Managing Life in Midlife

There are so many women in this midlife phase looking for answers about how to manage their lives. 

Do you feel like my female dog?  
Tired and worn?

There are many factors affecting a midlife woman's day-to-day life. There are spiritual, physical and circumstantial drivers to manage. Here are but a few simple things I've noticed and some tips to manage these challenges: 
  • A midlife woman may feel out of shape, stiff all over, depleted in energy, and so on (even women who regularly exercise).

    Challenge:  Manage your health with exercise, supplements, dietary changes, rest, and pacing your activities. You aren't in a 20-year old's body, but you can make the most of what you have. Take care of yourself by adjusting your routines to serve you better. Don't feel guilty about taking a day off to relax. Don't feel guilty about taking a nap.
  • A woman facing unemployment may struggle with an identity crisis and lack of clear path when there is no daily work schedule.

    Challenge: Do you need to work because you need the income? If so, visit an employment agency to help you find the right fit. If you merely want to work because you think it will make life more fulfilling, submit the idea to God. He may have unpaid or part-time work he wants you to do instead. Unless he calls you into paid work again, learn to accept where you are and enjoy your life! Don't keep fighting his plan for your life. Add routine into your day to make a schedule for yourself. Check things off your to-do list to feel fulfilled.
  • A woman may struggle as her role as mother begins to change. The transition can be troubling because the role as she knew it was so long, enduring and meaningful.

    Challenge: Be kind to yourself as your role changes. Read books on parenting if needed to understand the changes that are occurring with your children. See a counsellor if you need to figure out how to relate to your adult children. Enjoy the new freedom this phase offers. Look at this time as a precurser to the next phase of life where you will be able to live like you did before children arrived.

    Most of all, get over the idea there is one perfect way to live life. Don't keep thinking the grass is greener somewhere else. The grass will be greener right where you are if you take care of it. 

Are you in the Midst of a Midlife Crisis?


(Reprint post) 

Could you be having a midlife crisis?
Several themes emerged through conversations with women I coached. Some women seemed to feel stuck and lost. Others didn't have a description for how they felt, they just knew they wanted more out of life.  

They were Christians, but even Christian women struggle with life fulfillment and purpose. Even Christian women face life transitions. 

LIFE TRANSITION

In many cases, some type of transition was involved in the women's lives--kids were leaving home, kids were going off to college, they or their spouse had lost a job or quit one, and so on. 

Many of these women I coached were also in the age bracket for perimenopause and menopause--a time where hormones can upset the apple cart. 

Not only were their bodies changing, their roles were changing. Some were moms whose roles were changing. Others were not moms but sought something new

These women wanted to look inside at who they were now in the current moment and gather insight on what to do next. 

MIDLIFE DILEMMAS

Also came dilemmas that felt unsolvable in spite of very good efforts--the inability to find a new job, the inability to narrow down something they were interested in, feelings of confusion, feeling the need to refocus their life but not sure how, feelings of sadness and sometimes depression. 

Some doctors would merely say these women were "depressed" but I would suggest an alternative viewpoint. A more apropos term may be that a woman like this is having a midlife crisis. 

A midlife crisis is something that has to be walked through. Various life areas are under siege and help is needed all around.  

LABELS CAN BE HELPFUL

It is helpful at times to be able to put a label on a situation because then a person knows what they're dealing with. 

Without direction, it can be too tempting to take stabs at what's going on and to make drastic life-altering decisions. 

It's easy, for instance, when in crisis to assign blame where it doesn't belong. A woman may blame her husband, her marriage, her boss, her children, her husband's ex-wife, and so on. Some secular counsellors might suggest she throw it all away and start over. In my opinion, unless there are deep issues calling for a divorce or job change, taking drastic measures won't solve her issues. 

A woman in a midlife crisis will make more progress when she stops looking for someone to blame and takes responsibility for how she feels. Then, the hard work comes of identifying action steps to take.  

It's always better to make changes from a place of health and understanding than from a place of despair. 

This Wheel of Life can help a woman look at various life areas out of balance. 

I wrote the book Midlife Crisis Checklists as a companion to my other midlife crisis book on Kindle. The Midlife Crisis Checklists book presents issues that may help a woman find her way out of the thicket. 

If you feel you fit the criteria for a midlife crisis, embrace the label. You don't have to tell everyone, just realize what you are feeling is fairly common. Take responsibility without blaming others. Then, with guidance, walk through your midlife crisis, chipping away at a number of distressing issues in your life until you find balance and peace. 

Is Your World Being Shaken?

Lilacs I arranged for my daughter's wedding May 27, 2018

All through life we are in "God's school." If I asked you to colour in a section of a pie chart the percentage of knowledge you have about life, chances are you would only colour in a small section. 

None of us, no matter what our educational degree, knows it all. Knowing God and knowing about God are two different things. Knowing God is also different from understanding all he wants us to know. We can pursue Him all life long and still not fully know Him. 

Nevertheless, He guides us and teaches us along our life journey. We never fully arrive.

 Lessons Learned

Over time, I've learned that God not only loves humans, but He prunes them. He lets us make mistakes. He lets us go through difficulties. He is a Master Gardener ready to prune us so that we not only will be whom He wants us to be, but that in so doing, we will carry out the plans He has for us. 

Lately, God has been pruning me. I've had to interact with my daughter's friends (20-somethings) and it's been a world I've been out of touch with. When she entered university at 17, I learned my place quickly. I was to let her go and stay out of her shenanigans. So I've been out of touch with the thinking of her millennial generation. 

Now, suddenly, as she planned her wedding at age 25, I was thrown into the midst of that group of friends again. I had to bear the brunt of what I call "a bunch of nonsense", carousing, drinking, immaturity, and naive behaviour.  

Some millennial rationale doesn't seem to make sense. Some of their habits are unusual, maybe even nasty. My generation did things differently and it is often that sense of different that I've yet to come to terms with. 

In this learning curve, I've had to uncover what legalism is yet again. I've had to learn more about grace, forgiveness, acceptance, letting go, and trusting God. 

I've learned I get frustrated with only a small amount of control. I've learned how many expectations I have and how awful it feels to have them dashed. 

I've learned some of my insight isn't wanted by this generation. I've had to come to terms with my daughter saying no to my suggestions. I've had to swallow my distaste when I've seen her friends or herself do things differently than I would. 

It's been a journey. 

I've had to press into God. I've had to call on the support of prayer partners. I've had to let go and back off. I've had to mingle with a crowd I'm not used to. I've had to trust that my shaken world will re-form into what God wants it to be. 

Prov. 3:5&6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.













How Positive are You?

How positive are you?



I've thought I was a positive person. Though I'm a critical thinker who can usually see both sides to a situation, I like to be in the moment and a forward thinker. But recently, I've noticed my mindset can use some work.

I've often compared my mindset to that of my 90 yr old mother's. She was raised in the depression, and while that is no excuse for her choices, negativity still tends to dominate her words. She has chosen to live a simple, cloistered life because she is comfortable with what is familiar. She doesn't travel or seem to like new experiences or things done differently. Because of her way of living, she becomes negative when challenged with new ideas. 

But I've lived in various cities and in three Canadian provinces. I've been far more adventurous than some which has broadened my viewpoint. I pride myself on being more positive than my mom. 

What If Thinking 

I've recently read Mark Batterson's book If.  I'm not sure I get it all except to say he has prompted me to say: What if things do go well? What if I'm wrong? What if I really CAN trust God? What if God WILL answer my prayer? and that sort of thing. It's a good concept to adopt.

Yesterday, though, I found myself not being very positive. My daughter is planning her wedding and I keep looking for problems. I keep expecting one of her plans will fail. Why? Maybe because then my wisdom will be validated. 

She had asked her wedding party for a bachelorette getaway. I thought the idea was audacious. I couldn't believe a cabin could be rented for 2 nights for a mere $40 a person. I couldn't believe her friends would actually take time and make the effort to get away. I argued that it was overkill and too expensive. I was sure they'd be surprised by the final bill.

But when I asked her how it went she said it went great. (Not what I wanted to hear.) ALL the girls showed up. It really did only cost them $40 each plus money for food and gas. And that is when I checked myself. Why did I want to hear it went poorly? Why would I want it to fail? Why can I not let her be right? 

The same goes for other plans? I find myself predicting they won't work--even her marriage. I have expected it might fail. 

Challenged Thinking

I told my husband it takes effort for me to be positive-minded. Worrying is easier, but more painful. But isn't positive thinking more fun?

I'm going to have to admit I've been wrong on many levels about many things if I'm to be positive. I need God to root out the stronghold of disbelief. 

Lately, I've been praying for what one televangelist calls favour, and I've seen it. Many good things are happening. Things ARE working out. God is answering prayers. 

I've also been reading Joyce Meyer's Book Living a Life You Love. One section talks about feeling frustrated or having things not work out. She challenges readers to question whether they are really in line with God's plan or if they are trying to make things happen in their own strength? She calls it doing a work of the flesh. Her suggestion is that when you are frustrated, chances are you are working from your flesh.

That has gone through my mind often lately as I've made to-do lists and worked to accomplish many tasks. I can make my own plans which usually includes internet research and possibly driving from store to store in search of something, or I can commit it to God and simply follow his lead instead. 

When I see things worked out, I grow in confidence and being a more positive person becomes easier. I like that way of living. Maybe you can try it for yourself. 



The Value of A Tribe in Midlife


I'm going to take a moment to brag about something I've been doing since last September.  I joined what is called a Fitness Bootcamp. I thank God for it. 

Let me tell you some background.

In my list of my top 5 passions, exercise is one. I've always done something to keep moving from walking to jogging to fitness classes to having a gym membership. 

Quitting the Gym 

About two years ago, I reviewed my attendance at my gym. It turns out my sessions were worth $25 each because I was still paying and only using the facilities now and then. It didn't add up. Plus, there was too little personal interaction there. It got me out of the house, but zero personal interaction. I was lonely and it wasn't a good place to meet anyone. 

My dog is aging and our walks had also become shorter and fewer. Though I do a lot of yard work and stretching, I was missing workouts and the brisk walks I once did regularly.  

So I dropped my gym membership, and with optimism, toured the community centre. But it was very disappointing. A type of depression even came over me as I felt directionless. 

Stop Gap Solutions 

In the interim of finding my new thing, I bought a home exercise bike and joined a weight loss group. 

These held me over for a time. But then I went through what might have been a mild concussion after hitting my head with a board. I had head and neck issues going on and dreadful tinnitus that led to dreadful anxiety attacks. The pills I was given to counteract the panic attacks added 25 pounds. I quit the weight loss group because the weekly weigh ins weren't good for me with the weight gain. 


A New Glimpse

On Facebook, I kept seeing an ad for a local bootcamp. The term bootcamp seemed intimidating. But I saw an ad for a group for women over 55, which I was. I looked at a video and said, "I can do that" and finally booked an appointment. 

The funny thing is, I learned that what I'd seen on the video was merely a warmup! The real workouts were much more intense. But bit by bit, I've adapted. 

I've had leg injuries about three times now and have had to take time off, but I'm back at it. 

A God-Send 

The bootcamp has become God-send and a staple in my life. It is the thing I get up for in the morning.

Like-minded and like-aged women are there. We greet each other. We interact. We learn each other's names. We do a high-five slap at the end of each class. We have fun. We are concerned for each other. 

Finding My TRIBE

I now call the women at bootcamp my tribe. Tribe is a modern term. It's like the term peers and in midlife it can be hard to find peers--people sharing the same life phase and experiences.  A tribe is a group of people who share experiences and grow together. There is a synergy in a good tribe. 

My friends at bootcamp are the kind of tribe I'd been in search of for more than just a couple years. It's something I prayed for. God took time to connect me with it, but he surely did. 

The Cost and Payoff 

Being in a group like this of women 55 to 79 doing something positive together is great. Moving to fabulous music is awesome. I didn't get my groove on like that at the gym--not since the days of taking aerobics classes. 

Membership at the bootcamp isn't cheap and not all women can afford it. I consider the benefits worth the money though because it is a boost not only to my physcial wellbeing, but my mental, emotional and social wellbeing. I know how hard it is to keep all those life issues in balance and how hard it is to find such a tribe. I'm not giving it up easily.  

Do You have a Tribe? 

If you're vulnerable to share your life with others, a tribe like this can make a big difference. Another woman in the group and I were dealing with placing an aging parent in a nursing home. We exchanged stories. Another was dealing with similar post-menopausal issues as I'd come down with. Again, we supported each other. 

Other women have had children marry, divorce, have children and so on. They can relate to the stress of loving our children while also letting go. They can tell me their story which is sometimes helpful to get me through a situation. 

Have you found a tribe? Ask God where to look. You might find it in a mastermind group, a crafting group, a Bible study, a fitness group, or something else. 

Be Resilient 

Even in something like this, I try hard to remain resilient. There is no guarantee the good vibes will endure. Members have come and gone. Some have changed class times. New members come in. Some click, others don't. 

With each change, I trust God. I simply go with the attitude, "Love God and love others." I look for how I can show love to others at the group. Can I listen? Can I share? Can I encourage? Can someone encourage me?


A New Schedule 

My class is 10:15 am and I can go as much as five days a week. It has forced me to go to bed earlier. It has forced me to set my alarm and get up by 8:30 if not earlier. I have a morning routine. I have to change by 9:30 and get in the car around 9:50.

After class is the perfect time to run errands. The grocery store and pet food store are across the street. It's very handy. I often have the dog in the back of the car. Sometimes we will go for a walk after. 


Having this bootcamp in my life helps to put my life into better balance. Do you need something like this? 


New Stress of a Mom with a Daughter Marrying

Art journal page - us women become fragmented with life's stress



I keep thinking I need to update this blog with what I'm learning lately, but God has me learning so much I don't know if I can put it into words just yet. I'll simply add a glimpse here.

First, my daughter is getting married. Have you had children marry? Were you "on board" with the idea? Have you learned that old rules have changed? Anything goes? 

Letting go of my daughter to make her own decisions and letting go of my ideas about how weddings should be has been a process. She and her fiance have made it clear from the start they don't want our input. They don't want strings attached to our gift of cash. It's been a wake-up call because I assumed as a mom I would have more input. I got the feeling her dad and I were to just show up. She said she didn't even care how we were dressed (not quite mother-of-the-bride thinking).

Perhaps banning us from the planning has to do with the angst we expressed over time to my daughter. Let me tell you about it. 


Worriesome Angst 

The process of considering my daughter's choice of spouse whom she met at 19 and he 18 and have been together for 6 years makes me wonder about the longevity of their future together. They are 25 and 24 now, but knowing what they're up against troubles me. Seeing red flags about their relationship worries my husband and me. 

She is a believer in Christ, he is not. We know the issues with that and plenty of Christians and relatives have also expressed their concerns as though they think it is within our means to march in and break them up.

Old Anxiety 

I have seen so many similarities with their relationship and a previous relationship I had. It's laughable. It's like the enemy got in and gave my daughter exactly what I didn't want her to have. Situations triggered memories causing me anxiety. I never want my daughter to experience what I did and I worry she's headed for trouble. 

Of course, having had a bad relationship in the past makes me extra sensitive to what I see. Projection is easy. Comparing my daughter's fiance to the person I was involved with isn't fair. But it happens. Since the wedding is going forward, I have to see this young man for the good in him and trust God to challenge him. 

But in the meantime, their choices caused me to plummet into a pool of anxiety so much so I needed medication and signed on for mental health therapy. 

During that therapy, I resolved issues I'd carried for over 30 years. They needed expression in a safe place. I went through a process called EMDR which was very helpful. 
I had no clue something from my past would haunt me 30 years later! I had no idea such would cause anxiety affecting my health.
Finding Resolution

But the wedding is going forward, so I needed to decide how I was going to handle it. Here are a few ways I did:

a) My husband and I expressed a number of concerns to my daughter. Of course we had expressed such since we met the young man, but now regarding marriage and little change in what we saw, we needed to have our feelings registered. 

We didn't necessarily express this well, thought. But moreso, it wasn't received well. Our daughter's generation of young people seem to act a little entitled. They balk the input of adults. My daughter had never known our disapproval before. So it didn't go well. 

b) In spite of our warnings, it's going ahead. We love our daughter and decided we need to be supportive no matter her choices. 

c) During therapy, I came up with a process the therapist hadn't challenged me on but when I told her what I'd done, she loved it. I wrote a list of my concerns and then reframed them into prayers. For instance, a concern was that this young man lacked career direction and had two part-time jobs and sometimes had gaps between work. We wanted to be sure the man our daughter married could support her even though she had a good paying job herself. I reframed my concern to ask God to provide him with career direction and the right job. 

With this process, my need for control was challenged in healthier way. My faith is not in the young man changing, it is in God directing him. 

d) I decided they are simply immature or naive in some ways and everyone deserves the opportunity to grow up. The question became whether I could support them while they navigate life and how I might do that. 

e) I protected my health. I needed to step back from seeing them for a time while I dealt with the stress and anxiety. It's called setting boundaries. 

Perfectionism

My daughter pointed out a reason she didn't want me helping plan her wedding--that I'm too detail oriented. She's right. my perfectionistic need for control is high. God has been challenging me on this idol, habit, stronghold--call it what you may.

My decision making and stress is often tied to what ifs--what if someone thinks this or that isn't appropriate, what if someone's expectation isn't met, what if I feel left out, what if there's something better out there...

I am learning to set boundaries for myself and not care what others think. This is a battle because family members, neighbours and the like aren't short on expressing their opinions. 

I'm trying to change my what ifs to what if it all works out, what if this is part of God's plan, what if I don't need to live in a pool of ongoing stress, what if God wants me to enjoy this time not stress about it, what if I'm not in control, what if I let others make their own decisions and face their own consequences?

So I'm being challenged in many ways. I never would have predicted all the new emotions I've had to deal with. 

How about you? Are you going through a phase of on-going stress? Are you in need of therapy? Do you need to set boundaries for yourself? Is there something you could reframe? Do you need a mindset shift?

God is willing to walk through it with you. He may take you deep or rush in and give you supernatural peace you can't justify. Ask him to point out any areas of your life you may need to deal with.  







The Value of Friendships among Women

art by Rosalie Garde

I was never good at making friends. Much of my life, I was an introvert with social anxiety. It took me a lot of years and practice to open up. As I grew, I would have one or two good friends and that was it. 

When I moved away with my husband for a job transfer in the 90s I left what few friends I had behind. I had to rely on long-distance phone calls and letter mail. Because I was an introvert, I didn't make those phone calls. And I missed having connections. 

I assumed friendships would stay the same and when I would move back home I would be embraced by old friends. It didn't happen. They had each seemingly moved on with their own lives. 

Pray for Your Friends 

I decided one day that if I really cared about these people I should pray for them. I should not look for how they could fill my needs but for how I could bless their lives. 

Do you pray for your friends?

I also prayed that God would restore old friendships at the right time. Eventually, a few old friendships did get reinvigorated. Prayers were answered. 

If you desire authentic relationships, pray for your old friends AND pray that God will bring you new friends. 


Value in Authentic Friendships


Women friends are valuable to have because of the way our interaction with them strengthens us at our core. When friends are authentic in sharing, we are able to make sense of our own life. For instance, at a recent lunch with friends, the topic of using store-bought mashed potatoes came up. I'd been buying them recently to cut dinner-making corners but sometimes felt I was being lazy or extravagant. You can imagine how relieved I felt hearing a friend say she makes potatoes out of a box! 

We also shared about our aging parents and struggles we have had over worrying about our adult children. Sharing helps us put our own lives into perspective. We know we aren't alone in our struggles. 
art by Rosalie Garde


Be Willing to Initiate Conversations

Being an introvert and working from home while living away from family and friends for so many years due to our job transfers, I learned to make the most of basic interactions. That meant starting conversations with whomever I might bump into--mostly sales clerks, office receptionists, and the like. We all need human interaction and, at times, talking to a store clerk is the best I can do. 

I've learned that not all sales clerks want to interact. I've also learned that sometimes my interaction is timely. One lady I struck a conversation with thanked me because what we talked about prompted her to make a doctor's appointment she'd been putting off. 

As I shared with another woman recently about just having come from having a full-body massage, she felt prompted to make an appointment for herself--something she too had been putting off.

Hearing from each other and having others to share our life stories with is important. 

More Than Networking

I didn't know where to start when I moved where I live now, but since I worked from home, I saw the opportunity to join in business networking groups. I participated because I wanted more than chit chat or another Bible study. 

These types of groups are helpful, but at times, you can feel like just another potential customer or audience member. The conversation in these groups may become repetitive and you may find you are constantly questioning the motive of others. 

If you're a business woman who has to network for her job, be mindful of your motives.  Try to see others as human beings, not just potential clients. 

Put it Into God's Hands

I have 3 coffee invitations on the table right now. These are people who on social media said, "We should get together for coffee." Not being an initiator, I am poor at following up. I guess I'm afraid I'll over-schedule myself, waste time, or that the other person will be too busy for what I have to offer. It's always easy to find things to fill our time with. 

If you're like me in this way, commit the requests to God. Ask him to set the schedule if you are to meet with others. Ask him to touch your tongue and put on your heart the conversation he wants you to have. Ask him to be your appointment setter. Be his hands and feet by willingly meeting with who he sets you up with. 







No One Has All the Answers


I like to write these blog posts to offer encouragement. When I feel God has downloaded a thought, I like to post it here. I like to be his vessel who brings his message of hope to women. 

I'm still plagued with tinnitus though. God has not healed me. I get a few days of quiet where it feels I've been healed, and then it returns. I tell you this because it has really set up a stronghold in my life. It diminishes my focus, my joy, and my ability to write easily. Continue to pray for a miracle for me. Thanks.

And even with the challenge, pray that I can release myself from its grip and continue to do the things God has put me on earth to do. 

It's funny that years ago when I heard of tinnitus, I couldn't imagine anyone having to live with it. Did the enemy hear me say that? I never dreamt I'd end up with such. I so want my life back! 

If you have no tinnitus, thank God for it. Enjoy the quiet!!!

What's the Point?

Other than ask for your prayers for healing, what's the point of me putting this here in my midlife blog? 

Simple. To let you know that life sometimes sucks. Bad things happen to good people. Aging sucks too. At times, it can feel like we have one medical or physio appointment after another.

The point is, no matter how much encouragement I might be able to dispel at other times and no matter how big my smile is in person, I have challenges too. We all have challenges! 

No One Has All the Answers!

None of us have all the answers! If you meet someone who declares they have the answer for you, run the other way. 

Telling God your problems and trusting him to help you is the only way to live. Trusting God is a daily process. That trust can be renewed daily thank goodness. Every day is a new day of possibilities. 

With one word, God can heal me. With one email, a new opportunity can arise. With one phone call, my focus can change. And so can yours. 

Work through your life issues with trust in God. It's the best way to deal with them.