Encore!

A Labyrinth Offers Personal Growth

Feb 9, 2012 by

Now that the New Year is over a month old I am finally getting myself grounded enough to share what’s happening in my life again.

I have started what some call an ‘Encore Career.’ Check out the website that supports the concept. I am the Executive Director of the Northwest Center for Creative Aging (NWCCA).  As our intro says, “We help adults find their purpose and live into their potential as they age. We enrich lives by creating conversations, fostering connections and serving as an educational resource. Our philosophy addresses the whole person – mind, body and spirit – with a range of programs committed to creative aging. We welcome people of all ages and stages.”

I wasn’t looking for a new job and it happened in the same way that other jobs and experiences have happened in my life: through a combination of synchronicity and openness.  I believe in an affirmation I learned years ago: “All things I seek are seeking me, whether I see it or not.” It speaks to knowing what you want and still trusting that the universe might have something in mind for you as well. It is a dynamic relationship between what you do and what the world provides.”

Since retiring from Boeing in January 2011, I volunteered with a variety of organizations related to aging. I offered ideas to a Seattle-based Aging in Place Village; I joined a team that emerged from the Senior Services Aging Your Way initiative . I became a member of the board of Elderwise an Adult Day Center that provides ‘Spirit-Centered Care’ and cultural enrichment for elders, respite for caregivers, and education for professionals.  And I developed and taught  a course about food at the Lifetime Learning Center.

So I wasn’t exactly waiting for the next thing, I was out exploring.  I wrote about how I thought about it in the blog for AtSGF called ‘C’-ing my way Forward which helped me feel engaged as my life unfolded.

I was also going to facilitate a unique program called Evolvel for NWCCA.  And then the Executive Director had to resign for personal reasons, and as they say, ‘the rest is history.’ Very recent history.

I told the board that I feel as if I am in an “arranged marriage.” We are clearly a great match but will have to learn to love and respect each other. As for who arranged it? That depends on your belief system – I am crediting the Universe.

And how is it going?  Never one to miss a metaphor, I thought about my annual visit to the beautiful labyrinth  at St. Mark’s Cathedral on New Year’s Eve.  Walking a labyrinth is all about metaphor.  From the moment I stepped onto the path into the maze in my stocking feet, everything I experienced and felt told me about how I engage in life.

There were moments when I felt hemmed in by the people coming toward me on the same path, as they left. I was afraid I would get lost and keep going round and round, never getting to the center. Sometimes I felt held back by the people in front who were moving too slowly and then felt both defensive and guilty about my need to get to the center so fast. Other times the path was open on all sides and I felt spacious and relaxed, able to breathe and take my time or move forward with more speed. When I got to the center, I stopped and allowed myself to gaze at the scene, really hearing the high clear voice of the soprano who was singing classic Christmas carols.  Had she been singing the whole time and I hadn’t listened?

I saw people sitting on the floor, willing to just stay and experience the first part of their journey. I thought about joining them and decided not to. I turned back, following the same way I had come but with more peace and acceptance.  

It seemed to me the way in and the way out are often the same but only differ in how we view them.

My new job provides me with the same kinds of personal challenges the labyrinth highlighted: patience and awareness of where I am and the judgments I have about how fast I should be going and what I think is getting in my way.

There isn’t a destination per se, but there is a way that I need to go along a variety of paths to reach goals that keep changing.  When I remember that managing my own inner story changed how I walked the labyrinth, I can catch myself when I fall back into fear and confusion. I can imagine space and time as allies and the people who are on my path with me as fellow travelers.

 


About the Author

Rebecca Crichton Has Written 40 Articles For Us!

I try to stay aware of one main concept: We see things through different lenses. We get caught in our own belief systems and most of us are pretty attached to being right. I am one of those inveterate Life Long Learners. I like new ideas, new experiences, new people, new challenges.
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