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This started very differently than where it ends...I was gonna post something about ICF Coaching Week, and it’s gone in a whole new direction…I just followed my heart, so here it is… it's long, likely more cathartic and reflective than interesting, but if you get to the end, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
I recently had my birthday, it's a big one, not a new century or anything like that, but it feels big; I turned 58. I don't often reflect on my age; it's never been a thing. I've never wished or pretended I was a different age than I am; last year I had to use a calculator to determine I was turning 57. I'm in love with getting older; the freedom that comes with age cannot be overrated!
This year feels different; the entire landscape of my life is shifting, and I can re-design my path forward with a sense of freedom that comes with age. The shift from doing things for others out of obligation or seeking approval to giving from a place of love and a sense of being enough is enchanting!
A kind of place of knowing I am enough without having to do anything…there is freedom in that.
My daughter is graduating this year and moving to Montreal to attend McGill University. I am officially an ‘empty nester’. I've spent the last 31 years planning my schedule around the three humans I brought into this world.
I'm in a transition… entering a new phase of my life…its exciting, I wonder what is ahead, but I have a sense of openness and lack of worry for what is to come.
This past year consisted of letting go of obligation, fear, and doing things that no longer felt good. Not everything, but certainly sensing more freedom in my humanness.
I love models and theories. They help me make sense of the world in my head, a now I am connecting those theories to my heart.
Recently, I was re-introduced to the work of William Bridges, the preeminent authority on managing change. I remember reading his book Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change many years ago; I loved his work then, and it remains relevant today; mainly as I sense I am ending one phase of my life and starting a new one.
Bridges describe transitions as having 3 phases:
PHASE 1: Letting go of old ways and old identities….
PHASE 2: The in-between: all is gone, but the new isn't fully operational….
PHASE 3: Out of transition and making a new beginning…..
Change is scary; leaping to WHAT’S NEXT when I feel the WHAT’S NOW may be incomplete. Nonetheless, I'm leaning into the ‘in-between.’
The key to transition is the ending, not the new beginning. You have to decide what to end, to make room for the new beginning… that's the work of it!
Just as the caterpillar transitions into a butterfly, there is an in-between, a state of nothingness. The stage between the caterpillar and butterfly is the Chrysalis. It's nothing really; just goo…not a caterpillar, not a butterfly…just goo; the in-between space. There is no returning to the caterpillar, only to the butterfly. It's inevitable!
I am letting go of old stories that no longer serve me.
It’s not like this happened overnight; I could feel it brewing in my subconscious. As I reflect on this shift, I realize that my Ayauaska experience in Costa Rica in 2019 foreshadowed what was to come.
Flashback to the summer of 2019…
I decided to go to Rythmia, a profound spiritual journey guided by Shaman through a seven-day Ayahuasca experience. I had no idea what to expect, but I jumped in and played full out!
As we moved through the week, all I did was vomit… like from my toes. The kind of throwing up that would follow consuming multiple shots of tequila! I hated it, vowed I would never go back, and… of course… stuck to it; I'm no quitter!
Every debriefing at the breakfast table increased my dissatisfaction with my spiritual journey! I remember others sharing tales of their fantastic visions; some even included a visit from Jesus Christ himself!
I had no such visions—my seven days of hard work netted ONE vision.
One. Singular. Vision.
My vision was not of the Lord or Mother Ayahuasca or visions of my future. It was Leggo Lady!
Yup! Imagine a red leggo lady with a yellow construction hat and long brown hair… got the picture? Now imagine Leggo Lady running and looking over her shoulder yelling this….”Hal, we’ve got a runner”!
That was my vision, a $10K investment, and that's what I got!
I was pissed…I stopped drinking alcohol, ate vegetarian, I even stopped caffeine for 6 weeks before this trip to clean my vessel, ready for enlightenment…I was confident with all that prep, I’d be levitating by day 4… and I got Leggo Lady!
I am the runner; to this day, I have no idea who Hal is, but maybe it will make sense, and maybe not.
I've been a runner my whole life! I've run from feeling deep emotion, from trusting, from experiencing my success, from just ‘being.’
I’ve run from being a little girl fiercely loved by my mother and violated by others. Having wonderful lifelong friends yet never feeling like I fit in, feeling abandoned by my father yet longing for his approval, and feeling like I was never enough because we were poor. I've since realized, that I was the only one judging myself in that way. My inner life is full of paradoxes!
I'm certain this insight could only come with 58 years of living!
I have been loved yet only allowed just enough to sense what it's like, but never fully embracing what it could be.
I have felt haunted by a belief that to be enough; I had to give what I had away because I did not deserve what I earned and that I had somehow been rewarded with abundance by accident.
Total bullshit story, by the way!
TRUTH: I've worked hard, I've experienced tremendous success, and I've had many great people supporting me, working with me, and others taking from me, all with my consent.
Over this past year, I became more curious about why that is, why I had this sense of not deserving, why I give it away, and where that belief came from.
I'm surrounded by the best coaches in the world, literally! I have access to incredible humans doing the work of transformation on a global scale, all willing to ‘help.’ I read, study, write, coach, and teach, yet I still carried this story around that I somehow did not deserve what I had.
And then, my dearest friend Brenda from 5th grade said to me..” Kath, you’ve got to see a therapist; it's the only way to understand yourself to become yourself.”
This year I decided I wanted to understand, and I've started something I have avoided… my entire life…I engaged a Therapist. The one thing I had never done was look back at my life and figure out what helped form who I am today. I mean, what's the point? What’s done is done!
I am the runner, and I’ll call my Therapist Hal!
I was certain looking back was a waste of time; I preferred to ‘think’ myself forward into ‘the next thing.’ I've accomplished a lot of ‘next things’!
This year I realized I'm tired of this bullshit story I've been telling myself!
I could not think myself out of this one! No book could guide me, and I didn't need to set another breakthrough goal. I realized it was time to visit the Ghost of Christmas Past!
I am diving into therapy in true Kathleen style…all in! It's challenging and it's enlightening…I understand myself more, helping me let go of old patterns and habits that no longer serve me…ahh, the freedom that comes from a conscious and intentional ending.
Every session I spend an hour talking about my past, remembering things I had locked away for safekeeping… I start to tell a story, and a new direction ensues to another one… and so on… a twisty, swirly-twirly road to self-understanding… ‘Hal’ has proven to be a patient listener.
Telling my stories to Hal is similar to writing this post, I intended to write about ICF Coaching Week, and this whole different thing shows up…
Trusting it's perfect, I followed the story …I'm doing my homework.. with no attachment to where it lands… sweet freedom!
I'm in the goo, the ‘in-between’ supported by my trusted co-pilot… ’Hal’... No idea where this will lead me next, but I’ll follow the story, feel the feels, and craft my new beginning!
This is how I will move into 59 and onward…follow the story as If I were an investigative reporter researching the past to inform the future…
Who’s in the Goo?
Does this resonate?
What comes up for you? I'd love to hear your story... Our stories hold universal truths... when we become vulnerable, we can open others up to their self-discovery.