Wellness — August 27, 2019 at 9:53 am

Forty and Still Feisty

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By Melanie Robitaille, Sr. Staff Writer

Have you ever noticed that no matter how the happily ever after truism seems to play out in Hollywood or novel tales, the story always conveniently fades to an ambiguous end generally around the point of the middle-aged years in life?

I’ve always believed that age is truly just a number and as such dynamic beings, we humans cannot be relegated to a mere figure. We refuse to allow it when it comes to how we’re treated in business and customer service, so why are we so quick to accept it in the face of a personal age milestone?

Granted, anyone who has or is currently living through these years can attest to the fact that mid-life is not easy…trust me. It’s a time when you find yourself somewhat lost after spending years working toward goals and achievements, and you start questioning your purpose and the idea of time well spent. One could argue this is the reason why you hear even more stories about the dreaded and seemingly drastic mid-life crisis.

I’ve recently ushered in the big 4-0, and though I always used to think of mid-life as an excuse that people used to do crazy things, I finally understand the feeling that causes so many to do what they do at this juncture in their lives. In the weeks leading up to my 40th year, I had this strange feeling of being followed by some unwanted force, like some creeper stalking me around every corner. I quite literally felt like I was trying to beat back the impending age change with a stick. Then came the realization that I couldn’t run from time, and without even knowing it, I too fell prey to runaway thoughts and mid-life assessments that began to ease me into what felt like oblivion.

I, like so many 21st century empowered and independent women, built my career with little to no regard for starting a family. I didn’t have time to settle down, I needed to make something of myself, working towards this pre-conceived idea of success and stability, before taking on the responsibility of parenthood. The problem is, this process took me into my early 30’s, much longer than I anticipated when I made my plans for the future in my 20’s.

Now a mother of two, (my youngest being three) and staring mid-life in the face, it dawned on me that I’ll be well into my 60’s by the time my youngest even begins thinking about children. And if she’s anything like her mother, I could be in retirement- or worse yet, assisted-living by the time she actually bears her first child. On and on these thoughts continued to flow, sending me further and deeper into this never-ending downward spiral. I disconnected from life, stopped filling my joy jar and sleep eluded me.

My plan to cure this funk was to drown my thoughts in joy by celebrating, big time, and one day while looking up fortieth images for my milestone birthday festivities, I happened upon a book cover that was the net I needed to catch me in my free fall. There is a book like this for every milestone age, and I fully intend on reading every one for each decade as they come. The book is called Things to Do When You Turn 40, and it’s a compilation of commentaries from professionals in all walks of life. Some of the contents showcased on the cover read: Buy a Miracle Bra, Midlife: Don’t Call It a Crisis, Take Me At Face Value, Pause For Reflection, Divine Your Own Right, Don’t Die Your Hair, Seize the Dreams of Your Youth, Take the Entrepreneurial Plunge, Stop Doing Things You Don’t Enjoy, Defy Your Age, Have a Heart-to-Heart With Your Parents, Open Doors. Change the World. Volunteer., Power Up Your Activism, and Throw a Fabulous Party.

It was the slap in the face, and the jolt that I needed. I was already in the process of planning my party, and in the moments after reading the cover, I realized I’m already checking off many of those boxes. So yes, I did some retail therapy, I refuse to acknowledge another year passing as a crisis, I take many opportunities to journal and reflect, I have a few more greys than I used to, there could be a tattoo in my near future, I’ve turned my artistic passion into a philanthropic initiative, I’m asking my dad the hard questions, and helping out several organizations with whatever free time I have.

I’m also finding motivation through one of my favorite books about time, called The Time Keeper. You’ll find many highlighted passages in my copy, but none as freeing and as relevant to me right now as Author, Mitch Albom’s words about measuring time.

“Try to imagine a life without time keeping,” he writes. “You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”

To anyone going through mid-life and beyond, let’s always remain feisty because our stories are not finished. For me, it’s time to be resolute; to define who I am and what I want. No, I have no idea what life has in store for me, and yes, I wear many labels to many people, but peel back all of them and I’m still me; an effervescent, unabashed and unapologetic me and I hope I always will be!

The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by Health Canada or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. None of the information presented is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. This is a personal account and individual experiences may vary. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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