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Second Chances

January 28, 2013

9643667_sWhen I reflect back on life as I entered my fifties, an image comes to mind. It is that of a crazed racehorse hurdling toward the finish line at break neck speed and suddenly coming to a screeching halt, dust flying, head reared back, body frozen in an awkward position, and eyes wide with terror. I felt like I’d been hit over the head with a two by four.

Like many women of our generation, my life had gathered momentum during the years leading up to this moment. I was driven by a force that I like to call “successful living”, or the relentless desire to “do it all”. Moving swiftly toward the future I created a life that was reckless and out of control and like a race horse finishing the race of his life, I arrived at the finish line overworked, overheated and dangerously close to going lame.

Intensity has its value. It propels us forward. It creates drive and awakens our passion and desire to reach our goals. It adds depth and richness, color and hue, rhythm and motion, and even exhilaration. Intensity also has its limitations. Just like the horse who needs a cooling down period after a race, to slow his pounding heart and allow his taut muscles to relax, we also need to take time to slow down and walk off the last lap with intention. We may also need the help of a trainer who has experience and knowledge and knows exactly how to help us cool down.

When the built-in pressures of the life I had created began to ease, I realized that I was not going to finish the next race at breakneck speed, nor was I likely to win a medal. At first, I was devastated and then relief took over. I could, at last, take my eyes off of the phantom trophy and rest. I could allow the sweat to evaporate from my body, take a deep breath and practice mindfulness as I sauntered to the finish line.

Slowing down brings a new awareness and, although at times it also brings an uncertainty and fear, it is in the quiet moments that we have the opportunity to see things differently and flesh out what really matters. The midlife transition is a tremendous opportunity to take what we have learned in the first half of our life and apply it to the second half. In the heat of the race, chances are, we have overlooked some of the most important things about living. Luckily, we have a second chance.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2013 4:17 pm

    Thank you, Dorothy, for your wonderful words! You ALWAYS speak directly to my soul through your writing. It’s a beautiful gift you have.

    Sometimes we are forced to slow down – through illness (“becoming lame” I think is the concept you used), which is not a pleasant way to have to learn to rest. I used to think that I had the ability to listen to my body for signs and would voluntarily slow myself down before the universe stepped in and slammed me against a wall. Yet, more often than not, I just can’t seem to feel or hear those signs until it’s too late.

    Once again, it’s too late and I am in pain and looking at several months of recovery, I am learning to be grateful for the “time off” so that I may rest & heal. I have given myself “permission” to do that – which is probably what the universe wanted me to do since last summer.

    Upon resting, I’m coming to the realization that there are several areas of involvement in which I need to extricate myself and allow others to step forward in involvement. It’s time for me to see more clearly and begin to seriously “unclutter” my life ~ restructuring my time & efforts; learning to truly learn to relax & smell the flowers each day; and, to become intimately acquainted with “being” rather than “doing”.

    • January 28, 2013 7:23 pm

      I was just thinking about you today, Diane. I haven’t seen you on Facebook and was wondering if it was my news feed or you missing. I’m so sorry to hear you are not feeling well. It can be so frustrating when there are things we want to do! Coming to terms with the slowing down our bodies demand as we age is going to be an on-going process I fear; finding different ways of finding meaning in our days. I hope you get “back in the saddle” real soon. (Enough with the metaphor, right??!! 🙂

      • January 29, 2013 7:48 pm

        Thanks so much, Dorothy! Yes, I’ve been taking a break from the computer lately and I’ve missed you. But the good news is that it leaves more time for jewelry design on the days when I feel I have some energy to spare. Thanks for thinking of me! I hope you’re doing well.

  2. January 28, 2013 4:57 pm

    OMG Dorothy. This has been on my mind so very much. I am delighted to see your take on it. As I talk with my Life’s Third Trimester group, we all agree this is a time of more freedom and less anxiety, but I don’t think anyone really has this “pacing” thing down. It’s going to be the next big topic for our group. Thanks for the head start.

    PS – I have found I fall back into the intensity of business very easily yet less frequently, abd the times of serenity and peace come more and more frequently. It isn’t an either or thing for me. I also at times go too far in the direction of non-activity. Like I said, it’s about pacing. I think the horse metaphor is perfect. I’ll play with it as I create this next topic.

    • January 28, 2013 7:25 pm

      I agree it is not an either/or Sandy. Would love to hear what your group has to say on the subject.

  3. lifeinthegravy permalink
    January 28, 2013 6:06 pm

    “I could, at last, take my eyes off of the phantom trophy and rest”.. What a perfect observation for this time of life! Once again you speak truth and provide inspiration. Thank you, my friend.

    • January 28, 2013 7:26 pm

      So good to see your smiling face here “lifeinthegravy” (though you don’t have a picture!) Thanks for stopping by to say hello. I’m glad you’re in my life. ❤

  4. Sophie Lumen permalink
    January 28, 2013 11:06 pm

    Reblogged this on Feed the Beauty and commented:
    “Intensity has its value. It propels us forward. It creates drive and awakens our passion and desire to reach our goals. It adds depth and richness, color and hue, rhythm and motion, and even exhilaration. Intensity also has its limitations.” Dorothy Sander

  5. February 3, 2013 7:31 am

    Dorothy, you hit the nail on the head…as you know when I slow down, the fear sets in so that’s why I keep going. Fear can’t hit a moving target — but it can and that’s what I’m learning each and every day. With a lot of self-development, I can appreciate the down time, accept the fear, then move on. It’s simply noticing what’s happening, accepting it, learning from it and moving on. As always, thanks for being in my corner…

    • February 3, 2013 2:51 pm

      Life is about moving forward, daring to keep trying, daring to learn, daring to brush ourselves off after we fall and try again. Running to avoid our shadow is simply delaying the inevitable. Knowing the difference is sometimes a challenge. You are a warrior Nancy. I’m glad you are in my world.

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