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Midlife and World Turbulence

April '09

CSPAN Books is my companion of choice for weekend chores, because its featured authors highjack my mind while I’m paying bills, loading the dishwasher, or folding laundry. Last weekend, Joshua Carter Ramo, author of The Age of the Unthinkable made the heist.

This highly dynamic, former foreign editor of Time magazine focused my eyes squarely on what he believes to be a newly emerging global order. As Ramo proclaims, “We are now at the start of what may become the most dramatic change in the international order in several centuries. What we face isn’t one single shift or revolution, like the end of World War II or the collapse of the Soviet Union or a financial crisis, so much as an avalanche of ceaseless change.”

His statements actually straightened my spine, so I headed for Amazon to purchase his book and investigate his ideas more thoroughly. My initial take, however, was that Ramos is correct and that ceaseless change will continue to stalk our lives in the coming years. Surprisingly, I was almost relieved to think, “So that’s what’s happening, I’m living in truly revolutionary times.”

But as many women at midlife can attest, living with change is a challenge – never mind inhabiting a world of ceaseless change. Adapting to radical shifts, whether on the planet, or in your psyche demand a corresponding change of identity, which is what makes these shifts so provocative.

Identity sits at the top of the change-difficulty scale. It’s easier to convert your beliefs than transform your identity. And you can alter your behavior more readily than convert your beliefs. And it’s simpler to shift your environment than alter your behavior. A simple move across town is disruptive, so you can imagine the fallout created by a change of identity.

Reinventing yourself and your life is a daunting process, but many women find it necessary or desirable at midlife. Your youngest child goes off to college and your identity as a full-time Mom slides right out from under your feet. No surprise you wander around the house feeling a little lost. Or you find yourself constantly bored at work. The daily joy of a position you were thrilled to obtain years ago has faded away. You know you should be grateful to have a job in this economy, but you’re depleted by your highly pressured, meaningless lifestyle.

Just as I felt relief in naming the fact that we may be living in revolutionary times, you may find respite in the recognition that you are feeling the turbulence of a midlife transition. After I thought about things, I became a little excited, albeit scared, to be living on the planet in a time of giant upheaval. In a similar way, you might be energized by the prospect of who you can become as you navigate the midlife passage.

Meanwhile spring is here; the sun shines later in the day and in this part of the country the flowering trees are producing a fireworks extravaganza. And it does feel grand!

Warm regards,
Bonnie

Get a free consultation with Bonnie Leonard If you would like to learn more about how the coaching structure can provide support and constancy in the midst of radical life changes, you can contact me for a free consultation.

4 Comments

  1. Mary Gottmann said on April 30, 2009:

    Dear Bonnie,

    Ramos and you couldn’t be more right! Change is all around us, and sacred cows are being evicted all over. I don’t know if you are a member of Institute of Noetic Sciences; but they have retitled their magazine “Shift” to indicate, as Ramos does, that the change is underway. (www.noetic.org) It will be a world shift of monumental importance–and planet-rescuing. It is no accident that we have a multi-faith visionary in the Oval Office right now.

  2. Victoria Baldasarre said on April 30, 2009:

    Hello Bonnie,
    I hope this email finds you doing well. I just read your April newsletter and wanted to send a bright and cheerful spring hello! As my son finishes up his first year of college and I end my semester at the Institute of Health Professions, I feel so grateful and blessed. Another year of study under our belts.
    Thank you for being an important part of my life when I “reinvented” myself. Your wisdom and guidance still remain a strong influence. I recently started a new postion at MGH as a project trainer teaching nurses a new computer system and love the new role. It’s never to late to learn something new!

    My best,
    Victoria

  3. Bonnie said on May 4, 2009:

    Hi Mary!

    “Shift” does seem to be the most apt description of what’s happening. I didn’t know the Institute of Noetic Sciences had renamed its magazine with this title; thanks for telling me. I also want to apologize for giving Joshua Carter Ramo an extra “s” to his name. His last name is Ramo: )

    Good to hear from you,
    Bonnie

  4. Bonnie said on May 4, 2009:

    Hi Victoria!

    Congratulations to you and your son on such a successful “year of study,” and to you on your new position. I know how lucky those MGH nurses are to have you as teacher. I think you’re right; it’s never too late to learn something new – an attitude that may be the key to adapting to a changing world.

    Thank you for your kind words,
    Bonnie

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