Midlife Strategies

“Blessed with the Gift of Midlife”: A Life Coach’s Personal Awakening After Grief

Around the time she hit midlife, life and career coach Deb Johnstone faced loss, divorce and a reinvention of the self. She now helps other women cope and heal.

By Kay Newton

On the face of it, Deb Johnstone’s life couldn’t get better. She lives in a two-bedroom apartment a minute’s walk from the beach in Cairns in tropical Far North Queensland. She has her life partner and two grown sons close by, one baby grandson and another due soon.

And yet, it was not very long ago that the 57-year-old underwent tremendous life changes that left her transformed. Reflecting on those experiences, she realised each twist and turn had a purpose, and decided to help others as a transformational life, business and career coach. And this month, she is all set to launch her first Women Reinventing Midlife summit online.

Born in the UK, Deb migrated to Australia at 25. “My parents found the distance unbearable after the birth of my first child and they followed me out. It was wonderful to have my parents with me but within a matter of months, my mum discovered her breast cancer had metastasized into her bones. In less than 12 months she was gone. She was just 51,” she narrates.

Two years later, Deb’s husband’s business went into liquidation and they lost their home. They relocated to Far North Queensland with their two sons. It wasn’t long afterwards that their marriage ended in divorce.

“The combination of my mum’s death together with the relocation had a devastating effect on our family. I didn’t see my dad for 15 years,” she shares. “He passed away in 2019. It was traumatic for me. He was my hero and he was gone. And with him went my family foundation and my identity as I knew it.”

Grief meant Deb spent a lot of time reflecting on the past. “I thought about my mother and the unfairness of her early passing. That led me to question my own life path. I lost motivation, lacked energy and no longer felt needed. My confusion turned into a lack of purpose and clarity on where to go from here,” she shares.

Deb, who had started her own  coaching practice in 2012, noticed that around 40 percent of her client base were women travelling the midlife path. She felt an intuitive nudge that turned into an undeniable force she could no longer ignore.

“It seemed that each conversation I had with women of my age contained a message. Friends who were lacking purpose, articles I read about midlife and conversations with women at my yoga group. I saw evidence everywhere that I needed to take the step I had been avoiding. Through reflections of my mother, I realised that I had been blessed with the gift of midlife. I knew it was important for me to live it to the best I could – for both of us,” says Deb, who went on to build a new community, ‘The Empowered Midlife Woman’.

Midlife women are wise and thrive when supported in a likeminded community. Deb’s summit is for midlife women who yearn to learn from successful transitional stories of others. Expert speakers will be sharing tips and resources to enable listeners to thrive in this second phase of life. The first global online summit on July 27, 2020, will talk about how to find vitality, purpose and clarity to thrive after the kids leave home.

Says Deb: “Midlife transitions happen more than once. I’m embracing this new phase and I hope this summit helps you embrace yours.”

Sign up for Deb’s summit here.

First published in eShe’s July 2020 issue

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