Doesn’t that title sound EASY?? Well, I mean, I had to get your attention somehow, right? It’s hard to put the difficult journey of life into a title or even into a blog, but I still feel compelled to share this.
This isn’t about some simple process that will suddenly make all the changes you are going through OK. I mean this is midlife! It’s tough. We are getting older. We are now measuring our life not on what we’ve done so far but what we are going to do with the time we have left.
I’m going through the heartbreaking change of letting go of my parenting role. My oldest went off to college and it has brought about so much unexpected grief and questioning and struggle….even though I still have an 8th grader at home! Of course it’s brought joy too, but my sharing about my joy and how proud I am isn’t really going to help anyone. Who needs help with feeling too good about their life, right?? So I’m writing about the struggle, because that is what helps me and that is what has at least some possibility of helping someone else out there.
Just a little FYI, I’m writing this on day 18 of this major life shift. I can’t predict how long this is going to last or even if it was worth it, but it seems like an important process that I need to share.
This whole thing started a few days after Thanksgiving, which was just a couple weeks ago. I went to Vancouver for the holiday to visit my son, because they celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada in Oct (and they don’t REALLY celebrate it). He is in his first year of college, so I didn’t want him to miss out on the Thanksgiving festivities just because he moved to Canada and of course i couldn’t bear the idea of not having my oldest with us on Thanksgiving, so we all went up there.
We had a great week! But it was not very Thanksgiving-y at all. In fact we had authentic Japanese Ramen for our Thanksgiving dinner because that was what we could all agree on!
Anyway, then it was time to say goodbye and head home. Thanksgiving night. I was fine at the airport when I said goodbye. I mean, he’ll be home in 3 weeks, right? Shouldn’t be so bad. I flew home with barely any sadness. “I’ve got this!” I thought. But the next day, I found myself in a slump and I couldn’t figure out why. I was going through my day like normal, but I just felt so blah inside. Emptiness, sadness, depression…call it what you want. It was not fun.
I didn’t even know what was going on. i just felt blah. I didn’t equate it with the visit at all until later. Midlife grief and other emotions are sometimes hard to flush out an identify even when your WHOLE life revolves around emotion and the inner journey! (I’m a therapist after all! You’d think I’d always know what I’m feeling and why, but I don’t…not always anyway)
So even though feeling depressed sucks, it can often bring gifts. The gift this particular struggle brought me was a deeper exploration of my life and how to line it up more fully with what I most deeply want. If your life is truly aligned, my thinking is that I will not grieve the lost of my parental role quite as much. But I could be totally naive here. It may not even matter. In fact i was just watching an interview with Michelle Obama, who presumably is DEFINITELY living her best, soul-inspired, aligned life, right? Well, even she said even she was grieving the loss of the parental role! I don’t think the grieving has to mean anything. BUT regardless, creating the life you want and living your most soul-inspired, fulfilled life is NEVER a bad idea, right?
It may not help my grieving process that much, but I do think the exploration has been super helpful and I do feel like my life has completely transformed in the last 18 days. Let me explain.
First the magical questions that I asked myself as I found myself trying to pull myself out of “the blues.” I have posed these questions to other people who don’t seem to resonate that much, so if you don’t get these, you’re not alone. But for me, these questions were extremely powerful. The 2 questions are:
“Who do you need to become to have the life you really want?” (I have a good idea of what that life is. If you don’t yet, you may want to start with that questions first, as in “What do I really want my life to look like?”)
“What one small change could you make today that would have the greatest impact on your life?”
These two questions in combination changed my life profoundly almost immediately. Not because I had some clear answer right away. I have been asking myself these questions for 6 months honestly. I think it was opening to the answers, rather than having the answers that allowed the transformation.
The first question will continue to reveal itself to me at a deeper level every day for years I’m sure. It will shift as my life continues to expand. Once you have manifested one thing there are always new levels to bring into physical form, right? I need to evolve and become clearer and more aligned versions of myself as I build the life I want. But one aspect of this was captured in the answer to the second question.
The answer to the question “What one small change could you make today that would have the greatest impact on your life?” Has always been: start and commit to daily yoga practice. That has been my answer for years. But for some reason I could never make it happen. Even if I just committed to a daily home practice I’d forget or slack off or allow the resistance to get the best of me. But suddenly I could do it AND it felt really easy!
I didn’t even make a conscious choice to do it. I had an unexpected hour free on the Monday after Thanksgiving when I knew there was a yoga class at the studio down the street, so I randomly decided to go. My intention was to start incorporating class once a week or something.
But something happened in that class. Suddenly I started feeling inspired to finally start going every day. It turned out they were having a Black Friday deal going on that would allow me to get two months of unlimited yoga for the price of one. I seized the opportunity. I started doing it the next day at 6 am. I realized that there is nothing this year that could ever get in the way of a 6am yoga practice the way my life is currently set up. Next year might be different because my youngest is going to a different school, but at least until next Sept I can commit to daily yoga practice at 6am.
A few days later I upgraded to their higher end black Friday special which is 4 months of unlimited yoga for the price of 3. So I guess I have committed to a daily yoga practice now until April. I’m not sure at all that I can make this happen. It has not normally been my M.O. to be very disciplined about anything but my diet (which I kick ass at). I’m kind of a slacker. But I think the realization that I can’t continue to be a slacker and create the life I envision for myself allowed me to make the one change that could have the most wide-reaching impact on my life.
It all happened without my actively or consciously choosing. It felt more like I was just going with the flow. Now I am 18 days in. I have gotten up at 5 am every day to get to that 6am yoga class.
I feel so different in my body. I’ve lost a few pounds and I feel much stronger especially in my core. I also have a lightness in my step that hasn’t been there in a while. I feel like there’s more space in my joints and I can just move around more easily. I also feel more connected to my intuition and in general just more grateful and excited about my life. Am I still sad that my son is in college and my parental role is changing? Of course but I feel much more confident in my ability to handle whatever comes my way.
So just to be clear, I’m not recommending a daily yoga practice for you. It’s not about yoga at all. Just because yoga is what’s working for me in this season of my life, does NOT mean that is the answer for you. I think a lot of times the change you really need to make is not what you would initially think it would be. I am encouraging you to open yourself up to the two questions above and begin to seek the answers. Allow the answers to come on their own timeline. There is no need to rush. And even once you become clear on the answer there is no rush to actually make the change. If you are not in alignment with divine timing you probably won’t be able to stick with it anyway. I think that is why I haven’t been able to do this for so many years, despite knowing it would change my life. The season of my life was just not in alignment with this active practice. There are times in our lives when we need to prioritize sitting more than doing. I have been in my sitting season for a few years now. Maybe for you the small change you need to make is to do less and sit more! I’ve maxed out on sitting, so my season is shifting to doing.
This whole process of midlife is all about tuning in to what is true for you right now and trusting that the answers you are getting are right for you no matter what those around you happen to be doing. And more importantly staying true to yourself no matter what others might be THINKING about what you’re doing!! You have a deeper call within. You have a divine mission all your own. It doesn’t look like anyone else’s and it doesn’t need to even look like much in the traditional sense of the word “Mission.” It’s just about living in alignment with YOUR needs, with YOUR truth, not based in any expectations of others or society as a whole.
When you do this your life can start to flow and you can connect to amazing states of grace and joy….at least for a moment. I call it the #zerofuckszone and once you get there, you are truly free. I can only get there for short periods here and there, but I’m working on it! And the yoga, unexpectedly is helping. Meet me there sometime?
I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season with lots of time for YOU!