Where do I start?


Part of me said this blog wasn’t a good idea.

I am a mom, currently in midlife. Well, I am not just a mom, but once I had children I realized that I had to develop answers to life questions I used to take for granted. Why must I share my toys? Why do I need to wear a helmet? Can’t I just text you? Now that my children are grown and have left home, my house is not empty as much as it filled with questions about what I want to accomplish with the rest of my life. When one door closes, another door opens. Right?

However, as the over-thinker I am, I began to drift in thought to times that took me away from the present: regrets I may have had in my past, retirement plans that loomed ahead, what traditions and memories I leave behind with my family and friends. While motherhood is not a requirement for a successful life, it continually reminds me that no matter what happens in my life, my motherhood will never change – and it is why I feel the greatest responsibility for ensuring my children’s success. Unfortunately, this overwhelms me with the sense that I am missing out on the present. I am missing out on the moment. Worrying about what I can’t control. Obsessing on how I can balance being the best Mom in Midlife and not lose a sense of myself as an individual trying to leave her mark.

So I am making the commitment to change my perspective on the first step of the rest of my life. Learn to ground myself in where I am by bringing with me the lessons of my mental musings, my maternal worries, and my womanly wanderings through the rest of my journey. Teach myself to maintain moments of mindfulness in an otherwise wandering soul to be better. A better friend, a better mother, a better wife, a better me. Maintaining this blog as a touchstone to my moments.

So, part of me said this wasn’t a good idea. But then again – part of me says I’m willing to take the leap into this moment. Being a better Mom in Midlife. My first act of mindfulness for the new year. Won’t you join me?


I see you…

One of the commitments I made to myself as I became an empty nester was to find a place to contribute, outside of work. I wanted to be intentional, appreciating the moment and supporting my desire living mindfully. I have always believed that small things can make a big difference, and after having become better at maintaining personal boundaries around my time, I felt it was something to help me grow within my community. As with many people these days, I’m guided by recommendations from friends or information I review in the media. So when I found grassroots organization whose goal was to inspire others to “pay it forward”, I leapt at the chance to see what I could do. My life had been filled with doing for others, whether it was family or friends, but now I wanted to see how I could make a difference simply my inspiring random acts of kindness connected with my midlife spirit. It was not about what money I could give, or blocks of time to dedicate, but how what small thing I did could make a difference to someone else.

I found Kansas City Heroes by chance, but my connection with them was intentional. As the movie quote goes, “I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career…” I felt I could help not by becoming another set of hands in something big, but trying to do something with what I did best – understanding the process and helping make good things better. While I was confident in what I could offer, what I didn’t expect was that it would change how I looked at my community.

A big part of how Kansas City Heroes inspires others is by finding pockets of population where need is great, and trying to create a connection between someone who is inspired and those who receive the act of kindness. Because one of these populations is the houseless community, I began to learn more about the daily struggles these folks face. While I have been settling into my home developing how I might better attune with my midlife, other people are transitioning from having nothing to needing something as they seek a better life, not having the seeming luxury I did. As my friend and founder of the organization has shared with me and others within the group, often these folks just want to be seen. Paying it forward can be as simple as having a water bottle to give to the person on the street corner on a hot day. It can be giving someone a ride to a critical appointment that will make a difference in receiving benefits or experiencing a delay that could be deadly.

Scary words, but at the same time empowering. Understanding I have the ability to do something means I have a responsibility I can’t ignore. These days, I look at my community differently. Instead of feeling the warmth of a common quilt, I am looking at the seams and in the tears where it’s not as warm. I have learned that when these edges fray, it is up to us to help stitch them back together. It is up to us to pay attention to those who are unable to stay connected. So these days, I’m learning to sew. And I’m driving with a case of water in my car just in case.

I see you, Kansas City.

Color me beautiful

On a day where many people have big thoughts about important things, I am thinking about lip gloss. I’ve recently begun to change the shades of make-up I wear to accommodate the abundance of gray hair that I am now sporting. I’m not one to spend lots of money on these things, but when I saw the Oprah Winfrey stamp of approval on a product, I was inclined to investigate. My midlife look had become dated and needed a refresh, so I was in luck to find a holiday sale of lipstick with a bonus gift for ordering during the promotion.

I was excited to receive my package, and opened the shiny gold box to find what I had ordered, along with many products I did not. In shades of tan, brown and bronze, I found lipstick and gloss for surely someone other than me. I reviewed the website again, seeing it was not just a highly endorsed company, but that the business was geared toward beauty accessories for women of color. Although my purchase was definitely my shade of pink, I am definitely not a woman of color. Far from the target clientele, I am a woman succumbing to whiter shades of pale and silver waves of wisdom. How could I be happy with colors not my own?

In my thoughtful consideration of my beauty purchase, I took a turn to apply and admire every single shade of lip color I received. What would I do with all the colors that didn’t suit me? How would my appearance be changed by wearing something completely different that what I was used to? I opened each applicator and tested each item. As each wand of color enhanced my smile, I chuckled to myself. Each of these shades looked good, highlighting something new about my expression. As the gloss melted into my lips, I realized that I should never have judged the content of the make up by the color of the package, but on the content of the product – how it brought out the beauty in my smile. Each shade gave me a new accent to my look.

This humbling lesson taught me about the assumptions many of us often make without realizing it. The older I become, the more I have begun to question the way I look at the world – and myself. The privilege I experienced as a young woman shaped how I made choices in my life. What I’ve learned is that this freedom should exist with each of us despite the shade we wear and the color of our gloss. What should matter is that all of us are colored beautiful.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The mantle of motherhood…

While the responsibilities of motherhood are never easy, the lesson most women have learned on this journey is that there is no rule book in raising children. Each circumstance of parenthood is different, whether it comes in the form of a non-traditional family unit, or arriving at “motherhood” – whatever that may mean – mid-stream. My children have come and gone, growing into their sense of adulthood, most of whom have had to figure out what to write in their own guidebook of parental strategies and pitfalls. Being a mother seems to take on new meaning with each generation, and the responsibility of guiding and protecting another life remains unwavering in the love and growth that results.

My midlife journey has given me permission to reexamine my youth, re-evaluate my own mother and how what I learned was passed on to my children. With my daughter and her children having returned to the nest, I get to witness this sometimes rocky road, reminded of the constant juggling of my children’s needs along with my need for sanity. I often wonder how I was able to do it – the dance lessons and discipline, the hugs and the humor, my job and their joy. The desire to share the best traditions of my youth and my maternal values with my girls came wrapped up in a blanket of both love and forgiveness for all that wasn’t perfect in my childhood – as well as my children’s own lives. Doing my best required strong values and a system of support, two things I was very lucky to have.

Now, I am the support for my daughter, and I feel the weight of the mantle of motherhood all over again. With every choice to balance child with self, strengthens the values we teach our children. Sometimes, it’s either go or no go, today or tomorrow, read or sleep. Hearing the requests made to me by my grandchildren and responding as a mother is automatic – Being a mother doesn’t ever stop. But now, my heart is quickly filled by the moments of my love crossing the generational boundary. I see my daughter read to my grandchildren the way I did for her. I hear songs before bedtime that also were sung to my girls. Eventually, as life goes on and the struggle only serves to strengthen this mama’s resolve, the heartache will fall away and the good memories of skating, ice cream and Monday night football will remain. On these strong shoulders, the mantle of motherhood can lift her children into a better future.

The ‘I’ in Team

I finally opened the boxed up desk items from my former employer. It was pretty sparce, as I’d been working virtually through COVID and my workspace was pretty bare bones. But as if to accentuate the cruelty of my jobless condition, I emptied the few items from these boxes on my dining room table to determine what to do with them. I found the achievement awards, the vinyl bound certificates of my tenure, and my logoed mug an ironic joke – all attesting to the wonderous things I’d done for my employer, only for these items to follow me home to sit in a file somewhere.

Without my job, who am I now? I’ve had lots of time to read about generational perspectives on employment – how baby boomers are different than Gen Xers who are different from millennials, etc. Each generation has its own take on how to finding meaning and belonging in the workplace. Whether it’s the enticement of flex time, a coffee bar in the lobby, or company-funded ice cream treat on a hot afternoon, organizations are trying to find the right tools to develop the culture that will bring everyone to the professional table. The goal: a culture of excellence and family all rolled into one. Unfortunately, this family can cut you off when it’s time to make a change. No longer part of the team, you are now an ‘I’.

What I am slowly learning is that without a job, I am still a symphony of experience. My own work of art, my life has not been about a singular career path, but the portfolio of accomplishments that got me where I am today. By striking that balance between personal growth and professional responsibility, I have been able to serve as mother, colleague, motivator, and so much more. What my former employer had forgotten that although a part of the team, I was unique in how I could make a difference. I brought my best to work each day and when I departed, the team would still be there but it would not be the same. I would not be the same.

Now, I have a new home. For my new team, I will bring my professional portfolio with me. Wearing hats like those of student, manager, problem solver, writer, and mother, I will do wonderous things for my new employer. As I drink my coffee out of my new logoed mug, I will have succeeded in putting the ‘I’ back in ‘Team’. And it tastes pretty darn good.

The choices I made

I lost my job today. I arrived at my office to find that a choice had been made for me and that I no longer had a place within our organizational mission. The goal, to help people have a healthy life, inspired us all. Now, I leave behind a life filled with growth and fulfillment to embark on a scary journey to find something new. I feel lost. I invested so much of myself into what I had become. I worked hard to be the master of my own fate. Now I am in shock. I struggle to find the voice I had before this happened. I feel powerless and without purpose.

How does one remain mindful in the throws of midlife upheaval? Haven’t I worked hard transforming into a butterfly from the caterpillar I once was? Hadn’t my moments of mindfulness prepared me for whatever lied ahead? I had learned the importance of being able to pivot as life placed new obstacles in front of me, but being gainfully employed always gave me a choice. Losing my steady ability to walk with a purpose has forced me to stop and survey the road on which I have journeyed. Like the old saying of being barefoot and pregnant, I feel bound to my circumstances and am uncertain of what is next. Someone made a choice that shook me off my foundation, and I don’t like having my options challenged.

Where I go in my life lately has been as a woman in midlife, silver hair and all. But for those who are new to this journey, I am scared for you too. Whether I lived my motherhood or mastered my professional destiny or both, my focus has been on my living my life – my body – and my choice.

It is still unclear how deeply I feel this loss or where I feel it the most. I understand that not everyone is able to choose where and when they make a difference in this world. I am grateful for what I have and I hope it is thankfully expressed with each step I take. But how will I provide for myself and my family? When the time comes to decide my next step, will I be ready? Will I have a choice?

I am struggling to not become a victim of circumstance. However, there are still others who may not be able to pivot to walk a different path. For those who follow: I refuse to let go of my power and the choices I made to become the woman I am now. I will forge ahead to find a new place in which I can prosper. I will find like-minded women who need a friend. And maybe, I can help others become stronger by supporting their ability to choose as well.

Through a mother’s eyes…

As my daughter prepares to become a mother again, I am adjusting to having her and her little girls back living at home. It’s not easy, being a single parent. Seeing her on her parental journey returns me to the place of my own young motherhood, struggling to coordinate care, parenting, and career. Just when I’d moved out of immediate motherhood into reflective empty nester – I am now looking at my day-to-day routine through a mother’s eyes once again.

After my daughter’s first baby, besides seeking opportunities for guidance, I was also filled with judgement and frustration. I’m not saying things were perfect; they weren’t. Our children, now adults, need more than ever to learn from their experiences. All that comes with this is often difficult for loving parents of adult children to watch, as they sit on the sidelines. However, with her expected August arrival, I plan to show her what I’d learned from being a grandparent on the sidelines. More encouragement. Less judgement. Learning the lessons that were obscured by us wanting to swoop in to the rescue. I was anxious to create a plan that we could undertake together to help navigate this stage in her journey. After all, hadn’t I navigated more than my share of struggles with my family? Wasn’t I the best resource? Even as I followed this path of motherhood, I needed someone who would be there for me, mentoring me in the ways of baby wisdom, defiance, and daily power struggles. Now, I could be there for her. Hopefully, no restrictions imposed by COVID or it’s aftermath, just “life”.

Living through the pandemic as we quarantined and adjusted to close quarters living, many of us saw the boundaries of our lives redrawn. Where we could and could not go. What we sought and let go of in the name of grace. All of us who survived had to find a new way of living with family, living next to friends, and coping with the regularly occurring unplanned events which threw our routine into upheaval. Transforming what I learned during a scary time, I am making a new midlife plan. One that includes new responsibilities, new patience, and renewed love.

I am not a different person in midlife than I was in new motherhood. I’m simply wiser, healthier, and focused on finding my balance. My daughter and her little family will be supported as best as I am able, but will encounter my midlife mettle. “Yes” will come with an effort. “Of course” will come with an expectation. But “no” will come with a boundary. It won’t be easy, but it will be filled with new hope and lots of love as we venture down this road together.

Finding the silver lining in my cloud

Being a middle-aged mother in the professional landscape of millennials and Gen Z women can be daunting, especially in the face of pandemic and economic uncertainty. The new normal introduced professional appreciation of better work/life balance, as well as clear communication and trusted relationships across the digital frontier. Working virtually during the pandemic highlighted the impact good lighting, more makeup and great hair can make on any conference call. Don’t get me wrong, a job well done is not about looking good in our Webex meetings. Rather, I have spent time considering the importance of a good visual – and how the impression you make can be key in any virtual engagement. How I presented myself was worth a little investment, right?

But I have returned to the office. Gone are the 100% virtual work weeks. No longer will good lighting, caffeinated confidence, and extra make-up filter my midlife uncertainty. This is real life, and all my midlife tricks of the trade are in plain view. How could I escape looking and feeling as old as I feel? My struggle against time was firmly rooting itself within my workplace, and I was unsure how to respond. All the while, plying myself with age-defying creams and following Pinterest fashion advice for women over 50, I bolstered my self-confidence with L’Oreal Semi-Permanent Dark Blonde #7 – as many of us do. Knowing that my hair was still a youthful shade allowed me to accept the mantle of team aunt – but team mom? No way. But in the losing battle against my gray hair, I admitted defeat and have surrendered the flag of blonde and brown to the victor, agreeing to finally don my silver halo.

In the spirit of the brave women before me (who posted their TikTok videos defying the years with their beautiful silver strands), I told my hairstylist I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but I was willing. I had considered long and hard what this would mean to me, including changing my palette of makeup, understanding what to highlight, what to minimize, and how to make a statement with jewelry, clothing, or something other than bold hair color or makeup. I had to reframe what I was willing to see in myself. I needed to focus not on what I was losing, but what I was gaining. This personal challenge forced me to dig deep in what made me unique – and step away from the competition I felt obliged to endure with other women. I choose now to find the calm before the storm, and hold tight to that silver lining in the cloud of my undoing.

So wish me luck. And for those of you who are struggling to find your new look, don’t worry. We are in this together. We can fix each other’s crown without letting the world know that it’s crooked. And my crown just happens to be silver.

Beginning to live with the end in mind

It resulted from hearing news of a loved one’s critical illness. That anxious feeling. That pounding heart and tearful trance that somehow willed me to move with purpose yet forced me to remain still. So many things that cross our path make us truly wonder if we have lived a life worth living – have we made a difference? Have we touched others in meaningful ways? Will we be carried in the hearts of others once we are gone? I pondered these questions again, determined to tread these next steps lightly, yet purposely. At what point do we pause from living in mindfulness, in the moment, to looking at life with the end in mind?

An audio book I recently finished introduced its content as not just the details about preparing for the end, but lessons to consider for living the later chapters in one’s life with a sense of fulfillment and grace. The authors shared the family struggles to prepare for, the details surrounding dying to consider, and the thoughtfulness one must have of what is truly important. I was inspired, as I began to look at the lessons I’d uncovered over the years, and began to feel as though I was ready to begin a new chapter in my life.

It’s ironic how the events that bring us close to the reality of death also push us forward toward life. My “Döstädning”, or efforts in Swedish death cleaning, was about efficiency, and decluttering, and becoming free from the emotional burden of holding one’s family secrets and treasurers until the generation that followed were ready to receive them. But I felt something different – a “disturbance in the force”, a psychic jolt that made me realize that my midlife – my age – was just a stage. The “end” could happen at any time, and it was up to me to decide how I wanted to continue the remainder of my story. I began to understand that it was my choice to step out of my midlife and into the mindfulness of the day – that each day can be another chapter in the story I choose to write. It is never too late to craft my story and make it meaningful. My moment of mindfulness connects to the next, and the next, attending to my life as I live it with the end in mind.

The people in my village

A colleague of mine recently shared a fascinating article about the impact one’s family structure might have on their overall health, well-being, and access to opportunity. Having grown up in a traditional, nuclear family, the possibility of other family models seemed unusual to me. Women who have volunteered to be a new “mother” to gay children who have been cast out by their own parents offer support where there was little. Blended families with children from shared parents and different sibling dynamics inspire discussion about how to use yesterday’s terminology with today’s new social norms. The times where the questions we ask ourselves and our children about relationships, romantic choices and identities have evolved into a new understanding of what family means to each one of us. Sometimes, it really does take a village to raise a child. In my midlife, I have questions about this I struggle to find the answers to.

Relationships that are built on love often result in children. In my family, I have children and stepchildren and siblings to those children who are from other facets of their families. I have people I consider family, but whose details require complicated explanations to those who are new to me. Establishing the relationship terms for these people is often difficult. Child of my grandchild’s father who is not my grandchild. Parent of my stepdaughter’s son-in-law. My traditional brain tries to put each of these individuals into a category, so they can be easily defined. But the new norm tells me that there may be no new name for them. It worries me that I will not be with them, be to them, the way our society expects me to. In the seating chart of my wedding life, I don’t know who sits that the main table anymore. I don’t know who gets the reserved seating because the etiquette has all changed. I am trying to follow the rules that aren’t meaningful anymore. What I am finding is that there is no easy answer to the questions I ask.

As with many new situations, I wonder if the way I love those dear to me has changed, if I don’t know their family role. I don’t think it has, but I’m finding I need to let go of the way I used to view my family, and simply look at them as my tribe. My tribe: the people who connect to me in a network of love and support. Shifting this paradigm has required mental midlife work, as I am a list maker, plan implementer, and rule follower. Planning the new way to navigate through my growing family life is not easy. I will have a new grandchild soon, and I’ve decided that it is ok to chart a new path through my village, as long as it takes me to my tribe – where I am home.

Coloring outside the lines

It’s funny how as you grow older, the things you notice about your life are different than when you were young. The moments that give you peace come from a different place, and it’s little things that take on huge meaning. As I take each day through this pandemic, not only do I notice the isolation, but the inconvenience of all the handwashing, and how I’ve stopped wearing lipstick behind my mask. While old habits die hard, my new norm has focused my attention on the strange aches and pains, the coughing and wheezing that isn’t prompted by pollen, and just plain getting older. My new norm now includes supporting my midlife mentality with the grace of aging. I have tried to embrace the process, but it has been difficult. Nevertheless, my experience is showing more on my visage these days than I’d like.

I take great pride in knowing I don’t fall into making any fashion mistakes mentioned in the latest “Five Fashion Faux Pas after Fifty” TikTok videos and am learning to abide by the expectations we all have of women of a certain age. But the fine lines in my smile, on my hands, and in my daydreams are here to stay. These lines are connecting my dots – and my spots – and charting a course through my midlife in ways that dampen my spirit. How can I remain young at heart while living old in my skin?

So recently, I finally reached down deep to find the little girl who dreamt of that 64-color crayon box complete with sharpener. I needed that imagination to start boldly coloring outside of my lines to make something even more beautiful and alive and ready to set my midlife world ablaze. I’m fighting to hang onto her as she argues for the need to make that zebra with purple stripes and not listen to what is appropriate for a zebra in the world today. You tell them, little girl. Paint the sky red and that zebra with purple stripes. Those dots and lines don’t need to define us…define me. Aging like a fine line should only guide us to color outside those lines to paint our world with who we are, not show the world who they think we must become. You tell them.