MidLife Matters: A Sit-down On Doing Life

In an age where we constantly talk about the ever-changing environment for millennials and technology, we often forget about those who have come before us and how they do life! I've had this burning desire to sit down with those who have come before me and just get their take on life at 40 to 65.

I recently had the opportunity to do a sit down interview with Glenise Harris-Wilson of Brighter Promises Life & Transformational Coaching, LLC, and have some much--needed girl time to discuss just what this demographic faces; how they overcome; the realities of starting over--professionally and personally; how she aids them in seeing the beauty in their wisdom, following their heart's desires, and spreading their wings. Let's just say I was in for more than I bargained for.

EBONY: Glenise, What is this whole thing about midlife?

GLENISE: It is the normal phase of human development. According to theorists, reports, and statistical data, it can range between the ages of 40-65. Everyone that lives during these years' experience going through midlife. It is not the period of the transition in terms of years adults find themselves struggling with, it deals more with all of the situations, trials and tests, obstacles, unanswered questions, and stumbling blocks challenging them. It leaves them searching for something far greater than just years where they see themselves getting older.

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EBONY: How different is midlife than menopause?

GLENISE: Again, midlife is the years adults navigate through after their young adult years and before their older adult years placing them right in the middle (MIDLIFE). Menopause is the process in life women go through from a physical standpoint. Christiane Northrup, M.D. in her book Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing, gives great clarity on menopause. She discusses many of the changes women take on as they tap into the essence of their health status ranging from the dismissing of their cycle to search for nutritional support trying to escape the hormonal escapades.

Excitingly, Michael P. Goodman M. D. reaches out to the male species helping them with the understanding of MEN-opause in his book. He helps them by stating, "if she has a problem he has a problem." He brings clarity on what women go through as well as how men can become knowledgeable of the process and answers questions of the uncertainties. While men struggle with andropause they too struggle with a decrease in their testosterone levels causing low sex drive and erectile dysfunction.

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EBONY: Why is it important to know your life story?

GLENISE: Midlife adults reach a point where they try to understand who they are, what it is in life they want, what are their likes and dislikes and many other questions that seem to jump into their minds out of nowhere. How can you figure who you are or where you are going if you don't look at who you were or where you came from? From early childhood, we were shaped based upon what others told us we were and we share the values and morals what they believed whether good, bad or indifferent. People have sometimes been on jobs for years because someone told them early in life they should be a doctor or teacher and they hated it for 30 years. Others believed they were supposed to never leave their home state regardless of opportunity because you never disconnect from family and love one. Therefore as adults try to make sense of this person, understanding their story helps them to understand the choices and decisions they have made. They learn to be attentive to what they need to leave behind and what some of the thoughts they need to being with them without it being barriers in the new life they are beginning to form.

EBONY: What is a mid-lifer's take on dreams and fairytales?

GLENISE: Many adults stop just at the thought or the idea of a dream. I have often heard people say oh it was just a thought. There is no way I would try that. The flip side of that is they probably really wanted it to be a reality. Whatever it is that is a yearning ball in your stomach that you want to obtain go after it. This is another reason why telling your truth is so important in fulfilling a dream. I have found that many mid-lifers tell their story, often including things they once desired, places they wanted to go, or things they wanted to do.

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EBONY: Let's talk marriage as a mid-lifer. How do you embrace your marriage when you both are going through midlife as a couple?

GLENISE: Understanding the physiological makeup of the opposite sex helps to understand their midlife issues during transitions. As a matter of fact, understanding from a holistic stand point makes it even better. You do not only embrace your spouse from a physical standpoint but from their mental, emotional and spiritually being too.

EBONY: So it comes down to mere understanding and the desire to want to understand?

GLENISE: Absolutely. We must seek to understand our spouse.

EBONY: So, now that we've talked marriage let's talk children and midlife. How do you help your children to understand your life as a mid-lifer?

GLENISE: Communication is the best way to provide understanding to your children. Depending on the age and the maturity you need to have age appropriate, honest conversations. It's not necessary for you to divulge to your children life behind closed doors; however, explain this normal phase of life and how it taps into your physical makeup and the symptom(s) you may be encountering. Let's face it, today there is nothing you cannot find on the internet so candor is your best friend-your children shouldn't have to speculate.

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EBONY: How do you gain vitality?

GLENISE: The first place to start is asking yourself how you feel about you. If you do not love yourself, it will be difficult to have vitality. When you find yourself caring about yourself and loving you it is so much easier to strike up the energy to have the vigor and step out into a world twirling on the sands of peace like waters. Secondly, stepping out of your comfort zone. Frankly some people are introverts and they must stop living in a box. Vitality is all about feeling alive and desiring growth and dumping stagnation. Vitality is not packaged as a bright, shiny red sports car, it means getting up in the morning and finding time to mediate, breathing fresh air, having a morning cup of coffee, and enjoying the simplicity life has to offer.

EBONY: How do you suggest a mid-lifer avoid isolation from family and society?

GLENISE: You avoid becoming isolated by always finding ways to connect. It's important to learn how to NOT wear hats labeled: defeated, shame, overwhelm, doubt, low self-esteem, lack of motivation, too old, etc. These words cause symptoms of withdrawal. Changing your language and speaking words of life is a great way to not become isolated. Affirming positivity tends to attract positivity and calls for others to gravitate toward you, not away from you. The world is not your enemy.

EBONY: What's your advice for mid-lifers who want to start a second career?

GLENISE: My best advice is, whether you have always worked a job or in a career that you liked or not, if you want to start a second career make sure it is something you have a passion, purpose, and skill to do. This is not the phase where you go through the motions--been there, done that.

The second career is all about diving into that which you love and can admire yourself for doing. Often, it may require you touching up on skill, acquiring new skills or tapping into an innate ability of what you were born to do. It is about satisfying that hunger pain of what you have always desired to do. Even if you will need additional income, you will not be happy doing it if it is not something you are passionate about. Search yourself and then search all of the details about what you may be going after and what it will require. Will this career require you to relocate and you have been where you are for 50 years? Are you willing to take that leap? Always know what you can tolerate outside of your comfort zone. Be thorough in your interrogation of you.

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EBONY: How would a mid-lifer reinvent themselves?

GLENISE: I strongly believe it takes more than a day or two, a google search, and an itch in order to completely comprehend the challenges and triumphs ahead of you switching gears. As a midlife coach, I take my clients through a 5 week coaching program to reinvent themselves. Actually it is a group program. The first two weeks we do assessments, strengthsfinder, or genograms and really dig into understanding who they are. The third week we start to look at their skills and areas they might need to work on. The fourth week we help them to create their goals. What are the barriers and challenges they might have in reaching those goals? The firft week they work on rediscovering their dreams. What are the things they always wanted to do or would like to do?

EBONY: Before we go, can you tell us some resources midlife adults can use in making the transition easier?

GLENISE: Sure. Tapping into spiritual resources helps to maintain mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Reading motivations and inspirational material, meditation, and journal writing are often found to be techniques to find a place of peace. An excellent one-stop shop resource is American Society On Aging. Also, check with your local community centers, AARP, AAA, and find support groups that service this demographic.

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EBONY: Glenise, what do you wish you would have known about midlife?

GLENISE: I wished I had known more about preparing my body for midlife. Your health is so vital to handle the process I cannot stress it enough. I recall running almost everyday in my twenties and thirties, but suddenly I stopped and never focused on my health until now. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and my overall health is extremely important to my success beating this disease as best I can. Secondly, I wish I had learned more about eliminating stress and the effects of stress. Yes, our choices and decisions have a lot to do with taking responsibility of stress entering our lives; however, we also have to charge ourselves with who we allow in our lives, how their negativity seeps into our world, and how much of a detriment it is to our wellbeing.

My advice is to connect and continue redefining midlife for future generations--be sure to start being transparent in your experience in order to provide a consistent message to those who may not quite get what being a mid-lifer is. Consider yourself a teacher to younger generations in getting it right--one season in their life at a time. Because of Glenise, I have a new found respect for this demographic and will approach my midlife years a little differently because of the greater understanding I now have. I'll also be able to understand the things my parents are working to understand and accomplish during their midlife years.

Glenise, it's been a pleasure.

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