Are you finding that getting older is a hard experience to figure out? Our childhood and early adult years were spent defining ourselves; trying to be good students, good parents and good community members. Now in the second half of life, these activities don’t have the meaning they once did. Life’s priorities and insights are changing; sometimes without our conscious awareness.
Perhaps the children are grown and responsibilities outside the home don’t have the center role they once did. The effort to exhibit a good work ethic isn’t as important as living every day as authentically as possible. We know now that it is impossible to predict the stock market’s hiccups and that financial security doesn’t necessarily depend on Wall Street.
The direction of our life is no longer primarily in the hands of outside influences. As younger adults the answers to life’s important questions came from the people and media around us. When we were younger that was appropriate. Now it is natural that we turn attention within and access the wisdom and power that is available there.
Where and what exactly is this “place within”? Sometimes it is called “the still small voice”. When I first became aware that this power was within me and I could call upon it at will, my fearful ego felt threatened and questioned if that voice was really there and if it could be trusted. It sounded pretty “woo-woo.” I soon learned to identify it as the place that comforted me when my sister and nephew passed within a month of each other ten years ago and I was overcome with grief. It was the softness that I felt recently when I saw a father cry when he was given a portrait of his children. It’s that place that tells me that writing like this is a good thing to be doing.
Several months ago I sent a survey to friends in the second half of life asking what positive changes they have experienced in the past ten or so years.
Here are some responses:
- I am more accepting and less reactive
- I am kinder to myself
- I am clearer about what and who belongs in my life.
- I am more confident about putting my skills and abilities out into the world.
How did these people become “more accepting, kinder, clearer and more confident”? This probably isn’t your exact list however you may have a similar one.
Do you know that you are not the same person you were 20-40 years ago, only 20-40 years older? We are actually a quite different people. It may take some time to become aware of how we are different. However, being aware of the process can be quite fun and is worth noting in a journal.
You made it through some life changing times, both painful and joyful. There may have been times when there wasn’t enough money to meet family needs or a close friend became very ill or your company needed to down size. There were also times at the Muse d’orsay in Paris seeing Monet’s paintings up close or that summer when you were in Hawaii happily swimming with the dolphins. Both those joys and hardships left you a stronger and wiser person
My childhood provided the benefits of growing up in a safe small town on the shore of beautiful Lake Michigan. Within these beautiful surroundings, there was also the pain of being a chubby little girl with a father who didn’t have a great deal of respect for her ability to be responsible woman.
My early adult years provided exciting travel opportunities, including 3 years in the Peace Corps in Turkey. I also became the mother of a beautiful daughter who is still a bright light in my life. In addition, as an adult there was the pain of a marriage filled with conflict and jobs that just didn’t seem to fit. However, each of these experiences gave me gifts. Some of those gifts I am only now realizing.
When you become aware of the life changing experiences you have had, you will know intuitively that you are wiser and your thinking has changed. Until those changes come to you awareness, you won’t really understand their value.
This is the perfect time to look at life with courage, hope and gratitude and realize your unfulfilled potential. Your unfulfilled potential is truly where the excitement is. Nothing has been said or written to describe the possibilities that you now have.
If this sounds overwhelming, it is a great time to go within to that “still small voice” for guidance and direction. Listen with curiosity and trust. Writing down your thoughts and inspiration is a good way to embrace them. I guarantee that you will find some important gems. I admire your courage and willingness to explore. I’d love to hear about your discoveries.
Barb Warner, MEd
Powerful Tools for the Second Half of Life
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