Enter the “You’ve Paid Your Dues” stage of life

Near the end of October, I’ll have a chance to spend the weekend with another great group of women during our retreat at the Stage Neck Inn. I love these events. It gives all of us a chance to step out of our busy lives and come together in a comfortable, beautiful setting to discover and talk about the things that matter most.

This time our focus for the retreat will be on health – cultivating the habits that feel good and give us energy, stamina, and power, so we can live long, satisfying lives.

After my dad died last November, I made a deeper commitment to my own health. Watching him go in and out of hospitals treated by well-intentioned, yet overburdened caregivers, made me vow to do whatever I could to stay out of that system.

Yesterday I caught myself scheduling an important work meeting around my gym appointments and I suddenly realized that I’d finally arrived at a place I’ve been trying to get to for years.

I’ve always said that my health was a priority, but my calendar didn’t seem to match. Now it’s starting to.

I suspect this new way of being is not only inspired by the death of my father, but by reaching midlife.

We spend the first two decades of our existence growing and learning and studying to be functional, contributing adults. Then, when we reach maturity, we spend the next few decades working, performing, and striving for success – essentially making things happen.

This second stage is glorified in our culture.

But the third stage is important. I think of it as the autumn time of life – a time to step back, rest, regroup and harvest the wisdom that comes from experience. In this stage we’re invited to bravely face the reality that our existence here is limited. (See last week’s new book excerpt for more on this topic)

While reaching this stage has had its challenges (old habits die hard and the ego is comfortable in her role as gladiator), it’s also been exciting and easier.

Facing mortality has given me the courage to say no without a lot of fanfare. Aches and pains have been an invitation to value regular stretching and yoga. The desire to feel energetic and strong has inspired a new interest in cooking. And the days of hour-long workouts on the treadmill have been replaced with salsa dancing, long walks in nature, weightlifting, and fun varieties of short-term, high-intensity training.

If you’re a caring, giving person (like so many of my readers are), this third stage is the “I’ve paid my dues stage so it’s time to think more about what I really, really want out of life.”

I hope you’ll join me. You’ve earned that right.

Video of the Week

Here’s something I wouldn’t mind doing in the third stage of life.  Come with me by watching this video, here.  Thanks, Dyan!


Bob 3rd October 2017 12:30 am

Some people do not mature in the first two decades. Some never mature at all. All of us came to this earthly life planning on learning and adventure. Not all of us manage to follow our life plan as we thought we would. It's a bit like a tactical battle plan in the military. At the first touch of combat the plan is frequently altered by reality.

For me, old age has become a time of even greater learning and contemplation. I don't know that I would have it any other way.

May you age gracefully and happily!


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Cheryl Richardson

Cheryl Richardson is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including, Take Time for Your LifeLife MakeoversStand Up for Your LifeThe Unmistakable Touch of GraceThe Art of Extreme Self Care, You Can Create an Exceptional Life with Louise Hay, and her new book, Waking Up in Winter: In Search of What Really Matters at Midlife.

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