I have spent my summer exploring one of my greatest passions — climbing mountains. I am 9 months into my own midlife transition of divorcing and moving out of a 10 year relationship to something new —following my own heart and this time finally trusting myself to stay open in the darkness of unknowing. What I am learning is how important it has been for me to make a goal of training to climb one of the world’s most exciting peaks, Mt. Killimanjaro, and in setting this goal, I have triggered so much joy and passion in myself.
I say follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, the doors will open where you don’t know where they are going to be. –Joseph Campbell
That passion and joy has allowed me to stay present to my grief and all the stages of letting go. I’ve noticed going up and doing a peak allows me to feel my wholeness and strength and this gives me courage and patience to witness the pain that I am feeling more fully without going into the negative default place. We all have our default place that keeps us stuck. In the process I am learning about how to help other women stay in the process of grieving, to hang out with yourself in the pain, through invoking your passions and creativity. I’ve found several other people who have talked about this amazing and transforming juxtaposition I’d like to share with you.
Nancy Anderson just wrote a book called Discovering Your Passion in Midlife and Beyond. She says that it is only in midlife that we can truly awaken our passion because our libido is shifting into a new function for us and we must learn how to be open to this or we will be in crisis. The crisis of “being at war with who you are”. She says this happens because we keep thinking instead of allowing ourselves to shift into listening and feeling what is happening inside of us. That’s why so many people in our culture have “midlife crises”. She believes you cannot find your authentic self until you are in midlife where “passion takes you into territory that terrifies you like love.” She says that at midlife you can take that libidinal energy into spiritually directed goals that make your life emerge into the purpose you were meant to find.
Women in Transition often have lost touch with their passions and loves in life. Too many responsibilities, challenges and sorrows cause us to lose touch with who we really are and our authenticity. It is so important to take the time to re-ignite these loves of our youth, our earlier passions that helped mold our lives and our life’s work. Finding these passions again is such an important step to finding a path to transformation by helping us clear out the sorrows that are in the way. I had to listen to my 24 year old who moved to Colorado in 1976 and found my passions in hiking and skiing in Steamboat Springs. There I met friends and teachers of the mountains who guided me to learn the skills I have today. We have to trust and slow down enough to listen to our “little girls” inside to tell us what we need to return to do again or for the first time now.
What is passion anyway? Passion is what pushes through you intuitively so that when you are open to listening and feeling it can come through. It is that electricity that we feel when we are in love. It keeps you ignited to your own life force, to your purpose, and to the universal Intelligence present in nature. Passion ignites the soul so that the essence of your authentic self can come forward. Passion is the courage that propels us into that giant wave of life’s transitions and helps us find the top. Passionate people are committed. When you are connected to passion it wants to express itself in creative ways.
Grace Cirocco, in Take the Step the Bridge will be There, eloquently shares the importance of passion and how easy it is for us to shut it out of our lives. She says, “The enemy of passion is Fear.” How many of you felt like you were too much for your mother? We get these messages very early in life about shutting down our passion and our spirit. Were you “too intense”, “too different”, “too challenging?” Why is passion threathening? Are we afraid where our passion might lead us? To break the rules, to lead us to change, and what do we do with that change?
How often do we let our fear stop us? Or, our shutting down because of fear.
We all begin life open and loving and trusting. We put our hearts out there everyday. Some of us are still like that. But for others, many sorrows and pains in life have led them to shutting down their emotions (and passions) in an attempt to shut off the pain. We all can find ourselves shutting down or “numbing out” habitually due to our approaches and coping tools to life’s ups and downs. But when you attempt to shut down the negative feelings…guess what…you are shutting down the positive ones too (like joy, love, enthusiasm, passion). Think about the antibiotics analogy. When you are sick you take drugs to destroy the bad bacteria in your body, but they also destroy the good bacteria. That’s why more holistic doctors are recommending taking acidophilus as well as antibiotics in order to rebuild the good bacteria. So what is the “acidophilus of the spirit?”
This is what Grace calls the “Life of Indifference”.
So if you feel this sense of “indifference” in your life, it’s time to take a look at what’s missing. Why should we look at our indifference? Rumi the Sufi poet says, “It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been unconscious. We’re groggy, but let the guilt go.” Is there some guilt there for you or grogginess or detachment to what you are feeling, doing? It’s time to focus on waking up. The best way is to focus on choosing a conscious path of feeling what your heart is feeling, listening to your inner voice of the intuitive wisdom inside of you, and start beating your own drum. It is also about noticing consciously that you are blocked and start getting help to unlock those painful blocks that are keeping you shut down. It is about learning how to find your wholeness and passion and stop being satisfied with drifting in the grogginess which is so common to the world of fast moving change.
Whatever age you are, transitions and passion definitely go together to create transformation. This is the juice of life that keeps on coming if only we are open and trusting using the tools of mindfulness and spiritual healing to keep us clearing and calming the doorway of our present moment no matter what comes our way.
Donna Roe Daniell, LCSW President of Balance Your LIfe Coaching & Psychotherapy LLC
Currently offering groups for Women in Transition & Women in Midlife Transitions, Gentle Yoga for Women, The Sixties Transition Weekend, Midlife Transition Coaching. Next group is February 2016.