365 Days of Courage #101: "For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. "

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For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
— Fr. Alfred D'Souza

I remember first being aware of this quote a couple of decades ago. It resonated then and it really, really, really resonates with me now.

The past few weeks have taken me on quite an emotional and mental roller coaster. My head has felt like the image above - just an absolute blur and a feeling of being completely out of control. I was feeling like the baby in the video below a lot of the time - however hard I tried, I just couldn’t get the goddamned boot on!

So what was going on in my life?

Three very important people in my life have needed me to support them through some BIG STUFF during these past few weeks. By last week, I felt like all the stuffing had been knocked out of me. Physically, emotionally and mentally. I hadn't written or really focused on The Midlife Courage Project for over three weeks or done anything to take care of myself. I felt completely disoriented and out of sorts. I felt like I needed to fill myself up again.

A mother of a one year old commented on one of my Instagram posts last week about how to stay creative "when things are so chaotic". I read into her comment that there was a hope that at some point in the future there would be a time when things aren't so chaotic. My experience is that that simply isn't the case.

Life will always be chaotic. Always out of our control to some extent. We live in a society that worships at the altar of "being busy" and we are living lives where we are CONSTANTLY ON THE GO. We live, work and parent more intensely than any previous generations - or at least that's how it seems to me. So, while our children may need us less in a physical sense as they grow older, they can often need us more emotionally as they face new challenges. Our parents start to need us more and more as their physical or mental states deteriorate.

At midlife, we are firmly in the “sandwich generation” where we are being pulled in both directions - both by our children and by our parents.

So the “obstacles” can become more and more challenging and time consuming and mentally draining once we reach our 40’s and 50’s.

I created The Midlife Courage Project in part because of the meaning of this quote. Too often, we keep our dreams on hold because it seems “that life [is] about to begin - real life.”

So what I'm becoming increasingly conscious of in my own life and in my work with clients is how to continue to move forward with our dreams and passions when it feels like there is always "some obstacle in the way."

Embracing the reality that these obstacles are our life means that we can plan around them without pretending that they don’t exist.

I have created a program called “Your Next Chapter Map” which is a 6 step process to help women in their 40’s and 50’s to make this next chapter of their life an incredibly satisfying and fulfilling one. To support them as they take their most meaningful dreams off hold.

The first step in Your Next Chapter Map is making space - both physically and mentally - to create a plan for this next chapter and to have the time - both physically and mentally - to bring that plan to life.

I’m going to be talking about this more in the next few days and weeks - about how to create space in your life and how to implement habits that support you rather than sabotage you as you pursue those bigger, legacy-creating dreams. I’ve realized that while I can’t control when family or friends need more of me, I can control other things in my life, things like getting sucked into Netflix or social media or other distractions that are within my control. I have re-established some helpful daily habits in my own life and it’s amazing how much calmer I already feel.

I will also be talking about making sure that you have your own support network in place for those times when more is being demanded of you. If you are the one who is constantly giving support to others, your own well of reserves is going to run dry and it is going to remain dry unless you do something to fill it up. You need to find people, things, activities and places that fuel you so that your cup always remains full to the point of overflowing. This means that you can support the important people in your life without it taking too great a toll on your own physical and emotional well-being.

I’m excited to write about this and to practice it in my own life.

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