The other day, I was standing over the stove, cooking a home cooked meal (yes, big gold star), for my family when one of my three children decided to share the many reasons why she thinks I am weird. Am I weird? Yes, but aren’t we all, in our own ways? As I slowly approach my half century, I realize how much I have evolved, and not all of it has to do with gravity.
I have an amazing group of girlfriends who I socialize or work with, and recently I have noticed how our conversations have gravitated towards the dreaded night sweats, saggy body parts, careers we gave up, or ones that no longer float the boat, the chaos of motherhood and how annoying your partner can be.
This month is National Women’s Month and guess what, enough already. The sagginess is storm damage, evidence of the amazing things our bodies have done. The career skills you think you lost, you still have them, they are just hibernating. Whose to say the job was that great anyway?
Motherhood, yes, it is chaotic, but it’s also a privilege, even if you face a barrage of daily insults. One day they will realize you were pretty special after all. As for the partner, who can say? That fit guy you wonder about from your 20s, and a notion the grass is greener – forget it. He’s probably grown a beer gut, drives a minivan on Saturdays and still farts with his friends.
The point is, negativity breeds negativity and while it's healthy to vent (and dream), it's even healthier to look for perspective. Incidentally as a Scot, it's in our DNA to go dark, so I've come along way. Anyway, I will cut to the chase with where all this is going.
The most outspoken of all my friends has been questioning me (regularly), about why I seem so positive and “are you being authentic?” The answer is a solid yes and its nothing to do with pretending everything is perfect, there is absolutely no such thing. I think the reason was ignited by mother-in-law Carolyn.
Last fall she shared a book she read called “Into the Magic Shop,” by James R. Doty MD.
I won’t go into huge detail because I recommend you read it for yourself. The basic message is about the benefits of going through life with an open heart. Be pleased for other people’s successes, don’t give to get, and be authentic in how you live your life.
After I read it, we talked about it, and she said she worried my heart was too open and could be taken advantage of. I disagreed; I don’t think its possible to give too much when it comes to kindness. However, it made me wonder if I’d lost sight of my own goals by constantly thinking of others. Fast forward to Christmas and my sister gave me another book that had become her bible. Manifest, 7 Steps to Living you Best Life by Roxie Nafousi.
I don’t normally get ‘self-help’ books so maybe someone was trying to tell me something and I didn’t know it. I do now and I want to share these titles with all the wonderful women I encounter who say they feel frustrated with life. Manifest is perfect for this time in our lives when we are evaluating what and where the next steps of our journey should be. Menopause does funny things to us girls and leaves those around us (men in particular), scratching their heads.
Rather than looking at the negatives, I see this time as a power surge. All the years leading up to now have been building blocks for the next chapter. We are older, wiser, less likely to give a shit – let’s face it, you can stop feeling guilty every time you run into that person you should have called and made plans with but never do, give yourself a break. You could have done it if you really wanted to, so move on and don’t feel guilty. As for the righteous 'friend' who says she's got it together - give her a wide berth.
Stop thinking you failed because you chose motherhood and enabled your partner to pursue their career while you were caked in purees and puke. You were investing in the next generation. Now it’s your turn to reevaluate what you really want to spend your time doing, and with whom. Maybe, like me, you patched together a work life in between trying to be a good mom, but found it was getting old (not the loving your little cherubs part). For those who chose career over kids, you could be burning out of working so much and want to change things up.
Regardless of where you are at, there are hormones at play doing inexplicable things. This is where the positive mind needs to override the negative. Listen to your intuition, it’s our truest advisor, and surround yourself with people who make you feel good. Read Manifest and honor yourself with kind self-talk. Believe you have plenty to give, life experience speaks volumes.
If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that life is short, so grab hold of it with both hands and focus on you. It’s not being selfish, it’s being authentic – if you do it with an open heart. Sure the hot flashes feel like you are being cremated too early, and those skin creams don’t have the benefits of an Etcha-Sketch, but what you see in the mirror is the real you. Embrace the lines of life, they tell your story, the good and the bad. Those wrong turns you took made you stronger.
Don’t let fear stand in your way, it’s a boundary you put there, which can be removed if you try hard enough. So, ladies of a certain age, let’s stop the negative chat, and make things happen. You know you can, just believe in the one person who has the power to do so, and that is you.