Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Healthy Activities, Healthy Eating, Spirituality, Things I've Learned, Thought, Yoga | Posted on 06-11-2015
Tags: Love, Transformation, Wellbeing
[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version.]
Okay. I admit it. I’m somewhere within the second half of my life. Does this mean my life transformation has been part of a “Midlife Crisis”? I shudder at the thought. No crisis here! But I can see how the deep inner desire for change I experienced could be unsettling for some.
It’s clear that women in their 50’s seem to have some innate desire for change. Some do nothing (but complain) when those desires hit, others go hog wild and completely uproot their lives. Others, pursue their desires in a way that is positive and helpful. I like to think I’m in the latter group.
Midlife crises are often depicted in popular culture in a cliched manner. Career changes, leaving a spouse and taking up yoga seem to be some of the more popular cliches. Let’s examine these and see how valid they are.
1. Career Change. I woke up one day and decided it was time to give up my lucrative website marketing business and career. It wasn’t the smartest financial decision I’ve ever made as my son still had one year of college and my daughter’s wedding was approaching. It would have been a lot less stressful and easier to pay for if I was still working! Do I regret it? Not in the least! For me it was the right thing to do at the time. However, my circumstances were not the same as others. I was married, my husband was making decent money at his job and we had money in savings and for retirement. Had that not been the case, I can’t say for sure that I would have quit. Especially with no plan on how I might make money in the future.
Therefore, my recommendation for giving up a good career for the unknown is dependent upon your financial situation. While I know some people believe the money will show up one way or another, I personally think it would add a layer of stress that may not be worth the price of following your gut. It might be better to continue doing the new things you love and learning whatever it is you are learning, while continuing to work until you have a solid financial plan. It’s a lot easier to make money when you aren’t worrying about money. While I could tell you that not having money isn’t stressful, and it’s just your thoughts about your lack of money that’s causing stress (which is true) you still gotta eat!
2. Changing your relationship status (and not just on Facebook!). I’ve met a lot of divorced, separated and/or unhappily married women in their 50’s. In fact, it seems rare to find a happily married woman of a certain age. I’ve been to a few “Meetups” for women in their 50’s and they seem to be populated by divorcees or unhappily married women. Both of which tend to complain about their current or ex-spouses. A LOT. (I didn’t remain in those groups for that reason.)
In my opinion, marriage is what we make of it and put into it. My nearly 32 year marriage has certainly not been all rainbows and unicorns (although we did see a rainbow on our first date 🙂 ) But it’s all too easy to blame our spouses for our unhappiness. In reality, no-body and no-thing outside of ourselves is responsible for our happiness. If we’re looking to our marriage to be the source of our happiness, we’re looking in the wrong place. This is what dooms most marriages.
When we realize that the happiness we seek is and always has been inside of us, then we begin to see our partners in a new light. In that light, our marriage and our partner begin to look differently. When we’re not trying to find our happiness from them and are just happy regardless of (or sometimes in spite of) them, our marriage will magically transform as well!
I’m not encouraging anyone to stay in a horrible and/or abusive relationship. I’m just pointing out that we are responsible for our own happiness. We cannot EVER receive long term true happiness from our marriage–regardless of who we’re married to. It’s simply not where happiness comes from.
3. Yoga. It seems that everyone I know is looking for a yoga class–which is totally awesome! There’s no better way to get fit and start exploring your mind, body and spirit. If there’s one thing anyone in the throws of midlife should pursue, it’s yoga! Unfortunately, many give it a try, but don’t stick with it. To truly benefit from the power of yoga, you need to practice at least once a week on an ongoing basis. If you think it’s not for you because you don’t have good balance, or you’re not flexible or strong enough, then yoga is especially for you!
I was practicing yoga for a couple of years before it started working its sneaky magic on me. During that first two years I didn’t lose weight (I wasn’t trying) and didn’t outwardly look any better. But I was getting ever so slightly stronger and had ever so slightly increased my balance. I remember being totally excited when I could finally almost do 1 pushup! While that sounds silly to “New Jill” who can do tons of pushups, it was a huge accomplishment for “Old Jill.”
Beyond the physical, I’m convinced that being present as you naturally have to be during yoga is what helped me realize that I needed to make big changes in my life. If something inside of you is telling you to take up yoga, then do it now! Find some classes near you and give it a whirl. If you don’t like the first one you try after giving it a few chances, then try a different one. Eventually you’ll find a studio and/or teacher that resonates with you. Do not give up no matter what. The beauty of yoga is that you can work at your own level and there’s always more to learn. Start slowly and don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel you’re making progress. You are progressing incrementally. Really.
There you have it! My thoughts on some common midlife crisis cliches.
Changing careers– it depends. Dumping a spouse–not so much. Yoga–you betcha! Now get out there and enjoy this best phase of your life! – Jill
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