Have you ever felt stuck? Stuck in a career, in a relationship, in a situation….? If you have you know how paralyzing it can be.
Throughout my life I have heard of and witnessed what we refer to as the mid-life crisis. I watched my father go through one, and always sort of attributed it to a ‘guy thing’ that happened to men in their forties or fifties. It’s just what I knew. But times change and so do societal expectations. As I got older, I began to see more women going through the phenomenon as well, most likely because women work these days while juggling all the demands of the home and family; it’s taxing at best some days. In fact, I’ve now noticed that women make up the majority of these mid-life crises--or maybe it’s just that they are the ones I’m noticing.
I noticed mostly because I was one of them and we tend to go looking for answers and community when we are struggling. I was trudging through my own journey leading up to my forties feeling what I can only describe as stuck.
I felt stuck in a career I chose, even though I loved teaching and loved my students. I felt stuck as a mom because I wanted to be there for my kids for school, for sports, for doctors appointments and college visits -- for anything their little hearts desired and it was nearly impossible to be everywhere at once. I always put them first and this doesn't bode well for career growth, though I ending up in a growth cycle anyway.
I was buying the food each week and planning the meals, and doing the ‘thinking’ jobs that moms do, like keeping track of who needed to be where for which sport or activity and which son needed a physical next. I was trying to be an excellent teacher and make sure I made the most of my career so I had even started doctoral classes. I was working in inner city schools through a grant program where I worked as faculty at a large university. I was stuck in traffic every morning and every afternoon and I was stuck in the evening searching and searching for a way to relax, which usually meant a glass or three of wine and zoning out...and you know what? A woman can only keep up this level of madness before something breaks.
It began to feel terrifying. It felt this way because I didn’t think I had any other options. I had always done what was expected of me and I didn’t know how to be anything else or if I even would be ‘permitted’ to be anything else. Looking back now I see that the limitations I believed held me in the stuck position for so long were in fact created by me alone.
And so I started to reflect a bit. As a little girl I had this dream of running a store, of being a business owner, and this carried through my adult years as well. I also played 'teacher' in my basement with friends, envisioning myself inspiring young minds. I saw that these were actually dreams of a future I was not really allowing myself to completely fulfill.
I looked online to find ‘work from home’ positions that would equal the ‘status’ I felt I had as a faculty member, published writer and all the other labels I had placed on myself. I thought working from home would help to equalize all of the responsibilities I had by eliminating traffic and meetings.
I came up empty.
And then I turned forty and a light went on.
I found myself exploring the ‘summer of me’ where I searched endlessly for ways to ‘fix myself’ and just chill the hell out if only for a few sacred months. It was during that search that I discovered things like essential oils and aromatherapy and acupuncture and natural hair care and reflexology, and for the first time in my life-- a manicure. And I found myself dipping my toes back into the idea of running a business, that childhood dream I just never thought I was meant to bring into reality. I knew it had to be based on something I would love, and what I loved was feeling better.
I thought, well, if I feel better--so much better- why can’t other women feel like this, too? What if there was a way to bring women together as a community, but also help them relax, feel pampered? And so began the rocky beginning of Second Spring Naturals, which to this day continues to make me feel better and also impacts the lives of other women in ways I envisioned, but that took nearly seven years to manifest.
I worked two careers for a while until I had the courage to leave one behind to strengthen the other and I faced challenges like rejection, financial worry and more... and I’ve never looked back. It took a long time for the labels to fade into the distance and to allow myself to be just me, but it happened, finally, and I haven’t felt stuck in a very long time.
Autumn is a Second Spring, when every leaf is a flower. - Albert Camus
Life is full of these second chances and it doesn’t have to take a crisis to have the courage to pay attention and follow a new path. My husband wasn’t on board ….until he was. And then my marriage grew healthier than it had ever been. Second chances just kept coming. I no longer needed to numb out at the end of the day because my days were--and are now-- filled with joy, hope and the knowledge that if I can do this, so can so many others.
Stay with me as I continue to share what I've learned in my forty-something years. You don't want to miss the interview with Laura, a woman who has truly experienced a second chance and who is now working to help me grow Second Spring Naturals.
Beautifully written and soul felt sharing.