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Midlife: Embrace Your Inner Idea Diva

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

By Dorian Martin, I Start Wondering Founder

Now is a time for transformation! As mature women, we have multiple decades under our belt and have been challenged to navigate the ups and downs, the curves, and the sudden stops. We have experienced triumphs and dead-ends, beauty and scars, and good and bad surprises.

Now many of us may be finding ourselves at loose ends. We may be ending marriages, becoming empty nesters, caregiving for elders, retiring from or changing careers, or facing other types of transitions. And as we navigate the turmoil of our current cultural environment, we may be deciding that we’re not in the place where we want and need to be.

Many of us are asking, “What’s next?” but we can’t answer that question. We need to give ourselves permission to explore, to go on a quest.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Time for Transformation

In her book, “Breaking Point: Why Women Fall Apart and How They Can Re-Create Their Lives,” (link is a part of an affiliate program) Martha Beck describes the decision many women face about the trajectory of our life that goes against societal expectations. Beck believes that society places expectations on women that may not resonate with who we are at the core. These can be “traditional women’s roles” such as motherhood, caregivers, or homemakers. It can be common misconceptions about aging, a sole focus on grandparenting, and the belief that we have a dwindling number of choices as we age. 

We end up in a double bind between these expectations and what we really want in life. Beck notes that upon encountering this double-bind, many women reach a breaking point where they turn back and accept societal and familial demands. However, some women embrace an opportunity for transcendence that gives them an opportunity to re-create their life.

Have you experienced this? I have. Because I lived closer to my parents than my brother–who is the better hands-on, day-to-day caregiver–I took on the role of caregiving. That duty ended up lasting for over a decade. While I did a good job, I also was increasingly handcuffed in pursuing my own desires for my life.

Unsurprisingly, the breaking point came for me in late 2014 and throughout 2015. I burned out physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually while trying to juggle caregiving for my father, finishing graduate school, and maintaining a freelance writing career.

That led to an introspective period of time where I focused on determining what I wanted in life, instead of following what everyone else felt I should do. It also led to a slow rebuilding of stamina and a commitment to making meaningful choices that resonate with who I am.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Exploring Other Facets

Yet making those choices can be hard. In “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are,” Dr. Brené Brown writes, “In a world that values the primacy of work, the most common question that we ask and get asked is, ‘What do you do?’ I used to wince every time someone asked me this question. I felt like my choices were to reduce myself to an easily digestible sound bite or to confuse the hell out of people.”

Thinking deeply and differently about what we want from life can lead to Miracle-Gro moments. One of mine was listening to a TEDTalk by writer and artist Emilie Wapnick. She suggests that we can be multipotentialite, following our many interests in unique ways that resonate with us.

Wapnick is not alone in encouraging this approach to reaching our potential(s). Brown suggests that we consider embracing the “slash effect” that doesn’t put limits on our description of ourselves. Who’s to say we can’t be an artist/accountant/mother/runner/small business owner?

Pursuing Many Interests

For example, many well-known figures – including Cleopatra, Maya Angelou, Josephine Bonaparte, Diane Keaton, and Martha Stewart – have developed a multi-dimensional approach to life. Why not you and me? Do we have to continue to conform to a specific label that our culture wants to prescribe? Why can’t we explore the sparkly ideas that speak to us and become what one of my friends describes as an “Idea Diva”? I, for one, want to embrace this approach moving forward. This leads me to this website…

The Impetus for I Start Wondering

Kaye Olsson planted the seed for I Start Wondering on our whirlwind trip to Santa Fe in September 2015. She asked me, “Why don’t you create a blog on lifelong learning?” It wasn’t something I had thought about, but the idea resonated. I am always trying new things, whether it’s a unique cuisine, a thought-provoking book, or a different experience. In fact, I already described myself as a “constant reinventor” on my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.

I let Kaye’s pitch percolate a bit, nurtured by conversations with other friends and contemplation over several glasses of wine and creative projects.

This website launched in late 2015, grew as contributors joined, and then took a hiatus as our lives took different turns and energy levels slowed.

Now we’re back – with a refined vision for I Start Wondering! Many of the same contributors are onboard as well as some new ones (including Kaye). We feel this reinvention is timely since women – especially mature women – are sorting out what they really want in life. Our goal is to highlight a wide range of older women who embrace their curiosity in mid-life and beyond. We want to explore different elements of life-long learning (whether it’s a different approach to aging or a great recipe). Ultimately, we want to entice ourselves – and hopefully, you – into embracing a life filled with continuing curiosity and growth. Here’s to living a large, full, and expansive life!

How do you want to explore your life? Tell me below.

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