While driving to pick my daughter up from school the other day, I hit the satellite radio button in my car. Per usual, I was bombarded by a plethora of options… Steely Dan (nope), MC Hammer (uh-uh), The Backstreet Boys (not today), Sheryl Crow (pass), and then I dialed in on my choice. Instinctively, my finger selected the rhythmic sounds of Dave Matthews Band.
The song felt like slipping on an old pair of worn-out jeans. Comfortable, soft, and oozing nostalgia from when the bottom of my jeans became frayed on their own - circa 1995. But listening to the lyrics of the song, Seek Up, hit differently as a midlife woman in my 7-seater Volvo SUV versus a 17-year-old cruising in my beat-up minivan.
You seek up an emotion
And our cup is overflowing
You seek up an emotion,
Sometimes, your well is dry
The lyrics reflected precisely how I'd been feeling lately.
One moment I've got my shit together, hair and make-up on point, feeling on top of the world. Then, in a blink, my hair is on the verge of forming dreadlocks, and I'm fumbling to locate my keys and phone, both already in my hand.
Some mornings, I wake up feeling like an empty vessel barren of purpose, even though there's so much value hidden beneath blankets of imposter syndrome and shaky confidence. But at the same time, I have no time for myself because my calendar is filled with obligations that fill my days.
Days drag on as I sit wasting time playing Candy Crush or doom scrolling social media. I procrastinate instead of being productive, then lay frustrated in bed, unable to sleep at the end of the day because I've accomplished nothing but adding more items to my list of things needing attention, except that I've done so many things that I'm exhausted.
As the car and I idled away the minutes waiting for my daughter (because, as a midlife mom of teenagers, I spend half of my life in the car waiting on other people), I looked up the song's meaning. I couldn't find an explanation from the band. Still, plenty of internet wizards were offering their spin — from greed and anti-materialism to the struggle to reconcile our desires. My personal favorite? An AI-generated concept about the pursuit of emotional fulfillment – which you know is my jam.
I personally think it’s about introspection, acknowledging what surfaces from the depths of our souls might not always be pleasant, and having the courage to put in the work for the changes we crave to create a state of congruence… when the internal and external components of a person have a matching consistency.
You and I are the experts of our own lives. No one else can weave our dreams, think our thoughts, or dance our dances – that's all on us. A fairy godmother isn't going to swoop in and rescue us from the midlife struggle bus that's got a flat tire. So, what's it going to be, friends? It's time to pull on those big girl pants and save our own asses. The silver lining? We're not doing it solo.
Life is super complicated, and like the song wisely notes, "Soon we will all find our lives swept away." Not to get too grim, but that line hints at the inevitable - death. I can squander my time on distractions masquerading as significance, or I can take ownership of my life and do what it takes to transform it from a four-alarm fire to a small, contained dumpster fire.
If you ask yourself what truly matters, I bet the list you create will be pretty short. (Seriously, take a minute and ask yourself.) And I bet your list doesn't include societal pressures like legging legs, hip dips, or bingo wings. (FFS... Insert massive eye roll.)
My list features – my family, my personal well-being (health, passions, inner peace), my animals (Did I tell you we bought a horse? Yeah, I didn't have enough going on in my life already.), and my community. Notice what's absent? Things like other people's opinions, guilt, or the undervaluing of my worth. (My teenagers currently excel at this, but mark my words — one day, they'll realize how amazing their mother really is.) By stripping away the noise and getting back to basics, I'm tuning out the noise and directing my energy toward what genuinely counts.
Since implementing my "basic life," there's been a significant shift in how life feels. While every day has quiet lulls tucked into it, my life isn't boring; it's richer. My mental and physical stress levels have decreased with amplified attention to protecting my personal boundaries and learning to choose when to engage and when not to. This brave action frees up precious time and energy, allowing me to connect with myself and others on a deeper level because I'm no longer rushing through life. It's also giving me space to explore new possibilities.
While I don't think you'll ever find me taking the idea of getting back to basics to the level of going completely off-grid, I'm definitely enjoying a simpler pace. (I like having running water and heat, and I don't think off-grid chic would be an overall good look on me.) Life is just too fucking short to let it pass me by, and I don't ever want to draw a blank on years that flew by like days. This phenomenon (that only adults can genuinely understand) makes me sad. Still, it challenges me to be more aware of the details that make life the textured tapestry we all want to hang in our hearts when it's all said and done. (God, that statement sounds a bit woo-woo, but damn, it's good, eh?)
Here's My Theory...
Seeking up won't always give you the answer you are looking for, but it can be a mechanism for reflection. The great thing about being in the messy middle is our secret weapon: wisdom. Midlife women have made mistakes, failed, triumphed, had bouts of dumb luck, been scared and excited simultaneously, made hard choices, taken chances that didn't always pay off, followed our hearts, and overruled them by listening to our brains. However, somehow, we're still here standing.
The reason I like the idea of congruence is that what one feels on the inside is being displayed on the outside, creating a genuinely whole presence — whether you're in a great mood or a shitty one. (I'm sure my RBF does an excellent job of letting others know what my inside thoughts are thinking.) I doubt one can fully exist in this state all the time, but trying to mirror who I know I am on the inside is the truest, most genuine version of me. Combined with a simplified back-to-basics approach to focusing on what's really important, it creates a more accessible pathway to achieving more moments of congruence.
Next time we seek up, let's allow ourselves the room to embrace our wholeness. (And, remember our hormones are on an emotional rollercoaster... so hold on tight.) Utilizing the energy liberated by concentrating on what genuinely counts, let's shape the midlife revolution we're prepared to take on.