All my life I’d been saying I’d do one thing or another “someday.” Someday I’d try white water rafting; some day I’d go to the Caribbean; someday I’d start my own business; someday I’d take a ride in a rickety old stagecoach. Oh, wait . . . that one never occurred to me.
When I turned 40, after a very long stretch of extremely difficult life events, the stress got to me and I ended up with an autoimmune disease, adrenal fatigue, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Doctors wanted to take drastic measures, but I was determined to do those only as a last resort. So I learned to heal myself, all the while admiring—and feeling a bit envious of—those holistic practitioners who supported me in reclaiming my health with differing modalities. I kept thinking, someday I want to do what they’re doing.
Around my 49th birthday, it suddenly occurred to me that someday was here, someday was now, and I better get moving!
The other “awakening” I had was that I did not want to die having regrets. I was having a recurring, heartrending dream in which I was so disappointed at never having found anyone to have a loving relationship with (even though I’m in a very happy marriage to a wonderful man who’s my best friend.) I’d awaken each time I had the dream with a heaviness in my chest and feeling incredibly sad. I finally realized that what I was actually mourning in the dream were all the other things I hadn’t done.
I’d always been afraid of pretty much everything, but I began to do those things I’d said I’d do someday. In the past several years, I’ve been on a cruise to the Caribbean (yes, I was afraid of being on the open seas!), tried white water rafting down a river in North Carolina (fear of drowning), gone down a waterslide at a water park numerous times (yeah, the drowning thing again), and gone snorkeling (no, not drowning—in this case it was sharks). What was frightening about the stagecoach ride? Well, the horses were moving at breakneck speed and we got awfully close to a cliff (fear of falling off cliffs).
And, I did start my own business . . . as a nutrition consultant and health coach. I now get to work from my own home office, supporting other midlife women (and men) who choose to take a proactive approach to improve their health. I did it, and I want others to know they can too!
I was concerned about how I’d feel on my 50th birthday, but I was actually happy when the day came, excited to think of what was in store for me in the next chapter of my life. I also felt that I’d lived through so much and earned “my stripes.” I no longer wanted to tolerate things that bothered me; I even changed my first name!
I’m crossing things off my “bucket list” and happier now than I’ve ever been in my life, and feel that I’m a much more interesting person. And those dreams of loss? I’ve never had another one.
Susanne Warren is a wellness consultant, supporting midlife women and men motivated to address their health issues by guiding them to make healthier nutrition and lifestyle choices. She enjoys seeing her clients experience a renewed sense of well-being and a feeling of empowerment from taking charge of their own health.