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Monday, November 05, 2012

Heroine's Quest at Mid-Life


If you haven't already, read The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock http://www.maureenmurdock.com/heroine.html. It's the perfect companion for a woman at mid-life who may be feeling that, in spite of her successes and achievements, she is tired of feeling like she is 'never enough'.

Women have their own quest, she says, and it is not the same as the Hero's quest (as described by Joseph Campbell). It is often a more circular, less linear journey. In spite of succeeding in a world where masculine values are more prominent and productivity is honoured at all costs, women at mid-life may experience a disconnect with their feminine selves - the connection to their emotions, feelings, intuition and relationships. This can manifest as exhaustion, burnout or just feeling dried up. Sometimes we lose our connection to the inner fire, our sense of purpose and meaning; we feel like we no longer know who we are.

Part of the challenge for women is that it is in our nature to give, to nurture, to tend and befriend. Women give and  give to all around them; but we end up with either a sleep deficit or an energy deficit, as we try to balance work hours and home hours, children, spouses, elderly parents; in spite of  being expert at multi-tasking, sometimes the juggler loses herself in there. The ball that says "joy", or "contentment" is not in the air anymore.

In the feminine quest for wholeness, in the need for reconnection with her authentic self, a mid-life woman needs to learn how to stop doing and learn how to just be.... "Being is not a luxury, it is a discipline. The Heroine must listen carefully to her true inner voice. That means silencing the other voices anxious to tell her what to do."  Murdock.

The hardest thing to deal with in the mid-life transition is the acceptance of no longer being able to 'do it all' with aplomb, like the Superwomen in the commercials and ads, who always have perfect hair, perfect clothes and perfect skin, in spite of working 24/7.  We feel there is something wrong with us for not being able to juggle all our roles without extreme fatigue. But in our mid-forties to fifties, often the proverbial 's...' hits the fan, and our bodies force us to slow down - all we want to do is rest, garden, chill out, so we can find our way again.

This is normal, and part of trying to live authentically. As Murdock says, to be true to ourselveds, we have to stop acting to please others and find out what nourishes us. A woman may even go through a depression or a dark time of voluntary isolation, descending to the inner world of body, emotions and intuition, in a sacred journey to excavate her soul. It may involve a search for her inner child, digging deep in dreams and memory for her lost 'magical' child self.

Often, women describe having dreams of crying babies, neglected or almost dying, who need to be fed. And Murdock sees this as a symbol of our connection with the feminine. How can be get back in touch with our own wisdom? not through the mind, but through the body, through getting in touch with our cycle for instance and allowing a rest day, by eating healthy food in a conscious fashion, by healing and feeling and dealing with our emotions.

Don't feel guilty, in other words, if you are extremely tired and can't 'do it all' anymore. Give yourself a break before you have a breakdown.  For more on this topic, read The Tao of Turning Fifty, What Every Woman in Her Forties Needs to Know. There's a chapter on Courage to Face the Dark, and Going Down and In that may particularly speak to you. see my website, www.jenniferboire.com for a free excerpt.


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