According to Marianne Williamson, an internationally acclaimed lecturer and bestselling author, midlife is not a new stage of life but one which many are now approaching with fresh eyes. We've all heard the bad news about growing old — having less energy, being disappointed, and having to finally think about our own death. Whereas many are ready to shut down, others are gaining a new lease on life in midlife. Williamson takes this approach:

"Whomever it is you were born to be, whatever your soul was coded to accomplish, whatever lessons you were born to learn, now is the time to get serious and get going. The more seriously you take life, the more seriously life will seem to take you. . . . It's time to proactively reach beyond any predetermined formulas you or anyone else might have for what's 'possible' at this time in your life."

The point she is making here is that we need to each bless and transform our midlife experience, changing that experience by changing our thoughts about it.

Williamson is part of a generation that she claims partied too long and matured very late. Now it is time to grow up and accept the responsibilities of midlife: "It's time for us to become elders and caretakers of this precious planet, not just in name but in passionate practice. Until such time as God calls us home, we should make of this world the home of our dreams."

But to take up this mission, we must reframe several things. First of all, slowing down is not a bad thing but a sign that we are diving deeper into that which matters. Letting go is a good thing for it means that we can discard ideas and habits and possessions which no longer are needed for the journey. Midlife is a time when we can downplay the uproarious voice of the ego and tune up the grandeur of our spirit. A mission is unfolding before us: "Individually and collectively, we're being challenged by the universe to match our talents with compassion, our intelligence with humility, and our intellect with wisdom. The grace period of youth is over for all of us. We are children no longer. We're at the front of the line."

Williamson wants middle-agers to live enchanted lives and to make a place for new possibilities: "Miracles are available in any moment when we bring the best of ourselves forward." One miracle is to end the blame game and to take full responsibility for our lives and what they have become. Another miracle is not allowing the opinions of others to determine how we feel about ourselves. A final miracle is almost too good to be true: "When you're young, you hold on tightly to love in the hopes that it will last forever. When you're older, you know you don't need to hold on because it does last forever. People come and they sometimes go. But love remains, if it remains in you."

Midlife is a time to see that any moment can be one of spiritual practice. Showing love and respect for others, doing a small act of service, empathizing with others, we each do our part in changing the world in small increments. And finally, midlife brings us closer to the idea of own death and that is a good thing: "The realization of our own mortality creates a sense of urgency to use life wisely, to appreciate it fully, to love more deeply while we're still here and we still can." So there you have it — Marianne Williamson's invitation to a new and improved midlife based on spiritual insights and high hopes.