Midlife….is defined as being on the wrong side of Forty.
But is it ?…and where did this belief come from? There are many cultures that have had respect for the elders in their community – thus the label “elders” not “old” “infirm” “senile” or “past it”. “Having one foot in the grave” is another comment I have heard people over 50 even say about themselves!
When I was 39yrs I cycled with my sister who was 56yrs around Scotland, we had 2 pannier bags, very few clothes, a crappy little camera, sometimes no food, no mobile phone. We cycled for 6 weeks from Edinburgh up the West Coast and through the outer islands of Scotland. It was a trial of determination and persistence. The utter exhaustion and at times hunger we endured was exhausting and the thrill of screaming down those mountains for miles at breakneck speed while whooping with delight was the best adrenaline rush of awesomeness I had ever experienced. We climbed mountains, were blown up the mountains we were trying to cycle down, endured driving rain for days and had experiences I never even dreamed of.
2 Aussie women – one almost on ‘the wrong side of 40’ and the other way over 40 ….according to social norms. So I was a little miffed to say the least – when after having this soul wrenching experience after raising 6 sons, enduring a difficult marriage, running a full time business and supporting my (rather large) family, pushing myself to my limit physically and mentally when at a youth hostel in Glasgow towards the end of our trip that I overheard a young man comment to his mate “how’s the 2 old ducks here”. It may not have been a put down, but I can tell you now…I haven’t forgotten it. I felt like a ‘has been’ and also as if I was doing something I shouldn’t be attempting. The guilt associated with immersing myself into a youngsters domain hit me like a sledge hammer. The feeling that I should act my age and wear some nice clothes far more becoming of my age and at least get a nice haircut became an overwhelming cloak of grey.
I was ashamed to be not in my 20’s.
It wasn’t until I hit 50 that things really got bad. I suddenly disappeared from the radar. It was as though I no longer existed, I felt unimportant, unwanted, most of my kids were grown and independent, what was I to do?
I figured it’s not necessary to fight the system that has done this to us as older women…it IS my job to redefine myself. To embrace midlife, find what is good about it, enjoy it, redefine my joys, find my magic again, redefine what fun is for me, find new people, new experiences, new adventures. It’s time to find the things I have always loved but were too scared to do, time to break the rules…because seriously…no one can see me!! I’m invisible!! I can do whatever the fuck I want!
Midlife is what happens when we grow up!
It’s simply the best, most challenging, most creative time of our lives. It’s our joys and fears, tears and laughter. Everything – our experiences, accomplishment, successes and failures, is melded into a beautiful nugget of flowing knowingness, an inherent deep happiness that we are here, we are happy and we are free.
We are wonderful wild women. the elders of our society – whether acknowledged or not. We are not governed by others expectations or nice things and a hairdo that belies our age. Life is the freedom to enjoy and break free of the chains that have caught us by our ‘duties’. Midlife is our joy to enjoy. It’s time to share our wisdom, forgive others who are trying but struggling, teach, walk with and love everyone. To reach pout and connect with the other midlife women who are also there and have not had their lives revered, not been able to share their experiences…its as if their life was lived in vain. The things they learned was never shared with us younger generation…what a total waste.
The children were to be ‘seen and not heard’ and it is now the same for women over 50 – but we aren’t even seen.
So it’s time women…time to grow those dreads, stop dying your hair, throw out everything that shackles you to the past, quit your job and do what you’ve always wanted to do. Stand tall, sit strong, look straight ahead not down and look everyone in the eye with pride.
The closer we get to the sunset of our lives the more stunningly beautiful we become…
If you’d like to hear interviews with inspirational women speaking about the leaps of faith they have made – I am doing podcasts with women over the age of 40 who are simply wonderful, strong, brave individuals. I hope you enjoy them.