By Alana Kirk.
Saying yes – the midlife crisis we all should be having.
So 2016 was a year of shocks and sadness in many ways. And there was plenty of breast-beating and mourning over the events of last year. So it’s time to think about the positives of 2017, and no doubt there will be shocks and sadness too, but I have a plan to make it memorable for the moments that are sassy and sexy, adventurous and ambitious, funny and fabulous and down right orgasmic.
I am making 2017 my Year of saying Yes! I mean that in every aspect of my life – from sexual yeses to emotional yeses, from yes to adventures and yes to saying no if needs be.
The idea of changing your psychological response to a more positive, less cautious, less safe, less boring, less predictable one is not new. The fabulous feminist writer Shonda Rhimes of Greys Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder fame, wrote a bestselling book on the subject and gave this popular TED talk.
Her approach was to specifically say yes to things that scared her or that she would have traditionally automatically said no to – such as social events or talking in public and importantly, saying yes to playing with her children when they asked instead of automatically saying she was too busy (a behaviour I am very guilty of). This is what she said:
“So a while ago, I tried an experiment. For one year, I would say yes to all the things that scared me. Anything that made me nervous, took me out of my comfort zone, I forced myself to say yes to. Did I want to speak in public? No, but yes. Did I want to be on live TV? No, but yes. Did I want to try acting? No, no, no, but yes, yes, yes.
And a crazy thing happened: the very act of doing the thing that scared me undid the fear, made it not scary. My fear of public speaking, my social anxiety, poof, gone. It’s amazing, the power of one word. “Yes” changed my life. “Yes” changed me.”
It helped her realise how much her own self-imposed boundaries restricted her life unnecessarily. This idea is supported by many fields of psychology and mental wellbeing. Bound up in the philosophies of facing your fears, opening your mindset, expanding your experiences, or embracing change, the attitude of saying yes can change your life. We often think that the open attitude of saying yes is the remit of the young – seizing the day, grabbing opportunities, being a little irresponsible.
But as a middle aged woman, at that cross roads of life between cozy slippers and kitten heels, I might just choose both – and a pair of hiking boots thrown in. Middle age is the new teenage for women who are done breeding and feeding families and now have a chance to live a little more life for themselves. I have just emerged from ten years of having babies and raising small children, with five of those being my sandwich years, caught between caring for elderly parents and young kids. I have also just emerged from two years post marriage breakup and am at that stage of stepping over the line from stumbling through its wake to being in the freedom of a new and exciting life. Being able to saying Yes just feels like such a liberating force for shaking down the cobwebs of chaos and standing in the breeze of a new life busting with opportunity.
So having waved goodbye to 2016, I raise my glass of bubbly to 2017- my year of saying yes.
I don’t mean I will become a walkover. It means I will be saying yes to chances and opportunities, social events and date nights in with myself, sexual pleasure and sensual priority, creative carnivals and learning liaisons.
Here are just some of the ways that is going to happen.
I am going to shout YES a lot more in the bedroom (and anywhere else I get a chance.). This year I attended the Mutton Club’s Magnificence in Midlife conference and took part in a wonderful workshop called Perfecting your Orgasm. I learned a lot, mostly that I need to use it or lose it, and whether we are single or married, alone or with a partner, exploring and investing in our own pleasure should be a midlife priority. SH! The woman’s sex emporium gives us the best 10 sex commandments for 2017.
I am going to say yes to me-time. I have spent the last two years lamenting my children going to their dad’s, but slowly I have realised that this is a gift of time for me. So this Easter I head to Buenos Aeries to learn to tango for a week! Why? Because I said yes to a mad idea and I’ll figure out the details later. For more adventures see Sasha Cagan’s website.
But it doesn’t have to be that far. Learning to dance, just for the hell of it, or Pilates, or the guitar, or swimming or whatever. Just because we are ageing – exactly because we are ageing – this is the time to cram in as many new skills, and knowledge as we can. All that learning is lost on the young – now is when we can appreciate broadening our horizons, literally or literarily.
I am going to say yes to going out, and yes to staying in. Sometimes I talk myself out of things because I’m too old / tired / single / busy. So I’m not going to use excuses or automatic responses to make decisions any more. I’m going to think about each situation and go for it if I possibly can, and know when I’d prefer to give myself a self-date night and have a candle-lit bath and a glass of bubbles, and say yes to power of saying no.
Finally I am going to say yes to being a woman. 2016 felt like we took a step back in time, and I disagree that Hilary Clinton did not break through the glass ceiling. She did because she showed how hard it is to do, and we must not be shamed into being silent women, but strong, vocal, fighting, honest, self-defending women.
I am going to celebrate my body, my mind and my femininity while standing proud and speaking my mind. We owe it to all of those women who can’t. I will end with the woman who tells us all how to be a woman. This post on Facebook on raising daughters is Feminism 101.
Saying yes is such a powerful way to live. So here’s to 2017 and to all of the Mutton Club members having lots of wonderful yes experiences this year.
You may also like Trumping Frumping – Midlife Rebels With A Cause, also by Alana.
Alana Kirk is a writer and journalist. She has travelled the world, working for charities and writing their stories. Her first non-fiction book, the bestselling Daughter, Mother, Me: a memoir of love, loss and dirty dishes will be released in paperback next January as The Sandwich Years. She still works for the non-profit sector as well as being a writer and raising her three girls. She is working on her second book. Her latest blog Grin&Tonic explores how this generation of women are redefining middle age.