Living comfortably with uncertain times

by midlifecrisisqueen on November 14, 2012

Rarely does my daily horoscope speak truth specifically to me, but today was a welcome exception:

“Old people are just as happy as young ones.  Trust that the years will be good to you, and allow yourself to develop naturally.  Stop worrying so much.”

If you are anything like me, uncertainty has become the unwelcome guest at the table in midlife.  Not to say that there wasn’t plenty of it before age 40 or 45.  Perhaps it just became more obvious in midlife, or more so for our generation.

I have given this new development a lot of thought since I started writing my third book, about what is unique in the emotional experience of boomers.  What do we share as the largest demographic in American history?

The new information may be that there truly is no certainty, even though we were raised to think there is.  Our parents tried to raise us with some sense of certainty or control over our future, but then, come to find out, there isn’t.

Sure we can try to save lots of money, take care of our health,  shop health insurance market places, and buy long-term care insurance, but what about climate change, the next “great recession” or the fiscal cliff?

Will Medicare be there when we need it?  How much can we know about the future of health care costs?  Good luck feeling “certain” about your future, and especially that of your children and grandchildren.

What I have been forced to discover is that certainty is one illusion I must let go of.  Between unemployment and chronic illness, we live one day at a time over at our house.  I finally realized, worrying about what might happen tomorrow is like paying interest on a loan I may never need to acquire.

When I think back to the many uncertainties I faced back when I first turned 50 in 2005, I see most of my worries worked out fine.  I had just met Mike, my soon-to-be new husband.  I had no job or health insurance, and had just run out of money with nothing for my next house payment.  This was by far the most uncertainty I had ever faced in my life.

From these grim beginnings came the most loving and supportive relationship of my life, the opportunity to start over in my new career as a writer, and the BEST decade of my life so far!

I can only see now how much I learned from losing a small part of my “control” over my future.  Here are a few things I learned from living up-close and personal with uncertainty: humility is healthy, hard times bring loved ones closer together, and compassion for self and others is the only way to share the wealth of being alive.

The take-away for me?  Gratitude for every day we are given. 

Things work out, so relax, allow yourself to develop naturally, and do what’s next in your life.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Denise Danches Fisher November 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Accurate reflection for signs of the times. Exactly what I feel, and think on a day-to-day basis. If I could just get myself to stop worrying, and believe the one day at a time mantra!

midlifecrisisqueen November 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Denise, go check out that short gratitude video I linked to. It truly changed my life! It puts this all in perspective very quickly. Today is a gift and it’s the only one we have right now…

Carpool Goddess November 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I’m a huge worry-wort! It’s what I’d like to change about myself most, because as you know, worry doesn’t change a thing.

Caryn/The Mid Life Guru November 14, 2012 at 4:49 pm

My game plan is still the same as before I was 50….Plan ahead. Plan with a purpose. The difference is that now I allow for and welcome flexibility. And just because things don’t turn out like I planned, I’ve adapted to being satisfied with whatever I ended up doing instead.

midlifecrisisqueen November 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Ah expectations, the big flexibility killer! Acceptance releases everything is be what it already is….

Tammy November 15, 2012 at 8:24 am

Great post, Laura Lee. As my grandfather would say: yesterday is a cancelled check, tomorrow is a promissory note, but today is cold hard cash meant to be spent. Amen!

midlifecrisisqueen November 15, 2012 at 9:07 am

Tammy:
Your grandfather was a VERY WISE MAN!!! I love it and try to live it everyday! – Laura Lee

Chloe November 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm

So true. I don’t know about you but I was raised with the notion that worry is sort of like insurance against the bad stuff happening. If you worry enough then it keeps the boogeyman away. It doesn’t work, does it?

midlifecrisisqueen November 15, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Yes, I was raised that way too! What a silly idea that is! – LLC

Haralee November 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Great post Laura Lee. When I was young I didn’t worry as much thinking my life was ahead of me for things to work out. Now I see my expiration date looming and know I better enjoy now and not wait for things to work out!

Nancy/Nerthus November 15, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Be here now… plan for success… don’t worry, be happy… don’t count your chickens… It is all so darn confusing, but I mainly try to be optimistic because even people with depression can think things will turn out okay. Smile and thank the cosmic organizing principle of your choice. :-)

Lois November 15, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Such a great and important piece. I have learned to do something about the things I can control, and give up worrying when I can’t control them. My favorite expression is, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

Sharon Greenthal November 15, 2012 at 9:48 pm

I think most of the things we worry about never happen…it’s the unexpected explosions that really get to us. I try not to worry about things too much anymore – somehow it all has a way of (usually) working out.

midlifecrisisqueen November 16, 2012 at 8:31 am

Thank you all for your lovely comments!
Good point Haralee. Midlife is when most of us confront the old “expiration date” and stop waiting for “things to just work out.”
This shift or crisis can help us move on to other things, or decide we are happy with these circumstances from here on out… An fascinating opportunity for us all.

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