Friday, February 01, 2013

Courage to Take the Next Step

SoulCollage card, Underwater

Mid-life is a challenging time - it's not only about the menopausal hormones, the lack of sleep and hot flashes. The biggest wake-up call is from your heart, (or some say, your soul) calling you to find a sense of meaning and passion, your purpose in life.

I don't know why it hits us in our mid-forties to fifties. It may be because we have accomplished so much, the house, the job, the kids, the car, the dream vacations. You work hard to achieve "success", you raise a family, and hit a brick wall, or you just feel tired all the time, or you get challenged by a divorce, a serious illness, or a loved one close to you passes on. You feel restless, dissatisfied, confused about your purpose, and you don't know why. The big questions start to come up: why am I here? what is all for? what do I really want to do with the rest of my life?

I look at it as a huge wake-up call from the heart - it's calling: Over here! Wake up! Emotions and feelings long-buried rise to the surface. Your goal of being Salesperson of the Year is not cutting it anymore. You want to run away from your life, where daily decisions overwhelm you, you aren't sleeping well, you're irritable and impatient and you don't recognize yourself. Then you see your mother or father's face in the mirror looking back at you, and it's scary! I'm 50 and what have I done with my life? You may look back in longing at the young person you were at 20, so idealistic, so passionate about making the world a better place, the young actress to be who became a secretary or an Administrator....and part of you feels like it's dying. Where did that youthful energy go?

It's still there, your heart and passion and enthusiasm for life, but it may be buried deeper down. You have to go spelunking in caves, you have to put on all your brave courage and excavate your heart's passion from underneath your sense of Duty, Obligation, Responsibility and whatever else tells you it's not practical to realize a dream.

In my book, The Tao of Turning Fifty, I offer an exercise called What Time is It in Your Life? You draw a clock on a blank page, and then draw the hands pointing towards the numbers of the time you feel it is - intuitively. Is it 8 am, the start of a new day? or is it noon - the middle of something? or perhaps it's 10:00 pm - time to put something to bed. Reflect on this, ask the question, dig, reflect, write, until you find the answer popping up from within.

Remember, whatever passions you had at age 11 or 15, the difference you wanted to make in the world, you are more than adequately prepared to do that now - you have more skills, more experience, and better resources. All you are lacking is the clarity and the courage - so dig deep and find it. Your Soul is Calling! the heaviness you feel is your Heart being buried. Uncover what makes your heart feel light and know that the journey into your depths may involve facing your grief, letting go of disappointments and sadness, facing feelings you haven't allowed yourself to feel.

The journey towards going Up and Out in the world begins often with going Down and In. Reclaim those feelings, uncover your heart, thaw out the frozen emotions, unpeel the armour around your heart and chest. Begin to un-numb, to tingle with excitement, as the blood starts moving again. Feel the cleansing tears that will come, and be reassured it means you are alive, you can find your Joy again.

It is worth doing this inner work. In my book I describe my own mid-life journey, and offer the Descent of Inanna as a metaphor or mythic story that gives a clue to the real work of rebirth and transformation that happens at mid-life, for those who have the courage to face the darkness inside of them. Don't be in a hurry. It will unfold in months or years, but you will resurface, with new shiny wings. Are you ready?

Here are 10 quotes to give you courage to take the next step:

It’s so easy to give up, or just never get started on making your dream project come true. If you need to feel that your Wise Inner Self is on your side rooting for you, here are some wonderful quotes to give you courage.

There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth...not going all the way, and not starting. – Buddha

Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all. – Norman Vincent Peale

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. – Rumi

Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it. – Buddha 

It’s okay to ask questions, but get the answers. So, where are the answers? Since the questions came from within you, guess where the answers are? Within you. – Prem Rawat

What we perceive as a failure may simply be our inner being's way of telling us that we are ready to move to a new level of growth.  – Anne Wilson Schaef

What is your real work? Is it that which pays the bills or is it your art? I think your real work is healing. Whatever helps you become more loving in this lifetime. Whatever helps you forgive yourself, embrace yourself, meet yourself, and free yourself in this lifetime. – Tama Kieves  

If you can see your path laid out in front of you, step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path. – Joseph Campbell

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any. – Alice Walker:

The power is in you. The answer is in you. And you are the answer to all your searches: you are the goal. You are the answer. It's never outside. – Eckhart Tolle

Dear Past, thank you for the lessons. Dear Future, I'm Ready! – Quan Yin, on Facebook


Jennifer Boire, author of The Tao of Turning Fifty, What Every Woman in Her Fifties Needs to Know, available at blogs at Musemother, also on Facebook and Twitter. She leads Creative Journaling classes and retreats for women and loves to get comments. See


Raven said...

Thanks Jenn.
Spot on as usual.
Lining up with the self is a life long process. Further on and further in!!

A friend of mine who bought one of your poetry books read some excerpts from Tao of Turning Fifty and is going to buy several to give to friends. Plus one for herself.

musemother said...

thanks Sue, glad it can be of help to someone.