Waking Up Mid-Life
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Starting Over; Tragedy and Life Changes
Tragedy can bring great changes, awareness, and new beginnings. I love saying, "We would not know happiness, if we did not know sadness." We have to consider the other side of tragedy. The chance to start over, which implies renew, fresh, chance, and
- Self-help Satire; How To Kick Your Own Ass
The fact that I have no qualifications makes me adequately qualified to write a self-help book titled "How To Kick Your Own Ass", because essentially that's what self-help is. You assume you need help and before you know it, you've read your first se