Blood From a Stone…


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So this is one thing I’ve realized as of late…

It’s next to impossible to be present to a mid-life crisis when there is no spaciousness in my life..

Ah ha! After nearly a year of working an insane number of hours trying to string together two part time jobs (one of which was more than part time), I’ve come to realize that without any time for reflection or simply stopping doing for a while, that there is no way I can get to a deeper understanding of what is going on in my life – all I can do is burn myself out.

You can’t suck blood from a stone…

What I HAVE realized this past year is the following:

1. MY BODY DOESN’T LIE. whether it is feeling icky about an office space, aches and pains that are leading me to greater truths about my situation, or sheer exhaustion – all of these are signs of the greater picture of my life.

2. REST IS NOT A LUXURY – it is simply put, a necessity. For far too long I’ve prided myself on all that I could accomplish in one day. That has left me depleted and bitter. As I move through this transition in my life my thinking has shifted and I feel much less drive to “do” – and am slowly starting to become comfortable with “be”.

(Don’t get me wrong – I’ve still got a long ways to go in this realm and there are still strong feelings of guilt as I’m just sitting there “being“… ;-}

However, these days I am taking several naps a week – rest is a necessity and the longer I go without it the more I will need to catch up. My dear friend Deb put it aptly – “Kathleen, you’ve lived your entire life at roadrunner speed; you need to rest, let your body do it.”

Right now there is simply no blood to suck from this stone…

3. IT’S OK TO ASK FOR (AND RECEIVE) HELP – oh this one has taken me a long time to embrace. I’ve made it my mantra for the past couple months and think I’ll carry it into 2015. I’ve read enough Brene Brown to know that vulnerability actually takes a crap ton of courage and simply asking for help – or has been my fortunate case, receiving it when it is offered – is a true gift and a strength. I’m slowly learning to flex these “receiving” muscles as I get to the low funk bottom (I hope!) of this mid-life crisis/unfolding/transition period of my life.

I also read the recent article in December issue of The Atlantic Monthly about the midlife crisis as a global phenomena. Have to say – it made me feel quite a bit better about my life. The article referred to the U shape of life; basically we’re happiest at the beginnings and ends of our life and that bottom of the U is the midlife time period.

The good news is, most people come out of their midlife crisis happier than they were before!!  I’ll take it!

Anyway – after a series of interesting life turns and events I am now working a part time job that I happen to enjoy immensely and that provides a tremendous, supportive community all around me. Although it feels like “I’m not doing much” (I mean I’m only working part-time…) I quite honestly don’t know how I’ve ever been able to work more previously. This tells me I’m right where I’m supposed to be for this present Now.

I’m working on listening to my body, resting when it tells me too (even when I can’t believe it’s telling me to rest AGAIN! – more naps! 😉 and practicing doing less and “being” more – being more self-indulgent, more thoughtful in how I spend my time, more forthright in speaking my truth, and most of all more loving and compassionate towards myself.

It’s NOT easy.

For now I’ll work on being me, and continue to try and understand what that means.




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I’m not sure exactly what to title this one, but it feels like coming back to this blog after a 10-month hiatus deserves some sort of special title…

I had no idea what would eventually lead me back to writing, to this blog that I had so intentionally started to “be present” for this mid-life crisis, but I guess that the right factors aligned and here I am again. Finally with the energy, a bit of spaciousness for creativity, and some sort of desire to do something.

It has been SUCH a long road this year – of feeling like my life was unmanageable and that things would never change. Of frustration. Of hopelessness. I did not want to write because I didn’t want to acknowledge all the shit I was feeling. It was too overwhelming and felt too damn icky. If I didn’t have anything illuminating to share with you, my dear reader, then why waste anyone’s time.

And I’m still not sure I have any major insights to share, other than the fact that I’m still here, surviving, and getting to new depths of feeling and experience in life. Muddling my way through new ways of being in the world, with new labels and experiences that continue to evolve my prior perspective.

Someone shared a thought on hopelessness with me last night – a new perspective that when we feel hopeless it’s actually a GOOD thing, because that way we stop hoping for something to change and we actually see we have to change it ourselves. Hmmm, so hopelessness can be empowering?!?… I give up the hope that the dishes will wash themselves and I realize I have to wash them myself. Hmmm. I’m still working on embracing this concept.

So great – bring on hopelessness. Bring on the depths so that there is some shift in perspective and some place to start to crawl out of. Bring on the true surrender that this engenders that can ultimately lead to a new place, a new direction, a new feeling. Or perhaps simply a return home.

In the meantime, I’ll share a quote I found online recently that feels about right, for today. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

“If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.”

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.


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.