New evidence from a survey done recently shows that women ages 50 - 65 feel the happiest and most fulfilled at this stage in their life (from author Dr. Christiane Northrup, in the introduction to her new Wisdom of Menopause; see her facebook page for an excerpt).
Why does this not surprise me? Somewhere in your fifties, your kids grow up and leave home for college, or if they live at home become very busy in their own lives and need their mother's less; women in our age group are mostly well-educated and have kept a foot in the world of academia or business by either working part-time or volunteering; and women in this age group finally feel empowered enough to speak up and say "Enough" when something doesn't suit them. And now they have the time to explore their own interests without feeling selfish.
We grew up in a different world, where children were meant to be seen but not heard; where often we are encouraged to not toot our own horns or be boastful. We were taught to be good girls, to serve others before ourselves, to think about waste and share, giving the best cut of meat to the person at the head of the table. Some of us were practical, and put aside our dreams to earn a living. We didn't talk back to our superiors and obeyed authority - well, ok, some of us did. I admit that although I was supposed to be a good girl, when I hit the teen years the urge to kick against the pricks (whoever I thought they were at the time: school principals, unfair parent's rules, French teachers) kinda took over.
But many of the women in my Creative Journaling classes nod their heads when I talk about the good girl upbringing, and many of them are just becoming comfortable in their forties and fifties with the idea that it's their turn to speak up, and with taking time for their own projects or for self-care. In class, we do all kinds of exercises to empower ourselves, to find our Voice, to shut up the Inner Critic, to speak our own truths. Because our women's wisdom is not whispering anymore, she's practically yelling - this is how I feel. Listen to me! It becomes imperative for women at mid-life to listen to their own intuition, to stand on their own two feet, to express how they feel, to speak their truth, to be true to themselves. And if it feels very empowering to do this in your journal, it is even more empowering to do this in a group of like-minded women.
I see the same thing in my Women's Circle: we need allies, we need to be heard, we need to believe that our voices matter, our feelings matter. And this is what loops back to the feeling happier and most fulfilled - if you can believe in yourself enough to switch career paths, or go back to school, or use your talents in a creative project - publish a book, send out some poems, take an art class, become a teacher and leader of younger women, it makes your heart Sing. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy - it makes a woman very happy when the Self is fulfilled, when her voice is heard, when she gets to do what really turns her on, without worrying that she might be taking up too much space, or not doing enough 'good deeds' for others.
So get out the drums, sing your song loud and clear. The world will be a better place when you explore what makes you truly happy - find what makes you feel fulfilled, and watch even your health and well-being improve. Women in their fifties and sixties are changing the world - Welcome to the best years of your life!