A very dear friend of mine recently gave me a beautiful book called “The 50 Book: Women Celebrate Life” by Jennifer Blau. It is filled with wonderful photos and poignant quotes from women but more importantly stories of women.
I had been looking for a way to start this blog on purpose and passion and the gift of this book has provided me with a quote by Sophia Loren, an actress and woman I personally admire.
“There is a fountain of youth: It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will have truly defeated age.”
Now I don’t think anyone could argue that Sophia Loren clearly knows what she is talking about when she refers to finding a fountain of youth, not just through her beauty as she ages but also through the talent she has continued to display on screen and the dignity and grace she has brought to aging.
For the purposes of this blog, I believe what Sophia is saying is that by finding where your talents lie and using those talents and your creativity you will find your purpose and passion in life and this alignment with who you are and who you should be will keep you young.
Have you had the opportunity to live your purpose or passions yet?
How many of us have really had the opportunity or taken the opportunity to tap into our mind, our talents and our creativity as Sophia Loren suggests. Many of us move through life from one stage to the next doing what needs to be done. We work to earn money, nurture our families and do our best to be the best we can be with what we have but rarely do our lives focus on our passions or what might be called our purpose in life.
I personally have always looked enviously at those people that seem to know from a very early age what their passion and purpose in life is. These people jump with complete confidence and no fear into lives that have them doing just that. Artists who live for their art, writers who slog away writing books that may or may not make any money and never get published, charity workers who give their lives over to helping others.
For the majority of us however I would suggest it is often something we continue to seek throughout our lives. We do not go to work passionate about what we do and we do not feel a strong sense of alignment between what we do and who we are or who we want to be.
Of course knowing what your purpose in life is and what you are passionate about is not always that easy and it is often not until we are in our late forties or fifties that we start to question the life we are living and we have the time to start thinking and living differently.
I subscribe to the philosophy that it is never too late to no matter how old you are. While you are still lucky enough to be breathing you can have purpose in life and can find what it is you are passionate about and what better time for a woman to uncover these gems of living than in her fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties or even nineties.
In 2013 Britain’s BBC4 aired a documentary called “Fabulous Fashionistas” which featured six women of “advanced years” who are passionate about style and have a “screw you” attitude to the standard dictates of age. As the documentary unfolds it is clear that while these women are passionate about fashion and pushing boundaries with their fashion, they are obviously women who have a clear sense of purpose and passion in their lives and this is what drives them.
Finding my purpose and passion
I have been struggling with the concept of what my passion and purpose in life are since my early forties when I started to become disenchanted with working in the corporate world and the routine of going to work five days a week.
There is no doubt that I have had what most people would call a successful career.
I successfully moved from teaching into Human Resources, had twenty years in Sydney and Brisbane growing and moving up the corporate ladder and finished my management career in an executive role that I loved.
I knew however that continuing to climb the corporate ladder and look for the bigger jobs with more challenge and more money was not going to give me the satisfaction I wanted from my life. I also knew my health would never survive another ten or fifteen years living the way I was living.
So in my late forties I decided to start the process of trying to work out what would give me satisfaction and purpose in my life as I moved into my fifties and what I was passionate about.
The things I knew at that stage were:
- I wanted flexibility with my week
- I wanted time to support my family
- I wanted to give back in some way and make a difference
- I did not want to be travelling into the city to work in an office
- I did not plan to work until 65 doing what I was doing and then retire
- I wanted something I could do that would support me financially and give me great satisfaction and joy as I aged
While this was the starting point, the journey of how to uncover my purpose and passion was not so clear and I have done it in a number of different ways which combined have led me to where I am today.
“Nailing” my Purpose
Firstly I looked back over my life to try and identify what I had done in my past that really made me happy. Some people find these answers in things they did in childhood or desires they had in their early twenties before life and their career took them down a different path.
I found clues through examining my whole life. I went into teaching because I really wanted to teach. What I didn’t like about teaching wasn’t the actual teaching, it was everything that went with it. The Education Department, the culture in schools, the structured nature of what I was doing with bells and timetables and the fact that I wasn’t being paid enough money to live the life I wanted to live.
Even when my career changed I continued to teach adults. As I moved into management roles and out of the training and organisation development areas what gave me the most satisfaction was mentoring and coaching my teams.
It became very clear to me as I reflected on it that teaching is my purpose in life. I wouldn’t describe it as one of my passions but I do believe it is what I am meant to do and that I need to keep doing it.
While this process of reflecting on my life helped me to establish my purpose I was not any clearer on what I was truly passionate about. I knew I wanted to teach in some capacity but I didn’t want to go back to being a school teacher or working in the corporate world teaching such things as leadership or management skills. So the question of what I would teach, to who and how, required further work and I knew that whatever I was going to teach it had to be something I was passionate about.
54 year old woman seeking clarity on passion
The question was where to go next?
As is usually the case in these circumstances this is where the universe, or if you believe in a God as I do, played a pretty strong part for me. When I looked at what I had been doing for the past ten years and also on and off during my life I realised I had always focused on my health and learning as much as I could about how I could look after myself, get well and stay well.
Now I didn’t have a whole lot of choice in this as my own health issues demanded that I do this but it was certainly an area I loved learning about and the last five years have seen me throw myself into it with what can only be described as unbridled passion.
It has been a huge learning curve for me as I listened to pod casts, enrolled in on line summits and read books on thyroid, adrenals, gut, heart, brain and immune system and most recently oral health. It was pretty clear when I looked at it that I loved this stuff.
Add to this the changes that menopause brings to the body and my father’s diagnosis of vascular dementia and mild Alzheimers and I was hooked on learning everything I could about healthy aging and how to combine the best of what modern medicine has to offer with the right food, the right exercise and a life of passion and purpose.
Rising Women – Leadership Jumpstart
So while I was now clear I was passionate about health and healthy aging, I was still not clear on how this would come together with teaching. So earlier this year I enrolled in an incredible program called Rising Women – Leadership Jumpstart: Getting into Soul -Powered Action on your most Heart Dream. What a title heh!
This program was facilitated by a truly inspirational woman called Scilla Elsworthy. If you have not heard of Scilla, she is a highly respected global change agent who over the past forty years has worked on social issues around the world including nuclear disarmament and security issues for which she was three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. You could call her a high achiever!
Between 2005 and 2008 she played a lead advisory role to Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel as they established The Elders, a council of 12 wise women and men working on conflict issues globally. Today her major focus is on Rising Women Rising World, an organisation she was a co founder of in 2013 which is passionate about harnessing amazing women from around the world to find a new way forward for the world based on the values of the deep feminine.
What attracted me to the program was not just Scilla’s incredible experience and knowledge but also her ability to work from a deeply spiritual foundation. It had become pretty clear to me that I now needed to move from my outer consciousness which is really about the life I have lived and the life I am living to my inner consciousness to connect with my heart and my spirit and see what they had to tell me about the life I should be living.
The seven module program involved a lot of soul searching and going within to really discover what my heart was yearning for and then it moved on to look at how I could make it a reality. It had modules titled “Awakening Emotional Resilience Within”, “Shift Your Consciousness” and “Visioning the Future”.
It was exactly what I needed at that time and I encourage you to have a look at risingwomenrisingworld.org if you are interested in contributing more to the world both locally and globally. They are an organisation of inspirational women who are doing incredible good throughout the world.
The outcome of the program for me was the discovery of two other passions, writing and working with women. In retrospect neither of these were a surprise.
I had always had a desire to be a writer and always thought I would write children’s books. I had a goal at one stage to be making a good living writing children’s books by the time I reached 50. I even completed a children’s book however I never took it any further particularly after I realised how difficult it is to get published and how little money authors of children’s books make.
Why working with women?
I have had great female mentors in my life and I saw very clearly how hard it can be for women to make their way in the world, certainly in organisations that are predominantly led from a male values perspective. These experiences have certainly led me towards the values of the deep feminine as I have moved out of corporate life and into my fifties.
Pulling it all together
At the end of the program while I was clear on what my purpose was and what my three passions were I was still not clear on what it would look like when I put it into action. It only took a couple of months of reflection and meditation however for the answers I needed to surface.
The best way to write and connect with a relevant audience was to blog. Now this was a hugely scary concept for me as firstly it would mean overcoming my fear and general lack of interest in social media, secondly I would need to design and build a website and thirdly I needed to learn how to blog, tweet and actually post content on facebook. Yikes!
I recognised that the women I feel the strongest connection to are women fifty and over who are going through similar things to me and that by focusing on them it would enable me to focus on healthy ageing as well.
While I would be teaching indirectly through my writing I realised that I also needed to teach face to face and that workshops had to be a part of what I would do.
I have since designed my first one day workshop which will not only enable me to connect with women in a very personal way by hearing their stories and what their needs are, it will also enable women to connect with each other and hopefully take these personal connections away from the program.
The whole package
I think it is also important however to recognise that while this purpose and these passions will form the core of what I do over the next twenty or so years they are not all of who I am.
I am also a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt and mother to a beautiful aged puppy dog who suffers from inflammatory bowel disease and needs lot of love and care. I would also be lost without my passion for gardening, reading, cooking and lots of time spent with my nieces and nephews.
What about you?
How are you feeling about your life right now and your plans for your future?
- Are there things you were passionate about when you were younger that you have forgotten?
- Do you have dreams for your life that you still have to fulfill?
- Have you ever questioned what your purpose in life is?
- Have you been spending your life focusing on your purpose but feeling like you are missing some passion in your life?
- Are you confident you are doing the best you can to support your body as it ages?
- Do you feel an underlying urge to do something more or different with your life?
Would love to know your thoughts in the comments section below.
If you are interested in exploring your purpose and passions further check out my one day workshop “Body, Mind and Spirit Check In”. It is designed to assist you in looking at your life and your health from a body, mind and spirit perspective including how to uncover what your true purpose and passions are.
PS Don’t forget to subscribe on the side bar if you would like to get future Fearless after 50! blogs