RECEIVING A MIDLIFE WAKE UP CALL

Let's celebrate the second half of life - don't sit back and watch the world go by, stay vibrant and relevant in your second act.

A MIDLIFE WAKE UP CALL

Midlife is a turning point for a lot of us, and I know when I reached 50 I started thinking about what the second half of my life would look like. I wasn't overly thrilled with the images that floated through my imagination - I saw a middle aged woman who was a little world-weary and who seemed to have nothing much to offer. I saw myself plodding through each day until I was old, grey and even more boring. It was a very dis-spiriting thought. But it wasn't the only choice open to me and that's when my wake-up call began.

I realized that I could pull my socks up and choose a different path for myself. I was reaching a fork in the road - with one path leading to being invisible and blending into the wallpaper of irrelevance, or one where I could be whoever or whatever I felt resonated with me. There was no question about which one was the most appealing - and the second half of my life started from that day. It didn't happen overnight - but it's definitely happening!

THE FORK IN THE ROAD

I recently saw a Facebook post from Zina Harrington of Becoming Unbusy:

Some people believe we have the choice to live “two lives” within our one lifetime—that we’re presented with a fork in the road during this 40-something transition period of our lives when we have one seemingly simple choice:

We can either start living by embracing what’s to come in “Act II” or we can make excuses for not participating in life the way we once did. Take a minute right now to stop and think about this pivotal choice…

Think about yourself, your parents.
Think about your friends and co-workers and relatives.
How have they chosen to handle their Act II?

This "Act II" that Zina refers to might happen to some people when they're 40-something, but for many women I know, it was 50 when the bell in their head rang for Round 2. Our kids were moving out of home, our lives were becoming more settled, we were emerging from that period of life where we were completely focused on everyone else's needs, and we had time to take a good look at ourselves and ask "What's Next?"

WHO DO I WANT TO BE?

The person who has the ultimate say in who we're going to be, is the person we see each day in the mirror. Instead of worrying about a new wrinkle, or a grey hair or two when we look at ourselves, it's time to look deeper and ask whether we're truly content with who we're becoming. Are we stuck in a rut and not participating in all that this second act has to offer, or are we open to embracing change and filling our lives with interests that keep us interesting and relevant?

I know who I choose to be. I may never be the Life of the Party, or the neon light of fun that my Mum is (that woman can rock a Red Hat!) but I like to think that I'm living life exactly how I want to. I love this next stage, the autonomy, the freedom, the sheer joy of being able to do what I like - when I like - and how I like. There is so much less to live up to these days, once you stop worrying so much about what people might think, you start to enjoy life so much more - I love not worrying about impressing people, or trying to fit into a role that doesn't reflect who I truly am.

When you’re 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.

CHOOSING A VIBRANT SECOND ACT

My lovely daughter-in-law told me the other day that she'd describe me as "vibrant" and I loved that. I want to be living my best life, embracing time with family and friends, trying new things that interest me, keeping my brain active, keeping my body healthy, and living the best life I can for the years that lie ahead. None of us know how many years we have in this second half, we might surprise ourselves and be blowing out 100 candles one day, or it might all end much sooner - regardless of the number of days we have left, I hope we're going to make the most of every one of them.

How sad would it be to look back with regret? To have gotten old before our time. To have chosen to sit back in our rocking chair and do nothing but watch the world go by. I hope you're planning on sharing your wisdom and enthusiasm and zest for life with everyone you meet, every chance you get. What a waste it'd be to have lived for fifty years and then given up on the opportunities that the next fifty have in store for us. I intend to make the most of the choice I made at that fork in the road at 50, and to stay as vibrant as I possibly can for as long as I possibly can.

you have this one life - how do you want to spend it?

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you choosing to stay relevant and interesting, or are you going to go down the path of sitting back and watching the world go by? I truly hope you'll join me as we celebrate every moment that being over 50 brings to us - it's a pretty darn fabulous time to be alive. If you're looking for some inspiration, check out the related posts below for some ideas.

RELATED POSTS


Let's celebrate the second half of life - don't sit back and watch the world go by, stay vibrant and relevant in your second act.

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This post was shared at some of these great link parties
Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive
Let's celebrate the second half of life - don't sit back and watch the world go by, stay vibrant and relevant in your second act.

37 comments

  1. Great points to highlight, Leanne, the choice of “embracing” or ‘making excuses.’ I think we face these types of choices throughout our lives, yet it is around the 40+ or 50+ ages where we come up for air and possibly gain perspective on how we want to live the rest of our lives. I love the word “vibrant” for you, Leanne. An amazing compliment from your daughter-in-law.

    You have heard me say before how I am a work in progress. I do find I stop more often now and recalibrate my intentions and responses to how do I really want to live my life. A great post, as always, Leanne. Inspirational, thought-provoking and thank you for sharing your vibrant love of life. xx

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    1. Hi Erica - I loved that my DIL thought I was vibrant - it's a word I'd have chosen to want to be known for, so I felt like I was giving it my best shot! It also reflected to me that my 50's have been going well - no invisble woman fading into the background here - just someone doing their best to live their best life every day - you can't ask for more than that can you?

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  2. Hi Leanne, when I was younger I was lucky to have some great role models for living fulfilled lives in their midlife. I was looking forward to having less responsibility for child raising, school fees etc. Now that I'm an empty nester I'm enjoying this time with my husband. You're right, I definitely worry less about what other people think and am better at living an authentic life. Regards, Christina

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    1. Hi Christina - I wish I'd had those role models you describe. I had no idea how to live midlife well, it wasn't until I discovered blogging and met so many fantastic women that I started to see how this age and stage could be lived vibrantly and well - I hope I'll be modelling that to future generations of women.

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    2. Ooooh, Leanne, I just read Cathy's wise response "...the next option may turn out to be a better one." The Heidi Principle! Huge lol. Many wise words in all of the responses.

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  3. I know I’ve got a few years on you all (78 last month....yes an oldie but a goodie with years of living ahead of me) and I’ll just say.....don’t sweat the small stuff!
    You can plan as much as you like but sometimes big stuff happens and things just don’t go that way. Don’t despair because the next option may turn out to be a better one.
    Sitting back and watching the world go by is not a wrong choice - just as jumping in and letting others know you’re there isn’t always the right one either.....just make the most of whatever comes your way.
    Life’s what you make it! Thanks for sharing yours.
    Take care
    Cathy #lifethisweek

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    1. Hi Cathy - my mum is 78 and she's definitely all about jumping in! I like the idea of watching the world go by on some days, and grabbing opportunities on other days. I'll never be pushing myself too hard though - those days are well and truly behind me and I intend to enjoy the luxury of leisure and living on my own terms from here on out. One day I'll be 78 and I hope I look back on these years with a smile.

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  4. Leanne, at 65 I think I am somewhere in between 'sitting in a rocking chair' and 'full steam ahead'. I still have ideas kicking around in my head, but I don't always want to make a commitment to follow-through. I like being able to glide with the ebb and flow of this time of life. The 20,40,60 quote above is spot on. If only we knew that back then, right?

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    1. I feel a bit the same way Suzanne - I watch some of my friends who are re-inventing themselves and starting new endeavours and I feel a bit tired! Then again, I feel like there's still more to come, more to discover, and more to "be" - so I'm ebbing and flowing too - and allowing what the future holds to arrive when it's ready x

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  5. Great post!!! I love thinking about my second act. I would never imagine you blending into the wallpaper or becoming old, washed out and gray. I am reading a book right now about older athletes - people well into their 60s, 70s, and 80s. It's inspiring! I want to be like that! And I love the meme about people in their 20s, 40s, and 60s! :)

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    1. It's funny Laurie - I really did worry that I was becoming completely irrelevant - living a bit of a Ground Hog life. Then, the upheaval and changes happened and I'm on a new and different path - one I feel fits me so much better - and I'm loving only being answerable to myself and allowing myself to be "real" - life is great!

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  6. Right now I do feel a bit like I am sitting back watching the world go by... but that is by choice and needed right now to stay safe. I'm learning to enjoy the time at home.... a lot of time at home! Yes, sitting and watching the moonlight the other evening was kinda watching the world go by, but it was also a celebration of the Blue Moon, an awareness of the seasonal changes, and I was listening to some classical music (an on-line concert) too. Quite the multitasker... but I still did enjoy the watching the world go by moment!

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    1. Hi Pat - I feel like Suzanne said it well - life is all about ebb and flow.... we have those times where we're ticking boxes left, right and centre.... and then we have times where we get to sit back and enjoy the moon and some music. I think if we allow ourselves the grace to go with the flow, then life becomes magic - and we appreciate it so much more. I also think that it's the blue moons we'll remember more later down the track - not the frenetically busy times!

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  7. Leanne, Good points in your post and I'm glad you're living a vibrant second act as you like it. I've always been living life my way, while ignoring what others might think. It's been liberating and rewarding. #lifethisweek

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    1. Hi Natalie - I always admire your self-confidence and the ability you have to live a full life on your own terms - it's something I certainly aspire to!

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  8. I think vibrant is a great adjective. I'm still working out my second act but for me am hoping that I can live with meaning. Aside from family, and my writing I don't feel that I do much that has meaning & my ambition is to have the financial freedom to be able to do just that.

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    1. Hi Jo - I think the sticky part is trying to figure out what gives each of us true "meaning" in our lives - what works for one is completely different to what works for another. I'm still trying to find my "sweet spot" but I have so many mornings now where I actually do a little happy dance in my kitchen because I love my life so much - that's got to be a good indicator that I'm on the right track doesn't it?

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  9. I haven’t quite got me next act sorted yet. Just waiting for the decision on work to come to me. Your post gives me so much to think about as I work towards making that decision

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    1. Hi Jennifer - I think deep in your heart you've made the decision and your head is just waiting to catch up. When you dig deep I know you'll feel the confidence to make the right choice - and I'll cheer you on.

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  10. The good news is, if you missed that wake up call in your 40's or 50's, there is still hope. And maybe it is that there are second, third and fourth calls. My second came in my mid 40's after my children had gone off on their own and I heard a call to ministry. I discovered as a 40 something college student, that I loved school and I loved learning. That love of learning has lead me through three degrees and lots of growth and opportunities. Retirement brought a new call, and thanks to the bloggers I connected with near the end of my 60's, and the encouragement that retirement didn't have to be one t hing set in cement, I found a new call yet on my 70th birthday. I share this for anyone who might think, "shucks" I missed it. keep your options open, keep growing and seeking and shining.

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    1. Hi Michele - my husband would absolutely agree with you. He went back to study in his early 50's (much to my horror!) and went from being an Advertising/Marketing person to being a Family Counsellor - he's so much happier, so much more in his "zone" and so good at what he does - and I'm so glad he went ahead with it instead of playing safe and listening to my doom and gloom projections! He loves the study and signs up for webinars all the time. I'm more chilled and happy being in my space - but we're each finding that life after 50/60 is just so great - I think we're both happy and in sync for the first time in a very long time!

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  11. Well, I'm not yet 50 (but pretty close) and I can really relate to everything in the post. I think I started a bit early and my cancer diagnoses might have accelerated things somewhat - there's nothing like a life threatening illness to motivate you to live your best life and do what makes you happy. I love that Beardsley Jones quote - words to live by indeed!

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    1. Hi Sam - yes I imagine that a cancer diagnosis would certainly be a wake up call to live your best life every day. For those of us who were just pootling along, a big birthday can also be a kick up the butt to do something with the decade ahead. I'm looking down the tunnel at 60 and I want it to be another boost to living a great life - and I'm putting my plans in place to be ready to rock it!

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  12. Thank you Leanne. Truer words were never spoken: it's a pretty darn fabulous time to be alive! Even when life is challenging, it still beats the alternative. Each morning I remind myself,"I am full of gratitude for another day on this earth." Here's to living each day to its fullest--whether that means snuggling in for a good read or a night out on the town.

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    1. Hi Christie - I can't believe how much I'm loving my life right now. If you'd asked me at 30 how I thought my late 50's would be, I'd have had no idea how great they'd be! I love that 60 is looking pretty appealing too - surprisingly so - and I intend to make the decade ahead even more fabulous than the one that's almost wrapped up.

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  13. Great post to read Leanne! I love how you are progressing and sharing your thoughts with us along the way. Sharing wisdom is a very generous gift to give. As you know I'm almost 60, only a few weeks to go, and it doesn't feel much different so far but I know I've changed over the last decade. I love the word 'vibrant' and would attribute that to you! Bring it on - is my advice!!!!!!

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    1. Hi Deb - I think Bring It On might be a battle cry for our sixties? What do you think? I'm using turning 60 as my motivation to kick start the next phase of my life - I have a year to prepare and you'll be leading the charge with me right behind you - Tally Ho!!

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  14. Always interesting to read your words Leanne. I don't recall thinking anything age-related at 50. I was a school principal, had a lovely family and two granddaughters. My work world fell apart at 52. But by 53 I took myself back to teaching. It was by 60 I knew I wanted to retire (next week I have written about it for my Wed post) and by 65 I had enough of other paid work. However getting to 70 was a triumph because of the cancer etc but also because I feel the best I have in years! Celebrating age! We have our Golden Wedding Anniversary in January and we are very proud of that. Thanks for linking up for Life This Week. Next week, the optional prompt is 45/51 Share Your Snaps #9 9.11.2020 and I would love to see you there! Denyse.

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    1. Hi Denyse - I love that other bloggers are living fantastic lives in decades I haven't reached yet. There are so many who are thriving in their 60's and several (like you) who are making the 70's look amazing too. I love that we seem to be getting more vibrant and interesting as we age - definitely not fading into the wallpaper!

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  15. 50 is the new 30... Biological & mental age is the key, to your birth certificate. When I retired, I decided to move from Norway and restart my life in the beautiful Canary Islands (spring-summer all year round). I love my new life, my freedom and my fantastic lifestyle. My family is visiting me - and I am visiting them, and even if it is 6 hours in the air between us, we are closer than ever. I knew no-one here, but now I have fantastic friends and neighbours, and as patronising ageism is not an issue here, I enjoy life like never before. I have just published some books at Amazon (4 weeks to a New Life), and I have a blog - www.evasundene.com. My hope is to inspire women of all ages to make the best out of their looks and their lives. You are all beautiful, it is just a question of knowing how... and what to do. Love to hear from you, you can all be who you want to be.... Love & hugs from eva.

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    1. Wow Eva! Your life sounds amazing and I'm definitely popping over to check out your blog. I love how you were brave enough to make such a big move and the weather must be amazing after living in such a cold place previously. I can't believe how great life is post 50 - I think it's actually better than being in our 30's - and I think our 60's are looking pretty good too.

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  16. So inspiring this blog is! I love your comment "What a waste it'd be to have lived for fifty years and then given up on the opportunities that the next fifty have in store for us." And we have so much wisdom to share, even though we are still learning. The world needs our vibrant selves.

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    1. Hi Judith - I think we have so much to offer - the world may think that the young "influencers" are the flavour of the month, but I think we mature women know who we are, what we want, and where we're heading - we don't need to be carbon copies of each other - and that makes every one of us special doesn't it?

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  17. I agree with Erica, there are so many great responses in the comments to your post. Vibrant is a terrific word. I believe your DIL hit the nail on the head. When I was in the 8th grade, I think, a friend's mom said I was 'vivacious'. At the time, I didn't know what the word meant. When the woman was out of ear shot, I asked my mom what vivacious was. And I have worn that word in my heart ever since.

    I am grumpy and disgruntled that we have kind of lost an entire year of this Act II by being locked away, hiding from Covid. Many of us have filled the time rediscovering activities we once loved, and finding new things to try. But I have missed the ability to visit my daughter and granddaughter, to hold my mom. To travel somewhere. I resent this lost time.

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    1. Hi Leslie - I know exactly what you mean about the loss of physical contact with our loved ones. We were fortunatate that our govt got the covid thing under control fairly quickly, but those few months of no contact with my kids and grandgirls just killed my heart - and I imagine it must be unbearable for those who've been missing out for nearly a year.
      I love that you held vivacious in your heart - I'm holding vibrant in mine - it's nice to have a positive descriptor given to you by an outsider - such an affirmation xx

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  18. Aren't we the lucky ones who get to choose how to define and redefine our lives, Leanne? I begin to wonder if the generations before us thought of these things at all. I know, in India, many women really have no choice - they are so rigidly defined by their roles. And yet, there are many other women who've broken with tradition and created the 'second half' of their lives to be all they want it to be.

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    1. Corinne I think we're the first generation to really define a second half of life and to give ourselves permission to enjoy it on our own terms. There's still the responsibility of ageing parents and sending our kids and grandkids into the world, but there's also time to focus on ourselves - and I'm loving that and intend to make the most of it.

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