I’m not sure if what I’m experiencing is a midlife crisis. It’s not what I usually think of as one. I don’t want to buy a sports car or date a 20 year-old or neglect my adult duties of parenting and working.
But, something is shifting in me. There’s an underlying discontent; a need for something more. I’m feeling this, despite having a very happy life. Maybe it’s because I’m in my 50s and single. Maybe it’s simply because I’m in my 50s. (I mean, really, how did that happen??) It could be the regret I feel for staying in a bad marriage for years too long. Or the regret for not doing better at marriage. Maybe it’s because my life isn’t how I envisioned it would be at this point. Being the only parent to a teenager and living in Wisconsin was certainly not the scenario I pictured 30 years ago. But, I do honestly love my life, so why this feeling?
Then, there’s the realization of mortality. I lost my father and my ex-husband within nine months. My best friend lost both her in-laws in a very short period of time. Another best friend lost her best friend to a stroke – in her late 40s. I could go on. Am I just at the age when people are going to start dying more often?
Wikipedia defines Existential Crisis as, “a moment at which an individual questions if their life has meaning, purpose, or value. It may be commonly, but not necessarily, tied to depression or inevitably negative speculations on purpose in life…”
That’s not quite how I’m feeling either. I’m not despairing or even depressed. I’m more curious. For me, the questions are, “How can my life have more meaning? What is my purpose? What am I here to do? How can I make a difference?” When I look at it that way, it’s more of an opportunity than a crisis.
Apparently, what I am experiencing is not uncommon for women my age. And it is not a negative experience. It is an invitation to step into the next phase of life, the wisdom years.
Dr. Christiane Northrup, in her book, The Wisdom of Menopause, describes this time as “the Renaissance of your life.” She goes on to say,
“It’s as simple as this: our brains are changing. A woman’s thoughts, her ability to focus, and the amount of fuel going to the intuitive centers in the temporal lobes of her brain all are plugged into, and affected by, the circuits being rewired.”
We may be considering a career change (check), or leaving an unfulfilling marriage (check), or be done raising children (I came late to the parenting party, so I’m still in the thick of it, and happy to be there!)
These changes find many of us in our 40s, 50s and 60s looking for our next purpose. Our next dharma. We’re asking ourselves, “What now?”
For many, it’s an outward movement. It’s getting involved in community, doing volunteer work, politics, activism. Many women much older than me participated in Women’s Marches in the past couple of years, for the first time, taking an active role in shaping our future. And many brought along their daughters and granddaughters, thereby helping to create a much more aware and active younger generation.
For some, it is a more inward turning. As so many educated Generation X women have long identified with being agnostic or atheist, many find themselves searching for a deeper spiritual connection.
As I am re-vamping and re-creating my coaching course, I’m seeing that dharma, or life purpose, has to be part of it. It can’t not be. Physical health and easeful living are the necessary first step. As I’ve said to many clients, you can’t change the world, if you feel like crap. And, for me, there has to be more. That’s part of my dharma. To help my clients to find theirs.
So, I’d love to do a little crowd-sourcing. How does this resonate with you? Would you like to be coached towards finding your greater purpose in life? Do you have an inkling what it is, but don’t know how to make it a reality? Or is the crisis for you, that you don’t have any idea what it is? Or, is the whole idea of life-purpose a brand new concept for you? Please comment below and let me know.
Summer is winding down. September is here. To me, September has always been kind of like a new year. I know most people with school aged kids can relate, but even when I didn’t have a kid, I felt this. Summer is full of outward, hot, high-energy activities. In Ayurvedic terms, it’s Pitta time of year. Strong, fun energy. Lots going on. We’re often out of our regular routines, but we handle it well with Pitta’s fiery energy behind it.
Then fall comes along. School starts, vacationing winds down, we naturally feel a pull to get back to our routines. This is because fall is Vata season, the time of year we need grounding and routine the most. Vata energy can be very scattered. (think of fall leaves being blown around in the street). We need to pull our scattered energies in, in the fall. And, like the new year, it’s a good time to make a plan, set a goal, think about what might need tweaking, or full-on revamping in our lives. It’s a good time to look at areas of our life that are stuck and get them unstuck.
While stuckness and scatteredness may seem like opposites (and in many ways they are), they can be like two sides of the same coin. When we are scattered in our thinking or our routine, we lack the focus needed to make changes or reach goals. So, staying un-scattered can help us get un-stuck.
Why do we get stuck in the first place? And why do so many of us choose to stay stuck? I don’t have an answer to that, but there’s evidence of it all around us. So many people stay in jobs or relationships that, at best, don’t inspire them and at worst, suck the life out of them. People berate themselves for their bad habits – overeating, drinking too much, spending too much, self-medicating in myriad ways. Yet, they keep doing what they’ve been doing. Why? Why do so many people choose to stay in a situation or cycle that is familiar, knowing that they are passing up the possible job, experience, relationship, (fill in the blank) of a lifetime?
My best guess is that they do it because it’s easier. It’s less scary. It’s less risky.
We all know someone who doesn’t stay stuck. That person who finds herself in a mediocre to shitty situation and says, “Fuck this. I’m out.” And makes the change. And we all say, “Wow. What a badass.” We’re all impressed as hell. But, do we do then go out and do the same? Often, the answer is no. I have been both. I’ve been the badass and the stay-stucker. And let me tell, you, the badass is way better. Even if the change you make, turns out to be a less than stellar choice, it’s way better than wondering what life might had brought, had we taken that chance on the scary, but tempting opportunity.
I am not advocating doing all sorts of crazy things without thinking anything through. I’m talking about making conscious choices to step out of our comfort zones and do things that are uncomfortable and maybe a little bit scary. As one of my favorite yoga teachers always says, “if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not evolving.” As Brian Whetten says in the book Yes, Yes, Hell No, (I’m paraphrasing), if your intuition says yes and your voice of reason says yes, but your fear says “run away screaming,” that’s your sign that you should go for it.
So, as we get back into our fall routines, I invite you to think about where you may be stuck. And where might you take a small (or big) chance and get unstuck? You probably already know if you are a natural risk-taker. I am; I score very high on the risk-taking scale on all the personality tests. I got divorced when I was not in a financial position to do so. I left a secure career to do contract work for an online start up. I packed up my kid and my cat and moved across the country six weeks after the thought first entered my head. But, I’ve also been stuck. I stayed in a bad marriage and a soul-sucking career for years longer than I should have. Why? Because the thought of making change was overwhelming. And while it was tough and scary when I finally made the changes, it was worth it. Has everything been roses since I made those changes? Not at all. I struggled financially for a long time. I took on all responsibility for raising my daughter on my own. The job with the online company didn’t turn out to be as great as I thought. But, I have never wished that I didn’t make the changes or take the chances. They’ve made me who I am today.
If you’re not a natural risk-taker, I don’t recommend you get divorced, quit your job and move across country all at once. Start smaller. Maybe it’s time to commit to getting healthier, make an exit strategy from the job that doesn’t fulfill you. Go on that date you’ve been avoiding.
Make September the month to get unstuck. Make a goal to unstick one area of your life by the time the holidays roll around. Let me know how it goes.
If you are trying to incorporate Ayurvedic daily habits into your life, or trying to lose weight, or just want better overall health and energy, summer is a great to to start the habit of eating an earlier, lighter dinner.
Let’s first review why eating an earlier lighter dinner is so essential to optimum health.
- Our digestion is strongest mid-day. Ayurveda has known this for thousands of years, and modern science is finally acknowledging it as well. In the evenings, our digestive system just doesn’t work as well.
- We want our food to be completely digested by the time we go to bed. Sleep is the time we should be metabolizing nutrients, not digesting dinner.
- We get better quality sleep when our bellies are not full, which, in turn, gives us better energy the next day.
If you’re used to eating a later, larger dinner, making the switch can be challenging. You might find yourself resistant to making this change. That’s normal. We’ve been making dinner our biggest meal of the day since the industrial revolution, so we’ve got a few generations of habit to break. My advice would be to give it a try. Make small, incremental changes, and see how you feel. As the quality of your sleep improves, and your weight balances and you feel better overall, you may find that you want to keep doing it.
Summer is a great time to start. When it’s hot, our appetites are naturally smaller and we have an abundance of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables at our disposal. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Melon & prosciutto ( a classic! )
- Steamed artichoke with butter & lemon
- Nectarines & salami
- Salad – any kind
- Corn on the cob
- Kohlrabi lobster. This idea came from my friend Jess. Lightly grill slices of kohlrabi and serve with drawn butter & lemon. Yum!
- Grilled fruit. Yes, it’s a thing. Lightly grill just-ripe peaches, nectarines, melon. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Gazpacho. Those garden tomatoes will be ripening soon!
- Zucchini noodles with pesto
It’s easier in the summer to move away from the protein + starch + vegetable model. You can easily leave out one or two.
If you’re experimenting with intermittent fasting, summer is a great time to go down to two meals a day. Have you first meal between 9-11 am, and your second around 4. Then you’re free to go out an enjoy the summer evenings!
Remember, you don’t have to do this every day. And you don’t have to do it perfectly. Make it fit into your life in a way that seems easy and do-able.
Summer is coming here in the Northern Hemisphere. Depending on where you are, you may already be sweltering, or you may just be happy that the snow has melted. Either way, it’s getting warmer and we need to adjust our habits for that, in order to thrive.
Living in rhythm with the seasons didn’t used to be optional. We ate nature’s bounty and spent more time outdoors in the summer. We ate root vegetables and other stored food in the winter. By the time spring rolled around, we were close to out of food, so we naturally fasted and cleansed before the spicy, bitter greens of spring poked through the ground.
Now we can eat a watermelon in January. We can get blueberries from Chile when there’s a foot of snow outside our door. We’ve got all the food we want all year long. That’s great. Or is it?
Living out of sync with nature is one of the main causes of dis-ease in modern society. The more we line up with what Mother Nature is doing, the better. So, what should we be doing in summer to maintain vibrant health?
Stay Cool. Duh, right? But, many of us unknowingly do the opposite. So, here are some tips to keep you cool and thriving.
- Exercise in the morning if possible. Evening is the next choice. Mid-day is not a good choice. Don’t go for a run in the hot sun on your lunch break, or you’ll find yourself crabby and aggravated all afternoon.
- Eat cooling foods. Juicy fruits and vegetables like melons, cucumbers, mint, peaches. Use spices and herbs like cilantro and fennel seeds. Minimize meat, grains and beans, as all are heating. Love ice cream? You’re in luck. This is the time of year to enjoy it! (not every day, of course).
- Limit alcohol. Many people drink more in the summer. Barbecues, picnics and parties are opportunities to over-consume. Alcohol is very heating. Keep it to a minimum or take a break from it altogether in the summer.
- Chillax. Summer is the time to slow things down and have some fun. Take a vacation, go for a swim, read a good book. Slow your pace as much as you are able.
- Hang out with the moon. The moon has a naturally cooling energy. Sit outside in the evening and moon-bathe to cool off after a hot day.
- Use cooling oils and rosewater. Spritz rosewater all over yourself. Use coconut oil for your moisturizer. Cooling essential oils include rose, lavender and jasmine; put a few drops of any of these into some coconut oil and rub on your feet before bed. Or, a put few drops in a cool foot bath and soak.
Follow these tips from the science of Ayurveda, and you won’t get all hot and bothered this summer.
I’m excited to announce that I am now a podcaster! I’m a contributing host for the Yoga Health Coaching Podcast and my first episode has just been published. I hope you enjoy it!
Listen to it here.
In this episode, Alex Biondo and Rachel Peters talk about the ways in which Yoga Health Coaches are becoming community leaders. Alex and Rachel rap about how leadership is a natural evolution of a Yoga Health Coach’s journey. Rachel shares how she became comfortable with stepping into the role of leader by recognizing and aligning with her natural strengths. As someone who’s been known for years as a successful yoga teacher, her identity is evolving into someone who supports others on their wellness journeys and as a coach and collaborator.
What you’ll get out of tuning in:
- How Yoga Health Coaches become wellness leaders in their communities
- How recognizing and utilizing our natural talents makes us better leaders
- How mesh networking and collaborating are the new leadership models
Links Mentioned in Episode:
- 2:30 – What is the difference between community building and community leading? Rachel has been building a yoga community for years, and she talks about how she made a mindset shift and got comfortable stepping into the role of leader.
- 5:00 – Rachel recently felt sparked to step into leadership and is now making an impact both locally and with her online national (soon to be global!) community.
- 8:00 – When we recognize our natural strengths, we lead others with more ease. Rachel talks about showing up as her authentic self and focusing on her strengths and desires, which, in turn, leads the right people to find her.
- 11:00 – For many of us, leadership starts at home. When we live in integrity, the first to notice are those closest to us. They often pick up the reins and take the lead, as Rachel’s husband Dan likes to do. He’s now an avid forager!
- 16:00 – What Yoga Health Coaches do has a ripple effect. We touch others in many ways. As people learn what we do, we become a face of holistic wellness in our communities and often end up helping people who aren’t even our clients.
- 19:30 – What does the next step of leadership look like? Collaboration and mesh networking. Rachel talks about how she works with other wellness leaders in her community.
- “I lead from my strengths, rather than having to cultivate new ones” ~Rachel Peters
- “A sometimes unintended consequence of becoming a Yoga Health Coach is that we are becoming community leaders.” ~Alex Biondo
Rachel’s – As a Certified Yoga Health Coach and the Founder of Embody Ease and the Easeful Living Community, Rachel leads women on a yearlong journey to dissolve perfectionism and embody daily habits that promote clarity, ease, and inner connection. She is a wife, mom, and lover of wild places and contributes to her local community as a yoga teacher and teacher trainer in Prescott, AZ she also serves as the leader of the Coaching Team at Yogahealer. Check her website and facebook page.