Saturday, June 9
Dish: Midlife Women Tell the Truth about Work, Relationships, and the Rest of Life by Barbara Moses
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
As I push 40, I have pulled out this book given to me by my sister during a Christmas several years ago. She is a thoughtful gift giver and I am really enjoying this book thus far. I look forward to my 40's when my opinions of myself and my life are far more important to me that are other opinions. More later.
Finished the book and I plan on returning to my sister and she turns 40 next spring. I have now reached 40 and as usual, a birthday does not make me feel any different.
According to this book, it seems as though I went through my mid-life crisis a little earlier than most. Three years ago I was in a profession (elementary school teacher) that I enjoyed for several reasons but could not see myself content in for the next 30 years. I bailed, moved to London, UK to play, applied to graduate school, am now completing graduate work, no longer religious, befriending a larger swath of people, enjoying the occasional rendez_vous, and living in a city that never thought I would even visit. Strange how life takes on its own plan once you start rearranging yours.
That is what this book is about. Taking time to stop and assess your life. Acknowledge the good, address and let go of mistakes, plan a better future after some deep thought, and proceed with life, living it better than before. Inspiring and a reminder that I am one of many who have left a past life, reinvented myself and am enjoying life so much more than before.
Some of the best parts:
"Sometime in my forties, I realized how important it was to be one whole, integrated person. I did not want to work in an environment where I would have to segregate a work personal and a personal persona." - Writer p. 45
One [employee] of a bank provides a regular check and balance for herself. She makes a 'date' with herself at the end of every workweek. She reflects on the week past and asks herself questions like: Is this work meeting my needs? Did I do anything significant this week? Did I have fun? Did I feel good? And then she thinks about the coming weeks and what she hopes to accomplish. p. 116
About 75 percent of the women said they did not have the financial security that they had expected at this life stage - they didn't want a lot, just some latitude or a safety net for taking risks. Virtually all of them said one of their major life regrets was "buying too much crap and not starting to save earlier." p. 127
For goals to be meaningful, like our lives, the must be dynamic and changeable. Do you see yourself as being on a journey, or are you on a fixed path to a predetermined destination? Many women in midlife see themselves as moving toward a state, such as being debt-free, or leaving a legacy, but their goals are implicit, not explicit. They trust they will get there. p. 133
The great British management thinker Charles handy coined the idea of a portfolio career. He wrote that he balances '"core" work, which provided "the essential wherewithal for life" with work "dome purely for interest or for a cause, or because it would be stretch me personally or simply because it was fascinating or fun."...Every year I take on one new activity that stretches me, and absorbs me completely...I think this is one of the most organic types of career configurations available to midlife women, especially those wit multiple interested or the drive to explore new territory. It is based on the assumption that we have many needs and desires and play many roles. p. 154
I asked women I interviewed, "Looking back over your career, what regrets do you have? What are you most proud of? If you had one piece of advice to a younger woman, what would it be?
- know yourself
- act on what is most important to you
- maintain your integrity
- distinguish between the big issues and those that are a matter of taste
- find a mentor / be a mentor
- don't make work the centrepiece of your identity
- be able to navigate the political currents
- confront the fear reptile and take informed risks
- invest in yourself
- be financially literate
- be yourself
- never be deterred by lack of confidence
- don't worry if you don't know what you want to do "when you grow up"
- think trade-one, not trade offs (forget having it all, prioritize what is most important in your life)
The nature of our relationships with our partners is shaped by who we are, what we want from our lives, as well as our partners' personalities, what we project onto our partners, and what we accept in our partners. p. 221
Although we all have different expectations of our relationships, we agree on the big issues:
- create a life that is not dependent on a partner
- don't allow yourself to be swallowed
- don't swallow your partner
- enjoy and accept your partner for who she/he is
- make time for each other
- recognize and discuss your feelings when they occur
- be realistic
- monitor your thoughts and your speech when you have a disagreement
- know what is important to you
- don't tolerate any kind of abusiveness or behaviour that makes you feel belittled
- take your own counsel when it comes to ending a relationship
- get support through a bad period
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