Most of us are especially as we get older, resistant to change as we tend to get set into what is comfortable.  We have worked all these years to reach this certain point, what is the point of shaking things up?  Well, I found out though it is really hard when you are set in you ways, dug deep into the trench of “how it is going to be”, that maybe the light of day no longer reaches you or makes you happy.

As mentioned in previous posts my husband basically had to drag me kicking and screaming out to look at new homes.  He was intuitive enough to know that fifteen years of memories including a really bad marriage before him was haunting me and my daughters as well.  After losing my mom the year before, everywhere I looked was reminder of my mom, my ex husband, my lost step kids.  I couldn’t even garden without ending up in tears over some memory of my mom.  Or coming across something the kids gave me.

My first holiday, Thanksgiving, in our new house has come and gone.  We celebrated early inviting our “parents” to join us for a small dinner.  My husband’s parents and my aunt and uncle who never had kids and have somewhat adopted me at least in spirit.  Even though we ate on the table my grandfather made for my mom, used her china and serving dishes from both my mother and my grandmother, now all deceased, I didn’t feel hollow and empty but happy.  I was able to embrace their memories like a warm, soft blanket of love that was wrapped around me and feel their spirits among us.  My aunt and uncle were telling stories of my mom and my grandparents making it feel as they were still alive there with us.

Without the old memories haunting me, I was able to enjoy my first holiday in years.  I would not have been able to do that in my old house.  Creating new fresh memories, without the stain of old hurts and events swirling around bringing me down.  Granted there will be bad times upcoming in my life because it is inevitable and I can’t move every time there is one but sometimes there comes a point that everything stops working and you are miserable.  You can’t even force it anymore or fake it.  It’s time for a change.  In my case, it was purging my life of truckloads of possessions I didn’t realize I was hoarding and moving into a home in the country with more room and no neighbors looking in my windows.

There is a moment when you have to unearth yourself from your deep furrow of your life’s routines and come back out to look around, see what else life has to offer.  I am so much happier living outside the city limits in a home that fits our needs better.  I could have gotten stuck on the financial benefits of staying where we were but eventually I had to face the truth, I wasn’t happy in my home anymore.  It wasn’t working, we needed more room, we were all miserable in it’s cramped spaces.  Giving away truckloads of material possession I had no possible use for was therapeutic and not living in clutter is freeing.

Now I am looking forward to Christmas, I am actually contemplating going and picking out a live tree today rather than waiting for them to go on clearance the day before Christmas Eve.  Even my husband was looking at me like I have grown a second head because he isn’t used to me being in the mood for the holidays.  Except this year I have decided I am going to celebrate my holidays exactly the way I want them, I am done with feeling obligated because it always just makes me miserable.  Cooking and cleaning for people who don’t appreciate it, help clean up or offer to take the burden next year.  Great, thanks for coming over, eating, packing up half the left overs, and now please go sit on the couch while I carry your dishes  to the dishwasher.  I got it, don’t you worry. I’ve only been cooking and cleaning for days.  No I am done with those days.  I am making a change, I am doing what makes me happy and not apologizing for it.

Now I’m going to see what else I can shake up in my life, maybe nothing as major as a move but it never hurts to come back into the light and open your eyes to the possibilities and the writing on the wall.

The Oddball Things I’m Thankful for this Year…

Family, friends, health and good job get all the limelight this time of year but what about those oddball things you find yourself grateful for.  Such as:

1. When I get to work early enough that no one is in my cube farm area.  The quiet is serene.

2. When they mix my salted caramel hot chocolate just right at Starbucks.  Nothing worse than weak hot chocolate.

3. Having our Thanksgiving early so I get to enjoy these days off relatively relative and drama free, just like now as I write this.  Not that I don’t love my family, I do.

4. When the copier at work doesn’t jam when I have to print a big set of documents once a month.

5.  When someone else empties the dishwasher.

6. When I actually sleep in.  This is rare.

7. A nap in the afternoon (see #6 – I never sleep anymore).

8. Curling up on the couch with my iPad and reading endless free magazines through our public library’s online system.

9.  Living in the country.  The views are amazing from my own windows, there is never anyone but the dog looking back at me through them (it’s okay little buddy, I’ll let you back in) and the quiet helps us all sleep better.

10. That most of my closest girlfriends are much like me.  We have a distinct dislike of stupid people, we aren’t a fan of baby/bridal showers, we aren’t exceptionally girly but yet we keep our feminine charm.  We prefer wine, alcohol and books to people.  Love you guys (you know who you are)!

11. For my crazy mixed up heritage.  German, Irish, English and a bit of Shawnee Indian.  Stubborn, passionate with a fiery temper that is tempered by my more refined blood though I still have a wild streak a mile wide.  I like that about myself.  I seem all quiet and shy but really I am a hella lot of fun at times.

12. For all my challenges and struggles in life.  I won’t bore you by listing them but I prefer instead of feeling sorry for myself to remember it’s what made me who I am today.  I found I am incredibly strong at times, the times I need to be.  I am grateful that I have that inside of me.

13.  For solitary moments in nature.  The moment I step into the woods on a trail where I never see a soul. Some people hate being alone but I find these moments some of my favorite.  My mind can wander, I can stop and take as many pictures as I want and sit and put notes in my notebook.

14. Having Mondays off.  I am fortunate that I am 32-hour full time

employee.  My company should realize they are too because I took a job the former woman had to work 45-50 hours and streamlined it to fit into my work schedule.  I save them thousands each year by being uber efficient.  Mondays are great days to be home, to go grocery shopping, to hike or bike.  No one is around.  No crowds.

15. That I never know what will come out of my kids’ mouths.  Things I hear are “Old ladies are so my spirit animal”  and “Yes, I like to touch my own butt, I have a nice butt.”  Never a dull moment with them. They are my favorite girls to hang out with.

I could keep going on but I want to keep it short and sweet.  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday no matter how you celebrate.  I’m grateful for everyone who reads my blog, it amazes me that my ramblings on interests people.  Now to start dragging up the Christmas decorations.  Onward!

Selfies, Not So Silly?

Selfies are a bit of a running joke with anyone who is familiar with social media.  Even grandmas are doing selfies and posting them to their news feed.  They have even created a “selfie stick” to aid in taking photos of ones self especially those of us with tyrannosaurus rex length arms like myself but I have yet to succumb to purchasing a selfie stick.

When I first ventured into selfie territory, I felt quite silly taking pictures of myself.  More on the humorous side, I went for more of the ‘sarcastic selfie’, overdone facial expressions to make it all seem a little less awkward though I looked way more awkward.  I found it easier to take selfies with my girls in them, they seemed more ‘legit’ rather than some overly engrossed middle-age woman trying to be cool.  Being 40’ish, you seem like you are always straddling the line of what seems to be trying to hard and looking ridiculous.

Every day I peruse my Facebook feed reading up on what my friends and family are up to, admiring their pictures, laughing at their humor and feeling sad with their difficult moments.  Selfies fill up a lot of the feed but I never think, wow, they are so vain or stuck on themselves.  I love seeing pictures of people I’ve known most of my life as they smile and look happy.  I always feel like smiling back, noting beauty in each person even though they, like me, are all getting older.  But age doesn’t necessarily mean you become ugly, it just means that beauty changes, evolves.

I have found that taking photos of myself has done a great deal toward making me less photo shy.  Now if someone wants to take my picture, I don’t run away, literally, I would run away, I hated my picture so much.  I can remember once one of my girls, I think my youngest, said, “Momma, you’re never in any of our pictures.”  And then she would stare at me accusingly as if it was a conspiracy.  I never could get much by any of my daughters.  She wanted to know what did I feel was so wrong with me that I didn’t want to be captured in a photograph.  She patted me on the leg and said “But Momma you are pretty.”  As if that solved all my years of body and self-esteem issues.

Maybe some of it is age, the older I get the less I give a rat’s ass about what anyone thinks about me.  At this point you are just grateful you have most of your organs and things work even if they hurt.  I have lost people I love younger than myself to tragedies, accidents and cruel illnesses.  You are a bit more thankful to wake up each morning.  But some of it is just I have forced myself to be less camera shy.  Over the years, it became easier.  Most of my selfies just go into my hard drive and online photo service where I store them as a backup.  Though I own a nice Nikon DSLR camera, I have gotten lazy and take so many of my photos with my iPhone because it’s always available and slowly these phone cameras are becoming almost as advanced as my Nikon.

I have a folder for each year for simply cell phone uploads.  Odds and ends of memories that I capture in my day to day.  Looking at this album, it is almost like a journal, I capture whatever sparks my fancy that day.  Including odd ball items like price tags of floor laminate (so I remember the cost per square or linear foot for when we estimate a job cost), food at restaurants, a flower in a garden somewhere, a random sunset, a strange bug I saw out hiking and many of my girls.  My iPhone photo app now has developed to the point it can detect most though not all of my selfies and puts them into their own folder designation. Literally I have a “Selfies” folder in my iPhone photo app.  I didn’t create it, Apple did but I thought well as times have changed, everyone is taking pictures of themselves.

Am I more self-absorbed because I take these photos as the experts claim we are all becoming?  Not really, I am sure if I was, my husband would probably point out my annoying behavior at some point.  I haven’t crawled into my own world and started ignoring everything and everyone around me.  No, I have simply become much more comfortable in my own skin.  More accepting and less critical of my photos.  Granted I take some selfies and cringe but I can simply delete them.  Take it again.  It is all about camera angle and lighting.

I don’t use filter apps to take away every wrinkle and flaw before I post my pictures or share them.  I’ve run into friends I haven’t seen for years only to not really recognize them because all their social media photos are run through this glam filter that takes away the lines and imperfections making them look twenty years younger.  I wonder if they realize that people are surprised when they see them in person because obviously you can’t walk around with a filter over your face as if it were magic makeup.  Just a random thought.   Now, being more wise to these filter users, when I see someone on my news feed who looks impossibly young for her age, I know, the photo has been probably doctored.

I like real untouched photos, the one that shows how someone truly is.  It is one of the reasons I am not a big makeup wearer.  I’ve seen those makeup tutorials and before/after shots of celebrities and models where you look at the “before” and think well you’re just a regular person like me.  I often thought if I have to put that much makeup on to attract a date, well I just give up.  To each their own of course but I don’t want someone waking up beside me sans my makeup and they freak out because I do not look the same.  Not that it isn’t fun to do dramatic makeup to go out for the night, sometimes I do but mostly my husband looks at me and says something like “You’re wearing a lot of makeup.”  As if I’m trying out for the Bozo convention at the clown college.  He simply is not a fan of me in heavy makeup.  I did grow up in the 80’s though.  We loved all the dramatic look back then.

When I was in my early 20’s, the actress Jenny McCarthy was up and coming.  One day she was on Oprah and I can remember her taking a poster of herself and using a black Sharpie marker, she circled all the areas that had been retouched.  I remember sitting there with my mouth open as this had never occurred to me that these people weren’t perfect after all, they were just manipulated to look perfect.  All those years of sighing over Seventeen magazine or entertainment magazines feeling ugly and imperfect was for nothing.  Certainly there are people with much better genes than I possess but they aren’t these goddesses that they are made out to be.  Throw in my family’s obsession with being thin and yes, I had eating disorders and self-image problems.

Now when I look back of photos of myself in my teens or early 20’s, I want to go back and slap myself.  I want to tell my younger self, “Hey girl, you look good, wear that leather miniskirt and heels.  Own it. ”  Which in turn makes me wonder what my 60-something self would want to tell me now.  I think my older self might just want to tell me to relax and enjoy life.  You don’t always have to be achieving something even though it feels like you wasted your life sometimes, you haven’t.  I need a time capsule.  Or a note I open in 20 years.   Well, I have this blog, maybe that would work as a reminder.

And I will have a whole bunch of selfies to remember how good I looked in my forties…  My daughters won’t have to scramble for photos of me when they are older, I’ve created my own gallery.   Even ones with absolutely no makeup as the one I am attaching to this post with my cat.  It’s one of my favorite pictures of myself and I have no makeup on, my hair is barely combed but I think it truly captures me at this time in my life.   I have been through a lot but I still find simple joys in life like my cat cuddling with me.

Oh and I’m asking for a selfie stick for Christmas….

Depression Experiment – Days 1 – 7

Below are journal entries of each day as I start the journey of acceptance of what my body, soul and heart needs and wants as based on my post Depression Conundrum.

Day 1 – 11/7/2015

Wrote the introductory blog post and received more comments and likes than normal signaling that this is something that affects many people.  I find myself throughout the day feeling like I must be doing “more”, whatever “more” is.  That I must exercise, do more around the house, write more, etc.  Be productive.  I quieted my nagging mind for a bit and decided that I wanted to lie on the couch and watch a movie, eating frozen chimichangas and no fruits or vegetables.  Later in the evening, I decided to drive to Kroger’s and Wal-Mart to pick up a few things, one being hair color to darken my hair a shade as I may stop coloring completely going back to my dark blonde for the first time since I was 14.  I also quit being cheap and purchased a new keyboard folio for my iPad since both my folio and separate keyboard are falling apart. We stopped at KFC for dinner and I ate what I wanted which wasn’t as much as I always fear I might eat.  I took a portion of it home for my other daughter.  When I just eat whatever I want, I actually eat less than when I try to “be careful” or “eat healthy” or “diet” though I never really use that word, it is my mindset.  Got tired around 11:30 p.m. and went to bed.  End result: I didn’t feel as tired throughout the day, I felt more content and peaceful.

Day 2 – 11/8/2015

I slept fitfully as usual, my night riddled with hot flashes but the room was cold so I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be uncovered or covered.  Also my husband was on night shifts, so I don’t sleep as well.  Even though I didn’t sleep well, I felt like baking and made baked pears and homemade cinnamon rolls which I have been resisting making because of my “diet” mindset. My daughter and I went to the park and hiked several miles.  Then I came home and made tacos.  A full day of delicious foods, some outdoor exercise and needed family time.   

Day 3 – 11/9/2015

A day of errands and running about.  First I had to go get my bloodwork done for my impending surgery.  My husband was sleeping after his night shift so I thought I would knock out my test.  Except I had two panic attacks before I ever got to the hospital.  Since my mom was terminally ill and passed away, I have a difficult time returning to the same hospitals she had tests or had spent time in.  Add in the fact that they are checking me for uterine cancer and I was a mess.  I had to sit in my truck to let the shaking subside.  Once I was in the lab, I was okay.  At one time, I used to think that panic attacks weren’t real, it was just people over reacting or trying to get attention.  Now I think differently.  They are definitely real.  Not sleeping well keeps me always on the tired side.  Other than looming dread over the surgery and the potential cancer results, my depression is not evident. 

Day 4 – 11/10/2015

Again, hot flashes have kept me up but I seem to be able to function on less sleep right now, almost as if my body is getting used to the lack of sleep.  The day was the usual busy one at work, no time to feel down, just rushed a bit and a little stress.  The depression has been pretty much at bay.  It has been limited to momentary lapses that I feel and then let go.  I don’t freak out or feel like I have to do much of anything other than acknowledge its presence lending a bit of credibility to my theory that fighting the feelings, fearing the depression just gives it more power and more fuel.  However, starting to let go of the dread and fear of depression feels a little freeing.  I hope that this is the start of something better.  A new way of dealing with something that has plagued me much of my adult life. 

Day 5 – 11/11/2015

Today is the 21st anniversary of losing most everything I owned in a house fire at the rental property we lived.  At the time, it was a traumatic experience but as the years have passed, ticking off one after another yearly anniversary, I have grown to appreciate the lessons I learned.  I don’t really collect much of anything any longer.  I give away a lot more material things I don’t use instead of hoarding them for that rainy day that never comes.  The only thing that mattered was that no one was home at the time of the fire which was actually reported from a traveler on a highway five miles away the flames were so high.  I only feel gratitude and blessings that came from this event in my life which happened when I was just 24.  On the depression front, it has been noticeably absent today.  Sometimes I wonder if it strikes more when I am not as busy and more still.  

Day 6 – 11/12/2015

Day at work was busy.  I started thinking about college and what I wanted to do, finish the associates degree, stop or go on and get my bachelors.  Since things in my life have settled down (fingers crossed), maybe I can start focusing on my education again.  Every so often I’ll look at the jobs out there and a bachelors degree is basically like a high school diploma was when I graduated high school in 1988, many moons ago.  I was thinking about my theory that having too much unfocused time might be contributing to my depression.  Getting my bachelors (and possibly beyond as far as a doctorate) was a goal of mine in high school, probably middle school.  It was never something I questioned, it was just there.  Maybe because my mom who never finished college always told me you need to get your degree so you don’t have to struggle as hard.  People (at least in that time) see you differently if you are educated at least in the workforce.   At work, I’m treated as if I a lowly secretary by the management at my site.  You can feel them looking down on you.  The strange thing is people at higher positions off site, do not see me or treat me this way.  Not that a degree will change their view of me, but will it change my view of myself?  I’ll have to consider that.  

Day 7 – 11/13/2015

Whoooooo… Friday the 13th.  Actually this date has never freaked me out like it does other people.  I’m superstitious to a certain extent but not this one.  Normal busy work day.  Evening was quiet.  I am a little hormonal and sensitive (the change sigh) which means I have to be careful how I react to everything and everyone.  Sorting through my hormonal emotional changes is exhausting as is not sleeping due to hot flashes.  I’m a bit tired all the time.  Have to take extra care of myself.  Which is maybe what I need anyway.  I’m nto great at doing what my body asks of me.  I just push it harder and then wonder WTH when something happens like I get sick, get a migraine or overreact to my husband joking around.  I have narrowed down a few options to complete my degree.  They aren’t impossible or out of reach.  i have some time to decide if this is the direction I want to go as I finish my associates degree.  I just feel better knowing that I have a general game plan for my goal.  That it is attainable.  

Bottom line – My depression isn’t as scary as I believed it to be.  I don’t have to live in year of it ebbing and flowing through my life.  Since I started relaxing about it and letting the feelings just “be”, the power it has over my life isn’t as great.  Revisiting things or goals that I want or waited for many years and pushed aside is a good exercise as depression can sometimes be linked to things in your life you are ignoring whether it be a bad relationship, a crappy job or a goal you have determined doesn’t matter but deep down it still does.  Depression is repressed anger.  I think mine is due to not caring for myself enough, ignoring my own needs and maybe from ignoring things in life I want to achieve.

I’m going to continue to journal daily but I will just provide only any major “aha” moments in my blog.  Anytime you have something plaguing you, journaling your thoughts is a great way to pick up on trends or maybe what is truly bothering you.

The Depression Conundrum

Conundrum – a confusing and difficult problem or question. 

This single word is what comes to my mind when I think about depression especially as it relates to myself.  I was thirty-five before I ever was diagnosed with it officially and I’m forty-five now.  Starting at this time of the year, when the days are short and the bad weather impending here in Ohio if it hasn’t already arrived, I start to get anxious and fearful that “depression” will arrive and suck me under into its dark, tarry depths where living becomes the equivalent to trying to walk through a tar pit.  Each step is a struggle, each breath exhausting.  People who have not experienced depression probably will feel I am making up that description for dramatic effect, I only wish I were.

Most people who have never suffered from depression usually believe it’s as simple as “snapping out of it.”  If it were that simple, don’t you think we would do it?  If the pills were a miracle cure, then why do we keep needing them?  They feel like a Band-Aid to me.  They were helpful when I got so deeply depressed that I wanted to literally not wake up the next morning,  so that was a good thing but it doesn’t cure depression, just helps you through it.  Is there a way to prevent depression?  Only thing I found that truly helps is riding my bike as much as possible and taking good care of myself.   But it is a continual battle it seems.  A battle I’m quite tired of dealing with.

Depression is mostly a chemical imbalance in your brain (from how I understand it, I’m not a doctor).  My cousin suffers very similarly the way I do so maybe it is inheirited.  We ebb and flow with the winter months being our worst time.  Obviously there is something to that seasonal affective disorder.  Maybe we are sensitive to things that no one is aware of or maybe our brain chemistry is just a tiny bit off making it hard for us at times to function without struggling with depression.

The holidays are fast approaching and with it comes sadness for me after losing my mom.  Personally, I would like to just skip the holidays.  I don’t get any joy out of them anymore.  They are just stark reminders of who is no longer with us and how the celebrations have changed but I guess that is truly just part of life.  But it doesn’t mean I like it.  Or that I have to like it.  I may not be able to change it but I don’t have to like it.   But regardless, this time of the year starts bringing on the start of depression for me again.  Top it off with I have to get surgery in a few weeks to check for uterine cancer, I’m really not flying too high because I’m more worried than anything.  Anytime the word “cancer” comes up, I panic and for good reason.  My mom died of this horrible, painful disease.

I was out walking in the woods the other day thinking about how tired I was of fighting and worrying about depression.  I was thinking, why can’t things just be normal for me?  No, it’s not normally a life-threatening disease (though it can be) and it isn’t cancer so I should be grateful it’s not more serious right?  My way of trying to look on the bright side.  Be positive.  I’m trying to figure out ways to be able to work out hard enough this winter because last year the gym membership didn’t help and hiking or walking doesn’t do enough.  Cycling has been the biggest help but I need to be able to do it for more than an hour and pretty vigorously.  My trainer I can’t ride more than 30 minutes if I’m lucky because riding in place is hard for me and my trainer is pretty hard to ride anyway.  I don’t run because of my bad knees so I was trying to come up with a solution.

Then the thought hit me, what if instead of fearing the depression, I just let go and go with the ebb and flow of it?  Except of course if it gets so bad that I am considering self-harm which hasn’t happened since I was first diagnosed with it ten years ago.  Actually, I wasn’t really considering self-harm, I was just wishing I wouldn’t wake up.  I suppose that is just as bad.  I always feel like I need to be “on top of it”.  But I’m tired of being super vigilant.  I wondered as I picked my way around the now bare trees on the trail, what if I just accepted the feelings?

What if I just laid on the couch for a week and watched Lifetime movies and ate crap?  What if the depression is really my body’s way of telling me listen, you need to stop, you need to take way better care of yourself not only physically but mentally and maybe step back and really look at what is making silently angry or what isn’t working in your life or what if there is a dream or purpose you are ignoring?  They say depression is really repressed anger which may be what affects the brain chemistry and considering I’m so sensitive to everything, it probably affects me sooner than other people.  Maybe I need to really look at my life, I am sure a lot of my anger is based on losing my mom and the way such a sweet, kind and loving person had to die.

Oh yeah, I’m pissed at cancer, it’s epidemic and no one seems to realize this.  I’m pissed at being treated less than a person at times at my job, though I console myself with the fact that isn’t just me that is treated that way there.  Corporations all over the world treat employees this way.  Sometimes I feel like starting my own business and putting people to work under me in a place that treats them as people and not numbers or stupid children would be proactive but it’s a lot of work owning your own business.  And it doesn’t feel like my particular calling.  Maybe there is a long suppressed dream of mine I am not fulfilling.  Maybe I need to focus more on my writing.  I suppose it could be anything.  But I owe it to myself to sort it out though I am guessing it’s not going to be instantaneous.

I am going to try an experiment of sorts.  I am going to start listening keenly to my body, my mind and my heart.  Stop doing the things I think I should if it goes against what I feel I want or need.  Granted, I still have to go to work, do laundry, grocery shop and clean the house but I think there is a lot I could do to honor what I need rather than pushing it off.  Things lie if I’m tired at 7:00 p.m., I’ll go too bed and not listen to the people giving me a hard time about being old.  Or if I want a candy bar, I’ll eat it but if I want an orange I’ll eat that too.  Or maybe I don’t feel like exercising like a maniac, so I don’t.  Or I would rather hike than bike.  Maybe trying to meet mileage goal for the year on my bike isn’t something that is truly important to me.  If I was training for competition, maybe this makes sense.  But I’m not.

For a little while at least, I’m going to just give in and take care of myself regardless of what other people think or say.  I will take care of my responsibilities and double check that I’m not doing too much for someone else who should do for themselves.  I’m good at that, caretaking, without even noticing it.  I have a tendency to jump in where I shouldn’t.  I should just listen and not fix.

Listening to my body is something I have been working on for years.  Listening to my needs and wants is going to be a little newer for me.  Trusting myself, my body is something that I’ve been trying to do but now I need to move it up to a more finite level.  Picking out the small cues I was taught to ignore.  I’m anxious and excited to see what changes this will make in my life.  I have a hunch, once I do this, I may not be fighting depression as much.  I also have a hunch that once I start honoring my calling and path (as New Agey as that sounds), the depression might subside altogether.  And if it does show up, I will just roll with it as it is telling my body something, delivering an important message.  Maybe to slow down, maybe to exercise more, maybe to not eat crap, maybe to stand up and say NO.

Maybe sometimes fighting depression isn’t the right thing.  Maybe it just means I need to listen more closely and cross each bridge as I come to them.  

Recreating Yourself aka Midlife Crisis

Do you ever have a moment where you think, wow, I’d like to halt time, recreate who I am and then start a different life?  Even if your life is good but there’s something just nagging at you, maybe you are not following a dream or trapped in a bad relationship or something your entire self is trying to tell you?  I think everyone has these moments and for me it seems to hit more now that I’m in my mid-40’s and my life is really good.  I believe the magazine writers call it “second act” or “second-half” or well, “midlife crisis”.

But is it really a crisis?  Or is it just a time you pause after being on the same track for many years.  The track of getting through your education, finding a job, forwarding your career or whatever direction you took.  Finding a mate, maybe having a few kids or a houseful of kids, acquiring the typical material possessions such as a home, vehicles, a trip to Disney or whatever it was that you wanted.  Then you reach a certain age and SCREECH.  Everything comes to a halt.

You’re standing there thinking what the hell?  Suddenly you aren’t running kids everywhere, attending twenty-three events in a week for them.  They’re off to college or maybe the older ones out of college.  You aren’t needed every moment of the day.  Then you realize you’re at a good place in your job or whatever career path you chose, maybe you own a successful business.  You’re in a groove, you got it down pat, it’s really not that challenging anymore but you’re in a comfortable place and you make a comfortable living, maybe even more than comfortable.  Your house is stuffed full of things you’ve acquired over the years, your closets are crammed full of clothing where maybe in college, you barely had enough to get by a week.  You’ve arrived.

Okay, so you’ve reached that pinnacle but the thing is, no one told you – “what next?”  or you never really thought about it.  Oh you’ve been saving hard for retirement, you’ll go fishing, travel, watch Wheel of Fortune because you know that show will still be on as Pat and Vanna come out with a wheelchair and walker, that show is never going off the air.  But in a way, you’re a bit in retirement already or it feels that way.  You have a lot more free time and you’re not quite sure what to do with it all.  I’m sure this isn’t everyone, but I’m not one that likes to commit myself to a lot of organizational activities.

You start daydreaming, what do I want to be when I grow up?  Honestly, it is much like when you were in school and you had to start thinking about this question in earnest.  When college recruiters and guidance counselors and teachers were breathing down your neck?  What are you going to do after school?  As if you were supposed to have your entire life figured out by age 17.  I laugh about that now.  Some people know exactly what they want to be by the time they are 10.  “I’m going to be a neurosurgeon.”  I always looked at these people as if they were an alien, that they were so definite in their plans.

Me, I have so many interests and likes that it was more like: “I’m going to own my own business, a florist shop but then I want to have a nursery with it and then a coffee shop where people can enjoy good drinks and pastries but then I will offer art classes and display different artists for sale but then I want o have an animal rescue on part of the property and then…”   By the time I was done, the name of my business would have had to be so long to encompass what I wanted, that no one would really understand what it was.  Actually I envied those people who were so sure of their calling because my calling felt like a career advisor on crack was trying to help me.   My biggest fear was that I would pick the wrong “calling”.

Maybe there is no one certain calling for me.  Which is why I am back to trying on hats, mentally of course, doing research, weighing the pros and cons of different avenues that I could take in my life right now.  Mostly, it’s a creative avenue that doesn’t require me to quit my job and move into another.  I am more likely to tell you what I don’t want to do rather than what I want.  Except writing.  Maybe that is my calling, to finally publish a novel.  Maybe to be a mixed media type of artist and sell my stuff (that I have in my mind and have not created) in different markets.  Or maybe I really am the crazy cat lady and will start a cat rescue where I have hundreds of cats and will then soon be divorced – ha…

In many ways, the ‘crisis’ is not that at all but a valley where you take a few moments out of your life to explore new avenues and try on new identities.  Not that you literally go to some shady guy in the city (or small town probably now) to get a fake ID and passport then disappear leaving your family to believe you are dead.  It doesn’t have to be that drastic.  Now is the time when you start thinking about the things you really enjoy and love, your passions.  There may be ways to not upheave your entire life and still try on the new “you” as you use your new free time that once was monopolized by your children or whatever it was, to focus on the things you enjoy the most.  Or maybe it is time to consider going back to school for that career you really wanted but for whatever reason you chose a different path (usually parental pressure or something just the income potential was higher).

There is so much stigma with this part of your life.  Mid-life but while it can be very challenging especially if you are dealing with sick or aging parents, layoffs, your own health issues, etc., but it can also be very exciting as you take that second breath and start looking at your new future with the wisdom of many years under your belt.  All that “I wish I had known this in my 20’s” can be applied to your 40’s and 50’s instead.  You can’t go back anyway, only be in today and look toward your future.

So don’t be afraid to recreate yourself, even if it’s just a small part of your life.  You don’t have to go hog wild crazy and disrupt everything and everyone around you like the stereotype of “mid-life crisis” demands.  Sure, there are people who do that.  Leave their long time spouse for someone younger than their kids, buy a wildly expensive sports car and start dressing ridiculous.  That is the extreme case.  I was thinking more along the lines as starting that small business on the side you always wanted, crafting jewelry or painting, traveling to those places you dreamt about, volunteering for a cause close to your heart or changing careers.

The bottom line is, life is short and you should take the time to really search your heart and follow your dreams you may have missed.  It’s never to late to recreate (okay, I have no aspirations to be a poet, you can breathe easy!).