I turned 42 last month, woot woot! I found out I’m officially going through early menopause, which at first sent me spirally through a dense fog of the scary unknown. I felt like everything I thought I knew had suddenly been bull-dozed. I was a middle-aged menopausal woman…what did that look like? Would one little word have to change everything? I considered it, cried about it, and finally relented to it. I finally decided there are some benefits to getting older.
1. I don’t neglect my passions. Something I am asked at least once per week is, “How do you find the time for writing, taking pictures, and everything else you do? I just wouldn’t have that kind of time.” If something is important to you; those precious babies you kiss good-night, your husband, your job, you don’t have to find time to spend time with them, you make the time. If the dust builds on the end tables in order for you to read Rapunzel to your daughter the 5th time, you do it because it’s important. If your husband needs you to show up for a company dinner, even though you have been up all night with a sick child, worked a full day, and smell like sour milk, you still make time for him. Writing is like that for me. It’s something I think about multiple times a day; whether it’s about blog article ideas, novel character development or books I should read, I am continuously thinking about it. I make it a huge priority in my life, as well as my photography, and my family members support me. When I don’t make the time to write, I am not the best person I can be. The older I get, the more I realize I touch people especially those most important to me with my words and my creations. One afternoon my oldest daughter showed me one of her paintings from her AP Art portfolio, and I had an epiphany. Both of my children are creative, and develop their abilities every year. While I co-parent with three other parents in our blended family, I know hands down this one was learned from me. I not only nurture their creativity, I set a daily example of how they can apply creativity to their daily life.
2. I ration my time. I am the sort of woman who at one point in my life cleaned her mother’s apartment once a week, ran errands for my disabled father twice weekly and assisted him with other things, cared for my children, kept my home close to spotless, worked full-time, and wrote. I was also the woman who would usually say yes when someone else would ask me to go out or to do them a favor, even when doing so would leave me with little to no time for myself. Due to health issues, life has drastically changed. Christine Miserandino explains it far better than I can with her spoon theory. I still do things for my family, help others when I’m able, and I show up for the important stuff. When you have limited hours in the day and sometimes only moments when your body and mind cooperate, you learn to give your limited away your spoons sparingly.
3. I am no longer last on my list. As women, and moms especially, we tend to put ourselves last. When my children were small they often played so hard they would fall asleep anywhere; at the dinner table, in the car, on the couch, in the middle of a mall. If they were exhausted, I covered them up and let them sleep. As a younger mom I often pushed myself ragged. It didn’t matter how exhausted I felt, if there were dirty dishes in the sink, I stayed up to wash them. My body no longer allows me to clean the entire house, run errands, spend quality time with my family, work, and write in one or even two days. There are some days all I am able to accomplish is to go to work, and spend time with my family. On those days, I sometimes mourn the other facets of my life I’m neglecting. The more I embrace the fact that I am not always in control of everything, even my own body, the more I relish the good moments I do have. Mother yourself as you would your children. In all reality, will we really regret not doing more dishes on our deathbed or spending more time doing what we love? Listen to yourself and what you need.
4. I cherish the in-betweens. My mom once had a friend who often asked, “how are the in-betweens?” I always thought he was a strange middle-aged man who read some poetry on a Hallmark card and used it as his own tag-line. I think I understand now what he meant by the in-betweens. In life we have take-your-breath moments, the kick-you-in-the-gut want-to-curl-up-in-a-ball times, and the in-betweens, when nothing bad or good seems to happen. The in-betweens are the days you go to work, go home, spend time with your children, and relax. You wait for “the big call” or the next “great news” without realizing tomorrow the floor could be ripped out from under you. The in-betweens are periods in your life to recharge, rest, and enjoy the quiet wonder of life. There is so much beauty in the ordinary, we only have to open our eyes.
5. I choose to put my energy into people and activities that nourish my soul. I have a wonderful friend who vowed last year to rid her life of drama, and she stayed true to her promise. She cut people out of her life when they caused unnecessary pain and drama in her life. I have watched her first-hand grow exponentially. Regardless of how long you have known the people causing waves, even if they are your oldest, friends or family, if their drama and negativity ripples into life, you have to do something about it.
6. I stopped hiding the real me. I have never been ashamed of myself, but especially when I moved to the Midwest and had children, I kept little parts of me tucked away only for those closest to me to see. I have often joked about feeling like one of the misfit toys on the old Rudolph Christmas Special. A few things have changed. I have daughters who are now young adults, and I want them to grow up proud of every single part of themselves, even the dark, twisted, strange, goofy parts. It’s difficult to tell them to be proud of who they are if I’m not showing them the same by example. We have also lost some family members over the last couple of years, one who committed suicide. I believe whole-heartedly it is so important to be proud of who you are. I am a 42-year-old mom, who still goes to heavy metal concerts. I love to write fiction, take photographs of abandoned houses and buildings, and restore antique trunks. I enjoy horror movies and the paranormal -the creepier the better. I also love animals more than most people and would own a zoo if I could. One of my favorite things is helping strangers, and when I love, I do it with my entire heart and soul. I enjoy practical jokes and toilet humor (I own a fart machine, rubber poop, and fake barf). 🙂 I am the proud mama in a blended family and one of my best friends happens to be my ex-husband’s wife. I am far from the normal, ordinary woman, and I am finished hiding who I am.
7. I learned to forgive myself easier. I used to be so hard on myself, until I saw first-hand how much stress affects my health. Now I try to remember I can only do my very best at every moment. Another thing to remember is your best changes depending on how you’re feeling, and life circumstances.
8. Sometimes when life gets difficult and serious the best thing to do is to sing it out to passing cars. I challenge you to find a fake microphone and do the same.