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A Mission For Midlife
Empty nesting, hormone change and finding the fabulous...
A Mission For My Empty-Nesting 50s
It’s been a busy summer and a while since I’ve written something here, but I was in Kensington Palace last week and left inspired! It’s been an emotional roller coaster of late, so I wanted to share a bit of the journey as I know some of you are on a similar ride.
I went to the Court to Couture exhibition and found myself faced with the question, 'What is the most fabulous version of me? I wasn’t, and am not, entirely sure of the answer. I think it's become rather blurred around the edges over the last 10/20 years in the midst of raising kids, divorce, remarriage and hormone change. And what’s worse is that I didn’t see it coming - or going, as the case may be!
I loved turning 50 last year. I went into my 40’s in the midst of a divorce, and it was a mightily difficult time. So, I threw myself into turning 50 with much gusto! I loved all the excitement, in fact, I positively drenched myself in it. I’ve always been one to enjoy the adrenaline hit that comes with anticipation. A whole new decade? Bring. It. On! The very idea fills me with ideas and possibilities, and I can live off that excitement for months, possibly even years. It’s what I’ve always done - look forward and move on. I’m a master at it.
Because the kids also just left. Both at the same time. They’re not twins, but one took a year out and the other didn’t want to, so it meant they left together and for most of the summer, we’ve been collecting two of everything – cheese graters, duvets, air fryers, sieves, cling film alternatives because we’re trying to stop using plastic, fairy lights, sticky things to stick on walls but not leave marks – you know, the uni shopping list is crazy. And again, I looked forward to it. Hugely. It’s been one of my biggest desires for this aspect of parenthood - I wanted to give them the chance I could never take full advantage of. To go to uni. And they’re both going. It felt like my life’s greatest ambition coming to fruition, and then the tsunami of sadness hit me as we entered September and I started to feel it too.
What am I going to do without you?
I stood in the Zara queue with my daughter, buying vests and tracky bottoms and my eyes filled with full, heavy tears as the words, ‘What am I going to do without you?’ tumbled out of my mouth and the tears ran down my cheeks. We both laughed and yet the tears kept coming. ‘Mum, you’re ridiculous!’ she grinned and rolled her eyes with no idea of just how much I love her. (I hope it remains an assumption because I am certain it’s that which will give her the strongest roots and the flappiest of wings). It’s so weird to cry and laugh at the same time, a proper kaleidoscope of all the feels!!
And so I dropped my son off on the Friday afternoon and my daughter on the Saturday morning, and for the first two weeks, was fine. All the empty nesters were sharing inspirational words on social media – we aren’t empty nesters, we are bird launchers. Hubby and I took turns cooking for each other. We went to the gym and the cinema and even booked ourselves in on a dancing class. And then it came, like a deep vacuous black hole that sucked away all the optimism I’d mustered, and I landed in week three, utterly bereft.
The thing about grief is that it’s a pain that demands to be felt.
Because it is a type of grief, and grief cannot be ignored. As my friend SJ texted me, ‘The thing about grief is that it’s a pain that demands to be felt.’ She’s not wrong. It came and wrestled me to the ground.
I’ve spent the last twenty years wearing lots of different hats, as well as the Mum one. I’ve been presenting on QVC and popping up on BBC London Radio. I’ve published over 100 podcasts, travelled to some unique places in the world, and, despite a few challenges along the way, have been content and thankful. I wouldn’t say I’ve lost myself at all. And yet, perhaps I have. In the midst of all the change, I find myself suddenly more aware of my sense of self than ever before. Or lack of it - just when my hormones are plummeting, too.
So I took myself off for a few days. I read, caught up with friends, walked along the river and through the city, and ended up going to see the magnificent exhibition in Kensington Palace of gowns worn on various red carpets over the years, including the fabulous Met Gala.
Come as the most fabulous version of yourself!
It turns out that the unifying rule for the Red Carpet at any gala or event is, ‘Come as the most fabulous version of yourself.’ How apt for this time in my life. Did they see me coming?
So, I’ve decided that my mission for my empty nesting hormonally challenged fifties is to rediscover the most fabulous version of me. Amidst the changes in the home and in my body, I’m going to find out. I’m going to take time to feel the joy and the sadness, to readjust, to re-root and roll out my red carpet!
How exciting :) …Anyone else fancy joining me?
As always, much love
PS - If you’re struggling with the hormone journey, it’s World Menopause Day today 18th October and I will be hosting a Facebook live for QVC at 7pm with a Women’s Health GP to talk all things hormones, followed by a live show on the main channel at 8pm. Please do join us, and ask questions in the Facebook live
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