at your core. You can choose how to spend this precious commodity that is your time. You know there is so much more to you and your life. Are you willing to explore and flow with it?

Yes, you can be anchored and flowing.

Let the world get to know the real you. You don’t have to push. You do not have to walk on your knees. There is nothing to repent.

Wondering how to step off the merry-go-round? Contact me for a complimentary discovery call. I’ve been there and I can help.

Feeling Adrift

Drifting Boat
Image by Ruth Archer from Pixabay

One thing I’ve learned over the years of crafting what I now call my Multidimensional Life is to do more observing than reacting. Because what I have found is that that my initial reaction usually misses the mark. It’s more habit of thought than intuition. I was reminded of this recently when what seemed like a feeling of being adrift slowly revealed itself as an intentional letting go.

The Pause

My journey over the last decade or so has shown me very clearly how insidious habitual thinking is. As a result, I’ve learned that when I pause, the second (or third) thought is more accurate. Just like when I was learning to cross the street, lo those many years ago, I need to stop, look and listen.

It was the deeper listening that made me understand that what I was experiencing  wasn’t an untethering. Instead it was a grounding into my own Multidimensional Life. A letting go. Me doing the releasing, not being cut off by the outside world. An inner driven decision, not outward driven.

As it turns out, it feels good. So, I asked myself just what does this mean in the scope of my own MD life.

But first, a side trip into what a MD life is not.

Defining multidimensional

When we use the word multidimensional to define an object it means that it contains many facets. It is not flat; it has nooks and crannies, some obvious, others hidden. To me there’s magic in it. Each time we look, different aspects reveal themselves. However, not everything must be taken in at once.

When I talk about a Multidimensional Life, I mean the same thing. Not every facet needs to be in play at every moment. It is not an invitation to overwhelm. It is not intended to create a longer to-do list or attain the status of superwoman.

It is intended to be lived in conjunction with a pause which allows space, breath and discernment. It is being true to those things that are most important, not just urgent. We know the urgent will get done, but the challenge is to weave in the important, the meaningful, the joyful, the nurturing.

Back to my gradual untethering.

Once a month I connect with other coaches for a creative mastermind. There is a structure to it as we think out loud and tap into each other’s wisdom. I value these women and this time together and my nature is to be diligent about keeping every appointment.

But sometimes my MD life requires me to hit the pause button. Sometimes, I need to decide among various options and priorities. Sometimes, I have to tumble over to the side of me and what’s best for me at the moment.

That’s what happened recently.

When I think of the things that are most important to me, things that I need in my life, my outdoor space is high on the list. It doesn’t have to HGTV worthy, but it needs to give me pleasure when I look out my window or step outside. However, for the last 5+ years I have disappointed myself and been saddened by the neglect I inflicted on my garden. I had instead agreed to the ideas and priorities of others and put my joy of the garden on the back burner.

On the day of the mastermind call I had several things on my calendar: a coaching client, this blog post to start, reminder emails for my writing circle and editing of my own creative fiction that I would be sharing with another writer. It was a full day.

By the end of the afternoon, when I was due to get on our call, I was standing in my yard amid branches that needed to be cut up. I was in a groove and feeling good in the fresh air and sunshine. Then my phone alarm reminded me of the upcoming call.

Having and doing it all is not a MD life.

Joy whooshed out of me. Deflated, I said to myself “I can’t do it all” (habitual thinking). Self responded, “Why are you trying? What do you want?” (pause) Myself chose the yard and pruners. I never miss these calls. One time would be okay.

The having and doing it all is an unrealistic goal foisted on us by a productivity crazed outside world. It’s a view of women that would elevate us to superwoman (which is a load of you know what. It just means that we can take care of it all. Nothing new there. Move along; nothing to see.)

The illustration in this Star Ledger article really says it all. While the writer is talking about motherhood, much doesn’t change as we move into the second half of life. The baby might be a grandchild. We may be in a position now to hire help around the house, but we’re still are the point person, the hiring person, the one who deals with the details.

Oh, I’m sounding cranky. Actually, I’m very tired. Not a lot of sleep as I worry about a medical condition my husband is dealing with. Not Covid, thankfully; but definitely not a time to need to see a doctor.

But this is also part of a MD Life. The knowledge that things pass, we adapt, we can still get to those things that are most important. We may need to be more discerning but we can still get to them. We are not responsible for the world; we can accept help; in many areas we actually are dispensable. Does that sound harsh?

Choices

With a tip of the hat to Helen Reddy, sure we can bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan. We don’t have to, though. What is it you want? The bacon will still get cooked.

I chose to not attend this month’s mastermind. I know it was great and that I would have taken away more than I brought. But it was great and powerful for those who were there even without me.

Is it ego that drives us to try to do and be it all? Maybe. We think that we want to help, be useful and productive. Yet I suspect part of it is that we want to be looked at with appreciation, admiration. We want to be the hero of the story.

How about just being the hero of our own story?

Love

I had a college teacher who always said that the only thing in life that was non-negotiable was love. How about loving yourself as you love your loved ones. Get comfortable with feeling “selfish.” (You’re not.) You are tending to a very important life – yours.

In the end the feeling of being untethered, adrift, was really about being centered in what was important in my world. It was about more discernment, less fractured attention. It was about standing strong in my world and my priorities.

Try out the feeling of being untethered to the outside world. Anchor into your heart instead. Tether yourself to you.

My Wish for You in Your Second Half of Life

Hand Holding Dandelion
Photo by Coley Christine on Unsplash

From one woman to another, this is my wish for you in our second half of life.

My wish is that you feel like you’re moving toward something meaningful and exciting, not just toward the end.

My hope is that this can be a different type of building phase, unlike the building you did in your first half.

If I could wave a magic wand, this time would be inner driven.

Returning to the essential you

You’ve followed the outward driven path – family, career, the hopes and expectations of others. You’ve cared, cleaned, cooked; worked in and outside of the home. You’ve worked for wages; you’ve worked for causes. You always do what needs to be done.

Now it’s time to return to the essence of who you are and why you’re here. It’s time to uncover your creative spirit and unfurl your Multidimensional Life. And by a Multidimensional Life I mean uncovering the inner pieces of you that got buried in the day-to-day busyness and to-do lists.

And, yes, I know you’re a responsible, efficient woman and that uncovering your Multidimensional Life won’t be to the exclusion of family, friends and obligations. But wouldn’t it feel great to add in – even if only in small steps – those things that make your heart sing?

Where to start?

One small step to start you off could be pursuing an interest left behind in the busy first half of life.

Like the woman who knew she didn’t want to – couldn’t – continue the career she’d had for decades. One day she stepped outside her house, looked up at the sky and said, “So, tell me world, what do I do now!” The answer popped into her head to take out her camera and start taking pictures. She had gotten into this when she was in high school and college, even developing her own pictures. But she left it behind in the career and family hustle and while she took great photos of her kids and vacations, she never considered herself a “photographer”.

Now she began to experiment, take classes, play with images. Maybe she could put up a website and start by taking professional head shot photos for business people because she knew that world. In small steps she moved ahead, finding her likes and preferences in subjects and finding the best places to have prints made. She began to soften to the idea that maybe she was a “photographer”.

She’s not sure where this will lead and has let herself be okay with not knowing. She is getting comfortable with the unknown. She is living in the creative process of unfurling layers of her Multidimensional Life, a path that’s misty but full of adventure. At the same time, she continues to consult in her old industry. So, there’s the practical and efficient coexisting with a dream.

What happens when you start?

Returning to those old interests brings out “tribes” of fellow travelers that you didn’t know were there. They, in turn, enrich and expand your world. They are chosen, not thrust upon you.

What I wish for you is a MD life that expands you to the limit that is perfect for you and just a toe length more. Because as it expands, it increases its ability to expand.

If this is what you wish for yourself but feel like you have no time for it or that time spent on yourself is selfish, carve out 30 minutes and contact me for a chat. Put yourself to the top of your checklist.

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