WHAT HAPPENS IN A MIDLIFE METAMORPHOSIS?

How to cope when life throws you a curveball in your 50's. It's an opportunity for a Midlife Metamorphosis. Are you ready to embrace your transformation? #midlife #transformation

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

Whenever life throws us a curveball, we're left with the mighty question - Where to from here? I think we've all asked it at various times of our lives. I know that I'm in the middle of asking myself what I'm planning to do with the days, months, years ahead now that I'm not working anymore. Paid employment has been part of my adult life for the last 40 years - so what do I do now that it's not who I am any more?

Who am I if I'm not working? Who am I if I'm "just at home" puddling away on my blog, doing a bit of volunteering, patting our cats, reading books, and generally being fairly unproductive? And how do I even define "productive" if I'm not using the world's definition of being in the workforce or making money in some way? 

MIDLIFE METAMORPHOSIS

I think I'm in the middle of a Midlife Metamorphosis (I am so unfamiliar with this stage of life that I even had to check the spelling!) We all know that caterpillars become butterflies by metamorphosis, but what we don't think about is the process and how messy and uncontrollable it is. How we can be neither caterpillar or butterfly for a while - just caught somewhere in the middle.

I saw a wonderful poem on The Minds Journal quite some time ago and realized that it actually now perfectly sums up how I'm feeling and the unsettledness of leaving one stage behind and embarking on another part of life's journey.

This is the poem

How to cope when life throws you a curveball in your 50's. It's an opportunity for a Midlife Metamorphosis. Are you ready to embrace your transformation? #midlife #transformation

SO WHERE TO FROM HERE?

What does this stage of the journey look like? I'm not exactly sure because it's probably different for everyone, but I do know that you can't skip over it. You can't leap from the closure of one part of life to the opening of the next without doing some work on yourself and without allowing yourself to close the door, think about the future, and then step into the next chapter.

It's disruptive, it's confusing, and it's unsettling, but it's also free-ing, a little exhilarating, and exciting to throw caution to the wind and to embark on a new adventure. I've always been so considered and careful about changes in my life. I think everything through to the last little detail before leaping off a cliff. But this time, I just did it, I took the leap because the alternative was to slowly suffocate. Not knowing what the future holds is a little scary to say the least, but it's fun to not play safe for a change. It's good to know that I have enough in place to allow myself this time of disruption and re-birth.

ACCEPTING THE PROCESS

Ultimately this transition and transformation process isn't a magical moment, it's just a necessary process that we go through when a big life change presents itself. It can be a little traumatic when it initially arises, but it's up to us to make the process a positive one. Fighting it, regretting what's gone, refusing to embrace what's coming, fretting, worrying, and digging our heels in all do nothing to help the transition. We need to step up and see that the discomfort is just for the moment - a new chapter is beginning and it's going to bring with it new opportunities to grow and to become "More" - that's so exciting isn't it?

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

How are you dealing with life at the moment? Have you had any curveballs come your way? Do you fight change or have you learned to accept it, embrace it, and see where it's going to lead you? It's scary but it's exciting too.

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How to cope when life throws you a curveball in your 50's. It's an opportunity for a Midlife Metamorphosis. Are you ready to embrace your transformation? #midlife #transformation

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How to cope when life throws you a curveball in your 50's. It's an opportunity for a Midlife Metamorphosis. Are you ready to embrace your transformation? #midlife #transformation


44 comments

  1. Hi, Leanne - I agree that change is often scary and exciting at the same time. I also agree that accepting the process -- and embracing it, can make a very positive difference.

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    1. That's my theory too Donna - approaching this whole change in life as an opportunity to grow and thrive, rather than looking at it as an ending.

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  2. The Pet Shop Boys "Metamorphosis" came to mind when I read this - and yes, I do happen to think there is a Pet Shop Boys lyric for most of life's situations. Don't judge me.
    "It may not last
    But here am I
    Once a caterpillar
    Now a butterfly
    It can seem strange
    But when you reminisce
    It's all about change
    It's a metamorphosis"

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    1. I'm a great believer in a "song for every occasion" Jo and this one fits very nicely. I hadn't thought of the Pet Shop Boys as being so deep and meaningful - so I've learnt something today too :)

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  3. Hi Leanne, I love the idea of becoming a butterfly and yes I would have trouble spelling Metamorphosis. Change is scary for everyone but it can be a positive experience full of possibilities. I like the idea of putting a cocoon around yourself to protect you and make you feel safe. When you are ready you will emerge more beautiful and wonderful than ever before. xx

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    1. Lovely words Sue and thank you - your encouragement has been a real strength to me through this whole "retirement" process. No matter what the future holds, embracing the journey really seems to be the key as far as I can see. I love the idea of using this time to be cocooned and then emerge better than when I went in!

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    2. I love that analogy as well. Sometimes we just have to be cocooned and nurture ourselves. Thanks for being my BBB and co-host for #MLSTL. I've pinned and shared on SM. :) x

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  4. Hi Leanne,

    The older I get the more I think of this period as "reverse puberty". Puberty was also a time of great change, both physically and mentally. It was awkward and tough, but at the end of it we had changed and were comfortable in our new forms, with our new purpose and responsibilities.

    As women going through change of life and usually some other life changes like retirement, downsizing etc. too, this phase seems very similar in feel to me, hence "reverse puberty", or Puberty 2.0 if you will...LOL!
    So I have every confidence that we can all come out of this awkward phase once again comfortable in our skin and minds. Very much the metamorphosis you are speaking of!

    Great post, thanks!

    Deb

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    1. That's a really interesting concept Deb and I like the idea that we go through this awkward readjusting stage to come out the other end in a whole new phase of life. I also thought "well at least I won't have pimples to deal with in Puberty 2.0"! (I'm so shallow at times).

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  5. I find your posts so helpful, Leanne. The past 18 years of my life have been about teaching - my own kids through homeschooling, volunteering in educational co-ops, and for the past six years teaching in a private school, with many years of overlap. My kids are in college now, and I felt it was time to make a change, so this was my last year teaching school. The most awkward thing for me has been people asking what I was going to do next because, while I have some interests I would like to pursue, I don't have a set plan and don't know when or even if I'll be returning to the workforce. What I do know is that, despite the uncertainty, I have been feeling stress just rolling off since I've been home, and that in itself is a welcome change.

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    1. We are soooo similar in this! I can feel the stress slowly disappearing too. I've thought about whether I should start putting my feelers out to see if there's any work I'd like to do, and each time something inside me just recoils at the thought - I guess I'm just not ready yet and I can't rush the process.
      I'm so used to having a plan and assuming I know where the path is taking me, it's been an interesting time for me to not know and to be okay with not knowing. Also such a relief that we can cope financially while I figure out what's next x

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  6. Leanne I am in your boat too! It really has taken me almost a year to come to grips with shutting down my business, but now that I have made it public I am all in and hoping 2020 will start without me at the helm of my sleepwear company.

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    1. Hi Haralee - I left a comment on your closing your business post that we were in similar boats! At least you have a few handicraft pursuits to move onto, I have a blank slate and that's probably been the hardest part of this for me - oh for a passion to pursue!

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  7. I'm in the same stage to some degree. I've always been at home either taking care of my kids, a niece & a nephew and then momma. This is the first time in my life that my time is really all my own. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it besides running my business but I really want to contribute to society in some form. I'd like to volunteer to help get pedophiles off of the internet or protecting children in foster care or working with the Red Cross to help clean up after natural disasters. I'm just not sure yet.

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    1. I often feel like I'd like to do more in a volunteer capacity too. I do a little mentoring with a girl in our local primary school - and I hope it makes a difference in her very messy life (terrible family back story there). I'd love to do more with babies or with supporting families - maybe a token grandma type thing or helping with a child care program. Both are in the back of my mind until I get my head back together and on the right track for putting myself back out there.

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  8. Love this post! I've read about your journey but rarely comment. No idea why. But I love your positivity and outlook on life! I have ended my 30 year career as a court reporter (owned my own business) simply because I have decided there is more to life than listening to people argue all day every day. I have started a "blog" but am completely overwhelmed with it all. Anyway, you & Sue (Sizzling) give me hope. God bless you two wonderful ladies!

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    1. Hi Robin! I'm so glad you left a comment because I think we're definitely at similar stages in our lives. Leaving the known and well trodden path behind and embarking on an uncertain (but strangely exciting future). I hope you'll link your blog posts up with us at our Wednesday #MLSTL parties because I'd love to get to know you better and to share our Midlife tribe with you - they've been a godsend for me since I started this blogging journey xx

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  9. Purpose is whatever you decide it is. I am currently working out how to help a few of the people that will be serverly damaged by this governments policies. I am looking at the MPs who might stand up against them (including in the Liberal party) and which churchs and activist organisations can be relied on. I am trying to do this in my 'spare' time. I can see this could become my full time purpose if I let it. I think you can find plenty of paths at the end of a work one. Some possibly more purposful than your work ever was too. Give it time and you'll bust out of the cocoon.

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    1. Lydia - good on you for investing yourself in others, I love it when people step up to help those less fortunate than themselves. You're right in that I'm sure there's a lot more worthwhile ventures ahead of me - certainly more purposeful than a job that was draining the joy out of my life!

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  10. I know that you'll get your head back together and do something not only that makes you happy and gives you purpose but also something meaningful Leanne. Not that you're not doing meaningful things right now, but I just think your life purpose will lead you onwards and outwards in new ways that you can't even imagine. Why? Because you are giving yourself time and allowing yourself to be open to new opportunities. Sometimes I think we're all pressured into expecting so much from life, and that each life stage can be packaged up, dissected and put right. But life is messy and wonderful and entertaining and unpredictable, and mid-life is all of these things too. My phrase of the moment is: "It is what it is," especially in my current capacity dealing with ill parents who's lives are nearing the end. It makes me shrug off any mid-life confusion I may have and just live for the day.

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    1. Jo you are absolutely right (and said it all so eloquently!) I think when we're faced with our own mortality (or the mortality of those we love) it puts things into perspective. A life change is just something to be worked through and then we move on, mortality is much, much bigger! You're doing so well being over there for you Mum and still taking the time to cheer me on and to invest in the blogosphere - that's what I love so much about this group of women - we are each other's cheerleaders! xx

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  11. Hi Leanne - It's an exciting phase of life to design your day just the way you like it. Enjoy the freedom and flexibility :) #MLSTL

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    1. thanks Natalie - I need to remind myself that it's exciting rather than daunting. I have so many options before me and I think that makes things blurrier - eventually I'll drill down to what really makes my heart resonate.

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  12. Leanne, I just love that poem, it seems to make this metamorphoses clear as to its purpose! I can imagine what you are going through now as you still are tempted to quantify your time. I think women are better at finding meaningful projects to fill their time than men. ALmost five summers ago I was "semi-retired" but had never had a summer off for over 35 years, so everything you wrote resonated with me! Teaching part-time, I now have summers off, so of course I blog more and engage in more creative pastimes! As you can see, I'm back to #MLSTL now that the last part of the semester is over and I'm on summer break!

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    1. I'm so glad you're back Terri - and you're right about feeling the need to fill our time "productively" when nobody is watching and nobody is judging (just my inner critic - who has a very loud voice at times!) I'm not good at this "between" stuff and I think this has been a great lesson for me in learning to not always be in process - just letting myself have some down time for a change.

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  13. I love the butterfly analogy, Leanne. I feel a metamorphoses coming in my own life. I can't say why or how, but I feel a restlessness building. It's comforting to be in it together with a community of amazing women. #MLSTL

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    1. You're so right Christie! I think this community of women has been a godsend for me through the last few years. The encouragement to be my best "me" and then the support through this latest upheaval has been so helpful. I often wonder what my life would have been like without the inspiration and encouragement I've had from blogging and the blogging girls xx

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  14. I love the term midlife metamorphosis. I certainly felt the ache to change and then the uncomfortable feeling of not knowing exactly where I was. I hope I am soon entering the beautiful butterfly stage! It is comforting to read what my blogging friends have written about their experiences. I thought I was alone and unique, but it feels positive to know that I am not alone.

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    1. I feel the same way Michele - and that's been such an unexpected highlight of blogging - to be surrounded by a community of women who openly and honestly share their journeys. So many of us have had work difficulties, or life changes and to hear others say they got through it and I can too has been a life saver. We're going to make great butterflies aren't we?

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  15. I love that poem! That is me, not a caterpillar and not a butterfly but something inbetween, and I've been that way for a long, long time. Probably too long but hopefully worth it in the end! :-)

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    1. I think we all must need to go through it at some stage in Midlife Min. We change in so many ways with the kids leaving, work finishing, life changing, and how we choose to come through the cocoon phase probably reflects the type of butterfly we'll be. You're going to be a very well developed one when you emerge xx

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  16. I love the story of the Very Hungry Caterpillar so I see you emerging as that Beautiful Butterfly...and then off you go. The thing with both time and change is no amount of wishing it to go faster will make it that...in fact, surfing the waves of change, you will eventually be brought to the calm shore. Enjoy!

    Denyse #MLSTL

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    1. You're right Denyse - I keep trying to wish this stage away, but I have a feeling that when I move on to the next phase I'll wish I'd savoured this time of rest and peace more than I have. I need to keep reminding myself of that!

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  17. I agree Leanne, it's certainly a time of change and I know you are thinking of all the bits that go with it. It's good to have a plan but it's also good to just give yourself to the whole situation and enjoy this special time. I can assure you it doesn't settle down (in my experience) but things just keep changing and I just keep adapting :) . I've enjoyed all the comments here and especially love the Very Hungry Caterpillar story as Denyse mentioned. All the best as you ponder your way through your metamorphosis. Pinned for #MLSTL

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    1. I find it really hard to just sit back and enjoy the process Deb - not being able to control things and not being able to see what the future holds really messes with my head. I think that's not necessarily a bad thing for me because it's a good reminder to let go and stop trying to rush things. To enjoy this period of peace and tranquility after all the angst and upset of the job is something I'm entitled to and something I need to give myself the right to enjoy.

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  18. When you're the type of person who weighs every decision it's pretty scary to think of what you just did without giving the usual consideration! But I agree, Leanne, that it is also a type of freedom, a breath of fresh air. You don't have the next hour, or day, or week, or year planned, and that's okay. Enjoy the day! Shared on SM #MLSTL

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    1. Candi you nailed it! To leave without having over-thought it to death is so unusual for me (and also reflective of how bad the situation had become). I didn't have any of my usual pre-planning done and that is so unlike me! At the same time, doing this spontaneously and then taking this down time to recover has been the best thing possible - to have rushed into another job or venture wouldn't have been good for me at all.

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  19. Hi Leanne change can be very scary. I’m enjoying following your thoughts on this life change you’ve made. #MLSTL Happy to share

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    1. Very scary indeed Jennifer - but so helpful to write it down and work my way through it all - I'm hoping it helps others when they end up in the same situation as me down the track.

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  20. Hi Leanne,
    I, too, agree, that this is a process. It's the idea that I was after when I named my blog "Defining Third Age" as we are literally deciding what this stage in our lives will be about. And no one's is quite the same. The one thing that I have discovered after defining myself as an educator for so many years is that NOT working can be very liberating. We've been free to travel when we want, and each day is an exciting "what will we do today?"
    We are all reinventing in our 3rd Age, and the process is scary but thrilling at the same time.
    From #MLSTL

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    1. That's something else that I'm learning - that you begin to redefine yourself in this process of change. I'm no longer part of the dental/medical profession. I no longer answer to a boss who can "do no wrong" and I'm completely and utterly my own person for the first time in 40 years. Now I just need to figure out what that looks like - freedom is a big part of it, peace, happiness, contentment - so many good things!

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  21. Hi Leanne,

    Like many people of my age, I too have had to make course corrections in the way I perceive and approach various facets of life.

    Many people tend to become cynical as they grow old. They hark back to the "wonderful bygone days" and lament how things have taken a turn for the worse these days.

    I guess it's quite natural. But it's not a healthy. So, I try my best not to be cynical about what goes on around me.

    Everything that looks different or I am not comfortable with need not be bad. So I accept them them.

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