I experienced my own mid-life crisis at 33 and for the next 15 years transitioned from entrepreneur to college student to helpmate and homemaker to entrepreneur to unemployed to employed to unemployed to commissioned sales to employed to unemployed to NOW. Quite a circuitous route!

Yes a plan helps, but sometimes meeting our future takes a leap of faith. I started a blog as a leap of faith, and I wanted a career change. Did I know for a fact that there were thousands of men who might benefit from my experience in the trenches? No, but my senses told me that many men wished that they were better understood. Men often are misunderstood, lack support for their decisions, and go unnoticed for their contributions to family and community.

When I “retired” from the advertising world, I remembered thinking, “Now I know why men die after they retire.” I lost my moorings. Even though closing my business was a conscious decision, I was so identified with a fast-paced, competitive world that I lost my sense of self.

Five years later, I launched a small-press publishing company and thought that I had finally found my calling. That venture aborted just on the cusp of major national exposure. It took me four years and a mental breakdown to recover.

But sometimes what we perceive to be a “breakdown” is really a “breakthrough.”

What I’ve learned is that we can’t control anything. I can’t control a thing.

Think for a moment about Chinese handcuffs; the harder you pull, the stronger they bind you. The same is true with the mental and emotional confusion wrought from a breakdown. When we try to control our life, we will continue to muddle along. Instead, consider the possibility that by adapting to a new and changing reality, clarity and direction are yours for the asking.

The harder I pulled those handcuffs, the tighter they bound me to the old form. I couldn’t let go, until my life circumstances forced me to.

Men don’t have it easy in this world. Protecting and providing for your family, day in and day out, doesn’t garner much media attention. How do you protect your family from the unseen? How do you provide when the “old” economy reneges on its promises? Or steals your financial future?

Are you stressing and grinding out each day with no end in sight?

I know how you feel I (I’d been whipsawed by the gyrations of the auto industry.) I’ve felt that way myself (the never-ending anxieties of a mother.) And I’ve found that holding on doesn’t work. Today is the only day we have. I spent all that energy and emotion lamenting my fate, but I can’t say that it was wasted.

I came to realize that things happen in their own time. Lao-Tzu wrote, “Waiting is not empty hoping.” There is such a thing as timing. I needed to acquire more emotional tools and mental weapons to be prepared for unforeseen battles.

I forgot who I was for a while, but I never stopped striving and readying myself.

A day comes in every seeker’s life called the “dark night of the soul.” We cannot measure how long that day will last. Eventfully you emerge, and can say with confidence and clarity: I know who I am! That knowledge gives you the courage to act.

Let that be your anchor, not the “shoulds” of society or the expectation of others. Provide for and protect your family to the best of your ability. That’s all that’s required.

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