Yesterday was my birthday. My 45th, to be exact. In her card, my mom reminded me that it’s only another 5 years until I hit the big 5-0. Thanks, Mom. Just what I wanted to hear. My sister (who is 47) and I have made a pact to not really talk about the numbers anymore at this stage of our lives. Too depressing. We try to not think about the fact that our two older brothers are 56 and 57 this year. And our baby brother is 43.
At the risk of sounding like a walking cliche, I really don’t feel my age. Maybe it’s because I never had kids and therefore didn’t deal with that kind of stress and exhaustion. (I know having a family is not all bad. It just wasn’t for me.) Maybe it’s because I still have vivid memories of my teenage years, my twenties (when I was an idiot like so many of us were), and of course, my thirties, when I really started to wake up and see who I was as a person. When I started listening to my heart and made big, life-changing decisions.
The boyfriend and I talked the other night and I mentioned how, presently, my outlook on life is to not try to stress out so much over things like overpaying for something by $5-6, because really, it’s not going to matter a year from now. And I’m certainly not taking my money to the grave with me when I die. True, I try to be smart about financial decisions, but I don’t let one mistake ruin my day, or try not to, anyway. I told him, people make decisions based on the information they have available to them at the time, so don’t beat yourself up over what hindsight presently shows you about the past. Best to just learn from it and move on.
Recently, some people whose opinion I really value have told me that what they admire about me is my ability to express myself and be honest about things. (Hope I’m paraphrasing accurately, Pauline and Josh.) They’re from two very different parts of my life, yet they see something in common. So here’s the honest truth about what’s on my mind these days.
Am I happy with my life? Yes, and no. Do I wonder if I made the right decision two years ago to just leave everything and everyone I was familiar with to move thousands of miles away? Yes, quite often. Do I feel like I’ve grown a lot in the past two years in understanding more of what my core values are? A resounding yes. Do I wish I made more money? Yes! (I’m beginning to think there is some truth to the research that says once you make about $50-55K, any increases over that don’t increase your level of happiness as much as they might have done when increasing your income from say $25K-30K and then to 35K.)
Am I enjoying the academic program I’m taking part in with the Institute for Humane Education? Yes, because it’s making me think critically about issues that are important to me. It’s making me look inward and helping me to figure out what direction to take my life in from here.
Notice I said, “what direction to take my life in.” I am not content to let life happen to me. It’s a somewhat uncomfortable place to be in, trying to figure out that direction, and knowing that I may never get it right, but that the real value is in the interim, that space in time and location when I’m trying to figure it all out.
Where do I want to be? Where do I want to end up? In the mountains or near the coast? Do I miss being able to educate others and inspire them to expand on their learning or research skills? Do I miss the change of seasons? Do I like the warmer winters? Do I miss seeing big bodies of water? YES! Am I grateful for having met so many new people over the past two years? YES! Do I still think about doing the nomadic thing at one point in my life? Yes! Do I want a tiny house or the stability of being in one place and being able to create beauty there through my words and a garden? Yes!
Do I want to spend more of my days writing? YESSS!!!! Do I think eventually I can do that? Yes, I WILL make it happen. But how? Do I try to find work through the content mills or do I start pitching ideas to editors or just sit down and force that book or books out of me that I’ve been trying to get out of my head and onto paper?
Lots of contradictions and questions to sort out, to be sure. And I may never get it all truly sorted out. Accepting that thought as a possibility is difficult. I may never do so.
Outside, the sky is gray today (very unlike yesterday, when I took the pictures you see in this post, which are from the Bosque.) I realize I like both types of days, which makes me wonder, maybe parts of me still want to be in the Pacific Northwest (or does it mean I miss the change of seasons, and in effect, my family, or the Northeast?) So many questions to sort out.
This post has been much longer than normal, so if you have read this far, I appreciate it. I truly do appreciate all the comments that you leave me here on this blog, and on my facebook pages when I post them. I learn from each and every one of them. And if I see someone hit the “like” button, I feel grateful for having touched that person in some way. I write for myself, and to help create a community.
Thanks for joining me on this journey. And as always, thanks for reading.