You are busy. As a politically conscious activist, organizer, or community member who tends to do for others all day, every day, but is exhausted all the time, I invite you to take a step back and journey inward. Those of us who are GenX are now in the autumn of our lives and we need a new definition for midlife. It’s high time we understand and embrace the Harvest Queen.
ENTERING THE AUTUMN SEASON
The phases of a woman’s life are often represented as threefold: maiden, mother, and crone. There is our period of youth when we are exploring what the world has to offer and finding our place in it; the age of motherhood, when we are raising children or raising up precious ideas into a reality; and then BOOM! “old age” or becoming the wise Crone. But this is not entirely accurate. Just as there are four seasons in a year, a woman’s life goes through four seasons as well. If maidenhood is the springtime, where we are right now can be called the fall.
In moving through the autumn of our lives we feel passionately connected to all of it. We finally know that time is short and moments are precious. Now we understand the words our mothers and grandmothers once spoke to us when they said “time moves fast” and “they are only young for a little while”. We begin to realize that while our capacity for love, strength, and passion is limitless, our time here is not. As the Harvest Queen, you can begin to get a little unsentimental, even ruthless. Embrace this. The need to nurture everything and everyone is over. We can call out the bullshit and definitely say NO.
THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’
We are all experiencing significant life-changing events – you may be ending a long-term relationship, starting a new one, or suddenly find yourself alone (either by choice or tragedy).
Some of us are sending our young adults off to college or out on their own. Many of us are still looking after our children (even if they are older but can’t leave home in this economic climate) as well as having to care for aging and ailing parents.
Your own health may be compromised, in addition to the physical effects of the menopausal transition, and you may be coming to terms with the sense of loss of your fertility years. Older mothers are women at the crossroads. This is an age of tremendous upheaval, both physically and emotionally.
As a community, we have all been affected by what is happening politically over the past year. We are caught in the middle of current affairs that have led our world into a period of deep turmoil and darkness. Elected officials are stripping away our freedoms, rolling back the advancements our mothers fought for and taking away our sense of safety and security. Feelings of anger, frustration, sadness, fear or hopelessness have become regular emotions every time the news plays.
We feel like we should be spending our days trying to make a difference in the world so when our grandchildren look back and ask us “What did you do?” we can tell them we did our best. At the same time, there are many of us in this generation who lack financial stability or job security.
What are we supposed to do? Let me tell you that in order to be an effective activist, you must first activate your inner warrior queen. We are not damsels in distress and there sure as hell isn’t a man out there who is going to save us.
RESTLESSNESS SETTLES IN
Mid-life does not have to be a crisis. This is not about the stereotypical man’s quest of “regaining lost youth”. Perimenopause is when restlessness settles in because we are discovering how to apply our greatness. I prefer to see this as a midlife quest for identity. It most likely begins in our 40’s but can endure into our 50’s and 60’s as circumstances change and new desires surface.
It is okay to feel as though you have lost yourself. In the pursuit of building your career, supporting your spouse and children with their own goals, caring for community causes and aging parents, somewhere along the way you got “lost”. You have every right to be unhappy with your life right now. You are allowed to question your life’s purpose and say “I don’t know who I am.” Acknowledging this is the first step on the road to healing.
We have entered into our harvest season and are now firmly at the epicenter of our families. After years of quietly moving mountains and holding it together, it is time to pursue our truth. At this point in life, you know your limits. The unstoppable energy of youth has faded, the mind drifts and our patience snaps. We have seen enough to guess the outcome of most actions and can stop repeating old mistakes. Let’s illuminate our soul so we can shine forth with courage.
DAILY PRACTICE DURING THE MIDLIFE TRANSITION
The midlife transition is a transformational rite of passage. Those hot flashes coming on? That’s life burning away all of the unnecessary baggage you’ve been carrying. It is a purification by fire. This is when you boldly step forward on your path of authenticity. The period of judging yourself is over. Now we move forward on the extraordinary journey of embracing our dignity, our wisdom and the grace of aging.
The way we take care of ourselves now will carry us into our crone years. It is vital that we maintain a daily practice of self-care that renews our mind, body, and spirit. The goal is to achieve balance in all six dimensions of wellness:
- Physical: You know the drill – exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep and ditch the unhealthy habits. Maintaining your physical health is crucial to your overall sense of well-being. Treat your body like the temple it is.
- Emotional: Yes, I know, they are all over the place right now. So grab a journal and get in touch with all of your emotions. Being aware and comfortable with your thoughts and feelings will enhance your emotional wellness.
- Spiritual: Understanding that life is meaningful and has a purpose and that we are guided in our journey is at the core of spiritual wellness. Whether you practice spirituality solitaire or in a community, embrace the metaphysical and seek beyond the physical realm of existence and experiences.
- Intellectual: Feed your mind! Being able to engage in lively discourse with the world around you keeps you going. Open your mind to intelligent discussions with others. Continue to learn, solve problems, process information and examine what makes you curious.
- Environmental: You need a healthy work and living environment, free of toxins and hazards and focused on conservation of all natural resources. Environmental wellness is about respecting nature and your surroundings which supports your own fulfillment and connection with the world.
- Social: This is where we relate, interact and communicate well with others. This is also where it is okay for you to say “no” and stop tolerating toxic people or energy vampires. Social wellness means being comfortable in your own skin enough to contribute and engage in a healthy living environment.
If the concept of self-care is still new to you, sign up for support and encouragement with our free e-course: The 30 Day Self-Care Challenge. It’s simple, really, and you will receive weekly emails to guide you on your journey. You owe it to yourself to become better equipped to manage the complexities and spontaneity life presents us.
FIND YOUR PEOPLE
Sandwiched between grown children and aging parents, you may be questioning what is next for your career and possibly, your life, and need the support of others. Now is not the time to “go it alone.” It is a time to find and nurture the right friendships with like-minded women. Some of the questions we collectively have are:
- Is there something more important and fulfilling that I can focus on now?
- What do I feel I should have done by this time in my life?
- What should I let go of as I move into this next phase of life?
- What do I want more of in my life?
- What have I imprisoned that is crying to be free?
- How can I ensure my commitment to living a significant life?
It is time to listen to your inner wisdom and move into your later phase of life mentally healthy and emotionally resilient. Embrace your inner wise woman, with knowledge tempered by your time spent living, breathing and walking in this world through ecstasy and grief, quiet persistence and sudden revelation.