Lost and Found

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

 —Henry David Thoreau

By midlife, many of us who experienced loss have learned the straight-and-narrow path to love and success we expected to follow is a curvy road. The neatly contained packages we thought we could control by working harder, parenting well, and loving deeply sometimes come apart.

During this latest recession, some of us even hit financial cliffs of despair and fright that we could not imagine enduring. To “survive” on a practical level, a few needed to ask for help, humbly releasing the belief they can or should do this life journey alone.

Others, forced to go within when nothing outside was occurring to shift their circumstances, found new passions or gained greater clarity about their priorities and what they want their legacy to be. With these revised intentions, opportunities to create new visions for their lives often emerged.

Each loss for me was an additional stripping away of my ego’s desires for what “looked good” on the outside, and an opening to my spirit’s calling to live bigger and more visibly to serve the greater good. While I still intend to make a substantial income, I am increasingly open to the patchwork manner in which I pull together pieces of my life to make it work in the balanced and creative ways that inspire me, help others and allow me to continue to be a major presence in the lives of those I care about—particularly my children.

Working two jobs that offset one another is something I am enjoying. Coaching and writing, for example, involve much emotional processing of information, at which I excel. However, if I immerse too much in the inner realm, I lose touch with applying the insights to real life, outside my home and office. To stay stimulated and connected to a broader life perspective beyond my own limited world view, I now choose supplemental work opportunities that require physical activity, left-brain thinking or more social interaction.

I hear similar stories of re-invention and expansion daily from clients and friends. The husband who lost his job became the at-home dad to his young children, bonding deeply with them in memorable ways. As a result, he gained a better appreciation of his wife’s nurturing gifts that he had previously taken for granted. The wife took on the role as breadwinner, comprehending more fully the demands of being the one and only financial provider. Seeing the world through the other’s perspective helped the couple strengthen their marriage.

For all of us who have grieved–whether we lost the companionship of someone we loved, a financial asset, a job on a familiar career path, our health, or a way of being in the world—we can use our pain to transform our lives and those around us.

Accept that loss changes us. Then, if we are wise enough to go within to discover the gifts of our altered state, we can emerge with a new way to serve others.

I think that popular song, “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone,” made popular by the band Chicago in the 80s, needs a sequel.  If I were a songwriter, I would name it: “After the grief, comes a new reason to serve.”

Trust your inner guidance. It will lead you to your next steps.

(Photo by Jay Gramolini)


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  • Nancy says:

    This post really touched me. Having made it through too many transitions over the past several years, I have had to figure out how to climb out of those low spots. Those going through similar pain — the grief in losing someone close, and the jolt to self esteem from a job loss — were beacons to me as I sought to regain my footing. The pain I suffered by wallowing and looking inward was lessened greatly when I reached out to partner with others who were sharing similar challenges. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    • Gail says:

      Nancy: And I thank you for sharing parts of your journey through pain to the regaining of your footing. That is my hope for this blog on BECOMING OUR AUTHENTIC SELVES–that we can all share the truths of our lives and the ways we are called into finding or claiming higher versions of ourselves. Sometimes, it is when we tested by circumstances beyond our control, that we find our unique purpose and gifts, and are invited to act on them. You are a beautiful example of a woman who has re-invented herself, and turned loss into success.

  • Annie says:

    Sometimes the greatest joys come from the darkest times. This recession has given many of us the overwhelming task of self-introspection at midlife. While we might not have chosen such a road, it can turn out to lead to a place full of great joy and fulfillment. Keep the faith — and use Gail’s belief tips.

    • Gail says:

      Annie: Thanks for sharing your own very wise perspective. Keeping the faith is so important, as is using this introspective time
      to create new internal subconcious beliefs that help us rewire our brains for new outcomes. I provide more details about this
      process on the coaching services page of my website, http://www.SupportMatters.com if you and others care to learn more. I hope you are
      well on your way to a new road of joy and fulfillment.

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