Late in 2007, I decided to start my first blog. This was an experiment for me, a way to see if I wrote about my true feelings as a 52 year-old female American, others might come and find ways to relate. I admit. I hadn’t the slightest idea what I was doing, but I still love my byline:
Looking back I would say this experiment worked. Within a year or so I had thousands of followers, and eventually well over 500,000 were following the Midlife Crisis Queen. A number of books followed.
The point of all of this was for the benefit of others. I hoped to encourage those who felt lost in the debilitating fear and doubt that midlife can create, and to show how normal these feelings were. I thought perhaps by showing how I had overcome enough confusion and doubt to move forward into a new writing career, I could give others hope. This was in the midst of alarming suicide rates among our 50+ population, which still continue. I wanted to show how my own difficulties eventually led to new enjoyment of life itself for me, after suffering a devastating midlife crisis in my late 40s.
This quote from RuPaul describes my feelings well at this life juncture:
“I was always looking for some way to fit onto this planet…To be open enough to hear the Universe’s stage directions.”
Finally, at age 63, I feel like I have “heard the Universe’s stage direction.” I am pleased to announce, for the first time in my life I see myself as a visible positive spirit in the lives of others, and in my own life. My writing career has played an integral role in this transformation.
There is something about writing, especially for an audience, that causes the writer to finally see and hear themselves in new ways. I kept a journal for decades before my midlife crisis caused me to begin sharing my thoughts and feelings with others, but it was only through writing and relating to others that I discovered my deeper Self, the Self that finally wanted to be seen and acknowledged.
Almost everyone gets into published writing to reach others, and yet the real rewards come from truly hearing yourself for the first time.
Sometimes when I read something I wrote years ago I see the person who always felt inadequate or like she might never fit into this world, one who did not want to be seen by others. For example, these days when I communicate with some I went to high school with, they invariable don’t remember me. That was my unconscious goal back then. I did not know how to appreciate my unique qualities, let alone share them with others. I literally did not feel comfortable being myself.
“The hardest battle you will face in life is to be no one but yourself, in a world which is trying its hardest to make you like everybody else.” — From a high school graduation announcement
Today I regret that it has taken me this long to become my true Self and appreciate my best qualities. Why did this take me so long? But then I see that most of the human race historically had no chance of discovering their true Self or valuing this amazing resource. Most just did what they were told and then died.
I so clearly see now that I am not the person my parents tried to make me, or all those rotten bosses I had through the years. I am uniquely myself today and that feels like an amazing accomplishment.
If this topic interests you, perhaps you might enjoy my exploration of what midlife means to human beings on this planet today:
Well, it finally happened, or at least I first heard about it this week. I learned from one of my new readers that she bought a “NEW” copy of my book through Amazon. My books are print-on-demand (POD), so I waited to see a sale on my Lightning Source sales page. Guess what? No book was printed and they showed no sale…ever!
It’s official. Amazon is now selling new copies of my books without paying me a dime! I don’t know how or how long this has been going on. The only reason I heard about it this time is that I knew the buyer, and she sent me a copy of the Amazon invoice. They sold my book for under $7 without charging for postage. Yes, books can be very cheap when they stop paying authors altogether.
The way this system is supposed to work is that Amazon sends a request to my printer (Lightning Source) to print a copy and they send it to Amazon. I am the only one who is supposed to be able to buy new copies from the printer at a discounted rate, to sale direct to local customers. Apparently Amazon has found a way around that system now.
You would think a book company would not want to screw over their own authors. WRONG!
Amazon will screw over anyone for their own profits.
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.” — Anne Lamott
Right Anne, like anybody’s perfect, but oh how I tried for decades. How crazy was I? Straight A’s in school, the best student in the world, pressure, pressure, pressure. Heck, I didn’t become a writer for most of my life because I figured I wasn’t perfect enough yet. Three graduate degrees later I finally, SLOWLY figured out that Anne was right the whole time. Now I am eminently imperfect, and I have so much more fun!
After we moved here I wondered about how honest I should be about exactly how unfriendly some folks were here. I was actually blown away by how badly some acted, even therapists! I assumed that people are naturally friendly in small towns or out in the country…WRONG!
Lots of folks move here BECAUSE of their anti-social personalities. Duh!
It was only later in life that I realized that I own my own stories, all of them. My most valued possessions are my own stories and how I survived them, every one of them!
My first book was the result of this realization. I had already sold a few of my essays to editors who were putting together anthologies on midlife change back in 2008. I had almost completed the sell of the story of my own divorce, to appear in the Seal Press book: Ask Me About Divorce, when I realized I should be making more money on my own stories! That is howMidlife Magic: Becoming The Person YOU are Inside came about. And I can assure you I made much more on my book than the $100 the Seal Press was offering!
From this and so much other risk-taking behavior, which emerged after I stopped trying to be ‘perfect’, I learned the joy of being fully me. And come to find out, I enjoyed the real me so much more than that nervous perfectionist!
“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go…” -T.S. Eliot
Ever since I started writing on “Midlife Crisis Queen” back in 2007, I have wondered who comes to read my writing and why. My readers have certainly not been the people I expected. I originally expected a few family members and friends, but few of them ever came.
Instead I started making virtual friends all over the world. I got so close to one woman in Australia, I mailed her a copy of my new book free of charge! I met fellow blogger Barbara Weibel (left), who was just starting her travel blog. If you have any interest in world travel and incredible photography you should certainly check out: Hole in the Donut.
Most of all I connected with kindred spirits, those searching for something else after living a fairly conventional life up until age 40 or 50. All of my readers have been in search of adventure and transformation. All have enriched my life in some small way.
When I created this blog in October 2014, I expected to attract a very different crowd. I figured my midlife crisis days were behind me as Mike and I slowly settled into retirement in southern Colorado. And, sure enough, I have attracted some great virtual friends who can relate to these post-employment years, even if we are all still writing and publishing. One big surprise, how many readers from all over the world find moving to the Colorado outback country interesting!
What I have always found most astounding is how loyal certain virtual friends can be, and how hesitant my family and long-term friends have been to come here to read a blog post or two. I would think these folks would be most curious about my life, but apparently not. Certain virtual friends seem much more curious and loyal.
I have tried, but I cannot fathom why that is. Perhaps my family and old friends think they know me, but they don’t. We are all ever-changing beings, at least that is what I choose to believe!
Perhaps I will always remember this holiday as the one where I finally accepted the truth about other peoples’ reaction to me. Ah, if I could have totally accepted this truth decades ago, my life would have been so much easier:
You cannot control how other people receive your energy. Anything you do or say gets filtered through the lens of whatever they are going through at that moment, which is NOT ABOUT YOU.
Just keep doing your thing with as much integrity and love as possible.
This includes everything I write about here and in my books. Just because I have chosen to learn enough to understand the psychology of midlife transition or passive solar technology, and appreciate the freedom this knowledge has given to me, does not mean anyone else has a clue what I’m talking about.
Even my parents, who taught me much of what I learned as a child, the ones I thought knew EVERYTHING when I was young, have no idea where I’m coming from with most of my ideas and thoughts today. They are living in their own reality and often do not appreciate mine, but that is not about me.
On some level I’m ashamed that it has taken me this long on this beautiful blue planet to appreciate this truth. But on the other hand, it is so freeing to let each of us be where we are right now.
We continue to search for whatever makes our lives feel better.
The person who risks nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
So I have another opportunity coming up this weekend to go sell my books at the La Veta Holiday Crafts Fair. Yes, I never thought of writing books as a craft, but apparently it is. In the dictionary, crafts are defined as “an activity involving skill in making things by hand.” Synonyms are occupation, profession, line of work and pursuit. I don’t make my books by hand, but I do make them “by brain,” so I guess that counts.
By producing a book, I feel like I do put myself out into the world. There are certainly many expenses and risks. I share my life and hope others can relate on various levels. No, I don’t write fiction, I write real life, and cannot imagine writing fiction at this point in time.
I have focused thus far mostly on the many emotional gifts of midlife, a rite of passage no past generations of human beings have ever experienced. I had no awareness of this gift when I experienced a number of personal crises starting in 2001. Being an academic librarian, I read up on this subject, learning about the essential work I would need to do to improve the rest of my life. I learned how midlife change works, and then I got to work changing everything I could.
Most importantly, I learned there really are do-overs BEFORE it’s all over, and I chose to share that knowledge with anyone interested in transforming themselves.
Unfortunately, I have quite a love-hate relationship with selling my work. I love getting out and meeting new people. I love explaining what I write about and why, but whenever money comes into the equation, I become uncomfortable. I suppose I am not alone in that feeling. Nobody likes to feel like someone is selling them something, do they?
But I will attend this new crafts fair and stay as long as I enjoy it. Perhaps I just need more experience in “selling” my ideas and words. Perhaps some day this will begin to feel good…
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T. S. Eliot
Please share this information with your friends if they are considering similar life changes. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss any of these challenges, and to order your own signed copies of any of my books! Cheers, Laura Lee (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)