Cheryl's Blog

Brave the elements, find a new life

We had a full house on Friday night and as I looked out over the crowd, I felt so grateful to those who showed up to celebrate the launch of Waking Up in Winter in spite of frigid temperatures.

Just two hours before the event, I wound up stuck in a snow bank trying to get up our driveway.  When I opened the car door to assess the damage, I stepped into thigh-high drifts and wondered if anyone was going to make it to the event – including me! Thank goodness for our plow guy, Mark, who immediately came to the rescue.  He was the first person I thanked as the evening began.

When I decided to publish this journal, I wondered whether or not my readers would find themselves in my story and after talking to men and women Friday night, I’m pleased to know that readers are, in fact, identifying with my midlife journey. It’s comforting to know we’re not alone when facing a new stage of life, and it’s good to have a roadmap to navigate the unchartered territory.

Midlife, or any time of significant transition, offers us an opportunity to rethink our priorities and choices.  And while it can feel scary and unsettling to be in limbo, there’s also something exciting about the possibility of a new adventure. This excitement can temper our fear, giving us the courage we need to make much-needed changes.

When I finished writing the book, I reread the journal in its entirety before making my final entry.  When I did, I discovered important lessons – some of which I wanted to share with you this week in the hopes that it inspires you to embark on your own hero’s journey.

Here’s part of the final entry…

In these pages, I see a woman moving as if through a fog, groping for something solid to hold on to as she navigates an unfamiliar season—the autumn of life. This is a time of reflection, a time to harvest life experiences, lessons learned, and the wisdom gained from both success and failure. In some ways I’ve taken on the classic hero’s journey, or heroine’s journey in this case. The voyage begins with a call for something more, something deeper and more aligned with who we really are. This beckons us down, down, down, descending into unknown places where what we’ve always done no longer works. Once here, we are released into the mystery, and here we remain, not knowing why or for how long.

If we heed the call and hold on through the darkness, the ascent begins. And that’s where I find myself now. There’s a metamorphosis under way, and while I’m not sure who or what will emerge from the chrysalis, here’s what I do know:

Sometimes the best way to discover what really matters is to release what doesn’t and see what’s left behind.

I can’t live a new life with an old version of me. In order to live consciously and to keep growing, I must be willing to dismantle some aspects of the identity that has brought me to this point in my life without knowing who, or what, will take its place.

I must tend to my inner life like I do my garden—with consistent attention and loving care. My inner life must now be granted equal weight with my outer life.

I must honor my soul’s need for space. My version of a good life requires that I have the freedom and openness in my schedule to cultivate a state of presence and to live more spontaneously.

The life I’ve hungered for was waiting for me; I just needed to stop long enough to notice. It turns out that what matters most is what I’m blessed to already have: a good husband, loving friends and family, the beauty in and around our home, the wildlife that fills me with such joy, and the peace and comfort to be found in a daily routine.

As I emerge from this winter with a greater understanding of myself and of my needs, I do so with a grateful heart. I’m getting ready to free myself from the chrysalis, and I’m excited to see what life has in store. I also offer my gratitude to May Sarton, whose inspiration led me here in the first place. In addition to all that I’ve learned, I’ve confirmed for myself a realization she came to in her Journal of a Solitude so long ago.

“So perhaps we write toward what we will become from where we are,” Sarton declares in her final entry.

Perhaps we do.


You can order Waking Up in Winter, here.



P.S. – This week’s Facebook Live Session will be held on Thursday, January 11th at 6pm EST/3pm PST.   You can join me on my Facebook Page here.  And you can always watch previous sessions on my YouTube channel at CherylRichardsonTV here.

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