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Posts tagged ‘midlife crisis’

45 is the new black

Today is my 45th birthday.  I don’t really view this as a milestone.  I’ve always been a big believer in your age is really just a number, and how you act is more important than the actual digits.   In saying all of that, however, I started thinking about 45.  When I was in my twenties, what did I think I would be doing in my 40s?  In a perfect world, what do I think I should be doing?

My career is where I wanted it to be, but now that I’m here,  I’m looking for a change.  I started a family later in life, getting married at 36, gaining two children in the process,  then giving birth to a son one week before my first anniversary.  “Zero to three kids in one year!” was my tagline.  Balancing a career with kids is tough.  My job morphed into a role that is not one I would have picked for myself.  I’m doing OK, but I don’t love it.  It’s not a comfortable place for me.  The paycheck is amazing, and if it wasn’t for that, I would have walked two years ago.  Unfortunately, I cannot make this kind of money and keep five weeks of vacation anywhere else locally.  Moving is not an option at this point in life, due to involvement with my stepchildren’s lives.  That may change a few years, when our middle child graduates from high school.  I would like to do a complete one-eighty and manage a non-profit agency for some grand cause.  In reality, that will most likely take up 50-60 hours, which is part of my work problem now.

What to do?  I’m entertaining ideas on a new career in technical writing, consulting, or even a more internet-based business.  I’m also pursuing a 25 year old dream to become an author.   I’ve started writing again, and while I don’t expect to grace to New York Times top ten list in the next few  years, the emotional payoff has made it worth the effort.  To me, it’s like popping a Xanax.

When I was in my late twenties and early thirties, sans kids, I mentored women at work.  Typically they were in roles below my level, and we focused on long-term career goals.  I miss this.  I realized that I while I am a parent (and, alas, wicked stepmother), there is no reason I can’t also be a mentor to these children.  This is a new realization to me, so I don’t have a lot of data to show this to be a success yet, but I hope it will work and be a win-win for all.  I’m also mentoring one woman at work, even though we have no formal process any longer (new ownership).

My health is not good.  Perimenopause (the time leading up to full-fledged menopause) is kicking my ass at the moment.  Long story short, I need sleep more, drink more water, less alcohol, eat a more healthy diet AND increase exercise.   The worst part is the headaches – I often fall asleep with one and wake up with it.  It is SO draining.  Seriously – can’t you just put me under the knife and be done with it???  PLEASE???

So – here I am at 45, and I’m kind of a mess.  Now, to the general masses, maybe not so much:  I have a great husband,  teen children who are not in jail or parents themselves, a nice retirement account, a well-paying job, a nice house, and no credit card debt.  To me, however, I’m a mess, but whose fault is that?  It’s mine.  If I don’t like who I am, shouldn’t I be changing it?  At 45, I ought to feel like I own the world and hold myself up high.  Well, that’s a little arrogant.  I mean I should be where I want to be, and if I’m not, then I need to get off of my ass and fix it.  So what’s stopping me?  Me.

Forty five is the new black, and baby, I’m gonna wear it like it’s Dior.

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I’ve forgotten my stories

In today’s post, Jeff Goins (Goinswriter.com) asks us, “What is your story?”  I stopped and thought,  I used to have the BEST stories.  My friends used to listen to whatever adventure had just occurred in my life, laugh, and say, “You need to write those down!”

I never did.

I was too busy.  Busy – yeah… OK.  At worst, I was married and remodeling a house in my twenties.  I divorced at 29, with no kids but a great cat and a condo.  I had a rather easy, carefree life.  I was missing something, however, and that clock started ticking.  At 36, I married a wonderful guy with two kids, then 5 and 8.  Eleven months later, we added a baby boy to the mix.  Life got crazy.  I sold my condo, and moved in to his “handyman special” he had purchased several years prior to our marriage.  It was a 25 mile commute to daycare, which turned into an hour between the home/daycare/work circuit.  I couldn’t do it.  After two years, we bought a house in town.  Two years later, we still own that first house.  It’s still a “fixer-upper” but luckily, I think we will have it on the market in a year.  I hope.

There are still stories, but they are not nearly as fun as they once were.  I don’t throw clothes in a backpack and take off to parts unknown with a few friends for the weekend.  Concerts?  I think in 2000, I attended ten. I’m fairly certain I went on a five-year hiatus from such events, and am just now catching one a year.   Flights to Florida, England, Vegas, New York, and Yellowstone?  Um, NO.  I don’t get the travel channel on my el cheapo cable option.  Seriously.

I just realized today that I have become a boring, old person.  Just ask my 15 year old.

This sinking feeling fills my stomach, but an anger is starting to rise as well.  “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?” I silently scream to myself.  This is not who I am!  Why did I let myself become trapped in a cubicle for 9-10 hours a day, only to come home to do more work?  When did the definition of “a good weekend” equate to not leaving the house, no injuries caused by a light saber, and catching up on cleaning and laundry?

I have become old, fat, boring, and I have headaches all of the time.  “Well no duh,” my inner 17 year old yells, “I’d have headaches, too!  You’ve turned into MOM!  You swore that would never happen and now you’ve done it!”  I envision myself at that age, Bon Jovi poster on one wall, Miami Vice poster on another, with Twisted Sister’s “We’re not gonna take it!” blaring in the background.  I look pissed.  I have one hand on my hip, the other pointing at the grown-up me, and those teenage eyes are flashing with anger and betrayal.

Oh shit.  She’s right.  No wonder I have headaches.  It’s not that I have sick family members.  It’s not that I’m trying to be a mom to a 4 year old while trying NOT to be the evil stepmom to a 15 and 13 year old.  It’s not that we own two houses.  It’s not the 50+ hour a week job.  Wait – yeah it might be partly the job.  It’s the cooking and cleaning and everyday life that has taken that wild child, chained her to a wall, and sealed her off, one responsibility after another, brick by brick, until she was gone from view and silenced.

Is this what it means to have a mid-life crisis?  When she somehow gets out?

I know I can’t be 17 again.  Honestly, I don’t want to, but I miss her.  I miss that fierce determination.  I miss that “I answer to myself and God – and everyone else can go to hell” attitude (thank you, Cher).  I miss that “Life is an adventure!” enthusiasm.

It’s easy to have that when somebody else is putting a roof over your head and paying your car insurance.  Life’s biggest challenges were acing the chemistry test and deciding what to do on Saturday night.

So what next?  Label it what you want.  Maybe it is a midlife crisis, but I’m not running to Aruba with the pool boy.  I don’t even have a pool boy.  I’m not looking for one, either.  I think I might get a maid, though.

I’m not going to buy a convertible.  I am about ready to buy a new Toyota Highlander.  I insist on black.  I don’t know why, I just always have.  It will have a jack for my iPhone, so I can play Pandora radio.  I have a Bon Jovi Station.  It keeps that inner 17 year old happy.

She and I will figure it out from there.

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