This week, I am so thrilled to have Ava Diamond as my guest blogger! A beautiful, powerful, inspiring woman in her 50’s helping others make a shift in all aspects of their life! I am honored to have her as a colleague and a privilege to call her my friend. We are going to collaborate on a few projects and hopefully meet up in New York City in December 2017! Enjoy her blog!
Vibrant. Illuminating. Hot. Beautiful. Warm. Source of energy. Smolder. Spark. Flicker. Flame. Bonfire.
Our “fire”, that internal heat we call passion, has a reciprocal relationship with our deeply held sense of purpose. As we go through stages of life as women, we often experience a diminished flame…we forget to tend to our fire to keep it burning bright. Midlife “crisis” is marked by that sudden realization that our fire has dimmed or completely gone out. The crisis part is what happens when we don’t recognize this as our “Second Launching”, or opportunity to reignite our physical, mental, professional, and romantic experiences.
I hear this all the time from my Clients (both men and women):
“It’s like I don’t know who I am anymore.”
“I wake up wondering if this is IT?!”
“I feel empty in my marriage”.
“I am just getting through each day…Monday through Friday…living for the weekend…and then the weekend is dull or a time to just take care of household chores”.
“Dating after marriage is so awkward and intimidating”.
“My body doesn’t look or feel like mine anymore”.
“I have no energy for this…life just has to be good enough”.
“I can’t shake this depressed feeling.”
We then can take a healthy risk and enter into the realm of REJUVENATION and be REDEFINING. We can reignite with purpose, passion, and power to create the life they desire and deserve. Here’s the why and how:
Why do I call midlife the “Second Launching”? Well, the first launching happens in that emerging adulthood phase. It’s often challenging and glorious with the newness of adulthood. In that stage, we lack experience and insight that we glean over the next two decades or so. Since the beginning of time, we humans had to go through natural and culturally-crafted ordeals that marked the movement into our “next chapters”. So, it makes sense that as our bodies and stages of family/professional life go through decades of change, we have an ordeal of sorts to push us into an awakening that can serve as a firestarter, IF we grab hold of the challenge as an opportunity.
A brilliant friend and colleague of mine commented about long term relationships the other day, “every marriage needs to have a second marriage (or even third) within it for greatest fulfillment and longevity”. YES! To remarry or re-engage with our significant others by looking at what has gone dormant in our relationship that could be rekindled and what we learned about each other that could be added to what is shared…to create a courtship with the same person…is the way to enhance spark and growth together. This same idea is essential for personal evolution and incredible life rewards. We must renew our vows to ourselves with both intentions and actions; however, they have to align with our purpose and passion for having power. This is what we call authentic living.
So what’s the “how”? How do we gather the tinder we need and strike the match that lights up our life again? How do we discover our pathway to living authentically so that we wake up before the alarm even goes off and bound into the day with the light, warmth, and beauty from our internal flame? Let me share something personal with you.
Twice in my life, I have had “Aha moments”, those epiphany-type experiences that leave no wiggle room for having to look at what is awry in your life and that yield intense change in mindset and/or lifestyle. The first time, I was 38 years old. I was lying on my bed. It was the bed that was once filled with romantic passion with the man I married and with whom I produced three incredible babies. For the last decade, albeit still shared with that man, it was a lifeless bed. I was in an unfulfilling marriage bound by precious children. The phone rang and it was my father, my hero since childhood. He spoke the unfathomable words, “Mom has cancer…advanced cancer…it’s terminal”. My vibrant, angel-on-earth Mother was being robbed by disease. To this day, the shutter in my body is palpable as I think about that moment. The light shone brightly on a decade of self-loss. It pummeled me into the reality that time isn’t what we have to spare. My eyes were wide open now, decisions were to be made, and a new chapter created. I reclaimed my body as I dove into health and fitness in new ways. I exited my marriage after accepting that I married a nice man who was the wrong man for me to be truly me. I reinvested in my purpose as a thought leader and creator of motivation for others. I had lift-off.
The second “aha moment” just happened in 2017. At age 53, I had been spending the last six years developing my personal niche in mental health/motivation as I blended my two professions (psychotherapist and professional athlete). I had been exercising my whole self as an entrepreneur and clinical master. I had expanded my world in so many ways and really experiencing incredible fulfillment professionally, physically, and in relationships. My fire was electrifying, I was told regularly and knew full well all on my own. I advanced my career, won in my sport, had a super fun dating life and landed in a relationship with the “perfect” man for me: a psychotherapist, bodybuilding, gorgeous, dad of three kids the same ages as mine. We have been together for five years and living together as true domestic partners for four of them.
Here comes the wake-up call:
Beginning in January, a series of events stripped me of my energy. Financially, emotionally, physically…every area depleted by critical incidents. Internet scam, investment of time/mental energy into projects that yielded little due to my lack of skepticism or caution, life-threatening illness for an adult child (my significant other’s), having to relocate my four bedroom household (both find a new place and move) within two weeks due to work-related travel plans, the birth of a grandchild (my significant others) that was stressful for a range of reasons, hormone changes as I truly enter menopause, and the final blow: the break up of my relationship (that lasted only a few days, but was the slap in the face that woke this woman up).
What was I supposed to get from each of these ordeals that left me diminished? I asked myself every step of the way. I used my time in Germany (as I was alone between speaking gigs and every evening) to reflect and harness the meaning to fuel my rejuvenation. I read. I thought. I grabbed hold of Tao-ism and took on the notion of obscurity and “laying low like the Sea” for a while. I realized how much I missed my man and value who he is in so many ways. I expressed that to him. I had started my mindset transformation for sure. It wasn’t until the breakup and what transpired through that ordeal that I really knew what was missing in my being: simple, playful fun.
I was in a most vulnerable place. Raw and real. It was in this place that I sat and allowed myself to listen…really listen…to the messages. In fact, they had been sent to me for years prior and from a variety of sources. I dismissed or intellectualized them away. My life was exciting and interesting, for sure. It was intense. It was so intense that I considered it my primary adventure. I lost touch with the “adventures” that give us the fuel we need to take on the bigger ones. I had actually become uptight despite how entertaining and empowering and engaging I was.
I felt the shift. I reclaimed silly fun. My romance flourished with new levels of emotional and physical intimacy and experiences shared. We had happy hours together, danced on the deck at night, went on mini-adventures together, and talked about things other than kids and work. I gained new CLARITY and modified my CONVICTION to allow for “chill time”. Clarity and Conviction are the two C’s of suCCess in my Diamond Mind Strategies coaching.
You don’t need “aha”, face-slapping moments necessarily to make important life-changing realizations. You can just engage in the strategies that I walk my Clients through to get to their fire source. The first step is always to develop a Personal Mission Statement (PMS). This statement becomes your mantra for directing your thoughts and actions each day. It remains the same for a long period of time but absolutely grows organically with you. Your PMS, not of the hormonal kind, becomes your guiding principle for authentic living. Before your feet hit the floor in the morning, you say it aloud or to yourself to start your day. While you are washing up in the morning, you cleanse your being and your mind by focusing your mind on your PMS words as you think about how it may apply to your next 12 hours. Throughout the day, you refresh your focus with rehearsing your PMS in your mind and or writing it out…using it to manage emotions and behaviors to serve you well. This exercise is a combination of evidence-based clinical theory and practices designed for mind shifts. Mindshifts are the golden keys to life change.
Create your PMS: “Today, I will ____________________”.
Example, “Today, I will remember my worth.” or “Today, I will let gratitude elevate my relationships”.
It can be one or two sentences as long as you are able to commit to memory and have chosen words that resonate deeply with you. This is an initial phase of Clarity that enhances Conviction. It is only a practical beginning to powerful shifts. Give this a try and check back here for more strategies to take you into the richness of your purpose, passion, and power.
Ava has developed through her clinical expertise of more than two decades of work with hundreds of adolescents and adults struggling with the most challenging parts of life: addiction, trauma, mood disorders, physical pain, and divorce.
She is a Clinician with an entrepreneurial bent and pioneering leadership style. That means she can use a mix of evidence-based practices with a creative approach to best meet your needs. She thinks “outside of the box” and can help you or your organization expand your understanding of self and effectiveness in the world that matters to you.
Her personal endeavors as an emerging adult who took an a-traditional path from bottom of the class high school to Ivy League graduate school; Mom of three kids born within a four year time span; divorce and discovery; and fitness enthusiast to internationally recognized professional athlete have given me a wealth of first-hand experiences on how to overcome obstacles of all kinds: mental, physical, emotional, and professional.
Her work has been utilized by individuals and organizations throughout the Country. I have developed programs and taught them at Yale University School of Medicine. I am joyful about my hard work and the people, places, and things that have joined me in life because of it.