Cheers, my reader friend. Welcome to the 66th issue of Briefing Notes, a weekly newsletter that explores the well-lived midlife. I appreciate you being here. Was this email forwarded to you? Thank the awesome person then sign-up for your copy here
THE MAIN THING …
You know, those times when you felt happy and sad at the same time?
Like that time when you hugged and said “So Long” to your best mates in college as you went off to start your brave new career.
Or that time after you finished helping your young adult kid set up her college dorm room and saw how excited and ready she was for her next chapter.
Or when you turned for one last look at the now-empty apartment, after the boxes had been loaded away and the truck sat outside waiting for you to begin somewhere new.
It’s that jumble of emotions — hope and sadness and joy and fear and longing and expectation and happiness and tears — that sometimes, we don’t know what to do with, right?
That combination of feelings as we leave behind old paths and take off for new tracks… Bittersweet.
WE’RE USED TO THIS. OR ARE WE?
Welcoming the new while bidding others adieu isn’t unique to midlife. We’ve been doing that all our lives.
But I don’t know — do you find that in midlife, these events seem to take on a different meaning, a more serious tone, a deeper significance?
Our kids grow up and spread their wings. Our parents get old and leave us behind. We outgrow certain relationships and create space for new ones.
We leave behind career paths to start fresh, fumbling and figuring things out along the way. Old beliefs are shunned in favor of more empowering ones to embrace. We let go of long-held expectations and welcome fresh ideas.
This issue of Briefing Notes started out to be about letting go — well, it still is 😉. You’ll find the rest of the issue below is all about this.
But I did want to acknowledge the emotions that accompany the process, in that liminal period between the ending of one thing and the beginning of another… even when letting go is desired and welcomed.
At the point of relaxing our grip and releasing our hold can be a melee of emotions: a sense of loss even as we’re happy to let go, a questioning of who we are becoming as we embrace the opportunities, the fluttering in our belly with the tightness in our chest.
There is a flip side to the excitement of starting a new chapter. The feelings that come with ending the old one… whether that’s nostalgia, sadness, wistful longing. I would argue that even in the loudest “good riddance”, there is the tiniest sense of loss for what was or what could have been.
I think perhaps it is a kindness to ourselves to acknowledge that part rather than shoving it under the rug, brushing ourselves up, and quickly putting on a brave face.
There’s a trick to the graceful exit. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, a relationship is over – and to let go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its value. – Ellen Goodman
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- What it Takes to Let Go and Start Over. A fresh start isn’t just about starting over. It’s also about letting go of something we had or held on to for a while.
- Midlife and the Mission of Letting Go. “As we are forced to let go of loved ones and unrealized expectations in our lives, we get to choose who we will become. We can choose to let go of the past, and the bitterness that it may uncover.”
- How to Learn to Let Go of What You Can’t Control. “Almost everything in my life that I’ve had to let go of has scratch marks on it.” Do you find it hard to let go so that it feels like you’re holding on tight and longer such they leave claw marks?
- “We don’t need to think badly of someone to have outgrown them. We can even love a person and for a range of reasons never want to see them again.” How to End a Friendship
- Video. Beautiful New Words to Describe Obscure Emotions with John Koenig | TED Talks. In trying to describe the combination of feelings, I used the word “bittersweet”. It was the word that came closest but I’m not sure it captures all of it completely. I stumbled upon this TED talk that talks about words, the meaning we give them, and the meanings that latch on to us. I thought it was a beautiful video essay. Also “sonder”.
MULL IT OVER
“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning.” — Louis L’Amour
TALK TO ME
What’s been your experience with letting go? Have you felt this jumble of emotions that I talked about? Hit reply and let me know. I’d love to hear from you.
Have you got a project (a new podcast, a new website, a new product, service, artwork, what have you) that you would like to get featured here? Hit ‘reply’ and tell me about it. Let’s support each other!
REMEMBER THE TIME…
Dateline: May 6, 2004
After 10 seasons and 235 episodes, the last episode of Monica, Rachel, Ross, Joey, Chandler, and Phoebe aired on NBC that particular Thursday seventeen years ago. <sigh>
In the U.S., 52.5 million viewers watched the final, making it the most-watched entertainment telecast since the Seinfeld finale in 1998.
David Schwimmer (aka Ross) had this to say about the final episode.
It’s exactly what I had hoped. We all end up with a sense of a new beginning and the audience has a sense that it’s a new chapter in the lives of all these characters.
The day has arrived! 💃 Cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to finally let this cat out of the bag.
The podcast, Second Breaks, is entering a new chapter.
This is more than a start of a new season — although it coincides with the start of Season 7. Just shy of 4 years, the podcast is leaving behind its original premise of second acts, career pivots, and everything career, into the richer landscape of life in the middle.
There is more to (mid)life than work after all. And in this phase of our life, there’s so much more that interests us beyond our work and careers.
In the latest episode, I talk about the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one. I talk about the why behind this decision, what you can expect going forward, and my promise to you as the show’s producer.
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Briefing Notes is researched, written, and edited by me alone. I love doing this work and your support would mean the world to me. If you like reading or find value in the newsletter, I’d so much appreciate you subsidizing my coffee habit 😊 It helps with the research and the writing!
That I’m now fully vaccinated (for COVID 19) means a postponed life change originally intended for 2020 can finally proceed.
For sure, I am excited about it. And yet, I feel the lump in my throat, the tightness in my chest as I go about doing the things that need doing to make this change happen.
No doubt that feeling influenced the mood of this edition 😉
I very rarely quote Deepak Chopra, but I will just this once:
In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.
Here’s to a productive and easeful week ahead.