A Welcomed Softening at Midlife

I spent the morning rummaging through drawers and cabinets looking for something I hid for safekeeping a few weeks ago. Have you done that? Decided to hide something, tell yourself you need to remember where you put it, and then completely forget when the time comes to find it again?

Last year, on a tip from my sister, Kerri, I decided to use the old Louise Hay calendar daily affirmation sheets to keep track of special moments that happened during the year. If a fox visited while I was feeding the birds, for instance, that day’s special moment would be captured on the back of a torn-off sheet and put away in a drawer. The intention was to revisit these moments once the year ended.

I had a variety of memories I relived after New Year’s Day: Waking up with the rising sun in my eyes, seeing a stray cat for the very first time in the backyard, attending a play that I loved (Small Mouth Sounds), or laughing so hard I cried while out at a restaurant with a friend.

Now and then, I’d pull a sheet from the little ceramic bowl I kept them in and smile at the memory of something lovely.

Two weeks ago, I put the bowl away when we had workmen coming to fix a leak in the shower. I told myself to remember where I put it and then completely forgot about the jar altogether.

Until this morning…

It’s so tempting to fire up an old neural network when we feel frustrated. You know the record that plays: You do this all the time. You’re always forgetting things. You never remember where you put stuff.

But this morning, as I searched for the jar of memories, instead of getting mad at myself like I used to, I started laughing as I rifled through the shelves in my office trying to find the darn thing.

I don’t know why, but there was something funny about the thought of misplacing my special moments.

There’s a slogan in Al-Anon that comes in handy at midlife: How important is it? It’s a useful tool I find myself using when I start to get upset about pretty much anything at this point.

How important is it that I find the jar right away?

How important is it that I remember everything I intend to remember?

How important is it that I don’t lose these moments?

After all, I already lived them ????.

Later today, when I went upstairs to change clothes, I opened the closet and found the little jar sitting next to a pair of shoes. I have no memory of putting it there and as I lifted it from the shelf, I felt grateful.

There’s a softening that’s slipped into my midlife experience and I welcome it with open arms. It’s beautiful what happens when you have your priorities straight.




Meg 8th March 2020 12:51 pm

It’s beautiful what happens when you have your priorities straight." Thanks for the reminder Cheryl, yeah. This is good one :)


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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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