You may have seen this quote going around Facebook lately by Brenè Brown that says: “Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you “I’m not fucking around, use the gifts you were given!”
Well it turns out in my case, she’s right! For the past year and a half as I’ve been inching closer to middle age I’ve been attempting to figure out just how the hell I am going to use what gifts I’ve been given to serve others….and, you know, support myself and my family financially at the same time.
When I got on a plane a little over five years ago to move to Australia I knew it would mean giving up my career as an American Sign Language interpreter. I had no idea what I would do, but I trusted it would fall into place. (This is probably when the Universe put me on it’s list of people to shake up!)
I’m not sure exactly when I started feeling the call to figure it out. Maybe it began with me waking up after being in the Mama Coma for four years. Maybe it was the reality of my own mortality staring back at me in the mirror: the change in my skin, the deepening lines, the grays cropping up everywhere–and I do mean everywhere. Whatever it was, suddenly Life took on a sense of urgency.
At first I found myself in mourning. I’d find myself staring at teenage girls letting it sink in just how long ago that was for me. I’d look at the 20-somethings and reminisce about all the fun I’d had. I’d see pregnant ladies and feel a strange sadness because after spending most of my life wondering what it would be like to be pregnant, I’m done having babies.
What was going on? I still felt like the same me! I’d look in the mirror and study this face that suddenly seemed so unfamiliar. My mind seemed to be trying to make sense of the time-warp I felt myself in.
I could feel a shift happening. You know how you can sense autumn coming from the smell in the air? Or by the way the sun feels different? Like that. My autumn was coming. And what do you do when there’s a change in season? You start to prepare.
So, I developed this preoccupation with pictures of older women. I made a study of all the ways beauty showed up with a silver mane. I wanted to know: “What can aging look like?” But what I found in these pictures was more reflective of what aging feels like. These women exuded the attitude of“I’m here. I’m me. And I don’t give a damn.”
I wanted that.
So after all this processing when I read that quote by Brené Brown it got me right in the heart. To me, midlife, like so many other moments in life, feels like standing at a crossroads. But this one is BIG. This one is Life Defining.
And let me tell you….I’m scared to death. This is one of those times in life when I could play it safe. I could totally set up camp and just ride it out. Or, I could get clear on what it is my heart is calling me to do and DO IT!
I know from past experience that I actually can manifest the life I want. In fact, I’m living the life I envisioned years ago right now. I know that each one of my decisions at previous crossroads has lead me to this exact place.
But even in the face of trust and faith there is fear!
And as it does, just when I needed it, the Universe stepped in. I was talking to a person recently and I could see that life had smacked her around. She was afraid. She was stuck. In listening to her I could see that though the words weren’t coming from my mouth, they were my own. She was my own reflection. In that moment I felt a deep, loving compassion rise up in me for both of us.
But there was something else that rose up in me, too. A soft voice that whispered “not me.”
I could see myself standing at this crossroads again and I knew I had a choice to make. In that moment I decide to challenge every single shitty belief that came up trying to tell me I can’t live the life I want for myself.
So from now on I’m not going to believe the voice that says “you’re not good enough” anymore. Or the one that screams “you’ll never get it right!” When that part of me shows up screaming “They don’t want to hear what you have to say. Shut up. Shrink back. Sit down.” I will look it in the eye and lovingly say….
Not me. Because I am enough.
Not me. Because I know there is no ‘right’ way to do Life.
Not me. Because I won’t hide who I am to please anyone.
I’m here. I’m me. And I don’t give a damn…..Ok, I’m still working on that last part, but how glorious will it be when I get there?!
And no matter how scared I am, or how painful it is, or how vulnerable I feel I will take the next step. I will continue to walk into the unknown in deep gratitude for all those who have traveled the path before me. And I am going to do so remembering that that one day young girls will look to me wondering what’s possible for themselves.
You know, one thing I’ve learned is that it’s these moments, these crossroads, that lead to the most amazing adventures.
Midlife? Ok, Universe. Adventure accepted.
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