Midlife options

According to a study published in 2008 by the University of Warwick and Dartmouth College in the USA, the risk of depression peaks at the age of 44 yrs old.

And, as Carl Jung said: “[people] seek position, marriage, reputation, outward success or money, and remain unhappy .. even when they have attained what they were seeking.”

Finding that you start to doubt yourself and try to ‘rediscover’ your youth in mid-life is often described as a ‘crisis’. What have I achieved? What is there to look forward to?

For many, it’s a bit of a joke – and then embarrassing when you realise that’s exactly what’s happening to you, where you are. And then it’s not a joke, and it can become a cause of strife and depression.

But perhaps it’s absolutely normal for men and women to feel more vulnerable as the ego which has driven us successfully through the first half of life begins to step back and allow our undiscovered, more reflective, ‘Self’ to wake up.

And perhaps we should look at it as a natural and wonderful opportunity to learn, rebalance and grow to fulfill a wider and wiser role in society and for humanity.

For some, there may need to be medical support and counselling or therapy. But for most, life coaching can provide a supportive and confidential opportunity for you to welcome and explore this change, identify resources which can lead you through the storm and, indeed, harness its energy for the second half of your life.

Often it’s helpful to put ourselves in a new space to help us reconnect with our courage and passion. That space can be virtual – created for example in a coaching relationship – or a physical change of scenery, some walking or cycling for example, or a retreat.

It’s important to remember that you can make a choice to move on, accept what’s happening and learn from it, and develop and change, and probably be stronger in many ways.


Same old, same old, or differently? – in the City. (22/12/09)

In the City, conversations about bonuses at this year end will certainly be different. No doubt ingenious ways to dodge the extra tax will be found for those people deemed worthy of exceptionally large ‘compensation’ packages. Perhaps this will include more deferral and equity, but essentially it is the same old corporate financial reward system which bears little relation to either the reality of entrepreneurial risk, or to genuine, sustainable motivation of those involved. The clue is in the very term ‘compensation’! For what – being a banker?

It’s possible that the City faces a tectonic upheaval in its operating conditions, as has been seen in, for example, the music business in recent years, or in Western industrial manufacturing in recent decades, or agriculture many years before that. History is littered with massive change. What could be the big shock to cause such a thing in finance – Government regulation?; increased competition for lower levels of business driving down returns?; a velvet revolution from issuers and investors fed up with excessive fee levels?; a drain of talented people who can no longer hold their head up with pride in public?

Who knows. But if it does happen, it appears likely that, seemingly lacking any sense of humility for the catastrophic events of the past couple of years, or connection with the rest of the economy or society, the rainmakers in the City who are entrenched in the bonus culture won’t know until it’s too late.

Or they could start to think differently: perhaps they could explore other ways to motivate and retain key talent (like many other businesses do) – supporting achievement, responsibility, recognition and growth for what they are, rather than being determined by commission. It’s a lot cheaper, and quite possibly a lot better!


A conversation with my pelvis (a poem inspired by a physiotherapy session!)

I’m having a conversation with my pelvis
which is a new experience
and I don’t know where
to start
I’m feeling rather tongue-tied
and prone to inappropriate questions
that really aren’t connecting
or creating ‘rapport’
with my pelvis.

For a start
I don’t know what language to use
words or feelings
or pictures
or something altogether more abstract
maybe movement
or relaxation


I think
that’s it

a gentle lowering into calm
and peace
and then quiet
and still

quiet and still

don’t hurry to ask




and what is it you want to say?

“I want to dance”

“I want to move freely”

“I want to love and be loved. I want to be released
to heal
and to be alive”

“Can you help me?”

How amazing is the raisin (a poem inspired by ‘mindfulness’)

How amazing is the raisin

in comparison to all of us.
It’s such a tiny fruit
but with steep hills
and dark valleys,
gorges and ravines
too, rugged and soft
like a volcanic island in the tropics,
seen from the air,
its sensual richness hidden
beneath the canopy.
And the skin of my palm can feel
the touch
of its highest mountains.

And when I’m raising the raisin
to my lips
I appreciate its sacrifice,
the generous cycle
of an offering of sustenance
in exchange for distribution
to an unknown place
and a fertile landing.

In appraising the raisin
in my mouth,
with my tongue, the tip
of my tongue
and the roof
of the front of my mouth,
I slowly roll it
and notice
how its cool roughness
warms and softens
as the raisin grows
and begins to release its
gentle sweetness
and the flavour of sun-baked afternoons
with the hot air stirring
and full of the scent of thyme,
rosemary and marjoram.

And as I start to squash
and break up
the now supplicant raisin
with my hard and merciless
front teeth, savouring
its gifts of energy
and taste and dreams
from lands afar,
and this moment in time
of pleasure
and exploration,
I feel guilt.

For all the other amazing raisins
which have just been
and chomped
without thought,
without appreciation,
their richness ignored and forgotten.

And I wonder how life can be
if we take care
to notice
how amazing a raisin
can be
if that is true
for this tiny fruit,
what is possible
for such a gigantic and extraordinary organism
as a human being.

and all of us.
And all of us
and each other.

with thanks to Alister Scott for his lesson in mindfulness.


to Steve (19/11/08)

I’m not so smug as to say ‘I told you so’ or had any real clue about timing, but one of the reasons why I’m not surprised about the ‘crash’ and the coming downturn is that Kondratiev’s ‘long term cycle’ has always struck a chord with me. It’s something to do with generations passing and the loss of a collective sense at an unconscious level. And it’s not just about money.

Anyone who is old enough to have had their key life values formed by the direct experience of the ’29 crash & ’30’s depression would now be in their 90’s, or older. Most are gone from us. And with them we lost that direct intelligence – a body of wisdom. The lessons and values which were picked up by the next generation were indirect, and the echoes into the following generation are much diluted. And so the same mistakes were made.

I was moved a few days ago by a photo on my friend Steve’s facebook page of his father’s arm. Steve cared very deeply for him. His arm still had a six-digit number tattooed on it, his number at Auschwitz. He survived, and now he has just died. One less direct survivor of this most terrible manifestation of the Holocaust. And the body of wisdom, the collective intelligence about this horror, is that little bit smaller.

Humanity couldn’t make the same mistakes again, could it? How can we be different today, to make sure the next 10 years are different to those between 1929 and 1939?

Personally, I’m going to try and understand more about what happened in those years, as the more knowledge we have, the more we can be aware of how to be different. And I’m also going to try and notice more carefully how we all live with each other because I suspect the seeds of hatred are in the mundane. And I’m going to talk again with Steve, when he’s ready, and try to contribute to the maintenance of that unconscious collective intelligence.

"Anyone old enough to have had their key life values formed by the direct experience of the '29 crash & '30's depression would now be in their 90's, or older. "

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