The world is in chaos. Few would argue with that.
But instead of looking at the world as a whole, let’s dive down deeper, to a more personal level.
You and me.
Are you in transition right now?
I got this from a reader a few days ago:
It seems as though everyone knows their talent, what they want to do and finally just goes for it. What about those who have no clue?!? Yes, I like cooking; but no, I don’t want to do it professionally. Yes, I am healthy and exercise; but not qualified to help others. Yes, I am a teacher; but I think that career has run its course. I’ve thought about painting, sewing, refinishing antiques, etc., etc. but these things cost money and I don’t do well with making personal life decisions, especially when it involves spending my precious dollars saved. I am lost and it seems no one has a story about how to figure it out from scratch.
I hear you. And I can soooooo relate.
I talk about reinvention all the time. I’ve done it over and over again throughout my life.
But that doesn’t make it any easier each time it hits. In fact, I’ve been going through a lot of turmoil lately too.
For me, it started well over a year ago.
Settle in and let me tell you the story.
Six years ago, I had a dream. My daughter was getting ready to finish high school. She chose a college 1200 miles from home. Through that process, my husband and I discovered this little thing called gap year, and we used it to change our lives.
We sold our forever home. Got rid of most of our stuff. Reevaluated what we wanted out of life. And turned our world upside down.
Now, it hasn’t gone completely as planned. I would argue nothing ever does. We’ve had hiccups along the way. But our goal of traveling has never waned. We may be living in a rental right here in the USA (for the moment), but we travel almost as much as we’re here.
Travel was one of my top goals. And I travel all the time and LOVE it!
But I had another dream too. We sold off our photography business so we could pursue other interests.
For me, it was all about writing. I had a dream of writing nonfiction books for women in the throes of midlife, ready for a little reinvention. I wanted to combine that with writing fiction books – contemporary romance for women over 40 – and create real-world stories about what midlife was all about. Dealing with death, divorce, empty nests, caregiving. Things that us 40, 50, and 60 year olds deal with all the time.
So I wrote. And I got a lot done. I have 3 nonfiction and 7 fiction books published.
Not a bad run.
But about a year ago, I hit another wall. I felt MEH about life. MEH about the world. MEH about my future.
I’m still a happy person. I lead a great life. I love traveling the world. I adore spending time with my family and friends. But my business – somewhere I’ve “lost” my mojo. And I know for a fact I’m in transition.
I’m not alone. I see it everywhere. I hear it from everybody. I read about it all the time.
People everywhere are questioning their lives, their futures, what’s next in the weeks and months and years to come. People are letting go of relationships, businesses, hobbies, jobs, careers. They’re having health issues. They’re walking away from all they know. They are looking for more ways to get in touch with their soul’s alignment.
At the start of 2018, I felt a change coming on. I lost my way with business, but I kept trudging on. I left for eight days in Mexico, and when I checked into the hotel, the staff tried talking us into a few tours. I said NO (and bit my tongue to keep from screaming it.) I wanted to lay on a chair by the pool for eight days. I was worn out, and knew time away from everything would solve my problem.
It didn’t. I trudged along for the rest of the year. My daughter graduated from college. Left for a backpacking trip around Europe. Came home and accepted a work visa program in New Zealand for a year. My world was filled with on again/off again empty nest.
I thought being tucked away in my home all alone for several hours a day would be good for my business. It would allow me to think. And while I did get a lot of writing done, it never made my MEH feeling go away.
My world is on a roller coaster right now. It’s flipping every which way it can think of. Change is happening every day.
And while parts of my life are operating by design, I still have that emotional angst inside that’s telling me something is wrong.
I can’t quite put my finger on what my “next” will be.
Transition isn’t a point in time. It isn’t a day. It isn’t even a week.
It can be months – years. It’s the way of letting your old life die, and letting your new life come to light. It quite literally is giving the new you a chance to thrive while allowing the old you fall to the wayside.
Transitions aren’t easy. In fact, they are one of the messiest processes you’ll ever go through.
Because transitions fly at you and land smack dab in your heart. They scream at you from the inside out. They tear you open. They impact every cell of your being. They affect every aspect of your life.
Transitions make you think about the past. They make you contemplate the future. They make every moment between flash by, holding you accountable for who you are. It’s time to rethink everything.
And that can be very difficult indeed.
I’ve done it before. And I’ll do it again.
But right now in the middle, seeing little bits of light is the only thing I can focus on.
I want it to come faster. I want it to be here RIGHT NOW!
But transitions don’t work that way. They take a WHOLE lot more soul searching than that.
And what I’m finding here in midlife is they take even more time than before.
Maybe it’s because of all that history behind me. Maybe it’s because I have my core characteristics in place that I’m never going to budge on. Maybe it’s because I know I’m ready for more, but I’m not willing to give up what I already have in place.
I want to live my best life, right now. And I accept and realize that a big change is coming.
What do I do from the middle of transition?
I say yes to everything.
My husband wanted to go to the coast this weekend. I didn’t feel it. I figured it would be cool, and a lot more people than I really wanted to deal with. But I said yes anyway. It gave me a couple of hours to sit and think while driving there. I spent time alone with my daughter and my husband. We got into a laughable karaoke match, screaming at the top of our lungs as we sailed down the highway. I would never have experienced that if I’d said no. And I wouldn’t have felt the stress slip away, breathed a little easier, or slept as well from all that fresh air enveloping me from walking on the beach.
I accept the way that I feel.
When you’re in transition and you have no idea what’s next, it can be frustrating at best. Everywhere you go, people talk about how great their second acts are. And all you think about is how lost you are. Go with that. Realize a part of you has to die to find your next path. You might not know what that part is yet, but permit yourself to feel what you feel.
I give myself permission to be.
I have a pile of books by my chair. I have an equally impressive unread list on my Kindle. I like to read in bursts. My daughter laughed as she sat down near me over the weekend – we both had a novel, a magazine, and two nonfictions in our lap. She DEFINITELY picked up her reading habits from someplace. 😉 I read for a bit and shut the nonfictions. I read a chapter in the novel. I flipped through a few pages in the newest Oprah magazine. And then I dropped it all to the floor and just sat. I didn’t think about much. I watched the birds busy outside my window. I felt the sunshine on my face. I let the warmth of the breeze from the open window flow over me. I sat there, just enjoying the moment. I’m NOT that kind of person. I’m more of a why-write-one-chapter-when-you-could-write-an-entire-book-all-before-lunch-and-on-the-way-to-an-appointment kind of person. Yeah, you get it. One woman I attended a class with a couple of months ago said it best when she looked at me and said: Overachieve much? I’m working on it.
Sometimes the only way to move forward is to stop looking forward. Instead, it’s all about breathing easy right now in the present. You’re not lost as much as you are coming to terms with yourself right here, in the now. And only then will the path open up and show you the way.
I turn away control.
OMG, is this a big one!! I’m the type that has to control everything. I have my days laid out minute by minute. I get nervous if something doesn’t happen right on queue. But when I can’t put my finger on what’s next in my life, I stop trying so hard. I start asking other people for help. I put my husband in charge of dinner. I tell a friend she has to pick the restaurant for lunch. I shut “doing stuff” time out of my life and listen to my body instead. I rise when I wake up. I sleep when I’m tired. I eat when I’m hungry. And what’s more important is I don’t judge my life based on what happens. If I’m not in control, of course, it won’t go according to my plans. But it still gets done. And if I don’t put consequences into the results, it doesn’t matter. Just this one act has given me the chance to look at things in new ways. Because if I don’t have to do it all, I have the time to do other things.
This is huge for me right now. This world is topsy-turvy. And I’ve lost a lot of relationships because of it. It hurts so bad, sometimes I quite literally yell in a rage. But none of that matters in the long run. To be who I’m supposed to be, I have to be my best. And the only way to do that is to feel at peace, forgive, and realize everyone has their own demons to face and fix. I forgive so I can let go. I forgive so I can see beyond. I forgive so I can bring new meaning to my life … and move on.
I ignore the least important things.
In my twenties, I was the person who dusted and cleaned all the time. Everything was always “perfect.” I couldn’t leave my house without the chores being completed. Not anymore. Yes, I clean once in a while. But why clean when I can go to the beach? That’s our motto in this house. I accept things unfolded, put in the wrong place, stuffed into a closet. Why worry about where it ended up. I don’t pay attention to the latest news. I rarely check my social statuses. If it’s earth-shatteringly important, it’ll get to me somehow. And nothing else really matters.
I focus on what really matters.
Yep, pretty much said everything in the last couple of paragraphs. Here in midlife, I know exactly what’s important to me. And that’s where I put my focus each day. My nightly walks with my husband. My lunches with my daughter. My happy hours with my friends. Walks on the beach. And posts I share with my online friends. My workout routine. My good eating habits. My travel plans. I focus on what makes me feel happy, every single day.
I give myself permission to fall apart.
Sometimes you just have to cry. Or throw a tantrum. Or tell somebody off. Or quit a relationship. Or drop a group you’ve belonged to forever. Or stop reading a book. Or walk away. As women, we’re trained to “keep the peace.” Screw that. Why should you be the one to bite your tongue? Why should you keep saying yes when you really mean no? And it’s gonna hurt like hell to finally move in the other direction. It cuts deep, and impacts you in ways you never thought possible. But afterward – oh, it feels so good.
I say yes to possibilities that align with who I am.
I say yes a lot. Maybe it’s a woman thing. But after I say yes and try something new, I ask myself questions about how this opportunity aligns with who I am and want to be. Right now, I’m building a life filled with travel. I want freedom to go anywhere I choose. I want the ability to earn money online. I want flexibility. I want to write and share my views with the world. Those are my core values at the moment. And if a new opportunity hinders any part of that, I may try it out “just because” but I’ll never say yes for the long term.
I dig deeper into what I really desire.
Is this the real me? Is this who I want to share with the world? Is this something I want more of in my life? And if the answer is yes, I do everything I can to put it into my life.
I acknowledge the world is always changing, and I’m always asking What’s Next?
I remember what my parents taught me both through actions and words. Go to school – get a good job – dedicate your life to a company – retire. But their words didn’t materialize to real world living. My father spent the last few years of his life re-interviewing for his position again and again, hoping to make it to 55 to be able to retire early and give something else a try. He was 73 days short of his goal when he died of a massive heart attack. Retirement today isn’t what it was even a few short years ago. Social security will be non-existent. Medicare – yeah, right. And what if I live to 150 with the medical advances being made today – not entirely out of reach. Because of all of this, I work daily at ensuring I’m planning for the future. I don’t think retire – I think of finding another stream of income. I don’t think Medicare – I look for ways to be the healthiest I can be right now. And I’m always on the lookout for tests and other practices that can help me improve my life each day. When you start asking questions like this, opportunities fall in your lap. And you consistently find new approaches to life, which ultimately lead to new things to try.
From my reader question way back at the beginning of this article, she stated two things:
- She’s healthy and exercises, but isn’t qualified to help others.
- She’s thought about painting, sewing, refinishing, but doesn’t want to commit her precious earned dollars.
Qualifications come in many levels. Trust me, I don’t have a degree in psychology, nor a certificate in reinvention coaching. But I’m firmly planted in Gen X territory, weaving my way through my 50s and midlife with everything I’ve learned. I’ve changed so many times, it makes heads spin. And that’s what qualifies me. I will never sit in a chair and face someone lying on a couch. Not my thing. But by writing my truth, if I help one person think, that’s good enough for me.
Money issues come down to fear. When you have something, and you’re terrified to lose it, it’s because you give it more value. In this case, money has all the value. I get it, I do. I’ve lost a business. I’ve had a dollar left to my name. I’ve had to ask for help just to make a payment.
I’ve also had money coming in so fast I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Because I haven’t been salaried for a very long time, money isn’t a big deal to me. I’ve had months where nothing has come in, months where tens of thousands have flown in through the door.
Right now is absolutely the best time in the world to start something new. You can start it with virtually no money if you’re willing to work for it a little. Everything you need is online – you just have to read and study. Yes, it might cost a few hundred for a website and hosting, maybe more for a training or two. When you find something that says “pick me”, study it. Find someone you can mimic, someone you can say “I love her life.”
Side Note: Book Recommendation: You have to read the latest novel from Frances Mayes, Women in Sunlight. (She’s also the author of Under The Tuscan Sun.) It’s a lovely story about three women who meet while touring a retirement community and decide to rent a house together in Italy instead. They find friendship, romance, and opportunity in abundance.
Then shoot for it. You don’t have to achieve it in a week or a month or even a year. Why not set a ten year goal. Imagine who you’ll be at the end of that 10 years!
There’s a quote that says: The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now. That fits midlife perfectly.
See, right now:
- I believe I am where I need to be.
- I do what I’m supposed to do.
- I talk my talk and walk my walk.
- I’m meant for being my greatest me.
- I work hard at reaching that every single day.
It’s not all about money. Or success. Or recognition. Or acceptance.
It’s about being true to me. And loving everything in my life. What I do. Who I surround myself with. The actions I take.
Are you in a transition too?
Welcome to midlife.
Recognize it. Work at it. Do one little thing today.
Because one NEW thing today will make sense tomorrow. Eventually, you’ll see how the pieces fit together.
Don’t fight for it. Don’t make a plan where you have no idea if it’s what you really want. Just do one thing that brings NEW joy and excitement into your life.
And ask yourself: What’s next?
How does this new excitement fit? Where does it lead? How can you be one percent happier/better/more attentive?
Over time, it adds up. And it opens up new opportunities, things that make you scream: YESSSSS!
We’re in this together. Let’s make this a transition we’re both excited about tomorrow.
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