Q: Why did you write Rise & Shine?
A: There’s two reasons. First, I wanted to help those suffering the midlife crisis as I had. What so many at this stage of life don’t realize is that what they are going through is the greatest opportunity for profound personal growth in their entire lives. Sure, the midlife crisis is very challenging but there’s something incredibly beautiful on the other side of it. All the struggles are a call coming from deep within ourselves to discover the source of light we possess inside. Those who answer that call awaken to something which cures the midlife crisis and changes everything.
Which brings me to the second reason I wrote the book: The path of awakening is a profound transformational process, filled with serious challenges. It’s incredible to experience, but far from easy. These challenges can lead to major problems for the person awakening and to their families. I wanted to offer helpful advice for those on the journey, based on the many things that I learned along the way.
Q: What do you mean by the term “awakening”?
A: Each of us is born with a divine source of truth, wisdom, and love within us. It’s at our core, within our very essence. Some call it the soul; others the Higher Self. I refer to it in Rise & Shine as the Essential Self. It is the most essential part of us, who are at the deepest and truest level of our being.
An awakening is the discovery of this source inside. It’s an incredible revelation; it’s like nothing we’ve grown accustomed to experiencing in midlife! It is a spiritual, mystical experience: Our eyes are opened like never before and we find a deeper level of truth than we’ve realized exists. Our hearts and minds are opened, and our perspective of ourselves and life changes drastically.
An awakening is waking up to what we’ve always known and who we’ve always been deep down.
Q: Who is Rise & Shine for?
A: The book is for anyone going through a sustained period of deep spiritual longing, particularly those in midlife. And by “spiritual”, I don’t necessarily mean they’re searching for God. They’re just searching for…something, and probably don’t know what it is. That was the case for me. I sensed strongly deep down that there was something much greater that I was not experiencing. My life was quite good by most measures, yet I couldn’t shake the feeling there was something really important I had yet to discover. But what? I had no clue.
Midlife is the one stage of life where people go through the kind of suffering and searching that naturally leads to waking up. But the awakening only occurs if certain steps are taken. It’s sad that so many people don’t have an awakening at midlife because that’s what all that searching and longing is for! It’s to wake us up, transform us, and enable us to undergo the personal journey within that brings long-term purpose and fulfillment for the second half of life.
Although midlife is the most obvious time for an awakening, it’s certainly not the only time for it to happen. For some people, waking up occurs on the heels of tragedy. Examples include recovering from the ravages of addiction, the death of a loved one, or some other severe trauma. These folks have awakening forced upon them through serious circumstances and lots of pain. I feel Rise & Shine can help these people as well, although additional sources of help are strongly recommended to heal the pains of what they’re going through.
Q: What qualifies you as an authority on awakening?
A: My authority is based on the profound experience I’ve had. My midlife crisis came a bit early, as I approached my 40th birthday, but it was rough. I was feeling lost, frustrated, increasingly angry and desperate.
Incredibly, I had a profound breakthrough that changed everything. It didn’t happen suddenly in a profound flash, but through a process of cultivating a greater relationship with the inner “truer” part of myself. I didn’t follow any instructions out of a book, but rather forged my own path that brought incredible self-discovery, changes to myself and my life, and plenty of mistakes too. The awakening journey brings us into contact with the deepest parts of ourselves. Having undergone it for about seven years now, I’ve learned a few things that I believe can be of real value for those going through their own awakening.
Of course, my personal journey is far from over. The path of awakening has a beginning but no end. I have not reached a finish line, nor have I “killed my ego”, nor am I an all-wise guru. I’ve learned plenty and continue to do so. I am blessed to offer what I can for those it may help. I am currently in what I describe in the book as Stage 4 of awakening, or “The Awakening Life”, where I embrace the process of waking up as a day-to-day way of living and growing.
In terms of formal credentials, I’m a certified professional life coach who has been in practice helping others awaken for about four years.
Q: How did Rise & Shine evolve during the three years it took you to write it?
A: The book started as a guide for using a specific method – tarot – for self-awakening. Despite my initial resistance, tarot quickly became my personal favorite tool for awakening, and I set out to provide a guide for others to use it as well. A crucial chapter in that first version of the book explained why tarot was so effective as an intuitive tool. That chapter was the seed for Rise & Shine.
As the original book was nearing completion, I solicited feedback from a couple trusted friends. They both made a suggestion that my intuition was already telling me: I had actually written two books that would be made better if I split them. This was both a blessing and a curse. I was excited to have written two books, but I had to go back to the writing desk to split, rewrite, and edit them in a way that would serve each book.
I’m pleased with how it’s worked out. Rise & Shine is a concise manual for awakening, loaded with guidance that I feel is highly useful for anyone who is ready to awaken, or who is already undergoing the process. Plus, for the record, the guide for using tarot as a daily method of awakening is nearing completion.
Q: What advice do you have for people suffering a “midlife crisis”?
A: First, I suggest viewing this difficult period with a healthy perspective. What you are going through is completely normal, even though it doesn’t feel “normal” at all to you. The midlife transition is a universal stage of our development and a rite of passage. Try not to despair, but instead see this is as the greatest opportunity of your life to grow and develop like you never have before. I promise that it is.
Second, I do not recommend making big changes to your life, at least not for now. The behaviors most people associate with the midlife crisis are acts of desperation, made by good people going through a difficult time. People tend to live out the midlife crisis cliché by having an affair, or quitting their job, or developing addictions because they’re desperate to bring new meaning into their lives. Try to avoid these pitfalls, because there will be a far better time to make changes to your life, but in a much more healthy and mindful way.
Third, I suggest starting to cultivate greater mindfulness in your life. I remember in my midlife crisis feeling so rushed and impatient all the time. I was reluctant to just slow down and be consciously aware within any given moment. Truthfully, I didn’t even know this was an option! I just kept rushing to the next quick fix to keep my restless mind occupied: something to feed my head, something to buy, something to eat. It’s an insidious cycle that never addresses the real issue.
If this sounds familiar, I suggest making small changes to your lifestyle to gain greater presence and awareness. For example, spend less time staring at screens. Watch less television, spend less time on social media, and don’t obsess over the daily news cycle or checking your emails. Instead, go outside and take a walk. Sit and breathe for a few minutes sometimes. Start a journal. Allow yourself a few minutes to relax every day, because your intuition will begin to speak to you more, which is the very beginning of the awakening process.
Q: In Rise & Shine you identify various “traps of awakening.” Is there one you would name as the most particularly dangerous to those on the journey of waking up?
A: The process of awakening is awesome in the literal sense of the word. The source of light within us is extremely powerful and filled with truth and love. Developing a relationship with it feels amazing but creates some challenges in our lives that we have to deal with. These challenges are “traps of awakening” which can cause major problems if not handled carefully.
The one I most warn of is making severe or sudden changes to your life. The pains of our midlife crisis are like a dark cloud that follow us around all the time. We inadvertently get stuck focusing on the problems of our lives. It’s not our fault; it’s just the way the midlife crisis works.
Once we awaken, however, we see things much more clearly and with a bigger picture perspective. Suddenly we see all kinds of ways to make changes to our lives, and we’re excited to do so. It’s crucial to learn patience and care before making big or sudden changes that can have very real and serious consequences. Ironically, those who do not learn this lesson will find themselves having many of the same problems as those suffering the midlife crisis.
Q: Are there any prerequisites for awakening?
A: Yes and no. You don’t need to have been raised with any particular religious or spiritual beliefs or have had exposure to any philosophical concepts around enlightenment. Anyone can wake up who wants to badly enough.
Desire is the only prerequisite, but a very big one. We must really want to wake up. Awakening is a fundamental change to ourselves and our lives. There are demands and the process is not always easy and fun. Most people are generally content to live their lives asleep, continuously occupied by the various distractions that are all around us.
But for some, the pain and suffering get too bad to endure any longer. The distractions will no longer placate them and there is too great a need for something deeper, truer, greater. Whether it’s in midlife or through personal tragedy, some people become ready to awaken because there’s no other choice. This was the case for me. I like the way Eckhart Tolle puts it: “Some people awaken spiritually without ever coming into contact with any meditation technique or any spiritual teaching. They may awaken simply because they can’t stand the suffering anymore.”
Q: You do work with tarot cards. How does that relate to your book?
A: In Rise & Shine I identify various intuitive methods that can be used as tools for awakening. These time-tested methods – such as meditation and yoga, for example – naturally take us inward to access our source of truth and wisdom. When we use these methods regularly, with patience and commitment, they help us establish a trusted relationship with the essential part of ourselves. We don’t have to use all the intuitive methods to awaken, but we should identify and learn to practice at least one or two.
I have to admit, I was never a tarot user for the first 40 years of my life. I thought it was silly, quite frankly. Yet, once I actually started using it, tarot became my favorite tool for awakening. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it right from the outset, and how effective it was for helping me gain intuitive knowledge from deep within myself. To this day it’s a cornerstone of my personal daily spiritual practice, and I love teaching others how to use it for their own awakening.
Those interested to learn more are welcome to visit www.TarotAwakenings.com.
Rise & Shine: A Guide for Experiencing Your Midlife Awakening is now available in paperback and eBook formats. To purchase from Amazon.com, please follow this link.