As many of you know, I have been on a guided path as direct as a speeding bullet for the last five years since the death of my daughter, Teal. And I’m happy to report there has been much progress.
For much of that time this ‘speeding bullet’ meandered here and there. Most of the time I had no idea where it was leading me; I just knew that it was.
Turns out this meandering path is entirely about spiritual growth. You see it again and again in stories big and small. Most of the world’s great spiritual leaders passed through such a time of testing. Jesus, for one, wandered in the
Judean desert for forty days and night, said a big fat no to temptation, and came back more surrendered than ever to his path.
My own father, John Falter, an artist known for his many Saturday Evening Post covers, crashed and burned in his early fifties after magazines began to use photography.
During those confusing years, I can remember the stress in his face as he attempted to get work to feed our family. He tried everything – chalk talks in the manner of Mark Twain.
Humorous engraved prints which he had printed by the thousands. Even an animated dog food commercial. None of which came to anything.
Eventually, after five lost, wandering years, my father was reborn as a successful painter of American history. That became his path, his contribution, his legacy — and one of his greatest passions.
The final phase of his career fell into perfect alignment with who he was, at his core. And, I say, helped him to complete his purpose in this lifetime.
This midlife crisis path always appears to be about life change, but really it’s about faith. Can we surrender to the idea that we need to change, and that this is all for something bigger? Can we accept we are being changed in a
way that can only be beneficial … even if it hurts a hell of a lot on the way?
Doubt abounds. Can we make it? Will we implode, never to be heard from again? How will we keep body and soul together?
We have only one job at such times. Stay true to ourselves, no matter what. Woe to those who do not listen! The older we are, the more treacherous it is to stray from this uncertain path.
In my own crash and burn period I tried twice to resurrect my old business, even though it no longer reflected my values, and even though I knew it was a mistake. It was something – anything — I could chase after in the face of
uncertainty. Yet, when I did those launches, the result was clear. My site
Yet, when I did those launches, the result was clear. My site was hacked into five times in two weeks. All the purchasers refunded. My work was dead in the water. Yet again … I surrendered.
My daughter Teal’s death and all the other losses I experienced during this time showed me that it’s the unknowability of the path that makes it both hard and healing.
By not knowing, for instance, how I would make money, I had to trust. I trusted that my instinct to stop my business coaching was right, and that this would lead, eventually, to the right thing. First, I needed to shift back to a place of greater alignment, before the better work could arrive.
Ultimately, that trust has been rewarded. When I was ready – at the two year point, and not a moment sooner — writing jobs dropped in my lap out of nowhere. They provided fun work and a steady income, and a way to ease back into working.
Then I began to get hired – again out of nowhere – to speak to national audiences about self-care and my experiences as a Donor Mom. Now I’ve begun to distill these learnings into a memoir, corporate workshops, and an upcoming online learning program.
Yet, even better, I’ve had the opportunity to detach from all my pre-conceived ideas of ‘success’, fame and fortune. Instead, I have simply focused on what’s happening here and now. So I discovered the incredible release of old
internal pressures to overwork and ‘push through’.
Over the last five years, I learned to live simply, spend my money consciously, and cut out all the old excesses. My desire for that nightly glass of Chardonnay disappeared right along with the need to throw money at high-end consultants who will ‘save me’.
Turns out the answers are all right here, as they have always been. A beautiful walk in the hills of Oakland as the sun is setting is just a rewarding as a pricey concert ticket or a fancy dinner out.
On this path, I don’t have to be anyone other than me. I don’t have to sway millions to buy my info products. I don’t have to even become a household name. Instead, I simply have to stay true to what feels right, and keep looking for ways to serve.
Ironically, for the first time in my life, I now understand true ‘enoughness’. I am enough, I have enough, and I do enough. And that is simply bliss.
Our spiritual paths in moments of crisis are all about being willing to not know, and show up in full willingness anyway. This act of surrender allows the Universe to meet you full on, wrap its arms around you and carry you through.
And so you discover that you are not alone, and that every midlife meltdown does indeed have a much bigger purpose in your life. If any of this sounds familiar, or you’re facing a crisis of your own, I urge you to trust it.
Your meltdown will lead you exactly where you need to go.
And why do I focus on life lessons? Because, hey, that’s what it’s all about … right? Hence my invitation for the following guest, Deepak Romala. Listen to our conversation here…