It all hit at once yesterday, the sadness of our world today. Sure we can distract ourselves endlessly. We can run away to the country or other countries and many of us do, but…
Deaths of despair continue to increase in our beautiful land…
An article like this onecuts deep and right to the heart of the matter. Now we have a president who lies hourly to us, one who recently proclaimed the “War on Poverty is largely over and a success,” while our United Nations Ambassador said it was “ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America.”
While 1 in 7 of us make up the world’s poorest 10%
“According to the Credit Suisse 34 million American adults are among the WORLD’S POOREST 10%. How is that possible? In a word, debt. In more excruciating words: stifling, misery-inducing, deadly amounts of debt for the poorest Americans.” It goes far beyond dollars. We have millions of deaths of despair in this country caused by the stresses of inferior health care coverage, stagnating incomes, and out-of-control inequality.
The world is full of hunger, poverty, violence and extreme sadness. I felt it all yesterday. It overwhelmed me, especially because I see that it does not have to be this way. Why do we respond to the fears and needs of others with anger and tear gas instead of communication and problem-solving? Belligerence and stupidity will only get us much more of what we see around us everyday.
I had the very good fortune yesterday to attend a WONDERFUL lunch and learn presentation by the Spanish Peaks Business Alliance.What an enthusiastic and friendly group! To put this into context for those of you who live in large metropolitan areas, we live in a 1,600 square mile rural southern Colorado with only 6,700 souls total in the whole county. Consequently, starting and keeping businesses going here can be no small feat.
The first person I met was Michelle Tschetter of Zoomadesign.com, a passionate, professional young woman who “enjoys creating branding and websites for her clients with no sales pressure and unnecessary add-ons.” She’s very new to town and comes from Loveland, the last city I lived in before moving here. Loved connecting with someone from my previous town and talking about developing a broader social media presence for my writing and books.
Michelle then introduced me to Sarah Jardis, who helped put together yesterday’s great event. She has been here only about two years, but couldn’t keep from signing up for a number of volunteer positions here. She’s already a member of the Spanish Peaks Tourism Board, attending numerous business conferences all over our state to learn more about putting this gorgeous area on the Colorado map. I love her energy and intelligence when it comes to improving life for all of us down here!
One of the first presenters was Carlton Croft, an account executive with KSPK Radio, our own local station. I hadn’t ever considered local radio advertising for my tiny business until I had a short talk with Carlton at the end of the meeting. He’s another new transplant to this area. We had a good talk about the culture shock one can experience when moving here from the big cities up north.
I must also mention the excellent lunch provided by theRyus Avenue Bakery.Their pizza is whole wheat and fantastic, as well as their soups and cookies!
I left this meeting all fired up about working cooperatively with most of the business people I met. Just what I was looking for down here!
I just heard Jackie Speier, a Congresswoman from California, talk about surviving the horror of the Jonestown fact finding mission in November 1978, and how that formative moment changed her. She was an attorney on the staff of Congressman Leo Ryan at that time, investigating human rights abuses by Jim Jones, the leader of the Peoples Temple cult in Guyana, when she was shot five times by Jones’ followers. While she survived, over 900 members of the cult did not, victims of a mass murder-suicide. This caused me to explore further how my own crisis, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in May of 2008, helped me to crystallize what I needed to do with my own life going forward.
The first few months after my TBI I could barely think or write anything. Important connections had been broken in my brain. Only time would help repair them. I also had a severe rib injury which made it impossible for me to drive for months. Without any doubt this was a life-changing experience for me.
In 2006 I began a new career as a freelance writer, but my heart wasn’t in it. After my TBI I wrote up a story for the Seal Press, about my recent divorce, for their upcoming book: Ask Me About My Divorce. They said they would pay me for the piece, but it struck me for the first time, that all I really have are my own stories. Why sell them to someone else? I turned that story into a book full of humorous essays called: Midlife Magic: Becoming The Person You Are Inside!published in late 2008. Then I began doing some serious research into midlife change and the psychological history of this concept. I found that intensive research and writing helped to heal my brain.
That first book was the beginning of ten years of research to fully understand the importance of seizing onto midlife as a unique opportunity to catch up to who you are now. The result of this research was my 2011 book: Find Your Reason To Be Here: The Search for Meaning in Midlife(2011). One interesting and unexpected outcome of my brain injury was that as my brain healed, it created a new decisiveness within me. I no longer doubted my strong feelings about what I believed in and who I would spend time with in my future. One result was the erasing of my ex-husband from my life. Ever since our divorce in 2001, I had allowed my ex-husband to continue to put me down verbally, because we shared custody of our dogs. In August of 2008 I told him to go away, permanently. I would take no more abuse from him ever again.
I also decided that I really wanted a new puppy to share my life with and got one for Christmas that year. All of these decisions came from a place of knowing that I would not be here forever, so I had better take matters into my own hands and get what I want NOW!
Now the only thing I feel strongly about as far as my writings go, is that all might benefit from what I have learned about the midlife change process. I would say to my older friends, please share with your children the wisdom I have gathered by suffering through so much midlife discovery and change. We don’t all need to re-invent the wheel over and over again. The wisdom is there. Why not read about it first, and then find your own wisdom within that process?
I would be happy to offer any of my books for $10 plus postage through Paypal, to you or to give as a gift to your midlife children.
To purchase copies please e-mail me at: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com
Have you ever considered the power of hate versus the power of love? Which do you believe to be stronger? In a nation where it is not so unusual for parishioners to be shot down in their own church or synagogue because of their beliefs, this can become a serious dilemma. How many Jews have died for their beliefs in the history of mankind?
If I were the president today, I would recommend a day of reflection for our country, a day to reflect on how hate and violence have become far too common. We might also reflect on who we are as a people and who we aspire to be as a nation.
Hatefulness is not the way to greatness, for a person or a nation.
In this season of nastiness and negativity, better known as election time, stop and notice who the haters are. Who has the most nasty and negative ads to represent the way they see their opponent and their world? Stop and think about how this reflects on their character. We already have a nasty, negative president who apparently enjoys disparaging more than half of us for not supporting his policies or his way of running our country. Do you want others to join him in embarrassing us around the world?
Let us instead meditate on love and peace around the world. Peace for the families who have lost so much in this most recent act of hatred and violence. Peace to those who know not what they have done…
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:
Less than 2 years ago I wrote this about my own life goals. Back then, I didn’t mean what needs to happen in the next year or two, but what needs to happen for me to feel satisfied in the long run. I wanted more love, acceptance, appreciation, access to pure silence and to be surrounded with solar warmth, natural beauty, music, wildflowers, peace, contentment with ever increasing relief from guilt and shame.
So what’s different now? I would say my greatest achievement has been acknowledging how much built-in shame and guilt I have lived with for years, and also how clarity and awareness can help me let that go. I used to think I was probably stuck with this feeling, and unable to free myself from its grip. But with time and introspection (and much encouragement from Mike!) I have found my way out of most of my guilt about just enjoying my life and feeling good. I do whatever I choose everyday now, and that my friend is a gift.
To what do I attribute so many changes in my internal dialogue?
I spent years studying the way our minds work, both through personal counseling and graduate-level training at Naropa University. What a gift to understand so much about the human behavior we are surrounded with everyday. Nothing like a higher level of “people skills” to help you understand the true motivations of yourself and others. I would add that my traumatic brain injury in 2008 has played a role. Shaking up so many brain connections really does change you, and it takes a few years to fully experience and get comfortable with your mind’s new openness.
With a major change in lifestyle from city busy to rural quiet, I have changed immeasurably. Now, with the luxury of so much more time to myself in nature and the quiet, I continue to learn more about myself and my apparently endless capacity to learn and grow. Moving out of the city was key to seeing beyond the limitations of urban life. City life can keep you so busy worrying about the next thing, that you don’t have time to be present with anything that’s happening right in front of you. I had to leave the city to learn about living in the present.
I am still processing the results of our recent trauma here in southern Colorado, when some complete idiot one county west started the Spring Fire, which consumed over 107,000 acres near us. The evacuation was shocking. Talk about a sudden life event that makes you consider all of your past decisions and future plans! The randomness of it all confounds you. Is it really simply weather and wind direction determining whether I have a house still? I found there came a time when I lost all composure. I could no longer pretend this was not happening to me and my home. This experience I did not choose, offered me new opportunities to explore deeper levels of that old “illusion of control” we think we maintain over our life.
I have been transfixed by a quote from Arthur Rosenfeld recently.
Perhaps you will also find his words insightful:
“…we all know how this ends, so rushing through life is senseless. As our inner life grows ever more luminous, the chatter of the speed-and-greed world slowly fades, leaving us with greater peace, tranquility, quiet and contentment.”
As a lifelong student of human behavior, I now find denial to be the most ubiquitous and powerful trait known to us all. The best therapist I ever met told me,
“People can get used to anything, if they can get used to schizophrenia.”
I would only add, we do seem to specialize in getting used to emotional problems instead of doing what we can to change them. It surprises me when I see someone suffering from deep emotional challenges and yet making no effort to do anything about it. To some it must seem natural to live with emotional discomfort, feel self-critical of ourselves and yet never seek out professional help to change. Speaking from experience, this tendency literally ruins lives, because unresolved emotions lead to self criticism, unhappiness in relationships, destructive addictive habits, and reduced productivity.
Most don’t seek help for debilitating denial issues and feelings because we are also in denial that these parts of our emotional makeup can change. Our main concern may be the fear that we aren’t up to the challenge of breaking addictive cycles, ending self-abuse and the habit of choosing toxic relationships, or the simple certainty that these things can never change. So what do we do? We get comfortable with the familiar and yet frustrating habits we were raised with.
For many (including myself) our lives will continue to go gradually downhill until that final crisis that says with absolute certainty: “Things must change NOW!” Confronting that moment with self-honesty and self-responsibility is the end of denial. And once the walls of denial start to tumble, the denials underneath those denials all must go.
Admitting exactly how miserable you are is always the first step. Finding the best solutions unique to your own needs comes next.
Yes, I know how disturbing it can be to see your lovely set of life rules and plans based on absolutely nothing but denial fall to ashes before your eyes. Then you know it’s time to start from scratch, but not really. If this happens in midlife, as it did for me, you will find that you have amazing amounts of resilience, life experience, intuition and deep inner wisdom to fall back on.
Letting go of that old, worn out crap your entire life was based on and hitching your future dreams to the power of the new you, following your heart for perhaps the first time ever, now that is powerful and exhilarating! Don’t miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity to have it all.