It’s Time to Begin:
The Call to Creativity in Midlife
There comes a time when you know
you must just begin.
And though you may be
caught in old habits that
leave you treading water
in half hopes –
You trust that what you desire
has been placed on your heart
by the Beloved and is therefore
a holy call to life.
And you decide to
finally give yourself
to focus on
So you put down the
bag of cookies and
pick up the running shoes.
You write the words
you’ve longed to say
and you send the letter.
You clear off the kitchen table
and get out the paint brushes
You sit down at the desk
and type the words,
You dust off the guitar
and just start singing.
You walk into the family room
where your dear ones
are reading or playing a
video game, and announce,
“I’m doing this.
Please support me.”
With your hair pulled back,
sweat on your brow,
thighs that touch,
wrinkles on your face,
and doubts in your heart,
Filled with stubborn focus
or fierce devotion,
You know “hard.”
And this isn’t it.
Hard was speaking the
truth that your marriage
needed serious attention.
Hard was burying
Hard was putting down
Hard was going through
Hard was cancer.
Those experiences now
fuel your steadfast devotion.
You know how to
let your thoughts just be
while you persevere.
It’s time now.
And you know it.
“Alleluia!” You cry out
with paint on your hands
and a smile on your face,
“It’s so damn time!”
Lisa McCrohan, (c) 2018
*Kim knows “hard” – she had three miscarriages last year. *Jenn knows “hard” – her mom died a year ago. *Maya knows “hard” – she stopped drinking two months ago. *Marie knows “hard” – she finally admitted there were problems that needed to be addressed in her marriage.
I hear from women I see in psychotherapy and Compassion Coaching, women I walk with, women who sit in my kitchen: we women in midlife know “hard.” We have the bruises and scares on our bodies and hearts to show it. We’ve had to pick ourselves up off the floor and wipe our tears. We’ve also learned to stay on that floor and weep, pound our fists on the floor, or call a friend and tell her what’s really going on.
We have our stories of “hard.” We’ve been through disappointments – marriage not living up to the story we had in mind when we walked down the aisle, motherhood not turning out to be the story we told ourselves before our children were born, and medical diagnoses that turned our life-long story upside down.
We’ve gone through changes. Our breasts aren’t as perky as they were in our twenties. Our thighs grew during pregnancy. And we’ve started to notice the wrinkles on our faces – and even on our hands when we’re driving.
We’ve lost some confidence.
We’ve buried friends or family members.
We’ve been through the self-neglect stage of motherhood.
We’ve faced sexism at work, in line at the grocery store, and at the car dealership.
We’ve experienced stories of disillusionment, disappointment, fumbling, and failing.
And now we are leaning into our story of rising.
“Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you, ‘I’m not f-ing around, use the gifts you were given.”
We aren’t trying to “get back” the moxie we had in our twenties. We want to claim our feminine confidence and embody it from a sacred place within us -with vivacious, unapologetic power harnessed in our hands, voices, art, and soul expression.
We have creativity flowing through us. We have an idea, a passion, a dream that wants to be realized. We want to feel the aliveness of our voices speaking our truth. We want to feel the strength of our bodies standing in our power as we let this sacred creativity be expressed through us. And we want to live in a world where we are alongside other soulful people who encourage each other’s light to shine.
I see it this way: we want to live aligned with the “God within us.”
Yes, that’s right – the God within us. But let me be clear — we’re dropping that patriarchal white-man-in-the-clouds image of god. The God we are about aligning with is the God of the mystics, God as Beloved, God as Universe, God as the balance of feminine and masculine.
We don’t even care to argue about it. That’s wasted energy – and we’ve got a lot to do while our children are in school or asleep at night. We just want to get on with allowing that Beloved to flow through us.
We have something sacred within us that we are passionate about and want to do – for ourselves or for the world. It’s time and we know it.
We are ready to rise.
HARD doesn’t scare us. What scares us? That we will implode or explode if we don’t live according to our truth. What scares us is living the next forty years without saying “yes” to our soul.
We want to say “yes” to our “soul story” – the creative expression of the divine moving through us. We want to lean into that story.
We are ready to rise.
What holds us back? And what can we do about it?
Here are three habits that hold us back from writing the “story of our rising” in midlife:
1. The Habit of Fear
2. The Habit of Self-Neglect
3. The Habit of Waiting to be Handed a Permission Slip
The Habit of Fear
Take a look at what Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic, says about our fears:
“Let me list for you some of the many ways in which you might be afraid to live a more creative life:..You’re afraid you’ll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood or—worst of all—ignored…You’re afraid you won’t be taken seriously. You’re afraid your work isn’t politically, emotionally, or artistically important enough to change anyone’s life. You’re afraid your dreams are embarrassing…You’re afraid of being exposed as a hack, or a fool, or a dilettante, or a narcissist…You’re afraid of what your peers and coworkers will say if you express your personal truth aloud… You’re afraid you’re too old to start.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
All of us can get caught up in fear and then make it a habit.
Here’s the thing: our habits are just stories we’ve told ourselves over and over again.
What can you do about that?
Tell a new story.
That’s right – write it out. Paint it. Draw it – stick figures and all. Don’t go for perfection. Go for authentic expression. Let it be messy and incomplete. You’ll know it’s the “right” story for you when it resonates with your gut.
And as we begin to rise and embody our creativity doing what we were born to do, we can create, write, paint, and tell a new story.
By deciding the story you want to tell and living it, you let go of the habit of fear and reinforce the habit of hope and possibility.
The Habit of Self-Neglect
We all know the “habit of self-neglect.” We have lived seasons of womanhood and motherhood putting everyone else first, telling ourselves stories of not being or doing enough.
These stories of unworthiness can be so weaved into us that we aren’t even conscious of them. And, ironically, they are often reinforced by the parenting culture and industry of our times.
How do you kick the habit of self-neglect?
Start to treat yourself as a beloved.
A what?! A beloved. Yes, that’s right – a precious person worthy of love. Self-love. Love and regard for her body. Care for her senses in a world of constant stimulation. Attention to her creativity rising up from her hips and heart, flowing out through her hands, eyes, and voice.
Let that sink in for a moment. It’ll feel strange at first to call yourself a beloved. But let me ask you this: can you imagine what would happen if a million women decided today to start treating themselves as beloveds? And each and every day, they did one thing or a 100 things that honored their bodies, voices, creativity, or integrity?!
By starting to treat yourself as a beloved, you slowly step out of the habit of self-neglect and rise into your power.
And THAT is what scares the hell out of patriarchy! That is what creates movements and revolutions that change our homes, schools, medical systems, and world.
The Habit of Waiting for a Permission Slip
Waiting for someone else to give us permission to create, lead, or rise in our powerhas been reinforced by a misogynist culture. So of course we’d default to waiting for a permission slip from someone else! But the tides are changing, and we are leading the change.
How do you get out of the habit of waiting for a permission slip?
Be the CEO of your life.
Yes, that’s right. The CEO. No CEO waits for a permission slip to be an innovator, to go for what she wants, and to bring her idea to life.
Embodying the energy of a vivacious CEO, you begin to build the habit of taking ownership of your life. And it’s empowering. It’s a freedom that we want our fellow sisters and our children to experience, too.
A wise CEO doesn’t go at it alone. She carefully selects a team of people who can effectively support her. She hires a coach. She finds a mentor. She surrounds herself with loyal people who are going to talk straight and support her.
We are claiming our feminine confidence and embodying it from a sacred place within us – with vivacious, unapologetic power harnessed in our hands, voices, art, and soul expression.
It’s time we drop the habits of fear, self-neglect, and waiting for a permission slip. It’s time we lean into the story of our rising by deciding the story we want to tell, treating ourselves as beloveds, and being the CEO of our lives. It’s time.
Alleluia, it’s so damn time!
Dear Readers, Come as you are – with your passions, struggles, stuckness, and hopes. If this post resonated with you, you may want to consider taking my online course, Treating Yourself as a Beloved. It’s a soul-nourishing, feminine-embodiment course filled with inspiration and practices that will serve you way beyond the 14 days. I have filled this course with some of my most potent and powerful practices.
If you feel like it’s time for some soul-nourishment and healing, consider Compassion Coaching. I work with people from all over the world via Skype.
“A year ago I was existing, reacting, making it thru the days and now with your help and self care/awareness I have the the calm and energy for my creativity to find and engage me again, to come forth again…” – Jessie.
“Lisa, because of our ongoing work together, I have more breathing room, more ability to handle stress, and I’ve accessed my creativity again….” – Julie