Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What Stage of Life Are You In?

I was visiting some of my fave blogs yesterday and was delighted to re-discover something I'd pretty much forgotten.

At Twila's (Twi Chi—Book Floozy—a fabulous blog for women seekers), she reminded me about Joan Anderson's books (which I loved!) and her list of the "10 Phases of a Woman's Life."  This was wonderful to read again.

Now,  I'd read something similar years ago in Joan Borysenko's landmark book, The Woman's Book of Life. Though, Dr. Joan claims that women develop and thrive in 7-year cycles. You may recall that Joan is one of the 12 Holy Women in Your Truest Self. She represents the tenth Transformational Truth: "I Trust the Divine Timing of My Own Unfolding.

With Twila's permission, I am re-posting the list she shared. Consider this:

* 0-7 childlike wonder
* 7-14 the beginning of hormonal activity
* 14-21 unfurling sexuality

* 21-28 being affirmed by a man-the desire to procreate
* 28-35 birthing, mothering, caretaking, putting others first
* 35-42 leaving self out but occasionally looking beyond
* 42-49 menopause approaching – is this all? a desire for self-love
* 49-56 birthing of a mature psyche – a desire to go away, live without rules and become more instinctive
* 56-63 choosing one’s true purpose, work, vocation, finding one’s individual reason for being beyond the roles
* 63-70 reflection – becoming the watchwoman, recasting all that one has learned, being whatever one has become

Truly, I had to laugh out loud when I read this because this list fits me to a T! All the phases fit, including the most recent ...

At exactly age 49, everything shifted in me and I found myself going inward, becoming hermitlike, wanting only to nurture myself body, mind and spirit (and to create from that place.)

This past summer I turned 56, and there was another big shift. I settled into my true vocation (spiritual mentoring), let go of the roles I'd previously aligned myself with  (especially those that felt inauthentic), and felt more fire and passion come into my life than ever before.

How about you? Does this list bear out your experience?

If so, where do you find yourself? If not, why, and where are you?


Just a note: The "Women on the Edge of Evolution" —a free online teleconference series with visionary women—continues and I must say this. If you are a woman who cares deeply about the planet and our future as human beings you absolutely MUST take a listen. They are now being archived, so you can listen to them any time you want. (Click here.) I just listened to Barbara Marx Hubbard (who is 80 and so very wise!), and am still reeling with excitement about what I learned. Wow! I hope to post on this soon.

There's still time to sign up or learn more. Go here. 

And guess what?! This has become the largest gathering women EVER on the planet. More than over 25,000 women are engaged in this. I hope you will join us!


P.S. I just learned my book, Your Truest Self, is now available on Kindle for $9.99. Just in time for the approaching holidays. Hooray!

(Image courtesy of http://www.women.qld.gov.au)


Nadia - Happy Lotus said...

Hi Jan,

I saw Twila's post too and found it interesting. My life has not mirrored that list. Then again, I have never done anything normally so this is to be expected with me. :)

Angela Recada said...

Hi Jan,

I was a bit late arriving to one or two of these phases, but at 52 I'm right on track now. How happy I was to see that I have a little over three more years to choose my true purpose! I'm well on my way, I think.

This list is a perfect affirmation for me and many, many women who feel that sense of uneasiness in our middle years.

It's so wonderful to see how you have moved into your true vocation. You are such an inspiration to me!

I, too, love Joan Anderson's books. Another great inspiration to me.

Thanks for this!


Jan said...

I wonder if your life, by any chance, would measure up to the 7 year cycles that Joan Borysenko writes about. She claims that physically, emotionally, socially and spirituality a woman changes every 7 years.

I created a life map once and found that, indeed, every 7 years I had experienced a major life change--esp. in terms of career, family, etc. I believe the book is out of print but you can get very inexpensive copies at online booksellers. I lost my book years ago and will likely order another. It is one of those books you go back to again and again....

As always, thanks for sharing your journey!

How interesting! Your recent creative flurry does seem to fit with this. And I do think the purpose unfolds, even takes us by surprise. I would say my purpose chose me--I did not seek it out. It feels like a holy invitation. You too?

There is a sense of unease in early mid-life, isn't there? Perhaps that is why the term was coined "mid-life crisis." Duh... I recall it beginning a time of reinvention—though it was not conscious. It felt more like an unconscious gut, genetic, urging onward that very much took me by surprise. It felt as if there was no choice in the matter but to follow:-)

Julie G said...

This IS the perfect affirmation for me today too. This breakdown of age related stages in life is very enlightening. I think I have too slow down...at 44 now, I feel like I'm buzzing through the birthing of a mature psyche (49-56) and looking into choosing my true purpose, work, vocation (56-63.
I need to settle and let my heart and spirit catch up with my mind.

Cheryl Wright said...

I moved in sync with this list until I reached my late thirties. That's when, without knowing it, I lumped the next three phases into one all-inclusive phase.

Even as I still harbor that "desire to go away" component, I believe I am immersed in my for-the-moment purpose, recasting all that I have learned so far and settling into the woman I was meant to be.

Jan said...

Well, this could be true for you-- a need to slow down. OR the Universe could have big plans for you and desires you to make plenty of big leaps NOW. (See Cheryl's comment). We just never know until we engage in discernment. :-)

I think we do have to be careful with cementing ourself to one phase just because it says so. Not everyone is a perfect match to this list, primarily because of life circumstances which can launch us into another phase. Illness, crisis, loss can do that for us. (Universal wake-up call!)

The biggest factor of all may be trust...trust that we are unfolding in divine order, always in the direction of our highest purpose. May we all relax and enjoy the journey!

Wonderful to hear. I believe this can happen, (as I said above) and depending on what life hands out, and how we respond to it, phases may be combined or even shortened. I am confident you are absolutely where you need to be and glad that you are enjoying the process of embracing your essence:-)

As for me, I managed to clump together two of the mid-life phases into one, moved beyond beyond mothering in my late 30s. I felt like Spirit was calling me in new ways. This included learning to love myself and to heal old wounds. Most of this was "completed" in early to mid-40s, inviting in an early "wise woman" stage. :-)

I will also add that due to our rapidly increasing spiritual evolution, many of us are being asked to "wake-up" and live out our destinies much earlier. Why? Because the planet (human race) is struggling now and needs our whole and holy selves. So we shouldn't be surprised if these phases of which Joan Anderson writes are speeding up too!

Julie G said...

P.S. I forgot to mention that I am part or the 25,000 women taking part in the "Women on the Edge of Evolution" teleconference. These discussions are amazing! Strong, wise women leading the way to a better future for the world.
I agree with Jan, please join us!

Sandi Delia said...

Hi Jan,

I, too, adore Joan Anderson's books and am planning on a weekend retreat based on one of her books. It can't come quickly enough!

I am exactly where you described when you turned 49...I turn 49 in March. I am longing for alone time and to ditch the definitions and expectations I've carried that belong to others and find my own sense of self. My husband has a hard time understanding my turning within...how did you honor yourself and be a partner at the same time?


Annie said...

I fit the first 3, but then I moved right into 49-56 at about age 30 :-) and totally skipped 21-42. I seem to be in the 56-63 phase a bit early. xoxo

Gayle said...

I'm in the 49-56 group and yes, I would like nothing better than to find my Walden and become more wise, spiritual, and instinctive. Since that's not financially possible right now, I need to find more ways to simplify and bring nature more into my life. I've cut my TV viewing down, now it's time to work on other areas like the internet :) I'm also trying to de-clutter to create a more serene living space.

Jan said...

So glad you are listening to the telecasts. They are exciting!

Oh, I am a bit envious to attend one of her retreats (any retreat, actually, I could use one ;-) Enjoy!

As for the stages, your question is a good one. I think it is important to make clear to your husband that your turning inward is actually one of the phases of a woman's life. Very normal. Be clear and direct. This is not about him (as many men would like to think), he has done nothing wrong, nor is your relationship lacking. This is is just something you need to do for you. It is time for you! Just being open and honest can help.

Then begin by taking baby steps, small increments of time just for you. A retreat is a great way to start! Little by little is good as it helps our families adjust. Though it may also be important for you to be more assertive and set healthy new boundaries. Sometimes this causes some bumps in the road with loved ones. That's ok, they'll get over it as long as we are as gentle with them as we are with ourselves. Compassion is always key...It shows the way.

Does that help?

I am celebrating you and your growth. Wow!

You are too funny. I love how you've mapped out your growth. Yes, this could be absolutely possible, as I wrote earlier, depending on life circumstances and the Universe's "need" for us." You certainly do seem wise beyond your years. :-)

Very good to hear! I appreciate how you are surrendering to the calls that beckon, but are addressing them with practicality, too. Simplifying, actually, is one of the major calls of this phase. It invites us to be more authentic and true, to live with core values, and we can do this, first, within our own living space. That's so natural, graced with ease. And still it fosters growth. Let us know how it goes.

Sharmila said...

Jan, I think there is some overlapping for me in that I feel farther ahead emotionally and spiritually then in the areas of motherhood etc.
* 28-35 birthing, mothering, caretaking, putting others first
(so I feel the shift from the latter needs of affirmation, yes but I also feel that I fall into this category 1/2 and 1/2)
* 56-63 choosing one’s true purpose, work, vocation, finding one’s individual reason for being beyond the roles
I feel as though I'm learning about 'being' and knowing myself as well as birthing my true purpose/vocation while motherhood I am not quite ready to devote to yet for another few years. I am teeter-tottering on me-time and over-giving which I did much of already in my short life so far!
I believe that the next phase of my vocation will reflect the motherhood role (as i can see that vision though it is not time)
great post! ~Jen

Sharmila said...

Jan, I wanted to comment once more for I think its interesting how since this is a guideline, that often our experiences can create a bit of a different order, though eventually we each come full-circle and go through each of these areas.

for example:
* 49-56 birthing of a mature psyche – a desire to go away, live without rules and become more instinctive

I feel that I was able to experience this when I left all I knew 4 years ago and moved to a new country, and finally came together with my long distance love. but I was only in my 20's .. and now when most people my age want to have families (I'm 29!) I'm just not ready for that yet, and quite content to focus on my vocation and 'being'. :)

this was an interesting post! Thanks for making me think! ;)
hugs, Jen

Jan said...

Jen (Sharmilla),
As I wrote earlier, I do believe overlapping is not uncommon. Our growth is certainly not linear. It is helpful when we find thematic elements which support where we find ourselves. Also indicators of where we may yet go and grow! Your journey sounds most interesting and I commend you for going with the flow of it!

Wilma Ham said...

Hi Jan
I could not get into the site yesterday so I have two posts to comment on and I start with this one.
I love these cycles and they have been spot on for me, how comforting to have that validated in this way.
At 49 I had to leave a suffocating marriage, I really felt it is now or never, wow.
Since then I have been going through the cycles and I am now really on the path to doing my vocation, how great to see this so clearly.

Thanks to you I have signed up for the teleconference too.
I do find them hard to listen too as the presenters take up too much airspace and have obviously a hard time to hand over the mike to their guests. I would rather read a transcript so I can skip over the parts I find tideous.
Hmm, I am learning to speak up as well.

Thanks for this post, as I said I found it comfortingly validating.

Jan said...

I am happy to learn more about your life and how you are moving through the stages. It does help when we see something like this which validates us as women. It assures us we are on the right path. :-) Even when the going gets rough and it feels like a detour, I still believe we are on the right path...

Glad you are tuned into the teleconference. Good stuff!

Your second sharing reminds me that we may have layers of these stages. At a young age, we might have a taste of a later stage. But then when we match up chronologically, we may revisit it again in a whole new way. Looking at this way, I think, I too, experienced the true vocation stage at age 39. then again at a much deeper level at 56. Interesting!

Ingrid said...

Hi Jan, My goodness, this list does feel true for me biologically, though I must say I still go back to childlike wonder, and often move forward to the maturer phases.... a bit like a honeybee flitting from flower to flower. Still, it's reassuring to look at these movements in a kind of framework that gives them a naturalness or a normalcy. I am not such an odd bird after all!

Jan said...

Hi Ingrid,
No, not odd at all. I appreciate the flitting from flower to flower. It feels like openness and receptivity to where your journey might take you. Going with the flow of your own unfolding, I say...xo

Lisa (Mommy Mystic) said...

Been out of commission the last couple of weeks, and was sorry to have missed this post, you know I love this topic! I do think there is so much truth to this, BUT I also think paths can unfold so differently that you almost need to do a version for different trajectories. In my own case, my spiritual interests came first, and I didn't have children until 37, and the fact that I had practiced first changed the nature of the lessons that brought for me, and is changing perimenopause for me too (I am 42.)
In evolutionary astrology there is this idea of that people can go through the same overall life process at different 'levels', and I think this is true...so I can see already that perimenopause is going to have a profound impact for me, but it is slightly different because of prior work...