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Monday, July 21, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Mid Life (Column Excerpt)

“Ow!” The truth hit me like a load of bricks. OK, so it wasn’t as painful as a brick; rather it felt more like a thump on the head. I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed my strange behavior.

It was my forty-third birthday and I decided to celebrate by taking a vacation day. Today I would do only the things that I wanted to do, I would go where I wanted, and eat what I wanted – within reason, of course. Tomorrow, this Diva would have to rejoin the rest of the world, right?

Today was my “Just Say No to Everything but Me” day.

The day could not have been more perfect had I planned it, the traffic lights were in my favor; the radio was playing my favorite tunes. The Teenage Wonder also known as Son was not there to give me the dirty look because I was embarrassing him so I rolled down my window, singing out loud.

Not feeling that I could totally rebel, I’d decided against the ice cream on a cone that I really wanted in favor of a trip to the salad bar instead. I stopped at a stop sign in the grocery store parking lot.

Standing at the curb of the crosswalk was a slim, pretty young girl in her early teens. Her hair was long and straight and she wore braces. She looked plain miserable standing with the woman I assumed to be her mother. That was when I heard her sharply reprimanding the girl. 

“For God’s sake, Abby! Please don’t slouch!” Stepping off of the curb, the lecture continued all of the way to their car. I shook my head, feeling sorry for Abby.

I remember my young Abby days, going out into the world, society itself a “mother” reprimanding me to do what’s right and do what is expected. Don’t buck the trend and whatever you do, don’t make waves.

I chased my “happily ever after” – dream job, handsome prince, 2.5 children playing fetch with the dog in yard while my prince told me how wonderful I was. You know the fairy tale. He was no prince, we divorced and the fairy tale ended there. I was faced with raising our only child on my own. But as I said before, a funny thing happened on the way to Mid Life. Life happened. In spite of myself, I became A GROWN UP!

I had to recover my strength; I had a young child staring into my terrified face everyday depending on me. We didn’t know any better. I changed gears to discover the things that truly gave my life flavor. I could demand more. I was making peace with myself. Taking charge of me.
A new calm took over as I pushed the Teenage Wonder through the teenage jungle until finally we could see the light at the end of the tunnel and knew that it wasn’t the train this time.

This journey felt like a new pair of shoes – awkward, tight, snug, uncomfortable but feeling better and more comfortable the more I wore them. And there was one unexpected benefit, I found that it really didn’t matter much what someone else thought about it. What a revelation!
Free at last free to be me! Understanding who I’m in my world and seeing everything for the first time.

Mid Life Divas, we are embarking on an extraordinary journey, we are going to see some things, do some things, and make our lives work for us! You may hear others say, "She's got an attitude". My position on this "change back" message is to agree - yes agree! Of course, you do! You will no longer view yourself in the same way as you hack your way through the deep underbrush of overgrown attitudes and views that no longer fit you. Consequently, you will no longer be able to view others the same way either.

I had a revelation. The shoes of my journey finally fit! I was over forty, for Pete’s sake! I no longer had to twist myself into someone else’s ideal and had grown quite comfortable in my own skin. That was when I had the thump on my head.

The truth was that I no longer had to fit into the mold that someone else chose for me. How glad I was to no longer have to shoulder the burden of youth and the quest to be the best, the brightest, the prettiest everything.

This Life Diva was ready to go out and shake her tail feathers! I laughed out loud, not caring if anyone else heard me, wanting to get out of my car and skip around the parking lot, very un-Diva like behavior I’m sure, but there you have it.

I flicked on my turn signal and drove myself to the fast food restaurant I’d passed minutes ago and treated myself to a chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream cone.

In honor of Abby.

Hey all of you out there! We’re Mid Life Divas; we can do what we want. And I want your stories about how you’re doing it. Have a story about your own journey over and through this strange new terrain? Share it with us. Join the fray!

1 comment:

Karen Swim said...

Happy Birthday! Turning 40 was a blast as I realized that I really was an adult in charge of my own life. At 44 I am now solidly over 40 and loving it. No more angst about living up to someone else's impossible standards but fully enjoying who I am today and who I am becoming with continued growth. The view from mid-life is pretty darn good!