Some Thoughts on Mid-life

I had an interesting conversation with my doctor this past week as I often do.  My doctor is one of the nicest, most caring and compassionate doctors I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting.  As busy as he is (and he is terribly busy) he never rushes a visit and always takes time to listen to me and answer all my questions.  Known for his likable bedside manner, he has a unique way of making you feel like you’re his only patient for the day.

I’ve been thinking a lot about midlife crises.  I asked my doctor if there was really such a thing as a midlife crisis.  I was curious mostly because I had just started reading a book, When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions by Sue Monk Kidd.  Many years ago I read The Secret Life of Bees by the same author and have always been interested in reading more books by Sue Monk Kidd.  So when I searched the Internet for more of her books, I came across this one.  It was described as her spiritual memoir and is about her midlife spiritual crisis.  Let’s just say it peaked my interest in the subject.

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I remember my mother making the comment once during my teenage years that everyone experiences a midlife crisis and I clearly remember her saying that men and women tended to experience and deal with these crises in different ways.  I sure wish my mother was alive today as I would love to delve more into this conversation with her, but at the time, my teenage mind couldn’t seem to identify with anything she was saying. I was also interested in knowing if my doctor felt midlife crises REALLY existed because of a comment I remember a therapist making to me years ago.  I had used the term “Nervous Breakdown” in front of her once and she quickly said to me: “What’s a nervous breakdown?  There is really no such thing.”  I was a little dumbfounded as I had heard that term all my life.  When I replayed that conversation to my doctor, he furrowed his brow, shook his head, and said, “Well YOU know what you meant and I know what you meant– I think she was just splitting hairs or something.” He went on to say yes, that he believed there WAS such a thing as midlife crises and said he felt it was a time of questioning in a person’s life usually brought on by some major change– like kids leaving home, or a job loss, or a death–and it brings people to search for answers.   “It’s people searching,” he said.

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Personally, before I even asked my doctor, I believed in the existence of midlife crises because #1, all people (if they have the pleasure of living long enough) go through a midlife, and #2, everyone has crises in their life.  It’s inevitable.  It says in the bible that we will all have trials.  No ifs ands or buts– they are a part of life.  I happen to think that midlife crises are a normal part of life that we all experience.  I don’t look at it as a disease, but a normal life transition.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a midlife crisis as a period of emotional turmoil in middle age characterized by a strong desire for change.  Wikipedia had this to say about midlife crises:

Midlife crisis is a term first coined by Elliott Jaques referring to a critical phase in human development during the forties to early sixties, based on the character of change points, or periods of transition. The period is said to vary among individuals and between men and women.  Despite popular perception of this phenomenon, empirical research has failed to show that the midlife crisis is a universal experience, or even a real condition at all

Wikipedia goes on to say:

Midlife is also significant as a time adults come to realize their own mortality.   A mid-life crisis is experienced by some people as they realize they have reached a midpoint in their lifespan and experience conflicts or dissatisfaction within themselves because of unrealized goals, self-perceptions or physical changes as a result of aging or health issues.   Sometimes, a crisis can be triggered by transitions such as andropause or menopause, the death of parents or other causes of grief,unemployment or underemployment, realizing that a job or career is hated but not knowing how else to earn an equivalent living, or children leaving home. Additionally, when experiencing a mid-life crisis, people may reassess their achievements in terms of their dreams. The result may be a desire to make significant changes in areas such as career, work-life balance, marriage, romantic relationships, finances, or physical appearance.

It is thought that midlife crises in men are usually brought on by work or financial struggles.  In the USA, there is a stereotypical image of men in mid-life crises who go out and buy fancy red sports cars.  Midlife crises in women are often brought on by relationship problems or changes in the relationships in their lives.  Often women will sit down in middle age and have a good look at the different roles they play in their life (daughter, wife, mother, employee, etc.).  People who go through midlife crises often mourn the loss of their youth and will do things to make them feel younger which often involves taking some risks.  I guess that is why there is an increase in bungee jumping, sky diving, and extramarital affairs with younger people at this time.

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I can see how the stressors of midlife can bring on a midlife crisis.  For me in midlife, I dealt with a sudden incapacitating stroke my dad suffered while undergoing surgery (which greatly affected his mind AND his body), the illness and loss of both parents to cancer, the realization that my career in veterinary medicine, a career I dreamed of my whole life and trained for in school for eight years, was NOT the career I thought I wanted and definitely not a good match for me.  There was the death of friends– by car accidents and addictions….. ways in which I had hoped to never lose my friends.  There was a hysterectomy which occurred while I was still trying to decide if I wanted a third child, and the grief associated with that loss.  There was the loss of a pet who was like a son to me and the totally unexpected submersion into a grief such as I had never gone through before, not even with the death of my parents.  There was the beginning of my empty nest when my youngest went off to college which I discovered I wasn’t prepared for.  And let’s not forget normal aging and the loss of youth, menopause, and the associated problems and changes that the decrease in estrogen brings.  Am I undergoing a midlife crisis?  I don’t know.  All I DO know is I am searching for answers. I seem to have entered a much more contemplative stage of my life and I’m turning to God for answers.  I’ve become withdrawn in many ways which seems necessary for me now. I’m questioning my purpose in life and I’m dealing with fears and worries I’ve never had before.  I see much beauty in life but I also see more of the ugly and I see people becoming meaner, more selfish, and so much more unfriendly and it frightens me to near paralysis. I see people who are so glued to their phones and social media and they never seem to look up from those phones anymore to have time for personal relationships and real friendships anymore.  Life is more lonely and I ponder if maybe that’s my fault.  Perhaps.  So I withdraw more and more into my make-believe cocoon.  I’m learning to be still and it’s dark in here but as Sue Monk Kidd says, it’s a holy darkness.  I only hope that I emerge somehow transformed, better able to make sense of things.  I’ve even quit going to church while I search for these answers which seems totally nonsensical and illogical when I think about it.  I can’t explain that part but I’ve never felt more spiritual.

What are your thoughts on midlife crises?  Do you think they exist?  Please feel free to share your thoughts (and stories if you desire) in the comment section.

Gail ♥

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Watching it Snow

I think Dakota and Nugget are mesmerized by their first snow.

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Gail ♥

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Weekly Pet Share

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Nugget is nice and relaxed for his nap, don’t you think?

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Gail ♥

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When Fear Has a Tight Hold

Looking at and watching the two of them, it’s not very hard to see that their personalities are as different from each other as their appearances.  Different as night and day.  Two kittens who came from two of three litters from a barn in South Dakota. They came to live with us when they were 7 and 8 weeks old.  A blonde tabby who we named “Nugget” who is quite comical and doesn’t know a stranger.  And then there’s Dakota, a gray tabby who we were told was very skittish when we acquired him. “Sweet but skittish” was how he was described to me.  He had an identical twin brother who apparently was even more skittish than he was.  Makes you wonder what happened in their young little lives to make them so fearful.

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patriotic kitties

Nugget and Dakota are about 9 and 10 months old now.  They get along great and are inseparable.  Partners in crime who can unroll an entire roll of toilet paper in the blink of an eye!  Seriously, is there a Guinness World Record for that?  Nugget doesn’t know a stranger and has no fears.  He is not shy in the least and can be quite impulsive at times. This is troubling to me sometimes because it’s fear that alerts cats to trouble.  Fear can be normal and “healthy”  in this respect.  Granted Nugget is strictly an indoor cat (they both are).  And I’m convinced he could never be an outdoor cat because of his “No Fear” attitude.   He’ll go totally limp in your arms when you pick him up.  Dakota on the other hand, is a “scaredy cat” and is scared of his own shadow.  Literally.  He doesn’t like to be held at all although he will crawl in our laps (it must be on his terms) and lick us silly while purring so loud, he can cause a recliner chair to vibrate.  It pains me to see how scared he is of strangers and, well, EVERYTHING.  He once hurt himself while he and Nugget were playing in a big paper shopping bag (the kind with the twisted handles). Something spooked him and he about killed himself to get out of that bag.  He tore one of the handles off while literally exploding out of the bag all wide-eyed and terrified, and sprained his leg in the process.  I shook my head the day that happened and found myself wishing there was something I could do to make him see he’s only letting his fears hurt him more.  And then it dawned on me.  In many ways, I’m just like Dakota. Sometimes I let my fear harm me. Sometimes I let it cripple and paralyze me.

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So I’m working on standing up to my fears.  Because fear attacks us all sometimes.  It fogs our thinking and causes irrational behavior and I’m convinced it can lead us straight away from the will of God.  This year I’m trying to learn to stand up to my fear and not let it get the best of me or control my life.  I guess you can say I’m fighting fear with faith and realize I can only do this with God’s help. There’s no other way.  So I’ll meet fear head-on– with the Word of God.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?   ~Psalm 27:1

 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. ~2 Timothy 1:7

 

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea~ Psalm 46:1-2

 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ~Psalm 23:4

 

The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? ~Psalm 118:6

 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. ~Deuteronomy 31:6

How about you?  What are  your biggest fears?  Are you letting fear get the best of you?

Gail ♥

 

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A Tale of Ten Bibles

I remember the white King James Version bible I received for Christmas when I was five years old.  It was a gift from my parents… my first bible.  As a child, I loved to flip through it pages.  I loved the smell that wafted from its pages when I turned them (and still do).  I loved the color pictures which alone,  told quite a story for a five-year old girl.  I loved the zipper on the cover which had a little cross chain zipper pull which has long since broken off.  I still cherish this bible fifty years later and still love to view the pictures.   Its cover is worn and  it’s yellowed with age.

White Holy Bible

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I clearly remember my five-year old self asking my mother why some of the words were in red and others were in black and how she explained that the red words were the words spoken by Jesus, our Lord.  My sisters each received the same bible that Christmas and our mother had our names put in gold on the front of each of them.  In the front she inscribed our names and the date– December 25, 1964 and signed it “Mother and Daddy.”  I remember (and my sisters remember this too) how our mother explained to us that this was a Holy Book and that we needed to treat it with respect.  We were never to disrespect our bibles by stacking other books on top of our bibles and were never to set a beverage on our bible covers.  My mother took these things very seriously.

Holy Bible

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Adam and Eve

Noah's Ark

Over the years, I have collected many bibles which I keep in a large basket.  They each have their own little story.  And all are different translations (which is in part due to coincidence).  I’ve learned that when I have trouble understanding a bible passage, that sometimes just reading the same passage in a different translation can make all the difference in the world.

I still have the Children’s Story Book Bible that my mother read to me and my sisters when we were children.  It is 88 years old.  I don’t know the history of this book or where it came from.  It has the names of two unfamiliar children written inside its cover and it says that the bible was a gift for their 5th and 6th birthdays from their aunt and uncle.  It has the date of 3/8/27.  This story book is worn and very fragile.  The binding is broken and some of the pages are loose.  Most of the pictures are in black and white with a few being in color.  I used to read to my own children from this book when they were small and my hope is that one day they will read from it to their own children.

Story of the Bible by Charles Foster

The first bible I bought on my own was when I was a freshman in college.  I’ll never forget purchasing this bible from the campus bookstore.  It was the New American Standard Bible.  I used it for bible study during my college years and found it a little more “readable” than my Kings James version.

New American Standard Bible

My sister and I used to babysit for a woman who was an English teacher and who had quite the collection of books.  When she was moving, she gave our family boxes and boxes of books.  Among these books was a Good News Bible.  If I had to pick my favorite translation, this would be it.  I would have to say this is my most used bible.

Good News Bible- side view

Good News Bible

When my boys were both Baptized on April 3, 1999, I presented them each with a Good News Bible of their own.  I had their names put on the front in gold and also gave them a personalized blue satin bookstore with their name also in gold.  I had asked the priest at our church which translation he recommended for young children and it was the Good News Bible.  Recently, I came across a very nice Good News Bible similar to the ones I bought my sons at Goodwill and couldn’t pass it up.

Good News Bible found at Goodwill

When I was a teenager, my paternal grandmother gave me a bible that belonged to my grandfather.  I still have this bible which would now be 111 years old.  She had written in pencil on the inside cover that the bible had been given to my grandfather in 1904 in Hammond, Illinois.  It is so fragile with the black cover brittle and crumbling.  Many of the pages are loose and it smells like it was in an attic for many years.  I keep it protected in plastic to try to preserve it longer.  Within its pages was a soiled and yellowed slip of paper with a verse written in my grandmother’s writing– Luke 22:42.

My grandfather's bible

Pappy's bible

In June of 1996, I acquired a Women’s Devotional Bible (New International Version).  My oldest son’s first grade teacher read one of the devotionals at the end of the school year on Awards day when parents were invited to her classroom.  It was such a touching devotion. We had a bible outlet store close by in the area so I purchased one of these bibles there.  I like the NIV translation and really enjoy the devotions in this bible.

Women's Devotional Bible

Women's Devotional Bible- side cover

While participating in a Bible Study at my church a few years ago, I was introduced to The Message by Eugene Peterson.  Quoting from the inside front page, it reads:

The Message is a contemporary rendering of the Bible from the original languages, crafted to present its tone, rhythm, events, and ideas in everyday language.

The priest read one of the psalms from her NIV bible and then read the same Psalm from The Message.  Oh, what a difference.  I liked it!  I came across a copy of The Message on a bargain table at Books-A-Million and couldn’t pass it up.  I enjoy reading it.

The Message

The Message- side cover

I wanted a good study bible to peruse and purchased The New Oxford Annotated Bible at Goodwill.  This was the bible my current priest recommended when I asked her to recommend a good study bible.  It is a New Revised Standard Version.  In all  honesty, I have only had this bible for a year or so and haven’t used it a lot.

The Oxford Annotated Bible

When my mother passed away and my sisters and I were going through her things, I came across her Red letter Testament Bible.  I can still see my mother sitting in her recliner chair reading this bible.  A few of its pages are taped with very discolored and brittle scotch tape.

My mother's Red Letter Testament

My latest bible purchase was The One Year Bible (The New Living Translation arranged in 365 daily readings.  I learned about this bible on Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience, which I read daily.  Each day contains a portion of the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs.  It contains plans for reading the bible in one, two, and three years. Each day contains a bold-faced memorization passage.

One Year Bible

I dearly love my bible collection. Each bible is special in its own way and each contains a story behind it.  I enjoy reading each and every one of them and sometimes if you’re having a hard time understanding something you’re reading in the bible, just switching to a different translation can make all the difference in the world.

Gail ♥

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Michelle’s Weekly Pet Challenge

Nugget and Dakota always enjoy playing in boxes.

Dakota and Nugget- playtime

 

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Gail ♥

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Ten Books I Want to Read in 2015

1.  Unbroken- By Laura Hillenbrand

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I’ve seen this book on several #1 best seller lists in 2014.  A friend loaned me his copy to read.  It’s next on my list when I finish up with the book I’m currently reading.  He said it was really good but “brutal” at times so I decided I needed to wait until after the holidays to read it.  I read Seabiscuit by this same author and loved it.

2.  24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life- By Matthew Sleeth, MD

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Another book I’ve wanted to read for a while.  I’ve seen it on several blogs I read and overall, it’s received very good reviews.  It’s about observing the Sabbath.

3.  Anne of Green Gables-  by L.M. Montgomery

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I’ve seen the series on TV but never actually read the book.  It’s been on my shelf for years.  I think it’s about time I read it.

4.  My Bright Shining Star- By Rhonda Sellers Elkins

My Bright Shining Star
This is a book that will without a doubt be very hard to read, but hard NOT to read.  It’s a true story and just a heart-wrenching, tragic one at that.  I came across Rhonda’s wordpress blog (by the same title) and read her story.  It touched me so much I could think of nothing else for days.  It absolutely floored me, saddened me, shocked me, and touched me.  It is the true story of Rhonda’s daughter, Kaitlyn, a brilliant and gifted 3rd year medical student who seemed to have it all and her whole life ahead of her.  Then Kaitlyn commits suicide and Rhonda’s life is never the same.  After reading Rhonda’s blog, my eyes were open to the sad statistics that this happens all too commonly in the medical profession- with medical students as well as physicians.  I felt like I knew this woman after reading her blog and something inside of me wanted to reach out to her. But sadly, Rhonda committed suicide herself on 8/29/14.  I bought two copies of Rhonda’s book.  It was another one I could not force myself to read right before Christmas.  But I think Rhonda’s story, tragic and sad as it is, desperately needs to be told.

5. Spiritual Misfit- by Michelle DeRusha

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I first saw this book mentioned on Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience.  I’ve since seen it on other blogs.  I bought it recently and it’s just waiting to be read.

6.  Dewey’s Nine Lives- by Vicki Myron

I loved her book Dewey: the Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.  Never has a book made me cry like that one did.  I found this book at Goodwill and well, I just had to be a glutton for punishment, so yes, I bought it.  I’m a sucker for all these animal  stories.

7.  A Grief Observed- by C.S. Lewis

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In short, I have a list of C.S. Lewis books I’ve wanted to read and this was one of them.

8.  Choose Love- by Stormie Omartian

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I haven’t read a Stormie Omartian book that I didn’t just love so I’m looking forward to reading this one.  I absolutely love her prayers.

9.  The Innocent Man- by John Grisham

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A friend told me about this book and highly recommended it.  It sounded good and though I don’t usually like to read books about murder, this one sounded interesting, especially since it’s a true story.  I’ve also never read any John Grisham books so this one is a good one to start with.  The fact that I found a Like New hardback copy at Goodwill for $1.99 didn’t hurt matters either!

10.  I Want God: Forever Changed by the Revival of Your Soul- by Lisa Whittle

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I read about this book on Goodreads.  Then I looked it up on Amazon.  It has great reviews and  I kept seeing the word “life changing” associated with it.  Definitely a book I want to read.

Do you have any good books you’re planning to read in 2015?

Gail ♥

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