CHECKING IN ON MY WORD OF THE YEAR - SYMPHONY

How my Word of the Year - Midlife Symphony - played out over the last six months.

6 MONTHS OF A MIDLIFE SYMPHONY

Well, it's been a bit over six months since I introduced my Word of the Year "SYMPHONY" and shared how I wanted to make the second half of life as authentic, and real, and wonderful as I possibly can. Life's short and we need to be living it in a way that brings contentment and a sense of joy and gratitude.

To summarize what I was feeling when I chose my #WOTY I quoted William Henry Channing:
To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, to all bravely await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.

I love the sense of peace and serenity this quote evokes and the simplicity that I want my life to be about in the years ahead. I write a lot about slow living and letting life flow along at its own pace - not rushing headlong into everything, and Channing's symphony was the perfect embodiment of what I was looking for.

GUEST POSTS

I had the absolute pleasure of sharing some guest posts from various Midlife bloggers over the months since I introduced my theme. I asked for volunteers to share what they were loving about the second half of life. There were no other parameters, and I've really enjoyed seeing what each person wrote about on the topic.

It's been such an international smorgasbord with bloggers from Australia, India, Canada, the USA, Thailand, and Romania. By the end of July I'll have had 15 writers share their stories here on the blog - and rather than listing each one separately, if you're interested in reading them you can check them out starting from Thursday 30th January - and every second Thursday after that (13/02, 27/02, 12/03, 26/03, 09/4, 23/04, 07/05, 21/05, 04/06, 18/06, 02/07, 16/07 and 30/07). Just click on my Archives in the side column and follow the dates.

HOW IS IT PLAYING OUT?

Looking back over the last six months, I can see that my Midlife Opus is coming along nicely. I find myself settling into early retirement with surprising ease and not missing being part of the working world at all. I used to define myself by all the things I did.... now I'm just "me" with no strings attached. I like this new version of "me" - I like that I'm content with a smaller life that holds very few complications and conflicts.

In the second half of life - James Hollis #quote

It's been an interesting time in history and that's been reflected in the changes to how we've all been living over the last few months. So much in our world has been changing rapidly and in unexpected ways, but I've stayed focused on the positives, worked at making the best of the things I can influence, and staying out of the negativity and strident upsets of those things I can't change. There will always be high notes and low notes in life - and I hope we all choose to make the best of what we've been given.

SOME DISCORDANT NOTES

The lowest note for those of us in Australia (and the rest of the world) was when Coronavirus sprang up in the middle of February and brought an immense shift with it - social isolation, lockdown, restrictions, border closures, quarantine, reduced employment, hand sanitizing, trolley handle wiping, frowning at coughers, missing the family, and so many other sour notes. None of us knew what hit us, and it was a frightening time indeed - the first pandemic for the majority of those in our world today.

On the other side of the coin were the high notes - teddy bears in windows, rainbow chalk art on the pavement, hearts, fairy lights, people putting their rubbish bins out in fancy dress, those showing respect for the soldiers by standing at their driveways at dawn on ANZAC Day, friendly smiles, offers of help, recognition of our healthcare workers, and the governments who stepped up to help those who lost their jobs or needed protecting. The orchestra played on and the symphony continued.

THE MUSIC PLAYS ON

Much like life in general, the Midlife Symphony continues. I love that those high notes helped to ease the pain of the low notes. I love that we pushed through and found ways to stay connected. Who'd have thought that Zoom would be something we all knew the meaning of? Hard times certainly show us what's important. 

For me it reinforced how valuable family is, how much I missed them for those months we were cut off. It showed me that living frugally and not being greedy or grasping was the honourable way to handle the shopping - not grabbing and hoarding and disregarding the needs of others. I came to appreciate how much I love being at home, and how little I need to be truly happy and content.

Family

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

It's certainly been an interesting six months hasn't it? How has your Symphony played out? Have you found that the high notes have outweighed the low notes? Or have you been out of key and stressed by all that's happened?

RELATED POSTS


How my Word of the Year - Midlife Symphony - played out over the last six months.
How my Word of the Year - Midlife Symphony - played out over the last six months.

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Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive

30 comments

  1. On balance yes, my symphony has been played more from the treble scale than the bass...and that's a good thing.

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    1. Life will always have its high and low notes Jo - if we can say the highs outweighed the lows, then I think we're doing really well. I think we're both still smiling and that's a pretty good note to be singing x

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  2. Hi, Leanne - I love the James Hollis quote that you have included. It's spot on and fits in well with your Midlife Symphony theme. The past six months defiitely have been unexpected. I have been deeply moved by the kindness of others during this challenging time.

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    1. Hi Donna - I loved that quote when I saw it, and had to share it here. And yes the last few months have been a rollercoaster (and the end isn't in sight yet) but I'm also incredibly moved by the goodness of people - it always outweighs the not so great stuff.

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  3. Hi Leanne - It'sn't easy to give up the sort of life we all are leading by default. It requires courage and determination to be oneself, reduce our wants, and be contented with a minimalistic approach to everyday life. I am extremely glad that you have been able to achieve that; and in a way, you are an inspiration to others.

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    1. Hi Pradeep - life certainly changed in a big way this year didn't it? I think we either embrace the changes and go with the flow, or we drown and become miserable. I've found a lot of high notes to focus on during this pandemic and I think we'll all be a lot wiser by the end of it.

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  4. Leanne, the simplicity of the life I have right now is appealing on many levels,but I do miss the freedom of movement that I took for granted. Thanks for sharing your update.

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    1. Hi Suzanne - we seem to have it pretty good here in Australia - no major surges and life is pretty much back to normal where I am. Travel is definitely the longest change and I'm not sure whether it'll ever be the same again. I remember when the terrorist attacks changed all the travel security, maybe covid will change travel biosecurity when the time comes to get back onto planes?

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  5. This is a lovely post. I especially like your bit about the pandemic, summing up with the line "The orchestra played on and the symphony continued". Nice work. And keep enjoying your music. #MLSTL (Shared)

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    1. Hi Lydia - thanks for the lovely compliment. I do think that the band plays on (a bit like when the Titanic was sinking?) There's always happy notes to be found if we look for them and stop fighting what we can't control.

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  6. Thanks, Leanne, for sharing your update. I'm grateful to have many more high notes than low notes in my life so far. #MLSTL

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    1. Me too Natalie - but I think that's because we proactively choose those notes. There are many people who look for the cloud instead of the silver lining and they've always got a low note to complain about.

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  7. I found your update interesting Leanne. I had forgotten about the high points that we’ve had during corona virus. I particularly loved the coming together of communities on Anzac Day as they stood in their driveways. #MLSTL Shared

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    1. Hi Jen - when I started listing them it went on and on - there were many I didn't include - remember all the pics of the Italians singing on their balconies or tossing balls around from one building to another - I love how creative humanity becomes in the face of challenges.

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  8. Hi Leanne,
    Beautifully said as always - thank you. I love your point about previously defining yourself by what you 'did'. I've definitely shifted into more of a 'being' mode rather than a 'doing' mode. It doesn't mean I don't have goals but I'm much more in touch with who I am and 'what the soul asks of me' ;) Thank you also for introducing me to this wonderful blogging community. Anne x

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    1. Hi Anne - it's lovely to have you in our community and I think you'll love it the more you participate. Giving up trying to measure myself against other people's expectations and opinions has been a defining moment for me. I love that I'm not justifying myself as much anymore and just getting on with living life how I like it and on my own terms - you'd know exactly what I mean x

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  9. Hi Leanne, I've enjoyed the slower pace of life and staying home, but the isolation from loved ones has been really hard. I still struggle with that. I can't see an end to it unfortunately. Regards, Christina

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    1. Hi Christina - I found that really hard too and was so relieved when some of the intra-state travel restrictions eased and we could see our kids and grandgirls again. My heart goes out to those who are separated by longer distances and have to rely on social media etc to stay in contact. Still, it beats trying to call long distance on a landline like we used to do in the "good old days" doesn't it?

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  10. I love that quote too. Just reading it makes me feel peaceful. I, too, am content at home. We are still on a pretty restricted opening, and I feel a little guilty that I am not as miserable as many people. I love sitting on the patio with my husband, drinking a glass of sangria and watching the birds and chipmunks. I do miss my kids and eating in a restaurant once in awhile.

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    1. The only thing I really missed was my kids and grandgirls Michele and once they let us travel for the couple of hours needed to see them, then I was fine. 99.5% of my time is spent at home and I don't find the quieter life hard to handle at all. I'm glad I'm not a rabid traveller (or large event attender) because they're the two main things that are going to be shut down for a long time to come.

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  11. I really love that you've settled into retirement. I remember when we met I think you were able to start or it was new but I think you seem to have the perfect balance of keeping busy but also ensuring you have time for you.

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    1. I thought that job was going to be my perfect slide into retirement Deb - 10 years of 3 days a week at a great pay - buuuut..... you can't pay me to deal with constant craziness - I'm too old for that rubbish. So I'll take the financial hit and have the serenity and peace that life offers in place of the constant stress of those other years. Life is pretty darn fine - but I'm also looking at where I want the future to go....

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  12. Well, if symphonies can include a few bum notes, discordant tones and plain wrong ones, mixed in with all the grace notes and the uplifting chord progressions, then the past six months has been some show!! #MLSTL

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    1. That's what I'm thinking Enda - and I guess it makes it a more interesting production than if it was all one intrument playing a bit of classical music.

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  13. I wonder if you had the foresight of what 2020 would be if you would have picked a different word. But in reading your description of the word, it's as if it was almost forced on you through Covid. So interesting. I think the word "symphony" is pretty much what we've all experienced so far. I have found very little high notes in the past few months, other than getting to spend more time with the grandkids. Here is America, things seem to get worse everyday. I wake up every morning and ask "What horrible thing happened last night?" Nothing even shocks me anymore. I am grateful to live in the country and not in a big city, but it's still terrifying and upsetting watching anarchists try to destroy our country. At the same time, as a Christian, I know this is not my home and Jesus is returning soon, and that gives me hope. I don't know how anyone in America is handling any of this without faith. It would be terrifying.

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    1. Hi Amy - I certainly thought that my "Symphony" would be a lot calmer and more classical than what it actually turned out to be. I guess it's made for an interesting orchestral arrangement - and a reminder that we have absolutely no control over the big picture. All we can do is choose to do our very best in our little corner of the world, pray for the rest to have some sanity, and trust that God has it all in hand.
      I'm also incredibly grateful that I'm in semi-rural Australia rather than in a huge cosmopolitan city with all that's been happening over the last few months!

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  14. Hi Leanne, a great recap on your symphony WOTY. That quote us always well worth a read and a great reminder. I've enjoyed your guests and am pleased to have been included in your series. I love Enda's comment and agree wholeheartedly with it! Shared for #mlstl

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    1. Hi Deb - yes it's been a rollercoaster of an orchestral production - not quite the opus I had originally envisaged, but it's also taught me a lot about myself and how I handle life being even more out of my control than normal! Thank goodness we're in Australia and that we've been able to have the restrictions lifted so much sooner than a lot of other countries. x

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  15. Hi Leanne, it has been an interesting Symphony this year hasn't it? It has been great to read your guest posts and was happy to kick off the series for you. Enda has put it perfectly - it certainly has been one hell of a show! Perhaps I would prefer a short season for this show though. Thanks for being my co-host at #MLSTL and have a lovely weekend. x

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    1. Hi Sue - yes it's been a bit of a rollercoaster over the last few months hasn't it? I think though that it's added an opportunity to pause and re-think what's important - to get rid of the superficial and give more value to the things that really matter. Every cloud has a silver lining (and every symphony has its high notes along with all the lower ones).

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