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An Essential for Navigating Midlife

September '11

If I had to identify one component that underlies every successful midlife transition, it would be Self-Care – or as one client of mine describes it, “Radical Self-Care!”

Self-Care is the act of honoring your own well-being in all the areas of your life in order to build energy reserves to deal with the unexpected situations and emergencies that naturally arise as part of living. Navigating the midlife passage demands pocketfuls of energy, so if you don’t actively focus on your personal well-being, you’ll lack the necessary foundation for constructing a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

Regrettably, Self-Care is not a one-stop shopping affair, where you complete a simple transaction and then you’re all set. True Self-Care requires your on-going regard – daily! If you’re like most women at midlife, you’re already engaged on numerous fronts like: going to work, maintaining a household, raising kids, caring for aging parents – not to mention suffering from bad news burn-out along with trying to enjoy your life while you invent a more satisfying one.

“How,” might you ask, “can I possibly add one more thing – especially every day?” You don’t have to (life is all about choice), but when you bring attention to your own well-being, your rewards will arrive in direct relationship to that concentration. As you read these words, perhaps there is a little voice in your head that whispers, “But that’s selfish!” If so, simply remember the over-used, but accurate analogy that when flying, you must put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping anyone else. Only when you attend to your own well-being, can you be of genuine help to others.

So where to begin in the midst of those days when the phone rings as you’re rushing out the door for your evening book group, while a quick look reveals the call is from your mother who is scheduled for surgery to get a new lead for her pacemaker; meantime your son screams he can’t find his book for his social studies homework, and you distractedly trip over the Barbie your daughter left by the door. Yikes!

Self-Care? Right now? How? You can take a deep breath, and then take another one. Focusing on your breathing helps shift your awareness from all the mental “to do’s” into your physical body. Then you can ask yourself, “What do I WANT right now?” You may, or may not receive an answer, but at the very least you’ll be in a slightly calmer state of mind and you will also have embarked on the practice of conscious Self-Care.

When we develop any competency like Self-Care, we travel through four distinct phases: 1. Unconscious Incompetency – unaware you lack Self-Care -> 2. Conscious Incompetency – aware you lack Self-Care -> 3. Conscious Competency – consciously develop Self-Care -> 4. Unconscious Competency – automatically practice Self-Care.

Because Self-Care provides the energy for empowering meaningful, midlife transitions, I’ve been thinking about creating a Midlife Self-Care Starter Kit. I’d LOVE to know if this idea appeals to you, and if you’d be interested in downloading such a kit to kick-start a conscious Self-Care practice and bring more energy into your days.

Love to hear from you,


  1. ReneEdlund said on September 29, 2011:

    I would love this….

  2. Bonnie said on September 29, 2011:

    Hi Rene!

    Thanks for the feedback! If I hear from a few more folks, I’ll be inspired to go to work on it. Or maybe I’ll just go ahead anyway on the basis your expressed wish!


  3. Roberta Taylor said on September 30, 2011:

    Right on, Bonnie!!! You have hit the nail on the head. When you take care of yourself, you are able to give so very much more to those who need your care. AND your life takes on new meaning. You become a conduit from the universe to those whom you love (and that might be very many more than you had guessed).

  4. Bonnie said on September 30, 2011:

    What a beautiful comment, Roberta!

    Thank you,

  5. Astrea Hupfel said on October 8, 2011:

    “Open-mindedness” was the topic at a women’s AA mtg last night. Self-care kept coming up because so many of us put caring for family, house, job and/or volunteer work at the top of our to do list and ourselves at the bottom. Too often there’s no time left. I have to make self-care a priority. Under stress I stop and start inhaling slowly (belly out) and blowing out thru pursed lips. It works!
    Then I can do something for myself that isn’t on any list of mine or call someone who really has problems. If I’m not taking care of myself, I’m no help to others I’ve found. Good Work Bonnie! Love, Stree

  6. Bonnie said on October 8, 2011:

    Thanks, Stree!

    Love the particular breathing exercise you outline – so quick, so easy! And, as you say, a moment to focus specifically on what you want to do in that very moment – for yourself, or for someone else.

    Good to hear from you,

  7. anouk said on October 24, 2011:

    hi bonnie,
    i’m on the other half of the world, but with the same ideas as you have. i want to start a center here in holland for women to use their midlife to transform and be their best self. by taking good care of themselves and really go inside looking at their needs and wants. and find methods they can use themselves to overcome their problems. EFT and heartcoherence is what i’m teaching. hormone yoga is a beautiful tool. i’ld love to hear from you what you teach women to do; you have a lot of experience, and i ‘m just starting as a coach.i hope you want to share your experience with me.
    keep on developping your starter kit!

  8. Bonnie said on October 24, 2011:

    Hi Anouk!

    What fun to hear your voice from across the Atlantic! If I had to sum up how the midlife transition can become a transformation in one phrase, I would say, “It’s an inside job!” All my efforts as a life coach are focussed on helping women find ways to travel inward so they know who they are, what they want and how to go for it!

    The coaching structure, itself, is also a wonderful support for anyone pursuing a dream. Where else can you talk with someone who has no agenda, but your own best interests at heart? And where else can you check into a non-judgmental space on a regular basis to see how you are moving forward in your life. Most of us perform better with this kind of support structure.

    Since I love championing women to flow through life as authentically and joyously as possible, another important element to my coaching is that I love what I’m doing. And if I don’t miss my guess, you do too!

    Your idea for a center sounds terrific – what a great idea! Individual coaching and group coaching along with hormone yoga therapy, EFT and heart coherence meditation sound like a fine start. You’ll know what works best as you move further along with this project.

    Thank you for your encouragement for developing the starter kit. I think I’ll make that my focus for next month! I wish you the very best of luck with your new venture! Do let me know how things are progressing!


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