I am not old…she said. I am rare. I am the standing ovation at the end of the play.
Like many women, I thought of self-care as selfish or indulgent, served up with an undercurrent of guilt. It seemed extravagant – like a weekend at a spa, rather than emotional first aid of the highest order. Like the classic example flight attendants give about putting on your oxygen mask first before helping others, it’s important to tend to yourself first.
Moving forward often demands that we live lost, knowingly surrendering our attachment to who we think we are, voluntarily stumbling around in the dark with little to guide us. Growing is all about leaps into the seeming unknown.
“Shame, for women, is this web of unobtainable, conflicting, competing expectations about who we’re supposed to be. And it’s a straight-jacket.” ~ Brené Brown
Brenda is part of a tribe of women who were the first to enter the professional world in large numbers, and are the first to encounter the hazards surrounding retirement. Defining themselves largely through their careers, they have challenged traditional models at every stage of their lives, and are now being challenged by their own negative stereotypes about retirement.
After talking with more than 100 women from all across the country, about 50% expressed concern that they were becoming marginalized because of their advancing years. The other 50% had no such concerns. In fact, I had to define more clearly and concisely what I meant by "invisible" in order for them to answer the question. It just wasn't on their radar.
Laughter is often said to be the best medicine. A shot of laughter can change your outlook and help you cope with stressful times. It unbridles you when you can’t see past your situation.
There are times in my life when, despite the significant changes I’ve made, I get in a funk. The truth is I sometimes lose that spark, that fire in the belly that fuels my passion. As is my usual method of dealing with being out of balance, I spend time in reflection - trying to sort out what’s holding me back; what’s holding me in place and preventing me from moving forward.
If I were to draw a line down the center of a piece of paper and write "Gifts" on one side and "Flaws" on the other side, I'm embarrassed to admit which side would fill up the fastest. Why is it that we are able to pick up on our faults so much easier than we are our skills, talents and abilities?
I wanted to get a better handle on what ignites a fire in the belly of a high-achieving, soul-driven midlife woman, and I wasn’t disappointed. Everyone I talked with was wonderfully open, unreservedly frank, and touchingly vulnerable. While these women may have taken any number of divergent paths as a result of choice or circumstance, there are a number of places where these various paths intersect, and when standing on that sacred ground, their voices sound particularly unified.