Opportunity vs Crisis – the New Age of Mid-Life  

The greatest potential for growth and self-realization exists in the second half of life”. Carl Jung’s words are more than just comfort for an aging society. They are about opportunity!

When my two kids were launched into college and beyond, seeking their bigger lives beyond our front door, I was also launched. The structure that provided the bedrock of family life for the past decades wasn’t needed. With anticipation, I looked at this new phase as a page yet to be written.

It turns out that I am not alone. What used to be described as a Mid-Life Crisis could now be more aptly described as Mid-Life Opportunity. The tired traditional stereotypes of mid-life crisis involve a man with a receding hairline, new sports car and younger girlfriend – a desperate attempt to hold onto or recapture a past. Not only is this picture outdated, it rarely reflected a woman’s journey. In fact, it wasn’t until the movie Thelma and Louise, that women found a collective voice when turning against their circumstance. As Thelma says, “I don’t recall ever feeling this awake. You know. Everything looks different now.” With this model rather than having a younger boyfriend or new sportscar, the result of an acknowledged woman’s Mid-Life Crisis was to grab your best friend by the hand and drive off a cliff!

The Crisis in Mid-Life Crisis, comes when the subscribed rules of our past push against the blank slate of our future. Fearfully, we cling with white knuckles to a familiar life structure while acting out in sometimes ridiculous ways, trying to quell that persistent itch of curiosity. Affairs, gambling, over-spending, immediate gratification rather than deep reflection. Mid-Life Crisis, even in its name, is inherently about destruction. An implosion of monumental proportion.  How do we manage the transition that comes with entering the middle state of life while minimizing collateral damage?

Carl Jung’s words provide the first guidepost on the journey through mid-life. I believe it is only a crisis if we mistake the excitement of the future as a restlessness with the present. When we experience a big life change that typically aging brings – empty nest, health issues, death of elderly parents –  it can trigger Mid-Life Opportunity. Self-awareness and honest personal conversations combined with knowledge and experience that only living can give, set a new course. It is the time to take stock. It is the time to pay attention. It is the time to fulfill potential.

Recently I was at a family gathering where it was revealed that most of the couples and the single people of my generation, were either embarking on or contemplating big life changes. Selling homes and moving miles away; planning months of travel; taking on new career paths; rediscovering dormant creative lives.  Exciting opportunities were being sought out that would put them on entirely new life paths. There was no crisis here! Instead, I was hearing about a renewed sense of adventure. A rediscovery of what it was like to live unencumbered by an obligation to something other than themselves – almost like being a teenager again! But this time, with experience. Couples were facing this together, rather than one acting out destructively. Single friends were blessed with realizations there were new choices ahead that could take them where ever they desired.   Mid-life was asking the question ‘what comes next’?

I like Jung’s optimistic view. This is the time to fulfill your potential with a renewed energy while armed with a lifetime of experiences. Maybe that’s all it takes. A re-branding. Rather than dreading aging, we can look forward to this next phase.  When curiosity and anticipation replace fear and angst, Mid-Life Crisis is no match for Mid-Life Opportunity.

A Final WOW! Until Next Year with Oprah & Anne Lamott

These last few weeks Super Soul Sunday has been repeating the best  previous episodes. It is a gift to revisit these insightful and inspiring conversations that remind us of ways to be our better brighter selves!

Today, author & activist  Anne Lamott in conversation with Oprah gifts us with some of the most original, meaningful quotes. My favourites include:

“Gratitude, not understanding, is the secret to joy”

“I do not understand all the mystery of Grace. Only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”

“Joy is the best make-up. But a little lipstick is a close runner-up”.

And the simplest, most perfect quote:

“Wow”.

To notice, acknowledge and accept the wonder in a ‘moment’, often the only word to say is ‘Wow.‘ In this word we give thanks for the beauty and ‘awe-someness’ with an utterance that is reflexive.

For our final Soup for Super Soul Sunday until Oprah returns in the New Year, we are also going to revisit our favourite soup recipe that makes us say ‘Wow’. Our Meatball Tortellini Chowder. Trust me – everyone loves this soup. With meatballs, tortellini, vegetables, parmesan, bacon – there is no reason not to love it! YUM and WOW!

Meatball Tortellini Chowder

Ingredients

-All vegetable amounts are just suggestions, as are the vegetables themselves. Use whatever vegetables your family prefers!

This recipe can be easily converted to vegetarian – just use vegetable broth, veggie meatballs, cheese tortellini and omit the bacon.

Onion – 1 med

Celery – 2 stalks

Carrots – 3 large

Broccoli – 1/2 bunch fresh or frozen

Corn – 1 cup fresh/frozen or small can

Green Beans – 1 cup fresh/frozen or small can

Tomatoes – 2 med or 1 can chopped (use the juice too!)

Italian meatballs – 1 package of frozen or homemade

Tortellini – meat or cheese, frozen or from the pasta section of the grocer

Bacon – 6 slices – actually use as much as you would like – you can never have too much bacon! Also, Bacon is optional in this recipe!

Beef Broth – 1 or 2 cartons

1 can tomato paste or 1 can tomato soup

Water

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Parmesan – I like alot!

Italian Seasoning

Salt & Pepper

How to Make it – EASY PEASY!

1. Cook bacon in the soup pot. When cooked to desired crispness, remove bacon but keep juices in the pan.

2. Add Extra Virgin Olive Oil to cover pan bottom, with the bacon juices.

3. Add chopped onion and cook until translucent. Approx 4 minutes.

4. Add all chopped vegetables, broth, paste/soup and if needed, water to cover the vegetables. Also add any Italian seasonings – oregano, thyme, parsley – plus salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Add meatballs and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add more broth or water if needed, plus seasonings if you think it needs more.

6. Add the tortellini and give a really good stir. Simmer until the tortellini is cooked.

7. Once all ingredients have reached their desired tenderness, add grated or fresh Parmesan to cover the top of the chowder. Stir it in and it will melt.

8. Ladle the chowder into bowls, sprinkle with more Parmesan and then top with the bacon.

This chowder just gets thicker and thicker as the tortellini soaks up the liquid so you may need to add more water/broth the next day.

ENJOY!

Oprah & Anne can be seen here:

http://www.oprah.com/app/super-soul-sunday.html

Oprah and Anne

SUPERHERO PROJECT!

kidsHome grown superheroes are those whose actions improve the life of one person, the community, the world. While not likely hit by lightening, bitten by a spider or hurled to earth from a far distant galaxy, the home grown superhero has some other motivation to act with consideration of others. They inspire, nurture and build a better place for the rest of us. Our Super Powers manifest in the most extraordinary ways! If you know someone whose small gesture made a huge difference or whose idea or invention made you happy then we want to know about it! What is YOUR Super Power? Please add your story, photo, link as a comment here or on our Facebook page. We want to celebrate the homegrown superheroes!