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Flourishing After 50

After a lifetime filled with depression, disappointment and rejection, at age 54, happiness slammed me like a speeding train. This joyous collision contradicted everything I'd been prepared to expect. Surprisingly, with the onset of menopause, when my eggs dried up -- my life began!

The end of monthly mood swings and pelvic cramping freed me to ponder new priorities. Also, for so long I'd felt overlooked and ignored, professionally, and personally too. I now embarked on changing those feelings. "Why is a woman who is confident, self assured and at her sexual peak invisible and ignored?" I ranted to myself, frustrated. One sunny day, I devised an experiment. Every time I saw a man walking towards me, yet looking away, I'd do something goofy; like stick out my tongue, pull on my ear, or spank my own behind. Rather than feeling defeated and overlooked, I flipped negative feelings on their ear, and became joyful and fearless! If no one was noticing me, I could do anything I've always wanted to do. Determined that my second half century would be more enlivened than the first, I started wearing form-fitting clothes, brighter colors, speaking my mind, and jumping at opportunities for jobs, relationships, new friends. Life got better -- like I was walking around in someone else's elegant yet comfortable shoes. I'd traded in the roller coaster of regret that I'd been riding the first half century, and was now cruising in a luxury town car on smooth roads of stability and harmony. Had I repressed feeling joyous over the years? Until now I believed good things just didn't happen to me or that I didn't know how to draw them close. I viewed happiness as a luxury other people had, as rarefied as private planes or crisp, uniformed butlers. Like bringing a baby grand piano to a studio apartment, when happiness first rang my doorbell, I wasn't sure how to let it in. Initially merry moments were followed by tears of joy -- which looked like sadness to those close to me. At a time in life when friends from high school are being diagnosed with cancer, losing their jobs, their homes, or their parents, my life's bank account was filling up. My currency was belief in myself, because I was healthy, gainfully employed, and had supportive loved ones. Comparing my riches to others, I felt guilty; then chose to embrace happiness and live more fully aware instead. 2013-10-02-CRLeach2.jpg In my romance with living, I believe the best is yet to be. At mid-life, many women think their joy and contributions are in the past, with little to look forward to. Others, like my friend Cecelia, who've held their own grandchildren, know that the second half of life is brimming with joyful possibilities, more delightful than the first half, in part because the high mileage journey was filled with tough lessons, joys and sorrows. We've survived! And what's even better is that for the first time I've fallen in love with my life and am grateful for every moment. I hope it's contagious because things look pretty good from here.

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