“The First Forty or Fifty Years Were Just a Dress Rehearsal.” Top Ten List to Help You Discover Your Midlife Passion
Life has not always arrived gift wrapped but I know it has made for a more interesting existence. Would I have preferred an easier life? Well, maybe if it came with me being 5\’11” and winning the Nobel Peace Prize and having Daniel Day Lewis escort me to Oslo to accept the award while my understanding husband stayed home to watch the cats and our yellow lab.
I never intend to lose my passion to dream big and bold. And Daniel, if you are reading this, call me.
How many social, economic and political advances saw the light of day because we were passionate about change? There was strength in our voices and our numbers. (I remember during my first year at art school when we burned our bras and declared we were entitled to the same rights that men looked upon as their birthright. Ah, if only that bra still fit!)
Passion changes. It takes on different shapes and sizes. Remember wanting to live like Barbie and Ken? That passion hopefully passed. I never got Ken. Just as my passion for long haired poets who dabbled with suicidal thoughts faded, in walked a blue eyed man who believed in my passion for life and for never quite standing still long enough for roots to take hold. He\’s calls it multitasking to the nth degree. I call it getting things done so I can get to the good stuff.
Below is my Discovering Your Midlife Passion Top Ten List. I have tried them all and not a single tip was recalled. Try one, or a couple or all of them. Just embrace taking a chance on yourself and leave the fear behind! Midlife magic awaits you!
1) CELEBRATE. First of all, celebrate all you have accomplished in your life. Plan a party for 100 of your closest friends or just for yourself. Set a nice table, light some scented candles, put on some rock n\’ roll music…
2) DARE. Try something you have never done before. Here are a few examples: go kayaking with some friends; become fluent in Italian; visit a spa for a day and leave with red hair; help build homes or buy some Jimmy Choos shoes. Just don\’t do them all at once. Your family and friends just might freak out a bit. If they do, invite them to come along!
3) INTUIT. Have you met your friend who goes by the name of Intuition? Intuition, inner voices, gut feelings can reveal clues about what you should do next. Try this: A) Find a quiet place where you won\’t be disturbed. B) Close your eyes (oh yes, sit down first) and take in a couple of breaths and feel yourself start to slow down. C) Ask your intuition a question – it can be about where to move, what direction to take in your new life or do I really want this new relationship? D) Sit quietly and wait for your intuition to speak to you. E) Did you get a calm, happy feeling? Did dread or feelings of foreboding fill every cell in your body? Did you hear a word over and over? Did you just get that “knowing “ feeling that you have found your answer? Did it act like no one\’s at home? Developing one\’s intuition is the answer to that corny but telling question: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice and practice! But what a great friend to have around and it will always tell you the truth!
4) EXPLORE. So you have decided that the time has come to take your life by the lapels and do….? You always thought you would like to give tours thru the ancient ruins in Egypt, or take to the stage in Edwardian finery or maybe own a cozy book store with the aroma of just brewed coffee filling the soul along with the words of Toni Morrison? Before you pack your bags, do take a trip to Vocation Vacations\’ website. This organization will let you test drive your dreams and you may find yourself doing a little tire kicking as you discover a new and exciting way to live your life outrageously! www.vocationvacations.com.
5) MOVE. We got to love “Dancing with the Stars” don\’t we? I personally don\’t care for the outfits (I\’m more the crisp white tee shirt, blue jeans, black jacket with scarf draped around the neck for days kinda of woman) but they make me want to dance and shake everything that won\’t snap in two! Another way to tend to your body and its needs is to move everyday. It won\’t work to just exercise your brain because you need to drag your body along on your great adventures. So make it your best body. How would it feel to exercise first thing in the morning? Guaranteed to get your metabolism up and running and whether you\’re running, walking or watching the Today Show while conquering some hills and miles on your treadmill, you are taking excellent care of your body and soul. But it doesn\’t really matter what time you exercise. Just remember that all of you counts, so dust off those weights and your toned muscles will thank me later. I guarantee the journey will be less taxing and you just might end up taking Zumba lessons. Just leave the sequins at home!
6) READ. So, on the days when it\’s raining or the humidity is so high that your hair is picking up CNN….go and pick up something and read. I don\’t know if I have an all time favorite female author but these authors have inspired me throughout the years: Jane Austen, Alice Munro, Anna Quindlen, Maya Angelou, Anne Lamott (I want to come back as her sense of humor), Fannie Flagg, Dorothy Parker, Julia Cameron and Lynn Robinson. (I just knew I was going to like her writing – she\’s one of the nation\’s leading experts on Intuition). Go and get lost in a book. You may have noticed that I left out some popular romance writers. I want you to be inspired and not out of breath when you have finished your books. Skip “Eat, Pray, Love” on an empty stomach. I gained 8 pounds during the “Eat” section. And it doesn\’t have to be a book. When I read “More Magazine,” I feel far from even approaching being over some hill, more sexy and secure in my choices and joyful to be in the middle of my middlesence madness. It makes me want to vacuum in high heels. Well, maybe not, why not a magazine that salutes us fabulous women in our forties and fifties and beyond?
7) BE BOLD. Fall in love with you and your new life and don\’t let anyone tell you that you and your dreams are frivolous. When someone asks why at this time of your life you are reinventing your life, just smile and say, “If I don\’t become the person I am meant to be, then the world misses out on my greatness and my potential to make the world a better place will be lost forever. Thanks for asking and have a nice day.”
8) VOLUNTEER. Nothing makes you feel empowered like helping someone else feel that way, too.
9) RELAX. Escapism is marvelous, but escapism that motivates us is unbeatable. One of the best escape routes to take can be driving to your local video store or walking over to the TV remote. We don\’t always see positive role models of women in the news. They may be infamous (like the call girl and the NY governor, for example) but they are not inspiring and it is a tad insulting. When going through transitions, we need some downtime and a bag of kettle corn popcorn. And some funny, fearless and fabulous women to make us smile and say to ourselves, “I am ready.” Here are just a few that might make you feel that anything is possible in your life: “All About Eve,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “Breakfast at Tiffany\’s,” (try to ignore the fake-Asian Mickey Rooney parts) “Chocolat (zero calories),” “Dirty Dancing,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Moonstruck,” “The Way We Were” (because of Robert Redford, but Barbra was pretty terrific in that movie), and “Field of Dreams.” And not a car chase in any of them!
10) MEDITATE. You have stayed focused and you are transitioning to your new life. Now is the perfect time to focus on your breath. How about adding meditation to your daily routine? Here are just a few of the benefits that come from a few minutes of meditation a day: Clarity in problem solving; reduction of stress and anxiety; a renewed sense of well being; more restful sleep; slowing down of aging(YES!) and can even help with the resolution of mental and emotional blocks in our lives. Not too bad, eh? I travel to www.learningmeditation.com/room.htm when I need some breathing space to collect my thoughts and slow myself and my pace down. You can take a guided meditation with soothing music in the background or you can print the words out and meditate on them at your leisure. This is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and you just start by taking a deep breath.
So, I see you have read them all. Good for you. Now get out there and put your midlife passions to the test. No more dress rehearsals. You have earned the right to take center stage!