Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Reflections



 



Steadily, over the summer, a feeling of change has been growing. 

I woke up early this morning and realised that I need to navigate differently from now on.

The fifth decade is a significant time of transition for women. We pass the baton of fertility  on to our daughters and, despite a great many of us feeling knackered, emotional, a bit shell-shocked at the changes, and on top of that having to contend with hot flushes, irregular cycles, increased headaches, adrenals kicking in at odd times and producing inexplicable surges of anxiety and worry, and tiredness bordering on exhaustion, we are expected to carry on with life as normal, with barely an acknowledgement that we are passing into a new and important phase of life and that the transition into it is, at times, hard.

I am far happier and more fulfilled in my forties than I ever was in my twenties. I listen to the life J is loving living at Uni and the smile on my face is one of happy reminiscence, not envy.
I am content with the things I do, but I've been allowing something (media pressure? The world's expectation?) to make me feel that the simple, undisturbed peace I find in my way of life somehow requires defending.

What I woke up realising this morning is that it doesn't. I have changed this year, but I like the change, I have accepted it and I will embrace it and everything else will shift to accommodate it, and if it doesn't, then out it goes. 

I am steering my children through their teenage years, their times of transition, and that is proving a big challenge at times. It robs me of energy, it cuts me to my core at times, but because it's normal it isn't acknowledged as being any big deal. I am working towards my second degree and an academic career I hadn't anticipated having in the latter half of my life, and doing that with a family and a full life already in place is also a challenge. I have to work hard not just to fit it in but to summon the requisite brain power to get the concepts and understand and apply them. I have taken on a couple of jobs because I'm interested in them- that too is a challenge and time needs to be found for them, because they too are important. And I am involved in various projects which I also learn from and feel energised by, but they too require the setting aside of time. Learning the lesson that time is finite is one I never seem to get permanently, but rather, need to keep re-learning.

These shifts when they come are significant and only accommodated I think by looking honestly at your life and navigating differently as a result.

How about you?

CT.



37 comments:

  1. I understand what you mean. Things have been difficult and changing here too lately, and I'm finding it harder and harder to just carry on, or at least carry on without screaming. I always feel very inspired when I visit your blog and see how much you are achieving. I love to read tales of inspirational women (and you are one), it pushes me to try harder. So thank you for sharing your journey, and talking about adjustments, it helps. And well done on your second degree, and academic career and the other jobs and projects as well. The phrase "a full life already in place" expresses it very succinctly. Using time well is something I need to get to grips with here. I went for a run this morning to try and reduce the anxiety a little. I do think it helped. Wishing you well with all of your endeavours CT. CJ xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know CJ, I always make time to read your posts because I find comfort in your take on life, I appreciate the tremendous love and care you give your boys and the way you are bringing them up with humour and the occasional wry raised eyebrow, and I admire the thoughtfulness with which you go through the world. I don't like to think of you struggling, so if there is anything I can do to help, even just chewing the fat, send me your email (comment moderation is on here as you know so I can take a note of it and delete it without publishing it) and I'll email you. I'm glad you've been running- it really does work wonders. CT xx

      Delete
  2. My forties were the best ever. Menopause was nothing really; it was freeing. Perimenopause was the problem. Hang on for the 60's ride.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that is so true- we all talk about and focus on menopause and peri-menopause barely gets mentioned. I do look forward to each new stage in life, it's just shifting perspectives and expectations that takes a while to catch up :o)

      Delete
  3. The physical (and psychological ) changes that were foisted on me a couple of months ago have forced me/us rethink the future. I thought initially that the future looked bleak,but I've come to realise that all I need to do is chart a new course for my thinking...there'll be a new future for me/us...and we'll deal with it as we normally do,with humour and love (and hope the compass doesn't break).
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I admire you Jane, that is exactly the right mind-set to approach fresh challenges with. Not always easy to do and I guess it takes time to get there thinking-wise. I am a great believer in always trying to see the positives and new beginnings in situations, the unexpected gifts they bring that may not initially be obvious. Your humour will see you through :o) XX

      Delete
  4. Like you, in myforties and fifties I held down a responsible job, did yet another degree, played in an early music group to semi-professional level,brought up a son and saw him off to read music at University - and seemed to do it all with relative ease although sometimes feeling a sense of panic as things caught up with me (and passed me).
    Now I am retired I have one absolute rule - never give up, always keep learning and just don;t sit about waiting for the inevitable. Now always easy but absolutely vital.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All the ages and stages of life are different, aren't they? Filled with different blessings, different challenges, different sorts of smiles and tears. I think at the end of the day you just have to be honest with yourself about what brings you peace and makes you feel content, and stick with that, as much as you can.

      Delete
  5. you consistently amaze me with all that you do -- i often feel exhausted on your behalf.

    to be quite honest, sometimes i let myself wonder if i ought to be doing more. it really is that easy to be subconsciously influenced by the rest of the world. we were talking about it at work today, actually -- two someones knowing two different women who gave birth in the morning and were back to work/riding their horse the same day. the general feeling is that they were perhaps trying to prove superhuman powers or something. but i felt sad actually....because it's yet another message of comparison/one-upwoman-ship that what one woman can do, another ought to follow suit or else be considered somehow Less. i think it feeds into the consistent trend to raising the expectations for women...fall behind at your peril.

    which is a rather roundabout way of saying i absolutely relate to what you've written. this past year has been an utter swine -- and while my Aries-head is all full of determination and just-push-through, my heart and soul are struggling to keep up.

    so i've made some definitive choices -- to pare down and allow myself the time and space that i need to navigate this next patch...which is the bit i've been looking forward to. i've worked long and hard toward my Cronehood and i don't want to miss out on any of it because i was so busy trying to live up to some arbitrary societal expectation! if that makes me seem feeble or underachieving to some people, so be it. also, i'm knackered. ;)

    so yes, filling my days with the things that fill my heart and soul. everything else can work around me, or, like you say, sod off. well, you didn't actually say that, but i think that's what you maybe meant. ;)

    xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have had a small tear reading this, because (as usual) you and I are operating on a very similar wave length. Sod off is exactly what I meant and I was also veering away from mentioning Crones but had the word in the back of my head the entire time I was writing. No surprises that you picked up on that my friend. Isn't it good to know we are all not alone? Much love xx

      Delete
  6. As you will have known from reading my blog I am up and down often, just now I am feeling up, yet suffering the symptoms of down which is annoying, hormones rage or not depending on their own mood and cycle and oh gosh, so much else! I am happier now in my middle years than I have ever been I think, but it is hard too isn't it. Being happy in your own skin and being happy to say yes, here I am, so what, is a good thing and mostly I can do it and then I get caught out and suddenly feel inadequate. Anyway, sorry, I didn't mean to go on about me. I am so very pleased for you that you are happy and that you are enjoying what you are doing and finding contentment in it. You are an inspiration my dear! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Possibly the biggest blessing of blogging is the connection with people who understand what you are going through and offer unconditional support along the way. Like a big group of friends who connect every day or two through words rather than meeting up. I'm sending you love, because I love your honesty and your good natured spirit and having those two things you know you won't go far astray. I am glad we are bloggy chums XXX

      Delete
  7. Your post stuck a chord with me CT (and quite possibly many others!). I think having hormonal teenage children and going through the peri-menopause or menopause or whatever this crazy hormonal stage is may be one of the most challenging periods of life so far. Not only are we navigating uncharted territory ourselves, we're steering our children too. I take my hat off to you for fitting so much in to your life. I work part time at home, do some voluntary work, raise the children and look after the house, and sometimes that feels totally overwhelming! It is necessary to reassess at times. I go for long walks, see friends, try to get enough sleep, and so on. As you say, it is important to be honest with yourself and constantly be open to learning, growing and changing if necessary. It's heartening to know that I am not alone. Thank you for writing such an open post on your lovely blog. Sam x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So many of us feel like this Sam, and yet, as Mel said in her comment, there is huge pressure on women to be Everything at all times. It's just not feasible or realistic, so I'm throwing my spear in the ground and standing still beside it, while the Busy Waters swirl about me, knowing that that's the best way to calm them down. Thank you for your open and honest comment too x

      Delete
  8. Yes, I am older than you and had many changes over the years. what i have learned is toenjoy every day as it comes. No one knows whether they will have a 'tomorrow'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happiness in life in just about the most important thing I think.

      Delete
  9. I just found your blog and I have to say that this first post I read touched me. Good for you for keeping yourself busy and setting goals and objectives for yourself. Life can be tough at times and it's important to keep doing the things we love even when life's circumstances change us. Best to you, Silvana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Silvana for the comment and I'm glad the post was interesting. We're a friendly bunch here so I hope you'll stop by again. I'm not always quite so reflective- we do have the odd giggle here too :o)

      Delete
  10. Well now CT, thank you for articulating for me how I have been feeling over the past few months. The Fifth Decade, ouch! At times I feel as if I am still in my early thirties, then I look in the mirror and feel at those aches and pains and am scared of my own future! The running has been a tremendous therapy, gaining some control and power back into my physicality and space in my spiritual and creative brain. I think your way of life is beautiful, the way you navigate through your natural environment, family life and your own considerable achievements. Thanks for sharing it all with us! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was talking to Ma about this last night after she'd read the post and she said (and I think she's right) that there is this ridiculous pressure on women to shine brightly no matter how they are feeling or what they are doing, and to do everything- job, children, friends, family, learning etc as if that's perfectly normal. Too much pressure. I agree- running is a fantabulous way of channeling the crap out and away and I'm so pleased you got in to it. xx

      Delete
  11. Hey CT,
    I read this yesterday, and went away to think about it. I agree with Amy; I feel I've finally reached a place in which I can be proud and content with what I do. I am beholden to no-one, I am a nice person, I am back working part-time and have more or less shook off the inadequate feelings about my role and place in the world. I no longer feel guilty that I haven't reached forcthe stars, but I also genuinely admire any woman than does. I know that a woman still has to work harder and shibe brighter than any man. There is still an inequality that makes my blood boil, but I also feel that a woman's worst enemy is the judgement of another woman. This in turn leads to all those feelings of not cutting it, or not being thin enough, pretty enough, career minded enough etc etc etc.
    It's a shame that it has taken this long fpr my personal penny to drop, but that's the beauty of reaching middle age I guess. The joy of flicking the bird to the world, as I make my way through this part of my life is frankly liberating. Joy to you my friend, and total respect for all that you are and all that you acheive. Brilliant post.
    Leanne xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you left a comment- I was hoping you would because I knew I'd be interested in your take on all of this. I have had a similar conversation with two young women in my first year group today about how women need to work harder than men to compete on the same stage. I really hope I can inspire them to focus their talents and energies and lift their current lack of confidence and self belief. That kind of personal empowerment (which it sounds like you've reached and I have too) is such a blessing. It gives you the strength to stop when you want to and accelerate at other times and not worry about what the rest of the world thinks of either. There is such comfort in knowing other women understand this and we are, none of us, wandering this bit of the path alone. Joy back to you, my lovely XX

      Delete
    2. I feel I should add, in case there are any chaps reading this, that I fully understand that men have a whole load of other things they have to deal with which are equally frustrating/ hard/ unsettling at times. I'm married to a lovely man and mother to two boys so in no way do I ignore or belittle the things men have to sort through. This post just came out female focused because I am a girl :o)

      Delete
    3. And I would echo that sentiment. My husband works incredibly hard. He works away, so that his family can live by the sea. My three boys will no doubt have to work harder and longer to provide for themselves and any family they may have. They have the same teenage angst and struggles as girls. I, too, was answering from a womans' perspective. They are also living with a peri-menopausal woman that refuses to put the heating on, because her inner thermostat has gone to the dogs ;))))

      Delete
    4. Sorry if that sounded like it was directed at you- I was just being too lazy to add it to the main post :o) XX

      Delete
    5. lol. not at all. I thought I ought to acknowledge the men in my life. Where would I be without them? ;))

      Delete
  12. I thought about this post when I woke in the middle of the night in a hot sweat...which seem to be taking over from the aching joints!
    Not been a great year for me and I seem to be spending time looking back rather than forward. I miss my old house terribly and so regret selling it. I don't feel at home in this new place and it's making me unsettled and out of sorts.
    I'm always amazed at how much you manage to fit into your life and I'm delighted at all your new ventures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so sorry you're having a tough time. I know it hasn't been an easy year for you. Could it be that you need to give things a bit more time, house-wise? It took me a while to settle in here (a few years if I'm being honest) - I think sometimes it works like that. Sending you a cyber hug, my friend x

      Delete
  13. I'm not yet into my fifth decade (soon), but I can relate. I have enjoyed my thirties so much more than my twenties. I feel more confident in myself and who I am, and I don't compare myself to others as much as I used to. I think some people look at me and say that I haven't achieved much in my life. Actually, I know some people think that because they have said so. I'm happy being "just" a wife and mother for now, though. I will probably go back to work when my children are much older, but I'm in no hurry. I'd rather live a simple life without much extra if it means I can be their primary caregiver (and part-time teacher, since I partially homeschool them). I don't know what the future holds but I do know that I like me. I try to do good, always. I'm a thoughtful and kind person. I'm a good wife and mother. I think those are the things that matter most to me and I work hard at them. I wish you lots of success in your academics and further career. It sounds like you're working hard at juggling everything and doing well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm wondering what's going on in the lives of the people who think of you as 'just' a wife and mother! I so agree about the pleasure and general all-round loveliness of living a simple and contented life. Home is very important here too. Children grow up so fast, I know I made a conscious decision to be home as much as possible with mine and I've never regretted it. There is plenty of time to do other things as and when you want to. x

      Delete
  14. I am approaching my fifth decade (two years to go) and I totally understand your thoughts and feelings. The only part I do hate about this 'time of life' is the deep desire to be able to sleep through a WHOLE night without waking. I am sick of seeing that clock at 2 am/3am etc...and then waking at 6 am when my husband's alarm clock goes off, feeling like I've just settled between the sheets or under the duvet and need to sleep.
    I enjoy the variety of life, working from home, administering our business, and being home for the children. I am confident in myself and feel content with all aspects of my life.
    I am about to return to study too.
    Three years ago I had a brush with breast cancer. I say brush but in reality it was an operation, 6 months of chemotherapy followed by 6 weeks of radiotherapy and then ovaries whipped out. Menopause overnight and a healthy respect for life and for myself. Complete and utter love for my family and thankfulness too.
    What ever you do, however your are, be happy. As I say to my children there will always be those with more than you and less than you. Strive to be happy but strive as well to be content. Being alive is really the best. Look forward and start the day as a new one I say...live, laugh, love and drink wine!!!! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goodness Sally you've been through a lot. These life shifting illnesses/ conditions do focus the mind don't they? I love your positivity and enthusiasm, they shine through your comments (which is why I think you'll make a great education person and should start a blog too). Thankfully, I don't have a problem sleeping, which is just as well because I really can't cope without sleep since experiencing four years of full-on sleep deprivation with L who woke every hour until he was 4! There are other challenges though :o) Take care my dear and thank you for the comment. Have a lovely weekend x

      Delete
  15. Oh I can so relate to this, my 50's have brought huge changes, my health, my strength that I had taken for granted, were suddenly taken away from me and I had to learn about a 'new' me. I am still recovering but taking on one of the biggest challenges in my life despite pain and exhaustion. You are inspirational C.T. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you're pretty inspirational yourself Chickpea. Adapting to changes like you've had to is such a huge thing. I am full of admiration for anyone who goes through such a thing. xx

      Delete
  16. When I left England ten years ago due to a mental and physical breakdown after years of a unbalanced life and unhappiness it was the hardest thing I have ever done. It has been a very long and hard process and has taken me until now to find a way of life I am happy to live. I had to let go of A LOT of Dreams and Hopes and instead focus on what I need to do right now to feel the best I can feel for the moment. And to have my furbabies come into my life filled gigantic holes in my soul. So ten years after leaving England I can finally say that I have found a life I'm content with - for a first time in many, many years:)
    Just listen to your body and soul and you will get there:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a very moving story, Annie. It takes enormous courage to make difficult changes, even if you know they are for the best. I applaud you for taking your courage in your hands and seeking a better place. I'm so pleased you and your dogs found each other- they are fantastic companions.

      Delete

Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x