With a bit of self-love and motivation, midlife can be a time for big positive changes. Here is a bit of advice from Best Knickers Always by Rebecca Perkins
We all have a choice
We always have a choice in our attitude towards a situation. If we say we don’t, we become a victim of our circumstances. Choose your response to a situation and leave the role of victim to be played by others.
Do something that scares you
Life in my comfort zone was OK: it was safe, easy and risk-free – but in all honesty it wasn’t joyful, exciting or that enjoyable. We grow when we move out of our comfort zone, so take a risk: write that letter, go for that job. You’ll feel strong and alive for that little stretch.
I see many women around me who are finally finding their voice in midlife, who believe what they have to say is of value. Don’t be afraid of becoming more forthright and standing up for what you believe in.
Be less available
People will leave a message if it’s that important. We don’t really need to post another comment on Facebook or reply to that text in the middle of lunch. It can be nurturing to switch off sometimes.
Put together a playlist
Mine is called Best Knickers Always Kitchen Disco, and it was one of the best things I did. When I hear those feelgood songs I walk taller, I move my body and I feel more “me” than ever before. Play them when the blues strike – and when you’re feeling on top of the world.
Cultivate green fingers
Whether you have a balcony or a meadow, grow mint (for Pimms and tea), chamomile (to rub between your fingers for instant calm), lavender (for memories of hot holidays) and fragrant roses. Every time I go into my small garden I twist mint leaves between my fingers and rub chamomile into my hands. These are precious moments.
It’s OK to edit your friendship list
I have culled my list of friends a number of times in my life. It’s OK to let some go – it’s usually the ones who don’t accept or welcome your growth. Friendships should be be enriching, not draining, and those that have faded become exhausting. Perhaps it’s time to reassess some of your friendships and decide whether your values coincide any longer.
Reward yourself for tiny achievements, especially during tough times. Perhaps a piece of cake and a cup of tea in the garden when a small section of work has been completed, or a few squares of chocolate for surviving a dreadful day. Don’t keep celebrations for special occasions – find something to celebrate today.
Have a hero or mentor
This could be a writer you admire or a relative or friend you look up to – I still miss my grandfather, the man I turned to when I doubted the big things in life. I often ask myself: “What would Pa say?”
Walk barefoot whenever you can
Being in contact with the earth, sand, grass, wood – even carpet – connects you with your surroundings. Consciously planting your feet directly on the ground gives balance and stability, which you feel mentally as well as physically.
Tackle a fear head-on
I used to feel physically sick when I thought about looking at my bank statements, which were always left in a pile on the kitchen table. But when I became a single parent I needed to take responsibility so I faced it head-on. Now I open my post and check my finances online – and my life is less stressful as a result.
Women thrive with girlfriends. We share, we support, we give. I know that my journey these past few years has been made bearable because of their unconditional support. Who are the friends you could call at 3am?
What could you do that’s a little different and out of character? Learn a musical instrument or the samba? Volunteer for something you’re passionate about? I still haven’t ruled out a tattoo. What would you like to do?
Visit friends alone: the sheer joy of browsing the airport or railway shops and enjoying a quiet coffee is nothing short of sublime after so many years spent as a parent, organizing passports and standing at check-ins with children. It is incredible to be without a schedule, to be able to marvel at your surroundings and spend time in complete silence, just listening.
Every cloud has a silver lining
You hear people say that a serious illness was the best thing that happened to them, once they’ve recovered, or that a divorce, however painful, turned out to be a good thing. Whatever happens to you, believe in silver linings: the sun always follows the rain.
Have big dreams
Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too old. Write down your wildest dreams – you’ll be amazed at what you draw into your life by doing so. Even the biggest dreams begin with one step. Be clear about your goals, write them down and have a plan. As George Eliot wrote, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.