Can Midlife be Zesty? I say, YES!!
Welcome to Midlife, we’ve been waiting for you (cue the confetti and glass of champagne toast)! If only it welcomed you in that way, it might be a lot more fun, and a lot less nerve-racking. Who’s with me? It kicks off with the big 40, and for me it was just another day…no big! Then the years seemed to go by in a whirl of b-days, kid’s school activities, house matters, vacations, the occasional girl time outings, and the fabulous holidays.
At 41 new skin happenings appear, nothing night cream can handle, fingers crossed. At 42 late night bathroom visits become routine, because one extra beverage was consumed pass 7:00 p.m. At 43, in my case, the back goes out and takes my yoga teaching with it! At 45, embracing motherhood full-time again sounds like a brilliant idea, because I’m most passionate about my children. Oddly, somewhere along the way they turned seemingly into adult-like people??? At 46 the first child leaves for college, and the second child is close behind in their own personal journey. The husband wears readers, and really doesn’t know where things are located within the home. Shockingly, parents are noticeably older. The dog is just old, and you’re soon to be 50!
When thinking about it, a toast of champagne seems more than appropriate for keeping one’s self mostly together through such a crazy, circus ride, no? Obviously, pretty drinks aren’t the solution. So, how do we embrace the inevitable dance of life with grace when we look up prepared to dance the cha-cha, but life has moved onto to some dance not fully recognizable any longer?
One simple word, JOY! We tap into joy so we can celebrate what we have created, and what we have accomplished over our lifetimes. We are joyful about our experiences, our accomplishments, and our growth. We are joyful that there is still room for growth, and in our new way of being we have more time, and more resources to make things we desire happen! We must choose aggressively to act on our wishes.
Better health? Better mindset? Better self-care? Better relationships? Better appreciation? Better adventures? Better whatever it is you can think of? Yup, start with joy and grow forward from there. Not sure where to start? Don’t even believe in the possibility? GOOD, that’s why I’m so glad you’re here! If I had confetti, I’d throw some for you, honestly, I would do that for you!
Since, I can’t throw confetti virtually. I’m going to do the next best thing, by sharing with you my own personal journey of embarking on midlife. I’ve coined the process as, ‘Making Midlife Marvelous”. It starts with mindset. When we say our life is going to be marvelous, then we can believe that our life IS marvelous. When we uphold this belief by approaching life with positive action and positive mindset then, and only then, is when our lives become the essence of being a marvelous experience. Are you with me? Great!
Now that’s not to say that we are not going to be without challenge, or disappointment. That’s not how life operates, as we know there is a reason for every season. We can’t enjoy the summer without the winter, and vice versa. However, if we can learn to approach circumstance with curiosity and surrender, we may find there’s room for growth, and an opportunity for joy in each situation. That joy may be in the moment, and that joy maybe something that is discovered well after the experience has come and gone. If we don’t learn to pause, and just be, then the joy can be lost in all circumstances.
One simple way that I’ve learned to slow down and be in the moment is through my yoga practice. Specifically, a Chair Yoga practice. I taught this practice in my community, and I introduced this style of yoga and expanded it into a neighboring city, because that’s how much I believed in its ability to make yoga’s benefits more accessible to more bodies. It was a joyful sharing for me over seven years in various formats until my body decided it was time for me to do something different. That’s a whole other post for another day, so stay tuned!
After being away from teaching for four years I discovered that I was still practicing yoga more often not than through my thoughts, through my actions, through my choices, and how I interacted with other people. Yoga ultimately is a mindfulness practice that allows one to be in the moment and allows time for perspective. I eventually knew and accepted the fact that it was time for me to take a different approach to my life, and how I showed up in my life for myself. Up until that point it was soly about showing up and serving others. My children, my husband, my family, my home, my friends, my work, and my students. There’s a lot of satisfaction in serving others, but there is no glory in NOT tending to self.
I believe that when we lose sight of self-care our bodies magically have a way of snapping us back into tangible reality, and for me that’s when my back went out and brought everything to a steadfast halt. For me, that was also the reset of my life. It was an awareness that things needed to be and were also going to be different moving forward. I spent multiple months in physical therapy, doctor’s offices and in my bed with heat pads and ice rubs. I dealt with the emotions of thinking I was letting people down, as well as feeling like a failure at my only craft outside of being a stay-at-home-mom.
My emotions spiraled down and cookies with Netflix became my favorite companion. For now, let’s just note that my story didn’t end that way, because I shifted my thinking towards gratitude. As I began to shift my focus to all the experiences, I had been a part of in a positive way that impacted other’s lives positively to this very day. So, you see in my dire circumstance of what I saw as unfair, and at times unbearable I began to choose joy, versus bitter sorrow. Even when our story doesn’t turn out as planned, we still need to look for the wins. Even if we must turn over every single rock to find the one victory, because that’s how much it matters for a strong mindset that propels us forward to the next chapters waiting to be written in our lives.
With this shift in mindset I started to understand the changes that I needed to make to feel stronger and more capable in my body. I began to see how I could better use my time to get more fulfillment out of my day and task. I also surrendered busy-body activities that didn’t bring me an ounce of joy any longer. Yes, this means dust stayed on our furniture longer, dust bunnies had more of a sense of welcome in our home, and the biggest one of all…dishes stayed over night in the sink, and believe it or not, no one died! So maybe my home isn’t “perfect” anymore, but by surrendering aspects of home first I was able to put myself, and personal interest first.
I started working out again, which has created the stability I needed to get back to my practice of yoga on a chair, and mindful movement on the mat. What an amazing feeling to be able to feel confident and strong in my body again. I took purposeful time to get back to my kitchen, to make meals again and nourish my body with foods that were not only good for me, but that I really enjoyed. I planted the flower garden that I’ve pondered about for over three years in my backyard. I even dabbled with a tomato and herb garden that are still yielding fruits in October. I had the space to embrace and prepare for my first child, my daughter, graduating from high school and leaving for college, 18 hours away from home I might add! I can’t express the gratitude I have for being able to have the time to prepare for that moment of good-bye for now without any other distractions, or obligations other than being with my family, and spending that time reflecting, cherishing, and learning to become more excited about the adventures ahead. Dare I say, taking the time to choose joy yet again in a challenging life circumstance.
I also have the time to be fully present for my son, who is 16 and a Junior in high school. Now, I’m sure he’s not as jazzed about my newfound freedom of time, but I know that we’ll both be better people after the next 1.5 years of experiencing aspects of life together, because time is the one thing, I know for certain that we can’t get back! That’s also why we must recognize the busy-body habits that deprive our days of purpose and joy! So, I’m imploring you to recognize them and omit them as quickly as possible from your daily must do list, because there are plenty of things that can wait until later! DO NOT allow them to zap your zest for life and living. The world needs our unique viewpoints and talents, so allow the time for yours to come forward, so they may have a positive impact in the world.
Another unexpected outcome of my prioritizing self was my reemerged passion for the written word, yes writing again! The funny thing is, often times when I was wiping down appliances, and rearranging the pantry or drawers I would often think to myself, you should be writing…..and I would say, about what? The answer never came forward clearly, yet the statement would often persist. Seven months later, after the practice of self-care, sending my first child away to college, embracing the fact that I’m actually aging, rediscovering that I still have a strong desire to live life fully, and knowing that I love to share my knowledge, and experiences in hopes of inspiring others, my first personal blog has been born!
Welcome to The Zestful Movement ….it’s a journey about choosing JOY in all aspects of living life today, and moving forward. I’m glad you’re here with me!
Follow along on Instagram and keep things Zesty!
Photo by: Bridget Wray https://www.instagram.com/bridget.wray/