Earlier this week I was leading a workshop for people facing big life transition and the need for reinvention. One of the participants asked, “Does everyone go through one of these midlife crises?” I thought about that for a second and said, “Well, first off I don’t call it a crisis. I call it a midlife awakening.”
As spiritual beings having a human experience we are continuously growing and at certain points in our life our inner growth and our desire to become more awake, more empowered, just plain more, breaks through (often subconsciously) and disrupts the trajectory we’ve been on so that we are forced to shift and grow.
It isn’t necessarily a gentle process and often involves losing parts of our old identity, our old familiar self. There’s a type of death that comes with the deepening of self-awareness as pieces of our selves don’t survive in the light.
There is such a powerful urge to scramble to put the pieces back together but there is true power in giving the field of uncertainty some time to work on you.
Throughout my long ordeal and the stretch of unresolved, prolonged challenges there were so many times I was desperate for it just to be over with so that I could move on with life. But now I see that a quick resolution would have been a terrible lost opportunity. My evolution required longer incubation; had the catastrophe resolved sooner I would have been like a butterfly pulled prematurely from the chrysalis with wings too underdeveloped and deformed ever to fly. I can now see that the whole thing played out in beautiful Divine timing.
My encouragement is to take some time to grieve the lost roles, the pieces of heart, the shards of self, to honor the contribution they’ve made, and then let them go. This way you make space for new facets to come into view as you heal and awaken. Staying a little patient with the process gives your new wings the time they need to fully form.
Just a couple days after the workshop I was doing some reading for my World Religions class and came across a passage that described Buddha’s experience as the, “most momentous midlife crisis in world history.” Just think how powerful your own awakening might be?
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.
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.