How I came to start running retreats for midlife women.
When I turned fifty I started to feel differently about my life.
Unlike Shirley Valentine who woke up one day, and decided her little life had been a crime against God, my life had been quite the opposite. I'd spent 20 amazing years in Dubai with my husband, raising my two children, running a home and managing an exciting corporate career in marketing.
Why was I suddenly so dissatisfied? How selfish to no longer want my perfect life.
Midlife is a time of shifting sands - our values, our passions and our purpose.
We need less things, but crave more experiences - real experiences - or at least I did.
I had always thought it rather cliche that midlife women wanted to go off travelling alone to volunteer abroad, or take up unusual new hobbies, until it happened to me.
Most importantly I realised that whatever I did next, I wanted to do it alone.
So I left my old life - my husband, my home, my career - for my exciting new life.
I was tired of going through life on auto pilot, I wanted to throw away the road map, shift into manual and head off in a totally new and unknown direction. I was going to be free to go wherever I chose, to do whatever I chose. Sadly, rather than exciting, it was overwhelming. That's the sad paradox of choice - too many options can be paralysing.
My intuition had deserted me, and I made some terrible choices. It was a disaster and I ended up homeless, jobless and broke. At the same time the menopause hit me like a train and I found myself living in my sisters spare bedroom in a state of depression. I had failed.
But, as Henry Ford says "Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently", and that's exactly what I did.
My fascination with the overwhelming need to start a new journey in my life, led me to the tarot, which shows us that we all have many life journeys within our mortal one, and we should treat each new beginning as a rebirth. To be curious about everything around us.
If I was going to start again I must view life with fresh eyes, letting go of any preconceived ideas - become spontaneous, hopeful, brave and trusting of myself.
So, I made a vision board, which unsurprisingly consisted mostly of travel!
I headed off to Mexico alone, for 6 weeks, where I met an elderly American writer who told me:
"Just write it down Rachel, whatever you're feeling, just write it down."
I would go so far as to say that her advice saved me because that's when I discovered journaling and the power of the pen. As Joan Didion said "We write to know what we think".
Rediscovering my intuition, and accepting that 'not having a purpose' didn't mean I was useless, were the most powerful lessons of all. Surprisingly these lessons were taught to me by engaging with tarot cards and creative journaling.
Both of these activities draw out insights with such clarity - it's fantastic - like free therapy! They shine a light on all that's out there in your universe waiting to be discovered. Think of it like electricity - it was always there, it just needed someone to invent the light bulb and switch it on.
I now live alone on my narrowboat but connected to my community, family and friends.
I turn 60 on my next birthday and I'm ready to embrace it with open arms.