This blog entry will be coming from a 50+ female but I want men to join me as those of us Boomers figure our way through supposed "midlife" crisis. Anyone in a home with a woman between 45 and 70 should read this to improve their understanding of her.
For the readers among you, I'm going to suggest reading Sue Shellenbarger's The Breaking Point - How Female Midlife Crisis is Transforming Today's Women.
I read it before -during - and after my "midlife" transformations. I say before because there were things I did that I didn't see as 'crisis' but where definitely elements of a metamorphosis or evolution. I didn't do it "sonic boom" style as the rumors claim "crisis" looks like.
Sue's book outlines that changes in midlife can come like a "Sonic boom", "moderate" - with slower pace, less confrontations, "slow burn" for those more resistant or anxiety, "flameout" -quick start with a quit, "meltdown" -where out-of-control emotions take charge and the "non starter" who stays on the sidelines mired in indecision.
Then a woman can pick a variety of different paths in her journey that have themes of:
The Adventurer - This is the person who decides to shift their schedule to include physical adventure and bolder travel. They may try marathons, Ironman competitions, hiking National Parks, hire a personal trainer, try zip lining,or travel to unusual places, climb mountains.
What I found interesting in my own experience of this path was I did it by hiring a personal trainer, getting my fitness from that of a 60 year old to a 30 year old, getting defined muscles for the first time in my entire life and feeling strong and athletic - something that I never considered and had kept me away from sweaty activities.
I also did adventure with a "sonic boom" red Nissan 350Z convertible - and doing time on very windy roads and a blasting radio. Most recently my adventuring has been on the back of a Victory Hammer motorcycle with a local motorcycle club of other Boomers.
The downside can be injury and soreness!
The Lover -"This is the person who is seeking a 'soul mate' - a lover who promises a chance at attaining complete psychological intimacy." But don't be quick to assume it's someone else outside your present relationships. This path may also be about redefining, re-establishing - reinvigorating - the marriage you are already in. It may be getting into a serious dating to expand your network to meet that special person, going through several relationships to learn what type of person and relationship you really want (that can definitely change as we change!) and seeking a relationship where you can be truly authentic and accepted.
I've walked this path and dealt with the heartbreaks that came with it. If you have been in a long term marriage you may have forgotten how powerful a broken heart experience is. My advice is don't isolate even if you find that 'soul mate' - if it doesn't last you will need supportive, caring friends to carry through it. In my own experience there is no such thing as just one soul mate - you get a chance at several and lessons learned from each. Don't shut your heart down if 'the one' does leave, pass away or you decide there is a 'deal breaker.' Don't leave life without giving love.
The Gardener-This is the woman who decides the best place to be is here in her own backyard, with her own family. She focuses on expanding and strengthening them. She strives to make the most of home, family, friends, community, and existing pursuits.
The Downside: May regret not taking more risks to explore the 'bigger world'.
I'm finding myself doing this after the other paths have been taken. Valuing the relationships I have as an adult with my adult relatives. I have been much more selective of who I spend my time with, minimizing drama and people who antagonize my own sensitivity.
The Seeker -This is the" woman who seeks to develop or expand her spiritual life that give her personal meaning and serenity." She may go through a phase of exploring different churches, faiths, philosophies, spiritual leaders or become very involved in the church she is already established in.
The downside: May have to leave loved ones aside as new choices are made and need to be protected.
The Leader - This is woman who seeks to make their mark in the world. She wants to get past other people's rules and their own people pleasing behavior to create something new and uniquely their own. She may want to influence others. She may want to start a business, run for a political office or lead a charity.
Downside: Public exposure of 'faults'
I've been on this path for decades, wondering if I did life 'backwards' because I did so much volunteering before I was 50 - then slowed down. It was extremely rewarding, I met the most interesting people - who are still friends today and really do feel that I made a difference in my community. I also returned to get a 2nd Master's at 47 yrs old because of the demands of being appointed to a Hospital Board - that exposed me to the 'front line' of health care costs and management. In that experience I realized that returning to college was a great idea because it kept me challenged, grades and class participation gave me plenty of positive feedback and now I encourage all my clients and friends to take courses - just to get the feedback we don't get enough of if we're self-employed or without a partner and kids have moved out.
The Artist : Organizes life around self-expression, usually in art. Their number 1 priority becomes their art, drama, writing, sculpture, painting, filmmaking, or acting. To support herself, she may take a job teaching of the art or take a part-time job to allow more time to create. Her primary joy comes from growing in creativity, manifesting her vision, and uplifting or stimulating others with her work.
If this fits try:
Downside: The dedication to 'art' may be at the expense of relationships - increasing conflict and isolation.
So as you can see there are lots of ways to have a 'midlife crisis' - hope this encourages you to explore those that appeal to you - that interest you and compel you. Share your experiences - we have had so many fun ways to do it - and if you need some prodding - I will ask you to recall when you were 10 years old - What did you spend a lot of time doing? Have you put your 10 year old a
way too long? Start doing what she loved - start today.
Enjoy the Journey!