My Life Journey of Coming Home
The essence and meaning of home is central to who I am historically, metaphorically, and even in my second career. So, I thought it would be a creative way to share my life with you.
Historically, both sides of my family fled their homes in Lithuania, which is part of Eastern Europe, during World War II. They had no where to go, so the Germans allowed them to stay in their refugee camps which became their new home for 5 years. After that, they were allowed in to the United States where they began to create their new home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is when I was born - March 9, 1953. The home that I was raised in was a two family. My sister, mother, father, and I lived downstairs and my grandparents and great grandmother lived upstairs. It was a wonderful way to grow up. I was totally spoiled and loved every minute of it!
My great grandmother and grandparents died peacefully in this home and it is where my father cared for my mother in her last days with cancer. After I graduated from Michigan State University with a teaching degree, it became my ex-husband's and my first home. I also decided to give birth to our first daughter there with lay midwives in attendance. This home is so incredibly rich with nurturing loving memories for me. I realize that it's highly unusual for any home to have such a rich history in these fast paced times.
Home has also been a very growth-producing environment during times of great change for me.
When I divorced the father of my children, I was penniless and homeless with two daughters under the age of two. I was irresistibly drawn to a beautiful piece of land in the country that belonged to my mother. I used to spend the summers there with my grandparents while I was growing up. It had a small spring fed lake, a half-mile muddy driveway (known by the locals as the driveway from hell), and was very far away from any neighbors.
I knew I could find the peace and healing I needed here. It was also a perfect place to raise children - wild, natural, and beautiful...just like them! There was only one problem....I didn't have a drivers license. I was 30 years old and I had a driving phobia. It's interesting how a crisis can get us moving and doing things that otherwise we would never do! I learned how to drive.
On the property was a cement building with a tar paper roof. I moved into the structure with my two daughters. It had no indoor plumbing, no source of heat, and half of it was flooded with water. I put some wooden skids on the floor and threw some used carpet on top of them. I quickly learned how to live in the country and appreciate all the very simple things in life - having a place to sit and bathe, cooking on a wood stove, and understanding why lime is used in outhouses! But most of all, I appreciated the peace, beauty, and solitude of nature.
Quickly, our home extended to the outdoors. We were spending more time outside than inside! This is when I began to experience the presence of God within me and within nature. Home was not just contained to the structure we were living in anymore. It encompassed the entire outdoors and it became my church where I learned how to meditate, contemplate, and commune with God in a thousand and one ways.
I feel that my strong connection with nature is a natural part of my Lithuanian heritage. The Lithuanian people are nature people. I remember my mother and grandmothers couldn't get their hands out of the soil as they created beautiful gardens and enchanting places to walk, sit, and just be with nature. We all felt so at home in nature. I also remember large groups of people singing folk songs, dancing folk dances, and playing accordions around big fires. I remember beautiful ceremonies where decorated wreaths with candles were carried away by the wind on the lake sending blessings to couples who were courting.
Because I feel so at home working with women, I created a business where I could share my passion for ceremony, nature, and the camaraderie that is available when women come together in a focused way. I designed women's retreats and transformational ceremonies of rebirth and renewal for women on a monthly basis for ten years. I also became a doula (Greek for "woman servant") who assists women in their care for a few weeks after they give birth. I worked with lay midwives and was a birthing coach preparing women for natural childbirth as well as a certified natural childbirth educator.
During that time I became driven in creating a life that would provide my daughters with the very best I could. I created another business and became a supermom, commuting more than 80 miles a day to bring my daughters to private schools and to go to work. After I accumulated enough money, we moved into a temporary home which was a tent for the summer and early fall months of one year. I designed and helped build a passive solar home which included large windows with beautiful panoramic views of the outdoors. This created the feeling that we were living outside even in the winter while being warm, cozy, and dry (no more wet floors). It was my dream come true!
After many years of going at full speed, I suffered severe burnout and was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease at the start of my mid-life. After my daughters moved out on their own, my home in the woods became a healing environment for me once again! I took a mid-life sabbatical and learned how to discover a sense of home within myself.
I found that I had created many masks to survive a challenging life. Everyone knew me as fiercely independent, competent, and confident. During the sabbatical, my insecurities, fears, and tenderness which my strong exterior was covering up rose to the surface. I learned how to love and care for myself. I continue to learn how to feel comfortable being myself in the world without selling out. I also learned that we burn out (literally) not by giving away too much, but by trying to give what we ourselves do not yet possess!
During this time I literally read hundreds of books and wrote on extreme self care, getting out of codependent relationships, perfectionism, procrastination, values clarification, overcoming obstacles, moving through fear, universal principles, discovering our life's purpose, and creating a second life where our light can shine. I found that being true to ourselves takes an enormous amount of courage and that it's often only in midlife that we are willing to go through this journey to discover our authentic self.
I had a healing vision of the relationship between my inner grandmother and grandchild, which showed me how to fill myself with unconditional love and deeply care for myself. This is where the inspiration for the Midlife Fairy Godmothers came from. I also physically became a grandmother and my grandchildren have been teaching me how to play at life and stop taking myself so seriously......especially with serious things like my career. Being a perfectionist, I had worried so long about playing the fool with my life's work that I forgot how to play! My "branding" coach also helped tremendously by encouraging me with the idea of Midlife Fairy Godmothers. Thanks Dave! Now I can embrace playing the fool and help others lighten up as well.
I wanted to provide as much as I could to help women blossom in midlife, so I received my life coach training and tele-class leader training from the Institute of Integrative Coaching, LLC and Coachville's Graduate School of Coaching. I became an instructor at the Graduate School of Coaching, a member of the International Association of Coaches, and am completing my CTM with Toastmasters International to be a motivational speaker.
I provide online/telephone "Midlife Empowerment" coaching/consulting and "Midlife Renewal" online/telephone programs which help women in midlife discover their authentic self and build a life around their discoveries. They can do this all from the comfort, safety, and security of their home via their telephone and email. I also offer in person "Come Out of the Middle Ages with Middle Age" motivational speeches and workshops. (Scroll down to see the list of services).
As baby boomer women, most of us weren't given the tools nor encouraged to discover who we really are and design our life around our strengths, talents, and what matters most to us. Now we can! But it's entirely up to us to take the first step. Only then will we find the fulfillment that so many of us crave when we find ourselves losing our identity and familiar way of life in midlife. Are you ready to take the first step? The spirit of home lies within us, and once we find it, we can carry it with us and feel at home wherever we may roam.
From My Home to Yours,