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Midlife isn't a crisis, it's an awakening.
Midlife isn’t a crisis.
Midlife is an awakening.
And the friendship among women+ in midlife is the portal.
Everywhere I turn lately there is this voltaic, swirling, kinetic energy among women waking up to themselves in midlife. Women who have lived through some shit. Women who have had things go ridiculously right and been on top of the world and also terribly, terribly wrong and have made their beds on ocean floors. Women who know both love and grief, who carry both wonder and heartbreak. Women who are married and not, who have children and don’t, who have jobs and careers and are not employed and those who have retired.
Women who have lived wildly different lives and walked such different paths can sense it in each other nonetheless, the common thread of no longer belonging to the ideas and systems and expectations they were once handed and instead have decided to belong to themselves. Oh, the audacity.
It’s gorgeous. It shimmers overhead in the sunlight out of the corner of your eye. It catches in your throat when you toss your head back in laughter. It rises in your lungs, an inextiguishable fire.
We see each other.
Every conversation, every interaction, every text thread and group chat and voice memo and video message lately. This connection shows herself. In every gathering. In everyday moments. The woman at my neighborhood pool where I swim laps asking about my swimsuit for her daughter but then we spend an hour chatting about body image and girls in sports and the ways we reparent ourselves and each other as we mother our girls. Women I met at friend’s book launch where we talked about full-bodied consent and told stories of the ways our various religious cultures influenced decisions we made as young women and how our different paths of deconstruction give us room to honor our younger selves even now. The brilliant retired woman who asked me to hold a blouse against her back for size while I was buying socks for my son at Nordstrom Rack and then ended up in front of me in line where she shared the whirlwind romance of her greatest love story from the years she worked on her PhD at UofA. The recent reunion of my high school friends who have stayed in touch but haven’t all been together in forever and the sheer joy of the deep connection that still exists paired with the absolutely hilarious shenanigans that will definitely be written into the plot of a new creative project. Yesteday’s lunch with sisterhood friends whose maps over the years have so much overlap you’d never expect. The space between us already filled full of epic energy on volume eleven when our mutual friend (and counselor we’ve all had in common at some point) Gina happens to show up and we holler her over because what are the chances of her seeing all of us together in that part of town and how funny is that she knows where ALL the bodies are buried. Gina meets up with her friend and we get back to our lunch until a complete stranger from across the restaurant patio who stops over to compliment our conversation she’s been overhearing and ends up joining us for the rest of the afternoon. She comments on the joy and laughter and the way we support each other and the positive and affirming energy among us. Within minutes she is ordering Steph’s book and sitting with us chatting about human design between her work calls.
It’s magnetic. The absence of competition. The refusal of scarcity among women who insist there is more than enough to go around. The obsession with hyping each other up and the deep insistence that we are all just getting started.
I brought up this swirling around friendship among women during midlife that has been everywhere I look and Allison said, “When you’re around women who have done their own work, you can feel it. It’s palpable. Not everyone goes down that path. Some women choose not to. And that is palpable too.”
Palpable. That’s it. The connection between women who have chosen that path of belonging to themselves over anything else. The air is thick with it. Like the electricity of a desert monsoon spilling in over the mountains. You can feel it before you can see it, just under your skin, building and rolling, a groundswell of heat and a gathering of strength, expanding, arcing, colliding, heavy in the air just waiting to unleash. And then there’s a moment - you can feel it in your teeth - right before lightning strikes and the sacral electric charge in the atmosphere scratches across the sky leaving you wide-eyed and panting to catch your breath.
Did that really just happen?
Did you feel it too?!?!
Was it all just a fever dream?
That’s the portal.
That’s the doorway into a truer more beautiful world.
And women are making it.
Bone by bone, baby.
Step over that threshold in time and you may find you’ve been there all along.
Your original self.
Where nostalgia is less of a longing for what once was, and more of a keeping of the flame that has always been, a neon sign pointing directly to the places in you that still have a pulse, the parts of who you’ve always been that no matter how deep you buried them, are still alive.
That’s the energy among women in midlife, women with dirt under their nails from their own excavation, women just getting started in their second act.
Midlife is no desperate attempt to re-live the glory of youth. Nah. She is not relegated to caricatures and cannot be reduced to a cliche. She is far too wise and comfortable in her own skin, she is well-acquainted with the heights of her body and the depths of her soul and she enjoys a good night’s sleep far too much to want to go back.
Midlife is no past-her-prime supporting role waiting for the lead to throw her a line. Nope. Her narrative arc is far too interesting and her stories are far too entertaining to be anything less than the main character of her own second act. She knows her limitations and can hold the gaze of her regrets. She also recognizes her power and her eyes hold the glow of her victories.
Midlife is not an age or a season, but the waking up to our original goodness, to who we were before the world told us who to be. Midlife is the re-membering of the parts of ourselves we buried long ago but that still have a part to play. Even now.
Our largeness before we were taught to shrink to avoid disruption and to make others comfortable. Our voices before we were taught to be quiet and content with the way things have always been. The sway of our hips before we were taught to stay safe behind garden gates and not to cause anyone to stumble. The power of our minds before we were taught to second guess our intellect and give away our best ideas. The wild territory of our dreams before we were taught to fear our own darkness and dim our own light. And the trustworthiness of our deep knowing before we were taught to outsource our agency to an external source - what I once would have called a Holy Spirit and now recognize as a deep bass note hum from within me, holy and wholly my own, on a frequency recognized by others listening to their own deep rhythms, their own still small voice, their own intuition and wisdom, under their own authority - those deciding to belong to themselves.
Midlife isn’t a crisis.
Midlife is a fucking awakening.
And She arrives precisely when she means to.