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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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