Hitting a Bump in the Road

by Chloe Jeffreys · 20 comments

in Women in Midlife

Today, I’m on the road to my own Life Reimagined.

My house is gone. My dog is dead. And my heart’s been broken by people I once trusted and loved.

If your life has ever gone to pot then you’ll know that I’m feeling about as blue as a person can feel.

So it’s not without a little irony that I’ve been invited to participate in a project for AARP’s Life Reimagined.

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Postcard From the Valley

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just live on the mountaintop basking in the glow of God’s special favor all of the time?

Wouldn’t I like to be some wise guru telling you how you can have it all, JUST LIKE ME?

Wouldn’t I (and the people at Life Reimagined who hired me) probably prefer if I could write this post from the future where I tell you how I struggled but it all worked out, and how the book, Life Reimagined, by Richard Lieder and Alan Webber, and the helpful tools on the Life Reimagined website made it all possible?

That day is going to come because I have HOPE…

…but in the here and now I feel anything but reimagined.

 

What is Life Reimagined? 

Life Reimagined is a set of tools developed for and by AARP to help us create the lives we long to live.

Life-reimagined

And what life do I long to live?

I want a happy marriage full of joy and fun.

Happy Marriage

I want a sex life so amazing that my last dying words are, “Oh glorious sex, thank God I found you!” Those were literally my mother’s last words, and I think she was onto something.

I want my children to be happy. I want my grandchildren to be happy. I want my great grandchildren to be happy. And I want to live long enough to enjoy their happiness with them.

Sam is one

I want to have enough money for retirement so my daughter doesn’t cry every night wondering how she’s going to take care of me, and angry because I’ve left it up to her to find a way. That’s where my mother was NOT onto something.

I want to see the world with my best friend and lover! And I want to do it while we’re young enough to enjoy it.

Colleseum

I want work that’s meaningful and makes other people’s lives better.

I want peace of mind.

I—the person who currently owns no home—want a house at the beach where I live in the winter, and a house in the mountains where I spend my summers.

I want to have a blog where I can write what I want. If the situation is fucked up then I want the freedom to say,“This is FUCKED up!”

I think my readers demand nothing less.

And right about now the nice people at Life Reimagined are wondering if they are actually paying for this article. I promise not to cuss again.

Our Lives are Created from the Choices We Make

I’ll admit it. I’m currently making the choice to wallow in a little self-pity, thankyouverymuch.

Self-pity is like chocolate for the soul. We shouldn’t have too much of it, but a little now and then is okay.

In fact, I think self-pity is necessary for a real existential crisis. And an existential crisis sometimes happens on the road towards creating a life YOU want to live. Not the life your parents want you to live, or your spouse, or your kids, or your boss, or your church, or your friends. This is YOUR life. You only get one. You owe it to yourself to LIVE IT!

And I promise you that the people who truly love you want that for you, too.

Life Reimagined is NOT Just Another Self-Help Gimmick

I hate self-help books. I’m pretty sure if Job were alive today his friends would show up with self-help books.

Offering a self-help book to a person suffering acute emotional trauma from an existential crisis is like showing up at the scene of a major automobile accident with a box of band-aids.

Can you tell that people have offered me self-help books recently?

When I tell these self-help book wielding people that I really don’t want to read their fucking self-help book (Oops. Sorry.) they shake their heads and look at me with that sort of spiritual superiority that only a person who has just discovered all the secrets of life from a self-help book can have.

So I’m not going to tell you that all of your problems will be solved if you read Life Reimagined or head over to their website for their really great tools to help you create the life you are longing to live.

Because Life Reimagined is a roadmap, not a destination guide.

Life Re7

In fact, I can promise you that stepping out of your comfort zone towards your own life reimagined might become terribly uncomfortable. You might have to walk away from people and things that have become obstacles keeping you from living the life you are meant to live.

Birth as a Metaphor for Life Reimagined

As a labor and delivery nurse I’ve seen a lot of births, and over and over again I witness the same miracle.

At the moment of birth the woman often feels like she is being ripped apart. Labor nurses call this moment the ring of fire.

Then what happens?

A miracle.

The baby is born, and in the blink of an eye the mother goes from sheer agony to profound ecstasy.

Birthing your own life reimagined might be just like that.

Not that I believe in fortune cookies, but it isn’t mere coincidence that this message was inside the one I got the other day.

Don't Give Up Before the Miracle

Don’t give up before your miracle!

Life Reimagined is a simple and smart approach helping you and me prepare for our miracle.

Reimagining our lives might not always be easy, but it is always going to be worth it. Because, even from down here in the valley, I believe we are all worth living the lives we’re meant to live.

This post was (hopefully) sponsored by the kind and forgiving people at AARP’s Life Reimagined. Today’s AARP, helping people like you and me seek out and discover life’s real possibilities.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

virginia sullivan April 29, 2014 at 5:45 am

Great post Chloe, and such a testament to starting over. I think back to the things I’ve overcome in my life and then compare it to where I am today. Some things were really tough to go through. But that’s the spice that makes the good times taste so great. You are such an inspiring person to others that I hope you never give up and keep telling your stories. Virginia- FirstClassWoman
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Brenda April 28, 2014 at 9:31 pm

I’ve had to give up those people before and have the heart scars to prove it. But the road I took after leaving them behind proved that they would have hindered that journey.

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Rena McDaniel April 28, 2014 at 8:36 pm

FINALLY! Someone who isn’t saying “Look what I did you can too!” Fabulously written! I loved it!
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Jo Heroux April 28, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Birthing your life reimagined is very painful and letting go of what you love and moving on…grieving all the way…also painful.
The hope is that the new, the yet unexperienced rebirthing will bring peace, contentment and joy.
I wish that for you.
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Magnolia April 28, 2014 at 5:16 pm

I believe in embracing our grief. I lost my parents, my marriage, and my family in a 24 month period. I know grief. Fetal position grief. I stopped fighting it and let it engulf me. You can’t fight it anyway. It’s like trying to run through waist deep water.

And talk about it as much as you want to talk about it, as long as you want to talk about it.

Magnolia

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Carol Moore April 28, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Amazing post, Chloe. Even though you lamenting the vantage point from where you wrote, it was encouraging and hopeful and real. And that’s the point. Bravo for the consistent authenticity that comes through your sharing.
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Chrysula April 28, 2014 at 2:24 pm

I am completely entranced by the capacity we humans have for reinvention, honestly no matter our age. (Although I do think it mighty unfair some of those moments of inspiration come when our bodies are not youthful enough to cooperate.)

Brava Chloe. xo
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Judy Freedman April 28, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Chloe, I hear you about the ups and downs of reimagining your life. It’s not easy the first time or the second time around. I’m grateful for all that I have and try to live in the present. My therapist told me to breathe into the pain and accept whatever the universe is offering now. Hope you will have happier days!
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Shorty April 28, 2014 at 11:11 am

…..Come on, haven’t they READ your blog? :-) I think its ok. I have my house and my dog, but I too have had my heart broken by people I once trusted and loved, and have a daughter making decisions that are ripping my guts out. Trying to hang on through the ride until I can start pulling the pieces back together. I haven’t dreamed about a future in ages, just tried to get through the todays that hurt like hell. So I guess it’s time to start looking ahead. Love your honesty, love you girl!

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Chloe Jeffreys April 28, 2014 at 4:56 pm

My friend it is time to start thinking about you. Trust me on this one. Letting our kids go is the hardest thing in the world, but the only way to regain your sanity in a situation where the kid insists on ignoring our sage advice.

Start with drinking enough water, getting some sort of exercise, and schedule yourself for a massage.
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Shorty April 28, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Damn right, its hard. I thought childhood was the hard part. Nope. I guess they don’t tell us this or nobody would have any more kids, knowing that its all a trick and the hard part is last. But not letting go is never an option- I’ve seen that and its worse. Drinking water. And wine. Lots of both. Exercise is next. Massage? Good idea.

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KymberlyFunFit April 28, 2014 at 10:31 am

Um, so my post today does recommend good fitness books, but I am not sending you a self-help band aid! I am sending two hands cupped together to sling under your high heels to help support you as you rise back up up up! Now to check out Life Reimagined.
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Chloe Jeffreys April 28, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Now fitness is ALWAYS an appropriate answer to everything that ails us. And I’m deadly serious about that.
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Lisha Fink April 28, 2014 at 10:16 am

“Birthing your own life reimagined might be just like that.” Most things worth having are worth going through a ring of fire to get. Thanks for the reminder, Chloe!
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Chloe Jeffreys April 28, 2014 at 10:19 am

Amen.

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Paula Kiger April 28, 2014 at 9:44 am

If I were AARP, I’d forgive you! Thx for your candor and for being YOU.
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Chloe Jeffreys April 28, 2014 at 10:21 am

Thank you! Truly AARP is great to work with. The authors of the book Life Reimagined definitely address the hard part of creating the life you want to live. I just added the necessary flowery language to bring the point home.

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