Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wellness Wednesday: Midlife Crisis

As a result of this post, by the incredible Brene Brown, I left a comment. My quick fix to my own mid-life crisis was to get a convertible. But more than that, my long fix to my mid-life crisis took far more effort:

I believe the key to a smooth, and somewhat graceful, mid-life transition is twofold: adjust your attitude to one of acceptance and embrace what you cannot change; and, treat yourself with kindness, generosity even.

What does this mean? Simply it means you have to give up control. Control over perceptions. Control over reactions. Control over anything you have no control over! Sounds very simple but it was the hardest thing I've ever done, well, except quit smoking, that was really hard.

I struggle to breathe and let go every day. I am filled, okay, overly filled with opinions, but I generally keep them to myself. I find it funny that many things are attributed to me, but no one, with the exception of Louis and a couple of girlfriends, has actually heard me say anything on topic A, B or C. Why? Because my opinions about things I cannot control mean nothing - to anyone. They are just fodder for gossip and I've "been there, done that" and am no longer interested in participating in unnecessary drama. My silence has created it's own drama, but for that I can take no responsibility.

See how that works?

I am responsible for my actions, even my inaction. Not for the reaction to it. For that, the one reacting is responsible. Once you embrace that you can control only that which you can control you can take the first step toward a content existence. That is what I want. Content.

Authentic. Mindful. Purposeful. Content.

People who think badly of you want to. There is absolutely nothing you can do to convince them otherwise. Some more open-minded types will see your actions and might change their mind or they may become more steadfast in their opinion. But really, does it matter? Why bother? Choose to be with people who want to be with you.

There are blips in my contentment. I do not live in a bubble. But my attitude has changed so that I handle my reactions differently. Often with silence. I'm learning to take it all in, mull a bit, marinate over a reaction and either react; or, just flesh it out with Louis or one of a few very tolerant and kind girlfriends (you've met them all here on this blog in the last couple of months); or, not bother.

Accept your choices. Live with them. Make the most of every opportunity given to you. Control what you can control. Surround yourself with people who make you happy, or at the very least content and safe.

Be generous to yourself. That generosity can come in many forms. Give something to yourself in whatever form means the most to you. In my case, I'm a stay-at-home-photo-taking-blog-writing-mess-making-mother-of-four who felt caged. A nice cage. But caged. What did I do? After making sure I wasn't taking anything away from anyone I love: time, effort, energy, means, opportunity, whatever, I bought myself a cute little convertible. It affords me the freedom, when things get crazy, to go on a bit of a holiday: put the top down, turn the music on and go for a drive. Usually my break takes me the length of Lakeshore Road from one end of Burlington to the other end of Oakville, into Mississauga and home again; sometimes I venture to Niagara; sometimes even further. But it was a small price to pay for some relative sanity :)

So, Lee-Ann, for you: it's a blue Toyota Solara Convertible. Here's the picture:

No, you don't have to go out and buy a car! Being kind to yourself comes in many forms. It is what makes YOU uniquely happy, content, safe. What do you need to give to yourself to provide you with the sensation you seek: Feedom? Creativity? Inclusion? Pretty toes? It can cost, or not. Just take the time to recognize what you need then address it, with kindness and generosity.

I also don't think this is my only mid-life crisis! I believe there will be four: life as it relates to people who surround us; age as it relates to our health; age as it relates to our family; and, our expectations of ourselves.
  1. This crisis provided me with the spiritual and mental tools to deal with the people I allow, and continue to allow, in my life.
  2. My hormones have been, off and on, reminding me that menopause is on it's way. My knees have been reminding me that I am no longer the athlete of my youth. My scale has been reminding me that it's far past time to get serious and find out why eating right and excercise is not helping me lose weight. My health has to be made a priority. Not turn into a crisis.
  3. Because I had my children later, I imagine this crisis will happen later than it will for some of my peers, but no doubt I'll have some company! I was 30 when I married and had all four children by 2000. That means it will be 2018 by the time my youngest is old enough to be on his own. I expect a melt down when we reach that natural eventuality.
  4. My ongoing issue is my expectation of myself. I swing somewhere between being proud of myself and my accomplishments and my crushing disappointment that I have not accomplished more in my life. So far. It's the "so far" that keeps me going.
At any rate, I'll be one of the first in line to buy Brene's next book. I'm happy to get all the help I can find. I agree: "The time has come to let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are." And there is no time like the present!

How do you handle your mid life changes?


Ryzmomplus2 said...

OMG I so love this post. It speaks to me in so many ways, and I might need to copy it, link and and remember it in future posts of my own. I have learned over many years the same thing of not being able to control what people think of you, but you can control your attitude and give up control to things you can't control. And yes, I quit smoking, so I know what you mean about the hardest thing besides that quitting smoking!

Kyla said...

My life is a constant state of crises, but I think I'm just so used to it, it washes right off of me. I started the "unraveling" process about 7 years ago, and there is so much I am learning along the way. I may have to do a blog post on this one, too! There is so much more to learn and I think it's a life long process. It never truly ends, but you can find joy at each stop along the way, if you can just force yourself to slow down and adjust your thinking.

Thank you so much for sharing! You're such a blessing. ;)

Holly A said...

Lee, I totally loved this post! Thank you for sharing it.

Jayne said...

Thank you for a great view. As always I enjoy your thoughts and thank you for sharing them with me Lee. I alway tell my kids - the only thing you can control is yourself...sorta goes along with some of yoru thoughts.

karim said...

Very thoughtfull post on wellness. It should be very much helpfull

Karim - Creating Power