It's funny that often we hear about men having a mid-life crisis - going out to buy a little red sports car, or leaving their wife of 25 years for a buxom 25 year old, but when it's a woman, we often use the term mid-life transition.
I'm sure there are women buying up little sporty convertibles and racing around looking to pick up younger men, (and more power to them), but the transition from ages 40 to 50 is really an opportunity for figuring out what we want to do with the rest of our life, and gaining more self-knowledge. Like any transition, it can be fraught with difficulties - especially if the hormonal picture is unbalanced. Not everybody experiences hot flashes, night sweats and feels like they're going crazy; some women breeze right through with nary a symptom, but enough women are blogging, writing and talking about these symptoms, that we immediately think of the physical hormonal upset when we think about mid-life and menopause.
For myself, in writing the book The Tao of Turning Fifty, I discovered that the biggest thing women had on their minds was not so much the physical discomforts, although insomnia can drive you around the bend, but more about finding themselves in a place without any markers or road maps. It doesn't say anywhere that turning fifty will make you question your whole life, or send you on a quest to find your passion, but it does seem to play out that way. It's like one phase of your life (the fertile, child-bearing, nest-building, career building part) has finished, but the next phase isn't immediately clear. You're in the hallway, having come out of one door, and the next door hasn't materialized yet. It is called The Change.....
My greatest need in my late forties, was the need to get away, to redefine myself aside from the roles of wife, mother, poet, volunteer organizer, etc. To look at what I'd been doing for the past twenty years, and reassess. Some women want to go back to school, some have enough degrees, they just want to learn how to do cranio-sacral massage, reiki or to throw pots on a wheel. The creative or right-brain side often comes to the fore. We rediscover our love of creative play - painting, photography, writing, weaving. It's as if the uterine and ovarian energies need to be channeled into creation of a different sort. Many women want to give back, and this time has also been called The Guardian years (Joan Borysenko).
So welcome this challenge, this change, this period of transition. There are hidden gifts, much growth and learning, if we can allow ourselves some down time, some interior reflecting time, some away time alone, some time to share heart to heart with other women. I urge you to pay attention to this inner calling and find out what more is on the other side of 50.
New Release: If it's all too much for you, listen to some soothing music and centering exercises on the new Musemother Relaxation CD, $12.00 available from me by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and soon to be available for purchase through paypal on my website www.jenniferboire.com
ps Best article on confusion surrounding Menopause; offers sound advice about choices in healthcare for menopausal symptoms: http://www.womentowomen.com/menopause/endingconfusion.aspx?