Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Turning Fifty? So What's the Big Deal?

Now that I'm the wise old age of 57, sometimes I forget what it was like to approach fifty. My forties are a bit of a blur because I had my children late, and they hit puberty as I was hitting menopause. I do remember the arguments over plates on the counter, not in the dishwasher, and begging them to make their beds, until I gave up and just closed the door. But my personal life sonmetimes took a back seat to raising children and renovating our living space.

Even at fifty, my youngest was only the good times were still to come. There were lots of good times of course, family times, picnics, vacations, soccer games, ballet recitals, hip hop concerts, you name it.  But 'me time'? not so much.

So for me, turning fifty and above has been mostly about trying to carve out some time for me - time to find that well-adjusted psyche and sense of fulfillment people talk about in articles on mid-life. If you have your children in your late thirties, your mid-life may end up being in your late fifties. And you may still be adjusting to mid-life in your 60's.

Being fifty, (or 55, or 57) is about finally finding your self, your choices, your own tastes, your own heart's desire.  Mid-life has been like a second adolescence for me, partly because I stayed home with my kids and so the question of what I wanted to be when I grew up was still relevant. I had already gone back to school, gotten a master's degree, but what did I really want to do with it? Writing at home in my little room was no longer as fulfilling. I wanted to go out into the bigger world and play!

So my fifties has been about discovering this side of me: I've taken workshops, lead workshops, read books, written a few, and now I am leading retreats for women as well as creative journaling classes, which is so much where I want to be. Learning, exploring, following my passion, doing what I feel like - which involves more learning about what I love, what I feel, understanding my patterns and places I get stuck, finding out what really excites me.  And sharing those discoveries with other women.

It sounds like it's all about me - and it is.  I have found my vocation is largely talking about myself, something I've always loved anyway.  I use my own stories to illustrate the mid-life journey, as well as those of others I've encountered. There's a lot of uncertainty for women who have raised children, worked as caretakers and managers of households, once they begin to wonder what their skills are, and where their gifts and talents lie beyond bandaging scraped knees, driving kids to piano lessons and multi-tasking. Actually even the women who work full time as well as raising families sometimes question their roles at mid-life. Not a few women I know have created new careers, started businesses, or gone back to school in their forties and fifties.

Time is short, and at fifty, you face your own time limit. It's time to find out what really turns you on, what you really want to do with this wild and precious life, as Mary Oliver puts it. Maybe it scares you a little, but you find you have the courage, one baby step at a time, to explore new options, discover new territories, set out on adventures beyond your back yard.

And for some, the adventure is to come back to the roost and rest, to stop churning and turning in busy busy mode, and simplify. To learn to do one thing at a time. And that's an adventure too, because it is also unknown territory.

Whatever your adventure, getting to know your self along the way makes it more interesting.  I've only used about half the box of crayons, and there are so many colours to discover!


1 comment:

Raven said...

If life is a box of crayons...where is the rainbow? (hehe)

Great post. Turning 50 was the only birthday I was in total avoidance around. Now I know how fabulous the Fifties are !! It only gets better.