Discovering Who We Are, Faith

4 Steps to Midlife Resilience

Do you ever feel like your hair is on fire?

I don’t mean literally on fire – just so pushed and so frazzled that your hair might as well be on fire.Image result for woman with hair on fire

I used to look at women in the autumn of their lives and think that they had it so easy.  Now I know that aging is not for the faint of heart.  It requires a stability and resilience that, if I didn’t have it before, I need to cultivate it fast.

I need to bounce.  I need resilience.

So far I’ve had to have the following parts removed: my right eye, a portion of my left kidney, my uterus,  and both my knees.  I’ve had my shoulder rebuilt which took  6 months to heal.  My husband’s Air Force Reserve activity activated him at 55 years of age early in the Iraq war.  He ended five years later wounded of mind and body. All this was scattered throughout the last 15 years and in addition to the normal wear, tear, heartbreak and celebrations of middle age.  You know about that wear and tear; our kids grow and go, our adult kids end up needing more help that we think that we ever did, our parents age, get sick and pass, husband’s retire and become insane, and the money we gave to our adult kids reduce our retirement savings.   Normal wear and tear.

I found a method that works for me and my friends and can be easily remembered when I feel as though my hair is on fire and I can’t move another step. Like so many lessons it comes from elementary school.

The Four Directions to Bounce Back.

1. Stop

2. Look

3.Listen

4. Move if its safe, otherwise stay where you are until it is.

Although this was the mantra drummed into my brain when learning how to cross the street, it as done we well during the last 15 years.
1. Stop.

This one is tough because most of my life has been go, followed by go faster:  small son is running away into the supermarket aisles- run after, boss has a deadline – work harder and faster, finish work, come home tired and need to make dinner and clean and help with homework – work longer, faster, harder.  A large part of our lives has been to move and keep moving but now I Image result for vintage photo of children at stop sign have needed to learn to stop.

What has been happening is big.  I felt pulled by the hugeness of my parents’ needs, my adult family’s needs, my husband’s needs, and my body’s collapse  Each event involved life, death and well-being and as an adult, there was nowhere to hide.  I couldn’t call Mom and ask for her wisdom anymore, she needed mine. The solution outlined in Eat, Pray, Love wasn’t an option or even wanted.  So, I needed to do something else.  I discovered that I needed to come to a full and complete stop before I could go.  I needed to stop in order to look. I’m not advocating that we run away.  I’m not advocating that we climb into bed and pull the covers up over our heads– as nice as that sounds.  But we do need to find a way to stop long enough to …

2. Look.

Look at myself in the mirror and see that my hair is not on fire.  Look around and take stock; what’s good and what’s bad and – here’s the toughest- what’s neither.   Everything can feel as though it’s an emergency, but when I stopped I could see that a lot was OK.  I wasn’t falling apart and neither was my life, even though it felt like it.

3.  Listen.

When I’m racing so is my mind and the noise of the race crowds everything out.  If I Image result for vintage photo of woman listeningtake small time outs and just listen to my heart I can hear where I need to go.  When the noise is just too loud, I sit and listen to the sounds around me, just listen and identify each sound.  It’s an activity that slows my mind, drops my heart rate and readies me for listening to my heart.  My heart, I need to listen to my heart and soul.  My heart tells me the truth.  My heart tells me what’s safe and what isn’t.

4.  Move if its safe and stay still if it’s not.

Looking and listening gives me information.  I need to sort that information and decide my next move is OR realise that despite all my efforts, I need to stop.  There maybe nothing to do – and then it’s time for chocolate, or a bike ride,  or a pedicure; something that nourishes me.  If you don’t now what nourishes you check out check out my post, Scavenger Hunt for My Life.

When I follow my childhood instructions for crossing the street, I am better able to negotiate my crazy life.  I can figure out how to bounce back.

As always,

Beth

8 Comments

  1. Sue

    I hear you loud and clear and the steps you have followed are sensible and above all not too difficult. When we are feeling like ‘stop the world I want to get off’ we don’t need complicated plans to recover we just need simple steps to help us through. First visit to your blog and I’ve subscribed!

    Reply
  2. I find that there is no time in my life that I needed more resilience than NOW, at midlife. Life just seemed to get extra crazy after forty. Now that I have simplified myself and learned to grow stress resilience from within, life is getting much better! Thanks for sharing these tips on resilience.

    Reply

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