Why your midlife matters more than ever…
(and welcome to my new format newsletter)
When I was 25 I thought I knew it all. I was building a career in communications and chasing adventure. Life hadn’t always been easy, but it hadn’t been awful. I had places to go, people to meet and a penchant for partying as if there was no tomorrow.
Ageing was not on my to-do list. Midlife might as well have been the afterlife for all I thought about its relevance to my life. I was a planner though; a colour-coded note-maker, pens and post-its permitting. I had it all planned out. The adventures I’d have, the careering career path I was hurtling on, the passionate playmate who would look a lot like Keanu Reeves. Oh yeah, I knew it all.
When I was 35 I’d swapped a boyfriend for a husband, wild parties for dinner parties and rucksack for a house. I’d had a baby and was at a career crossroads. I still thought I knew it all though, just now in a slightly more frazzled way. Sure wasn’t this the promise? That I could have it all? I thought the increasing overwhelm was normal. I still thought that everything in my life was in my control and manageable (especially if coloured-coded).
By the time I was 45, my entire life had fallen apart and I realised all the stuff I knew was useless and all the things I should know seemed unlearnable. Like how to manage grief. How to pick myself off the floor having lost the family I’d been born into and the one I had created. How to single parent three young girls. How to recover from the exhaustion of five sandwich years caring for my ailing mum and three small children. There wasn’t a spreadsheet, a positive mantra or a vision board that was going to sort this shit-show out.
I was shattered, unbalanced (or was that unhinged?) and shaken from the realisation I didn’t know a damn thing and I couldn’t control everything. I’d lost my mum, my marriage and, it would seem, my ‘youth’ - a triad of carelessness that was shattering to a perfectionist like me.
And life can do that. Especially midlife (which is a heady three or four decades now from our 30’s to our 60’s so a lot can happen). It can chew you up and spit you out and go “Ha!” in your know-it-all face.
Frail and sick parents. Difficult teenagers (or teenagers in difficulty). Divorce. Career stagnation / crosswords, imbalance with you know, life. Haphazard hormones. Ageing in an age of anti-ageing propaganda. There’s a lot.
No-one told me!
So I’m here to tell you. And share with you my own learnings as a midlife woman, and a midlife coach. And those of my amazing clients - women who are trying to navigate all those things, change, making choices and facing challenges. And to hear from you.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I want to change that. I want to talk to you and with you, about the things that matter in your midlife. And mine.
The things we should know.
The things we do know.
And the adventures we unique midlifers are having (the amazing and the shit shows).
I began my professional life as a blogger. Seventeen years ago I became a mother and I started a blog called Mammy Mania as I did NOT feel what I was told I should feel (like mothering was natural and easy). That blog let me explore my new role and the reception from other women was like a warm hug. And then my beautiful mum had a catastrophic stroke four days after my last baby was born and I was catapulted into a nightmare I could never have imagined. Spoon feeding my mum and baby, changing their nappies for a year, and as my baby grew into a beautiful girl, my mum stayed that way until she died 5 years later. I changed the blog name to The Sandwich Years as I wrote to process the struggle to meet the needs of so many people in the lonely dark hours of lonely dark nights. That blog led to my first book deal and my bestseller The Sandwich Years. Shortly before my mum died, my marriage ended. As I began to pick myself up from the rubble of the life I had once known thinking I knew it all, I changed that blog to Grin and Tonic.
But part of that rebuilding from the rubble took me back to college to study psychology and train to become a coach. I chose to work with women in midlife because we are the busiest, least supported cohort of society. And my blog took a back seat as I wrote my last book, Midlife redefined: Better, Bolder, Brighter. But now this platform allows me to connect back to my blogging roots and build a community of, and for, support.
So this is where I want to be. To listen and learn. To write and process. To share and explore. To muse and make sense of what matters in my - and your - magnificent and messy midlife.
I want this to be a place of covert figurings out, of connecting with and challenging each other, of writings and whisperings of what we really feel and want, and because of what I actually do as a day job, I’ll be bringing my wisdom as a coach, gleaning golden nuggets from my sessions with my clients - women from their 30’s to their late 60’s who are investing in themselves to make sure they can live from the core of them, not just the roles they play. I‘ll be trying to make sense of my own midlife in real time (so expect tears, laughs, insights, kitchen dancing and WTF’s? And Gin. And definitely snacks).
I’ll be writing to explore and embrace my and your midlife matters, in conversation with you. I promise to be honest and stick to my recovery… not for the gin but for the perfectionism that nearly destroyed me. And I’ll be helping you make sense of yours.
We’re in this together.
There will be short, sharp, shouts of help or Hooray!
There will be long meandering thoughts on what it means to be a woman today in midlife.
There will be interviews with inspiring women on topics ranging from beliefs, goals and habits, to food, mood and mojo; from sex, success and style, to fitness, health and hormones; from sleep, skin and hair to career, change and challenges and a bit of whatever else affects us women at midlife.
So from now on this is the main home for my thoughts and writing.
I’ll share most of the writing for free and share all I know and am learning (because the delight of midlife is that we finally relax in the fact we don’t know it all and we don’t know what the hell is coming round the corner.)
There is another way you can connect; by becoming a paid subscriber. This is for those of you who want a little extra. This means you’ll get extra writing, a free copy of my Midlife, redefined Journal when it’s done, extended interviews, and live coaching and Q&A’s every month. Yes, you can Ask me Anything. You can also be at the heart of this midlife redefined community, sending me your comments, posting questions, and much, much more. You’ll also get discounts on all of my workshops, webinars, and workbooks.
So if that appeals as you try to make sense of your own midlife you can subscribe here.
Oh, and one final thing. Some of the things I didn’t know I didn’t know:
The goal in life is not 100% happiness. The goal in life is to be able to experience a wide range of experiences and emotions and stay connected to yourself.
We do too much. We do. Especially for our kids. We need to stop doing so much.
If men had menopause, someone would have invented calorie-free wine.
Our value is not based on how much we do for others (despite what we may be told). Our value is based on how much we do for ourselves to grow, to live and laugh and love, not just do.
‘Me time’ is a necessity, not a treat.
Your first and foremost purpose in life is you.
Having a vagina is not a pre-requisite for knowing everything that has to be done around here.
Your body is not your enemy… love it however it looks because it carries so much on its shoulders (but also, be kind to it; move it as much as you can, and put good things into it when you can).
You have so much more to learn. Feel free in the knowledge that you don’t have it all figured out yet. Because you’re still figuring it out and hopefully will never “Arrive” and start sipping a Welcome Cocktail. Because if we’ve arrived we’ve nowhere else to go.
You’re not alone in your fear. Fear doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. It just means you may need a support bra.
If you are reading and enjoying this newsletter please consider becoming a paid subscriber. This allows me to keep it all going, and share more words that will hopefully inspire and support women. Plus you’ll automatically gain access to extra writings, full-length Midlife Musings interviews, monthly Q&A’s, discounts on my workshops and much more. Thank you
Your Midlife Matters with Alana Kirk, the Midlife Coach is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.