The 10 Greatest Gifts of Midlife
Hey there Beautiful!
At this time of year, I always get into a reflective mood.
It’s also the time of year that at 5 PM when it’s almost dark outside, the only thing I want to do is put on my comfiest sweatpants, eat dinner and not move from the couch with either a really good book or a Netflix show to binge watch as my evening entertainment.
Don’t invite me anywhere after 5 PM because my answer will most likely be no.
It’s the friggin Daylight Savings time change that does it to me every single time.
It makes me want to hibernate until May.
But I’m off topic.
So because of my reflective mood, I began to go over the big moments that stood out over this past year.
My eldest child graduated from college, I started my podcast, and my parents moved closer to us.
You get my drift.
But then I got really introspective and starting thinking about how my life is now compared to my 20s and 30s.
What are things that changed and improved about me and my life since that time? So I came up with a top 10 list, because who doesn’t like a top 10 list!
I came up with the 10 greatest gifts of being in midlife.
Here we go!
1. I have the gift of more self-confidence.
I definitely have more confidence now than I ever did in my 20’s.
I appreciate my abilities and what I have learned. But I can now also realize what I still need to work on instead of assuming that I know everything.
I have more confidence to speak up and say what I want to say.
I’m more direct and if I want to know the answer I will keep asking questions to my satisfaction.
I have a better understanding of how people behave and why they do the things they do.
I’m working on increasing my confidence so that I believe in myself the way that other people believe in me.
I’m trying to take bigger leaps and know that I will be able to catch myself. The only way to improve myself is to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and apply that knowledge in order to keep moving forward.
2. I have the gift of saying no to drama.
I look back on some of the things that used to take up valuable real estate in my brain and think, why did I waste so much time on that?
I have learned to not be sucked into someone else’s drama.
I am very empathetic so I learned very early that to protect myself I can walk away from a situation and the heck with the consequences.
Drama of other women complaining but not doing anything about it.
Drama of social media and getting mixed up in stupid arguments.
The drama of assumptions and how those assumptions can really lead you to believe things that are untrue. I go after facts whenever possible because drama cannot survive when presented with facts.
3. I have the gift of not sweating the small stuff.
I know that I use the “F” word more than I have in the past, especially when thinking about the small stuff.
It’s just not worth it.
Someone cuts into your lane on the freeway making you slam on your breaks. Meh, no big deal.
Your hair is not cooperating this morning. Oh well, it will look better tomorrow.
The waitress forgot to bring you extra ranch for your salad. Okay so she made a mistake.
You put on pants for work and realize that your wearing the wrong underwear which means you will have panty lines all day long.
It’s just like when you had your second child.
You were a different mom to your second child than you were with your first. You learned from your mistakes with your first child and didn’t make them again with your second.
You got better at not sweating the small stuff with your second child because it just wasn’t worth it.
When I was in kindergarten all the photos of me showed that I wore knee length boots. I asked my mom why didn’t she try and get me to wear other shoes. She said it wasn’t worth it. She said she picked her battles with me and if I was wearing clothing even if it was mismatched, it was still clothing and I could go to school.
4. I have the gift of being more particular with friendships.
I’m not going to put up with fake people.
I just don’t have time to give them my love and affection.
With experience comes the knowledge that I know the expectations of a friendship compared to one that’s just there when it’s convenient for the other person. I value that there are people in my life that I might not see or speak to everyday BUT KNOW that if I texted or called them, they would give their right arm to help me. And I hope that they know that I would do the same for them.
But I am now able to guard my time and give it to those that truly deserve it and cultivate the ones the ones that will benefit us both.
5. I have the gift of not living with regrets.
I said this in that episode but I need to repeat it to ensure both you and I get it.
Ask yourself this question, “Do you want to look back in 10 years and think I should’ve gotten started sooner?”
Do NOT allow the fear that will come up with making a decision take over all of your logical thoughts.
What if someone laughs at me?
What if I make the wrong choice?
What if I fail?
And oh my gosh what if I actually succeed?
I may be scared out of my mind and my body will be giving me all the signals that I am most definitely going to die (even when I’m really not), I’m still going to do it!
This is my favorite gift of midlife.
6. I have the gift to laugh at myself when I make mistakes.
I used to think the world would end if I made a mistake.
I HATED making mistakes!
I hated feeling wrong because I’m never wrong. I felt like I put in so much work to not make mistakes so that when I made a mistake, I felt like such a failure.
That was the old me.
The new me, I have to admit, still feels that way sometimes. BUT I’m sooooo working on this and I am definitely better.
I use laughter a lot more now because I realize that it’s just not worth getting upset over. Or really getting more than upset over it, meaning dwelling on the mistake and reliving it again a few days later, is so not worth my time.
I will still analyze why the mistake happened in an effort to not make it again, but that’s just part of the learning process, right?
7. I have the gift of being okay that I turned out like my mom.
I used to say to myself, “I’m never going to be like my mom.”
Ahh the innocence of youth and absolute declarations.
I was never going to make my kids eat their vegetables for breakfast if they didn’t eat them at dinnertime.
I was never going to vacuum my house at 5:30 AM and wake up the whole house.
Yes my mother did both of those things and I am proud to say that I didn’t do either of those to my children.
I used to bristle when people would say that I sounded like my mom on the phone. I mean who as a sixteen year old girl wants to have someone say to them on the phone, “You sound just like your mom. Are you sure you’re not her sister? Hahaha.”
Geez laweez, does that mean that I sound like an old person or does it mean my mom sounds really young?
You know how I know I turned out like my mom? Because my husband has told me that I have.
And when I was younger I got mad at him but now I just say, “Cool!” I mean I have half of her DNA so I had a 50/50 chance that I would in some way turn out like her.
I’m still learning new things about her everyday and she’s still teaching me how to be a better person. I hope that the tradition continues and one of my sons will turn out just like me.
Oh and if they’re listening to this episode I’m just kidding (no I’m really not.)
8. I have the gift of appreciation for what I have.
When I was younger, I was just trying to get to some imaginary finish line. I gotta do this, and this and this, to check off my list in order to get to the end.
I definitely didn't appreciate what I had around me because I was too busy with living my life and taking care of my family.
Now with this gift of midlife, I can take a step back and look at how far I’ve come from then. But not only that, I can also step back and just look at how far I’ve come just in this year or even in this last month.
I can recognize the full value and effort that comes from being appreciative and grateful.
I’m not going to waste any more time not telling those in my life how much I love and appreciate them because they need to know, just as much as I need to tell them.
It’s important to express gratitude in all areas of our lives.
9. I have the gift of knowing that kindness still is the answer.
Holding the door open for the woman struggling with her stroller behind you.
Picking up a dropped book from the floor because the gentleman’s hands were full of his other books.
Giving another woman a compliment because really her dress is stunning.
Folding up your son’s laundry because he’s exhausted from school work and his late night job.
I’m still going to be kind to everyone I meet and give an extra smile to the waitress trying to juggle multiple tables on a busy Friday night because I used to be her.
Showing kindness is still the answer and I really wish society would figure this out sooner than later.
10. I have the gift of knowing that I did do a good job with my children.
This was something that I think I unconsciously stressed over until now.
As a mother in the thick of raising your children, you really never know if you’re doing a good job or not. You have fleeting, tiny moments when someone will tell you a random fact like, “Your son was so polite when he helped me where he works,” or “Your son was nice enough to help my daughter when her car wouldn’t start after school.”
But you don’t get that feedback every day so you persevere and try your best to ensure that your cramming your kids with all of the knowledge they will need to succeed as a human being.
The feedback you do get comes directly from your children and usually sounds like, “I hate you!” or “You’re ruining my life,” or “ You never listen to me,” followed by the stomping down the hallway to their room where they slam the door.
So with that kind of feedback, no wonder I never knew for certain if I was doing a good job with my children.
But now I can step back and see them for who they are because I’m not in the thick of raising them anymore. I have crammed in as much knowledge and learning as I could and can see the results.
And number eleven, yes, as a bonus gift of being in midlife!
11. I have the gift of being a better listener.
I have learned that many of us, including me, don’t know how to truly listen.
We will be speaking to someone but instead of listening to the words, we are using our brains to make assumptions of what they are about to say in order to get our response ready.
And then we tell them our response which may or may not be helpful.
This way of listening can then lead to misunderstandings and possibly fights.
An example of this is when you’re arguing with your spouse, are you listening to the words or because you are familiar with the way your spouse argues that you are already anticipating what they say and therefore ready with your response immediately?
What I try and do and I’m definitely no expert at it, but I try and put aside the emotions that I’m feeling, and listen with my ears to the words being spoken.
It’s a skill that has to be developed and trust me, when I’m listening to someone speak to me that I just think is absolutely wrong, this is really, really hard to do. My brain is working furiously and quickly to come up with counter arguments to just prove my point.
But I know I’m a better listener than when I was younger and have gained the skill to listen to the words instead of listening to my emotions. I ask thoughtful questions and allow the other person to answer them fully.
I don’t interrupt EVEN when I know exactly what they’re going to say.