I will be turning 42 this year and while I might be the answer to “life, the universe, and everything” this year, I definitely don’t have all the answers but I might have some.
I honestly don’t know what the definition is of “mid-life” anymore since our life spans have steadily charted in the upwards trajectory for the past few centuries but i have come to a place in my life where I have enough time to look back at the past with some fond reminiscing about “in my day” but still enough to look forward to see the future with wonder and possibility (I hope…it’s getting a little dicey out there).
In my almost 42 trips around the sun at this point I have come to a few understandings:
- “Be yourself, everyone is already taken” but don’t forget about everyone else. Who knows where this quote actually originated from and I think there is some truth to being yourself. We have to be ourselves — so dance to the music in the grocery store or wear the clothes that you were “TOO” whatever to wear when you were younger but in the journey to become the women who wear red hats with purple dresses (or whatever old ladies that have stopped giving a f*** about other people’s opinions do) don’t forget that other people exist and our survival depends on what we can accomplish as a community. No one exists in a vacuum or on an island. I tried to act as if I did for a great many years and sometimes I still fall into those patterns but as my hair has started to change from brown to gray I’ve realized that I need help from other people and they need help from me. We are, after all, in this together.Spend time wisely but waste time just as wisely. Our society generally does not encourage rest. It’s getting better because we’re at least talking about it but the conversations around rest seem highly performative and privileged. We need to talk about what rest really looks like and FEELS like. For me, sitting and binge watching an entire season of something in a night or two may look like rest but at the end of the day it doesn’t actually feel restful. Rest is not just supposed to be escapism or numbing; it is supposed to be an activity that feels good. After two episodes in a row or mindless doom scrolling I can start to feel the difference in my body and mind when I tip the scales from rest to numbing. Find what that feels like in your body and notice what rest feels fulfilling and rejuvenating and what just feels like wasting time. For me, nourishing rest looks like writing, reading, and walking in nature — after those activities I feel refreshed and ready to go back to the “real world”.Move — your body will thank you for it. Start somewhere no matter how small. Our bodies were designed to move. We survived because we could hunt and run during the heat of the day when other animals were resting. Doesn’t matter if you can only do 5 minutes — start somewhere and keep it up. I am starting to feel my warranty running out and I am cursing my younger self who didn’t find a way to stick with any of my activities. I am starting to feel the aches and pains in some joints from a body that has carried too much weight and not been utilized properly. I’m trying to roll that clock back a little bit and I’m making progress but if I had just developed habits and routines instead of berating myself I would be in a much better place now.Keep exploring and gaining knowledge. In this day and age we have information at our fingertips through the internet, podcasts, books/audiobooks, magazines, apps, etc…. Take some time every day/week/month to step outside your comfort zone and learn something. In this global world our focus can be so small (see number one). By taking some time to read news from another country (I like BBC or Al Jezeera) or listening to podcasts about all the things you didn’t pay attention to in high school (don’t worry, I didn’t either!) this wide, beautiful, wonderful, and oftentimes difficult world is open to us. And we should experience it.And don’t worry about the mess — you’ll always make another one.
As I round out this trip around the sun I still have time to “live deliberately” because I know that, for better or for worse, I am on the other side of the hill at this point.
I am starting to see the end of this tunnel called life and when I’m done I want to live a life that makes my daughter proud.
Here’s to the next leg of this journey!