By Maura Masters
When I suggested to my husband this morning that, at 58, I may be going through a mid-life crisis, he dryly said, “Oh, you think? That’s a breakthrough. You’ve been wanting to do this for a long time.” I asked, “What, rearrange the furniture?” he said, “Rearrange the furniture, sleep in another room, move back East. You’ve been experimenting with things you’ve wanted to try for a while, to find your self.”
Our kids have left, and I’m looking to find that person who isn’t their on-tap mother. I don’t cook much anymore, or clean. Those were my “before” partnership duties and I’m not sure I want to do them at the level I once did. There are other fish to fry.
When I do cook, I prepare easy, simple meals and we pay someone to help us clean. Rather than spontaneously investing in plastic surgery or a fancy sports car, I’m deliberately and thoughtfully walking a day at a time into my reinvention.
Back East, where I lived and worked for 18 months, I became sober in that I don’t drink alcohol anymore. For a year or so now. That was a big step and ostensibly launched this trajectory of rediscovery. The sobriety coincided with the loss of my brother from cancer. He was living with my 92-year-old mother at the time. She, thankfully, is well tended by my other brothers and sister.
When I moved home to Colorado this past fall, I was very fortunate to be hired for the job of my dreams. I research and buy books for a public library. It’s too good to be true. It’s usually a calm and encouraging work environment, and that’s a welcomed relief from training loveable union thugs how to use computer software in Boston.
My husband and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary toward the end of the year. He’s been exceedingly honest and patient as I go through this phase of self-rediscovery. Even if he doesn’t use fabric softener like I would or folds the clothes in a way I wouldn’t, he still does the laundry. For that and many other reasons, he’s the best person I know.
My middle-aged boxes are neatly checked: busy children, happy marriage, comfortable mother, and meaningful work. I am somewhat free at this time in my life to become more “healthy”, but what does that mean besides the obvious eat less, exercise more? And, don’t drink.
Sleep has become my number one commodity. Even sleeping alone, under all my contrived “best” conditions, I still can’t bank a solid 8 hours. It’s the curse of the middle-aged woman — we are overwhelmed by the conscripts of our own design. Melatonin helps, so does meditation.
Meditation is a new thing for me during my recovery. It’s a ready tool; I’m just not wholly committed to it at this point. It’s the same with yoga, and a sugar-free diet. Calm my mind, stretch my body, eat less poison, and I will sleep better. All those choices do make sense. Intellectually I know that I should incorporate all this “good” stuff into my daily life, but I’m just not ready for the scheduling.
It’s about time management in this phase of my reinvention. There are many elements to balance, and prioritizing them all is a challenge. I keep all of it in the back of my mind and stay aware with the one in front of me. Sometimes that one thing is the only thing I can think about, relegating other tasks or oblgations to the back shelf. Stupid stress is the downfall of us all, so I’m taking my time.
I’m trying to build something strong and sustainable while enjoying the ride, so I’ve deconstructed it all into steps or compartments. Moving forward, my reinvention will take place at my pace. Lowering the fret of keeping up with a “to do” list will also help me sleep better. I say “no” a lot.
Reinvention is a marathon not a sprint. Ingrained sensibilities don’t change overnight. It’s a personal journey. Focusing on myself while still being present and fulfilled in outside relationships and activities is the “healthy” goal. During the depths of winter — January, the cruelest month — today I find joy from the creation of my own space where I can read, stream or write.
Maura lives as Cinderella said (in the Rogers and Hammerstein, not the Disney, version), “in my own little corner, in my own little chair.” She has claimed her place from which to orchestrate her reinvention. One step at a time.