I have been thinking and writing–and therefore thinking about writing–about this aging trip we’re (I’m) on for almost ten years now. Yikes! And yikes again! In that time I’ve changed physically–oh, let me not count the ways–and emotionally. The person who started MidLifeBloggers.com back in 2007 was full of piss and vinegar, hammering at the door of Web 2.0 to let those of us not still nubile and fertile have a place on the stage. I’d like to say that today, the woman who runs this site, The Other Side of Sixty, is calmer, more controlled, and surer of where she’s going.
But that would be a lie.
The fact is I’m still the same questing, questioning, shaky individual I’ve been all my life. Growing older has only made that more clear to me. Sure, maturity has made me more comfortable with my faults and foibles, but It has also revealed how little time there is left to cure them. Thus, when I was contacted to do a trial run of AARP’s online, subscription-based service, Life Reimagined, in which a coalition of experts is available to help participants create a personalized platform to navigate the small stuff and the major, the “what’s next?” and the “is it too late to…” I was more than a little interested. Initially my only question was what issue/problem/crisis/milestone was I going to ask for help with.
The Life Reimagined site was ahead of me on figuring that one out. It’s a bright, colorful–but not in a childish way–site, and the first thing I came to was a quiz meant to help me identify my passions, beliefs, and talents. That in turn would lead to a purpose statement which would–aha!–give me a concrete set of goals that would bring purpose to my life. Here are the results of my test:
Whoa! Where did that come from?
Financially secure: certainly. In the past year, I’ve suffered a major setback which has left me, for the first time in my life, scrambling just to stay afloat. It’s not all sorted out, but I do feel more in control of the situation. Healthy: yes, that too in the past year. Let me think about that one. Feel Less Angry? I took this quiz smack in the middle of the week of the Republican National Convention. Good citizen that I am, I made myself sit through most of it–and yes, it did indeed make the steam spout from my ears. But still, that’s over and I can avoid most of the election BS, so my anger isn’t really an issue. Right?
Thinking more about all that the quiz revealed, I looked at my “Gifts”: Analyzing Information, Writing Things, and Empowering Others. Two years ago, I set out to create a new business, coaching writers. Even as I type those words, I think–blah blah blah, dime a dozen. Isn’t everyone and their uncle a coach? Why me? Why should anyone pay me to help them write? Right now, I know that there are a large number of people who would say, “we have and you did.” They’re writers who have taken my workshops or been in my classes. I have a solid history of teaching writing behind me. And I have a solid history of being a published writer behind me as well. So why the Why Me? I don’t know. I do know it is a visceral response. I also know that it inhibits me from putting myself out there, promoting myself, advertising my business, and, ultimately, getting the work. Is there somewhere in the Life Reimagined program that will help me deal with this?
There are three main arenas that the program focuses on: Well-being, Work, and Relationships. I suppose my issue falls under Work…sort of. It’s not that I don’t know what I want to do; it’s that I’m shy about promoting myself. But maybe it’s Well-Being–isn’t what I feel tied to issues of self-image?
So, let’s talk about the fact that my life is circumscribed by–well, by me. I’m one of those introverted extroverts: I have the need to be a social butterfly, but when an event comes up, I’d rather stay at home. I’m the person who talks to anyone in line at the grocery store, but at a social gathering, I want to sit by myself in the corner. I didn’t used to be that way. The me I remember from the not too distant past is not the dancing-on-tables type but she definitely loooovvves a party. So what happened? What changed?
For one, my body changed. I have gone from a size 10 to a size–ahem, it’s none of your business. My clothes don’t fit anymore. I don’t look in the mirror like the person I see in my mind’s eye. I have gone from slim to portly, and try as I might to happily inhabit the chunky me, I’d rather sit this one out. And I do mean sit. It isn’t just the years that have changed my figure; it’s the state of my health as well.
Up until three years ago, I walked daily, taking my dog, Molly, out for rambles where we lived in Northern California. Then Molly died. And we moved to Southern California. I got a new dog, Lulu, but found out after some effort that she had never learned to walk on a leash. But I walked my neighborhood without her. I would do a mile or so circuit up and down the streets by myself. And then that financial crisis I mentioned happened. And I stopped walking. And starting stuffing all manner of sweet stuff so as not to feel what I was feeling. By December of this past year, I had had enough of myself. I decided that the new year would be my year to get back in control of my body. I made plans to join the gym; I would go back to walking; I would stop stuffing.
On December 27, 2015, I began the new me. After a morning of doing good work at my desk, I got my iPhone, put on my walking shoes and headed out the door. It was a beautiful winter’s day in Southern California. I felt good about myself and how I was taking charge of my life. The last thing I remember is trying to decide whether to transfer my iPhone from my jacket pocket to my jeans. The next thing I knew, a paramedic was asking me if I could tell him my name.
This is what I looked like three days later: It’s hard for me to believe that all that damage came merely by landing face first on a sidewalk. (Photo deleted to avoid scaring the kids. Trust me, it was bad enough that people on the street commented.)
That was over six months ago. I haven’t been out walking since. Quite frankly, I’m scared to. Because what happened to me–it’s called vagal syncope–is a function of the vagus nerve telling the parasympathic nervous system “there’s danger ahead; play dead.” In many cases it’s not difficult to discover what the vagus nerve was responding to. In my case, the medical term the doctors use is “of unknown etiology”. Which is the fancy way of saying, “we don’t know” which means “yeah, it could happen again or maybe not.” Talk about waiting for the other shoe to drop…. So here I sit–broken neck healed, broken nose healed, facial cuts and bruises as gone as they’re ever gonna be. Ya think I have something to talk about with the Life Reimagined people this month?
There are any number of places to go on the site: stories to read, advice to listen to, groups to join, coaches to meet with. Trouble is, none of them specifically has a “Jane, go here” sticker on it. So I’ve been dabbling. As you can see from my Dashboard, I’ve already started four programs: Value Your Vision, Change Your Eating Habits, Better Networking and Stress and Time.
For the next month, I’ll be going deeper into them and taking advantage of the full benefits of the Life Reimagined program. I’ll be posting some updates on social media–look for the handle @Lifereimagined and hashtag #Life Reimagined. At the end of August, I’ll report back in detail. What worked? What didn’t? Where am I standing in my own way? Where have I learned to back off? I promise to be honest–which in itself is petrifying to me (if you think it was easy to post that post-fall selfie above, think again!).
I’ve already recommended Life Reimagined to several of my friends who are at a crossroads and not sure what direction to take. And if you’re interested as well, hit this link to sign up for two weeks of free Life Reimagined services and 30 minutes of coaching: Custom Link Let me know how it goes.
This is a sponsored post. I am being compensated for trying and writing about Life Reimagined. What I say–good and bad–is purely my own opinion.