A CLOSED DOOR AND A MIDLIFE EPIPHANY

Sometimes a door closes in our life and we realize it's a pivotal moment when we get to choose a new path and leave behind an old way of living. It's a good thing and something to embrace with open arms. #midlife #closeddoor

A MIDLIFE EPIPHANY

I had a bit of an epiphany in the last few weeks where I realized I'd had one of those moments when a series of events come to a resolution and in the process a "point of life change" has occured - the goal posts have shifted and a door has closed. I remember this happening once before and it related to a completely different life decision, but it brought with it a similar sense of knowing that life was settling into a new course - and that it was a really good thing.

Today I'm sharing that original epiphany and the Midlife one that happened recently...

A PARENTING EPIPHANY

When I was in my early 30's we had two children who were 8 and 5 years old, and I was working part-time for a dentist as a dental hygienist. My husband and I assumed our child bearing days were over and our family was finished. Then a small hiccup occured....

I noticed that it had been quite a while since my last period (which were erratic at best, so not a huge concern for me) but then several more days passed and still nothing was happening. I mentioned it to a couple of the younger girls at work who then took it upon themselves each morning to update my daysheet with the number of days post-last period it was. This was quite humorous at first - until I reached Day 70 and things started to look a little more "real".

BABY TIME?

I began to do the thing that all over-thinkers do, and that was to start projecting forward into all the what-if's and before I knew it, I was planning out what a third child would look like and how he/she would affect our family. Long story short, we figured it wouldn't be all that bad and we could certainly work around having an unexpected extra family member. We weren't thrilled, but we were okay with the possible scenario.

By Day 75 or so, Nature took its course and it turned out that I wasn't pregnant after all. It was that "moment" in time when we realized that, although it would have been okay to have had another baby, it wasn't what we really wanted. The feeling of relief and the ensuing certainty that this was the end of my childbearing years have stuck in the back of my head ever since. It was a defining point of life change. Either outcome would have been fine, but the non-pregnant one was definitely the right one for us.

TO WORK OR NOT TO WORK

Since that time 20+(!!) years ago, there've been a few other life defining moments along the way where I remember life pivoting, and recently I realized that I'd hit another one. It began when I started seriously considering whether I should start looking for another job vs not returning to the workforce ever again. I've dithered back and forth over the last few months where initially I couldn't face returning to work, then recovering and thinking about the idea, then actually thinking about putting the wheels in motion.

My first move towards the "do I go back to work?" contemplation was updating my resume and referees and starting to look at the job vacancy ads. Every other time I've changed jobs I'd apply for anything and everything that looked remotely hopeful, and even cold-called or emailed potential employers in the hope there was a job available that hadn't been advertised. It was just the ongoing assumption that I'd keep working (like the original assumed fact that we'd only have two children).

A MIDLIFE MOMENT OF CHANGE

The interesting thing this time is that I'm not all that keen on scouring for potential jobs. The longer I'm away from the early mornings, the office politics, the structure and limitations of needing to plan around fixed work days etc, the less I want to return to that scenario. I've surprised myself in finding that, although I wouldn't mind returning to work, my preference is to stay home and enjoy my new found freedom and flexibility. I've been offered a few possibilities and each time I've decided against them because they haven't been as appealing as the life I'm leading right now.

The litmus test came a few weeks ago when I saw an ad for a little job that looked like it would be enjoyable, not too taxing, and two days a week - not a perfect fit, but okay; so I put in an application. I wasn't bothered whether I got the job or not, but felt like I should make the effort to give it a shot. For whatever reason, I wasn't successful - and that's when my "moment of change" occured - I realized that I wasn't disappointed at all (maybe a little insulted at being overlooked if I'm being honest - but certainly not disappointed) and the only real emotion I felt was relief! I didn't have to give up any of my lovely at-home time or shift my week around to accommodate a job, I could just enjoy where I was and what I was doing. It was such a lovely point to finally reach - and answered a lot of my "what-ifs".

Sometimes a closed door means you walk away from something that's no longer worth your energy. It's time to invest yourself into something new and more worthwhile. #inspirationalquotes

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

What this means for me is another step towards reinventing myself, letting go of "working me" and allowing "retired me" to have some grace and value. It's been unsettling trying to hold onto a version of me that doesn't fit anymore - it might fit what I assume others think of when they see me, but it doesn't fit my view of the future. I'm slowly but surely coming to see that "future me" likes not working, likes the freedom and flexibility of life away from the 9-5, and is allowed to step back and create a new normal.

"Future me" isn't written in stone, I don't know if things will change unexpectedly (much like my no-third-baby moment - things still could have changed down the track). What I do know is that I'm content being at home, I feel like I've done my time and earned the right to rest and have some Me Time. It's such a pleasant realization to arrive at - and one I should have allowed myself to reach a lot sooner! Closing the door on that chapter of my life is something I can do with a smile on my face and hope in my heart - what more could I ask for? And yes! I'm still awesome!

Sometimes a closed door means you walk away from something that's no longer worth your energy. It's time to invest yourself into something new and more worthwhile. #inspirationalquotes

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Any small life defining moments that you can recall? Any changes that Midlife has brought with it that has settled your heart and mind? I'd love you to share them in the comments.


RELATED POSTS


Sometimes a door closes in our life and we realize it's a pivotal moment when we get to choose a new path and leave behind an old way of living. It's a good thing and something to embrace with open arms. #midlife #closeddoor
Sometimes a door closes in our life and we realize it's a pivotal moment when we get to choose a new path and leave behind an old way of living. It's a good thing and something to embrace with open arms. #midlife #closeddoor

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48 comments

  1. When I retired a little over five years ago, I thought that I might do some part time work. But, like you, the longer I was away from the day-to-day, the more not working felt right. Now, I couldn't imagine getting back into the grind. I'm not sure I'd even know how to apply for a job anymore... mailing printed resumes are a thing of the past. Your job hunting story reminded me of the advice someone gave me when I couldn't make a decision about what I wanted to do, "flip a coin... if your gut doesn't like the outcome, choose the other one." Your gut often knows even when your mind is torn.

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    1. Hi Janis - you described it so perfectly. I woke up this morning and thought how lovely it was not to be getting ready for work, facing the drive in, counting down the minutes until lunch time or leaving. My husband reminded me that doing something because you feel obligated isn't the right motive - and I've turned off the job hunting and started living this wonderful life I've been given!

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  2. I quit my medical social worker job in December and not a day goes by where I don’t tell myself I am so happy not to be working anymore. I especially love coming back from vacation and knowing I don’t have to go back to work. 20 years ago I was searching for something creative to do even though I didn’t think I had a creative bone in my body! I took a jewelry making class and discovered, I was creative and started a jewelry business that was very successful. But, now the thrill is gone and I constantly think about quitting and yet I don’t. I’ve started telling my customers that I’m thinking about quitting the end of December. This is at a Farmers Market and was one of the first places I started selling my jewelry at, so there is a lot of history here and I have met some wonderful women. I will continue doing the art festivals I do for another year. Reading your article was perfect timing. I think giving up my jewelry business is going to be harder than giving up my social work job!

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    1. Hi Laurel - isn't it strange how we think we've found the "perfect" job/hobby/life and after a certain amount of time goes by we realize we've changed and it doesn't fit anymore. I'm slowly coming to terms with the idea that I'm allowed to have a life that doesn't involve working my tail feathers off. A job might sound good on paper, but when it dictates your week and starts to suck the joy out of you, then I think it's definitely time to renegotiate the deal.
      The joy of being older is that the $$$ aren't driving my decisions as much - we're not rich, but we're also not struggling anymore - and maybe all of us are allowed to take a step back in Midlife and do what our heart is calling us to do - how lovely does that sound? :)

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  3. I was 42 and our two children were 10 and 8 when that missed period came. Nine months later our 3rd was born! That changed a lot for us, all in good ways of course. Now she is almost 23 and while my husband has retired, I am still working and will need to continue for a while unless we win the lottery!

    Janet’s Smiles

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    1. Wow Janet! We'd reached the point (on about Day 72!) when we knew that it'd be fine and another child wouldn't be a big deal - but the relief of finding out that we didn't need to go out and buy the baby gear, face the sleepless nights, and juggle finances was amazing and definitely an indicator that we were finished with babies.
      I get that same sense of relief now that I'm not looking at the jobs vacant columns - so I think it's time I listened to my heart and let that stage of life go too.

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  4. YAY!!!! I'm so happy to read this Leanne, I've been thinking of you and wondering if you'd find a job that suited and fitted into your new lifestyle. It seems that life has a funny way of dealing these things out and I'm much the same. I was devastated (with a capital D)when my job was made redundant but I never thought I'd go back to work as in our small town there's not a lot of jobs going and I wanted to give myself a break for a while. Well it's now coming up to 3 years ago and I have loved every single minute of my new life. The freedom, the flexibility, the spontaneity, the relief of not having office politics....I could go on. It is something you have to try out for yourself and for some, it's not the right time, but for others it suddenly happens to be perfect timing. I wish you well. I have pinned this to share with others. Thanks again.xx

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    1. Deb the job I applied for was "close" to what I wanted but the more I thought about it (after I applied!) the more I realized how much it would affect this lovely flexible (great word and great way to live) life that I have now. I won't have to worry about the holiday we have booked for December, or relieving when the other person is sick or on leave, I don't have to give up two days each week and learn all the new stuff that it would require.
      My brain and heart sighed and settled when I didn't hear back from them - I was dreading my phone ringing for an interview - so that tells you where I'm at! I still have another post or two in me about this transition because it really impacted me (as you know from your own experience) but I feel like I'm moving forward and that's a lovely place to be.

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    2. I'm so enjoying reading your thoughts as you journey through this stage Leanne and it takes me back to my early days of retirement and all the emotions! Sharing for #mlstl

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  5. Through the upheaval of a broken marriage being a single mother to 4, with the 2 boys living with their dad (unfortunately for me, their choice) and me working full time in an office with no flexibility and actually not being able to afford any extras for well over 10 years. I flew the nest! I moved interstate to be with my long term long distance partner of 10yrs. I knew him and his family as a teenager so I was confident it would all work out. I have found PT work straight away which I enjoy and love my partnerand our relationship has worked out. I've been away for 5 yrs now. Nonetheless I pine and pine for my children. I'm constantly restless and worry about them, especially the youngest boy who's 21. I talk to them mostly daily. One daughter is working in Africa and one is about to marry. I fly back and forwards interstate regularly. I feel I've exchanged an impossible situation for an almost impossible one. When I'm not at work I feel lost. I suppose time will heal. Love your posts Leanne. X

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    1. I don't think life is ever perfect - all we can do is make choices that feel like the best fit for us. I think you know in your heart that if you'd played safe and stayed in the FT job and closer to "home" you'd have just been more and more miserable. Our kids grow and move on and leave us behind, so making the hard decision to fly the nest yourself was the best thing you could do for your own self worth and preservation.
      You must be so excited about the upcoming wedding. Our daughter chose to get married in Bali - so where we lived made no difference to our involvement in the wedding planning - it was the easiest MOB role ever! I bought a dress and a plane ticket, booked a villa and off we went. I hope you enjoy the time with the family and that it all goes smoothly and you enjoy every special moment. x

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  6. Hi, Leanne - I'm with Deb in shouting out a double YAY! I am so glad to hear that you are enjoying your current lifestyle and becoming more and more content each day. When I first retired, I thought that i might take on a small, part-time job at some point. But the more that I have been away from a paid position, the less inclined I am to want to go back.

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    1. That "small part-time job" sounds so appealing doesn't it Donna? But the reality is that it always ends up being more - holiday and sick relief, office politics, toxic workmates, and lots of compromises. I love that my life is free of all of that now and I smile all day every day - you can't ask more of life than that - and I think I was just ready to leave it all behind and start living a more authentic life. The encouragement I've had from other Midlifers has been such a blessing - so thank you to you and Deb and Sue and many others!

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  7. Leanne, I haven't worked for pay in a long time, but I have had many, many positions that required commitment, some more enjoyable than others. Since leaving my last position, nearly a year ago, I have not been inclined to jump in to another one. It feels good. I felt guilty for a while, but I realized that the joy factor just wasn't there anymore and that I did not need to take on responsibilities to satisfy a sense of obligation or fulfill a need to give back. I did not realize that I was transitioning, but I did notice that I stopped looking at the weekly emails that I receive from our local volunteer placement agency. I won't say I will never take on a new commitment or cause, but for now I am content to not answer to anyone but myself.

    Congratulations for getting to a place of resolve and turning the corner toward happiness regarding your decision. I look forward to hearing more about your transition.

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    1. Hi Suzanne - that's EXACTLY how I've been feeling! That sense of guilt and obligation to be contributing has hung over my head since I left work and came up for air. But, like you, I'm living that lovely joy factor every day and the thought of giving up any of it just rankles within me. Maybe down the track I'll feel differently, but atm I'm just relishing this freedom and wondering why I'd want to exchange it for working for someone - or even doing extra volunteering. Thanks so much for understanding and your encouragement - it really helps me with this transition xx

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  8. Leanne, It's been fascinating to watch your thinking progression about this topic!

    When I got cancer (coming up on 2 years ago now), I stopped all my part-time consulting work. I just needed to focus on treatments and healing. I went back on the books when that was all done, but haven't had any projects since. I'd come to the realization that I'm not going to actively network to find something and I was OK with that decision - it felt right!

    Then I got a call from an old co-worked last week. I enjoyed working with him previously and he's now at a different company and has a possible project he says is "so me". So we will see... Never say never.

    I am however going to think more about my life's defining moments and what I learned from them. I'm still working on writing elements of my memoir... probably never to be published, but I like to write, so I'm enjoying the process of writing. This is a great build for that writing.

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    1. Hi Pat - I'm glad you're not bored by my musings and ramblings as I figure all this out. I'm getting so many benefits from sharing my thoughts and hearing from others like yourself who have been through it or are still transitioning. The job I saw seemed like it would be quite nice, but the more I thought about the actual reality (fitting in my holiday we've already booked, relieving when the other person gets sick, shuffling my other days around, getting up early, driving in the morning traffic...and on and on) the less appealing it all gets. Your possible project might be more do-able, but I'm thinking that anything where I have to leave the house is unappealing for me - maybe that will change, but for now I'm finding my life is very "zen" and that's a lovely thing after all the turmoil. xx I'll be interested to see what you decide!

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  9. Hi Leanne
    I have no idea why my last comments didn't go through, but I'll try again.
    I've been watching your journey since you left your job, and I'm glad you had our epiphany! Sometimes that's what we need-some type of sign.
    I am thrilled that you are happy and doing what you want and enjoying yourself.
    Off the top of my head I can't think of an epiphany I've had, but I've definitely had times in my life where I've made a decision and events transpired that made me SO GLAD I made the decision I did.
    Good for you & can't wait to see what the future holds for you!
    Theresa @fabinyourfifties.com

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    1. Hi Theresa - it's been quite a rollercoaster ride for me as I've tried to figure my way through all my past assumptions and to weigh them against what I really want in my heart. When I quit a job in my early 50's I was much keener on finding something else and felt that I still had more to offer, now my perspective seems to have skewed in a different direction and being at home makes my heart happy - and I can't wait to see what the future holds for me too!

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  10. Way to go Leanne. Doesn't it feel good when we're content and happy exactly where we are? Love this post and happy for you. I have shifted gears many times in my life, choosing to stay active, involved, and loving whatever career I have chosen for that time. I'm one fortunate woman and count my blessings every day. Don't see retirement in the picture today, but am open to checking back with myself as often as need be to re-evaluate goals. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL. Thanks for hosting as well.

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    1. Hi Nancy - I didn't see retirement in my picture for another 10 years, but when life gave me a bouquet (when originally I thought it was giving me lemons) I realized I shouldn't keep making things hard for myself. The simple pleasure I have now in being home and doing things at my own pace makes all that upheaval from work worthwhile - and who knows what lies down the path? :)

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  11. Glad you have settled into it. I think a lot of time, what we do just takes awhile for us to stretch into it to feel comfortable. All choices are the right choices eventually, on way or another. #MLSTL

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    1. You're right Lydia - and I think the process would have been a lot smoother for me if it hadn't escalated and exploded when it did. I had myself convinced that I could keep pushing through and dealing with all the drama - when the straw broke this camel's back, it took a while for the realization to dawn that leaving was the best thing that's happened to me in a very long time!

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  12. I've had many of those epiphany's over the years too Leanne. I'm so pleased for you that you've had this particular midlife one! It's a relief to have some clarity of thoughts and then being able to settle into a new lifestyle to suit your current needs etc. I've told you this before but I don't consider myself fully retired as yet because I'm still dabbling in this and that that brings in a bit of money here and there. However, I have had an epiphany as you did - mine being that I no longer wanted to work for anyone else or commute to a job. So, I dabble in things that I can do from home and that match with my interests and skills. Change is always good I think, and necessary as we reach different phases of life. xo

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    1. I think the driving to work and answering to someone else is definitely what I've come to see as unappealing for my future too Min. I'm happy when I make a little bit of money from my blog - but it's not important enough for me to sell my soul for that either. I'm content with where things are and enjoying the peace and quiet for now. Who knows what lies ahead - but it would have to be very special to get me out of the house again!

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  13. I remember when Grant hit that point. After months of saying he wanted to go back to work but putting up reasons and excuses for every job I suggested to him I finally said 'You don't want to do you?' To which he said 'No.' 'Good,' I said, 'I'll stop looking for you.' And that was that. Havig said that, he still thinks he's on a career break from playing football (soccer) even though he hasn't played in 4 seasons...

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    1. I think I was originally going to have one of those "career breaks" too Jo - until every single job I looked at was full of things that didn't feel "right" for me any more. I'm not sure whether it's because I was so burnt by the experience I've been through, and I've lost my trust, or whether I'm just settling into a new phase and leaving all that 9-5 stuff behind me forever. I still vacillate a little bit, but I'm definitely swaying away from working for the sake of the mighty dollar.

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  14. I am so glad you are settling in and listening to your heart and gut and deciding what is right for you. If we can't choose how we spend our days at this point, will we ever? I also thought I would go back to working a full time job when I left my job. Then I discovered I liked writing and I was loving my new freedom. Now I have twinges every now and then, but I don't plan to go back to a full time job ever.

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    1. I'll never work full time again Michele - and even part-time would have to be pretty special to get me to go back to the 9-5 again. I totally agree that "if not now, then when?" is definitely the question we should all be asking ourselves in Midlife. Too many people put things off or are complacent and then wake up to find that time has run out - I'm so glad I'm not that person and not still suck in that awful job!

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  15. I agree about little life epiphanies pointing us in the direction our new mid-life will take. I also agree that we often keep a little thinking up our sleeve to the effect "I could do that if I really wanted, but actually I don't want to." I think that's healthy because for me I don't like the feeling of too many doors shutting without my prompting! Like you, I've also been turned down for 'oh well perhaps I might as well do' jobs, mostly to do with writing, and it's a cold realisation that there's a tribe of younger people doing things better and my life needs to move on in other directions. But as long as I have my health, I'm okay with that! #MLSTL and PInned

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    1. I think that's something we all need to acknowledge Jo - there are a multitude of people out there who are hungry for any kind of work and are perhaps more current, or more qualified, or more connected/networked than we are and it's okay to step back and say that we're not going to compete with them any more. I had to wake up to the fact that my worth wasn't tied up with earning an income - once I got my head around that, the world is my oyster because being settled and happy is so much better than being driven and pushing on through life for the sake of the mighty dollar.

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  16. One of my life defining moments occurred many years ago, when I decided to leave a banking career of 20+ years and enter a completely different field - interior decorating - in a brand new start-up. I gave up a substantial income and the stability that goes along with it, was divorced with 2 young sons...what was I thinking? But I felt it was the right decision at that time, and it was the beginning of a whole new way of life for me. I think you're wise to enjoy and explore the 'you' that has freedom, flexibility, and time to enjoy life.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement Candi - I always admire other women who turn their backs on the "safe" option and follow their hearts into new and uncertain territory. When we cling to the old and refuse to open ourselves to what else is out there, we stunt ourselves and miss so many wonderful moments. This freedom I have now is worth its weight in gold as far as I'm concerned.

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  17. Oh boy, can I relate to loving the flexible lifestyle!! My retirement years (3) have been the best of my life. I too wondered if I would want some type of job but when I seriously thought about it, all I could think of were the negatives. There will be no job for me!!

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    1. Linda - you and I are peas in the same pod! It amazes me how unmotivated I am to look at finding another job after all the years of working and moving from one job straight into the next. The longer I step back from all that, the more reluctant I am to ever step back into it - freedom and flexibility are singing their siren song for me!

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  18. I'm glad you've listened to your feelings, Leanne. By closing the 'work' door, you now have more energy and time to explore life. It's a great adventure from my perspective :) #MLSTL

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    1. Natalie I look at all your adventures and travels and you certainly inspire me with the fact that not working allows you so many opportunities that being stuck in the 9-5 rut prevents us from embracing.

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  19. Hi BBB, you have come through the door and how relaxed and happy you sound. Change is a huge thing to overcome and we want to desperately convince ourselves that we can't let go but once we do, the relief is immediate. I've learned so much more about you as you write about your recent experience. You are looking fabulous and healthier and certainly much happier so that should be message enough that you have made the right choice. Enjoy life my friend and I'm so pleased we connected and have become firm friends. We make a great link up hosting team too! #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Sue - you and the other Midlife bloggers have cheered me on through this transition and have made me feel so much more confident in being able to choose the less-expected alternative of not chasing the mighty dollar any more. So many others are trudging through their work days and trying to build up their reserves for retirement, when it makes so much more sense to live a life of less "stuff" and more joy. And yes, I feel so much happier and healthier too! xx

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  20. So good to read this. I guess it always happens in a way when we are ready to 'read the messages' or 'accept what is'. It takes courage to stop and say 'enough'. Enjoy whatever is ahead. Who knows what it will be and that is past of the future that is fun. Denyse #mlstl

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    1. I think once I stopped second guessing myself Denyse, it meant that I could let what was truly on my heart be my guide. Letting go of worrying about the opinions of others, or trying to fit into a what no longer fits what makes me happy is such a relief and joy - and yes, the unknowns in the future are exciting rather than daunting now x

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  21. Leanne, I'm so happy to hear that you have found peace and a reassurance that where you are in life is exactly where you want to be. I've never thought about the defining moments in my life in light of epiphanies. I do recall a moment when I realized I wouldn't have any more children. We had two daughters--7 and 5--and I was pregnant with #3. I had a miscarriage early on. I was devastated and mourned the loss of my baby. Still when enough time had passed to try again, I realized my family felt complete. I was completely at peace with that decision. It still feels right today. I have no regrets. Good luck to you in your retirement. I look forward to watching your journey. #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Christie - I think there are moments in time that may not feel momentous when they happen, but when we look back, they're that pivotal time when we took a different path to the one we thought we might have chosen. Life continues and we see in hindsight that the fork in the road turned out to be exactly the right one to take. I'm glad you were happy with what life chose to deal for you family-wise too xx

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  22. Hi Leanne. Good for you for settling into your new life. The important take-away from this post is that change happens and we either flow with it or fight it. Sounds like you are flowing beautifully! ~Kathy

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    1. You're so right Kathy - once we accept that change is inevitable, then we can stop resisting it. Sometimes I think we do ourselves a lot of harm by holding on too tightly and refusing to go with that all important flow!

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  23. Woohoo for that, I bet it felt great to reach that point. And yes I have no doubt your ego was offended, but it sounds to me like you moved past that pretty quickly. Keep on enjoying your new life.

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    1. My ego was both offended and breathing a sigh of relief at the same time Jan - something that hasn't happened previously, so a good sign that I was definitely ready to leave all that 9-5 stuff behind and find a new normal.

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