Resisting the Temptation To Stay Comfortably Numb And Conform In Mid-Life

After reading Kathy Gottberg’s blog on Carl Jung and the Art of Aging well, I came across her blog on mid-life comfort and the choice of adventure and possibility over conformity, safety and comfort.

Kathy has a few questions for us to ask ourselves:

  • When was the last time you did something that felt scary or pushed your limits beyond what you routinely do most days of your life?
  • Do you constantly make choices that support comfort in your experiences or do you try to mix that up with challenges?
  • Do you ignore the pain and plight of anyone outside of you family and friends out of a need to “keep what’s yours safe?”
  • Do you routinely self-medicate and go numb in order to deal with what’s going on in the world?
  • Do you avoid all risk even when things aren’t that great because, “The devil you know is better than the one you don’t?”
  • Do you secretly crave to do/be/try something new and different but don’t want to rock the boat?

South Africa and the world is becoming increasingly uncertain – we never quite know what tomorrow will bring and what midnight changes there will be. It is not always easy to jump into scariness, adventure and risks in that environment and we prefer to stick to what we know.

But sadly, at the same time, more and more of our friends are dying far too young. Author and palliative care nurse Bonnie Ware shares the number one regret in her book ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying’ “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

“Dwelling in middle-aged comfort, nonconformity asks us to wake up, become more conscious, and be willing to sacrifice all our preconceived certainties for the potential of what lies out of sight.” – Kathy Gottberg

So I challenge all mid-lifers to choose adventure and possibility whenever you can and live a life true to yourself – and try not to worry about the judgement of those who would prefer you not to.

 

Carl Jung And The Art of Aging Well

A new client of mine told me that one of the reasons that he had chosen to come to me for life coaching was because I was “older” and that he believes that life experience is very important. Given the fact that he is not super young himself and that the photo on my website is a few years old I did not really relish his comment. But I do completely agree with him and also why Carl Jung urges us to use the later part of our lives to become more whole by discovering who we are and wisely sharing it with others.

I have spent quite a lot of time at a retirement village recently and I do believe that western culture is not encouraging us to do this – instead our culture continues to spread the idea that aging is best either denied or concealed – often even between old people themselves.

In this article Kathy Gottberg writes that ultimately it will come down to us to answer certain questions for ourselves: Does our continued existence at our increasing older age have value? Do we have something to contribute over and beyond just existing in a fairly well preserved body and mind, with enough resources to keep us reasonably happy, until it’s over? Will we as elders have a purpose that can benefit the world and others, no matter how fit, able and active we are?

“A human being would certainly not grow to be 70 or 80 years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species to which he belongs. The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life’s morning. The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different….” – Carl Jung

 

The Fledgling’s Prayer

I came across this poignant poem written by Gretchen Schmelzer – a poem written by a young adult child to his/her parents.

The Fledgling’s Prayer

These are my wings—
Feathers and muscles and sinew
grown from your love and care,
sewn and mended
with your devotion and constancy.

And now—
I am ready to soar
with all that I am,
from all that you gave me.

All flights are practice flights.
They happen in that
blessed space between us.
A space wide enough
to stretch my wings
but not lose touch.

Tossed into the air
an arm’s length away.
Jumping off the dock,
three feet away.
Dropped off at Kindergarten,
three blocks away.
Dropped off at college,
Three hours away.
All flights are big flights.

And how did this happen?
None of us ever knows for sure.
I think perhaps Joy and Sorrow
grabbed hands and leapt
—forming the wings
that carry me forward.

But remember no one leaps, really.

I didn’t fly because I
jumped—so much as I simply
forgot for a moment to hold on.
I did. I forgot.
I forgot because the wind,
or is it God? –
whispered in my ear,
and sang the melody of my future.

I forgot for a moment to hold tight
and the wind caught my wings
pulling me forward.
It does. Life pulls you forward.

You are not the wind beneath my wings
as that old song croons.

No, you are the wings themselves.
I carry you with me and
you will always carry me.

The wind? Well that is God’s song
for each of us, our purpose, our passion.
It is the tidal pull of the universe
helping me to find my place,
helping me to share my gifts.

And you, sitting proud and brave
on the edge of our nest.
This small prayer is for you.

May the sight of my wings flashing
and the tales of my long flights
bring you as much joy as they bring me.
I can hear the wind calling and my heart
is full of the hopes we have both carried.

The fullness of myself,
the fullness of your love,
and the fullness of the world you gave me
take up my whole being.

This fullness defies language
except to say
that it used to be the feeling
I had when I leaned on you,
when you had hold of me.

And now—oh joy—
the nest I used to rest in
has made a place inside of me.

But for you, as for me,
there is also sorrow.
I am sad that this prayer
is all I have to offer you
in return for my wings.

And my heart aches imagining views
and vistas we will not share.
Do they exist if you don’t see them too?
Do I exist, if you can’t see me?
If I forget you for a moment,
will you remember me?

I pray that we both may find comfort
in the pages of books you read to me long ago,
that no matter what—
we are doing or
no matter where we are flying—
we both live under the very same moon.
And all we need to do is to look up
in to the night sky
to know that we are still connected,
to know that we will always belong,
to know that wherever we are,
we are home.”

           Gretchen Schmelzer

I am glad, but even more sad, that my two fledglings have left home (mostly) and are soaring (mostly).
I would love to think that they look at the moon and think of me. Realistically though, I think that they look at their rapidly reducing bank balances, lack of data, empty fridges, piles of laundry, and then think of me.
But I live in hope!

8 Simple Words to say When Someone you Love is Grieving

“Our culture treats grief like a problem to be solved or an illness to be healed. We’ve done everything we can to avoid, ignore, or transform grief. So that now, when you’re faced with tragedy, you usually find that you’re no longer surrounded by people — you’re surrounded by platitudes.”  Tim Lawrence

So what can we offer instead?”

This article was shared on Facebook by a good friend of mine. A friend who knows how to “be there with” people who are grieving. To her and my other friends who know how to “be with”  – a big heartfelt thank you for many years ago!

 

10 Toxic Habits that Drain your Energy

As you all know, I am at a stage of transition and flux and need to re-invent parts of my life.

I have just had a 3 month gap period doing quite a lot of travelling. It was fantastic and unsettling, but now my new life needs to begin.

It is a wonderful opportunity for growth – I have the opportunity to begin practicing new habits, work differently, take up new hobbies, and interact with different people. For the first time in a very long time I am able to put myself first – and that is very liberating! I know that there are going to be difficult and challenging times ahead, but I also know that with the great support system I have, that those times will pass.

Tim Maurer says: ‘The nature of life’s major transitions – specifically the changes and surprises that come with them – are a breeding ground for failure. Some are inconsequential while others come with great risks, but most come as a result of our limitations. We err, and in order to move forward we must extend grace to ourselves and to the others on our journey’ 

Mark Chernoff writes about 10 toxic habits that drain your energy. These are great to apply to your everyday life –  but I believe even more important when you are in a stage of transition.