Welcome back to The Midlife Makeover Show and welcome to the messy middle! That’s right! Today we will discuss how midlife can be quite messy, and most importantly, I will provide you with some solutions to help you get off the wild midlife roller coaster.
Between learning from the experts on this podcast who teach a variety of midlife topics, and of course, being at midlife myself and encountering my own midlife challenges, I realize more and more every day how messy midlife can be.
Even if your life is cruising along just fine in your forties and fifties without any major traumatic hiccups –– bravo to you –– you will STILL encounter unavoidable ups and downs, twists and turns, that naturally happen at this stage in life.
If you think about all the multitude of changes that naturally occur as you move from the first chapter of life into the second chapter of life, it’s pretty nutty.
Consider the 8 categories on the Wheel of Midlife, which are Love, Career, Friends, Family, Finance, Growth, Health, and Fun. If you‘re not familiar with The Wheel of Midlife, it’s totally okay. It’s a tool I teach in my Midlife Makeover Method online course, and I will share a bit more about The Wheel of Midlife on next week’s episode. For now, let’s just focus on the 8 categories and the crazy changes that can take place within each category.
Love is a big category, but I’m mainly referring to your intimate relationships. Your marriage, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, and any other label to describe your close, intimate relationships.
There are many changes at midlife that occur within this category such as separation, divorce, extramarital affairs, death of your spouse, dating at midlife (yikes!), starting a new relationship at midlife, marrying at midlife, your intimate relationship becoming mundane, you or your partner drifting apart, your sex life becoming ordinary, non-existent, or maybe your sex life has become extraordinary. Oooooo! Go you!
When this area of our midlife goes awry, then it can cause all sorts of issues in other areas of our lives.
Career is a big mid-life altering category. Some of you love your careers at this stage in life and all your hard work over the decades has paid off and you’re preparing for your retirement. Yay!
Some of you are experiencing job burn-out, you can’t stand your career, you’ve never have been able to stand it, and you’re ready to call it quits.
Some of you might just be getting started in a new career or maybe you are finally turning your little hobby into a big business.
Or you are looking for a career change and want a job you love with more meaning and purpose –– a career that really sets your soul on fire! Oh yes! That’s what I was looking for years ago and I finally got it!
Since you are at midlife then most likely your friends are at midlife, which means that if you are on the crazy roller coaster of midlife then your friends are also on the crazy roller coaster of midlife. That being said, your friends may come and go during this stage in your life due to all the crazy.
Some people whom you thought were friends are no longer there for you or disappointed you. Those friendships may end in a dispute or just dissolve on their own.
Some of your friends could retire and move away or maybe they are caring for their elderly parents and they’re not available like they used to be.
Unfortunately, you may have friends that pass away at midlife.
You could have mutual friends with your partner and when you separate or divorce, those friendships become estranged.
All of these examples can result in feeling loneliness, bitterness, anger, resentment, or sadness. But there is some positive to the negative, because although you may lose friends at midlife, you may also gain news ones as you embark on new life experiences.
For example, I have gained so many new friendships from living in Madeira, Portugal, RV-ing in the United States, meeting guests on this podcast, meeting some of you on my social media sites, or as my coaching clients. Now that I think about it, I have gained wayyy more friends compared to losing friends at midlife. Whether friends come or go or stay, the friends category is still a bit category of change.
If you thought the Friends category was a doozie, how about family? What’s the first thing that comes to mind about midlife and family? Two words –– empty nest. This is a biggun for a lot of people. Even if you were excited to see the birdies leave the nest (Bye little birdies!), it’s still a BIG change to your family dynamic, your daily routine, your time, and the overall state of your household. It’s a huge shift in your life.
Something else that may happen with a lot of you at midlife is that sadly, some of your parents may be passing away during this stage in your life. Or you are needing to care for them, set them up in assisted living centers, or help them prepare for the end of their lives.
Speaking of losing loved ones, you may be losing family pets that have been with you since the kids were babies. Our pets are like family, aren’t they?
And speaking of babies, you could become a grandma or grandpa during this stage in life!! Congratulations!
Also, if you’re a Gen X-er, aka the Sandwich Generation, you might be juggling the care of your elderly parents, your children, and even grandchildren all at the same time. Wowzuh! That’s alotta jugglin’! I’m getting stressed just thinking about it!
Let’s move onto the next category before I break out in hives!
From the financial experts that have been on the podcast, the topic of money can be a toughie at midlife. Your money might be doing great, you’re ready for retirement, and you’re planning for your trip around the world. You could be on the other end of the spectrum and wondering how the heck you’ll survive in your second chapter of life.
Midlife usually brings a lot of downsizing and decluttering, and depending on how you look at it, this may be stressful and depressing to move on from your old home and give up your belongings.
Some of you could be paying for your children’s college and due to rising costs, you may need to postpone your retirement to pay for all of it.
If you are divorcing at midlife, then you could end up with a nice nest egg or no eggs at all. All in all, your finances will shift at midlife.
Growth, as in personal growth and overall life satisfaction. Midlife has a funny way of catching up with you, doesn’t it? You hit our 50th birthday and think, what the hell just happened? How did I get here so quickly? You may also be thinking, who am I? What is my purpose? Have I done enough? Am I enough? What is my worth? How much time do I have left on this planet to do something different, something more exciting and fulfilling? Or as Jack Nicholson would say, is this as good as it gets?
Midlife can be a time of deep thought, introspection, and soul-searching.
With all of the self-analysis comes feelings of regret or disappointment. You may have regrets of the wrong relationships, the wrong career, the wrong place of residence, or heck, even the wrong first half of life. You might be thinking, I thought I would have my shit together by now. What is wrong with me?
Can you remember when you were in your twenties imagining what your life would be like in your forties and fifties? I do. I imagined this picture-perfect life that was all smiles, rainbows, and sprinkles. Good golly! I had quite the imagination!
Well, I was partly right, because at midlife, I love smiling, seeing rainbows, and eating sprinkles on my cupcakes, but my life up until my 50th birthday had quite a few frowns and dark storms. I still had sprinkles, but they were sprinkled on shit sandwiches. Anywho, your life may have taken a few twists and turns on its way to midlife, too.
Your mental health is certainly tested at midlife. You can experience overwhelm, worry, exhaustion, frustration, anxiety, depression, and all of the above.
Our lives can be so crazy busy in our twenties and thirties with raising kids, climbing the corporate ladder, and mowing the yard that we can set our emotional health, personal growth, and well-being to the side. We get a wakeup call when the nest is eerily empty, your spouse leaves you, and your boss fires you. All of those traumas sitting on the back burner will surface to meet you like a frying pan on the face. Hello midlife.
All of this can lead to a good ol’ midlife crisis, which hopefully you begin to listen to The Midlife Makeover Show, and you turn your midlife crisis into a midlife awakening. Yessss!
In any event, your emotional health, your personal growth and how you evolve will be affected as you stumble into your second half of life.
Oh. This is a big one for a lot of you. Me included. When you hit midlife, your body will voluntarily tell you what you have done for it, not done for it, and still need to do for it.
I can remember my brother saying to me on his 45th birthday, “Sis’, I used to eat anything I wanted and never gained any weight. And now –– omg sis’ –– you should see my belly!”
Yep. Your body changes at midlife whether you like it or not. Your health may suddenly decline, you’re experiencing weight gain, weight loss, muscle loss, hair loss, sleep loss, perimenopause, menopause, cancer, autoimmune diseases, wrinkles, arthritis, age spots, sore backs, aching knees, sagging boobs, and shrinking balls. Mmmm. Sexy midlife body!
You could have been someone that took extra good care of yourself, and you are still experiencing any and all of the above. Or maybe you are someone that didn’t take good care of your body, you skirted around good healthcare, and now it’s all caught up with you. Either way, your health WILL change at midlife. Because of this, you may experience stress from the thoughts of how to change your diet, lose some weight, start exercising, or wonder if it’s too late to save your body from aging too quickly.
I love this category! But shockingly, even the category of FUN can be stressful. You can hit midlife and realize that your life is like Groundhog Day, and in order to add a little fun and excitement to your life, you’ll have to make some serious changes. You may have to divorce your spouse that never wants to leave his recliner or leave a job that only gives you 1 week of vacation with your boss calling you every day with dumb questions.
You may have regrets of all the things you haven’t done in life and get pissed that you don’t have the money, time, or health to do them now. Thoughts such as, I always wanted to see the Northern Lights, buy an RV, tour Europe, or take guitar lessons will cross your mind at midlife.
Not to mention, if you are taking care of elderly parents, grandbabies, or working 6 days a week, squeezing in more time for fun might seem impossible.
You might’ve had a grand plan of retiring in your fifties to conquer your bucket list, but the market crashed, shot down your early retirement, and wiped out your Fun Fund. No fun!
So yes, midlife should be fun, but it’s stressful if the fun cannot be had.
Just by listing a few examples of midlife struggles, it’s obvious that midlife can be messy. So, what do we do with all the mess? How do we clean this shit up? Well, I’m gonna tell you! Midlife can be overwhelming enough, so I will keep this simple and elementary. I am giving you the ABCs to help you manage the messy middle.
A is for Acceptance
Acceptance can be a challenging pill to swallow, but it’s a pill that needs to be swallowed if you want peace in your mind, you heart, your body, and your life.
Here’s the deal: Midlife is what it is. Deal with it. You must accept the unavoidable changes that occur at midlife. You need to suck it up buttercup and accept what’s happening around you. I’m not saying to not do anything about the changes, because ya’ll know I’m all about taking action, and we will get to taking action later on, but for now, you just need to accept that midlife is what it is. You can bitch, moan, and groan all you want, but it’s not going to stop the roller coaster ride through midlife.
I have a genius idea though. If you can’t stop the roller coaster ride, then maybe you should just get off the roller coaster. I know. It’s genius. In other words, be an observer on the ground and just watch the roller coaster go up and down, around the sharp turns, and through the dark tunnels. Instead of being on the wild ride, just watch the wild ride.
The best way to look at your midlife with all its twists and turns is to watch it from afar. I’m not saying to avoid what’s in front of you, but step away from the wild roller coaster. Plus, you get a better view and a different perspective. Things look different from the ground, which helps you to become more grounded and stable. You can surrender to the roller coaster ride. This allows you to detach from the trauma and drama in midlife that can throw your life upside down and inside out.
When you watch from afar, and when you accept and observe your current midlife events, it’s easier to manage the birdies leaving the nest, your aging parents, your sagging boobs, the dwindling bank account, or your soul-sucking job. When you can settle the emotions in your mind, you’re able to think more clearly and therefore make clearer decisions.
When you get off the emotional roller coaster ride through midlife, you’re able to accept the things you cannot change and you’re able to create the courage to change the things you can.
The word courage leads us into letter B of the ABCs.
B is for Bravery
By definition, bravery means courageous behavior or character. The key word there is behavior. You must behave like a courageous lion as you meander through the midlife wild. You must act strong, brave, courageous, bold, daring, fearless, powerful, and like a badass mofo.
The best way to act like a courageous lion is to think like a courageous lion. Thoughts become things, so if you want to be strong then you need to think strong. If you want to do bold things, then you need to think bold.
Pay attention and become mindful of the thoughts running across the ticker tape in your mind. When you have weak thought, replace it with a strong thought. When you hear that negative, nagging voice from the critic in your head, replace it with the positive, uplifting voice from the cheerleader in your head. That’s the ticket right there. You MUST become your own cheerleader. You must make the voice of your cheerleader louder than the voice of your critic. You must cheer your way through the ups and downs of your midlife.
Tell yourself things like, of course you can get through this divorce! You are so strong and capable of handling anything tossed your way. You got this!
Kids leaving the nest? No problem. Piece o’ cake! You are an amazing parent. You did great raising the kids and now they have the tools to live their lives. Bravo to you! Now it’s time to step into a new and exciting second half of life! Woo-hoo!
Oh! You want to start a new business in your fifties? Cool! You are so creative and intelligent. You can do anything! This will be fun!
Cheer your way and plow your way through your midlife. Become your greatest cheerleader and your greatest friend as you watch the wild roller coaster from the ground and eat your cotton candy. Mmmm. Remember that? And then you’d have sticky fingers the rest of the day!
Moving onto letter C of the ABCs!
C is for Change
Woo-hoo! I love change! And you need to learn to love change, too! Change is good! Change can be good if you step into it with acceptance and bravery.
Years ago, when I hit my all-time low at midlife, I realized that all these changes were happening around me whether I liked it or not. The divorce, my brother dying, the debt, the career change, the empty nest, the downsizing, the entire shit sandwich. With sprinkles.
Basically, I arrived at acceptance. I also realized during this time that if change was going to take place no matter what then I might as well make the best of it. I might as well go ALL OUT! I might as well undergo a full-blown midlife revolution, a midlife awakening. Go big or go home, right?
Midlife is opportunity to make some positive changes in your life and to do things differently. You’re old enough to know what worked and didn’t work in your first half of life and you’re still young enough to make some good, solid changes.
The cool thing is that a lot of the stresses of raising kids, climbing the corporate ladder, and paying for the big house in the burbs are done and over with. You can move onto different things –– things that excite you and set your soul on fire.
If you have any regrets in your life, it’s time to flip those regrets on their head. It’s time to go for it! It’s time to do all those things you always talked about doing. If you have been feeling miserable, it’s time to feel miraculous. It’s time to peel back the layers and become your true self. No more hiding, no more pretending, no more living life for others. This is your time. These are your happy days. Just like a butterfly trying to bust through the cocoon, it’s time for you to bust through the walls of your cocoon so you can fly and be free. It’s time for YOUR revolution!
Also, think of midlife as the power-up stage of your life. It’s time to power-up and gear-up for your post midlife chapter. Set yourself up so you can enjoy the final homestretch. Take extra good care of your body, your mind, and your soul, so you can be happy, healthy, and at peace. More than you ever have in your entire life. Give yourself the gift of self-love and self-care. Your midlife is a leaping pad that can propel you forward in your life. Take advantage of it and make the best of it!
Alright kids, those were your ABCs! Acceptance, Bravery, and Change. In conclusion, midlife can be messy, but you can make the best of it and make it a beautiful mess. It’s yourbeautiful mess. Take advantage of the wild ride and fulfill your wildest dreams.
On next weeks’ show, we will continue the conversation about the wild ride through midlife. I will teach you how to use the Wheel of Midlife tool to make your wild ride as smooth as can be. I certainly don’t want you to have a wonky, wobblily wheel through midlife!
Also, join us live on Instagram on Tuesday, May 30th at 11:00am CST with my special guest, Bria Gadd. Bria is a personal trainer, holistic health coach and integrative nutritionist who specializes in female hormones. She is the founder of The Period Whisperer Podcast and the P4 formula, helping women with weight release and energy gain in pre and post menopause, and finding clarity in hormonal chaos.
More great conversations on the Messy Middle and the Messy Menopause! I’d love for you to join us live on the show! Just follow me on Instagram at Wendy Valentine or The Midlife Makeover Show and click the link in my bio for the event.
Thank you for listening my Messy Midlifers! I am grateful that we are moving through this messy middle together! Talk to you next week!
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