Stepping into Your Power at Midlife

Perhaps you’ve been waking up early, driven by some nascent desire to weave your wisdom together into a legacy.  Who are you to have a “legacy”?  You are the culmination of all that you have seen, experienced, created and lived, that’s who.

If you find yourself drifting off, wondering about the purpose of your life so far and how you will incorporate this body of knowledge into your current reinvention, this article is for you.

Radical Shifting Undercurrents lead to Synthesis

At 49, I learned how to drive a motorcycle and took it out into the mountains west of Seattle. Speeding down country roads at 60 mph, I began to see possibilities stretch out before me….

(The ideas were forming, but still in the embryo stage.)

At 50, I got the courage to enroll in writing classes and dedicated space for listening to my own voice. I began the process of writing my inspirational and practical guide to life entitled “Experiments in Living: Creative Solutions for Reinvention”. After moving to Chicago, I started the Midlife Reflections for Women Meet Up Group, which eventually grew to have 76 members and a vibrant community of evolving sisters.

(Inspired by locker room chats with women in transition, one day I just posted my idea for a MeetUp group online.  Within 48 hours, 60 women had signed up! Like hanging on to the back of a dragonfly, I ran with the idea and discovered how to lead our growing group by osmosis.)

At 51, I began to fully step into my power and experience Right Livelihood. After 15+ years of working as a Business Writer and Career Coach, I realized I had supported 1000’s of clients in their process of clarification and finding work/life balance.  Working with these brilliant students and professionals from across the globe, I began to connect the inherent qualities and behaviors that contributed to their success.

(Like you, I was intensively involved with work/family/life and not really seeing any pattern to my personal or professional process.  In actuality, the overarching theme had been there all along and I just had to “see” it.)

Now, at 53, after years of clients telling me how my pragmatic/soulful solutions inspired them to effect change, I am channeling these reflections into writing and the creation of INSPIRATIONAL Training Events where participants immerse themselves into the concepts of Experiments in Living and Paths to Reinvention.

(From a seed to a forest, the process of listening to our inner callings and cultivating our visions is our “spiritual homework”.  Exploring our passions takes courage, but it is worth it.  Taking this Road Less Traveled can bring us unexpected joy, integration and satisfying, “full circle” moments.)

Freedom to experiment, evolve, grow, risk, climb, question and synthesize.

If you had asked me if I considered myself a leader or a powerful person who could empower others 4 years ago, I would have emphatically said “NO!” I saw myself as an introvert, a woman who read 5 books a week and a career coach who worked better with clients one on one.

In spite of this, I often had visions of speaking in front of crowds, leading transformational events, or publishing my writing.  These dreams felt completely out of my reach.  I had no idea how to go from my current self/life to this new reality, how to access my innate gifts and incorporate them into a total reinvention.

I knew I had a lot to say and that I needed to find a larger audience that those sitting at my dining room table.

So, what happened?

Midlife. Physical and mental shifts. Life changes.  My son’s new-found independence. My husband moving to Tokyo for a year for work.  Time and space opening up. Courage to take the big leap without knowing what was on the other side.

Looking back now, I can see that each experience led to the next and that the path had been laid before me.  The Universe has a path for you too.  All you have to do is show up and take the first step.

From Sidelines to Center Stage.

“In order to become leaders, we need to have faith in ourselves. We need to inspire people and share the confidence we have in our own abilities. We need to swallow our fears and begin to make decisions based on our visions and goals.” Sue Shellenbarger – The Breaking Point

In this moment, I give you permission to make your own mark on the world, to create the reality that you dream of living, and to unearth your true potential.  You may not feel that you need permission, but many of us do.  We are so responsible in our lives, after all.  The journey towards self exploration feels like something we should have done in our twenties.

It is not too late.  In fact, it is exactly the right time.  The world needs to hear what you have to say about business, politics, health, philanthropy, the arts or your community,  Perhaps there is another topic or cause that reappears during your quiet reflection, when your family is fed, the bills are paid, and the kitchen sink is clean.

Stop.  Listen.  Engage.  Act.  

Today is the day to step into your power and unleash the dragon within.  Add your voice to the choir.  Don’t worry about the outcome or the long term implications.  Just trust in yourself and in the process.  Know that you are a seed about to grow into a forest.

 

 

 

 

 

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Joy Ride

Vic on Gypsy Motorcycle

“There is no bad weather, just bad gear.” said by many Seattle-ites

Keeping this in mind, I put on my dark brown Frye Boots, heavy black sweat pants, two hoodies and a black army-navy surplus outer shell. I strap on my sparkly orange helmet and lined gloves, swing one leg over the leather seat and mount my Suzuki TS250X. It is a cold but sunny Sunday and I have a rare 6 hours free.

Sudden October winds almost push me off of Green Bay Road, and into the oncoming traffic, as yellow and orange leaves swirl down onto the road ahead of me. “All Things Considered” streams into my white earbuds, as I drive further and further north, away from my gorgeous but draining home.

“The Field Museum will sponsor a lecture about the shrinking bee population world-wide, and how this has affected pollination and reduced crop yields”, and then, “The Ebola virus has come to America and the implications are frightening,”

The silver gas tank warms the inside of my thighs as I speed up, hitting the open road. Mile by mile, I increase the distance between my body and mind and the city. Somebody, somewhere, has a wood stove or a fireplace working, and I peal through a short corridor of distant smoke.

“According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this winter in Chicago could be even colder than last, with record-breaking temperatures.”

I wonder why I always listen to NPR, a constant stream of words and ideas, many of them negative and fearful, and about things I can’t even control anyway.

Here it is early October, and just last night we had snow and freezing temperatures. It feels as if the city is standing on a precipice, staring down into a canyon of fear about the future: cold, broke, sick, under or unemployed, mad about government policies and spending, afraid of drive-by’s and concealed weapons and worried about saving up enough money for Christmas.

Hand on throttle, wind slipping in under my plastic face shield, loud noise of the engine drowning on the radio as I accelerate, I balance myself on the bike and speed off into the unknown, away from mini-malls, mail boxes with overdue bills and a sink full of dirty dishes.

On the bike, I am a solo traveler, an adventurer out for a weekend ride, a dark-clad image speeding through small towns and down country roads, a kind stranger who is up for anything.

The Importance of Storytelling

 

lifepath coaching image
The Journey Awaits

“Laptop open and hair pulled back, I sip on an Americano and act as a conduit for my clients.  Being present is a gift.  We all just want to be heard over the noise.”

First appointments are usually tentative, as we find commonalities, craft a path and map out goals. Subsequent sessions often involve hugs or tears, and delightful transformation.

Participating with gratitude and humility, I sit back and watch the rainbow of humanity cross my path at my “Starbucks office”.

Who do I work with and why do they come to me?

Engineers, CEO’s, accountants, teachers, lawyers, pharmacists, graphic designers, sound designers, construction workers and restaurant managers – all of whom want to: edit a resume or LinkedIn page, discover their “special sauce” or Personal Brand, reinvent themselves professionally or actualize entrepreneurial dreams.

At least these concrete tasks are what usually motivates clients to send me a text or email in response to one of my many online ads.

Students also seek out my consultation: high school students trying to write better papers, undergraduates applying for select graduate programs, and PhD candidates writing complex dissertations.

American and international geniuses from Europe, Asia and South America all show up, with carefully crafted documents and hopeful dreams of change for the future.

These are the demographic markers of the hundreds of people I have worked with for over 20 years, as a writing coach, editor, academic/business/life coach, content creator, and personal brand consultant. I have titles and my clients have titles, which bring us together and help propel our careers, but underneath it all is the PROCESS.

What I really DO, on a spiritual and “deep dive” level is hold out the metaphorical microphone to whoever is sitting in front of me – provide the time and space and silence and patience for them to FIND THEIR VOICE.

Putting words around:
memories-dreams-accomplishments-fears-realizations-stories-conclusions-assumptions-facts-theories. I hyphenated that list because that is what stream of consciousness feels like, one long, continuous idea that is like an audio loop in our MINDS, an undercurrent or theme that seems disconnected except that it wakes us up in the night and recurs in our journal entries. Pulling on our shirt tails like an insistent child that needs something.

So what I do is provide the container for my clients to finally slow down long enough to give that child a chance to be heard, to elaborate on that whim or to clearly spell out that conclusion. It is cathartic and rewarding and satisfying. Being heard. Realizing that you actually have something to say and that you matter.

Words are powerful. Clarity brings about change. Taking a mental sabbatical, whether for 2 hours or a year, gives us the opportunity to let go of the grocery list mentality and take a broader view of our lives.

This is the work of honing our vision, setting, re-setting and course correcting when our compass is off track. Assisting others in this clarification process is impactful and important work. My obsession with story-telling began as a kid. I remember listening to Studs Terkel on the radio, and reveling in how he drew out the oral histories of regular Americans. Now, at 52, I am blessed to have a calling that involves encouraging and assisting others to find their true north.

In the end – what else do we have to show for our time here on earth but our story, our message and the tribe we leave behind?

What is your story and how do you support your tribe in sharing theirs? I would feel honored if you could share your story or any other feedback with directly with me or with all of us – in the Comment Section below.