“You must give up the life you had planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” – Joseph Campbell
Tomorrow is my 37th birthday, a few days before 2014. I find myself technically homeless sleeping on my mother’s couch. I don’t own a home, I’m not renting an apartment or even a boat to dwell on at the moment. I am taking a hiatus from my job and have been working on whittling down my belongings so that they can fit in the back of a pick up truck. I am unmarried without children and currently not dating. I don’t have a pet or even any plants anymore (I gave them all away including the cactus that was living in my car for a while). My situation may sound bleak to some. One might ask, “is this what you thought your life would look like at 37?”
I guess I never really thought too much about it. 37? Is there a “should” that life should look like? I had a long-lost friend, now a Living Chapters follower, call me a few weeks ago to ask if my “Living Chapters” project was product of a mid-life crisis. Mid-life already? Really? Well if a quest for self-improvement is the outcome of my mid-life crisis, it seems as though I am handling it pretty well. It may not be unique but creating a blog about life seems a bit better solution than purchasing an overpriced car, starting a fanatic workout routine/diet or getting a really bad oh-so-permanent tattoo. If you’re faced with crisis, of any sort I am always in favor of looking at the root of the problem rather than fixing the surface.
But honestly, no, I can’t say I really thought that I would be in this particular situation at this point in my life. I guess I was convinced that I would own a home, be married, have 1.5 kids or have a stable substantial full-time job with health benefits. I thought I’d have at least one of these “rites of passage”. I must admit, I had NO IDEA that I would be making decisive choices to not obtain these things and still somehow feel fortunate, content and happy about it. I was lucky to have an open-minded mother and supportive friends in my life who encouraged and helped me become confidant in my decision-making. So yes I have had good fortune on my side but luck has nothing to do with the task of creating your own path. Improvising your life may be rewarding but also takes a lot of work and ingenuity.
Our culture and society (although more progressive than some) has still to this day, left very little room for women to write their own stories from scratch. From the time I was a little girl, it seems I have been trying to rewrite a pre-written fairy tale that was handed to me at birth telling me how I should look, act or live. Who knew that improvising these past 37 years would have led me to such a fortunate (and free) place in almost mid-life. In many ways it’s a pleasant surprise. I had no idea that at this point, I would be nervous and excited, packing to move to a tropical island, allotting myself time to explore new talents, business ventures and personal growth. I didn’t think I would be debt free, without regret, with a chance to reinvent my career and daily patterns. I had no preview of how dynamic and fluid my life could become. Through my twenties and thirties, I have traveled the world, worked voraciously at creative endeavors and gained the most amazing and incredible people in my life. I have never strived toward having “it all” but have worked toward having an authentic and fulfilling existence. In this past year especially, I have been letting the external ambitions, of what I had thought my life should be, go. (the thoughts of “I need this job, this person, this trajectory) These ideas have been difficult to shed but letting go of the expectations has created a new space and place for the potential that I am and will become.
The process of creating and implementing Living Chapters (writing the guidelines for my own script) along with my friends and fellow protagonist, Shannon Twenter, has taught me that letting go and trusting myself and those that I care about brings me closer to the only ambition I hold right now – a calm, more capable, caring and confidant me to take on the upcoming challenges and opportunities.
Just finding this blog today? Read more about the Living Chapters project here.