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Celebrating Midlife from the Top of (Not Over!) the Hill

By Barbara Waxman October 08, 2023 Mindset

You probably don’t know it, but if you are between the ages of about 45 and 65, a.k.a., midlife, you’re living atop the proverbial hill.

You are likely to be deep into your work and have family and community commitments. You are better at navigating life’s ups and downs, plus you know who and what you really care about – family, friends, health, and giving back.

Armed with decades of expertise and experience, you are ready to own life’s lessons and live!

Addressing the Old Rules

The rules of our culture tell a different story. The old story of midlife is one of crisis and the beginning of decline. According to this antiquated story, age means everything and life is written in three major chapters: youth which represents our time to grow and to learn; adulthood which represents working and having a family; and old age which means retirement and decline.

That way of life may have made sense in the early 1900s when life expectancy hovered around 50. It makes no sense now that we have added decades more.

New Rules for Midlife Living

These new years show up (mostly) as additional vibrant years in the middle – not the end of life. Those old rules and stereotypes no longer apply. It’s time to re-write the book of our life, complete with new chapters that tell the story of how our life actually flows. It’s no longer about our chronological age but rather, the life stage we are in.

My friend Lori (not her real name) is a great example. After raising three children with her husband and doing part-time bookkeeping work during those years, she decided to go back to nursing school in her mid-50s. She is now happily and gainfully employed in a career she had always thought about. The time was only right once her child-raising “stage” was complete.

I love to see her Facebook posts with her 20-something classmates; she is always right in the mix.

Writing Your Own Book of Life

Every life stage – marriage, career, having children, caregiving and going to school – adds new color and characters to our story. We continue to add new careers and become entrepreneurs late in life. We may have a second family, or a grandchild or two to add to our story. We retrain and reinvent ourselves. And when we re-read our book, we find that it is laced with insight and resilience that wasn’t possible before our Middlescence.


My goal, as a coach and author, is to empower you to make your Middlescence a stage of insight, growth, prosperity, joy, health and generosity. Like adolescence when a child begins to evaluate and see herself as separate from others, we get to re-evaluate ourselves. We get to figure out who and how we want to be when we “grow up” – sometimes for the second time! Mostly we have to let go of the old stereotypes of what midlife is supposed to look like.

Celebrities in Middlescence

Culturally, we tend to look at celebrities and how they seem to be leading a trend. Consider that actresses like Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson are at the peak of their careers and aren’t slowing down.

Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt have rolled into Middlescence, all at the height of their stardom. They are actually reflections of what is happening all over the country. We are discovering these bonus years and are figuring out how to make them our best.

Three Truths About Life’s Newest Stage

We can make our middle years life’s most treasured stage and here is why.

We are happier! And that happiness continues to grow through our elder years. Studies show that beginning around the age of 46 our happiness starts to increase and continues to rise as we age.

We are living longer. This new longevity is creating opportunities we are just figuring out what to do with.

We have tools to help us grow during this stage! We are at an inflection point of personal evaluation and desire for more meaning in our lives. Much like an entrepreneur approaches a new concept, we are experiencing challenges and need to creatively address them. I’ll be sharing how to do just that in my upcoming posts, so stay tuned!

I want you to learn more about Middlescence – it truly is the coolest place to be! Check it out – The Middlescence Factor and join the movement!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you made a career change or gone back to school like Lori? What have you decided to be when you “grow up”? What do you find most exciting about this next stage of life? Please share in the comments below.

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articles like this are why i just recommended this site to my Sister – we’ve been in and out of each others’ lives in adulthood – i’ve separated from the herd, and she stayed in. i’m out of family drama – and, taking a chance that she’s not causing it all (aren’t sisters worth that chance-no, not always, i know)

but she is, and i think if she peeks into your site, we will speak a common language about the view from the top of the hill. thank you, 60+ME

Last edited 4 months ago by Beth

The Author

Barbara Waxman is a gerontologist, leadership coach, speaker and author whose insights are illuminating a crucial stage in our personal and professional lives – Middlescence. On her Facebook page and website, Barbara inspires clients and audiences with insights and practical ideas they can put to work for themselves, their families, workplaces and the world.

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