I had an interesting exchange this week with The HerStory Project, a website requesting pitches from women who are experiencing “the realities of getting older” and offering support to Gen X women in midlife. They also requested informational pieces so I offered to write a piece about what midlife is, why it is particularly important to us today, and its psychological impact and implications. I thought they would benefit from the older perspective, a scholar and therapist who has done extensive research on this topic. They weren’t interested… What could this older woman know about midlife mayhem and personal change? My response: Learn from those who have gone before you!
Here’s a piece I wrote four years ago on this topic, in the midst of remodeling our suburban home in preparation for our move south to build passive solar.
I have had three conversations in the past three days with midlife women who are remodeling their homes, and that includes me! What is it about menopause and remodeling? I, of course, have my own theories on this…
Midlife means time to change, and what better place to begin than changing something in your immediate surroundings?
My divorce at age 49 stimulated all sorts of major changes for me, mostly because I had to move into a much smaller and older home. OK, let’s just call it dumpy. My saving grace after my divorce was slowly fixing up my home bit by bit as I could afford it. I started with small improvements like a new native plants garden, a solar tube for more natural lighting and carpeting…
and ended up turning a nasty old south-facing screened-in porch…
into a lovely new sun room. I added square footage to my home while also bringing down my heating bills… Such a deal!
More importantly, my new sun room was just the thing for improving my mental health. The whole experience made me feel happy, productive and creative, plus it showed me I had the power to build a much more positive future for myself. My new sun room made me say: “Look how you took an ugly space and turned it into a thing of beauty!”
BEAUTY IS THE GARDEN WHERE HOPE GROWS!
You could find me there every morning surrounded by my many blooming succulents with my sheltie dogs by my side, journaling and reading fun and empowering books about creativity and midlife change as I considered what was next for me.
That beautiful, quiet space became a source of great courage and creativity. It became the perfect place to plan my new life! I felt so safe and secure ensconced in that solid new room created especially for me, by me.
Ten years later I can see how important that physical change was to my overall perspective. I see now how the choices I made back then increased my confidence, while enhancing my power to change everything else in my life.