Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Breaking Point

Susan Shellenbarger's book The Breaking Point is an amazing book! She writes about women in midlife and illuminates the different paths that each women takes to design her new life. She reflects back to me the very things I am struggling with and organizes and validates them. Reduces some of the confusion. It is full of stories from women who walked before me on this path.

It also opened the conversation with my mother on her experience. Her experience may have been less explosive as I think that 30 years ago it was not mainstream enough create massive change at midlife. So they quietly went about pursuing their new goals. It did not change their feelings about that time. They still analyzed their life choices and made new ones. But our sense of entitlement has grown since then and our financial and social independence also gives us more freedom to explore our options in a more expansive way.

I think I have been in a mild state of dissatisfaction for maybe 5 years now. Then it became a focal point for the last 2 years. The true momentum has only gathered steam in the last 2 or 3 months when I realize there are ways to finance the change, precipitated also by the fact that my employment may be unstable so my future is at risk. And that it is okay.

My passage seems slower than the women in Shellenbarger's book but there is really no fixed time frame on this experience. Perhaps there is an element of safety once again in how I go about this. There is also the need to fully experience my children and not disrupt their lives in order to change mine. It is an opportunity to sketch out the next 30 years and then as time goes on to add colour and dimension to those sketches. There is a sense that life should not just happen but that I can orchestrate how it unravels! To a certain extent. (Not everything is within my control.)

I have one teen at home now. The other is gone to University. They have been my reason to be. And now they go forward to create their own lives. The second child's departure, coincidentally (I think not)occurs in the same year as my 55th birthday. Thus the 5 year plan ending at my 55th birthday. It aches to have my older son move on so I know it will be traumatic to watch my second move on.

If I stay in the same container life could be lonely and feel like the pieces are missing. If I start to move new pieces in place now, they will sweep me away when the time comes to say goodbye. I recall going off to University and out West when I was a teen and thinking of nothing except what was ahead. I know my sons are also experiencing that. I need to create a similar forward looking excitement in my own life. And why not. Thirty years ahead. I have so many great ideas!

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