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The 5 Stages of the Midlife Passage—Personally

July '18

I’m moving next month—leaving a 3-bedroom house on a cove in Rhode Island and headed for a small apartment smack in the middle of a university town in New Jersey. It’s transition time. As they say, “Transitions ain’t easy.” I don’t know who “they” is, but “they” are right!

I’ve been in this land before, and, as you know, coach women in transition, write about transitions, offer an online journaling eCourse for women about midlife reinvention, and recently published a book to strengthen the midlife traveler called, Midlife Magic: The 7 Day Self-Care Plan to Boost Your Energy and Make You Smile.

Has that prevented me from feeling overwhelmed at times? If you’ve been in that same place, you know the answer is no. However, I find three approaches help relieve the angst. Two come from Midlife Magic, with tips for giving attention to my own care. The first is to use my daily meditation app, Calm, which only carves out 10 minutes from my overly busy days. The second is to keep up my supportive connections, so in the midst of all this planning and downsizing activity, seemingly against all reason, I’m headed for a week’s vacation with family in Maine. I’ll let you know how well that works for me in next month’s newsletter.

The final approach I found useful was reminding myself about the five stages of the midlife transition outlined by Robyn Vickers-Willis in her book, Navigating Midlife: Women Becoming Themselves. She uses the journey of a migrant from England to Australia as a metaphor for these stages.

1 – sensing there is a better life for you elsewhere, fear of leaving the familiar

2 – final decision to leave, no turning back, shedding excess baggage

3 – losing direction, navigation problems

4 – high seas

5 – exploring new territory

Clearly I’m in stage 2, daunted with the need for “shedding excess baggage,” since my living space will shrink by more than half. While Vickers-Willis’s metaphor is based on a physical journey, you do not need to change your address to complete a successful transition. The stages still remain the same as you seek a more meaningful and satisfying life. for yourself. Furthermore, as you navigate the midlife passage, you cycle through these stages over and over. Despite my obvious location in stage 2, I’ve already experienced the metaphorical high seas emotionally and been exploring new territory in my mind. And when I land, I will occasionally lose direction and experience navigation problems while I explore new territory.

How about you? Where are you on your journey of transition? Or are you living in that stable land between transitions?

Love to hear from you,




  1. Sue Gaintner said on August 1, 2018:

    What a joy to see you yesterday. You were such an amazing mentor during my Wellesley years. Wishing you a wonderful new stage in your life as you venture forth to Princeton. I look forward to hearing more in your postings. Happy vacation in Maine. Family time is the best time!

  2. Linda Kosinski said on August 1, 2018:

    Wishing you all the best during your transition!
    May the move be smooth.

  3. Abby S. said on August 1, 2018:

    Good luck, Bonnie!!! We’re contemplating downsizing, and etc….definitely in “Stage 1” for now….:-) All blessings to you in your new home, ~Abby

  4. Bonnie said on August 1, 2018:

    Thanks so much, Abby! Great to hear from you, Bonnie

  5. Bonnie said on August 3, 2018:

    Fun to meet you at the Cape Cod Wellesley event this week, Linda! Thanks for your kind words.

  6. Bonnie said on August 3, 2018:

    And how wonderful to see you too, Sue! Your words about our time at Wellesley warmed my heart. And they were golden years, indeed! Thanks for your good wishees for the future, Bonnie

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