Lisa Levine wears a key around her neck that is inscribed with a single word: intentional.
“It’s the word for life,” Levine, a Seattle-based life coach, said recently. “Bringing awareness to what we’re doing, rather than sleepwalking through our lives.
“You’ve got to wake up!” she said. “Be awake in the life you’re in.”
To help that along, Levine has written a 102-page alarm clock called “Midlife, No Crisis: An Audacious Guide to Embracing 50 and Beyond.” The book is aimed at a female audience, but can be embraced by anyone looking to make change, and make the most of the second half of life.
“It’s a message of empowerment that you can turn your life around,” she said, “and be whatever you want.”
Levine will speak about the book at 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 5, in an online event sponsored by Third Place Books.
Like Levine, 57, the book is an upbeat, engaging volume of encouragement and life skills, laced with hard truths about hormones, nutrition and health.
She wrote the book as much for herself — the married mother of two college-age kids — as for women like her.
Just before she turned 50, Levine had a bit of a midlife crisis. She became obsessed with how old people were. While watching a movie, she would Google the actors’ ages, and noted people’s ages in conversations.
She realized that time was of the essence, and that she wanted “something more.”
So Levine left her job with the World Famous ad agency, was trained and certified as a life coach, started a website called The Audacious Life and learned “the infinite possibilities available to all of us.”
Those possibilities start, she said, when you stop to consider your own goals. It’s a skill that doesn’t come easily after years of seeing others through to theirs: children through school and off to college. Partners through career changes. Parents through aging. Friends through crises both personal and professional.
It never stops. But it could, Levine said.
“We’re so used to caring for everyone else that we don’t hear our own voices,” she said. “But they are there. The voices are there. You just have to make space, and inquire within.”
The book started on The Audacious Blog, which Levine launched when she started her coaching practice — not only so potential clients could get a sense of her, but also so they could think about what they wanted.
After a few years of coaching and writing, she was contacted by a publisher who wanted her to turn the blog into a book.
“Midlife, No Crisis” is intended to be a gift for someone turning 50, or anyone looking to explore the possibilities that lie in the next part of their lives.
“It’s for all women, but specifically for those who are hitting what they feel is a midlife crisis. I want to help turn it around.”
The chapters are small, no longer than 1,000 words apiece — for a reason.
“When you’re in a crisis, it’s easy to get overwhelmed,” Levine said. “But this you can do. Keep it by your bedside and there is always going to be some nugget for you.”
The book is broken into chapters that explore various topics: the value of community, how to make a fresh start, how to silence your inner critic.
The chapters also include quotes from women ranging from Gloria Steinem to Ayn Rand to Dita Von Teese, and boxes of useful data, such as a 20-year study that found that people aged 40-61 who ramped up their exercise to seven hours a week reduced their chance of dying — most specifically from cardiovascular disease — by 35%.
Each ends with a box titled “Ask Yourself,” with a question. (Whose opinion really matters to you? Why do they make the cut?)
The questions are there because the reader may not know what she — or he — is searching for, Levine said. Which is common.
“A majority of women say they don’t know what they want,” she said. “They just know that they’re not happy and they’re not sure what will change that.”
In that sense, she said, “Midlife, No Crisis” is for anyone who doesn’t know what the next step is — but have a feeling they want to follow.
“Follow the feeling if you don’t know what the end result is,” Levine said, “and you will get there.”
It’s also for those who think they don’t have the time to explore life’s possibilities.
“Examine that belief and take that apart,” Levine said, “Wiggle it like a loose tooth and remove it at the roots.
“Then find something that is truer and focus on that instead.”
In 2015, she added health coaching to her life coaching practice, noting that it is a body/mind partnership.
“It’s not just one or the other,” she said. “We’re so in our heads that we need to check in with our bodies.”
After struggling with her own age milestones, Levine has become what she calls an “age activist.”
Part of the reason we feel we might be in crisis, she said, is because of the cultural mythology around age. Terms like “over the hill,” and the idea that “50 is great if you’re a bottle of wine.”
People talk about “aging gracefully,” and Levine asks why.
“I love grace as much as the next woman, but that’s not going to be my tagline,” she said. “That’s for someone else. I prefer ‘aging audaciously.’ That’s for me.”
In Japan, for example, a postmenopausal woman is considered to be in her “second spring.” In Brazil, by contrast, the word for “hot flash” is closely related to the word that means “shame.”
“One blossoms, the other is in shame,” Levine said. “How can we turn that around?”
Now that we are living so much longer, she said, midlife is “this golden opportunity.”
“You might need reading glasses,” Levine said, “but you’re infinitely clearer on who you are.”
She hopes the book helps readers forge a path that begins with thinking of themselves, their goals, and how they want to spend the rest of their lives. Doing so is not an indulgence. It is something they have earned and deserve.
“What’s more important than freeing yourself from constraints?” Levine said. “Thinking it’s a luxury to spend time wondering what we might need or want or feel is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.”