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Embracing Mid-Life Series – Part 1

midlife

I’ve been writing about midlife for about eight years and have been living it longer than that. In this series, I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned about embracing all the good stuff of midlife and living well into our 80s and beyond.  

My mother’s generation grew older thinking that their time of retirement from working would their “golden years”. Here’s a quote on that topic from my 88 year old mom,

“Bah! Golden years! For most of us, our 70s and 80s have been full of doctor appointments, handfuls of medicine, too little money and no one to talk to because all your friends are dying! Make your 50s and 60s YOUR golden years.Take care of your health, travel, dance, have fun! If you stay healthy and stay busy, maybe…just maybe your 70s and 80s can be a little more golden than mine!”

The words sound a little bitter but, they’re far from it. My mom is very much the optimist and quite happy with her life, but she’s also a realist. As a mom, she would hate to think of her daughters dealing with some of the difficulties she’s had in her ‘golden years’.

We’ll talk about all the changes – the good, the bad and the really ugly changes. Then we’ll turn midlife into the best time of our lives!

This post is one I wrote many years ago on an old website of mine and re-posted a year ago on this site. Let’s start with a little humor and a positive look at midlife.

5 Signs You’re Having a Midlife Crisis

Midlife is the old age of youth and the youth of old age. Proverb

No wonder we’re confused! That proverb tells us we don’t know whether we’re young or old! That’s what mid-life is…the passage between youth and old age. That’s a frightening thought!… It doesn’t feel like a simple passageway. It feels like we’re teetering on the precipice about to cascade down, down, down into the abyss of old age!

What are we afraid of? Maybe we’re afraid we haven’t accomplished enough, haven’t made our mark on the world. Maybe it’s just the feeling of time running out and an urgency to do, at least, a few of the things we couldn’t do when we were raising babies and furthering our careers.

It isn’t such a crisis. As puberty is a natural passage from childhood to adolescence, mid-life is our natural path from young adulthood to mature adulthood.

The Chinese word for mid-life crisis consists of two characters meaning danger and opportunity, translating properly to mean A Dangerous Opportunity. Crossing the line into mid-life, like any time of crisis, can be a great opportunity for growth and change. However, we need to be aware and daring enough to recognize and accept that opportunity. Otherwise, we may fall back into the danger zone of stagnation and regression. That may be our greatest fear of growing older.golden years

Five of the signs that we’re experiencing our mid-life crisis are:

1) Realizing our previously happy lives are now a source of discontent.
2) Boredom with things and people who had always been of great interest to us.
3) Feeling adventurous and wanting to do something completely different.
4) Confusion about who you are or where your life is going.
5) Questioning the meaning of life, and the validity of decisions clearly and easily made years before.

So, what do we do about mid-life crisis? When we’re feeling bored, trapped, and as though everyone is demanding too much of us, we don’t run away. We draw the map of our journey through this crisis. A map provides us with direction and goals.

The first landmark will be the recognition that the emotional struggle we are about to endure is normal and necessary. We will need to let go of our old identity, that which holds no meaning for us any longer. We must open ourselves to what we are to encounter, spiritual growth, awareness and a new and deeper meaning for our lives.

Draw your map with care not to travel backward. Keep moving toward a more complete “you”. Simply trying to recapture our youth will cause us to step backward into that danger zone. Instead, choose youthful energy, excitement and motivation to propel yourself through this age to a more meaningful and challenging life. Become who you were meant to be all along. Become your best self…that healthy, active, engaging person you always knew you would be.

So, many of you are not too close to midlife yet,and some are well into it and doing fabulously. Do you or anyone you know find you’re having difficulty with any aspects of midlife? Do you younger folks have any questions or concerns about it? Please share your thoughts!

Friday is another episode of the Life List Club. Don’t miss it!

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Discussion

  1. stfburg  July 1, 2012

    I just found your blog and I love it!
    I am so grateful for all of the resources available to us boomers.
    We should all put “informed aging” on our bucket lists.

    (reply)
    • Marcia  July 1, 2012

      Hi, Kim! Thanks for following my blog and for commenting! I’ll by your blog, too. I think you’re right about “informed aging”. Along with all the fun we can have, there is a lot to learn!

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      • stfburg  July 2, 2012

        Marcia,
        Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.
        All of us boomers will have to stick together and learn from each other with lots of humor along the way.

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  2. Kate MacNicol  March 15, 2012

    What a great way to begin the series Marcia. Your mother’s words are priceless and right on. You have to be so proud of her! I also enjoyed how you wrote about the passage of midlife. I’m 54 and have never felt more youthful or energetic. I know if I hadn’t made changes four years ago I’d be diabetic, have knee problems and no energy at all.

    I wish there was magic button I could push so that people who feel old and tired at midlife could catch just a glimpse of what it feels like when you’re living healthfully. Then I’d flip the switch and say, “Now you have some motivation — go get it.” LOL

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    • Marcia  March 15, 2012

      My mom is the most precious person in my life. I’ll have a tough time when she goes, but will have wonderful memories and will always hear her voice in my head.
      I’d love to have that magic button myself. It’s hard to begin and hard to keep going when you have a long road. I’ve started and stopped more times than I can count, so I know how tough it is for others.
      How wonderful you found the motivation to get healthy when you did! Thanks, Kate.

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  3. Tameri Etherton  March 15, 2012

    What a fabulous post! I’m not there yet, but when I arrive, I’ve now got the tool to help out. Make a map ~ brilliant!

    (reply)
    • Marcia  March 15, 2012

      There will be lots of health tips in this series that you can’t begin now, if you haven’t already, to prevent a LOT of signs of aging, inside and out. Thanks for coming over, Tameri!

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  4. Bridgette Booth  March 10, 2012

    What a great series, Marcia. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

    My mother has also been a great role model for me as far as aging is concerned. She seemed to have hit her “stride” at 65 or something and has been really happy with her “golden” years. She prepared well for them – I think that’s key – because she is very active and always has been. She’ll turn 80 this year and she walks 4 miles a day, teaches a weight lifting class for seniors, and swims. She does a lot of weekly church and hospital volunteer work, travels competes in tablescapes contests,and belongs to four or five clubs. She is involved, strong, and interesting. I’m just so happy for her, but she always says laid the foundation physically and socially back in her 30′s, 40′s, and 50′s.

    When my father died, I really wondered about how she would cope, but she has made these years spectacular. I hope I can do the same. :)

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    • Marcia  March 10, 2012

      She must be quite an inspiration for you, Bridgette! You’ll probably have her around for a long time to come because of the way she lives, too! She’s right…lay the foundation early. By the same token, it’s never too late to begin on the right path!

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  5. Elena Aitken  March 8, 2012

    Great blog, Marcia!
    I’m not there yet. No crisis for me…yet. I’m sure it’s coming. :)
    I LOVE your mom’s viewpoint though. My mom, now into her 60′s is an excellent example of what I hope to be. I always have to stop and remember how old she is because she’s always enjoyed life to the fullest (no matter what her age) and it’s just never been an issue.
    Maybe that’s why I always forget how old I am… :)

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    • Marcia  March 10, 2012

      That’s wonderful about your mother, Elena! She set a great example for you and it seems you’re following it! :)

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  6. JenniferJensen  March 8, 2012

    Love this post. I”m 52, generally feel like I ought to be in my 30s and then I’m surprised when my body won’t do what I wish it would! I’m either constantly in a mid-life crisis, or I’ve never hit one – I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Started writing while I raised my kids, never finished college but just started back to get my bachelor’s, spent a decade moving all over the country with a Navy husband and just got to spend a few years in Ireland courtesy of his current company . . . Things just begin to settle down and there’s an adventure or overwhelming need or something around the corner. And hobbies shift as time goes, too. I’ve got a great, active 77-year-old mother that can still work me into the dust, and I hope I’m like her when I finally do grow up.

    (reply)
    • Marcia  March 8, 2012

      It’s so nice to meet you, Jennifer! I loved learning a bit about you. In my opinion, there’s no reason to ever ‘grow up’. Sounds to me like you know how to have fun and you find fun, adventure and excitement in everywhere life takes you. No doubt you’ll be just like your mom!
      I’d love to hear about your years in Ireland sometime. I’ve always wanted to go there, but to live there—I wonder what it would be like.
      Thanks for coming by…hope to see you again!

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  7. Traci Bell  March 7, 2012

    Hi Marcia,

    I turn 40 this year and it is hitting me harder than I would like to admit. I keep telling myself it is just a number, but I think it scares me how fast time flies. I look at my kids and think that if the next 8-12 years go as fast as the last, they’ll be out of the house before I can blink :)

    (reply)
    • Marcia  March 7, 2012

      I hear ya, Traci! 40 was a really tough birthday for me, too! Consequently 50 was easy…go figure.
      Time does fly and that’s why we need to try to live in the moment as much as possible. You’re still in that busy time of your life raising kids, running to their activities, working keeping up with the house…it’s hard work and it’s hard to find time to notice the little pleasures in life, but the more we do that, the less we’ll regret how fast time flew.
      Don’t be afraid of getting older. Every decade holds its treasure. Trust me.

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  8. patriciasands  March 7, 2012

    Great post, Marcia! For whatever reason, I’ve never worried about my age … it’s just a number after all. Life has always been too full to spend time worrying about something we can’t change. Aging is one thing in life that is mandatory (a great quote I found somewhere…) and we should all be thankful we have the opportunity! I have to stop and remind myself I’m 67 and my next thought is “so what?” – bring it on! Natalie, your mom and I would have a great time together!

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    • Marcia  March 7, 2012

      Great attitude, Patricia! We do have to age, but we don’t have to get old. We have a choice and I know you chose to stay young! Your are one of those women who younger women wish to be like when they’re your age.
      Thanks, Patricia!

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  9. Darlene Steelman  March 7, 2012

    Great post, Marcia. I really gave a lot of thought to what you wrote and then I got to your 1-5 list. I honestly have felt 1-5 for the last three years (I have been sober for almost six years). I am 39 years old.. I always thought middle age was like 50.. but in reality I am middle aged!
    You gave given me much to ponder, my friend.
    Thank you.

    (reply)
    • Marcia  March 7, 2012

      Congratulations on your 6-year achievement! That right there must make you feel amazing considering what a tough road that can be!
      I suppose we can feel that way at almost any age, Darlene. Fortunately you probably won’t experience the physical changes for awhile. The emotional ones are so much easier to change. Stick with the series and see if it helps at all. Changing your lifestyle is probably necessary considering the mountain you climbed. Wishing you well. :)

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  10. Karen McFarland  March 7, 2012

    What a nice series Marcia! Uh, we’re all getting there aren’t we? I hate it. I am not embracing my age very well. It crept up on me too fast. I still can’t believe where the years have went. Though I have been fortunate that I’ve never looked as old as I am. When I got married at eighteen, people thought I was twelve. LOL! But I know what you mean about mid-life. We’re like a tween. Not sure where I fit in with the fashion scene. Don’t want to look too young, yet I don’t want to dress like my mother. Oh boy. And does everyone want Natalie’s mom or what? She’s amazing! I want to be adopted! LOL! Thanks Marcia! :)

    (reply)
    • Marcia  March 7, 2012

      I’m well into mid-life, Karen. I know how you feel. I remember several years ago before I remarried, I used to spend a lot of time with a girlfriend who had a great figure and decided that was reason enough to wear the same styles her 22yr old was wearing. She didn’t realize how really out of place and silly she looked. She was very sensitive so I never told her my opinion. The single men sure loved it though!
      Maybe this series will help you feel a little better about it. :)

      (reply)
  11. Sheila Seabrook  March 7, 2012

    My parents and my grandmothers were very active people, so I’ve had terrific role models, Marcia. Aging has never bothered me, expect for brief moments when I turned 25 and again at 35. This year, I turn 56. Good health, multiple interests, and the enjoyment of just being are my secret for staying young of mind and heart. I’m determined to age with energy and grace, like my grandmothers and my parents have done. I hope I’m as good of a role model for my boys.

    I so enjoyed your post and am looking forward to part II. :)

    (reply)
    • Marcia  March 7, 2012

      That’s wonderful, Sheila! What a huge bunch of young-looking women we all are!
      Energy and grace…perfect words to define midlife! Thanks, Sheila!

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  12. Diana Douglas  March 7, 2012

    I think (being 57 probably makes me a little prejudiced) this is one of your best posts. It took a while, but I now embrace most of the mid-life changes that I’ve had to deal with. I see life differently. I’ve realized that there’s no reason to get upset over the little things. Life will go on.
    I take much better care of myself. I have the time to write. This is my time and I’m taking advantage of it. I’m looking forward to more of your series.

    (reply)
    • Marcia  March 7, 2012

      I’m so happy you’re feeling this way, Diana. I feel the same. My mom told me once many years ago (when i feeling nervous and uncomfortable about the prospect of turning 40 a few years in the future)…”Don’t worry so much about getting older. You adjust to each new decade. You come to enjoy something new with each year. Just focus on taking care of yourself and having fun.” That was probably the best advice she ever gave me and, while I didn’t really believe her at the time, she was right. I loved turning 50 and, if I can get myself into shape, I’ll love turning 60 this year, too.
      Thanks, Diana. I’m glad you’re enjoying this series.

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  13. Helen  March 7, 2012

    Great thoughts on a very confusing time in people’s lives. I love the way your Mom looked at it!

    (reply)
    • Marcia  March 7, 2012

      It is, but I love the way you’ve sailed through it! Yeah, mom is a pistol, for sure!

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  14. Natalie Hartford  March 7, 2012

    Love your Mom!
    Great series Marcia! I feel like I’m very blessed because at 36 I have a wonderful role model in my Mom. She’s someone who has never let age define her or hold her back. She’s constantly renewing herself, starting new things etc. In her 40s, she quit her job and went back to school full-time to get a masters. In her 50s, she took the executive director position at a floundering non-profit and brought it from nothing to something. For her 60th birthday, she had a pole dancing party. I have a picture of her straddling the pole with a pleather hat that says “Bad Girl”! Priceless. At 61 one she retired and took a year off work to garden and figure out what she wanted to do next. At 63 she considered getting a PhD but instead decided to go BACK to work as the executive director for another non-profit organization on the BRINK of bankruptcy and has turned it into a successful organization. She just celebrated 65 and is going strong. A few weeks ago she called me to tell me that “at 65, I just had the BEST sex of my life!”
    What I see as her tricks (that I hope to embrace) is she eats well, exercises regularly, has a positive attitude, stays productive, works hard, has a TON of fun and embraces a healthy sex life! She also believes that she’s only as old as she feels…doesn’t matter what the birth certificate says. Amen to that!

    (reply)
    • Marcia  March 7, 2012

      Holy Cow, Natalie, your mom is amazing! Good for her and what a great example she’s setting for you! The tricks you’re seeing that she lives by are right and the true path to staying young! Make sure you follow them, even when you don’t feel like it (trust me, that will happen)!
      I agree with her…my birth certificate is buried, but I am learning to be proud of my age and all that I’ve created in my life. I guess if I were a crotchity old 59, I wouldn’t feel the same.
      Thanks, Natalie!

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  15. Donna@Gardens Eye View  March 7, 2012

    OK you know I fight these changes and vacillate between the stages of life…but I found myself experiencing #2-5 about 2 years ago and have been on a journey which is how I started writing and particularly writing my blog. I will say I will not call myself old when I have an 80 yr old mother and 90 yr old aunt who don’t act or think they are old…how could I…my husband is not dealing with the aches and pains of growing older and now we are on that healthy kick those in their 50s and 60s seem to discover so as to not grow old too quickly….the hardest thing for me right now is not to get too sedentary and to get moving and keep on moving…when I retire in a yr from my current career, I hope to be moving in the next phase and a whole new career…..love that you reposted this.

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    • Marcia  March 7, 2012

      I hear you, Donna. I went through that myself. It does help to have a parent who feels young no matter their age. Be vigilant about becoming sedentary when you retire (YAY for you! only one more year!) because it’s so easy since you don’t have a job to get up for anymore. I know you’ll be fine…you’ll be in the garden all day!

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  16. showard76  March 7, 2012

    When I was younger I thought the ‘mid-life crisis’ was just a myth, or a best an excuse for misbehaving as an adult. But having gone through and witnessed many friends (as we turned 30, so actually probably a little early?) lives spiral out of control suddenly and unexpectedly, with major changes, upheavals and general craziness I now realise that we have all had genuine mid-life crises! not all of us have settled down again yet (myself included) and are still behaving like reborn teenagers, lol and I’m 35 now – I don’t think I will ever return to being the sensible, tame person I was in my 20′s! hehe

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    • Marcia  March 7, 2012

      30 is a little early for mid-life crisis, but it seems to be the age when older people finally accept you as a real adult, so things do change. Marriage, sometimes divorce, job changes, kids, realizing you might be too old now to do what you did when you were 18…it all affects your lifestyle and can throw you for a loop.
      There’s more to come, Sharon. You’ll just be getting comfortable with who you are and then…wham!…things change again. Mid-life really hits around 45-50 for most people, though for men, it can hit a little earlier.
      Don’t ever be sedate and content…keep shaking things up a little!

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