Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

 ‘Midlife Crisis’ Can Become ‘Midlife Opportunity’

By Maggie Lamond Simone   

 

“What do you want to do with your life?” It’s a question I ask my college students this time of year to help them define their goals, and I’m beginning to realize the silliness of the question. It’s almost like asking people casually at the grocery store what they did over summer break — expecting them to sum up 10 weeks of their lives in a sentence. Not an easy task.

And sometimes the answer can’t be summed up anyway. For instance, this summer I went to Disney for the first time, which would be easy to convey. I also learned that I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life, which might take more than the time allotted in the checkout line.

The summer began the same as it always has, with vacation plans and weekend plans and cookout plans; having the summers off with my kids has always kept me busy, and I enjoy being busy. This year, however, they started making their own plans as well — to hang out with friends and sign up for sports camps and go to the pool.

And they didn’t need me to help them.

The boy, of course, has been pretty self-sufficient for a couple years. But by virtue of her status as the youngest, I’ve continued to “service” my daughter — filling every role from cook, maid and chauffeur, to professional watcher — sports camps, afternoons at the pool, flashlight tag — I was there. Until this summer.

This summer, she was old enough to be at the pool by herself. She rode her bike both to the pool and to the daily recreation program, as well as to her friends’ houses. She cleaned up after herself and folded her own laundry. She went to overnight camp for a week. She stayed home by herself if I needed to do errands.

And while she discovered her independence, I discovered something about mine: I have no idea anymore what to do with it.

The first morning that both kids were gone for the day, I sat in my comfy chair with my coffee and thought, “Wow! This is cool! A whole day to myself!” I went to the driving range, did a little shopping, a little cleaning… a little of everything.

The second day, however, I sat in my chair and thought, “Huh. My ‘little of everything’ is done. The house is clean, the shopping done. And I have all day to fill. What do I do now?”

And that’s when it hit me. I don’t know what I enjoy anymore. I hadn’t anticipated that it would ever come up, apparently, because in the grand plan of my life, I didn’t plan for this. I knew I wanted to have kids, and I knew I wanted to be a writer. I’ve done both, yet suddenly they’re not enough.

When I was a kid, we essentially chose a career, worked toward it, and if we wanted to have a family, we worked on that too. But I don’t remember ever thinking beyond that, as though, in my head, once those goals were met, life was complete. Done. Fini. Evidently I assumed that people retired at 50 and eventually just died, because I don’t remember ever thinking beyond that point.

Now, at 50, I could conceivably have another half century ahead of me, with no idea of how I might want to spend it. Volunteering? Horseback riding? Fostering dogs? I don’t know. I will always be a mother, although I’m seeing now how that role can change over time; I will always be a writer, and I’m beginning to see how that role can change as well. But if I have these extra years, this found time, I’d like to make use of them.

Maybe I shouldn’t ask my students what they want to do with their lives. Maybe that’s where I got hung up all those years ago, thinking that there must only be one right answer. Maybe I could help them more by asking them what I’m now asking myself:

What do you want to do first?

*****

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 thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

 

Myths About Aging You Need to Forget – Part 2

by Aleta Pippin

Myth #3 You Will Become Crabby and Self-absorbed

Some people are just plain rude and as they get older, they use their age as an excuse to become even more biting in their remarks. You find yourself steering clear of them, don’t you? What about the person who goes on and on about the ache in their back, their sore feet, the pain in their head, their high blood pressure, etc. You probably don’t want to be around them, do you?

The truth is that you don’t have to become crabby and self-absorbed when you have something outside of yourself to focus on. What’s important to you? What would you like to accomplish? Spend time there.

Will you become crabby and self-absorbed? No. The truth is that you’re full of enthusiasm, which means enthused with spirit. You trust the natural order and progression of life.

Myth #4 Menopause Is an Illness

When I was about five years old I was with my aunt at a church rummage sale. I looked up and saw a woman with a thick black moustache. Yanking on Aunt Mil’s dress, I pointed my pudgy finger toward the woman exclaiming in a very loud voice, “Look – she has a moustache! Why does she have a moustache?”

“Ssshhh….we don’t talk about things like that,” was the response from Aunt Mil.

Why don’t we talk about things like that? Did your mother discuss menopause with you or was it one of those “forbidden” subjects, like the moustache? When I hit adolescence, my mother hit menopause. Not a pretty sight. There were times when I couldn’t do or say anything that didn’t set her off. Her doctor put her on Valium for a short time. Thank goodness we’ve transcended that mentality. Yet, it seems that the medical community is still treating menopause as an illness.

Is menopause an illness? No! It’s an opportunity for introspection and growth.

Myth #5 You’re Going to Lose Your Mind

Dementia is actually the result of other illnesses, many of which result from lifestyle choices. Some of the conditions that cause dementia are depression, drug reactions, thyroid, nutritional deficiencies, infections, and alcoholism. Most of those are treatable.

Is dementia your path? Not really. Less than 5% of the population under the age of 80 suffer from it. The truth about you is you are creative.

Myth #6  You’re No Longer Sexually Appealing

Sophia Loren said, “Sex appeal is 50% what you’ve got and 50% what people think you’ve got.” That sounds like attitude to me. Thank goodness, AARP recently did a sex survey that said we’re still going to be doing it into our later years. And yes, we’re still appealing to our partners.

Will you lose your sex appeal? No. The truth is that you are love.

Myth #7 Your Vitality Will Diminish

Forty-six percent of Americans worry about declining health in their older years. Here’s a tip – hang around with positive people. Surround yourself with people who care about you. Have something you care about. Be a contributor. When you feel as if you’re making a difference and that your life matters, you summon passion, which is life force.

As long as you’re focused on moving toward a desire, you will not lose vitality. The truth is that you are passionate.

Take these 7 Myths About Aging and forget every one of them because they do not have to become your reality. Go out there and participate in this wonderful experience we call life. And remember the truth about you – you are loving, wise, powerful, creative, enthusiastic, passionate and unlimited potential.

*****

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 thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

7  Myths About Aging You Need to Forget – Part 1

by Aleta Pippin

When I was 18, I thought I’d know everything. In my 20’s I thought I had to wear my hair above my jaw line to look younger. In my 30’s I thought cream would hold the wrinkles at bay. In my 40’s I believed exercise would stop my butt from falling. As I approached 50, I thought Prozac would be a necessary aid to make it through menopause. These are myths.

It turns out there are a lot of myths about aging like the 7 Myths You Need to Forget. The media promotes aging as a “problem.” That’s simply not true. Let’s do some myth busting.

Myth #1 You Have No Control Over How Your Body Ages

You do have a great deal of control over how your body ages. Consider – only 30% of aging is genetics. A whopping 70% is the result of lifestyle choices. There are obvious lifestyle choices, like exercise, diet, whether you drink and how much, whether you smoke, and how you deal with stress. But what about less obvious lifestyle choices like how your job or career impacts your stress levels? Or whether family members are driving you nuts. Even the idea that you’re getting older and how you’re going to deal with it becomes a lifestyle choice.

Listening to your inner critic is also a lifestyle choice. What’s your inner critic constantly saying to you? Is it saying that you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not attractive enough? When you get together with friends and acquaintances, do you tell them about your aches and pains? Your body is congealed consciousness and the words you select to define who you are do not fall on deaf ears. Your body is listening. Optimists live 19% longer than pessimists.

How do you picture yourself? The process of visualization is the most powerful tool for change known. But for visualization to work, you have to evoke your senses and emotions. You have to believe your visualization is as real as what you “see” around you.

Is it true that you have no control over how your body ages? No. The truth is that you are unlimited potential.

Myth #2 You’ll Become Frail

When I was about five years old, we used to go to my great aunt’s farm. I loved going there. There was so much to see and do. I remember my great grandfather sitting in a straight-back wooden chair wedged in the doorway between the dining room and the stairway. We’d run through the room, occasionally stopping to talk. He always had a bag of Wintergreens in his lap and would give each of us one. I’ll never forget my memory of him as rigid and brittle.

That was the misperception of a child. Let’s face it, when you’re five, 18 seems old. The reality is that only about 4% of Americans under the age of 74 need assisted living. And there’s a wide variety of what’s considered assisted living.

A commercial debuted during the Super Bowl showing an elderly woman jogging down the street drinking Tropicana. They surveyed several people afterwards to determine which of the new commercials held people’s interest. This is what Jim Bosso said about the Tropicana commercial. “I thought it was hysterical. You don’t expect to see an old lady running down the street like that.”

He’s right. Most of us don’t expect to see a senior female jogging down the street. I’d say it’s time we change our expectations.

Will you become frail as you age? Not necessarily. The truth about you is that you are powerful.

Tomorrow: Myths About Aging You Need to Forget – Part 2

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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 thequeenofmyself@aol.com.


The process of maturing is an art to be learned, an effort to be sustained. By the age of fifty you have made yourself what you are, and if it is good, it is better than your youth.

~Marya Mannes

Between this blog, The Queen of My Self fan page on Facebook and my monthly Ezine, The Queen’s Chronicles, I get a lot of comments from women everywhere who are transitioning into their own powerful potential as a fully sovereign Queens.

I would like to share some of these thoughts, as I believe they speak to the interest of all the 60 million midlife women out there. Should these spark your own thoughts. Fabulous! And if they inspire to you send in your thoughts and ideas to share, even better.

 

“I’m always happy to see women reclaiming age. We have to figure out what it means on our own, questioning everything that society tells us. This is work that all of us are doing, just as we’re reclaiming our gender expression and our spiritual practices.

In a still male-dominated society, an aging woman is seen through male eyes. No longer a traditional sex object, and so derided? But also feared, because of some very ancient conditioning. Early on, elderly women must have been the most valuable asset in tribal cultures. Memory and experience were priceless, since that was what kept everyone alive. Elderly men would have been revered, too, but elderly women would have more intimate knowledge of body changes, cycle and healing. And so I have no doubt that we were the authority figures for thousands of years.

And as the patriarchal overthrow meant the suppression of women’s primeval power, so it buried the power of old women. Our social roles have narrowed down because we retain the tendency to speak truth and to naturally exert authority. In order to prevail, patriarchy has to turn us into cartoon characters – just as they’ve done with the witch and with so many aspects of womanhood.

It makes sense, from nature’s viewpoint, that elderly women would have special gifts, gifts that we’ve been honing our entire lives. Nature doesn’t waste anything, least of all experience.

I am really curious to hear what age means to other women. For me, it’s been a much more balanced and self-aware place to be. My mind has settled down. It’s the difference between choice & compulsion. When I was younger, I felt compelled to push, struggle, and take on challenges. Now, when I do those things, I do them from a sense of choice.

Old women often discard the mask of femininity and stand revealed in our true power. But it can be very scary to step out of a firmly-entrenched social role and that’s why women are scurrying to “look younger.” To take on our atrophied power is not easy. We all have to recognize it first, and then we have to work together.

But to my mind this is the only thing that will save the planet at this junction in history. And I think it’s the message of the epoch, the message of Pluto in Capricorn, the sign of age and wisdom.”

– Jenny, Germany

 

Amen. I am in my mid 40’s and finally know. I understand and appreciate myself. Life is fantastic!!!

– Tracy, OH

 

This is so true. During my 30s and early 40s I wished to return to my 20s. Now, in my late 40s, I am so glad to be where I am in life’s journey.

– Cyndi, CA

 

So right you are sister. At 70 I am who I am and proud to be Queen of Self. Life is a stage and I love the part I now play.

– Micklo, CA

 

Soooooooooo true! And it only gets better and better. 🙂

– Diana, NM

 

Yes! I am very happy with who I have become!

– Brenda, BC, Canada

 

Yes! The handcrafted Self is worth the journey it takes to get here!

– Lynlee, CA

 

My 50’s are just sooo much FUN!

– Donna, MT

 

What are YOUR thoughts on getting older? Please leave a comment and share you ideas and experiences. Thanks.

*****

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™