“Mirror mirror on the wall” goes the saying…“who’s the youngest of them all?” I ask myself.
Over the last 30 years, the image I had claimed for myself as perpetually twenty-something was well worn and ready for some of the late Nora Ephron’s “get real” attitude.
In that time, I relinquished my reign as a career-minded single woman, inherited two stepchildren and started my own consulting business. I considered my life as fairly standard for an educated and career-oriented woman — save for a splash of international work in Switzerland, a new marriage and my topsy-turvy adventures as a good-humored stepmom and irreverent aunt.
Over the last several years, the picture started to look, well, decidedly, worn. Like a classically tailored fine dress, it held up for a couple of decades but I’m not interested in classic styles any more. Its waist is a little too cinched, it’s lines too crisp and structured, and the color much too dark. As I challenge the tried-and-true design, I’ve decided to choose an “off the rack” design for the second half of life — one I choose with my own internal set of beliefs, now more attractive and available to me than ever before.
Midlife as a Passage
Along with tens of millions of my baby boomer friends, I have embarked on a new journey. It’s a time in my life when I think commercials and TV shows are trying to convince us women that 50 is the new 30 or 60 is the new 40.
Actually, it was in the late 70s when Gail Sheehy was in her late 30s and first wrote the book called Passages. It was a look at midlife not as a crisis but as a necessary passage to the “sunset” years. She would be the first to admit that the first “Passages” book fell short on what would become the real midlife. Actually, Gail admits that she had no idea of what 50 might look like herself in 1976. She conjured up distinctly “old” images of her mother and father. (Since then Ms. Sheehy has written New Passages and Passages in Caregiving. Both books have inspired many women like me to share our own stories during midlife.)
Designing the Second Half of Life – A New Uncertainty for Women
Things are different today …as medicine and technology allow us the experience of midlife as simply an older version of our 30-year old selves. So, as we take a look in the mirror we may see not much has changed (except we are visiting the hair colorist more often)..but yes, there’s the paradox of feeling great and vital and worrying more about ‘what if’. This seems to be my experience as life is full of more uncertainties…Covid-19 is just amplifying it big time.
In addition to still raising our college age children we are now taking care of our aging and less independent parents. Their resources may be dwindling in the face of new therapies and technologies that keep them vital but needing live-in assistance for longer or more frequently.
A New Reality
It’s a new reality that our own financial assumptions need re-evaluating and perhaps looking at what is most important for our own wellbeing as we navigate the second half of life or third act of our careers. Our own wellbeing is clearly at the center of competing and perhaps conflicting interests.
Perhaps, in addition to trying to plan on retirement, we are now looking at never really “retiring” but looking at how we can create a financial picture that aligns with our own health and wellbeing. This may include designing a supportive business or project that connects us with supplemental income, a connection to community, family or creative endeavors that boost our emotional wellbeing. All are vital components as we plan for our uncertain future.
The Covid-19 era and it’s resulting impact has made scenario planning now more compelling than ever. Perhaps this is our opportunity to shift thinking from “wealth” to “wellth”.