Midlife Reinvention

Step Outside Of Your Comfort Zone – 5 Small Baby Steps You Can Take

“Comfort zone:  simply means the routine of one’s daily life – it is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure”.  ~ Roy T Bennett

We humans are creatures of habit.  It is so easy to stick with the known – after all, it is safe, reassuring and comforting.  Whereas, to venture into the unknown and try something new can be uncomfortable or downright scary (plus you might be fearful of failing, making yourself look silly or being disapproved of).

But, if we always stick with what we know and are familiar with, do things the way we have always done them (and perhaps the way our parents did), we can become oh so ‘fuddy duddy’ boringly stuck in a rut.   I’m a woman of colour (of Jamaican parentage) and as a child growing up in the 60’s in the UK, I saw very few interracial couples, whereas today it is far, far more commonplace.  After my divorce and getting back onto the dating scene, for years, I felt I couldn’t date someone of a different race.  I stuck with what I knew and thought I felt comfortable with.  But the reality was I was not meeting the person I truly wanted to be with.  As I approached 40 and following deep reflection, I then intuitively felt that I needed to broaden my horizon and if I wanted to find true love, perhaps it was less about skin colour and more about other attributes.  To cut a long story short…..I and my partner (who is caucasian) have now been together just over 11 years.  I’ve not shown him fully in the photo below (taken 3 years ago) out of respect, as he’s not into social media.

Step outside of your comfort zone - www.visualiseandbloom.com

By staying as we are and have always been, by sticking to the routines we have always followed, by not venturing to try new things, we don’t grow and evolve as individuals.

Now, sometimes life throws up the unexpected, and we are forced to make big adjustments to our way of thinking and being and heck, we are really thrown outside of our comfort zone, but that is not what this blog post is about.  This is really aimed at those of you who feel deep down inside that life has become a bit predictable and boring and you’d like to shake things up a bit, in a good (and hopefully fun) way.

Remember that everyone’s level of comfort is different. This is about you, not anyone else.  If stepping outside of your comfort zone and making big changes feels really scary, guess what……you can always start small.  Open yourself to a new experience and do something that you wouldn’t ordinarily do.

Step outside of your comfort zone - www.visualiseandbloom.comHere are 5 suggestions:-

* Wear something in a colour that you would not normally wear (a shocking pink scarf, or different colour lipstick perhaps).  After years and years of always wearing brown, purple, pink or red based lipsticks, I've just treated myself to blue and green ones!

* Instead of plonking yourself on the sofa every evening watching the soaps, sign up for a weekly zumba, knitting, art or wine making class (persuade a friend to go with you, if you don't want to go on your own)

* If you normally drive or take the train, try a different mode of travelling (if its feasible), such as the bus or walk

* If you are seeking a significant other - consider a date with someone of a different race or culture

* Pretend you are a tourist and spend an afternoon sight seeing around the city in which you live or a nearby town.  Explore the side streets (if it is safe to do so), visit a museum, art gallery,historical building, street market or local park

Step outside of your comfort zone - www.visualiseandbloom.com

 “Small steps can lead to big changes” ~ Mike Jaffe

When was the last time you stepped outside of your comfort zone?

Losing One’s Parents and Reinvention at Midlife – Cathy Lawdanski

            It takes strength to make your way through grief, to grab hold of life and let it pull you forward.  ~ Patti Davis

It is hard losing a parent, no matter how old one might be.  But, the thought of anyone losing both their parents in quick succession (within the space of less than 6 months apart) – for me, is just incomprehensible.  Sadly, it does happen though.

It happened to Cathy Lawdanski.

Cathy-Lawdanski-Headshot (1)

In January 2015, Cathy’s, 82 year old mother had a stroke, which resulted in her passing the following month.  In June of the same year, Cathy gave up her full-time post as a non-profit executive, to help care for her frail 90 year old father.  A month later he broke his hip and passed away in September.

Coping with grief

The most painful moments and memories eventually lead to the greatest strengths and growth in life. ~ Kemi Sogunie

Following the death of a loved one, there is a process of grieving.  For those of us, who have experienced loss, you may feel as I do, that there isn’t a blueprint or ‘one size fits all’ way of dealing with or coping with grief.   We are all so very different.

Cathy’s way, was to take time away from her day job to rest and take care of herself.  Her intention was to go back to work in the New Year.

But,  this period also provided Cathy with time out to reflect and re-examine her own life and how she wanted aspects of her future to be.   She came to realise that as much as she enjoyed working in the non profit sector, she didn’t want to go back to that environment.

New beginnings

Cathy, who describes herself as a 50 something wife, mother of 2 grown daughters and grandmother, realised that, she wanted to challenge herself.  She wanted to:

- try new things

- not be concerned about what people say or think

- be brave

- just have fun

One of the ways in which Cathy has challenged herself is to become a writer.

a cup of coffee and laptop on wood floor with flower vintage style

She had not done anything like this before, but embracing her ‘new self’, she set up a blog ‘mysideof50’ and published her first post in December 2015.  She has gone from strength to strength and has also spread her wings becoming a featured writer on online magazine ‘Making Midlife Matter’ and a social media and blogger influencer on the ‘Blogher’ platform.

Cathy says  “it takes courage to try something new.  Sometimes life’s circumstances forces us to”.

 

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post, please comment and share!

If you would like to share your story of transition or reinvention at midlife or beyond – with the hope of encouraging and inspiring other women, do get in touch with me. 

Want to know more about Cathy and her thoughts on the new adventures and challenges we face this side of 50,  visit: mysideof50.com

Midlife Career Change – Carol Stewart

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” ~ Rumi

Making a career change at any age can be a daunting thing to do, but imagine working full-time for the same company (Ministry of Justice) for 28 years from the age of 16, working your way up from Junior Typist to a Senior Management Role with responsibility for 4 business units and over 100 employees…….

Well, that is just what Carol Stewart did. She let herself be ‘silently drawn by the strange pull of what she really loved’ which was developing and empowering people, and bravely jumped the Ministry of Justice ship, setting of on a new, scary but exciting journey.

Carol’s journey

Dear reader, you are probably wondering what it was that led Carol at the age of 44, to walk away from all that she had known since aged 16, to pursue her passion and start up her own coaching business.

Carol says “the organisation was restructuring and my post was to be deleted. I wanted to be in control of my career and didn’t want to be placed in a role that I didn’t necessarily enjoy. Prior to then, I had never once considered having my own business but the more I thought about what I wanted to do, I started to think about starting my own business. The more I thought about this, the more the idea of doing my own thing became stronger”.

When Carol thought about what it was that she could do, she reflected back over her whole career as to what it was that she enjoyed the most and was good at. That thing was coaching. Coaching had always been an add on to what she did as a leader and was the thing that she probably enjoyed the most.

Helping and encouraging others to develop themselves and motivate themselves was very rewarding to Carol.  She  got immense satisfaction seeing someone who felt that they couldn’t achieve much, go on and achieve great things, even if that meant them leaving the organisation. It therefore felt natural that she start her own coaching business, which she did (Abounding Solutions), alongside studying for an MSc in Coaching Psychology.

Carol’s destinationcarol-profile-2-e1368787049160

As a Personal Development Career and Business Coach, Carol now works with high achieving women who are frustrated, overwhelmed or stressed because they’re not getting the results that they want. She helps them to get clear about what they need to do, to keep focused and on track. She keeps them from falling back into their old ways and keeps challenging them so that they achieve what they want and excel as authentic, bold, confident leaders in their careers and businesses.

No regrets

“There are no regrets in life, just lessons” ~ Jennifer Aniston

Carol says whilst there may be things she would do differently if she could go back in time, based on what she now knows, she does not regret the decisions or path taken in her career and business because her experiences have helped shape the person who she is today.

 

Some of you reading this post may now feel encouraged and know deep within that you too want to make a career change or start your own business – what steps do you need to take?  OR for those of you who are unhappy or unfulfilled with your work but a change of job/career is just not an option for whatever reasons, nor (unlike in Carol’s situation) is, restructuring with voluntary redundancy on the horizon – what to do?

Carol has some advice for you……..watch this space………

If you have enjoyed reading this post, please comment and share.

If you would like to share your story of transition or reinvention at midlife or beyond – with the hope of encouraging and inspiring other women, do get in touch with me. 

If you would like to find out more about Carol and the work she does, visit:  Abounding Solutions

The Afternoon of Life – Reinvention at Midlife and Beyond

Carl Jung wrote “thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie” (Modern Man in Search of a Soul; The Stages of Life, 1933).

The late Dr Wayne Dyer wrote about what happens when people step into the afternoon of life (The Shift: Taking your Life from Ambition to Meaning, 2010), and in 2014, during an interview, Dr Laurie Nadel asked him, how did people know when they were in the afternoon of life and what kind of shifts happen in their lives.

Stylish wealthy couple on a luxury yacht

Dr Dyer responded “Carl Jung writes that the afternoon of our lives represents the time when we begin to shift away from the ego being the dominant force in our life. We begin moving towards a life journey that has meaning. The morning of our lives is really occupied by ambition—getting as much as you can, collecting as much stuff as you can get, impressing as many people as you can, preparing yourself for a job, saving your money, setting goals, pleasing everybody, and doing the right thing. Even getting good grades in school revolved around the ego part of us, which really believes that who we are is what we do, what we get, and what other people think of us. That’s basically the essence of the ego. In the afternoon of your life, you don’t do life. You do what resonates with the callings of your soul”.

Background concept wordcloud illustration of midlife crisis glow

Crisis or time of growth and renewal

In 2005 as I tried to make sense of the changes I was going through internally, I purchased a book by Stephanie Marston, in which she claims midlife is often characterised as a time of crisis but it is more accurately a time of intense reevaluation, growth and renewal. She says “now is the time to find our own voice and rediscover our strengths. Now is the time to recognise a more authentic self” (If Not Now, When? Reclaiming Ourselves at Midlife, 2002).

This period of reevaluation can be as short as a few months or, more commonly, as I and many others have experienced, go on for a good few years. It is a process which is oft uncomfortable and confusing as we get on with our lives as best we can, whilst struggling and coping with internal conflicts.  Throughout this period, we can feel as if, to quote Marianne Williamson, “sometimes we are living in the in-between times: when we’re no longer who we used to be, but yet haven’t arrived at our next stage either” (The Gift of Change: Spiritual Guidance for a Radically New Life , 2004).  Blurred portrait of the middle-aged woman looking through the window on a rainy day

The afternoon (and evening) of life

Research funded by the UK Medical Research Council (published in The Lancet), tells us life expectancy rose from 75.9 years in 1990 to 81.3 years in 2013.  So, many of us will not only reach reach the afternoon of our life, but go on well into the evening.  It is a blessing, surely, to reach age 81, 91 or more, and if you are able in body and mind, do what you can to not be someone who will look back on life with regret at having ignored some of those whispers and callings of your soul.

Over the coming weeks and months, I will be featuring women who have listened to or are listening to the stirrings within, taking action and reclaiming themselves at midlife or beyond. Women who are being true to their authentic self and striving to do what resonates with the calling of their souls.

If you would like to share your story and inspire readers of this blog who are standing at the threshold or feeling as if they are living in the in-between times, do get in touch with me.