Midlife has a bad rap. The crisis that invariably decorates it, seems strewn with stereotypes of balding men, playing out affairs and purchasing fast cars. There is no or little space for middle-aged women to understand their experience of it. It is unlikely we will even admit to being ‘middle aged’, always focusing on our youth, your young blood, our childlike spirit. But come on now, you are knocking on middle aged if you are anything over 35. Sorry. The truth aches like a menstrual cramp.
However, I have news and a view.
It is time we reclaim the midlife crisis as a time of resurrection, rejuvenation, transformation and enlightenment. We all had a grand time in our twenties, then probably spent our thirties fixing, firefighting and committing to things. When forty rolls around, if we survived the hermetic attentions of our life, we may feel a number of things, exhausted, frazzled, invisible, lost…
A crisis for a woman, at this stage, need not be a thing of marvel or fear. Rather, a recharging of self. A recognition that things are not as they were. Never will be again. But that the bullshit we have suffered under, is something we are ready to release.
To do this we must first become conscious of the following three things.
Are you with me? Let me know your midlife musings and inspirations in the comments below!
Self care, self care, self care. Me time, me time, me time. It's a current spiritual and welfare trend. But is it hitting the spot?
Yeah, we know it's all really important. We gotta take care of ourselves, just like on the plane. Put your own life mask first. (So that then you can save your kids / partner / bloke next to you who can't figure the facial straps). Yeah, yeah yeah...
But is it self care, if inevitably, it is for someone else benefit? Look after you so you can be strong for your partner. Look after you so you don't yell at your kids. Look after you so you can have a happy family life. Look after you so you don't go ape shit crazy at XXXX who has been pushing your buttons and you are already to blow.
I've been looking after everyone for a long time. And my 'self care' has been very much based on the premise that I need to keep myself together because I am lynchpin of all that is. My husband had a heart attack, we don't have a great deal of childcare options, I've been numero uno. My self care has been wrapped around keeping myself sane and minimally healthy so that I can carry the weight of family life.
Do you feel me? Is your self care really for the benefit and wellbeing of everybody else?
And if it is, how do you move past the 'minimal' and onto something a bit more luxurious, a bit more meaningful?
Well first, you must recognise that your welfare goes beyond being basically rested and zen.
You have so many needs; creative, etheric, desirous, passion, craving, wants. And all of those descriptive words run the gamut of body, mind and soul. You are a lot to fill. And if your filling is focused on fuel and not a full service. Your engine is likely to fall out. Apologies for the slightly rubbish car metaphor - it just happened.
Sometimes we have to force another level of self care. The image at the top looks really worthy. But it is actually a result of forced self care. I'm always worried about everyone else's diet, I'm feeding my family all the veggies, and my body, my health is considered last. I think that I'm functioning and therefore I'm okay, but am I? Don't we deserve more than just functioning?
I need more. So the wholesome and worthy smoothie is part of a regimen of enforced and non-negotiable self care. I don't want to do it, it's an extra chore, but it's a valuable exercise in putting myself actually first, and for noone else's benefit. Because I want to live longer, I want to fight disease, I want to be healthy and fulfilled on a new level. I want to give to myself, even if that means a forceable smoothie every morning - it's a start right?
What can you do today, that is that little bit extra self care, that is just for you, not for your family or the wellbeing of your partner / parents / colleagues?
What is that one extra step in a self care regimen that you aren't taking that you should? Set an intent to do it in the comments below... NOW do it. And the rest will follow. Put yourself really and truly first, and let the self care flood from that point onward...
Something you might not know about me. I adore curry. I would have it for every meal I think... Nice and hot too. Or creamy... Or chocked full of Coriander. I have no favourite. But the flavours, oh my, I've enjoyed my fair share. I used to live adjacent to the 'Golden Mile' in Leicester, which houses the UK's finest Indian and Pakistani restaurants, cafes and groceries, many of which are naturally vegan or veggie. I miss those days. Oh my I do!
I remember my first experience of a spiced dish. There was a wonderful Pakistani family living two doors down from my Dad. We played with the kids all day long, in and out on each other's houses and all up and down the street with my pal Samina. Back in the freerange 1980's. One time The mum signalled for me to try some of their food, she was an epic, beautiful, strong woman, who didn't yet speak English. I was nervous as it looked so different from The usual British fare. I took one bite and my life changed forever. I remember her looking so amused and pleased and feeding me plate after plate and me just sucking the stuff up.
After posting all this on Instagram, and then being shy of the right ingredients, I created my own Mushroom curry. The specifications of which had to be 1) delicious 2) vegan 3) good for the heart. It was really quite something! So please do copy my random and wholly invented curry recipe and let me know how it goes!
PS I don't do measurements, I just chuck stuff in, so please be warned this is haphazard, creative cooking at it's very best.
Alice's Haphazard Mushroom Curry...
Rapeseed oil or Coconut oil - a good couple of big glugs or spoonfuls and start warming.
Finely chopped onions - the more the merrier!
2 packs of button mushrooms
(any other veg or meat you see fit)
Turmeric - a lot - it fights cancer cells don't you know!
Garlic 5/6 cloves or a big squeeze from a squeeze tube
Ginger big squeeze from a squeeze tube
Garam Masala - couple of dessertspoons
Chilli powder / flakes / chopped chillies - as much as you can handle.
Cook all above together,stirring often, till onions and mushrooms are softer and spices all mixed.
Can of chopped tomatoes
Peanut butter - nutty if you like it - big spoonful.
Almond butter - big spoonful.
(You could also add coconut cream at this stage, which I didn't, but would supplement the nut butter if you are allergic, or just go mad and put it in as well as. YOLO)
Sugar (I know random) but helps address any bitterness if you put in too much turmeric! Couple of teaspoons.
Spinach - wilt a whole bunch in to it... Kale would do great too! But add Kale in sooner.
Fresh coriander - love the stuff, put lots in, stir it up and serve!
If you make and love this recipe, let me know in the comments below! I have never posted one before. And my cooking is often as crazy as this, but 90% of the time I'm very happy with it! I have a tonne of recipe books, but rarely use them. Mainly just for inspiration, and then I cobble together what they teach me, with what I have access to!
Comment below or share if you love curry!
A little scribble I painted of my family, hangs on the kitchen wall and makes me smile. I find that when I create I either do it alongside my kids or I do it about them. I especially love doing art with the children because we really enjoy that time together and it shows them that there is no end to creation. That you do it because you want to and you love it.
Art is something many of us do in school, on a schedule... And then it's forgotten and people feel that they aren't qualified to pick up a paintbrush or camera or charcoal unless they have a certificate. So I instill in my kids the freedom to art as they wish! Below are some of the things I do to encourage, love and have confidence in all things creative!
I don't set specifics. I give them the tools and let them decide what they are creating. If they need guidance or suggestion, I give it, but I am sure to let them know that whatever they produce is perfect.
In terms of providing tools, this need not be exhaustive or expensive. A stick and some mud goes a long way. A stone on the pavement is a great chalk substitute. Water and a brush on a wall makes a never ending canvas. Stones, wildflowers, leaves and sand all make free and easy tools of great design! Flour, water and salt mixed together make a cheap and easy clay. Cornflower and water is amazing whilst crossing the river form art to science.
I praise my girls for their originality, the colours they use, the stuff that goes outside the lines...
I tolerate a lot of mess in the makings of their crafty craziness. My husband struggles with the aspect, but as long as it's kept relatively in one place, and they aren't tagging the walls, it's no harm done!
Turn on some music and let them make shapes on the living room dance floor. From here they can find a love of movement, expression and performance. Dance is a powerful healer, and whilst a dance class is fabulous, the freedom to move in the way they want is so important. Get on the floor yourself and go wild.
Speaking of which, mix things up.When they aren't listening to your instructions to get dressed, put their shoes on, eat their dinner, take things sidewards. Dance, sing and boogie the instruction to them.Be willing to be ridiculous, to get their attention and to show them that creativity can be just about a purposeful shift in the mood - hey and they might well join in and get the job done.
I show kids art / creative projects and discuss it with them. We stumble through the art gallery and have chats about what we see - this is often quite quick, not a rigorous exercise. I find that going at their speed is perfect and prevents boredom! I recently stumbled upon a display of Picasso's pottery with my eldest. We laughed and giggled because some of it was pretty dire. I told her she could do better (because honestly she could). And that art was not about perfection or beauty, but about doing, making and experimenting. I let her know that if one of the world's most famous artist could turn his hand to something that people admire years later, even though some of it was pretty basic, then she, I or anyone could!
I do art with them. Not as a helping hand, but I create things of my own. I also paint pictures for them and hang them in their rooms. I make them 'get well cards' and scribble pretty notes in their lunch boxes. I make art, I share art, I example art.
I put our art on the walls, fridge, shelves etc. I make it matter.
We make cards for family and friends always. Even when we use a store bought card, my eldest will draw pictures in it to personalise it for the birthday girl or boy!
We have become art. This is usually done in the garden, with nontoxic paint and a hose to hand. Though my eldest has gone free range on this on occasion. Once after a long car journey, we got her out of the seat to discover she had tattooed nearly her entire body with her felt tip pens! We'd had no idea and had thought she was colouring on her paper. Some might feel frustrated about this, but we admired her work, advised her that maybe using face paints would be better for her skin, took some photos and got her in the bath!
Creativity of course is not just the stuff of paint and pens. We get creative with how we do all kinds of things. Reading a book in ridiculous voices, or stating the opposite to what it says on the page, making up new rules for games, cutting up old socks and making them into dresses for dolls, encouraging them in role play and suggesting new scenarios when they fight over who does what!
Use imagination and example it. Be pirates as you walk to the shop, find fairy citadels under big old trees, make the mundane an every day adventure. Ignite their minds by creating myth and legend in your every day!
Look for art and creation as you go about your day. Sometimes I just ask my girls to notice something man made and beautiful. When you open your eyes to this it is amazing what you see; the gargoyles on a church, the swirling design on a wrought iron gate that you pass a hundred times a week, the art on a pub sign, the carefully crafted coving on the houses, the flower design on the old lampposts. We are literally surrounded by art! Make spotting amazing art & design a game. (the same goes for nature, notice the patterns, colours, textures).
Share with me your everyday ideas to bring art into your life in the comments below...
Read More from Cosmic Mother...
Welcome to my cosmic life...how I found my spirit and created an empowered, CREATIVE and nature loving family lifestyle (and how you can too...)
I am Alice Grist, and I am one Cosmic Mother! I am so glad you are here, and I hope that my life is an inspiration to yours. Sometimes in life we find ourselves in a place we didn't expect, but one that we built ourselves from a deep, holy, heart felt place. For a long time my mind has been focusing on my 'external' achievements - my books, my art, my tarot cards... But the things that matter most to me, are those wonderful, happy achievements I have crafted in my home; my kids, my parenting, our play, nature, magic, family wellbeing and my approach to free range, wild spirituality. So this blog is my new focus, and it feels so right, and so good. This is me, on a page, the truth of a chaotic, occasionally difficult, but always spirited life... Read on to find out how I shifted towards sharing the magical (and chaotic) details of my everyday life with you...
Here is the full disclosure... In January this year (2018) my husband had a heart attack. Thank goodness he survived following three stents being fitted in an emergency procedure. Not what you hope for when you have just had your 39th Birthday! This lead to him becoming depressed, and a severe bout of addiction. In turn he went off to rehab for a month, and I was left solo parenting my two daughters. In all of this I found joy. I'm a horrible optimist (not sorry). Though like anyone, I've had my challenges and darker moods during this time. It has pulled on all my very early spiritual learning, my love of nature and my need to create, to plough through the darkness, to show up powerfully for my kids and to deal with all the everyday grit that still happens nonetheless...
So from all this madness, I have come to realise that happiness lies in what you already have, and what you have created. And I'm pretty damned pleased with the life I have crafted. Whilst it is far from perfect, it is what I need. And I know it can be an inspiration for you. This blog will be a record and motivation point for those looking for a more creative, spirited and nature focused lifestyle. I will share all my parenting tips (I have so many I didn't even realise). I intend to talk frankly about our difficulties, because sobriety is a difficult (often secret) path, and one that no-one should walk alone. As a spiritual author and explorer, I will make sure our magic, spells and child friendly spiritual thinkings are displayed for you to interpret for yourselves. I will also come over all 'lifestyle' on you, sharing the healthy, wellbeing products, brands, books and adventures that decorate our daily lives... We will be arty and crafty, we will try really hard to be vegan, we will speak truth and spit poetry. I will make films too. I'll be funny, because as an author that's how I keep it real, by finding the hilarity in disaster, the comedy in spirit...
So this is me, and this is my life. I hope you will follow me, and please do share everything that you like. I am excited about this new blogging platform, and I want to know about you, what you do, and can we collaborate? Let me know - don't be shy!
You will find the highlights of this blog on Facebook and on Instagram. See links below. Sign up to my newsletter below to get updates when I blog (which I intend to be several times a week). Let me know what you want more of from me, be it art, spirit, nature, family lifestyle tips... I want to make this a resource that matters to you, and helps you move forward with your dramas!