Although midlife is generally defined as the years between 40 and 60, just as with any other maturing stage of life, there are those who start sooner and those who start later. It is not your chronological age that indicates you are entering your second adulthood. It is the feeling that something is missing in your life; a feeling that you want your life to be different, but you aren't certain what you do want. There becomes a strong inner desire to take charge of your own life-to become your own authority. Did you Know 50% of Women 50 and Older are Single? The current generation of women, sometimes referred to as Baby Bloomers, are the first group of women that encompass a big percentage who have the financial capacity to be on their own. Many find that being able to run their lives as they see fit, without butting up against the "man is head of the household" mentality is truly liberating. Studies show that during a woman's midlife, changes take place in brain chemistry which cause her to view her life very differently. What was OK before is no longer OK . . . just because it isn't! Feeling the need to rationally defend her shift in perspective can sometimes create unnecessary anguish. Some Questions That Pop Up as You are Entering Second Adulthood. - When is it my turn? - When do I get to live my life? - Is this all there is? - What's the point? - Why am I here? - I don't know what I want, but I know what I have isn't it! - Why am I feeling so unhappy when I "have it all?" I met an 80 year old women in a class I was teaching at the local community college. She had been married for 62 years, raised 8 children, one of whom had come back home to live. Her husband was ill and she was feeling guilty because she had been wishing her child would move out, and that her husband would die so she could finally have her own life. (It is never necessary for someone to die in order for you to live the life you are meant to live. There is always a way to liberate yourself.) She raised her hand to ask a question. "Is it really OK for me to think about what I want for myself?" With that question, at age 80, her "midlife" transition had begun. It's Normal The good news: whether you are 30 or 80, if you are having these type of thoughts, you are experiencing the kinds of thoughts and feelings that are a normal part of entering the stage of growth that Gail Sheehy, author of New Passages, calls your Second Adulthood. The bad news: because this generation of women is the first to tackle this transition head on (rather than fade into the background as many of our mothers and grandmothers did) there are not many role models to rely on as you face what feel like sink holes, sheer cliffs, dense fog and intense feelings of confusion that often lead to feeling STUCK! Help is Available Because of the huge population of baby boomers entering midlife, there are books, workshops, life coaches, women's groups, etc., focused solely on the midlife woman's transition. Here are some books I recommend to my clients: Navigating Midlife: Women Becoming Themselves, Robyn Vickers-Willis Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood, Suzanne Braun Levine Not Your Mother's Midlife: A Ten-Step Guide to Fearless Aging, Nancy Alspaugh and Marilyn Kentz Bring it On! Women Embracing Midlife, Christine Carter Schaap Dance of the Dissident Daughter, Sue Monk Kidd Awakening at Midlife, Kathleen A. Brehony If Not Now, When? Reclaiming Ourselves at Midlife, Stephanie Marston Facing the Challenge of Transition Although the midlife transition is normal, it is still a challenging chapter in a woman's life. If you have a few close women friends to talk to, and you begin discussing the distressing thoughts and feelings that you are experiencing you will find you are not alone (that is, if your friends are honest!). A women who faces the midlife transition with an attitude of daring adventure, a confident attitude, and a belief that the best is yet to come may find the journey daunting, yet worth it when she experiences the deep satisfaction of coming into her own Authentic Self.