One Woman’s “Midlife Manifesto:” Life Lessons on Fear, Menopause, Health and the Power of Peanut Butter Pie

My birthday in February marked 53 years since my mother gave a sigh (and a cry) of relief after giving birth to her last baby — surprise! It’s me! She’s been gone for the last 21 of those years, and it is still my impulse to call and thank her for not murdering me during the trauma of my teens.

Standing stark-raving . . . well . . . me . . . in the middle of my midlife, I clutch gratitude that I made amends to my mother before she got sick with cancer, so when it was clear that her time here was going to be severely limited, I happily focused as much time and energy on her as I possibly could with three children, the littlest one of which was 7 days old when her illness took hold.

It was silently understood that I had managed to miss much of what she tried to teach me earlier in my life, so my mother began to download as much as she could to me during those last couple of years. Some of it mundane, like to never let the manicurists cut my cuticles because they would grow back faster and stronger; some of it spanning the vast landscape of mother-daughter love like how she had observed me and my unique talents and how absolutely, positively sure she was that I would be fabulous despite the recent departure of my second husband (who thought it was a grand time to ditch me for the 19-year-old receptionist – cliche much?).

[3 Lessons About Overcoming Grief and Finding Hope I Learned From My Mother]

Meg & her siblings, left to right: Lisa McWilliams, Doug McWilliams, GD Meg, Jenny Ellison

Meg & her siblings, left to right: Lisa McWilliams, Doug McWilliams, Meg, Jenny Ellison

I have flown like a bat blinded by the light so much of these last 21 years, bumping into circumstances and wondering what she would say, craving her depth and wisdom I so hastily eschewed when I was in the years of extreme youth and ego. Her love was like a subtle radar that guided me through the darkest of times and probably still does.

I’m fortunate to have older sisters and a brother that have helped me navigate the obstacle course of love, divorce, forgiveness, midlife, health, death, kids, grandkids, menopause (not my brother of course) . . . all of it. I’ve also been wonderfully blessed with amazing women in my life, who have walked, cried, laughed till we peed, and made this trudge upon the happy road of destiny mostly fun.

Here are 53 things I’ve learned in 53 years

  • Whatever it is, don’t panic, it’ll all get done eventually.
  • Love animals. All of them.
  • Ticks suck.
  • Climate change is real.
  • Most fear is a pointless waste of energy, unless you run into a bear on the trail.
  • Grey hair is kinda cool.
  • No matter how old a dude is, he is still primarily thinking about sex.
  • Grandchildren are definitely my payoff for surviving parenthood.
  • Dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate.
  • The more I learn, the less I know.

[To Get the Life You Want You Have to Take Risks]

  • Peanut butter pie can sometimes substitute for good sex (sometimes).
  • Even if you think you suck at art or crafting, create something anyway.
  • Unless there is blood or fire, it’s probably not as big a crisis as you think.
  • People rarely intentionally set out to hurt you.
  • I’m not the center of the universe. But neither are you.
  • Even the crappiest people have a spark of love and light in there somewhere. Really.
  • Menopause isn’t that bad if you expect periodic nuclear meltdowns.
  • Not remembering things can be a blessing sometimes.
  • My body really is a vehicle for traversing this earthly landscape and if I honor it thus, things are a lot more fun across the board.
  • Being sober is absolutely the best way to celebrate life.
  • Best not to surprise a cat with a belly rub while they are sleeping. Ouch.
  • Cheese is addicting. Is there a 12-step program for cheese yet?
  • Being healthy makes cellulite, rolls, wrinkles and grey hair beautiful signs of a robust life.

[A Conversation With Jane Goodall: 4 Lessons on Aging, Communicating & the Environment]

  • Keeping your heart open, especially after having it smashed upon the rocks, is better than trying to create armor around it to keep it safe. There is no safety in not loving wholly.
  • Always wait 24 hours before sending that text or email if you’re feeling emotionally charged about something. Seriously, this is an important one!
  • Accessorizing with colorful scarves and wraps can hide a multitude of things.
  • Meditation is not a luxury, but a necessity if you intend to have any kind of health and peace.
  • Laughing till you cry and almost wet your pants may be the key to sanity.
  • Always be willing to admit your own flaws and love yourself anyway. You will be harder on yourself than anyone else could ever be.
  • Long walks in nature can heal almost anything.
  • Allowing yourself to binge-watch netflix for an entire day every once in a while is ok.
  • Being kind is always the right choice.
  • Removing as many toxic chemicals in your world as possible is a good idea (skincare, cleaning products, etc.)
  • Crying is not bad. It’s ok to be sad or to heal or to be moved to tears.
  • The world will not end if you admit you are wrong. Really. Try it sometime.
  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone or judge anyone. You really have no idea what it is like to be inside their skin.
  • Not everyone appreciates your sense of humor.
  • Enjoy your parents and elders while you have them, because I promise you will miss them, even if you don’t really like them much.

[Gretchen Rubin Explains How Mindfulness Can Make You Happier]

  • Hold the door for people.
  • Don’t drive like a jerk. Be patient and remember everyone has somewhere to be.
  • Listen to music that makes you either dance or sing or cry.
  • Play with children whenever possible.
  • If you have pets, remember to give them some love every day.
  • Say “yes” to new things even if they scare you.
  • Get houseplants. They will bring some new energy to your home and will help clean the air.
  • Find a spiritual connection. NOTE: not talking about religion here, but if you have a religious practice that strengthens that spiritual connection, DO IT. But if nature or love or cats are your higher power, just make the connection and surrender every day.
  • Eat some kind of raw, fresh, organic, seasonal fruits and veggies every day.
  • Read books.

[Read Maria Shriver’s latest ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essay]

  • Sing even if you can’t carry a tune.
  • Be the first to forgive in an argument. Life is just too short to be right all the time.
  • Make a campfire and eat s’mores with kids at least once a year.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, but have sexy ones too.
  • Love yourself unabashedly.

Bonus:

Listen to the latest full episode of the Green Divas Radio Show …

 


This article by Megan McWilliams was originally published on TheGreenDivas.com.

{Image credit: TheGreenDivas.com}

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The Green Divas share low-stress ways to live a deeper shade of green through a weekly radio show, podcasts, videos and blog posts... and now the first green and healthy living global radio network, GDGD Radio. Working with the best shows in this category and other talented partners and credible sources, the Green Divas produce and share content on a variety of topics relating to a healthy green lifestyle. Visit The Green Divas website to learn more and tune in to GDGD Radio for 24/7 programming, and get social with The Green Divas on Facebook & Twitter too!

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