The In Between

Sometimes things happen that just knock us off the place in the world we thought we were standing on — death of a loved one, a health crisis, loss of a job, divorce, or even things we might choose like retirement. These abrupt changes can feel like a sort of death in and of themselves; our old familiar identity disintegrates, the dream of what we thought our life would be crumbles.

In anthropology, there is a concept known as the liminal phase describing how, in cultures that have clear rites of passage rituals such as moving from boyhood to manhood or from initiate to mid-wife or priestess, there is a period in which the initiate has lost their old identity and place in society but has not yet been granted the new status or reintegrated into society; that in between time is what is known as the liminal phase.

More recently liminality has crossed over from anthropology into psychology and is used to describe when a person suffers major life upheaval that shakes us loose from our familiar identity and position in community or society. This is usually a very challenging space for a person to remain in because it is detached from known routines and social interactions and support. The sense of liminality, of being in between the old and new way of being, often hits during sudden, intense life-changing events.

As I share in my upcoming book, When Life Blows Up: A Guide to Peace, Power and Reinvention:

“I was a couple of months into my public shaming experience when someone first shared the term liminality with me and I cried as I recognized and resisted the space I’d been forced into. On some subconscious level I was terrified that the upheaval and uncertainty would be permanent and I’d be trapped in a purgatory of pain and isolation for the rest of my life.”

My initial reaction to the bomb blast was to scramble to capture up the pieces and try to put things back together somehow, to keep my work going, to force my way forward, but the events had been too catastrophic and at some point I just had to give in, to surrender to the fact that things were never going to look the same again. I finally stopped working and allowed myself to be worked on from within and that’s when I struck gold.

For those of you sitting in what feels like an identity blast zone take heart, the terrible upheaval won’t last forever. And have courage because there is tremendous transformative power in in giving the liminal uncertainty some time to work its magic.

Being initiated into the deeper levels of ourselves often involves being willing to sit in the field of uncertainty for some time as our inner landscape shifts and new currents begin to move. It’s like the eagles who flow with the wind, carried in one direction then the other, until finally the wind itself lifts them up above the turbulence.

In my Launch Your Next Chapter program I work with a lot of people who are navigating liminality and transition and are determined to come out the other side with greater clarity, peace and power. If this sounds like you I invite you to a complimentary empowerment coaching session – just click here and pick a time that works for you.

In the meantime, here is a beautiful meditation called The Space Between

And remember, a butterfly pulled too soon from the chrysalis never fully forms its wings and so never flies. Our world will be so much more beautiful when we all are flying.

Love,

Cylvia

Shiny Objects and Gut Checks

At Unity Village and worldwide headquarters with my friend and minister Jane.

I just completed the final paper for the final prerequisite class to start full-blown ministerial school. What?!  Even two years ago I couldn’t have seen this one coming. I was taking classes through Unity Worldwide Ministries for my own personal growth. I wasn’t planning to become a minister at a congregation but I was taking a bunch of the classes so I figured I might as well be doing it for credit. Next thing I know I’ve just completed the 18th and final course.

Looking back on the massive transition process I went through when life blew to pieces several years ago I can now see that I did some things that helped and other things that definitely didn’t. One of the things that slowed my reinvention was jumping at too many shiny objects, chasing at every opportunity that seemed to appear. I see this so often now with the clients I am working with who are in the process of reinventing careers or trying to find purpose and clarity around the next chapter of life. Because it is so hard to sit in the uncertainty of not having a concrete goal or a clearly defined career position, we often try to force things into place and convince ourselves to take on certain things even when our inner compass is warning us it isn’t a good fit. Once I cured myself of Shiny Object Syndrome my coaching business took off and I finally completed the book I’d been working on for four years!

I offer this as a friendly warning to all of you who find yourself facing transition and the need, or desire, to reinvent your career, life situation or identity. Focus will be key. However, I’d warn against hyper-focus. There is a fine line between being too scattered and staying open to possibilities you might not have noticed before. This is where self-honesty and intuition are essential. In my case, even as I started to reign in the shiny object pursuits, I kept doing the ministerial classes simply because it felt right. I was enjoying the personal learning and the courses were giving me tools and insights that were directly useful to my coaching clients. When I checked in deeply with myself, even though I didn’t have a fully baked intended outcome, it felt right to stay the course and keep taking the courses.

Over the summer as I was nearing completion of the prereqs I learned that there is a pathway through the Unity ministerial program that enables you to focus on the specific audiences you most want to serve. For me that includes environmental and social change advocates (the folks who choose to deal with big gnarly issues all day every day) and people transitioning out of incarceration. So, lo and behold, I will begin the Unity Urban Ministerial School main program this Winter term. Again, What?!!  It feels right and I am really looking forward to it.

Overlooking the beautiful Unity Village main campus

One of the things that let me know I wanted to keep pursuing the ministerial path was how much I enjoy becoming a more engaged part of the Unity worldwide movement.  If you are moving through a time of transition, as you stretch out into new directions, new networks and audiences, pay attention to the particular groups, organizations or communities that you enjoy spending time with. This can be an important guidepost during times of reinvention.

The path to empowered reinvention lies between wide-open vistas of options you haven’t considered before and disciplined gut checks to determine if those options really are a fit for you. It’s the balance point between having the courage to try on new possibilities and the courage to sit with the uncertainty long enough to allow it to gel into the perfect next chapter.

Love,

Cylvia

If you’d like to explore Empowerment Coaching to help you gain clarity and direction and put together a plan for effective reinvention I’d be happy to provide a complimentary 30 minute Launch Your Next Chapter breakthrough session. Just click here and schedule a time that works for you.

The Missing and Harnessing Loss

It’s now been a month since Tessa passed. The first few weeks were intense, indescribable really. Missing became a noun, a thing – “The Missing”. I would be going along, doing life, and The Missing would reach up and grab me, freezing the breath in my chest and flooding my eyes. It jumped me even when there was no obvious trigger beyond a lovely memory wafting through. In truth, it was so deep it was akin to a phantom limb; a beautiful part of me I expected to be there that wasn’t. I had to start adjusting to going through life a little lesser, a little less rich, quieter.

I am still grieving, tears still springing at unexpected moments (like now, as I write this) but it is softening – love and gratitude far outweighing the loss. I sometimes now feel her presence on the breeze, and it makes me smile.

I really don’t know if loss, transition and trauma happen for a purpose but I absolutely do know we can make purpose of everything that happens.   Tessa’s passing shifted me out of my normal state of being. After the first week, as the most jagged edges rounded a bit but the grief was still incredibly powerful, I found myself in a softer, slower energy that was just perfect for finishing my book.

I know I announced late last year that I’d finished the book, but after speaking with the publisher, editors and doing market research I realized that for it to fill the niche I’m hoping for the book needed to be a good bit longer. I have worked throughout this year to get it where it needs to be and within a few weeks When Life Blows Up: A Guide to Peace, Power and Reinvention will be headed to the editor, cover designer and graphics team and finally to completion and launch! Whew, it has been a JOURNEY! I am so proud of myself for seeing it through and for not rushing it, for allowing it to become something I really want to put forth into our world.

Loss isn’t easy and grief really can’t be rushed, but it can be harnessed. It can open us to gentler, more vulnerable and therefore more creative energies. Once I get this book fully fledged, I’m thinking about doing another titled, Soul Dog, for all of us who take the beautiful risk and reap the rewards of giving our hearts fully to a four-legged, furred or feathered friend. Thanks for the inspiration Tessa, my sweet pea.

This pic of her has become my favorite since her passing. It was taken just two months before she passed and before I had any idea how soon that was to be. We were out on a hike and, as I had done so many times before, I looked back at her and my heart flooded and I said, “Do you know how much I love you?” As she had started doing in the frosty-faced portion of her life, she looked right into my eyes and smiled, her way of saying, “Yes I do know and right back at you.”

Life is process and man it hurts sometimes. Change is guaranteed even if we wish it weren’t. We are never what we have lost. We are not what has been torn from us and we definitely are not broken beyond repair, ever, unless we choose to build the brokenness and victimhood into our beliefs, our stories and our identities. Even when it all blows to pieces we still are everything we were before. We might not still have what we had — the positions, the possessions, money, the athletic body, the children, the loved ones — but we still are the culmination of experiences, talents, current and former abilities and impactful relationships that make us uniquely us. Every one of us is the sum total of all we have experienced, felt, learned and unlearned before. There is never only one way to view a challenging event and never only one possible outcome.

I still have Tessa’s urn and little shrine on my front room floor. Cards and letters and even lovely drawings poured in from people whose lives she had touched and who cared about us – I am really touched by that and I just love it that so many people loved her. I expect at some point I will spread her ashes in various places that she loved, but not just yet. I will know when that time is right. In the meantime I feel for her on the wind and allow my heart to open a little further.

Love,

Cylvia

P.S. For those of you facing a period of transition and reinvention, whether it be grief, loss or just wanting to find clarity of purpose in the next chapter of your life, I have four openings for complimentary Reinvention and Empowerment Breakthrough sessions. Just schedule a time here — https://calendly.com/cylvia/30min. I very much look forward to talking with you.

Flowing through Times of Turbulence

I am headed off for our annual rafting trip on the wild and scenic Rogue River. I am so excited that, for the first time, I’ll be able to provide this incredible experience to my nephew (son really) who is finally here with me after a lengthy prison sentence. This will be his very first experience of the freedom and majesty of wild nature.

John and I do this trip every summer. He rows a raft and I row a raft and we take a few family members and dear friends on a magical journey.

Rowing a raft reminds me so much of the work I do coaching people who are navigating major life transition and reinvention.

If you wind up in turbulent water you are most likely to get hurt or even drown if you fight it, try to get to shore too soon or try to cling to some solid object. That is how you are most likely to get battered and tossed around. The key is to keep your feet in front of you, eyes open and let the current carry you through the rapids and into calmer water.

The tough times in our lives are like that too. Resisting the change and clinging to old, familiar ways just increases the turbulence. The key to finding peace and power in the midst of life-altering periods of change is to open our hearts, let the emotions wash through us and allow ourselves to flow with the uncertainty. There will be rapids, and eddies that feel as though we are stuck in place, and even some calm still pools that allow us to float gently for a time. Every piece of the transition process has a purpose as we move through the space between our old life and our new one. As we open our hearts and our minds we allow the ever-present current of change that is life to flow us into the new, expanded versions of our work, our lives and our Selves.

If you are in the midst of transition and reinvention I would be so happy to speak with you. I currently have openings for 6 complimentary Reinvention Breakthrough coaching session. Just click the link here and pick a time that works for you.

There is a river of opportunity, peace and life flowing to and through you right this moment.

Love,

Cylvia

 

 

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