*Midlife: a time when we awaken to our soul’s deepest calling to live as authentically as possible. Usually happens around 40 (give or take some years on either end).
My own midlife awakening started happening in my late 30s. On a massage table, to be exact. I’m 43 now and it’s not over yet. You can read about the details of it here. http://yournovellife.com/index.php/my-story/.
What’s so special about the awakening that happens in midlife versus, let’s say, the one that happens as we step into adolescence and make grand declarations about who we are and what we want?
Well, for starters, we’re adults now. Far from the teen angst that pulsated through our veins and left us quivering in the corner with our deep insecurity and the need to be accepted. Wait, perhaps we aren’t that far from that fragile, blossoming person after all, you say? I know, I know, adulting is hard too.
All kidding aside, the difference has to do with life experience. As teenagers, we’re still growing and transforming from a child to an adult. Our life, up until that point, has been family, school, camp, siblings, and an ever expanding and important friend circle. But really, we’re in an in-between state, hovering between childhood and adulthood. And it is HARD.
But it is precisely because of this in-between state that we are being asked to awaken. We question everything (if you were anything like me!) and dream of the future and who we want to be. We take our distance from our families, we start to develop and express our own beliefs and values, sometimes in direct conflict with those closest to us. We get in trouble, make rash decisions and piss off and worry our parents. We are in a process of becoming independent and it’s a crucial time in the development of humans that this happen! It’s exciting, confusing and trying.
But at midlife, we’ve been adults for a while now and have already lived pretty full lives. We’ve been on this merry-go-round long enough to have really and truly gotten a taste for what it means to be ALIVE.
We’ve seen things. We’ve done things. We now know enough to know better, to do better.
We know that life can be beautiful, kind, and exciting, while still being deeply cruel, unjust and filled with hatred. We’ve experienced deep, passionate, dizzying love and then felt the comedown of it as it morphs into something quieter and more predictable (long term marriage/relationship anyone?). We’ve felt the sting of failure and the urge to bury our faces in the sand to avoid the pain and the shame. We’ve celebrated successes + promotions and felt proud of our accomplishments. We’ve had our confidence shaken, our hearts broken, and our minds blasted wide open. We’ve traveled to far off places and met fascinating people. We have university degrees, seen a ton of sunsets, and made people laugh till they cried. We’ve been to weddings, funerals, and enough parties to never have to go to another if we didn’t want to. We’ve made love, had one-night stands, and yes, we may have even broken some hearts along the way. Add in houses + bills + mortgages or rent + insurance payments + childcare, etc….we’ve got this adulting thing down! Most days, anyway. 😉
We’ve learned the lessons that life isn’t always fair and that those closest to us can hurt us the most. We’ve learned that heartbreak is real, and that death and losing loved ones is as much a part of life as anything else. We’ve learned to trust our gut and that our parents really were trying to do the best they could with what they knew. Because we’ve also learned that being a parent is really and truly the hardest job you’ll ever have and yet it’s also the most divine privilege to raise, love and honor another human life. We’ve watched our children grow, year after year, and we realize how FAST time really does go. And we understand how precious and fleeting this life is. Our lives are.
And yet… and this is where things get interesting…we also realize that we still have A LOT of living left to do (fingers crossed!). We’re only half-way! We see our parents enjoying their lives; still working, traveling, being active. But holy shit!
There is still so much more to DO! To BE! To SEE!
And so we find ourselves in transformation once again. We have entered into a new in-between state. A state where our cup is half-full with the lives we have already lived and also half-empty with the lives we have yet to experience.
And we start to ask questions. Is this the right relationship/career/home/lifestyle/diet (feel free to insert anything else that fits) for me? Do I want to take this with me into the next half?
Let’s be honest. Being at this unique crossroads is at once scary and exhilarating. It’s a moment when we are being asked to wake up to what remains. Wake up to what has come and gone. We take stock, we reassess, we think ahead. And this state of wakefulness (or, if you prefer, this wake-up call) often creates a deep, lustful hunger to live the remainder of our lives in a way that feels right. Whatever that means for you. We are being asked to deeply consider with what we want to fill the remainder of our cup. Do you know?
At midlife, our SOULS awaken to the call to live braver, more authentic, and meaningful lives.
We are called for MORE because we are no longer willing or able to settle for less. We know time is ticking. Our eyes are wide open, our hearts are wide open and we are hungry for something else. We are no longer the teenager who lives for herself and yet we do feel the same need to distance ourselves so we can find ourselves once again. This is normal. Only now, we are mothers, fathers, volunteers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, doctors, professors, artists, coaches, people doing things in the world, people with massive responsibilities for goodness sakes! Yes, our lives are our own, and yet they aren’t, because we are so tethered and entangled (in the best of ways) to the little humans we have created (talk about massive responsibility!).
There is a whisper. Can you hear it? It’s an invitation to ask yourself the questions that seek answers.
We reexamine our values, our needs, and our desires. We question our relationships, our purpose, and how we contribute to the world. Who am I now, in this midlife moment? As a woman? As a mother? Who am I?
Sometimes we are on the search for more excitement, passion, something new and refreshing because life has become a routine, complacent place to be. Other times, we want everything to stay the same because we’re scared of what change may bring. Sometimes, we know the life we have built thus far, is not the life we want to take with us into the future.
Midlife is often a time when marriages implode, families break apart, careers change, and, on top of all that, our bodies start to show signs of aging (WTF!). Weird foot pain anyone? Cracking knees and random hip pain sometimes? I feel your pain!
This time can be so confusing. So what do we do?
We fret, we stress, we long for something we can’t quite put our finger on. And it often leaves us with a void, with no idea how to fill it in a meaningful way. And so sometimes we do nothing except slowly accept that life is actually “OK” (like ho-hum OK, not really OK because we ‘re secretly really freaking envious of all those other people living fabulous lives).
Or we do something drastic and impulsive that ends up being hurtful to our loved ones and ourselves as well (affairs come to mind, quitting a job without warning, buying things you can’t afford, developing destructive habits, etc.).
Or, the third option is we settle in with the questions. We invite them in. We heed the call, slow down enough to listen and we figure it out.
The awakening of midlife is a call to listen deeply, slowly, intentionally. You can either heed the call and transform or you can turn away and suffer. I invite you to heed the call. Allow yourself to be provoked by your soul’s deepest desires.
Will it be easy? Probably not. Is any kind of transformation easy? Will it be worth it to engage in a dialogue with your deepest Truth and live your life from an authentic and aligned place?
I know you know. The answer is YES.
Midlife is a beautiful time to take stock of the glorious life you have already lived, so you can plan the rest of your time here on Earth with more intention, more purpose, more awakeness (is that even a word? I don’t care, I like it!). Step into your second-half feeling confident in who you are NOW (as this adult who has so much life inside her) and in what you want so you can create that right life you seek for the remainder of your days.
My deepest wish for you is to heed the call so you can meet your Truest self, meet who you are TODAY, standing there with your cup half-full and half-empty. You are being called to transform again. Sometimes this means big things will happen (like REALLLY big) and sometimes it means only little things will shift. Either way, I invite you to make sure that your second-half feels right. However you define that. You deserve it. You deserve to live your best, brightest, most meaningful and purposeful life.
If this post resonates with you and you think/know/wonder if you could use some support to get super clear on who you are TODAY and what you want for your future, I’ve created a deeply insightful, wholistic, and powerful coaching program to help you do just that. This will be an exclusive program with limited spaces. If you’d like to get on the interest list, send me an email today. I’ll also be sharing more about it in the coming weeks.
I was free writing in my journal using this line as my starting off point: Like paint tumbling out of a paint can, ready to be rolled onto a clean wall.
Yeah, I know, but just go with me here, ok?
Anyway, this stream of consciousness writing eventually led me to a truly important insight, which is this:
What if the truth isn’t what “she” says? “She” being our mean-spirited, overly critical, judgmental, asshole voice in our head. I’m sure you know who I’m talking about, right? We all have a “She”. Let’s just say “She” is part of our human experience.
But here’s the thing, we don’t have to believe everything (or anything!) “She” says. In fact, we shouldn’t, because “She” is basically a compulsive liar. Let me explain.
“She” is so swift at having us believe that we are spoiled, ungrateful, worthless little brats that have absolutely nothing to offer anyone, ever, that we often stay hidden, play small, and never do what we really want to do in life, much less what we are meant to do, which is to love ourselves and others both fiercely and gently.
So how do I know she’s a liar? Because when I stop believing her, even for an instant, I SEE my brilliance. I am flooded with images of me twirling in delight on top of a mountain (cue The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music here), free, happy, and unchained. I FEEL my heart filled to the brim with LOVE! Perhaps even enough to heal the world! At least, in that instant, that’s what it feels like to be free of “She”.
So I wonder, what would happen if more people stopped believing “She” and instead chose to listen to their truer voice, the voice of their own brilliance? What could happen with the power of that energy? What if we were all twirling on the mountain? How could we use that force of light to transform our selves, our communities and our world?
To be free of “She” is to say NO to being dragged down and held back, so we can say YES to moving forward and being uplifted!
So what if the truth really isn’t what “She” says? What if the truth is something else altogether that has nothing to do with her and everything to do with you?
Who would you be if you didn’t believe her lies? How would your life change, starting today, if you focused solely on your voice, your light, your Truth? Can you set her free from her need to control you, in her attempts to keep you safe from living a courageous, vibrant life? Can you stop believing “She” long enough to release her to the wind, turn inward to the wise LOVE that infuses every ounce of your being, and be FREE?
I say, let’s live in a world free of “She”, twirling together on the mountain.
I want to write. To get it all out of me. To say what needs to be said. To explore and be brave and be heard and scream from the rooftops that I am worthy and capable and will do and make and be something magnificent. So here is what I have for you today.
We are here to learn, grow and evolve. This I know for sure.
Because LIFE (yes, life in all CAPITALS!) is constantly changing and isn’t that miraculous?
Every single day, the same sun rises…but it never looks the same. EVER. It never quite casts the same shadows or reflections onto the ever-changing but stable mountains, sidewalks, hills, or houses.
Our days begin and end with the same rhythm…the sun rises, makes it’s way across Earth’s face and
then sets again to reveal the moon. And yet, the world we step out into and wake up in is constantly different (especially with #45, but I digress). No two days are alike. No two moments are alike. And I can’t help but think what a miraculously beautiful gift we are given, every single second of every single day!
And so it is with us.
Each day we awaken a little bit older, a little bit closer to death, a little bit more life lived within our bones and blood. Some days we may be wiser than the day before. Other days, maybe not. But that’s not the point anyway.
The point is life goes on and it will keep going on, with or without us. (Sometimes that makes me sad, but that’s for another post). The beauty of this is we get to decide how and if and with whom we get to participate in this beautiful unfolding before us, around us, within us.
THAT is what will either make or break us. Some days, we awaken with a sense of purpose, drive or excitement. Other days, all we feel is dread. The dread of the same old sun rising over the same old landscape to do the same old thing…again and again and again.
And yet, if we take a moment to notice the subtle shifts in the landscape, we can see the nuanced changes in light and how the sun hits that peak or valley or stream or horizon with a glow or shadow or haze we didn’t see the day before.
And when we notice these ever-so-slight shifts in perspective, what do we actually see or gain or experience? Something new. Something that has not been known before. Something NOVEL. And why is this important? Because when we slow down enough to notice the new, the slight, the different, the change…we become present to what is. And what “is”, is Life. This thing we do every single day. We LIVE. Your life, my life, our lives. We are living, breathing and participating in this glorious experience together
And I care about this so much because just as the natural rhythms of our lives set the tone for change and stability, so do we in the way we live. If we’re lucky, we wake up every single day with another opportunity to participate in this “thing” we call life. But when this thing keeps changing, we need to change along with it, right? Can you imagine what would happen if we didn’t change? What that might do to our souls, our homes, our lives, and our relationships, to name just a few?
Here’s are some simple examples:
The weather changes (weather is a big deal here in Montréal), so we adjust our clothing, the tires on our cars, the shoes on our feet and the temperature in our homes.
Can you imagine if we didn’t adapt to the changes in weather? What would that look like? It would look like shorts and flip-flops when its -20 outside! Which means frostbite at best and literally freezing to death, at worst! (Although I honestly feel like I could freeze to death at my fathering-law’s house sometimes. BRRR!).
You become a parent, so you adjust your lifestyle. Again, what would it look like if you chose not to adjust? It would look like heading out to the movies without a care in the world and leaving babe behind, because OOPS, babysitters? Or partying like it’s 1999 and being wasted while babe is sleeping and may need your help during the night, but you’re actually too drunk to do anything. Um, not so cool, huh?
You get fired. Now what? If you don’t adjust and adapt, you just keep showing up at your old job until eventually someone calls security, right?
Look, I know I am giving some really basic and somewhat ridiculous examples, but the point is this: life is made up of a lot of really teeny-tiny insignificant moments but it’s also made up of some really freaking big ones. And it’s our privilege to adapt to both by consciously growing, learning and evolving as humans.
And that is whatI love about coaching. Knowing that we can change our level of happiness and satisfaction with life by being open to learning new ways of seeing our circumstances, our lives, our troubles, etc. By being curious enough to ask ourselves what needs adapting or shifting.
By being present enough to see how the changes are already happening around us and wanting to be in dialogue with those changes, as opposed to being in opposition to them.
Life is such a beautiful, ever-changing gift. Some days are really good. Some days are really hard. That’s ok. THAT is life.
Our power is in how we dance along to the changing tune of what we can’t control. THAT is where you’ll find your happy, joy, and freaking-killer dance moves.
Dance on, my loves. Dance on. xo
Today is my birthday. A day I enjoy celebrating with my children, husband, family and friends. A day to reflect and honor my life already lived and all the living I hope I have before me!
But for every day that is special to someone, that very same day can be painful for others and I am well aware of this fact. For instance, on the day of my birth a few years ago, a friend of a friend was killed while biking to pick up her child at work. She was also 5 months pregnant. I am sure her husband and child and all those left behind did not wake up to the same fanfare I did this morning.
Let us remain forever mindful of others’ pain while we celebrate our own joys in life.
So with that, I humbly present my stream-of-consciousness life lessons as they came to me today when I took some time to sit down and listen to what wanted to come out. This list is simply a taste, of course, of the many, many lessons I have learned along the way so far. Here goes:
- There is beauty all around us if you take the time to notice.
- Life is not fair, and that’s ok because it’s not meant to be fair.
- You can have regrets and still feel grateful for what the experience brought you
- If you can sit with the discomfort of a situation, a yoga pose, a conversation, a difficult time in a relationship and be patient with your discomfort, you can find the peace on the other end, the release, the reward of your efforts to have allowed the discomfort to exist, to be.
- Sometimes letting go is the best action you can take.
- Letting go and giving up are not the same thing, one takes courage while the other is housed in fear.
- God is LOVE. Love is energy. And it is everywhere.
- I feel it physically, in my body, when my children are hurt physically. I feel it in my heart when my loved ones are hurting.
- We are all loved. Always. Yes, even those we think are unlovable.
- Food is medicine or poison. Choose what you nourish yourself with carefully.
- Vaccines (or anything else for that matter) shouldn’t be given with a “one size fits all” approach. Our bodies are each so unique, special and delicate, they should be honored and treated as such.
- Self-knowledge is POWER.
- Happiness is over-rated. There is so much joy and beauty and love and learning to be found in the unhappy moments of life.
- Life is complex.
- Life is also very simple.
- Life is filled with paradoxes that bring tremendous depth to our human experience. How lucky are we to live these lives filled with ALL of this messiness and glory?
- The more you give, the more you are filled.
- The love of a dog is magical.
- Giggling uncontrollably with your kids is one of the greatest joys in life.
- Salt water, the ocean, the beach is so very healing.
- Lighting candles in the colder and darker months, even during the day, adds tremendous warmth and coziness to a space.
- Taking a shower after a hard and sweaty workout is OH SO GOOD.
- Taking a hot shower as a new breast-feeding mom is OH SO FUCKING GOOD!
- Sleeping in on days when you need it is pure luxury.
- Quiet, reflective time each day is essential to my well-being and the well-being of my family.
- When we move through our days with an energy of love, the world around us changes.
- Our bodies have so much to teach us about what we really want in life, if only we get quiet enough to listen and pay attention.
- Kindness, to ourselves and to others, is THE WAY if you want to live a meaningful life.
- Failure is not an option when you see the experience as either a success or an education.
- There is always something to learn from every experience you have.
- Love is being close, being patient, being kind, being available, being aware, being present.
- Our kids know more and can do more than we often give them credit for.
- Our kids also need us to step in and show them the way, even when they know it already. We all need help sometimes to get going.
- Eating delicious and nourishing food is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
- I can fiercely disagree with a loved one’s views or opinions and still love him or her.
- I am not responsible for other people’s feelings. Just as no one is responsible for mine.
- Solo road-trips feel like the freedom of my youth. And I love rediscovering this feeling!
- Some friendships can withstand the passage of time and absence of contact. And that is miraculous!
- Our parents really did try to do the best they could.
- Things don’t always work out the way we plan. And that’s ok. We can live with the disappointment, the anger, and the pain and turn it into something meaningful. We are meaning-makers. It’s what we do.
- Taking care of my body through regular exercise makes me feel good and quiets the mean-girl voice in my head.
- Coaching works!! I am continually amazed at how not believing my negative or unhelpful
thoughts enables me to feel more peaceful, lighter and WAY more empowered to move through life with the confidence to “handle” whatever life throws my way.
- Motherhood is often a thankless job but the rewards are too many to name, explain, or describe.
- We are each born with a unique gift to offer the world. And it is our responsibility to find out what it is and offer it with full abandon.
with massive love and gratitude.
A permanent mask. His face, completely covered in tattoos. The milestones of his life inked into his skin, forever.
Inked into his identity, inked into his presence, inked into how others will “see” him for the rest of his life. Inked into the gait of his walk, the rhythm of his step.
A face transformed into…what, exactly? A real-life looking monster? A freak? A scary dude whose life went off the rails?
As we passed each other in the park that day, I was left with a certain heaviness of heart. Him. Whoever he was. The pain of his life inked into a mask of sorrow, worn with obligation, day after day after day. I felt so sad for him to have done this to his entire face. To his identity. To his soul.
But perhaps I am jumping to a terrible conclusion and projecting my own stereotypes of what might drive someone to ink his entire face. Perhaps his mask is a symbol of a life well lived? Could it be? A life of bedtime stories, giggles, deep friendship, falling in love, a supportive family and warm hugs at night. A life where happiness resides. Who am I to assume anything about him anyway? But I admit that what I see is the stain of a pain-filled life, the remnants of which he has chosen to imprint for the rest of the world to see. It’s too personal, as I know tattoos are meant to be. And so I don’t know. But I imagine the stories. I imagine the hurt.
Perhaps he wears it to hide. To hide from the knowing eyes of those familiar with his story. From those who expect him to be broken. Or, maybe, his mask speaks for him. It shares the inexpressible, through shock, imagery, symbolism. A silent movie played out on his skin…a way to communicate that which no words can express. Just a dark, painful, ink-filled story. Forever imprinted on a face that was once naked, pure, and untouched, a long time ago.
And then it hits me that we all wear masks. To fulfill our needs, fulfill our desires. To help us appear a certain way; better than we really are, stronger than we really are, nicer than we really are. Our masks keep us safe from the pain of what may be the truth of who we really are, in any given moment. They keep us hidden and covered and far from hurt, pain, rejection, misinterpretation and feelings of worthlessness.
But for The Man with the Tattooed Face, he wakes up with the same mask, every single day.
And I am so saddened by this.
Will anyone ever be able to see him, for who he really is? Can anyone get beyond the ink that covers every single inch of his face and see when he is genuinely happy, sad, worried or scared? To see the beautiful lines around his eyes, the slight upward tilt of his lips, the burrowed frow? What if the pain he has been trying to hide all these years is now healed? Can anyone see past the ink to the peace he now feels? Can anyone see the man for who he is now, today?
And what about the rest of us with our non-inked faces? If we wear our masks too often, how will our genuine joy, fear, sadness and worry be noticed? How will people be able to know and see us, to really see us, if we wear our masks too often? Perhaps the imprint of our own masks leaves permanent stains on our faces, on how people see (or don’t see!) us. What if this were true? Would we think differently about the masks we wear?
So while I worry for The Man with the Tattooed Face and the fact that he cannot take his mask off, I am soothed by the realization that we can. I can. We have the choice to take our masks off or even not put them on at all! To be seen, as we are, in all our pain, glory, imperfection and joy.
So consider this an invitation. An invitation to acknowledge the privilege it is to be able to drop our masks in the first place. And the power of what this means!
Why is this important?
Because when we stop hiding and concealing the truth of who we are, we connect. We connect to each other’s pain, joy, worry, sorrow, grief, fear, happiness, excitement and all the other messy feelings life offers us.
We connect to the mom who can’t keep her tears inside because she is so exhausted by another night of interrupted sleep and so we offer her a helping hand, a warm hug and the space to say, “I get it. I’ve been there too.” And she feels a little bit better, a little bit less alone, a little bit more loved.
We connect to the friend who just found out his mother has cancer and he is terrified about what this means for his dad, himself, his siblings. So we take his hand and say, “I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do to help?” And he, too, feels the love, support and maybe even hope.
But when we mask ourselves, we do not see clearly. How could we? We are hiding. And inherent in this covering-up is a desire to conceal TRUTH. To conceal the truth of who we really are. And when I am not being honest with my own identity and being me for me, how can I be me for you?
I want to be me for me, and for you too! I want to be me for myself but also for my children, my husband, my friends, my neighbors, and my family. And I want them to be unconcealed to me. To be uncovered, real, raw. To feel safe enough to be all of who they are.
So the invitation still stands! Let’s create a world safe enough to be ourselves. Safe enough for all, so that permanently inked masks lose their attraction. So that the desire to hide our truest selves loses it’s seductive power and we feel free enough and loved enough to show the world who we are. We choose being real over being concealed. We choose being rejected over fear.
We choose to show up for EACH OTHER, because after all, isn’t that what humans need most, Connection? To know we are not alone. And when you show up in your Truth, you give others permission to do the same. How beautiful is that? xo