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Midlife hit me like a brick. In May of 2018 my second-to-oldest son, Samson, graduated from high school. Just as turning 29 shook me to the core, but turning 30 was a relative breeze, this latest second-to-last moment in my life felt like the end of the world.
I'm not sure why it's the almost endings that are so traumatic to me, but they send a signal rushing to my brain that the apocalypse is near and I need to hunker down in my fallout shelter to avoid sure destruction.
Almost two years later, I'm looking down the tunnel to my “baby” graduating as well. He is only 16, but will graduate a year early (in May of 2021) and I'm braced for the hit.
I'm also doing everything I can to make the transition smooth—if not painless. I don't think I'll ever like having my kids grown and gone. But I remind myself that the alternative is worse. So, off they go as they must.
My best way of coping with the losses that the empty nest bring is to fill my life with purpose and good things that used to be occupied by my children.
If you're in the same boat I have some suggestions. Dive in head first to any projects or changes you can handle. Immerse yourself in something great. But when that's too much, step back and set some mini habits that are easy to conquer.
Another great resource is a book I'm currently reading by James Clear, called Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. I cannot recommend it highly enough if you're on a quest to make improvements in your life and to make the second half the better half.
He breaks down the science and systems of habit creation to get you moving in the right direction. Again, tiny changes! You can take great leaps forward in your life by making a very small series of movements in the right direction. Just one step and one day at a time.
10 Ways to a Happy Midlife
- Get Outside
- Serve Others
- Make Friends
- Make Your Bed
- Daily Devotional
- Don't Drink Alcohol
- Mini Healthy Eating Goal
- Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
- Embrace Stupid
My book of the year—the one that inspired my 2020 mantra #EmbraceStupid—is What to Do When It's Your Turn (and It's Always Your Turn). It is a must read. It was so inspiring and thought-provoking. And it's well worth the paper it's printed on because the visual nature of the book is a huge part of the charm and inspiration.
Get it for yourself. Get it for someone you love.
I don't know why it took me so long to find this book. (My husband actually got it for me over the holidays.) But it came into my life at just the right time. Just when I needed it. Just when it would be of the greatest worth.
Life is often like that. What we really need most comes into view when we can appreciate it and make use of it. Or maybe that's just when we recognize those things that have been there all along. Either way, I wish you much midlife happiness!
Alison Moore Smith is a 59-year-old entrepreneur. She has been (very happily) married to Samuel M. Smith for 38 years. They are parents of six incredible children and grandparents to two astounding grandsons.
She is the author of The 7 Success Habits of Homeschoolers.