Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mid-Life Crisis (?)

I had a stark realization the other day.  I was surfing the net to find some parks and recs programs and local places of interest when my eye was drawn to the Activities section.  I was scanning the various options which included Hobbies and Interests, Nature and Outdoors, Special Events, and then I came upon it --- the three little words that stopped me dead in my tracks:  50 Plus Programs.

Oh my word -- for the past two decades I have never given that section a thought.  That was for the gray-haired old ladies who want to play bridge.  But now???  Now I am officially a member of 50 Plus age group. How did this happen?  How did I get here?  I still think of myself as late thirties, early forties --- when did I enter the AARP demographic group?

Perhaps I have subconsciously known this shift in life is occurring.  Perhaps this is why I have embarked on so many new interests lately:  writing, art appreciation, and photography.  Perhaps I have come to realize that the expression, "I will do that some year" now has a sense of urgency.  There are only so many "some years" left and while I feel young and have good health, I should take advantage of every moment available to me.  While some may choose to experience a mid-life crisis with an extra-marital affair or plastic surgery to recapture their youthful looks --- I choose to celebrate this "crisis" by enriching my life and my mind with new artistic pursuits.

I am currently reading a small little book entitled, Creating a Charmed Life by Victoria Moran.  I first learned about this book several months ago when Jenners gave it such high praises, but I have only just now made the time to leisurely read her common sense advice.  Just yesterday I read the chapter entitled Live Your Life in Chapters and I found myself nodding in agreement with each passing paragraph.  I think this is what I have done - without knowing what to call it.  I think for me each chapter of life was not only based on a certain age, but also on certain expectations:
  • education chapter:  I not only learned to benefit myself, but I was also compelled to earn good grades to please my parents.  This was something that I wanted to do, but nevertheless, it was an added responsibility.
  • newly married chapter:  I not only became a  responsible adult who could support myself, but I also wanted to support and nurture my husband.  Learning to live "with" someone is entirely different than just dating someone.
  • young parent chapter:  I had yearned to be a parent for as long as I could remember.  I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and give them my undivided attention.  The personal sacrifices made were made out of choice - but I felt that choice necessitated I put my own life on hold.
  • second career chapter:  while I did not go seeking this late-in-life career option, I simply cannot imagine my life without teaching as a major component.  However, the learning curve has been great and the personal free time has been solely devoted to that one area of life.
But now...I find myself in a new phase of life.  I don't like the sound of 50 Plus....but I like the benefits.  I like that my children are grown (well, nearly grown - the youngest will graduate high school next May), and that they have full, productive lives of their own.  That was my goal all along - and now that it has been achieved, I can begin to focus on me.  

I like that I now have a professional career that gives me a great deal of satisfaction - and one in which I now feel confident and comfortable.  While I will always seek to improve lesson plans and enrich my own learning, I do not feel that I have to devote all my free time to this one exclusive area.

I like that I have found other interests that stimulate my creative side -- a part of me that has lain dormant for far too long.  I like that the internet allows me to find others who are in similar life situations and we can encourage one another to try new activities and soar to new heights.

And...I like the fact that I can see retirement at the end of the tunnel.  I anticipate another decade or so of working, but that gives me time to research and plan all the trips that I hope Geoff and I can take before we become too feeble to travel to far-away destinations like England, France, and Italy.

Am I experiencing a mid-life crisis --- or just excited to be coming into my own?  I don't know, perhaps a bit of both, but I think I like it.


21 comments:

Diane said...

Molly,

I read this insightful post and found myself nodding all the way. I often ask myself the same questions. How is it that it will be 40 years next year since I graduated from high school, when at times it still feels like maybe 10 years since I was summering on the beach and had few responsibilities?

I don't feel my age, but that mean old mirror tells all. My 30-something children also are a constant reminder to enjoy each day and live it like it was my last. The little things are so insignificant in the big picture these days.

Rejoice in who you are and where you are in your life Molly.

JoAnn said...

What a fabulous post!! You know we're at the same stage, and I love your attitude!

bermudaonion said...

Oh, I know how you feel! I went to an event last week and my first thought when I got there was, "this only appeals to older women." I took my seat and looked around a little better and came to realize that most of the women weren't any older than I am. I love parts of this age and I'm not crazy about others.

Vivienne said...

I loved this post! I am still 12 years off the big 50, but I already have that sense of urgency. I find I can't abide wasting time and want to fill it with new things. I love my girls to bits, but I look forward to having more me time in the future too.

Wendy said...

Thanks for this wonderful post, Molly. I'm right behind you...I'll be turning 50 in August...and can SO relate. I don't have kids, but everything else you said is so true. I have been wanting to do it all, feeling like time is running out sometimes...and I like where I am right now. I would love to retire in 10 years...and like you, travel is in my plans! I also still think of myself as "younger"....*laughs*

Beth F said...

I am older than you are, but so far I haven't been sad about aging.

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Imagine, if you will, purchasing senior tickets at the movies, and having nobody ask for your ID! Now that hurts, especially since everyone I know tells me I don't look my age. But then again, those who are working behind the ticket window are CHILDREN...right?

To them, everyone is a senior citizen. lol

When I sold my house in the foothills, I did not even once contemplate going to a senior citizens complex when I started looking around. Sometimes I think I might enjoy the quiet and the opportunity to mingle with others in my age group...but not yet! So I will not complain when the children playing outside throw a ball at my window...oh, no!

As for second careers, I am finally doing something I have always wanted to do...write! So I have the getting older part to thank for that.

What's that saying? You're not getting older, you're getting BETTER.

Janel said...

This reminds me of my favorite quote: It's never too late to be what you might have been.

You're only as old or young as you feel. As long as you feel good and enjoy your life keep living it however you want!!

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

I love this post Molly. Of course I'm much older than you but that's only a problem if you're just looking at the numbers.

I really like how you focused on chapters of your life. That's a much more positive way of looking at life, especially for us bookworms.

This chapter I'm in right now - retirement life - is so much fun and so exciting. Every day I celebrate being alive and having the extra time to do all the things I really want to do. It sounds like you are doing the same thing at 50. Good for you.

detweilermom said...

I will be joining the 50plus catergory on my next birthday. I have been receiving AARP literature for several years now in the mail which I promptly throw in the mail. I just told my soon to be 15 year old that I will be 49 for the rest of my life. I have never been someone who really cared how old I was until this milestone birthday. I will embrace it and enjoy the benefits. thanks for an inciteful post.

caite said...

it hit me when I started getting mail from AARP...lol

Florinda said...

I'm a few years shy of 50, but I can relate to a lot of what you've said here, Molly. I've been feeling a sense of "coming into my own" through my 40's, and I hope it keeps growing. As you mention, there may not be so many "next years," so there's no time like the present!

Jenners said...

It doesn't sound like a crisis to me ... more like a rebirth or reinvention!!! That chapter on "the chapters" really resonated with me too ... it was a neat way to look at life and it makes sense. I think you just need to redefine this stage by not tying it to a number ... and I have to tell you, I dream about this stage as the whole "having young kids" stage is a bit exhausting!!!

You're wonderful!!!

Staci said...

Your post was inspiring to me. I'm 41 and often have found myself reflecting back on my life. The book that you're reading sounds very interesting. I don't think you're having a "mid-life crisis" at all. Enjoy this new phase of your life!

Inside A Book said...

Long ago I decided that age was just a number.... but it is a bit harder when mid-life became inevitable for ME and not just my mom or my husband!! Your post was right up my alley. Does that mean I'm in denial??

I loved the comments from the book that prompted looking at life as chapters, but I'm with you, I don't like the "title" of the chapter; I just love the perks!

Pablo Picasso summed up what I want to become - "It takes a long time to become young." Here's to doing all the things we can to do to grow young in style!!

Great post.

Alyce said...

It sounds like you are experience your mid-life crisis in the most constructive way possible. Exploring new interests and hobbies is awesome! :)

theludicreader said...

Today is my 49th birthday - so I hear you. I am trying to think of 50 as the new 40...mostly because I don't feel anything like what I imagined 50 would feel. I keep thinking of what my mom always said: age is just a number.

Vasilly said...

Molly, instead of saying it's a mid-life crisis, I'm going to say you and I are coming into our own. I'm younger than you but I feel like it might be time for me to come into my own too. I'm trying to figure out what direction to take my life in that gives me satisfaction and how to make the changes to do so. Thanks for sharing this with us.

kalahari-community said...

Hi, Molly -- Victoria Moran here, author of Creating a Charmed Life. Thanks so much for talking about my book in your beautiful blog. I just wanted to let you know that I now a sequel out, Living a Charmed Life, that I wrote last year, in my 50s instead of my 40s. It look at life from a ten-years-more-mature (but still magical) perspective. Thanks again for the mention and for reaching out to women who love wise words well put.

Kathleen said...

I can RELATE. You are definitely coming in to your own. The title of my blog "Boarding in my Forties" is all about me trying new things in midlife instead of having a crisis. I learned to snowboard a few years ago and have been trying new things and going new places ever since. I need to check out Creating a Charmed Life.

Lisa said...

Did you get that nasty little envelop from AARP in the mail yet offering you a membership? I got one the other day and tore it up! I figure that until I can get a senior citizen's discount, I have no interest in acknowledging that I'm getting that old. Besides, 50 isn't really that old any more--but you're right, it is time to start doing all of those "someday" things.

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