I am unplugging for the weekend and heading to Nashville. It will be a fifty-six hour, for-the-hell-of-it road trip in which I plan to set aside my preoccupation with politics and seek out creative inspiration in live music, soul food, and flea market finds.
In the spirit of letting go, I am handing off this post to Michelle Wyatt Kessel, a high school friend of mine, who has always had a refreshing outlook on life. Michelle lives in Texas and we have stayed connected over the years through Facebook.
What strikes me about Michelle is that while experiencing life’s rocky road, her posts always stay focused on the positive. She offers inspirational quotes, tips for healthy eating and exercise, and a wealth of gratitude for loved ones and simple, everyday pleasures. She would go in the “glass half full” column of friends if you were keeping a log of such things. So it came as no surprise when she happily agreed to share her perspective on life with us as she approaches her 50th birthday.
You rock, Michelle!
A Midlife Calm
The definition of crisis is:
1. a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; turning point. 2. a condition of instability or danger, as in social, economic, political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change. 3. a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person’s life.
As 50 approaches, I believe I am supposed to feel as though I am at a crossroads, and life as I know it will never be the same. I know a milestone birthday should conjure up all types of feelings; feelings of uncertainty, failure, not living up to one’s own expectations or the expectations of everyone else.
It occurred to me recently I’m not feeling any of these things. In fact, I believe I am having a mid-life calm. For the first time in my adult life, I can honestly say I feel secure in my own skin, and have this great sense of who I am. So let me go back to figure out how I got here.
Over four years ago I made the decision to exit my marriage of 22 years. Sadly I had been very unhappy for many years, but I did what I believed was best for my two children and that was to raise them in a household with both parents. Looking back I would not have done it any differently, because my children have turned into these incredibly bright, well-rounded, loving and successful young adults. They are my greatest joy and most proud accomplishment.
The two years following were the most difficult I faced. The company I had worked for over 15 years shut its doors and filed bankruptcy, leaving 900 employees across the country without a job, giving no notice or severance. To say I was devastated is an understatement. For the first time in my life, I felt hopeless and afraid.
My job was the one thing I was really, really good at! It is the one success I could say was mine, other than being a mom and wife, it was how I measured my self-worth. The many years of working long hours, the travel and being away from my family was all for nothing? Seriously, after finally having the courage to do what I needed to do for me, the rug was pulled out from under me. Was I being punished for being selfish? I felt I was.
Well, fast-forward four years, and here I am! I survived! With the help of some really amazing friends and family, lots of prayers and tears, and then meeting this man who I honestly believe is the one with whom I am supposed to share the rest of my days on this earth, I am in the best place I could possibly be! Going through that has made me so much stronger, but more importantly, it has made me appreciate so much more than I ever had before. It took me losing almost everything to finally realize what is truly important.
So, as this milestone birthday approaches, I feel so awake and alive! I finally realized how letting go adds so much more value to my life than trying to control. No longer do I compare myself to others or worry about what others think. This is one of my favorite things about getting older! I have found that genuine happiness comes from within, and it can be something as simple as seeing a beautiful sunset, savoring my first cup of coffee on a Saturday morning, watching my sweetheart play with our dogs, or spending time with my family and friends. I know it sounds cliché, but I finally figured out the best things in life aren’t things!
Looking back at my life, it is through pain, heartbreak, loss, disappointments, and making lots of mistakes that have gotten me to this place. This place of joy and gratitude, my mid-life calm.
Here is a book recommendation from Michelle: The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brown. I just picked up a copy today and, at first glance, it looks like an excellent resource for rebooting one’s attitude and embracing authenticity. Let us know what you think!
Join me next time for my road trip recap of Nashville where I am certain to find hidden treasure at “The Flea” and maybe even run into my spirit animal, Jack White.
Categories: My Posts