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Waking Up Mid-Life

Updated on October 5, 2011

How I arrived at midlife in my mid-30's

This isn't a hub about how to sleep better or wake up refreshed after 40. It's something a little more personal to me. I'm 36, maybe not totally considered mid-life yet, but close enough. Eventually you wake up one day and realize there were/are so many things you want to do or never got to do. Perhaps it's too late, maybe not, but it really starts to haunt you around this age.

A good friend the other day said I should start a blog about my struggles and triumphs of raising a child/being a mother while having a disability/illness (Rheumatoid Arthritis). I only thought about it for a split second when I knew what I have to offer people, in terms of what my illness has taught me, is exactly what people don't want to hear.

I woke up beyond my age when I got an illness, arthritis of all things. Tell me that doesn't make you feel old! Two years ago, I had to start viewing life from an older person's perspective; taking more naps, taking more breaks, watching life in slow motion, doing much less, revising my goals to fit my lifestyle. All of that made me literally wake up midlife overnight.

If that sounds depressing, don't think that way at all; most of my experience has been a blessing.I stay home with my daughter, I work part-time at home on my schedule, I wake up at 9 or 10 am when most people are at work hating their life. Since I was thrown right into the middle of midlife, I want to discuss some things about I've discovered.

Fast asleep

The whole world is devising plans to move faster, do more at once, and be better than who they are today. Admirable, but impossible for me. Even if my illness went away completely I would never return to my old life of moving faster, doing more, etc.

If I wrote that blog my friend suggested, it would literally be a flop. My experience has taught me to do less, and take pride in the little things. Now who, nowadays, wants to accomplish less? Sure people want to meditate or get spiritual, but they fit that into their busy lifestyle like some other appointment. I'm not talking about slowing down for a meditation or yoga session half hour a day, I'm tlaking about your whole day being slower. Whoa! No way, all of you are saying.

The good news is most people fair well in dire circumstances and can come out better as a person. It's the human spirit. The bad news is people don't wake up until there is tragedy. I know a couple of cancer survivors, one being my aunt who had breast cancer and these people might be the only ones that I visibly see appreciating life. I see them get stuck in ruts of course, but I see the joy for life, the gift of life in them. They are awake and it truly makes everyone else look fast asleep. Isn't that odd to say that as fast as everyone moves in this busy world, people simply look asleep to me.

My assumption is that later in life, People start to wake up and have a different perspective. This is what midlife has done for me and is one of the plus sides to it.

Midlife wisdom

Sometimes, by mid-life, we've experienced some hardships. Sometimes this wakes us up and often times we wait for it to be over, then go back to sleep in a trance with the rest of the world on autopilot. In spite of my illness and learning to do less, appreciate more, I fall back into the old habit of trying to keep up. I am given a great amount of energy one day and I spend it like a happy gambler in Vegas. I've realized lately that even if I am given that gift of energy once in a while, I should still conserve some, spend it wisely, perhaps take a nap. It is not healthy to use every ounce of what you've got, expanded and multiplied by 10.

It's true that mid-life doesn't entitle us to knowing a whole heck of a lot about life yet. No, we definitely don't have it figured out by a long shot just because we reach a certain age. Wisdom is hard-earned, not just an age we reach. Now is the time to go ahead and have a good hardy laugh at that notion you had when you were 20- you remember the 5-yr plan or the 10-yr plan? Midlife wisdom comes with realizing not much goes as planned and not much turned out the way you planned.

Midlife women and mothers

Women are getting married later in life, accomplishing more (there's that word again. More isn't always better), and having kids mid-life too. Our world has changed drastically and we may have small children well into our 40's. Yours truly will be having a second baby when I am almost 37. Not a big deal nowadays? Tell that to my body. It is a time to take care of ourselves to be around for our children.

So what does it mean to be a woman midlife? More juggling, more expectations, but many women begin learning the art of saying "no"...hopefully. No, goes a long way and I notice women as they get older are better at speaking their minds and not being afraid of "no". We want to be everything to everyone, but something about getting older compels us to know that we have tried for so long and it is an insurmountable feat- we don've give up, we just know better now.

For many women, appearance and sexual confidence (or lack of) play a huge role in our midlife. Lines, white hairs, sagging, more things necessary to keep us appealing. We live in a youth driven society so being a woman and being midlife can feel like we've disappeared off the radar. It's a great time to focus on who we are, our strengths, etc. As far as attractiveness, the one thing I've learned about men who like older women is their attitude, their knowledge about life, and independent.

Mid-life men

Please don't sue me for making a wisecrack here, but men in midlife remind me of teenage girls, very concerned about external factors. But honestly what I've seen is that they go through a phase of trying to be who they used to be, then move onto a glorious phase of life where they think things through a bit more, settle down, reflect on life, and have a lot of wisdom to offer.

The term midlife crisis originated about 50 years ago and applied to someone between 40-60 who went through a extreme shift in their midlife, sometimes caused by self-doubt and thoughts of the imminent aging process. Midlife theories were first brought up by Sigmund Freud. In general, about 10% of people go through this "crisis". But with the surge of self-help books, it was popularized and often applied to men who had affairs and drove sports cars. it is true that the midlife crisis can last much longer in men than women.

Midlife crisis has become somewhat of a joke and also less relevant with men and women interchanging roles in life. This time in a man's life is perfect for being viewed as a challenge and stimulus for seeking a deeper understanding of things (yourself and people) on a deeper level. Alongside your hair that won't stop growing in all the wrong places, it's nice to know that personal growth is definitely a benefit for aging men.

New goals for the last half

You may not have all the answers by mid-life, but you have enough time and experience behind you to be able to reflect. Reflection, in my opinion, is the best free tool given to mankind.

  • Be honest with yourself about happiness. Are you pretending to be happy so that it appears you are to everyone else, but truly you're lying to yourself. What makes you happy other than things you accumulate or buy? Some people are trying to chase dreams they had at 20, but is that really what you want now?
  • Start thinking about what you can do for future generations. Most of our youth is spent being incredibly self-serving. Change this for the latter part of your life. Is there something you can do now that will have an impact on the world tomorrow?
  • Get involved on the community level or higher, but take an active interest in politics. They have such a huge influence in your life. Don't be blind to what is going on around you- know state level policies, write your congressional leaders. Don't be apathetic when it comes to knowing what is going on in the White House.
  • Look Forward, not backward. It's OK to revise old goals or tell stories of your earlier days, but look forward to what midlife and beyond has to offer. Don't view it asa one-way ticket to the grave. Many people report having better lives and enjoying more in their golden years.
  • Focus your energy-spend it wisely. By mid-life some people notice a drop in energy, often because they've let their health go and it's catching up or they're pulled in multiple directions at once or they have negative influences or people in their life. Either way, focus your energy on the biggest bang for your buck. This is what I do because of my illness and I must live this way. Most people don't, but it would exponentially help them prepare for the last half of life. Maybe one less argument and not letting the little things get to you anymore.
  • Find an active hobby. It seems exercise is just another one of those appointments we fit into our lives. Of course I am all for slowing down, but staying active as well. If it's an active hobby then you should enjoy it and stick with it.


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    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      THoughtforce~ thank you for yoru words and inspiration as well. I enjoy your comments.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      I like your goals in this hub Izettl! And I agree that it is another period in life that is ahead of us when we reach or feel that we are in mid-life. It is now we can use all the great things we have learned and make our wisdom useful:) I love your advice to look forward, not backwards and the great thing is that there is so much more to learn and so much more to do! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, to read this gives me inspiration and a positive mind. Lets have a great second half!


    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks Kenneth. I'll give you my number one tip; be yourself which you already are and don't worry not everyone will love you, but a lot will. I just figure I'm some people's cup of tea and not others.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear izettl . . .that is so kind of you to say. I find your writing style, and personality, geniune and so real. So glad to follow you and REALLY GLAD that you are following me. Please feel free to email me with tips, suggestions and ways that I can be as good of a writer as you. Thanks, KENNETH

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks Kenneth and back at you. I find your perspective in your hubs very refreshing.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear izettl . . .YOU are a PLEASURE To know and read. I wish I had half of your talent. Honest. Please keep up the fantastic work. And let me hear from you often. Sincerely....KENNETH

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Kenneth~ so nice to meet you and glad you got to read a couple of my hubs. Thank you for the nice comments too.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear izettl...VOTED UP AND AWAY on this GREAT Read. I had read and was commenting another great hub you had, one about the stats of cheating and extramarital affairs, and was in mid-comment when my page skipped to another hub...go figure. What I was saying was that YOU are an amazing writer. And I enjoy your work to much and am honored to be a follower. I do not take your hubs for granted. Sincerely, Kenneth Avery, from a rural town, Hamilton, in northwest Alabama, another Mayberry like on the Andy Griffith Show...Peace to you.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      lynda~ well I see the benefit of an older man- also I read your hub where you mention that. Your husband in his 40's sounds very much like my husband who is turning 40 soon. I try to learn from my older friends and get ahead of the game so to speak. I see what is important to them in their older age and how they wished they learned that earlier so I try to see it from their eyes. And having some physical constraints because of my arthritis has made me feel a bit older than my peers but luckier to see beyond career, social status, and material things. Thanks for sharing some of your story too.

    • lyndapringle profile image

      Lynda Pringle 6 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Thank you for such an informative blog and congratulations on your pregnancy. I like that you are a realist who understands that the dreams one had as a 20 year old may have no place when in middle age or beyond. There is a lot to be said about forming newer, more short term, realistic goals at our age and living totally in the present. We don't have the luxury of a long expanse of time anymore so it is imperative that we prioritize our values. I notice that what people in their 60s and 70s seem to value are friends, family and community. That's it. Everything else is secondary.

      My husband is older than I at 60 and there has been an incredible paradigm shift in his character from when I met him when he was 41 to now. Back then he was focused on career and what I perceived to be shallow values such as looks, weight and fitting into society in general. He has sloughed all that and now works to earn a good living but it does not overwhelm him. Spirituality has replaced competitiveness and the somewhat shallow man I married has been replaced by a man with convictions and character who values the inner beauty of a person.

      My mother is now 75. Such things as social approval, financial success, academic achievement, etc. were the pinnacle of importance for her. Now she only values family and friends. All those external wants have fallen by the wayside. She takes comfort in her family and community and does not worry about anything else.

      As she puts it, we are living on borrowed time and we would all do well by living in the present and remembering that the sum of a life well lived is the love we give and we get.

      P.S.: But I will never exercise. I hate it! LOL.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      THanks so much for your support and kind comment MPG Narratives.

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I've been having a mid-life crisis all my life, lol.

      Seriously, take care of yourself izettl cause your health is everything. I love your attitude to slowing down and this hub shows how positive you are.

      I too have had to slow down because of health issues but I'm happy with that cause I get to enjoy more of what I want, like reading great hubs.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      femmeflashpoint~ thanks so much for your support and wonderful comment. I probably wouldn't have gone slow and tried this route if I wasn't forced to. I used to do everything fast too.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      TH~ yes, we a re in similar circumstances. We had to totally change our outlook and life quickly. We were literally forced into midlife kicking and screaming- lol.

      Rob~ I love the idea of a new normal. You had a good midlife crisis. I wouldn't have turned to writing if I wasn't forced to slow down a bit. I heard an awesome quote the other day: "If you stop living the life you planned to have then you can start living the life you were meant to have."

      Grace~ I really identify with you about being mad at not accomplishing more. In a way, hubpages helped me to feel like I accomplished things just by writing a hub, but I still have that nagging feeling at the end of the day and the tally of what I didn't get done. It's like hte lottery, waking up not knowing how much energy and capabilities you've been given that day. THanks so much for stopping by.

    • graceomalley profile image

      graceomalley 6 years ago

      Health issues also made me slow down - and i was a real driver before. It took some unlearning to not be angry with myself for not accomplishing as much. I very much agree with your observations on the rushed-yet-asleep crowd.

      Having finite energy makes planning necessary. You must work smart, since working hard is no longer an option.

    • profile image

      femmeflashpoint 6 years ago

      Izetti - I soooo hate to go slow, lol. However, your hub presents really good reminders to have a look around, find the interesting things, and take the time to appreciate them. I've been blessed with good health for a good while now. It hasn't always been so. I think with my zooming, I'm making up for lost time from way back when, when I couldn't.

      I admire you for the adjustments you make because often adjusting isn't easy. But, you've brought so many positive thoughts to adjustment, that it puts it in a whole new light.

      The hub was very inspiring!

    • tom hellert profile image

      tom hellert 6 years ago from home


      holy F-in crap- i am in the same exact boat- not the arthritis but the strokes n blindness putts me in the area of your current state as well- I can still do some things- just not everything and I cant do things like i used to- your right ypu have to change how you look at your capabilities- it has taken me a couple of years to get things stright....great job


    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 6 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Another thoughtful, insightful and introspective hub, Izetti. Bravo. I'm a bit older than you and I went though my mid-life crisis when I quit my full time job to be a struggling writer. I guess everyone gets to the point when they realize that they aren't a kid anymore and it's time to evaluate life before its too late.

      Trying to recapture the past is never a good idea but creating a "new normal" can lead to a new outlook. There's always a future.

      Wonderful hub,


    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, midlife crept up on me and wacked me on the backside! lol seriously though, I do understand what you mean about an illness, I suddenly got a bad thyroid a few years ago, really high, then really low, and even though it seems to be balanced now, I do get tired more easily, and have slowed down, in my mind I am thirty, in body 52, I do lack confidence now though, and need a make over! but we do have more wisdom, but don't know everything, does anybody? I wonder, I think we do know a lot, but theres always someone out there that surprises us, take care nell

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      MsDora~ Thank you for the nice comment. Writing this certainly help me come think about midlife. Best of luck to you in the last half.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Anaya Baker~ I think you've made a great observation too about people who "attempt" to slow down and end up filling the day up anyway. I have to admit, taking off from working a regular job and staying home and simplifying things has often made other people think I'm available any time and can do anything at any time because I don't have a set schedule so learning to say no has saved me from getting too busy again.

      Pamela~ at first they doctors thought I had lupus and I did some reading up on it so I can imagine your life too. you bring up a good point about filling time with positive things. THis is so true. I actually had to drop some people in my life that were draining. I really felt like I had no choice, but it was a good choice.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      THoughtsandwiches~ lol. I say we need someone like you around til at least age 94- you make people laugh! Thanks for stopping by.

      Mike~ I really like what you have to say about wisdom- couldn't have said it better myself. That's why it's good to stop and have time to reflect so you don't make same mistakes. I feel like I'm retired...seriously, but actually it's great most of the time. Of course thats strange to say because I'm expecting a baby, and most retired peopel aren't- lol.

      Jim~ You're talking rock climbing and I'm talking rocking chairs- lol. Take care of yourself too.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 6 years ago from The Caribbean

      I'm in my last half and your suggestions for that period are very good. All the best to you and all others who are mid-way. Hubs like this help you get through okay.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      I don't think of you as in mid-life yet since I am so much older! I have lived a life with lupus and some other related diseases and spent some time grieving over what I couldn't do anymore rather than focusing on what I could still do. I think your suggestions are very good. I have found that I eat healthier and try to get enough rest which isn't easy due to pain, but the other hours I try to fill with more positive accomplishments. I love the "look forward not back" as that is a major key to peace of mind and happiness. Great hub.

    • Anaya M. Baker profile image

      Anaya M. Baker 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Loved your observations! I think its so true, the needing to slow down for once instead of constantly piling on more and more. (Says me that's awake at 4am reading hubs instead of getting a good night's sleep). One thing I've noticed with myself though, and some of my other midlife-ish friends, after making that decision to slow things down, work from home or cut down on hours, stay home with kids, move to a rural area, etc. is that the increase in free time often gets filled up with other things, so we slow it down, then pick right back up with other things we don't even recognize as being stressors. not just an easy decision to make, but something we really have to work toward! Kudos to you for writing such a beautiful hub, but also in your dedication to what seems to me to be a very meaningful, rewarding, and inspiring life.

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 6 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      Good stuff sis. You've got to double down on taking care of yourself, and I know you will. Shout out to Thomas!

      I fell rock climbing and I'm pretty busted up, so I'm going to go lay back down. I didn't want the hospitol, but Doc and meds tomorrow. Maybe I SHOULD grow up. Naaa .. that's just the pain making me wimp out. I'll be better tomorrow and hate myself for saying that.


    • profile image

      Old Poolman 6 years ago

      Laura, this was a totally interesting hub. I got through my mid-life crisis so well, I can't even remember having it. Now I am in some stage of my old-life crisis. The only good thing I have found that comes with old age is wisdom. Now wisdom doesn't mean one is any smarter than they used to be, it just means they are able to remember some of the mistakes they made and said "Damn, don't believe I will ever do that again."

      Life should be slower than we live it now. All of our modern inventions have created a high speed world and we have adapted ourselves to this speed and insane schedules. We would all be healthier and happier if we slowed down and had no real schedule. Sleep when your tired, eat when your hungry, and do what you want when you want to do it. Crap, I just described retirement.

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

      ThoughtSandwiches 6 years ago from Reno, Nevada


      I am doing the math ('s not a pretty process) and I don't believe that what I am going through is mid-life...I mean...I'm means I would live to 94?? Yeah...count me out...that's a long time.

      Perhaps I am having a two/thirds life crises?? Is that a thing? Anyway...I am certainly glad Jim gave me the 411 on ya...I look forward to your future endeavors.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Think of it if you were told to slow down, then you do much less than you're used to, then you're told to slow down even more. Not easy for our personality types. I do things without realizing I am doing so much, but I've always had the mentality that if I can do them, then I do them. But I pay for it later right now,especially with this pregnancy. The Docs said if things get worse then it's bed rest. Cna you believe that. SO I'm like one step above bed rest right now. Geesh. But this won't be forever, a few more months. And yes I have a water bottle at all times like glue stuck to me.

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 6 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      Okay cool. So are you staying hydrated and taking care of yourself? You can't mess around with this stuff Sis.


    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks Jim. I think you may be the exception to midlife- you're stil going strong and I know slowing down ain't your cup of tea. But i saw you in that pic with Mike, lounging outside on the porch having a beer or something. You just know when and where to put your energy.

      Yes, I followed and have read some of thoughtsandwiches. Good stuff!

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 6 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      You obviously don't have a clue what you're talking about .... AAAhh Haaaaa! Gotcha!

      This is good stuff to think about. I have to let it sink in a bit though. I agree .. that which doesn't kill you makes you better. Honestly, I guess I just never grew up Laura. Life has been one ongoing midlife crissis I guess.

      You've adjusted to to what's been thrown at you well. You know I'm always pushing you to push yourself harder. I'm not as sure as I was that is good. That's what I have to let sink in I guess.

      In any case, you're one bad ass, and what ever you do, you do well.

      Oh, give Thought Sandwiches a follow. He's one of us.



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