The Power of Rewriting Our Stories

It can be damn unsettling to be at a point of major transition and life or career reinvention in our 40s, 50s and 60s. And yet, reinvention at this point in life is unbelievably common. Take heart, you are not alone!

There are more Americans between the ages of 45 and 65 than any other age block in our country AND a whole heck of a lot of us are in the midst of big life transitions and changes.

One of the best ways to harness change as a path to peace and empowerment is to take a deep and honest look at the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and the world. We all consume stories by media and pop culture and our own families and  we wind up attaching to some of these stories and accepting them as truth even when that might not be the case.

For example, pop-culture media is filled with images and stories of celebrity success and accomplishment that are mostly airbrushed illusion.  Sensationalist news media pours heavy doses of fear into the mix, enticing us to compare ourselves to those airbrushed images in order to get our attention and willingness to spend money on their advertisers’ products. None of this has anything much to do with depth, substance or real life.

The stories we buy into about ourselves, life, limitations, are just that, stories. But they are immensely powerful: they literally shape our experience of life.

When I was forced out of a career I’d spent my whole life building, I felt utterly adrift, heartbroken, terrified and really pissed off. I was also unable to do anything to get back what I had lost. After raging around for a time in anger, resistance and despair, I finally made a decision to take control of what I could which was the way I chose to view the situation. Instead of sticking with the story (however justifiable it might have been) that I had been unfairly targeted and taken out, I chose to view it as an unasked for sabbatical to explore other areas of life and myself.

I wound up growing and expanding so much that when the dust settled and the reshaped landscape of my life came into view, I realized I didn’t even want to do what I’d been doing before! I had grown into new dimensions and directions. In fact, that’s what led to me developing the Launch Your Next Chapter and Jedi Activist programs and doing work that I LOVE.

In recent years I’ve worked with many, many people in the process of reinventing at mid-life. Like all of us they started out pretty afraid but as they began to let go of the old scripts and write new stories they have gone on to launch new businesses and non-profit organizations, find beautiful new loving relationships, sort out difficult financial situations and even boldly pick up and move to new countries they’d always wanted to experience.

One of the most disempowering stories we buy into is that we are supposed to be in a certain place at a certain stage in life. It’s the false story that we “should have done thus and so by now” and are too old to do (fill in the blank), now.   For the most part, that is garbage. Just consider:

  • Mother Teresa was forty years old when she founded the Missionaries of Charity.
  • Jack Nicklaus was forty-six years old when he shot 65 in the final round, and 30 on the back nine, to win the Masters.
  • Henry Ford was fifty years old when he started his first manufacturing assembly line.
  • Ray Kroc was a fifty-two-year-old milkshake machine salesman when he bought out Mac and Dick McDonald and officially started McDonald’s.
  • Pablo Picasso was fifty-five years old when he painted Guernica.
  • Dom Pérignon was fifty-six years old when he first produced champagne.
  • Oscar Hammerstein II was sixty-four years old when he wrote the lyrics for The Sound of Music.
  • Winston Churchill was sixty-five years old when he became Britain’s Prime Minister.
  • Nelson Mandela was seventy-one years old when he was released from a South African prison. Four years later he was elected president of South Africa.
  • Michelangelo was seventy-two years old when he designed the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
  • Auguste Rodin was seventy-six years old when he finally married Rose Beuret, whom he met when he was twenty-three.
  • Benjamin Franklin was seventy-nine years old when he invented bifocal eyeglasses.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright was ninety-one years old when he completed his work on the Guggenheim Museum.
  • Dimitrion Yordanidis was ninety-eight years old when he ran a marathon in seven hours and thirty three minutes, in Athens, Greece.
  • Ichijirou Araya was one hundred years old when he climbed Mount Fuji.

The truth is there are myriad possibilities in every situation and most of them we are unaware of, until … we aren’t! How many times has life delivered an opening you never saw coming? That doesn’t end as we progress through it. In fact, the experience and seasoning we gain along the way broadens the options for what’s possible.

What stories are you telling yourself about yourself and the options before you? Are you certain those stories are accurate? Are they serving you? Remember, you have the power and the right to write your own story.

Love,

Cylvia

Focus on the What, Allow the How

Not the most flattering picture, but (sadly!) the best I got of me presenting our Sacred Activism workshop.

Four and a half years ago the career I had put my entire adult life into blew apart. At first, I fought and railed and hustled trying to keep it afloat. After the first few months I got a client here and there but the truth was, I was so broken by everything that was happening in my life I didn’t do my best work. In desperation, I took on a client that I knew looked like trouble, and sure enough, a few months in, I got stiffed for several thousand dollars, something that had never before happened in my professional career.

Finally, I just had to surrender to the fact that I needed time to heal and it was going to take months, maybe even years to get through all the legal challenges and get my beloved career as a social enterprise and New Economy consultant and speaker up and running again.

I knew I still wanted what I had wanted before, which was to make a difference in bringing humanity into a saner, healthier relationship with our planet. But now I didn’t know how to go about it. On top of that, because of all the huge challenges and upheaval, I wanted something in addition. I wanted to be able to harness the mess I was dealing with in a way that would help others. But again I didn’t know how to go about it and those two things, the old career and the new insights, seemed to be in pretty different worlds.

So, I took a leap of faith and surrendered to the possibility that my old career might be over. I knew I had done a lot of good work through that vehicle and if it was necessary for me to leave it behind, though it hurt, I was willing. I stopped fighting so hard to keep the work going, and allowed myself to be worked on.

As part of my healing, reflection and personal development process I began taking spiritual education classes through Unity, the spiritual community that I had been part of for many, many years. After a few classes the minister suggested maybe I ought to think about ministerial school. It seemed a little crazy at the time but I was already taking accredited classes so I figured I might as well enroll and be getting credit for the classes I was taking.

During that same time I was also training to get certified as a strategic empowerment coach and pretty soon the ministerial classes were proving hugely useful to the coaching work I was doing. I began to think maybe there really was something to the whole “becoming a minister” thing. Staying on that path felt right even though I didn’t have any clear idea what I’d do with a ministerial credential and I didn’t really have a desire to be a lead minister heading a congregation.

This is me and my dear friend Reverend Jane Hiatt in the water tower building at Unity Village.

I just kept taking classes as I built my coaching business and even began building up some clients in my original New Economy field as well.

And then this week happened. I attended my first Unity Worldwide annual convention. I was there mostly just to take it in and learn and to visit Unity Village for the first time (which was awesome!). However, for the past couple of years I’d also been serving on the Unity Worldwide EarthCare team: EarthCare is the program that helps Unity congregations adopt more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. It had just been a way for me to make a contribution in my field even though my professional work in that field had been blown off the rails. The EarthCare team was asked to present a workshop on Sacred Activism and I was to be one of the presenters.

These events came together like tumblers clicking into place.

  • Tumbler One: First, I learned there is a pathway to Unity ministry that enables you to establish alternative ministries that focus on serving certain populations in many regions rather than just a single congregation. The program is wide open to my desire to serve three main groups: people at mid-life facing major reinvention, environmental and social change advocates, and people transitioning out of prison.

 

  • Tumbler Two: The EarthCare team delivered our sacred activism workshop and in it I talked about the need to shift to a saner, sustainable New Economy. I didn’t know how a New Thought spiritual crowd would respond to that message but they were totally into it! They were at that particular workshop out of a desire to be more effective environmental activists but the whole New Economy side of the issue was new to them.

 

  • Tumbler Three: I went to a session showing a short film on Conscious Capitalism. I was electrified. I had no idea New Thought spiritual institutions like Unity were bringing in New Economy concepts like Conscious Capitalism. Turns out, this was the very first time.

That night, though totally exhausted, I couldn’t sleep. I lay there in the dark and realized that just like that, I finally knew the direction my ministry needed to go, how it would support my empowerment coaching services and even pull in and build upon my previous career. In a flash my life and work reintegrated like Humpty Dumpty coming back together but differently configured.

On top of all of that, and to my amazement, I am just completing the 18th and final required prerequisite course necessary to begin the actual official Unity Worldwide Ministerial program. It sort of seems like it just happened! Even though looking back it has been a ton of work and a lot of study, I have loved it and am super excited about the next phase.

I finally have found my calling for this new phase of career and it doesn’t mean completely abandoning my old career, as I’d feared but been willing to face, but is actually an expansion. After nearly five years I now really know the what and even the next few pieces of the how. I am so excited!

For those of you who are dealing with transition and reinvention I encourage you to get very clear on the values, the things you really care about, the people and causes you truly want to contribute to and the key ways you want your life to make a difference in our world. And then stop pushing so hard, open up to the truth that there are pathways to those goals you haven’t even dreamed of yet. Focus on your what and allow the how to show up for you.

And never forget, you may not have what you had before – the titles, the positions, the roles, the money – but you still are all that you have worked to become. You still are all the experiences, the talents, the skills and accomplishments that were yours before the transition. You still are all of that and now you can become even more.

Love,

Cylvia

P.S. If you’d like to schedule a complimentary Empowerment Breakthrough Session, just pick a good time at this link.  https://calendly.com/cylvia/30min

Before You Launch!

The last day of the year! I don’t know about you, but I am more than ready to see 2018 in the rearview window! However before just saying “Buh bye 2018!” it’s really useful to take a little time to reflect what the year delivered.

These past 12 months have likely produced some beautiful moments as well as same challenges and setbacks. Taking a step back and looking a bit more holistically can offer up some hidden pearls of wisdom and insight.

Before fully launching into the new year I encourage you to spend some time asking,

  • What was the accomplishment, event, undertaking you are most proud of?
  • What was a mistake that provided a powerful lesson-learned?
  • What are you willing to shed, let go of, get rid of, in order to accomplish what you want to do next?

It is really important to WRITE DOWN your answers. The act of writing, even just bullet points, empowers the insight and change you’re after.

My own answers to these questions surprised me. At first, I thought my biggest accomplishment was finishing the first full draft of my book, but going a little deeper I realized the real accomplishment was staying the course. What I mean is that I completed the big projects I had committed to – the book, developing the online infrastructure for my new business, rolling out my new trainings and growing the Empowerment Coaching services – and I did all of that while staying true to my inner growth, meditation and spiritual practices.

What are your accomplishments, creations, major undertakings of 2018? It might be on the professional or personal level. Write down every single one that comes to and take a moment to celebrate all you accomplished. Then see if one or two really jump out.

My lesson-learned mistake was painful. I got burned from a business associate I had considered a friend and lost several thousand dollars in the process. The lesson is I KNEW BETTER! My inner wisdom was shouting, “This person is unreliable – don’t do it!” I ignored that inner voice and my own depth of integrity and made a move I shouldn’t have. In my whole career I’ve only had a couple of times where a client or partner wound up being a problem and EVERY SINGLE TIME I ignored the inner warning flags that were trying to wave my off. No more, I vow to never again ignore that inner voice of wisdom – lesson learned!

What mistake did you make this past year that you can use to learn and grow?

And then we come to the part about releasing the stuff that’s no longer serving us. This can be old projects on your DO list that you really don’t care about anymore, or old habits that keep you from being your best or even old stories you tell yourself about yourself.

My commitment is to release my tendency to compare my life, my work, my self with anyone else so that I step even more fully into the unique niche I have to play in our beautiful world.

What are you willing to release to take your life and work to a whole new level?

Spending a little time with these three questions is so worth it, and so are you!

Here’s to a happy end of the year just passing and to a massively powerful launch into 2019!

Cylvia