I hope this finds you well and in good health. I wish you all a good beginning of the week.
I finally moved home!
I am still surrounded by boxes and have a cold and cough, so I am not feeling great! I still wanted to spend some time writing this article, but today is going to be a shorter one, with some sweet invitations to let go, so you can embrace fully and joyfully your adventurous midlife journey 🙂
On Saturday I went to a friend’s fifty’s birthday. I had the opportunity to DJ there and loved it. I realised, once again, not only how much I enjoy sharing my music (it is medicine!) but also how much my body looooooooves moving!
I basically started playing when a few people were there. And I then sensed this urge to surrender to movement and enjoy myself without worrying too much about what other people would think (or see!!).
My ‘old me’, a few years younger, would not have dared to dance alone! I would have adopted so many strategies to avoid being me!
I would have held back or moved in a way that made me smaller. I would have been afraid to take space, feel sensuous and be visible.
Or I would have waited for others to start or needed a few glasses of wine first. It was liberating to feel alive and comfortable with my body.
So, these reflections from my weekend and my ongoing conversations with midlife women encouraged me to dream about these invitations to let go. I hope that these inputs can support you in your midlife journey!
‘Letting go is the sudden cessation of an inner pressure or the dropping of a weight. It is accompanied by a sudden feeling of relief and lightness, with an increased happiness and freedom.’ David R. Hawkins
Here we go….
Let Go Of #1: Being nice
The problem with being nice is that sometimes it is a pattern that comes from fear of rejection or not being loved, safe or accepted. This habit may lead to lacking authenticity and incapacity of expressing one’s ideas, uniqueness or identity, especially when one doesn’t match current opinions, behaviours, or cultural norms. It can be deadly to the soul!
I know this from my experience of being stuck for many years in a ‘fawn’ response. My sense of survival as a child without a mum was threatened. I could not choose authenticity because I depended on my dad, whose behaviour was often erratic and unpredictable. I learned very soon how to please him, always say yes and nod, avoid conflict at any cost to feel safe and protect myself from further harm. I am still recovering from this, allowing myself to say yes and no when I really mean it and honouring my needs.
While navigating midlife, women learn more deeply to feel what is natural for them and drop masks.
It is draining and exhausting to look for people’s approval.
While a certain amount of healthy validation exists and is also necessary, many women tell me they want to find that approval inside themselves. That inner bond will allow them to step into their sovereignty, mastery, leadership and authority.
And many women also tell me they are willing to embrace their loudness, grief, wounds, broken places, lost pieces, messiness, rage, madness, witchiness, quirkiness, innocence, magnificence, contradictions, complexities and aliveness!
When women break the spell of being nice, they break free from chains and constraints that prevent them from using their voice for good and standing for themselves and all life.
Let Go Of #2: Self-doubt, perfectionism, and inner criticism
I spent many years in self-loathing and healing patterns of self-hatred. I know how toxic the inner voice can be. It can lead to paralysis.
When entering midlife, many women have already gone through a lot of stuff and underestimated their power. They often have a picture of themselves that is not updated because of inner criticism or perfectionism.
Marian Woodman wrote: “Driven to do our best at school, on the job, in our relationships – in every corner of our lives – we try to make ourselves into works of art. Working so hard to create our own perfection, we forget that we are human beings.”
Trying to be perfect is exhausting; it creates anxiety and stresses the adrenal glands, and I feel long term, it can lead to disease.
Most of the people I worked with had blockages and trouble speaking for themselves, being more visible and confident because of the loud inner voice undermining their self-esteem and preventing them from being who they wanted to be in life and shining their light.
It is so sad that so many women don’t offer their gifts to the world…what a loss! Many need to accumulate titles and certificates to feel alive, prepared or worthy. Others postpone being visible, hold back and don’t honour their skills.
Midlife initiation asks women to honour their strengths and wisdom.
Midlife is a time to indeed train the muscle of self-trust!
And, as many said, done is better than perfect!
For example, I feel wobbly about writing this letter now. My inner critic is screaming loud, saying my words are not brilliant enough, helpful or insightful for you all….bla blah blah… But hey, this is what I can do today…. and I am showing up to the best of my abilities to honour the commitment to write every week.
Here are some questions for you….How would it feel today to share with a friend that poem, photo or song you never published?
Can you upload that video even if it is not all polished?
Can you take the risk of being visible?
Can you trust of f*****g brilliant you are, even while being perfectly imperfect?
Let Go Of #3: Going alone
An African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Navigating midlife is not meant to be a lonely journey.
Many women say they long for community, accountability and ongoing support.
I speak to women who feel lonely, lost and isolated in these troubled times of chaos, distress, and uncertainty. There is a need to do things together to create a sense of connection and provide a safe, nurturing space, especially for those struggling with mental health.
We are ‘mammals’, and we are wired for connection and companionship. We need each other to thrive and blossom and regulate our nervous system. We evolved this way. Our bodies produce feel-good hormones such as oxytocin which are associated with trust, relationship-building, warmth and empathy.
Can you reach out to a friend today?
To allow yourself to be received and seen is medicine.
I invite you to explore what leaning into support means to you!
Let Go Of #4: The shame of ‘I should be further.’
Many women fear the clock is ticking and may feel ashamed that they are running out of time. They may perceive themselves as failure (i.e. ‘after all the work I have done, I shouldn’t be feeling like this, I should be healed by now, I should have things figured out, I should have been accomplished by now.’)
Shame can be pretty toxic, and we, as humans, may hold a terrible amount of stuff, as a memory, in our tissues, cells and even posture!
Midlife is an invitation to embrace radical self-acceptance.
Each fruit has its own season. A tree would not bark at a flower because it has not blossomed yet.
The midlife journey is not linear. It is a dance full of paradoxes with many unique rhythms!
I know that this topic of not being where we want to be is tricky. I mentioned many times that I am a late bloomer and have yet to do or offer many things I have in my heart.
So, if you feel that you are ‘late’ or you ‘should be further’, you have my empathy, solidarity and understanding. I scolded myself a lot in the past for this and felt terribly ashamed about it (especially when I was comparing myself to others).
My invitation is to learn to trust yourself with every fibre of your being and practice patience!
And, if you feel that something still wants to come through you, make it a prayer.
Ask the invisible powers what is yours to give; make yourself a hollow bone and a channel for the life force to flow through you.
And you can create a dance: when moving with intention, our brain lights up new neural pathways!
Let Go Of #5: Armor, pretending, performing, controlling
Many women have built a wall or barrier to hide, feel safe, and get everything under control. This is a way to protect themselves from experiencing discomfort, getting hurt, feeling inadequate, or falling apart.
But, these strategies prevent people from being in touch with their real feelings, opening their hearts and letting go of control.
Sometimes little addictions also slip in as they block genuine connection and intimacy with oneself and others.
I met people whose armour creates rigidity and stiffness around their bodies. And yet I know that they may long for connection, and probably something inside their body wants to melt! Many women grew up with the belief of needing to be super strong and independent. But there is a strong power in softness, vulnerability, receptivity, and more feminine rhythms.
Sometimes it is OK to feel a mess and be on the knees.
It is OK to say that you don’t feel well.
It is OK to say that you don’t know.
It is OK that sometimes you don’t have your s***t together.
Chaos is part of the midlife initiation process and an invitation to surrender to life’s intelligence.
It’s time to accept that control is only an illusion!
Let Go Of #6: Worshipping busy
I know that sometimes I can avoid being still. Sometimes it is challenging to feel the empty space and the ‘void’. I think it activates something very primal, a fear of death or the feeling that nothing is here to hold me. It may be the ultimate terror of being abandoned by the Divine.
I know that women are learning to trust that a lot is happening in quiet moments.
While entering midlife, women understand that making as much space as possible for this process requires them to go inward, listen to themselves and slow down.
Midlife is a cyclical time. It is not linear. It requires a more natural rhythm that invites more ‘being’ vs ‘doing’.
Can you trust the intelligence of the seasons, the in-breath and out-breath, the expansion and contraction of life?
We are about to enter Winter soon and the still point of the year.
Can you allow yourself to make space for contemplation and do nothing?
Can you give yourself permission to receive?
Let Go Of #7: Knowing all the answers
I have been dancing with the unknown for the last few months, and sometimes it is difficult. I kicked and screamed. Yet, I accept that it is OK not to know what is coming next.
You also may need to learn to navigate the sea of the unknown and accept that, in certain moments, to have no answer is the answer. It is about surrendering to the mystery of life.
You don’t need to know it all. Give yourself permission to be with the discomfort.
It is a process of unlearning, releasing dogmas, a fixed set of ideas, dismantling old structures and beliefs, and trusting life intelligence and your inner guidance.
You may need to make space for something new to come. You are in a deep process of renewal and yes, you may not know yet what wants to emerge.
It is OK to dance with paradoxes and feel confused and clear simultaneously, lost and confident, knowing and not knowing.
Well, now you may say, OK, Laura, all this is easier said than done.
I hear you! It will very likely be challenging to let go by merely thinking about it!
So, my following invitation is to find ways to move/include your body with these invitations to let go. Use your imagination!
Can you find a posture or gesture for letting go?
Can you rest and lay down in a surrendered way?
What is your dance of letting go of being nice/self-doubt/going alone etc.?
Can you invite your neck, shoulders, and back to bend, undulate and fold, so you can also experiment at the kinaesthetic and somatic level?
Can you shake something off?
Can you include your whole body in this process of letting go?
Movement is always a metaphor for change and flow.
THANK YOU for taking the time to read this. Please leave a comment below and let me know how these invitations land and if you have other ideas or suggestions. I always love to hear from my readers.
Last but not least, you don’t have to do this alone…you can explore all these themes with peers, friends, mentors and your coach or therapist. And trust your intuition!
Ps: I am now enrolling for the Radical Wise Wild Women Circle. I hope you can join us! Click here to apply, or if you still need to read the invitation. It’s an intimate seven-week online journey to support women to navigate midlife in a dignified, liberating and empowering way so they can radically embrace themselves and the natural wild intelligence and wisdom of this life cycle. The programme is rooted in movement practice, embodiment, voice work and ritual. It includes individual support and the Munay Ki Rite of the Womb. You can read more about this ritual here.
We gather to tend the seeds for personal and collective transformation, balance, belonging and kinship with all life.
PPS: If you still need to check out some of the previous articles, you can check this one below.
It is an important one, about why the world urgently needs radical, wise wild women.
PPPS: You may know I am a contributor to the Crone Anthology: Women Speak about Menopause Initiation. You can buy the book here.
PPPPS: Please join us on the Midlife Soul Sisters FB Group.
We are having a series of exciting live conversations, from how plants can support us during midlife transition, to the Fool’s journey, childless midlife, trauma and much more. You can find the recordings in the group.
SHE LET GO
POEM BY SAFIRE ROSE
She let go.
She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of the fear.
She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyse whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good, and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…