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Re-Wirement – Finding Your Midlife Passion

Fabulous MidLife Women

As women in our middle years we sometimes lose direction. Things that were familiar like kids at home, careers and busy family lives may have slowed or even disappeared. Maybe your marital status has changed too. We too often hear that midlife and then retirement is a time of loneliness, invisibility and stress for many women. A time when some women seem without a purpose. So today I am encouraging you to rethink it all. It’s time to join me in Re-wirement – Finding Your Midlife Passion.

Mindfulness

I’ve been really focused on mindfulness for several months, and finding this focus has centered me in many areas of my life. I’m half-way through a 12-week online course from Yale University called The Science of Well-Being. In this class, and also in the Noom program I have been focused on, we talk a great deal about mindfulness and how it pertains to our overall well-being. I’ve also found myself during the pandemic reading lots of mindfulness books including one I just finished called The Four Agreements, and one I am currently reading and loving called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Gilbert encourages a creative path towards an amplified life – a life driven by curiosity, courage, and peace. Not a life of fear. Because fear disables our ability to move forward. Realizing you are brave in midlife is how you can finally take that step towards your passion! Exactly what we are talking about here today.

None of this is about hocus-pocus or Dharma or religion or voodoo or cosmic forces…but it is about transcendence and our ability to move forward towards what your vision of ultimate happiness is and those things that are standing in your way to get there.

Midlife Passion
This is me at 60 and Loving it.

The Science of Well-Being course introduced me to the term “re-wirement”. It’s not a term just for people in middle-age. Or just for women. It’s a way to look at our lives and find the causes of our unhappiness, stress and anxiety and then work to re-wire.

Re-Wirement

Re-wirement – Finding Your MidLife Passion began for me about a year before I retired. I was lucky to retire at 53, but considering I had been working since I was 14 – I was ready to re-wire. I put my courage hat on and went looking for a life where I could focus on inner peace and outer well-being. I found it with the help of my darling husband. I found it by re-wiring our lives, letting go of both people and things that bogged me down or were not in sync with my vision, and focusing on our dreams. In the years since I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been asked how I re-invented myself. My answer is always the same – I did not. All I did was peel away the protective layers I had built around me, and found underneath my authentic self. By the way, she’s awesome at 60.

Everyone can re-wire. It costs nothing, other than focus and commitment. Today I introduce you to four women who have done it. Four amazing women of different ages, different backgrounds, different strengths and different aspirations. Four fabulous women who stepped out of their comfort zone, grabbed hold of their dreams and didn’t let go. In doing so each found their midlife passion.

Ann Hedreen, 63


What was your previous career? 
After college, I worked in publishing for a year and a half, but realized I longed to write my own words, not edit other people’s. I finally landed a cub reporter job in Chicago, for the City News Bureau, a local wire service, and then for UPI. When I returned to Seattle at 25, I started in local TV news as a news writer, and went on to be a producer. After five years (followed by a wonderful sabbatical year of shoestring travel around the world with my new husband, Rustin) I got a job doing PR for the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). When I wasn’t writing press releases, SAM asked Rus (who is a cinematographer and editor) and me to produce several videos, which we worked on when he wasn’t busy doing freelance gigs for network news. The good news was that video production was now more affordable for nonprofits, because we could edit at home. Technology made it possible for us to make a big leap and we focused on making short films for non-profit clients.

We also made longer documentaries of our own choosing. It was one of those documentaries—Quick Brown Fox: an Alzheimer’s Story—inspired by my mom’s young-onset Alzheimer’s disease—that finally led me to take my own personal writing seriously. At 53, I earned an MFA in creative writing. My thesis project became my first published book: Her Beautiful Brain, a memoir about what it was like to become a mom just as my own beautiful, brainy mom was losing her mind to Alzheimer’s disease.

Midlife Passion
Ann Hedreen


What is your current career?
Rus and I continue to make films for nonprofits and I also write and teach memoir writing. I have finished a second memoir, for which I’m now trying to find a publisher, and I’m starting research on a third book. I also enjoy writing shorter articles, blog posts, and essays. 


How old were you when you changed careers?
I left TV News at 31, and White Noise Productions became our full-time gig when I was about 43. I began my MFA program at 51: that was another big turning point. 

Was there a moment, an inspiration, an epiphany when you knew you wanted to pursue something different?
When I was 50, my daughter went off to college and shortly thereafter, I suddenly had to have surgery (a benign tumor), which meant I found myself on this island of extreme quiet for the first time in many, many years. I started writing: about my childhood, about my mom, about my Finnish great-grandmother. And the more I wrote, that fall, the more deeply I knew that I wanted it to become an important part of my life. I’d written copiously as a child, but when I was a broadcast journalist in my twenties, I just sort of stopped doing personal creative writing, although I always kept a journal. I also wrote an (unpublished) novel in my 30s, when my children were young. But at fifty, it suddenly felt essential to rediscover, and to honor, my inner writer-self. Like she’d been waiting patiently for me all along, and she’d just that minute run out of patience. 


As a woman in midlife how do you feel about your life goals today?
Writing will always be important to me. I wish the part about getting published was easier! But teaching has also become very meaningful. I love seeing the light bulbs go off. I’ll continue to do both. The filmmaking work may begin to taper, though we enjoy it and are grateful to have it. 

What do you feel is your greatest achievement or what are you most proud of in your life?
I really think the hardest thing I ever did was go from public high school in Seattle, WA to Wellesley College in Massachusetts at 17. I had never traveled. I was so homesick. But I had a full grant/loan/work package-deal scholarship, and the fact that Wellesley believed in me enough to fund my education was—huge. 

What advice would you give to your twenty year old self?
Don’t put those notebooks away! Write! 

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I want to continue doing what I’m doing now: writing, teaching, occasionally film-making with Rus, and also hiking, backpacking, traveling (oh I do miss travel during this pandemic!). Who knows? Maybe I’ll have grandkids by then. Which I look forward to! 

Any additional advice to the greying goddesses of the world who might feel trapped in a career, marriage or situation that would help them rewire? If you don’t keep a journal, there’s no time like the present to start. Don’t feel like you have to write every day. Be messy, be casual, but the point is to pay attention to your own life. To take it seriously. And to ask yourself, and the world, a lot of questions. If you are feeling trapped, writing can be so helpful in working out how to get un-trapped. I think of writing as “thinking on the page.” 

Find Ann here.

Christine Chen, 52

What was your previous career? Broadcast Journalist
What is your current career? Health and Wellness Educator and Communications Pro

How old were you when you changed careers? 38 or 39

Was there a moment, an inspiration, an epiphany when you knew you wanted to pursue something different?

  • 9/11
  • Around 2005, when I had been practicing yoga regularly for about five years and was without pain and able to manage my stress decently for the first time I could remember. It was about that time I realized what I had been inflicting upon my own body, through lifestyle choices. I needed to make a change to realize the life I wanted to live, which was more personal time, time for my family, and freedom to actual live the way I wanted to.
  • My healing journey was a revelation that people could be so much more in charge of their own health and wellness, and therefore their own lives than they probably think. That’s why I wrote Happy-Go-Yoga.
Midlife Passion
Christine Chen

As a woman in midlife how do you feel about your life goals today? I don’t really have goals, per se. I have things I aspire to do and explore. There is a difference between mentally gripping an outcome and mindfully laying a foundation for your own life vision. I just try to live well, be well, support the people in my life and let the rest take care of itself. Something always guides me to where I need to be. 

What do you feel is your greatest achievement or what are you most proud of in your life?

Becoming more self-aware and aligned with my purpose. Everything else that the general population would consider an achievement is just a manifestation of that. 

What advice would you give to your twenty year old self?

  • Invest in knowing who you are and how to best use your energy.
  • Don’t waste time on superficial drama and disregard those who try to pull you in. 
  • Be yourself. 
  • Don’t be an asshole. 

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Healthy. Enjoying life. Everything else is a manifestation of that. 

Any additional advice to the greying goddesses of the world who might feel trapped in a career, marriage or situation that would help them rewire?

A well-lived life is probably what we’re reflecting upon now. Has it been one? Is it too late to have one? Ayurveda, yoga’s 5000-year old sister science, encapsulates a variety of systems. Philosophically, it includes four distinct stages in life (but all are at play and influential to whatever stage you’re in). When these are in balance, it’s said we live well.

At approximately age 50, we enter the KAMA stage in life, which follows a long period of establishing the use of our energy in alignment with our purpose and arranging material stability (life essentials) so that we can spend energy being productive. In this stage, the question we can ask ourselves is how are we allowing pleasure and pleasurable living? Are we doing the things we’ve always wanted to do? Can we make space to explore the creative side of ourselves that has been less prioritized in our earlier years of responsibility? To make space for this, we must practice letting some things go to make space for our own pleasure. At this stage, we can embrace this as not selfish, but self-care. Some conventional philosophies may refer to this as a “bucket list,” which isn’t entirely accurate. This stage of life is less about checking off boxes (places and experiences) and more about the general way of living. How do you allow yourself to give to yourself with love? 

Find Christine here.

Spring Courtright, 44

What was your previous career? Program Director and outdoor guide for a kayak company
What is your current career? Spring Courtright Home Organizer 
How old were you when you changed careers? 37

Was there a moment, an inspiration, an epiphany when you knew you wanted to pursue something different? I came home after a long day of work and was laying, exhausted, with my boyfriend (now husband) in a hammock. When he asked how things were and I started crying out of sheer exhaustion, he said, “I know you love your work, but this doesn’t seem sustainable,” and I knew he was right. (And I knew he was a keeper!)

Midlife Passion
Spring Courtright

As a woman in midlife how do you feel about your life goals today? Amazing! I’m so excited for the rest of my life!

What do you feel is your greatest achievement or what are you most proud of in your life? I think one of my greatest achievements is finding happiness on the other side of depression that gripped me hard as a youth. One of the things I’m most proud of is the Outdoor Adventure Camp I created with an environmental education grant and a dream, and it’s still happily running 15 years later. Countless youth have fallen in love with outdoor adventures as a way to connect with the natural world, get exercise, relieve stress and safely do things like kayak, stand-up paddleboard, mt bike, rock climb. And they learned about the natural world around them through stealth education.

What advice would you give to your twenty year old self? Don’t worry, you’re going to be ok. And say no to that cute, charming guy you’ll meet at your high school reunion. Please.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? Raising chickens and goats and a giant edible garden with my hubby and friends living nearby so we can travel and still have a happy garden

Any additional advice to the greying goddesses of the world who might feel trapped in a career, marriage or situation that would help them rewire? If you’re thinking of going-doing-leaving-trying…do it now. Don’t wait. Fear may seem like a wall, but if you take a deep breath, walk up to it and give it a push, it often turns into a thin piece of fabric that you can push aside and find beauty you never imagined on the other side. Be brave.

Find Spring here.

Trish Hosea-Huff, 46

What was your previous career? Wine Industry 

What is your current career? We just bought a restaurant and followed a lifelong dream. (See Morso Bistro here)

How old were you when you changed careers? 46

 Was there a moment, an inspiration, an epiphany when you knew you wanted to pursue something different?

I have always known I wanted a restaurant I guess, but never acted on it.  It has always bounced around in my head. There is always that question floating around… “What would you do if you couldn’t fail?’ Owning a restaurant was always my answer.

As a woman in midlife how do you feel about your life goals today?

Well…. Covid happened! I can honestly say that this has been one of the most challenging times of my life. The amount of thought and time I have put into processing how a restaurant survives Covid has made me stronger and more tenacious than ever. I feel good about my goals, the struggle has made me realize that I’m a pretty strong person.

Trisha Hosea Huff

What do you feel is your greatest achievement or what are you most proud of in your life?

My marriage. My husband and I have a beautiful love story  and an incredible friendship. He is my biggest fan, and believes that I am capable of almost anything, (I’m happy to let him think that!) I’m proud of the honesty, support, communication and absolute love we have built our marriage on.  Every day I wake up and choose him.

What advice would you give to your twenty year old self?

Travel more, simplify your life, cherish your friends because you never know when they will be gone, always love yourself first and tell your parents how much you love and cherish them. 

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Sitting at our lake place, drinking a gin and tonic with my husband and reminiscing about the “Covid days”.  

Any additional advice to the greying goddesses of the world who might feel trapped in a career, marriage or situation that would help them rewire?

Be quiet, get still…. You already know the answers in your heart. Then act, but buckle up it’s not easy but worth every minute of living your life full and true.

Find Trish here.

How Will Your Journey Look?

We each have a different journey, through out our life and in our midlife years. Don’t fear the aging process. Instead strive for a healthy, courageous vision and look to re-wirement – finding your midlife passion. Focus on your aspirations, your intentions and your happiness through mindfulness and intent. Deep in the vault of our hearts, there usually is a passion waiting to be unlocked. I’d love to hear from you if you need encouragement.

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8 Comments

  • Reply Barshan Turno

    Needful content. Keep creating content like this! Tons of love for you

    July 31, 2020 at 3:07 pm
  • Reply Rachel

    What a powerful post. While I’m a little younger, this really spoke to me. I gave up my music career in the Marine Corps in my late 20’s to have our daughter. Music was all I had done since I was 8! Fast forward 11 years and I am finally getting back to me, just completed my pastry arts program, and am working for the school I attended! I can relate to so much of what was said in their stories, thanks so much for sharing!

    July 31, 2020 at 5:29 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      Awesome. Thanks for your comment and good for you! Go for your dreams!

      July 31, 2020 at 5:44 pm
  • Reply Morgan

    Re-wirement! Love that phrase!!

    July 31, 2020 at 6:37 pm
    • Reply julie

      What a freat post! Just at the right time. I’m 57, retired for 3 years and trying to determine what’s next and feel fulfilled and content. I have the book The Four Agreements, but have yet to read it. I feel like I have been getting messages that I need to journal! Thanks for sharing!

      August 1, 2020 at 6:53 am
  • Reply Gina Abernathy

    I love this. I am in my early fifties and I am learning to rewire. Great post!

    August 1, 2020 at 5:24 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Awesome. Thank you!

      August 1, 2020 at 5:51 am
  • Reply Hong

    A really interesting read thank you. I’m not far from this.

    August 1, 2020 at 4:53 pm
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