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.
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.