" mature woman"Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Every time you meet a situation, though you think at the time it is impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it, you find that forever after you are freer than you were before.”

For some people, this is not news. Some women know that to work through a challenge and come out the other side is a distinct possibility in many parts of their lives. For other women, this is a brand new thought. Some of us didn’t know we had a choice and by the time we had worked through it, our resources were so drained that it didn’t seem like freedom afterward.

By the time we become “women of a certain age”, we’ve experienced a multitude of character building challenges – marriage, divorce, house buying and selling, caring for parents, dealing with teenagers, menopause.

So, have these challenges changed who we are? Changed our character, changed our coping skills? Have they directed or redirected our paths, our journey? Have they changed our lives?

Of course they have. Eleanor Roosevelt was no slouch when it came to wisdom or when it came to life changing events. She was the first lady of the United States when her husband contracted polio which would confine him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Even though Franklin D Roosevelt continued his term as one of the most loved and dedicated presidents in history, I’m certain that Eleanor, herself an woman actively seeking change, I’m certain that her life included that voyage of the damned and I’m equally certain that she lived through it and came out the other side much freer than she was before.

And so, we each must do the same, don’t you think? If we’re now women of a certain age, we’re now seeing some monumental changes in our lives that test us and change us repeatedly.

Our choice is to do nothing, become mired in self pity, become overwhelmed and become weighed down with the burden of our own challenges,
We can choose to fight; we can choose to sit quietly in a dark room to better speak with ourselves, we can choose to pull ourselves out of the quicksand.

My mother, who lived to be over 100 and remained feisty for most of her years, used to say, “I hurt so much today that I baked a batch of cookies.” That’s what a positive mind set does. It challenges the bad moments in our lives and turns them into the good moments instead. It erases the bad with some sugar and flour and chocolate chips.

With each batch of cookies, my mom freed herself from her pain, by lending her mind and her hands to another task, by forcing her pain out the door and leaving her free to bake those cookies.

We all have our tortures and I suspect we’ll have some more of them in our lives, so we need to decide right now how we’re going to deal with our tortures. Are we going to let them torture us or are we going to use them to make us, as Eleanor Roosevelt suggested, freer than we were before?

I’m a woman of a certain age, and I’m certain that my choices will leave me freer than I was before.

©Marcia Barhydt, 2011