02/22/2013 12:22 pm ET Updated Apr 24, 2013

What's Different About Midlife?

I suffered through a few bad years in my late 40s. It seemed I just could not get my life right. First, I married the wrong man at age 39, and that turned out badly. I also continued to work in a career that simply didn't suit me anymore. Why? Because I was stuck in a rut, and I didn't have enough courage to admit it.

In retrospect, I think I was somehow lucky the day I lost my job and my career back in the spring of 2004. No one could have convinced me at the time, but I now see that apparent misfortune as the opportunity of a lifetime. I finally had the time and money (severance and unemployment) to sit and quietly contemplate my past choices, and then choose again.

Since then, I have become a student of midlife. I have kept up with the most important literature and research on the psychology of boomers, what we share as a generation, why we suffer so much more than our parents from depression, chronic illness and addictions and how loss can help us change our perspective.

I also have been studying the history of the idea of "midlife" from its inception in the early 1900s to the present, and I feel like I have finally discovered something important: We are the first generation in human history to have the luxury and the opportunity to stop in the middle of our lives and decide to do things differently. If we so choose, we can experience a new adult rite of passage!

Unlike past generations, we still have the time to change our minds, change our careers, change our relationship with ourselves and others and view our world in a new way. This is the positive message I share in: Find Your Reason to be Here: The Search for Meaning in Midlife.

Here, I summarize much of what I learned by studying the experience of midlife from the inside out, and explain what naturally happens to our hearts and our brains in this unique time in life. I document the shared emotional experience of baby boomers, explaining why our parents experienced midlife differently, and then show how to turn tough life challenges into the best time to become your best self in spite of the many factors which may work against you.

I am happy and so proud to have produced this work with my name on the front of it. Regardless of all other factors, this is the work I needed to produce to honor my brother who did not survive his own difficult midlife vicissitudes.