Sunday, May 17, 2015

What to Read for a Female Mid-Life Crisis?

In my post, Ride of Your Life, I wrote about Ran Zilca’s book Ride of Your Life: A Coast-to-Coast Guide to Finding Inner Peace. He was turning 40, and had been successful in business and his personal life, but was unsure who he really was. I think that many people experience this type of feeling in midlife, where they know what they do and where they live, but not exactly sure who they are. It made him feel restless, so he went out to rediscover his identity, quiet the restlessness, and regain his inner peace.

In response to this post, I received the following comment from Ray:
I am going to seriously consider reading this book and hear is why. I am in the 40's and I wonder to myself more and more, who am I? I started to write the blog partly to answer that...... I think I need to read, and find my inner self, and come to some peace as well.

Thoughts on this? Or if one should try another book?
Oh what a comment. I have so many thoughts.

First should Ray read this book?
Sure go ahead, it can’t hurt. I read this one in a PDF format on my e-reader and think I’d have gotten more out of it if I’d read it in print. I love dog-earing pages to review later and wasn’t able to do that with this book. I think I missed a few points especially towards the end.

As for self-help books:
I don't usually finish them. I wasn't even able to finish The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey and How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnagie both of which are on a list of self-help books that stand the test of time at my local library.

Another interesting quote from Ride of your Life:
This one is from Dr. Jamie Pennebaker, Chair of the Psychology department at The University of Texas in Austin:

All of self-help is bullshit and probably most of psychology.

His recommendation:

Show me the money. Show me whatever you’ve got – does it work? Does it work for you? One thing I encourage everybody is to be their own inner scientist: you have to find out what’s really working.

Zilca feels most people are not always good at accessing how well it works for them. In response, Pennebaker suggest that people take their “life pulse” every day.

Well, then you start to measure. You start to write down how many hours of sleep you are getting. You write down how you feel today. Are you sick? What’s your body temperature? There are a million ways to evaluate how your life is going. And yes, we are all delusional about things, but measuring things is not a bad idea. What’s your heart rate and your blood pressure today? How many calories are you eating? How much exercise are you getting? How many fights have you gotten into with friends and coworkers? Make a list of things that are important to you – ideally, things that you can objectively measure. Take your life-pulse every day, see how it’s going. And if it does, that’s wonderful and if it doesn’t, get in line. Most things really don’t work. (Pgs. 82 and 83).
He then suggests using writing to gain clarity about events in your life, their meaning and the way you chose to respond.

So yes dear Ray, read this book and keep blogging it may work for you.

Other book recommendations:
Most of the books I’ve read on self-discovery were tailored towards career discovery.

Here are the ones that helped the most:
Dan Miller's book 48 Days To The Work You Love

Paul Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger's book Do What You Are

Tom Rath's book Strengths Finder 2.0

One of my favorite self-discovery books is Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar.

While searching for additional books covering female identity crisis I came across this article in Psychology Today What A Female Mid-Life Crisis Looks Like.  This article mirrors my experience perfectly:
The women in the article have not faced a crisis, but they are facing a mid-life quest for identity. For smart, goal-driven women, a mid-life crisis isn't about recovering lost youth. It's about discovering the application of their greatness. The problem is that no one has defined what "greatness" looks like so the quest has no specific destination.

If you are questioning what is next for your career and possibly, your life, this is a great time to talk to friends who might be going through a similar experience. One of the worst things busy women do is put their friendships on the back burner. There is no need to "tough it out on your own." Find a friend who is also interested in personal development who won't judge the struggle you are experiencing. A good coach can help as well.
I'm considering bringing back "The Savvy Reader Book Club" with a self acceptance or mid-life crisis theme.  Would you be interested?  For starters I'd suggest we read What A Female Mid-Life Crisis Looks Like.

What books would you recommend for a female mid-life crisis or acceptance book club?

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Does Your Husband Take Care of You?

My Aunt, a product of the 1950’s, suggested I look for a husband who will take care of me after I broke up with my boyfriend of seven years. During this time my former boyfriend rarely held a job and was well on his way to becoming a professional student.  (This was back in the eighties before tuition became so outrageously expensive). I could see my family hoping my next boyfriend at least had a job, but to be taken care of!  That concept seemed so old-fashioned to me.

As a teen in the seventies, I dreamed of having it all (like in the Enjoli commercial I grew up with). Plus, I strongly valued my financial independence.  I had been earning my own money since my first babysitting job at twelve years old.  I wasn’t going to stop doing so now.
Also, my parents weren’t the best of role models.  I know my aunt envied my mom for being able to stay home with her children while we were growing up, but my mom had never been “taken care of.”  Instead, she had been controlled; both financially and mentally during her marriage.  She was given grocery money when needed, but other than that my dad decided how every penny was spent.  If my mom wanted something he didn’t approve of she had to take money from her grocery fund or do without. She longed for a job and money of her own.  I wanted a better life for myself.

As to my aunt, she was the first woman I knew who worked outside the home.  Her husband had a good state job, but she liked the finer things in life.  To pay for these extras she had to work. Today at seventy-five she still works part-time while her husband retired from his state job years ago.
Fast forward five years.  I had recently married my husband and we were both attending a party with my extended family.  Another aunt noticed my new car and began gushing over it and my new husband’s ability to take care of me.  How fortunate I was to have made such a good catch.  I was furious.  I had spent the past five years working full-time while going to school.  I had just passed the CPA exam, secured a new job with a bigger salary and bought that new car.  The down payment had come from my savings and the loan was in my name, not my husbands. I was disappointed that of all my accomplishments and hard work, the only recognition I received was for supposedly marrying well.

As for this aunt, her third husband has leukemia and is too sick to work.  I recently saw a photo of her on Facebook selling her hand-made items in a booth at a craft fair.  She too is in her seventies.
Fast forward another fifteen years.  I am attending a holiday celebration with my husband’s family.
His 28-year old niece models her new winter coat; a gift from her new husband.  She says, “He knows how to take care of me.” Again I am surprised by this old-fashioned phrase and that it is coming from someone twenty years younger than me.  Plus, this young woman has a college degree and a better job than her new husband.

During my almost seventeen years of marriage, there have been years when my husband made more than me and others when I made more than him.  I’ve never once considered myself “taken care of” and I don’t think that is something he ever aspired to do.  I do feel he supports me emotionally and is an incredible help with the household chores. I do feel controlled though, but not by my husband. Instead, I'm controlled by my job, the stress that comes with it and the incredible work load. 
I wonder currently if the phrase, “he’ll take care of you” isn’t just wishful thinking.  Today with the high cost of tuition, housing and medical care it has become almost a necessity for both spouses to work at least a portion of their marriage outside the home. I look at my husband’s young niece and can’t help but think wouldn’t it be nice if she didn’t have to work as hard as I do and that she is able to enjoy more of life.  Perhaps that is what both my aunts were thinking when they made those comments to me.  As to my husband’s niece, perhaps she was saying her husband may make less than her but, he still knows what her needs are or how to take care of her.

Does your husband take care of you? 

This post was inspired by Spinster: Making a Life of One's Ownby Kate Bolick, who explores singledom with famous women who fashioned life on their own terms. Join From Left to Write on May 5th as we discuss Spinster. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.