Old Habits ARE Hard to Break: being really present for a mid-life crisis.

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This post has been forming in my head for a while, but once again I didn’t want to share simply a frustrated vent. I’m committed to making my life, and this blog, more than that.

Thus, I didn’t write it for a while, until the thoughts were better formed, more expansive, and there was at least SOME sense of growth from the experience.

As it turns out, life is just full of growth experiences!

Recently, I had been feeling a bit blue about this tendency I was noticing in myself to keep repeating old habits and emotions. I mean silly, old, stupid shit that I thought I was done with and then suddenly, out of left field reared up again. I started feeling this deep sense of despair, as if the changes I thought I had been growing into were not real or would not be lasting.

I don’t usually feel very impacted by the end of the year holidays (“holidaze”) but this did all take place during the last two months of 2013.

SO – I sat in a funk for a while; knowing I was a different person now than pre-Mid-life Crisis, yet not able to find that person and just sitting with the “old me”. I didn’t like the feeling, yet I felt completely unable to call upon all of the tools I’ve learned over the years to be with and move through something. The depth of the despair would come and go and some days almost felt manageable, just like a low-level cold where you don’t really feel yourself and wonder when you’ll get better.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still pretty functional and from the outside I’m sure it looked like I had it all together; it always does…

I even got to a point where I felt like it had mostly passed, although I didn’t really feel any wiser for the time.

And all this time I could SEE what was happening; saw myself trapped in an old cycle, reacting in old ways, pouting a bit about it, and feeling like the victim in life. It was almost like I was watching an old movie I had seen hundreds of time before and I just sat and watched it.

Then, a dear friend posted a link on my Facebook page that made her think of me. And can I just say – don’t you LOVE it when friends think of you and they actually tell you that. Or something they see reminds them of you and they send that to you. I believe it is one of the easiest and potentially most touching things we can do for each other.

And that’s what happened. My friend Kanna posted this on my Facebook page from Tara Brach, who I consider one of my most resonating spiritual teachers.

     “Each time you meet an old emotional pattern with presence, your awakening to             truth can deepen. There’s less identification with the self in the story and more             ability to rest in the awareness that is witnessing what’s happening. You become           more able to abide in compassion, to remember and trust your true home. Rather         than cycling repetitively through old conditioning, you are actually spiraling toward         freedom.” – Tara Brach, from True Refuge

And sure enough, it was like the light bulb that went off in my head. THAT is what I had been going through; I WAS witnessing the whole process. I had almost felt like it was happening to someone else – or maybe I just wanted it to be happening to someone else… yeah, that’s probably more like it. But no, there I was, just me, myself, and I watching the old movies…witnessing.

The length of this funk had surprised me; generally they last a week or so at most and then I snap out of it. A couple of months felt like a complete set back and like I had lost myself in the process. Thus the despair and thus the feeling of hopelessness, like none of the work I had done was worth it. (My heart knows better than this, but my head was playing ALL sorts of tricks on me…)

At any rate, these wise words helped me to finally see the benefit in, or least the understanding that was possible from, the whole process. Since seeing this light at the end of the tunnel I can honestly say that I AM feeling more compassion and find my residing in calm abiding (as the Buddhists like to say) more frequently. This in turn has made me radically more able to offer this to others, which is the biggest external benefit of any spiritual practice as far as I can tell.

I’m also reminded of the Rumi poem that I love to quote and then sometimes forget to remember. Paraphrasing badly:  ‘let in every guest that comes to our house; they ALL have something to offer and teach us!’

So here’s to old emotional patterns and bad habits. Welcome to my life’s path – I hope you enjoy the ride! J

Love. Love. Love.

It’s all about the heart…

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I’m feeling a shift…

It seems hard to believe that I’m actually saying this, as it has felt for so long that nothing would ever change. But yes, it’s true – I am feeling differently and my life is different than it was at the beginning of this year.

For starters the job has changed and for a while that felt like the real heart of the issue and if that would just change then everything else would shift. While there definitely ARE shifts that come with a career transition, as it happened, the changes in ME started happening before the job change.

I’m beginning to understand what it feels like to live from the heart, even though my brain is still trying to make sense of what that means. My sweet brain that has done SO much for me over the years really wants to know exactly what this “living from the heart” is going to look like – how do we define this please??  (and while we’re at it – why the heck is this so important anyways???).

HOWEVER – as my body worker/therapist told me today: “You don’t get to cinnamon (heart) by adding more cayenne (brain).”

LOVE this!!

Thankfully, through support of an amazing yoga community, a tremendous home environment that supports spiritual exploration and whose other members are willing to take a deep dive into these conversations and spend MUCH time supporting each other in the process, and many friends who have supported me along the way… I’ve come to see a few new things about myself.

More importantly I’ve come to believe these new aspects of myself and embrace the potentiality of what could be – even if that vision feels so far off.

So much more to say and I’m working on making the commitment to putting these thoughts to (electronic) words more regularly, but for now the most immediate gem I want to share is the power of mantra.

Over the past three or four months I have started to incorporate mantra into my life, both as a part of my meditation practice and also at various times throughout my day. I now have the Gayatri Mantra on a repeating loop and listen to it OFTEN. Today I listened to it (and changed along, of course) my entire drive home through a bit of traffic that otherwise would have stressed me out. Instead I kept hoping I would get through one more loop.

Obviously I’m not the first person to discover mantra, but I am very amazed at how different I feel in my body since starting to use mantra more regularly. And since that ole heart is in the body, it seems like a good way to get to a stronger sense of living from the heart.

Go figure.

I’m not the incredible hulk

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So many things I’ve wanted to share and yet I still struggle with this idea of not wanting to put “icky-ness” out to the world so I don’t write. I’m still smack in the middle of this mid-life crisis thing and while I’m slowly coming to actually feel the transformative nature of the process, it still often feels like a crisis and doesn’t feel pleasant.

In my better moments I find myself trying to sit with and be with the feelings of unpleasantness and allow them to fully express – and then (hopefully) release or at least lesson. Sometimes it works. It does seem to be an ongoing process.

Other times I find myself in a complete state of perturbance (a word I learned from my yoga therapist). It feels like every cell of my body is screaming for change, bubbling over like they are trying to escape a pot that has reached the boiling point. The feeling of wanting complete and utter change, a metamorphosis, cries out from every part of my being.

It’s time like those when it feels like I literally can’t go on this way.

And then something changes – something minor or something major – and that gives me hope or at least a sense that yes, this is a transformation. And unlike the Incredible Hulk, I simply don’t change that fast.

So I try to trust the process again. And then I focus on what I’m doing that feels good and feels like it is going in the right direction. I then I think of all that has already changed. I try to lean into my closest friends, to open to vulnerability and share what I’m feeling and receive the loving support of these dear people.

And then I go to bed and work on waking up grateful for the new day in the morning.

This is what my MLC has felt like lately.

Yes, I’m still Walking Through It…

Will the real Kathleen please step forward?

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Who is the authentic me?

I feel like I should start this post:
“Dear Blog, I’m sorry I haven’t written more recently…”

It’s been a while since I’ve posted something because I want to share solutions, not problems; ideas for inspiration, not more mucky feelings.

But lately, that’s what I’ve got – that ever-present feeling of stuckedness. When will something big change in my life, or when the little changes will add up to something bigger.

I have had this overwhelming feeling that there is something dying to get out of me. I feel it in my chest – like it wants to explode. Whatever is in there is clawing to get out – either to escape or to express itself; I can’t tell which.

Yet I’m not sure what it is so I don’t know what to do. Is this feeling something that is no longer me, no longer authentic and so I need to change what I’m doing now to let it go? Is the feeling something that IS me and is slowly becoming more and more true and therefore I need to let it express itself?

The confusion makes this all the more frustrating, like I don’t even know myself.

Recently a yoga therapist and friend of mine (OK, my yoga therapist) told me that a mid-life crisis is like a “journey into authenticity”. I absolutely LOVE that idea and yet I’m still in that place of confusion where I really feel like I don’t know what is authentically me. And also how to figure that out.

Lately I’ve been finding inspiration in this Rumi poem, with which I will end.

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

- Jelaluddin Rumi

The V – such a powerful symbol.

In this case I’m thinking about the slight angle that leads one side in such a different place. What is a small angle at the bottom of the v is a larger angle at the top of the V and would keep growing were it to continue.

It’s like our lives; one small step in one direction has the potential to lead to a dramatically divergent place after a while. That is the theory I’m operating on right now as I continue walking through this mid-life crisis…

At most points throughout my day it seems nigh impossible to make a dramatic shift in my life – sell the house, pack it all up and start the bicycle journeying again; quit everything and go teach yoga to street kids in Brazil; start a focused effort to pull out ALL of the ivy in the Seattle city limits…

All of this seems so drastic and crazy and unattainable… and yet amazing at the same time.

However, what I do believe is that one small step in a different direction, a slight variation from the path I’m on now, could lead me to one of these places or any million other outcomes. The beautiful, (and terrifying), aspect of this is that I also don’t know where that outcome may take me and likely I’ve never even thought of it yet. One good thing about being old enough to be in the middle of a mid-life crisis is that I’ve learned enough to know that I don’t have all the answers; it’s actually not all in my head.

So, rather than feeling the need completely change everything I’ve always thought I was about and become someone new, I’m working on taking one step at a time in a new direction – not knowing where it will lead me (which truly is terrifyingly exhilarating), and focusing on being true to myself in the present moment. Being true to my gut, my soul, my instinct, right where it is now.

I heard a great quote this evening at an artist presentation I attended, several great quotes actually. The one that is sticking with me as pertinent now is this (I’m paraphrasing):

“Hopelessness is actually just impatience for the change we want to see.”

I love this!

What I hear from this quote is that today my job is to be here now, to allow the change to unfold and happen on its own time; perhaps to be curious about the change, rather than impatient for more change.

Ah, such wisdom. That’s what I’m going with for today – being with the change that is happening today, right now. Feeling the beauty in the small steps of each side of the V as they happen. And working on embracing the excitement in that, rather than the hopelessness of where the end of that angle of the V leads…

It’s a small practice, but that’s what I’m finding works.

With so much love.

What charges me up – and how to go towards that…

This post will be short and sweet, not unlike me ;)

I’ve been noticing quite a bit lately what charges me up and what drains me – drains and gains so to speak (taken from one of my teachers) – and even how being drained in the right way can be a gain.

I recently attended a 3-day yoga therapy training that consisted of long days full of intense learning and sharing. It was also a beautiful spring weekend of sunny weather in the upper 70’s, somewhat rare for Seattle.

I went into the weekend with a big open heart and even Santosha (contentment) around the fact that I couldn’t spend all day outside in the sun, knowing that I was cultivating my own inner sunshine. Indeed, that is just what happened. I left the training on Sunday afternoon feeling inspired, recharged, and while tired in a way, it was the motivated kind of tired that is almost invigorating.

Contrasting that to how I can sometimes feel completely drained after merely a half day in the office in front of the computer…

This makes me feel lucky and grateful that I have sufficient experience and intentional awareness around these feelings by now to even notice the difference. And to know that I can feel that “inspired exhaustion” and how that is different than being drained and tired in an unmotivated, uninspired way.

I am also starting to really understand in which direction I need to turn and more importantly I’m starting to trust that turning in that “inspired exhausted” direction is the right thing to do, despite any fear or uncertainty that might accompany that turning towards.

It seems that one piece of “Walking Through It” includes learning to walk in the direction of our hearts, learning to trust our hearts in new and deeper ways. The wiser side of me understands that this is the kind of knowledge one gains only with much experience; the impatient side of me wishes I had known it long ago; and then the gentle compassionate side of me knows that I DID know this long ago in a different way – and I followed my heart back then too. My heart simply led me in different directions back then.

And ultimately that’s OK – I wouldn’t be here to talk about it otherwise. Now I’m able to hear my heart in new ways and slowly start to follow it’s calling, step by step. Walking through that mid-life crisis, or unfolding…

UPDATE 5/23: And how I guess I really wanted to conclude this post is to say that I often find myself exhausted as I walk through this mid-life crisis. If I can direct my energy and attention towards activities that leave me feeling an inspired exhausted I think I will be better off and I think that is the way to find my true path…

Still here…

I always think I won’t know what to say or that I won’t have enough to write about – that often keeps me from writing and posting on this blog more frequently. I’ve been told I could post more regularly; I’ve been told people relate to what I’m writing/saying; I’ve also been told that sharing my experience helps others. Sooo….. I shall keep writing, although perhaps not often enough.

What I’ve been grappling with recently in this mid-life crisis of mine is a struggle that seems two-fold. Internally I keep pondering the question: “Can I really keep doing for the rest of my life, what I’ve been doing for the first part of my life?” The immediate answer seems so obvious to me – heck no. Honestly I can’t even fathom it. And yet at the same time I can’t imagine what else I would do or how I would get to a place of doing something else. I feel pregnant with the need for change and yet completely unsure how life could look different. And that combination of thoughts is somewhat terrifying.

This might be the curse of being Pisces.

At the same time I’m finding myself more and more drawn inward and so the desire to even share thoughts like this is less comfortable than it would have been say twenty years ago, (back when I was oh so extroverted)… Thus the idea of not only writing this stuff down but then posting it publically is starting to feel weird. And the fact that this feels weird feels even stranger.

Ah Kathleen, who are you anymore? Still a Pisces, that much is for sure.

I do know this – I am someone who has embraced the idea of change. I know it’s always going to happen; I get that many times what seems like a “negative” change from one perspective often turns into a really great opportunity. I get it. Truly. I’m also ready for change – almost eager for it; let’s shake things up I tell the Universe. Bring it on. And then I wait.

What I’m grappling with now is how the change is going to happen (OK and maybe a bit of when the change is going to happen). But on the how I simply have no clue and that feels scary because as I mentioned above, I can’t imagine not having some change. I also struggle a bit with how much to push my own agenda on the change and how much I should defer to the grand plans of the Universe. I have experience pushing my own agenda of change and have come to realize that I don’t necessarily have the best or right idea of exactly what needs to happen and when or how it needs to happen. Sometimes the best things that have happened to me have, well, just happened to me… once I let go of needing to chart a specific course.

Maybe it’s fear of the future. Maybe it’s not being present. Maybe it’s wanting to be in control. But I’ve been working on all that stuff and have been for years and actually feel more present than ever before. And hey – maybe that’s it. Maybe – thanks to the work I’m doing, the Svadhyaya (the yoga term for self-study), the meditation, seeking out meaningful teachers, and the different ways I practice being present with myself and others…. Maybe because of all this I’m feeling and noticing life in an new and altered way.

And maybe, just maybe all of this has coalesced right around this midlife time… just as it’s supposed to or often does for those of us who care to look? I’ve been reassured by those wiser and more experienced that I that this is a familiar path.

The downside of this path and process is that it can be exhausting, sometimes depressing, and often very uncertain. I suppose the upside is that it can reconnect one with humanity, broaden our sense of shared connections with other sentient beings on this planet, and ultimately it holds out hope for some transformation.

Tonight I found myself highlighting passages from my Shambhala magazine, a monthly treasure I so look forward to reading. It helped me get clear on a few ideas swirling aimlessly around in my head. From an article about Sakyong Mipham Rinphoche’s upcoming book The Shambhala Principle a particular sentence stood out. “One of the book’s core messages is that how we feel about ourselves has a direct effect on society” (and others with whom we interact). This gives me much courage to keep on the path and keep on this journey of self-discovery for I know how easy it is to fall into despair or feeling helpless and I don’t want to carry that feeling out into the world to those I love and those I have yet to know and love.

The following sentence from the same article also resonated with me: “Although at times we may feel deficient in our ability to embody basic goodness, even glimpsing such a possibility can have an immediate and profound effect on us, both personally and societally.”

Yes! So true – and again, so full of hope and encouragement to stay on the path and embrace the journey. Even the fleeting glimpses I have had of experiencing life differently and more wisely have been so illuminating. It is what gives me hope that there is something worth striving for on the other side and also what gives me strength.

That’s what I’ve got for now.

You could call me an extrovert. At least that’s what I always called myself. I love being with people, hate to miss a party, and am a master at filling up my schedule. The first inkling that I might be anything but an extrovert was revealed to me in a personality test I took a few years back that had me just barely on the “E” side of the scale – not even 60%.

Say what???

Interestingly, taking that test (which I did as part of a group dynamics exercise at work) gave me just a tad bit of freedom to explore my inner introvert. I didn’t realize it at the time of course, but as I’ve continued to walk through this mid-life experience, I have come to see that it was the start of a shift. The start of that shift started, as so many things in life do, with awareness.

Many spiritual teachings talk about the idea of awareness and how the mere fact of just noticing a thing/person/place/feeling can change our entire experience with that entity. And looking back, that’s how it happened with me and my inner introvert, which until that point had never really had a voice of its own.

Over the past couple years, as I’ve started walking with intentionality through this unfolding of my mid-life crisis, I have done something different. I have started to honor my inner introvert, this side of me I never really took time to get to know before (I almost feel like I should name it). It started by feeling almost a sense of relief when Friday night came around and we had no plans; something that before could have made me depressed. In fact, I started to look forward to a quiet Friday night at home with my husband. Who was this person? I didn’t recognize myself!

The idea that I could enjoy time alone didn’t come easily, quickly or painlessly, but it came with a deep understanding. My spiritual path has led me to many places, one that I wasn’t anticipating when I started – that of self-love. Nothing grandiose or narcissistic here, just the idea that I am a lovable person and worth getting to know. Having not really taken the time do that in the past, meant that I didn’t enjoy being by myself and in fact often took it to mean that others didn’t want to be with me; warped thinking I know, now that I have some hindsight and retrospective on it.

Slowly Friday nights took on a life of their own: Often I’d put together a nice little meal of fancy appetizers, some good wine, and we’d nibble on healthy chocolate at the end of it all. Some nights we would launch into a full on expression of joy and have what we call a “Friday Night Dance Party” (FNDP). Then other evenings we would just both do our own thing, reading, knitting, playing with our cats, a bit of yoga etc.

Then, a strange thing happened – I started to really go in. I found myself less and less inclined to make plans with friends, not wanting to spend the money or time to go to the symphony or a concert. I went to work, my yoga classes, and then pretty much came home and didn’t do as much. It seemed I was crossing a threshold and was bordering on isolating. It felt right, so I followed my heart, but it also seemed I would go to some hermit like place and never be the same again.

Well, that’s true – after the close of any given day we never are the same as we were before the start of that day. However, I did wonder if I would become some radically different person, one that didn’t really have many friends, didn’t socialize much, preferred just to be alone. It all seemed possible.

To date, I’m happy to report that balance does exist, and also that I’m not really worried about it anymore. My extroverted side is definitely dominant and needs love and attention as well. The nice thing is, now it’s more inclined to share that love and attention with my introverted side. In fact, the E side seems to understand that the more the I side is nourished, then the happier the E side will be when it gets nurturing and attention.

Ah balance – such a radical concept.

Which brings me back to awareness. The idea that I have a choice about whether to focus on the E or the I depending on how I feel. I have to be aware in order to know how I feel. And I must give the opportunity to myself to try new ways of being (either being introverted for a while, or extroverted) to see what the response is. The fact that I can be recharged from going within, from honoring my inner introvert, and from taking time for myself is a wonderful new learning that I have gained. I guess I’m a slow learner! Or I just never had the space to see this is such a deep way before.

Now I am committed to creating space for my introverted side to flourish, which allows me a different way of recharging. It is an ongoing endeavor and I don’t always get the balance just right, but giving myself permission to do this has truly changed my life. This has come as a part of my mid-life unfolding AND is a benefit/result of this same unfolding. As I have come to know and love myself more and more, and see myself for who I am and am becoming, the more I want to be with that person. Ultimately I know that this also makes me a better friend, family member, wife, and servant leader in the world.

All because I took time to get to know that entity inside me, that inner long-neglected introvert who is so awesome.

I think I’ll call her Irina, which means peaceful.

So just how often does one post to their blog? That’s the question I found myself grappling with since starting a blog. There were plenty of times that I thought about writing then thought it was too soon; writing isn’t really my go-to medium anyways. But I also didn’t want to delay for so long that the blog became irrelevant and the many nuanced experiences relevant to sharing a life of walking through a mid-life crisis were lost.

In the end I’m not sure it really matters; what seems to matter is the act of doing it and trusting that the right words will come at the appropriate time.

I’m grateful for the responses to this endeavor and the thoughtful feedback and idea sharing that it generated. I am sticking with the fact that it feels like a mid-life “crisis” and honoring my feelings around this, and I also know that it is so much more than merely a crisis. I’m likening it to the process of eating an artichoke – as you pull off each leaf it gets you closer to the heart.

(And in the spirit of Asteya, I did not come up with that analogy; however, I’m not sure who did so I cannot attribute it to anyone.)

And so I’m walking through it and going through what I’m calling my “unfolding”, a term I learned at the Samarya Center where I study and teach yoga. If I can be present for this experience then not only can I allow the unfolding to occur, I can actually lean into that unfolding and maybe, just maybe, enjoy the process. At the very least I can observe it.

What I have observed as of late is interesting, at least to me. I find myself wanting to get rid of “stuff”. I have this overwhelming idea that I simply have too much stuff in my life and I’m going through closets, cupboards, nooks & crannies, drawers, and corners leaving no area untouched with my eagle eye. I’m definitely not a hoarder and having moved around as much as I have in the past it simply wasn’t much of an option to accumulate that much; however, having lived in one house for nearly seven years and one city for nearly 10 (the longest place I’ve ever lived), accumulation has occurred.

Yet it never bothered me before; before the crisis/unfolding started – PMLC. I used to revel in a few of our prized pieces of “stuff” Now I almost feel smothered, like there is a weight holding me down from wherever it is that I need to go and whatever it is that I need to do next. Because of course I can’t do any of that with too much stuff…

Obviously there is a big part of this in my head, and emotional body (Manomayakosha).

And yet it is true – the connection between the different parts of our mind/body and our life is real and powerful. So being open to this has provided an opportunity to declutter and spend some time this winter inside, going through the different rooms of my house and with them the different rooms of my mind and my heart. What is the connection I have to that Yucatecan shirt anyways?

I recall the process of finally getting rid of most of my text books from college and, even more painfully, grad school. Most of them had been in boxes for years, and yet I couldn’t bring myself to let go of them. Why? I dunno. Grad school was so expensive as were the books and what if I ever needed them again in the future; what if I got some job in the future where I needed to refer to these books. If I got rid of the books would I lose the knowledge that I had gained from them? That was my fear – that plus the loss of the dream that I would have that one perfect job that would use all of my accumulated knowledge and experiences. I’ve never had that job, but I had that dream.

Over the years I gradually let go of most of the books, resting in my rational mind that told me if I really ever did need that information in the future it was probably out there on the internet somewhere, or I could go buy another book that was likely more up to date anyways. Oh it’s weird to feel out of date.

And so it is with the process of letting go of the “stuff” that seems to have defined the first half of my life, PMLC. Bit by bit I’m looking to release that which no longer serves me and move on to that which does not only serve but enriches me. It feels good and right to be clear and cognizant of this process.

Which brings me to the thought that has been going through my head in various ways for a while now – how to be present, observe, learn from, grow from, and maybe even enjoy this process of unfolding through the MLC. In my wedding vows, which my husband and I wrote ourselves, we included the phrase “to be in this world, not of it” (a quote with ancient Sufi and Christian references). I don’t think I fully understood at that time the deeper meaning of that quote, but it is beginning to unfold for me these past few years.

It is all too easy to get caught up in life, or in this case a mid-life crisis, and lose all sense of awareness. This draws my focus of the center of the universe to my own little daily goings on, rather than expanding my focus to the larger world. I know enough through my yoga and other spiritual practices that the expanded view is healthier all around, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Yet it can be so challenging to keep that broader focus.

Being present to, aware of, and maybe most importantly curious about how I feel exactly just now, in this moment, reduces the anxiety that tends to accompany the crazy-making of an MLC. How am I sitting differently to prevent that right shoulder from slouching forward; how did the plants in the garden respond to that frost we had the other night; what is it that’s holding me back from cutting the dead material out of the garden anyways; how could the other person’s experience in our conversation be different from mine; and how do I feel when I don’t meditate first thing in the morning.

These are all questions I’ve asked myself and ways I find to being present, to learning from just living…

So for now, as I continue walking through it, I work my way through the artichoke leaves in order to get to the best part, to the heart, to the heart of it all…

Namaste

Aside

I will never write a blog! Nobody reads those anyways, unless you’re famous and then maybe a few people. Plus, I hate writing anyways! And who wants to spend more time in front of the computer!?!

At least that what I always told myself…

And yet, here I find myself, at 7 am on a Saturday morning, sitting down to start my first attempt at a blog entry. Why? Hmmm, well I’m not exactly sure, except I’ve been feeling drawn to it lately. Words have actually been going through my head during my meditation. I’ve been hearing feedback from far and wide, from people close to me and from those I don’t even know, that the little sharing I’ve been doing about my experience has been helpful for them, in some way.

And I can’t ignore the teachings of many that say if you just sit and write about something it will help get it out of your head, off of your chest, and into the universe where there is plenty of space to allow for those thoughts to just exist.

So therefore I sit and I put pen to paper, or rather fingers to keyboard.

My intention behind this blog is to capture the essence what I’m identifying as my midlife crisis, an “MLC” if you will. I know I’m not the only one who has gone through an MLC; likely the majority of people older than me have, even if they did not identify it as such. There are many books about the topic (several for men, which is interesting and another topic); however, I’m not feeling drawn to reading drawn out books, can’t seem to make it through a book anyways, and frankly, I’m trying to open to a new experience.

I also don’t want to talk about the physical changes that our bodies go through as we age and that I’m starting to feel. That can be a bit depressing and honestly it seems far less interesting to me than the mental, emotional, and spiritual changes that I’m noticing.

So I will share what I’m experiencing, from my own life and if this is every remotely useful to even a few people, then I guess that’s nice. Otherwise, I’m going to write until it doesn’t feel useful to me anymore. I draw guidance and inspiration from ancient yogic texts to modern day yogis, from 12-step wisdom to talk therapy – and so much more. Everyone is my teacher!

I’m a 42 year-old married woman and I think my midlife crisis started somewhere about a 1½ – 2 two years ago. Not with some precipitating event, but rather with a growing sense of dissatisfaction with my life. It seemed that I had achieved much of what I had set out to achieve career and family wise (other than that million dollar salary…probably shouldn’t have gone into the non-profit world.) and yet I wasn’t satisfied. I got to a place where I found myself asking “Is this it?” Is this what I have to work with for the next half of my life? Another 40+ years of this?  That was (is) an unsettling feeling to say the least.

So then, I created new goals!

I became a certified yoga instructor and sought a different, more spiritual path, including re-committing to my meditation practice. I also dove into a new line of business sharing healthy chocolate. Two of my favorite things – yoga and chocolate! What’s not to love? And yet a couple years down the line I still am not where I want to be, at least it doesn’t feel like
I’m where I want to be, and of course I couldn’t give up the day job, so now I’m working three jobs, which means I’m really just dissatisfied AND exhausted. Don’t get me wrong, I love both of my new endeavors, I’m just not sure that doing more is the best solution for me.

But that’s part of the issue – I’m not really sure I know what I want. I mean I really don’t know what I want for myself, other than a big fat long break…in full health, wealth, and happiness. Thoughts and ideas that I used to be so sure of pre-midlife crisis (I’ll call that PMLC) I really can’t find the same sense of stability around anymore. What seemed so right for me previously, doesn’t seem to resonate anymore. In some ways I simply don’t recognize myself these days and I really don’t have a sense of what will make me happy and fulfilled.

And so I write.

To keep this solution-oriented, I will share what I am trying to do to move through this experience with some semblance of grace. I am deeply committed to my meditation practice. I used to think that would make everything all better – now I understand it will just make me more present to everything that is happening. I am also doing my best to be open and transparent about what I’m feeling, to the extent that I feel safe sharing in different situations. The tremendous feedback I’ve been receiving when I share about my MLC encourages me to keep sharing – and so I write. I am also focus on staying true to my yoga asana practice, whatever that looks like, just keeping the practice itself going. It feels good to have some ritual and routine around that, although I find it important to be gentle on myself as well.

And I guess what I’m working most diligently at right now is just being present for what I am feeling. I’m trying very hard to be OK with doing less (this is a topic for another blog post, but it is important to put out there now) as a mechanism to be present. I am noting what I feel in my body. Not walking away from it. Allowing it to be and to take place in and through me. Sharing when I need to or get scared and then going back to being present for the experience. I think what I’m trying most to do is just walk through it.

 

And thus the name of this blog – “Walking Through It”

 

Thanks for listening and being a part of this first blog post.

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