Navigating Life's Shake-ups

Guest Blog Post-Happy New Year…Or Is It?

I was reading today that a group of guys around the globe are trying to decide whether to keep the “leap second” or get rid of it.  The leap second is similar to the leap year, and apparently every few years the “timekeepers” have been sticking in an extra second in order to keep all of our electronic devices in sync with Old Sol.  It makes sense, I guess.  Modern measurements of time are atomic in nature and very precise, but they aren’t strictly based on the Earth’s rotational cycle, so over time, the two diverge.  But since some vital equipment and processes rely on coordination and split-second timing, this is how they ensure that everything works and the sun doesn’t rise at high noon someday.

That reminded me of something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.  That is, how for centuries humans have created systems to measure time, many of which just don’t jive with nature or our natural rhythms. Every year I go through a post-New Year’s funk, and every year I have to remind myself that, despite what the calendar says, January 1st is not the beginning of the year.  It really isn’t the time for fresh starts and new beginnings. It’s the dead of winter, for goodness sake!  And winter is a period when things in the natural world are dormant, underground, hibernating, storing up, and waiting for spring, which is the time for new beginnings.

But it’s hard not to get seduced by all the New Year’s hype about resolutions, clean slates and new leaves.  We start expecting things to be different – and usually better – than they were on December 31st.  We also put a lot of pressure on ourselves to act and feel differently than we did just a few weeks ago.  It’s particularly deceiving living here in beautiful Austin, Texas, where today the sun is shining and it’s 70 degrees outside. It’s tempting to think that winter is over and it’s time for the wildflowers to start blooming and for all of us to feel renewed.  But it isn’t, they aren’t and we might not.  So the message to myself is simply, Be patient.  Spring will come.  Really.  Although depending on what the timekeepers decide, it may take an extra second to arrive!

DISCLAIMER & A REQUEST:  The above is from my perspective living in the northern hemisphere.  I’d be interested to hear what people in the southern hemisphere – where it is currently the middle of summer – think about this.  So if you know anyone in Australia, South America, South Africa, forward this to them and ask them to comment!

Guest Blogger-Pat Grigadean


Sharing Stories

The Snow Globe Project was created with the purpose of sharing stories and supporting women whose flakes are swirling.  I recently came across this article that included a couple of examples of stories that were uplifting.  The article was Research Paper: It’s never too late. Coaching Women Over Fifty – A Force To Be Reckoned With.  Here are examples of two stories:

Julie was a librarian for 17 years and was let go due to downsizing. At first Julie thought sheʼd better start looking right away for another librarian job. She got an offer, yet through coaching, realized she didnʼt want to take the offer. Instead, she took the summer off and her real passion began to emerge – education. A fresh new turn showed up: she began blogging about education.

… Nicole, mother of a middle-aged man. The son was engaged to be married, yet would not respond to Nicoleʼs emails and request to visit him and his fiancée. Nicole felt hurt and came for coaching. During coaching, she discovered that her son was very much under the sway and influence of the fiancée and he was afraid of losing the fiancée, because she felt threatened by the mother. Nicole had virtually no communication with her son, except for a wedding invitation. Nicole did not want to go. Lynn and Nicole discussed fear and love: the two basic human emotions. Lynn asked Nicole “What would love do?” Nicole replied, “Love would go to the wedding.” That is what Nicole did.

Can you name a situation where you would say your flakes are swirling?

Snowflakes that Stay on your Nose and Eyelashes

There are so many examples of life events that “shake one’s snow globe”.  Here is a touching video about loosing a friend to a disease and how “snowflakes” were incorporated into the story.  Click here to watch.

Snow Globe Moments

I think that I have been shaking my Snow Globe for some time now without knowing it.  But over time, I have become more aware.  Sometimes I would notice a gradual shift in my perspective – and sometimes it would come in bursts.  Snow Globe moments, if you will.

I remember one a couple of years ago.  I was sitting in a meeting with a particularly annoying person.  He was not going to help me in the way I had hoped – but that wasn’t the problem.  People can only do what they can do.  It took me a while to figure out why he was getting under my skin…but he gave me a lot of time to think it through because his monologue went on and on and on…and on…..

It finally occurred to me that he meant well.  He was sharing what he thought were his gifts of wisdom.  But it was, in fact, just a long-winded, self-indulgent condescending lecture by someone who had never built anything, and never met a payroll — yet there he was self-basting for all to see.

Early in the meeting, I did what I have always done in these settings.  I assumed that he knew more than I did and I sat there – even taking notes.  Then I looked across the table at him and I was struck by a single, critical reality:  I didn’t care.  I didn’t care what he said, or what he thought, or what he did.  He held no significant role for me or my organization. His assessment of my work or my future was a meaningless waste of time.

It was a completely freeing moment.

I put my pen down.  I smiled for the first time all afternoon.  I wasn’t rude.  I let him finish and then shook his hand, walked him to the door – and took a solemn vow to never allow another empty suit to waste another minute of my time.

I never would have seen it when I was 30.  I have come to love my Snow Globe moments.

Four Lunches and a Funeral

A couple of years ago I had lunch with a series of friends. There was nothing dramatic about it – no grand plan afoot. None of these friends knew each other. It was just a haphazard series of lunches with buddies who I have gotten to know over the years. I sat with my first friend and over salad she announced that she was sick of Washington DC, and that she was moving to Asia. It was an extraordinary decision. She had no prior connections to Asia – but there she was in her 50th year – ready for an adventure. She wanted to work for an NGO and make a difference.

In response to my plea to “catch me up” with her life, my second pal announced that she was leaving her tenured position of almost 30 years and focusing on developing some strategies to help women garment workers on the global level. I was struck by the coincidence and I proceeded to tell her about my previous lunch with another friend who had hit mid-life and was make some similarly dramatic changes.

In the third lunch, I listened, slightly stunned, as my friend announced that she was leaving her husband and starting a new life.

By the fourth lunch I was almost hesitant to ask, “what’s new?” And, my fourth friend stepped up like all the others. She had made a lot of money in her career and she was walking away and taking on a role in the social sector.

Holy cow.

The lunches were punctuated by a funeral where a series of eulogies underscored what we all knew – our friend had died too young. But one story stood out to me. One person told about her plan to make a major change and do something she loved with the back half of her life. She was evidently really fired up to make the big jump, but now she wouldn’t get to do that.

So I started wondering about the pattern I thought I was seeing. I started asking friends about it. Their responses were remarkable. Some had dreams, some had actual plans; some were huge and dramatic, some were modest. They were not the garden variety – buy-a-sports-car-and-find-a-younger-man mid-life crises. These were different.

So I talked with my friend Norma – and we thought about it together. We decided that there really was something going on. Women were picking up their snow globes and shaking them – in big ways and small. We wanted to start a dialogue about that.

So let’s start the conversation — join us in The Snow Globe Project. Tell us your stories. Share your plans. Jump in.

Introducing The Snow Globe Project

While living in Washington, DC between 2005-2010, Kyle Zimmer and I met through our work in education.  Our conversations would often inevitably evolve to discussing how “challenging” but promising life was during our mid-years.  We shared stories of how so many of our friends were going through the same emotions.  We agreed that the previous generation is not able to advise us on how to navigate life in the 21st century.  So while I was in China for a one and a half-year sabbatical, Kyle reached out to me and suggested we bring in more women into the conversation of navigating this time in our lives by starting a social media platform called “The Snow Globe Project”.  BRILLIANT!  So here we are, almost 2 years after the initial idea developed.


A powerful phenomenon is gathering steam: Snow Globing. In their middle years, an increasing number of women’s lives are shaken up like snow globes – they are going through changes in their relationships, their careers, their lifestyle choices, their geography, their health, their financial stability – and so much more. Some of these women are going back to school, starting their own business or taking a break to think about their next steps – but none of them are running away. They are taking on some of societies’ biggest challenges or they are taking the chance to do something important for themselves and others.


The Snow Globe Project (TSGP), proposes to provide a social media platform to unite and harness the power of Snow Globers (women whose lives have been “shaken” up) from around the world to share their stories, enjoy their transitions and support each other.

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