Welcome to My Mid-Life Crisis!

Welcome  When you hear the words “mid-life crisis,” do you envision a middle-aged man driving around in a trendy sports car, wearing too-tight pants, and cuddling with a very young blond?  Yeah, that was pretty stereo-typical, wasn’t it?  The truth is, a mid-life crisis can happen to anyone, and while the level of “crisis” differs among individuals, it can be a very real thing for each person.  So bear with me today as I share my thoughts about my upcoming birthday and this state of “crisis” I am currently in.  A warning, though, this is more that “real life” side of faith-family-food, and not so much the warm fuzzies!

Food For Thought  When my husband turned 40, he went out and bought a sporty little red car and picked up some old bad habits.  I guess it was lucky for me that I was in really good shape at the time, because at least he didn’t feel the need to go out and find that pretty young blond I was talking about earlier.  Now it’s my turn to “celebrate” 40 in a few days and I am not looking forward to it.  For most of my adult life, like many others I know, I have lacked enthusiasm for my birthday.  While I am grateful that God has blessed me with another year of life, I tend to fall in with the “glass half empty” crowd.  I usually see birthdays as a reminder of all the things I haven’t accomplished yet and the shorter amount of time I have left to do them.  And this year feels worse than usual!

Maybe it’s because any number with a zero at the end seems like a “big one.”  Maybe it’s because of some health issues I have experienced.  Maybe it’s because my whole life was turned upside down this past year.  Maybe it’s because when I was younger I spent my time making all the responsible decisions.  Or maybe it’s just normal for this time in life.  Whatever it is, I know I’ve become very restless and want change.  That’s interesting to me, considering that I spent years dealing with anxiety and avoiding change.  Don’t get me wrong, there are things about my life that I love!  I love my husband and daughter and wouldn’t let them go for anything in the world.  Not really.  Although, last week, I had this fantasy where I just packed up my things and moved to the mountains in a little shack of a cabin to live out my days by myself.  Would I really do that, of course not, but it became very clear that my priorities have shifted a lot over the past 20 years.

A few months ago I shared with my husband how frustrating it is to not fully understand our priorities and what we really want until we reach mid-life.  In many cases, it is too late to change things by then.  I think that’s the biggest reason why these crises of mid-life even exist.  I thought I wanted to live close to urban society, accessing art and culture and shopping and city parks.  I thought I wanted the typical suburban life-style…a two-income family complete with a multi-level home, kids and SUV’s and weekend practices and school functions.  I thought I wanted to teach, because in my mind, teaching was all about the kids and helping them.  Yeah, sure it is.  What I realize now is that I want something completely different!  My husband responded and was probably right when he said this: “That is what you wanted then.  People change.  People learn and grow from different experiences.  That’s why we want something different later on.  It’s not that we want the wrong things early on.  We just change and want different things later.”  He is a smart man, just one of the many reasons I love him!  But as wise as his words are, it still doesn’t help the fact that I want CHANGE NOW!

Welcome to my crisis!  I want change, but don’t know how to get it.  For me, it’s not as simple as going and getting a new hairstyle…there’s no money for that right now anyway.  This need for change wouldn’t be satisfied with a shiny new car in the driveway…and there’s sure no money for that!  As the U2 song says, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…”  Some of you may be thinking…you already quit your job of 18 years and started on this whole “writing gig,” what more change could you possibly need?  Again, that’s why this is a “crisis.”  It’s a time when we know we need something different but we’re not sure what that is or how to get it.

A couple of weeks ago I had a mini-meltdown because my husband and daughter wouldn’t take a walk with me on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.  Later, I told them it wasn’t so much about the walk.  But I couldn’t exactly put into words what was bothering me, either, leaving them puzzled, and probably frustrated.  Later, as I was moping in my craft room, I was trying to think of how to explain what was really bothering me.  My thoughts looked something like this:  “This is it.  I have nothing left to look forward to for the rest of my life.  No more big excitement of graduations, engagement, marriage, babies or new houses.  No more personal bests at 10K’s and half-marathons.  No more work accomplishments.  No more ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ except, you know, the light.” And then, my husband puts out the statement that we can’t take a hiking trip this year.  So now you’re telling me no more adventures, either.  What on earth do I possibly have to look forward to in my coming days?  What on earth is there possibly worth celebrating?  When my husband asks me what I want for my birthday, I just say “Nothing.”  And honestly, I don’t really want him to get me anything.  This isn’t going to sound very nice, I’m sure, but whatever he may find to buy at a retail store, it’s not what I “really” want.

All of this makes me sound completely selfish and focused on things that are not spiritual or Godly, even after I spent time sharing about dreams and focus last week!  But feelings are real.  I could completely ignore them, storing them up to feed resentment and bitterness later on.  Or I can recognize them, talk through them, and reach a place of acceptance or a place of action.  Even as I have been “talking” through them here while writing, I have realized that while I may not have change or grand adventure immediately in front of me, I do have hope and I do have faith.  Hope and faith allow me to believe that God listens to our prayers, our cries, and recognizes our frustrations.  This is my year of faith!  God presents us with opportunities to bring about the change we are looking for, and I choose to believe that God has something great in store for me, just around the corner.

Today’s Scripture  I have started a month-long Bible study on the topic of faith for February.  Today’s reading was in Psalm 139.  I enjoyed this today, as I’m contemplating my birthday and the time I have here on earth.  I’m going to share a few verses from my reading this morning, those seeming to address the topics weighing on my mind in recent days.  This chapter is full of comfort from the idea that God has been with each of us since before our existence and will continue to be with us throughout our lives, and beyond.

Psalm 139:1-4  “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”

Psalm 139:14-16  “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, and I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139:23-24  “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Today’s Recipe  Okay, for the second time this week, I am sharing someone else’s recipe.  My birthday hasn’t technically arrived yet, but I was feeling the need to have a really over-the-top dessert to help get me through all of my emotional mess this week.  Yeah, I don’t want to talk about my emotional eating issues today.  But I will tell you that I found this “extravagant” Triple Cookie Layer Cake at Life, Love, and Sugar.  If you have a sweet tooth, you really need to go over and check out Lindsey’s site!  Because it is her idea and recipe, I will not copy it here.  I will show you some of the pictures from my attempt at this great baking project, a few things I noticed, and some links to other over-the-top desserts I considered for my “mid-life crisis” dessert.  Again, it is really worth it to check out her page.  She even has other cookie cake flavors, if you want to mix it up!

Triple Cookie Layer Cake
A mid-life crisis worthy birthday dessert…a layered “cake” with chocolate chip, chocolate-chocolate chip, and rainbow white chip cookie layers with classic buttercream.

You’re going to make three cookie “cakes.”  I used classic chocolate chip, chocolate-chocolate chip, and Funfetti cake with extra sprinkles and white chocolate chips.  My notes: I used 9 inch silicone round cake pans because layers come out so clean, my cakes took longer (by about 10 minutes) to bake than stated in her recipes, the Funfetti cake with white chocolate is extremely sweet, I used only white chips in the Funfetti layer, but she used a mix of white and chocolate, and later in the recipe she does note that the centers will fall in these cakes…I was panicking a little until I read that note from her.

You are going to make a classic buttercream that uses half butter and half shortening.  My notes: it has been years since I used shortening in a frosting and I had forgotten how rich it is-whoa; I followed her exact recipe and I didn’t have near the amount of frosting to make all the fancy embellishments that she had in her pictures-I had enough for a thin layer between the cookies and enough to frost the top; it didn’t need more frosting flavor-wise, but for appearance sake it could have used more.

The cakes stacked pretty and easy.  I will say, though, that it took a half day to get this recipe made.  I only baked one cookie cake at a time, which could have been a little different, but I started mixing the first batter around 2 in the afternoon.  With cooling time in the middle, it was around 8 at night before the cake was completed.

Realizing that the amount of frosting was small and not wanting to make a double batch, I used the frosting sparingly between the layers so I could have plenty for a thick layer on top.  I knew there wouldn’t be enough for decorating, so I tried to make the edges “full and fluffy.”  And what’s a birthday cake without sprinkles?  I added some, then went back and added more!

It’s yummy, for sure, but it’s SOOOO sweet.  I can only eat a very small piece at a time.  My daughter is also enjoying it.  My husband tried a piece, since it was my “birthday cake,” but then he’s stayed away from this very unfriendly dessert for diabetics.  My last note on this is it’s best if you are going to be sharing your celebration cake with a lot of other people.  With only two people able to eat this at our house, it’s starting to get a little dry on the edges…but still worth it.

If you’re looking for some other desserts to meet criteria for milestone birthdays, check out these links:

Sprinkle Cheesecake

Chocolate Explosion Cake

Birthday Waffle Cake

Pink Velvet Cake with Purple Buttercream

Chocolate Mod Polka Dot Cake

Confetti Cake Batter Cookie Dough Brownie Layer Cake