MistsOfSpring's picture

MistsOfSpring

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Is 37 too early for a midlife crisis?

Another New Year's Eve...I've had a tradition for years of writing down hopes and dreams for the coming year, but this year it just feels so pointless.  The lists have been the same for so long, but things haven't really changed.  I haven't changed them.  I feel like I'm even less likely to change them now than I ever was before.

 

Yes, I've checked a few things off the list over time.  I found the courage to leave my hometown and move to take a teaching position and start my career.  I got married and had a daughter.  Those were probably the 3 biggest goals I had for myself, but there are other things that have always been part of what I'd like for my life and none of them are happening.

 

They are:

  • having a heathly body, meaning more energy, more strength, more stamina...losing at least 50lbs (I'm 5'2" and 200lbs), exercising regularly and eating healthy food.  Will I do it?  Not likely.  It takes energy to make more energy, and I'm too content with my sluggish, sedentary life. 
  • having close relationships with friends and family.  Ok...I have some of this, but I envision myself as part of a community, almost a tribe, and the fact is that I don't know who my neighbours are.  I have friends and family, but we all live so far apart.  I'd like people in my life who I can actually see face to face, maybe even hug, and we could raise our kids together and hopefully have similar beliefs and make deep connections.  Will this happen?  I don't know...part of it is that I don't know how to find people like this, and part of it is that "in order to have a friend, you have to be a friend".  It takes time and effort to build those bonds.  I'm just exhausted at the end of the work day.
  • having a rich spiritual life, in particular by spending time in nature.  Nature speaks to me...I feel connected there.  Once again, we have the energy and effort problem, though, as well as the safety factor.  As a woman, I've had a life time of the message of not being alone in the woods (or any other "dangerous" place) and it's hard to change that attitude.
  • having an outlet for artistic expression.  Ok, I'm doing better on this one because I'm teaching art this year.  I get to make all kinds of examples for my students.  It's not exactly the art that I had in mind, but it's great.  I'd still like to do more pottery and work with clay, though.  I might actually have the ambition to follow through on this one.
  • being involved in causes that matter to me, such as social justice, poverty elimination and environmental awareness.  I do a little here and there, but I wish I could do more.
  • travelling.  I love to experience different cultures and see different places, especially beautiful sacred sites and geographical wonders.  I'm willing to put this one on hold for a while longer, when Jim goes back to work so we have more money and Rachel is older so she's more likely to appreciate it, but it's still another dream that I have every year, and every year it doesn't happen.

 

Although there are some external reasons that I haven't done some of these things, overall it's just me not doing them.  Every year I'm just a little more tired than the last and I just don't want to make the effort, even though I know my life would be better if I moved forward, even just with one thing at a time.  So now I'm here at 37, looking back and wishing I had done things when I was younger, like getting in to better shape THEN, when it would have been easier, or travelling more in my 20s when I didn't have responsibilities to limit me.  Here I am at 37, looking towards another year and realizing that I probably won't do much on my list again because it's easier to sit at the computer or sleep instead.  I'm sure it's partly just the winter blues (I do tend to get depressed in the winter) and partly knowing that my holidays are coming to an end, but I just feel blah, blah, blah. 

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MistsOfSpring's picture

MistsOfSpring

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Thank you to the admin person who deleted the other topic when I double posted!

crazyheart's picture

crazyheart

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Mists, I wonder if the expectations that you have for your self are just expectatations. How about live each day to the best of your abilities, laugh, make one or two close friends - not a tribe; enjoy your job, love your family. Don't worry about   the list - you have another 40 years at least to complete it, Remember Grandma Moses didn't even start painting until her 90's.

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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Allways good to hear the advice of someone who's been there done that Crazyheart. I'm 36 and have wondered virtually the same thing.

Tabitha's picture

Tabitha

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Or break down some of those desires into doable steps

ie lose 5lbs

exercise 10 minutes 2x week

travel somewhere  once a year(maybe nearby for a weekend-New York?)-maybe for a conference for work?

 

I actually have a notebook that I write my goals in

1 per page-and room for comments and it's an ongoing thing

Some of my completed goals are Build with habitat for Humanity, run a marathon, make a quilt, plant a plum tree

Some ongoing goals are attain a certain weight, pay off my mortgage, dance more-and I list my progress towards these

and some goals I haven't started yet  Skate on Rideau canal, bike and barge in Holland, improve my french

Looking at the book helps me see that I am moving forward-and I can always add goals (I'm in the 50s)

Serena's picture

Serena

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No.

 

37 is not too early to have a midlife crisis.  Mine began when I was 34.   I will be 37 in a couple weeks and I am nearly finished.

 

It depends what events are happening in your life.  There are events that are within your control and events not within your control.  The events that are not within our control are the hardest to deal with.

Ya the travelling idea I am out of ideas for.   I also wish I could travel and can;t afford it.  Maybe when we are retired.

You are in a midlife crisis because something is wrong in your life.  You will continue with the crisis (from my experience) until you fix what is wrong.  This is not easily fixable like painting my house.   That took less than two weeks.   When something is wrong (like a weight problem) it may take a year or more to fix.  It can;t be fixed in a day or a few weeks.

 

I solved my midlife crisis by getting rid of my boyfriend.  (Dropped 10 pounds...melted right off) since I got rid of him.  Now that was not the only thing I did.  I made a committment to exercise and I am sure that made a difference.  The other thing I did was return to my childhood.  I wanted my old life back.  Back when I had passion and excitment.  Just because I am nearly 37 does not mean I have to live like an adult.  I have not bought barbie dolls or painted my room pink.  I still go to work.  When I was a child I went to school....that was work. 

 

Work should not make you feel tired and drained at your age.  You need to have fun things in life.

 

Either the New Years list you have made are not your passions or you need to get out of a rut and do the things.

 

Another thing:  Your list is too vague.   You need to break these goals down into steps and review them every three months.  For example:  50 pounds is too much weight to lose in a year.  Five pounds a month is reasonable so in three months you should lose 15 pounds.  How will you lose 15 pounds?   Take three actions.  1.  Could be to join a gym and workout three times a week,  Another could be to take the sugar out of your coffee.   Another could be to cut out your supper glass of wine.  Write this down and review in six months.

Okay to "build your community" what are you going to do in three months?  Maybe join a Church?  (not saying you don't go I am just pulling ideas out of thin air)  Or maybe join a service club or Bible Study that meets twice a month or once a month.  Building a community takes time.  It is a good goal but how will you arrive at that goal?  Set that goal and in three months you might just write down that the goal is ongoing.

 

Having a rich spiritual life and spending time in nature.  How else could you do this besides walking in a park?  Could you join a meditation group?  Could you buy nature CD's and listen to them in a bubble bath?  Brainstorm ways you could do this.  Aim for this activity like two times a month,    At least try some things and evaluate in three months if these ideas worked.  Maybe all my ideas suck maybe you will think of more in three months.

 

So then in three months you can teach the art class and write down that you followed through.  Make sure you do this.  Also check out pottery classes locally and sign up for a one day one in a three month period then you can check this off too.

How can you be involved in causes that matter to you?  You can't do it all at once.  Pick one and help arrange a benefit or volunteer a day or an evening or an afternoon in the three months.  Then write that down on your list.  In three months pick another one and find out if they need you to man a booth for an hour, bake cookies, or whatever.  This could also help you "build community"

mrs.anteater's picture

mrs.anteater

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As Tabitha suggests, make your goals more detailed.

I noticed that you feel you need more "company'. I find myself that I am better motivated to do stuff when I am doing it with someone (like renovating, house cleaning, exercising). So you could set the goal to find a friend to enjoy nature with, who likes walking, which takes care of three of your goals!

Another thing that I noticed over time which is important for people like me who have less inside motivation and need more outside motivation by doing stuff together is to develop habits or schedules- like Thursday afternoon walks- because if you wait until it will work out spontaneously, with kids, work and all- it will rarely  happen.

 

T. Rex's picture

T. Rex

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I had my midlife crisis when I was 28, after finishing my master's degree.  Worst two months of my life, then I set goals and moved on.

MistsOfSpring's picture

MistsOfSpring

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Serena wrote:

No.

 

37 is not too early to have a midlife crisis.  Mine began when I was 34.   I will be 37 in a couple weeks and I am nearly finished.

 

It depends what events are happening in your life.  There are events that are within your control and events not within your control.  The events that are not within our control are the hardest to deal with.

Ya the travelling idea I am out of ideas for.   I also wish I could travel and can;t afford it.  Maybe when we are retired.

You are in a midlife crisis because something is wrong in your life.  You will continue with the crisis (from my experience) until you fix what is wrong.  This is not easily fixable like painting my house.   That took less than two weeks.   When something is wrong (like a weight problem) it may take a year or more to fix.  It can;t be fixed in a day or a few weeks.

 

I solved my midlife crisis by getting rid of my boyfriend.  (Dropped 10 pounds...melted right off) since I got rid of him.  Now that was not the only thing I did.  I made a committment to exercise and I am sure that made a difference.  The other thing I did was return to my childhood.  I wanted my old life back.  Back when I had passion and excitment.  Just because I am nearly 37 does not mean I have to live like an adult.  I have not bought barbie dolls or painted my room pink.  I still go to work.  When I was a child I went to school....that was work. 

 

Work should not make you feel tired and drained at your age.  You need to have fun things in life.

 

Either the New Years list you have made are not your passions or you need to get out of a rut and do the things.

 

Another thing:  Your list is too vague.   You need to break these goals down into steps and review them every three months.  For example:  50 pounds is too much weight to lose in a year.  Five pounds a month is reasonable so in three months you should lose 15 pounds.  How will you lose 15 pounds?   Take three actions.  1.  Could be to join a gym and workout three times a week,  Another could be to take the sugar out of your coffee.   Another could be to cut out your supper glass of wine.  Write this down and review in six months.

Okay to "build your community" what are you going to do in three months?  Maybe join a Church?  (not saying you don't go I am just pulling ideas out of thin air)  Or maybe join a service club or Bible Study that meets twice a month or once a month.  Building a community takes time.  It is a good goal but how will you arrive at that goal?  Set that goal and in three months you might just write down that the goal is ongoing.

 

Having a rich spiritual life and spending time in nature.  How else could you do this besides walking in a park?  Could you join a meditation group?  Could you buy nature CD's and listen to them in a bubble bath?  Brainstorm ways you could do this.  Aim for this activity like two times a month,    At least try some things and evaluate in three months if these ideas worked.  Maybe all my ideas suck maybe you will think of more in three months.

 

So then in three months you can teach the art class and write down that you followed through.  Make sure you do this.  Also check out pottery classes locally and sign up for a one day one in a three month period then you can check this off too.

How can you be involved in causes that matter to you?  You can't do it all at once.  Pick one and help arrange a benefit or volunteer a day or an evening or an afternoon in the three months.  Then write that down on your list.  In three months pick another one and find out if they need you to man a booth for an hour, bake cookies, or whatever.  This could also help you "build community"

 

You've got a lot of good suggestions.  I like your way of looking at things.  You're right that something isn't working.  I probably haven't built a community because I don't want to live here, but the odds are against me finding a teaching position back home in North Bay, and even if I could find one, my husband won't want to move up there.  I made a choice almost 10 years ago to leave home because I couldn't get a teaching position there, and there is no doubt that my life is a lot better than it was back then, but I miss it.  I miss living near my parents and brother, I miss the slower pace of life, I miss the convenience of everything being so close (here in the GTA stuff is spread out much more, wheras up there it's isolated enough that the city has everything I need).  I miss the lakes and the trees and the granite rock outcrops.  *sigh*  I've made friends at work, and they are great people.  We get together occasionally and I always have someone to talk to at the end of the school day for a while...but everyone lives so far apart and everyone is so busy.  Maybe I just need to get involved in something right here in town that connects me to local people.  Maybe I just need make this feel like home.

 

I just noticed it's 2011.  Happy New Year.

jon71's picture

jon71

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As for resolutions I've heard that the best way to be successful at accomplishing them is if it's something you can work on a little each day, or at least a few times a week. Break it down into bite size pieces and you can get it off your list and into your life.

Birthstone's picture

Birthstone

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Serena - I want to honour you for your post & your path over the past few years (funny how we've walked it with you at WC!)  Your post was wise & caring & hopeful, and I just thought how fantastic to hear the energy, and almost even a smile in what you wrote.  

 

Mists - New Year lost its magic for me 10 years ago today, when I realized that the changes I needed to happen in our life were not going to happen, and 2001 was just a scribble on a paper, no improvement over the turmoil of the previous disaster of a year.  I recoil against celebrating the new year, because I still feel cynical about it.  At that time, I adopted my slogan of the decade:  "Life is what happens when you're making other plans."  Only recently have I discovered that was last decade's slogan.  I need a new one.

 

I get where you're at, I often feel a sense of no control - not enough money to change things, kids too busy in what they  need & how old they are, sweetheart has a mind of his own and needs of his own, family issues that happen no matter what I do, and so on.  And we sit in our place & dream & KNOW that things could be different, but I have no power to get there... yet.    Saying that, I can say that 10 years has made a good difference, unpredictably in many ways.  Things that were awful sprouted into good changes, but at a high cost.  Much of it was beyond our control.

 

I wouldn't say I'm in the midlife crisis at the moment, but I've had a number of smaller ones.  St. John's Wort helped, and making my lists and breaking them into smaller pieces.  Tackling the things that I could change made me feel a bit better, even if it highlighted all the things I can't change.  

I tried to learn to make my own space/time as good as it could be, including looking around my GTA home and exploring what I didn't know was there- parks, architecture, organizations... and I have learned a bit about what makes it a community for the people who feel it is.  That has helped. 

Anyway, keep us posted, maybe I'll give some though to my own list again.  Here's a hug & a hand to hold as you walk this path, and a reminder to notice the small joys around you. 

carolla's picture

carolla

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Hi Mists - and a New Year it is!    Lots of good thoughts and sharing here.   

 

The other day I was listening to a woman who's a nun who runs a New Year retreat in Toronto.  She commented on refocusing away from planning and resolutions - most of which end up undone year after year.  She works with people to connect to their blessings and gifts and how to be appreciative.  Made lots of sense to me.   Seeing what is, rather than what is not.   See what fills you up, and do more of it - as opposed to what you think you should do.  We have way too many shoulds in life.

 

But to address a couple of items on your list - the GTA is definitely different from North Bay where your family is.   Allowing yourself to embrace it as your new home can be quite freeing.

 

There is a great wealth of experiences & opportunities to draw upon right here in the city.  You'd like to experience different cultures through travel.   WOW - you are in the right place for that!   There are SO many opportunities for just the price of a TTC fare, rather than air fare!   Set aside a month or two (or more!)  to learn about & experience a different culture - read some travel books from the library to learn a bit about the culture, then visit that ethnic part of the GTA, go to the grocery & clothing stores, read about the foods - maybe try some recipes, visit a few little authentic ethnic restaurants, visit a centre of worship from that cultural group or a festival at their cultural centre, study their art & see if you can find an exhibit - all that is at your doorstep and you still get to sleep in your own cozy bed!    Now there's a project for you!  

 

I think you have a pre-schooler - I found that once my kids started school, I found a whole new group of friends/acquaintances.   I had no idea so many other moms lived so close by!  Sound weird to say, but true.   Many of us became good friends over the years our kids were in school together - so that may become your 'tribe'. 

 

Enough for the moment.   Wishing you a year of gratitude, good health, continued courage, and more fun!   And of course more Wondercafe!    Maybe we need a GTA January breakfast meet-up ...

 

Serena's picture

Serena

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Birthstone wrote:

I want to honour you for your post & your path over the past few years (funny how we've walked it with you at WC!) 

 

Yes.   Many times I have FELT alone but WC is a community and I was never alone.   I walked the labyrnith a little over a week ago on Dec. 21 (the longest night) and all the time I walked the path I railed against God "Why did you leave me alone"  The answer was "You were never alone" and truly I was not.

 

MistsofSpring you are also not alone.  We are a community that you are part of.  Community  or tribe is not always recognizeable.   I recognize it now.  

 

Who were the first people I wanted to tell about my hangover for 2011?  This is my first hangover you know.  I am in a delicate position here.....

A's picture

A

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Elanorgold wrote:

Allways good to hear the advice of someone who's been there done that Crazyheart. I'm 36 and have wondered virtually the same thing.

WHAT SHE SAID! Except I'm not 36 for another 9 months...

crazyheart's picture

crazyheart

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[quote=carolla.   

 

The other day I was listening to a woman who's a nun who runs a New Year retreat in Toronto.  She commented on refocusing away from planning and resolutions - most of which end up undone year after year.  She works with people to connect to their blessings and gifts and how to be appreciative.  

 

[/quote]

 

caolla, that is what I was trying to say but you did it so much better. Thanks

A's picture

A

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 Carolla, that is an awesome idea.  I have found in my life that trying to make huge changes out of a place of "have to" or "what if I don't!!! (panic)" really does not work.  But, if I'm in a place of feeling blessed and accepting of "what is", you never know what might be possible!  And it is SOOOO much easier to go WITH the current than against it.  

 

carolla's picture

carolla

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Exactly agnieszka!

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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Hi Mists,

 

I think your age is when we start to take stock of our lives and wonder why we are where we are.  It is also the time when we can see down the road more easily than when we were 25.

 

You live in the GTA I see.  A wonderful area with everything around us but also a large city which can create isolation.

 

I agree with Serena that breaking down your goals to bite size chunks would help you.

 

You mention weight loss goals and if you are 200 lbs and 5 ft 2 in then that should be a very big priority for you both for your future health and your energy level.  Imagine how tired you would be if you carried a 50 pound child with you all day long.  That is sort of what you are doing and the extra strain you are putting on your heart.

 

You mention nature and needing to be outside more and someone said you have a toddler.

 

Perhaps a simple goal is to combine all those things.

 

each Monday , Wednesday and Saturday you will take your child to the closest park for a walk or pull them on a tobaggan for 30 minutes.  If you have easy access to a car then try a different park each week to keep things entertaining.  If you live near High Park as I do then there are wilderness areas, park areas, ice rinks, play grounds........

 

If your daughter/son is old enough , make this the winter to teach them to skate.  Go to a used skate place, ( Newsons at the corner of Dundas and Jane is a good one) as for little kids you need to buy new skates each year so might as well use the buy used and trade in plan for the next year)  Find a local rink, preferably outside and skate for 30 minutes with them.

 

This one little thing will help with your energy level, help with fitness, help with weight loss and add fresh air and time to your day with your child.

 

I agree with whoever said that when your kids enter school a whole new group of women come into your life through your children.  It is a way to make new friends.

 

I think that life can rush by us in the drudgery of daily living.  The laundry, the lunches, the meals, shopping, cleaning, work........  and at the end of the week really a lack of a sense of accomplishment.

 

Each Sunday evening map out your upcoming week.  Pencil in the walk dates with your child/hubby and stick to it.  IT will become a habit. ( it really becomes a necesary habit if you get a dog but while they add a level of activity to our lives they also can add alot more work and responsibility so sometimes it isn't the best answer.

 

I would love to walk with you in High Park during the day if that would help you get out, I have forgotten whether you work during the day or not

kaythecurler's picture

kaythecurler

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One thing I did when my kids were small and time consuming was 'plan' for that time at the park (or wherever).  We got up, everybody got a good breakfast, hubby went off to work.  I did the kid chores, washing, dressing etc and got them settled down to play for a while.  I cleaned up the breakfst mess and decided what we having for lunch and supper.  Sometimes I put supper in the crockpot and forgot it until time to call people to eat!  Other times I got out the meat to thaw and peeled potatoes.  Often put on a soup (often this was leftovers) for lunch.

 

Another helpful thing is to convince yourself that a spotless house isn't what happy memories are made of!  The kids will grow up and they won't talk about how pleased they were that the kitchen floor always sparkled with polish.

Birthstone's picture

Birthstone

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how are things??

Elis's picture

Elis

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 I'm a family lawyer and I have seen in my practice a lot of relationships break up around the mid to late 30s when people (mostly men but often women) have mid-life crisis which I think just means that they look in the mirror and recognize like you did that you are really unhappy with your life.  I think that it is a really normal and healthy thing for you to re evaluate your life situation but the question is how do you react to what you perceive as a need to chance.  As many posters have said - don't become too negative.  There are tons of things that we all see as problems in our lives and if we focused on them we would feel the weight of the world crashing down on us and wouldn't be able to walk forward.  50lbs just seems way too much - but 5 lbs doesn't seem too bad - then another 5 lbs and another - then you can congratulate yourself on losing 15 lbs and tell yourself that you only have 35 lbs to lose.  I had about 100 lbs to lose about 1.5 years ago and just have been slowly losing it and have lost about 70 lbs.  Still have 30 lbs to go but I'm not going to worry about it.  It will go slowly but surely.  Remember the Canadian Health organization says that you only need to walk about 15 minutes 5 days a week to reach healthy levels - anything more than that is gravy.  Put away a little money each month so that you have enough to go on vacation or maybe change your VISA or MasterCard so that you get travel points and take yourself away for a spa weekend on your points once a year FOR FREE.  

You can do it - the key is REFRAME REFRAME REFRAME.  Always remember although there are down sides to our lives we are not living in the Congo - we are incredibly blessed and you can overcome all of your challenges as long as you cut them down to size.

Good luck - and God bless.

carolla's picture

carolla

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Hi Elis - I see you've been a long time member here, but I'm not familiar with your name - so let me say hello!   Good post.  Congrats to you on your mission toward better health by losing some weight.  It's a tough thing to do for sure.   Be well!

 

Mysts of Spring ... you still around?  How are things?  Long cold winter ...

AbrahamMartin's picture

AbrahamMartin (not verified)

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You're never too young for a midlife crisis.  A good old fashioned pity party is as good as a good old fashioned cry.

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