Whatever the opposite of a midlife crisis is - I'm having that.

I decided to start a blog on the heels of another (academic) project turned website turned movement. In keeping that movement about the cause which is supporting women, I did not want to bog down the blog with a stream of my own stories, but I have a lot to say so what to do , what to do? And that is how this blog was born.

First of all, I decided to go back to school at 44. I received mixed reviews, everything from encouragement and congratulations to "are you having a mid-life crisis?". Thankfully I wasn't waiting around for anyone to make sense of my new educational escapades and I just laughed and said "Actually whatever the opposite of a mid-life crisis is, I'm having that." I felt like I was FINALLY getting to know myself and allowing myself to dream and then move in the direction of those dreams.

I am a 46 year old undergraduate at the University of Michigan. If you aren't familiar with just how ballsy that is, imagine Mrs. Garrett from Facts of Life trying to reinvent herself as a student and not a house mom. I am most definitely the geriatric on campus, however, I have never done anything according to a "normal" timeline. Call me a late bloomer, call me mad, but I put myself on hold for far too long to let something like age get in the way of pursuing what my soul has been urging me to do for years. It would be nice to see a few more like me on campus, a few more mid-lifers and I do think they should mix it up. Diversify. Include. Represent.

Alas, U of M is predominately the traditional landscape of fresh faced youngsters and nothing against fresh faced youngsters, but where my girls at applying cold cream and having hot flashes? I wish U of M saw the value of being a teensy bit more welcoming to students of a certain age. This isn't to say I have been without support because that isn't the case. But in general, overall, I would love to see age diversity become a thing. I just know there are more women like me that would step outside their comfort zones and come back IF it weren't so daunting and hard to find parking.

As a commuter, the pandemic has saved me an almost hour commute one way. This is probably one of the biggest areas that U of M has the opportunity to maintain inclusion for people my age, however, they are really pushing for everything to be in person exclusive next semester and exclusivity'm going to have a fun winter drive several days a week. They are not designed to think of older students who have multiple roles, responsibilities, and don't live in shared housing on campus.

Is it fair for me to expect inclusion? Who do I think I am anyway?! I think it's reasonable because I am still relevant and worthy. People are treated as if there's an expiration date to their value in these spaces in society, so if you don't have the benefit of going right out of high school, you're going to have an uphill climb coming back mid-life. It's almost like being punished for not being privileged. And I am not saying everyone who goes at the traditional time is privileged but from my vantage point, I wouldn't be met with as many barriers if I were living on campus. However, my family might frown if I decided to pack up and move into a dorm.

I digress. So besides the pitfalls of navigating academia while also going through menopause, I certainly am blessed to be where I am in fiery pursuit of my passion. My passion is empowering women because I know what it means to feel powerless. More on that later. I have majors in Sociology and Social Work with a minor in Women's and Gender Studies and I have been accepted into the School of Social Work next Fall where I will earn my MSW and then use that to go into private practice counseling women using trauma informed and strengths based approaches. Do those approaches sound like they conflict? Two truths can coexist - you can have trauma and also have an abundance of strengths at the same time. Having trauma doesn't negate your strengths but sometimes it can be difficult to recognize the multitude of strength we possess because until we work to heal the trauma, it will color your world in shades of black and gray.

My heart has always led me to helping others. However I had to learn to help myself first before I could go on to really pursue a career helping others. I mean it's only fair - who wants a counselor that can't practice what she preaches? So two years of intense therapy later, I was able to heal and most importantly, forgive, which really liberated ME to be able to soar. You don't realize after carrying the weight of so much pain for so long, how that really weighs you down. It's like moving through quicksand your whole life. Forgiveness is not for the faint of heart and it's woefully misunderstood. I myself was indignant at the notion for so long. I thought that if I were to forgive those who abused me that was like a free pass for them, a get out of karma free card. Where's the justice?!!! I demand justice! Well, that's not how all this works.

Forgiveness is for you, it is not about the other person. In fact, the other person doesn't need sent a notice of forgiveness as if their debt has been rendered null and void. No no. Their debt has been transferred to the universe to sort out. You no longer need to fixate on HOW that will be sorted out. The best revenge is found in finding yourself and your happy and moving forward. Moving forward without dragging the weight of resentment, hate and injustice with you. Think about it, has that method changed anything positively? Has that produced any apologies or validations from the very people who abused you? Can we read that again and see where the irony of that expectation lays? Your seeking validation and remorse from the very people who hurt you is futile. You don't need their approval or apologies in order to move forward.

I say this from experience. The best thing I ever did for ME was to forgive THEM. I didn't send a press release or have any profound conversation outside of counseling sessions. It just happened naturally as I began healing myself.

So I hope you'll come back and visit from time to time. I will tell you a bit more of what I've been through that led me here and I'll also be taking you along for this weird and wacky college ride I'm on. I hope you'll also visit my sister site and first blog comprised of bad ass women empowering each other.

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