Cowboy Take Me Away (My Silent Midlife Crisis Part V)

Facebook quiz results. And these things never lie! Cowboy up!

Real cowboys never run, they just ride away.  Anonymous

Texas is calling, but first things first:  Everyone knows that I would die on the prairie.  Seriously, D-I-E.  I’m not exactly Veruca Salt spoiled, but I’m pretty sure I land somewhere in the pampered princess department.  That being said, I’ve discovered something about myself recently…I LOVE westerns.  Seriously, L-O-V-E.  Of course, I’m categorizing this new development as just another part of my silent midlife crisis.

Most weekday mornings (ok, Saturdays, too) you’ll find me glued to the television, coffee in hand, watching the western series Big Valley.  In case you’ve never stumbled on to this show, it features the Barkley family of Stockton, California.  Each episode tells the story of a widowed matriarch, her adult children and life on the ranch.  There are horses, bad guys, near calamity at every turn, adventure and drama.  Everything you could ever want in a 1960s television show, plus they wear cowboy boots and hats!  BONUS.  I really can’t get enough of it.

I wouldn’t classify myself as western or even the least bit country…well, I did go through a bit of a country music spell in the ’90s, but didn’t well all?  My best friend and I even went to a Little Texas concert at the county fair…hats included.  I’ve been to the Lone Star State several times.  Oh, and I’ve ridden a bull (not mechanical) and a horse.  My guardian angel is a cowboy.  He drives a dirty, old white truck (but that’s another blog.)  Maybe I am a bit country after all?  Yeah, I know…none of that really counts.

These things aside, I’ve been asking myself what’s the appeal here?  Why am I so invested in this show and these cowboys?  The answer has eluded me, but I think I’ve finally come up with something.  It’s their PERSEVERANCE.  It’s fiction and probably even cheesy fiction at that but in each episode, one of the characters must fight to save a person/critter, battle the elements, rescue a loved one, defend his/her honor, and ultimately save the day!  And it’s not easy.  One character, Heath (played by Lee Majors,) gets shot practically every other episode…and still manages to come out on top.  It’s impressive, but more than that, it’s INSPIRING.  A reminder that good guys win, one should never give up, there’s glory in overcoming obstacles, and even if you’ve been shot multiple times you can muster up the courage to go on.  (Yeah, that last one was a bit of a stretch.)

Dealing with life change isn’t easy for any of us.  Whether these changes are mental, physical, emotional, locational or even hormonal…change basically just sucks sometimes.  And in the midst of my own life changes, I’ve found westerns.  I’m not sure how everyone else is dealing with their midlife issues, but this is what works for me.  So, if you’re into westerns…and Big Valley in particular…look me up.  We can chat about our favorite characters, storylines, plot twists and answer that one unanswered question…why aren’t these heroic and extremely handsome cowboys married?  Inquiring minds want to know…

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

Advertisements

Nostalgia is a B— (My Silent Mid-Life Crisis, Part IV)

The funny thing about chasing the past is that most people wouldn’t know what to do with it if they caught it.  —Atticus, poet

I am a sucker for nostalgia.  “Remember when…” and “how we used to….” followed by “back in the day….”  Yes, ALL good stuff!  In my heart, I carry around a zillion memories, stories and images, of days gone by.  I can’t help myself.  I remember our old house (the one by the church,) my Pepto-Bismol pink basement bedroom that had a closet with a secret door.  I remember awful lunch ladies who wouldn’t let me go out to recess if I didn’t try EVERYTHING on my plate.  I especially remember the one NICE lunch lady who healed my wasp sting with a special baking soda balm (in my recollection she wears a superhero cape!)  Filed away in my mind are all the important “firsts,” childhood friends, and a hidden compartment labeled NEVER, EVER DO THAT AGAIN!  Nostalgia.  Something as simple as a song or a smell can take me back.  Next thing you know, I’m lost in thought…off on my own adventure…sort of like stepping through the secret door in that old closet.  Suddenly, I’m in a completely different place…and I like it there.

Yes, nostalgia is a tricky thing.  For a control freak like myself, it’s absolutely bewitching.  I know all the plot lines, the dialogue, the setting and most importantly, the outcome.  These are my stories.  These are my people.  These are my glory days.  I think the Twilight Zone touched on this theme…the idea of “going back” —as if all our best days were behind us!  If you’re a fan of the show, you know nothing good can come from chasing the past.  And I mean nothing.  Yet…it’s tempting.  We all have that desire to relive a special moment, right a wrong, fix a relationship or situation, say words that we left unsaid…the list could go on and on.  And while the concept of nostalgia seems so benign, when one crosses the threshold of midlife, nostalgia can cause things to get ugly…fast.

Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  There’s so much wisdom in that statement.  As we reach our supposed “midpoint,” it’s natural to take inventory and evaluate our lives.  Am I in a good place? Am I happy with the choices I’ve made? Should I have chosen differently?  Before long, we start making plans for the future.  What will my second act look like?  What still needs to be done?  What should be done?  We start examining our lives internally AND externally.  Graying hair, wrinkles, shifting weight and suddenly we’re regretting every yummy dessert and cursing those not-so-funny laugh lines. Making these assessments often lends itself to comparison.  Look at what she’s doing.  Look at how far he’s come.  Look at what they’ve got.  Combine these comparisons with nostalgic reflections, mix with hormones and suddenly you’re gulping down the poison of one volatile cocktail!

Sure, nostalgia is a B—, if we blame others for the choices we made in the past, if we use it as a means of justifying today’s regrets and if we let it fuel our present dissatisfaction. But before we write nostalgia off as just another bad word, let’s do a little re-labeling. Shift our perspective, if you will. Nostalgia is a B—but what if that B stands for BLESSING?  Hear me out.  In a healthy context, one where we recount the past for the good that it set into motion…we can truly see the blessing.  In good ol’ George Bailey fashion, we can come to value the past…both the mountain top moments AND our days in the valley.  Clarence, the angel, reminds us, “One man’s life touches so many others, when he’s not there it leaves an awfully big hole.”  I don’t want to compare my life to anyone else’s.  I don’t want to wallow in regrets or seeth with envy.  I don’t want the past to keep me from moving forward.  My past (and yours) is precious.  It has set into play the person that I am today (flaws and all.)  And if I don’t like that person, I can change.  My story isn’t over (and neither is yours!)

This midlife stuff is hard.  None of us have it all figured out.  It’s important to offer yourself grace and remember, this is all normal.  And while I’m not sure that I can say that I wouldn’t change a single thing, what I can say is that I don’t regret a single moment.  The good, bad, (the uncertain) and especially the ugly.  Nostalgia is a B—, but its definition is up to me.  Plus, it will always be one of my favorite places to visit…because I know all the plot lines, the dialogue, and the settings.  These are my stories.  These are my people.  These are my glory days…and I have a few more to make in the process.

Remember the days of old; consider the years long past.  Deuteronomy 32:7

UP NEXT:  Cowboy Take Me Away (My Silent Midlife Crisis, Part V)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is It Hot in Here or Am I Just Dying? (My Silent Midlife Crisis, Part II)

Amazing women don’t have hot flashes.  We have power surges.  –Author Unknown

Like with all things–good OR bad–you remember the first time.  Hot flashes are no exception.  Apparently, these little “power surges” rear their ugly heads in your 40s (without warning mind you) and can vary in severity.  I remember hearing women talk about this “fun” part of midlife before, but none of the talk could prepare me for the actual experience!  Somewhere during the car ride between the grocery store and picking up a Sonic coke, I was pretty sure I was on the verge of death.  Should I pull over?  Was I going to pass out?  Am I having a panic attack or a heart attack, or BOTH?  No amount of air conditioning could fix this “power surge.”  And while it only lasted a few minutes (and I did get that Sonic coke,) I came home in a cold sweat and immediately went to bed.  I was convinced, this was how it was all going to end….

Fortunately, I lived and thanks to a plethora of medical advice via the world wide web, I was able to come up with a diagnosis pretty quickly.  Hot flashes.  Ugghh.  No, no, and NO!  I subsequently slipped into the first stage of grief…denial.  I’m too young.  I don’t feel bad.  This is supposed to happen to other people, not me.  As the summer heat increased, so did my progression through the rest of the grief stages…anger, bargaining (which totally doesn’t work by the way,) and depressed mood, but I flat out REFUSED to wrap my head around the idea of acceptance.  It seemed so final and like I was giving up the fight.  So I quickly made my way back to anger…because hot flashes basically just suck.

Apparently, there is hope out there…or so I’ve heard (again with the talk.)  Many women find relief through various hormonal treatments, supplements and dietary changes…yada, yada, yada.  Some medical sites point to “knowing your triggers” and advise trying at all costs to avoid them.  My heart sunk when I saw that the top triggers include:  warm air temperatures, hot beverages, and spicy foods. Seriously?  So basically baseball/softball/soccer, COFFEE, and Mexican food.  That list pretty much sums up my life right now…so what’s a girl to do?  Invest in Frogg Toggs, large Yeti cups (for cold drinks,) battery operated fans, and ICE, lots of ICE!

So far, I’m still surviving.  My close cohorts have been very helpful and understanding, AND have probably heard me complain way too much about these “power surges.”  (I try to keep it real for the people.)  MENTALLY, I remind myself that I’m not going through anything that any other woman hasn’t gone through…and lived to tell about.  SPIRITUALLY, I do a ton of praying (mostly for rain.)  EMOTIONALLY, I’m in a pretty serious relationship with air conditioning.  And PHYSICALLY, I’m the lady who isn’t afraid to drop ice cubes down her shirt when needed.  Still, I gain confidence when I hear other women tell me that these “power surges” will eventually end.  (I don’t believe them…but I do gain confidence.)

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:4

UP NEXT:  Country Cardio or When Introverts Exercise (My Silent Midlife Crisis, Part III)

 

 

 

 

 

Invincibility+Avoidance=Denial (My Silent Midlife Crisis)

Silence is the most powerful scream.  —Anonymous

When 40 reared its ugly head my reaction was twofold:  First, gratitude…not everyone is afforded such a luxury!  And my second thought was…this is it?  Really?  Midlife doesn’t look so hard.  Naïve, so very naïve.

I was duped on so many levels…most of them of my own doing.  First of all, I felt great!  On my 40th birthday I felt as good as any day in my 30s.  Only now I thought I had the advantage of WISDOM on my side.  Clearly, I’d made it through the hardest part of any person’s lifespan.  Far from adolescence, long past the early stages of discovering myself in adulthood, and just beyond the trials of thirtysomething.  All the “growing up” and “what-ifs” were behind me.  I was so comfortable in my own skin that I should have pinched myself!  In hindsight, I wish I had.

It’s not that midlife is scary or daunting…I just really wasn’t prepared for the level of introspection that accompanies this milestone.  Let me elaborate.  We’re all familiar with the clichés that surround the dreaded midlife crisis.  Extreme images like buying fancy sports cars, dating someone half your age, and plastic surgery always come to mind.  However, midlife can also be as benign as a new haircut, a tattoo or training for a marathon.  I knew about all these tell-tale behaviors, but it was the internal unrest that took me by total surprise.

Of course, all of this didn’t happen right at 40.  I was a late bloomer, so I should have expected that my midlife symptoms would show up late to the party as well.  And they did!  Look, I’m an introvert by nature, so being lost in thought is nothing new to me.  I wear it like a badge of honor.  I’m thoughtful and reflective.  I make informed decisions…I’m cautious to a fault.  I process everything…ABSOLUTELY everything.  This has always been my way.  Still, nothing could have prepared me for this new level of self-analysis and soul-searching.  Somedays, I carefully walk around my own thoughts…like a misplaced piece of bulky furniture that no one wants to move or deal with.  Other days, I can’t get away from myself…I’m practically tripping over my own musings!  And it’s not about regret.  My conscience is clear here.  It’s just that I wonder…should I have, what if I did, and my least favorite…is there still time to….

I truly thought I had it all figured out and when I realized that I didn’t, I decided to ignore that truth.  I told myself, I couldn’t possibly be prone to a midlife crisis.  I didn’t plan for this!  I didn’t authorize this!  I’m not doing this!

Naïve, so very naïve.

So, here I sit…wavering between dumbstruck and flat-out denial (all while trying to raise teenagers! God is so funny sometimes.)  It can’t be this hard, right?  Surely, everybody deals with this on some level? I know I’m not the only one (please tell me I’m not the only one!)  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a functioning adult.  I have every intention of processing the heck out of this and coming out better on the other side.  And while I’ve already ruled out getting a tattoo, that doesn’t mean the fancy sports car doesn’t look good to me!

UP NEXT:  Is It Hot in Here or Am I Just Dying? (My Silent Midlife Crisis, Part II)