Setting The Scene
Part 3 is here! The Truth Bombs were dropped in Part 1. The Loving Change Approach arrived to cherish and transform in Part 2. Now in Part 3 of the Women At Work Are Waking Up series I offer you my own waking up story with the hope that my experience inspires you to move through whatever phase of waking up you are in, with more trust and ease, knowing that it’s all a wonderful pilgrimage to the heart of who you truly are and a more authentic, powerful and soulful expression of you is waiting with open arms on the other side. An expression that is clearer on who she is and what she has to offer the world.
I have always been a lover of change…living in 20 homes, diving into 6 different careers and setting up my own business by the time I’d reached 36 years of age. When I look back now I see that there are many different types of change. Some are reactive and, broadly speaking, shift the outer landscape without any real lasting inner change happening. Some on the other hand are deeply transformative. You wake up. You see with new eyes. What you see is transformed too. Because of your new found presence and gaze. And whilst there is absolutely no going back (not without significant heart ache), you aren’t ‘done’ either. Waking up is both an event and a continual deepening process. For as long as we live.
In my adult life I’ve had 3 wake up transition phases and each time I learned more about myself, about life and about change.
Phase 1 Wake Up
The adventure began in 1999 when I was 31 years old and I felt an impulse to move from Manchester to London with my corporate finance job at the time. January 2000 saw me make the move. I’d never really wanted to live in London but when I heard the inner call I didn’t hesitate. I took action.
Moving to London changed everything for me. I was working and playing hard in my job in the City. The pace was fast. I was doing well in my career, the money was good, being a deal manager in Mergers & Acquisitions (‘M&A’) was exciting, and I was thrilled when I was promoted to be a team leader. But all the while, at a deeper level something inside was dying. At the time I didn’t have much self-awareness but years later I realised the dying inside was related to me turning a blind eye to some things that didn’t sit well with me, staying silent because I didn’t know how to speak up constructively, and struggling to express my female side in the male world of M&A. Don’t get me wrong. I loved working with men. But in the environment I was in I learned how to succeed and excel in a male way. And it cost me.
Relationships suffered. My body suffered. My soul suffered.
I started to live a double life. There was a thirst in me not being quenched by my successful high-flying job. Perhaps you can relate to this. At the weekends I did all manner of healing, energy and energy psychology related courses before I discovered life coaching. It was the coaching qualification I took in 2002 that shifted my career in a deeper way. Further explorations began. Reasons to stay were dwindling. Eventually I left the world of big organisation, spent a short while in a small niche change consultancy, and then set up my own business in 2004. I was 36 years old. My inner world had opened up and there was no going back.
Phase 1 of waking up was really about facing the truth that whilst the corporate system I’d worked in for 12 years offered me lots of external stimulus, relative security and a good income, it no longer nourished and sustained my soul. I ended up feeling constrained and unable to grow in a way that was aligned to who I was becoming. There was no longer a match between me and the work environment I was in.
Phase 2 Wake Up
For a few years in my own business, life was great. Being an external consultant, coach and facilitator to the corporate world really suited me. I had some associate arrangements and some direct client. It was exciting and I was in flow. As I approached my 40s things were looking good on the outside, but inside the whisperings of a new life phase were starting. I didn’t pay attention though. I was much too busy! And the more uncomfortable I felt inside, the faster I went on the outside! The whisperings got louder. My soul was stirring and making its presence felt. The work I was doing began to feel less meaningful. Post-Lehmans big questions were being asked. The corporate world shook.
My own world shook too and a few years into my forties I crashed.
This was not the liberating transition of phase 1 wake up! Phase 2 had a completely different texture. It felt like the perfect storm. Life presented me with a rush of events outside my control. The big stuff. Personal health issues, bereavement, a relationship ending. And, for good measure, there was an inner crisis going on at the same time as these outer events. The kind of inner crisis a career driven, single woman of ‘non-mother’ status, approaching her mid forties, might go through. The result of this chaotic scenario saw me coming back to who I really was at such a rate of knots that there was an almighty crash.
It took me three months to adjust post crash.
I smile now looking back as three months wasn’t nearly enough time to settle into this new place of centre that I felt had been thrust upon me. But I had a business to run, little financial leeway, and an instinct to survive that was pulsing strongly.
So whilst I didn’t take enough time out, phase 2 wake up heralded another round of “everything changed”.
I took stock. I noticed many things…how reactive and busy I had become, the superwoman persona I had adopted, the over-active, secretly angry, ‘never-enough’ inner critic, the relentless doing. In response to my new awareness I allowed myself to be more vulnerable with others and kinder towards myself, focussing on slowing down, creating more of a rhythm in my life and reconnecting with the meditation practise I’d let slip. I started to ‘be’ more. I listened deeply to my body. I paid more attention to my breathing and the way I moved. I paid more attention full stop! I began to consider what truly mattered to me and how I wanted to lead my life. Without my inner critic in charge I could recognise and claim my amazing talents. Without ego. With pure appreciation. In particular I acknowledged my visionary abilities and the reality that I was and am often ahead of the curve in my foresight.
Are there any amazing talents you have that you aren’t seeing and appreciating?
I also learned ways to express that went beyond the thinking mind, in the process discovering I loved painting, dancing and poetry. Beauty and magic re-entered my world. I reconnected with my interest in working with energy and trained with some pioneering thought-leaders and practitioners in the world of energy transformation. I allowed my long held search for my God to be a priority, explored going to a church for a couple of years, before leaving and embodying what deep down I knew all along. The kingdom of God/Goddess is within me. It is my own Soul.
It’s beautiful how when I look back, although I didn’t know it at the time, I see that the toughest period of my life had great purpose and was shaping me to be a fuller and more authentic, soulful expression of who I am. It was also showing me the fundamental aspects of an approach to navigating change that has become the bedrock of my work and I now call Loving Change, the approach that I shared in part 2 of this blog series.
So if you’re having a tough time right now and feel like you’re not coping as well as you have in the past, consider the possibility that your experience might actually be your soul trying to get your attention, reboot your system and express itself!
Phase 2 of waking up was really about rediscovering who I was and what truly fulfilled me after life in a big organisation. It was also about letting go of striving and looking for answers outside of myself, accepting and loving me, deepening into soul and showing up in the world in a new and more authentic way.
Phase 3 Wake Up
Fast forward to present day and it’s happening again! I was 50 on New Year’s Day this year and I can feel another wave of waking up and deepening occurring. This is manifesting as peri-menopausal body shifts and making long overdue decisions about my work. I am stepping into a new unknown. I’ve left an associate arrangement where there was no longer a match and I’m investing in building an online presence in my business to expand its reach and nurture the growth of a new workflow. I’m also coming home to myself in a richer way than ever before. It isn’t without its challenges though. The precariousness and preciousness of life is front of mind and issues which I thought I’d dealt with are re-surfacing for deeper exploration and resolution.
I suspect phase 3 is about a fuller alignment with my soul, presence, flow, expression, collaboration, simplicity, joy…and sharing my accumulated wisdom.
In the previous 2 blogs of this series I’ve mentioned an easy and a hard way to navigate transitions and wake up. To close to the series I want to give you the summary version of this. Having learned the easy way through walking the path of the hard way, I feel qualified to comment!
Easy Way: Relax. Connect to your heart. Adopt the 9 core elements of The Loving Change Approach.
Hard Way: Resist the call of your soul. This can show up as persistent busyness, an over-reliance on certainty and comfort, defensiveness, drama and conflict, over-thinking and over-rationalising, over-controlling in the form of pushing too hard, forcing and striving, and more!
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Can you relate to my phases of waking up? Perhaps yours are different. I’d really love to hear.
If any of my experience has struck a chord with you and you’d like to talk to me about where you are in the life cycle of a professional woman or your soul leadership journey please do book in a call HERE.
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