No matter the stage of life you find yourself, there is almost always a precipice. A moment where we stand and look ahead and contemplate the future. We contemplate who we now are, and who we would like to be. Mistakes from the past we hope to not repeat. Decisions we are proud of. What we hope to achieve for ourselves and our loved ones in the upcoming year(s).A new direction. Should I go right or left? Up or down? This reflection can happen in your 20’s…looking to start a career for the first time, or in your 30’s… with a young family, or when your kids graduate…. and you find yourselves empty nesters….what then? Divorce? Marriage? Death of a loved one? Terminated from a job? Worked in a job for 30 years? New career path? Children…..All of these things can cause that moment where we stand and look out at the horizon searching for answers.
So, here I stand looking at the dark winter sky seeking it to open up and have a light shine down on me and provide clarity for my future. If you, like me, are basically an empty nester… what then? Adding a dash of spice to this internal search is that we just sold our suburban beauty of a home. The home where my #farmboy lived for over 20 years. The home where my step kids spent the majority, or all, of their lives. The place where we became a family, had dinners, celebrated holidays, did homework, or not….depending on the kid, and loved. To add even more flavor to this stage of life, one sees physical changes in ourselves that are irreversible. And, as a woman, even those of us who work outside of the home, when our children leave home, we struggle for identity. A new way to see ourselves. To fill our time. To make a difference.
So, here I find myself searching. Again. Trust me. I have been in such a place before. After giving birth and meeting my baby girl, and realizing I could not let some stranger raise her and I left my career. After getting divorced and having to discover who I really was…what music I liked, how I wanted to dress, the people I wanted in my life. After being single for many years and realizing I wanted a real and good and loving partner in my life. At each of these major phases in my life I felt as if my head was under water. But, as I felt the water begin to overtake my indecisive mind, I made a decision each time to start swimming to the top. To get my head above the water. And, I knew when my head would pop up above the water I would have clarity on the next phase, and on how to achieve my objective.
This time however, seems a little more confusing. Maybe it really isn’t any more confusing, it is just that this is what and where I am now, and time helps one forget the previous anguish of uncertainty…much like how we forget the pain of childbirth. But, this time I begin in the middle….where it is a little more challenging to be excited. It isn’t about the kids, or the potential of having kids, it isn’t about finding love, it isn’t about what giant career leap I am taking…..but, it begins right where we start to feel unseen. The good news is that I am not seeking love or stability or even youth, as I am in a lovely settled position in regards to all of that. However, it is the time where we start to struggle for identity. A purpose. A purpose outside of being parents, or maybe the responsibility of being adult children to our own parents, or even potentially being grandparents. What is our new identity, as we begin to feel unseen, or maybe even less valued. Advertising, doesn’t really seem to help much. So much of what is in front of our eyes is youth, young pretty people….and yet every morning a little more of our youth seems to disappear. And, while the world of marketing is changing and we are seeing older women in ads, as well as people of color, and more body types….have you noticed the past year or 2 that most of the tops/sweaters, blouses that are being sold seem to be missing 1/2 of their material? That doesn’t really help.
How do we as women, stay stylish, continue to push the needle for ourselves, be seen, and feel comfortable in our skin, make a mark as a human? How do we age gracefully while staying current? How do we find our “special sauce” in a world where everyday every market seems to be flooded with talent and product and skill set? And what if, at this stage in our lives we know we need our special sauce to be vegan or GF or sugar free? What then?
How do we continue to walk the world with a smile on our face and a swagger in our step when we feel unseen or unattractive or unsettled?
Walking the dog at the farm the other day I ran into our neighbor, my friend’s husband, and he just happened to catch me as I was talking through so much of this in my head, and he just happened to ask the “Wrong” questions at the “wrong” time….or were they the “right” questions at the “right” time? And, boy did he get an earful!! HAHAHA. Sorry Tim. But, for myself I have to talk myself through the confusion. I used to journal and drink wine and cry! Truly, I have a journal that is stained with tears and red wine! Now I walk the dog and talk to myself or take a hot shower and talk to myself……But, I do know that I have an ability, a super power, if you will. I can get moody and anxious quickly….but, I am able to see my way out. I am able to see the flower blooming when it is against all odds doing so. What I need to work on is carrying the beauty of that flower with me, even when times are tough or even when uncertain of my next steps,
But, I guess I write all of this in a way to process this past year. This outgoing year has been a good one. Full of all of the normal stuff. Ups and downs. Good times and times of worry. But, in the end, 2022 was decent to us. I am writing all of this down to plan for this upcoming year that is biting our heels to arrive. And, I write this to share how we all end up here at some point or two, or three in our lives. I write this to share. I write this as I try to figure out for myself and to maybe help others. I write this so my #farmboy sees I am working towards an end goal and not just talking words and getting frustrated. I write this so that he also knows how aware I am of my good fortune to have him as my partner. As I attempt to navigate this next phase, I know I would be unable to do so without his support and love.
But how? How to find my way? How to be seen? How to have a legacy that surpasses my family? My thought on all of this? My answer on how to help myself?
I guess on the surface, that might seem odd. Kindness as a way for our own selves to be seen. But, if each of us, every time we are out makes a point to say something nice to someone, offers a sweet and kind gesture to someone who is not expecting it, we will pass along kindness and not only make another feel better, but it will fill our hearts as well. By lifting others up, it will lift us up at the same time. With enough kindness spread and enough kindness in our hearts, we will feel seen. We will feel valued. And, we will pass along value to others.
Instead of feeling envy in our hearts for those with a promotion or sweet outfits or an amazing vacation, if we instead feel happy for those succeeding, our hearts will not turn to stone and depression. Trust me…it is not easy. It is exhausting at times. We can be feeling so frustrated, so angry, and maybe even rightfully so…but, if we stay there, in that place, it will only further our own feelings of self loathing, or indifference. We will dwell in the place of the unseen. And really, who wants that?
And, here is the part that I believe in 100%….by starting small talk with kindness, you will meet all kinds of people. People you might not normally chat with, that might not normally be in your circle. And, doors might open. Connections made. Connections that might lead you onto the path of your goals. Connections that might open your eyes and mind on to a path you could not have predicted.
So, as the year 2023 strides in and takes its rightful place, I am starting my goals list. I am beginning to think about a new vision board. I am working on talking all of my uglies out of my system on my walk or in the shower, and leaving them there. That is key….leaving the uglies behind….and then..then, I am going to walk out with my shoulders back, a smile on my face, and offer sincere compliments.
I will smile. I will talk. I will listen.
I know for certain that I would like to leave many of my poor decisions behind me. I would like to be and do better. I would also like to forgive myself for past mistakes. I would like to be as kind to myself as I hope to be to others.
So, stand with me on the edge with our goals in place, or at least with an open mind to new paths, along with our smiles and leap with me. Let’s leap as high as we can. Let’s just do it. Start the guitar lessons, pick up paint brushes, volunteer, start a business plan for something you have been dreaming of. It is NEVER too late. There is always a little time in our week. Dream BIG with me.
When you and I chat on FB, see each other on the street, talk on the phone, fill me in on your goals. Reach out to me. Let me support you. Let me cheer you on. Let me smile with excitement for your goals. Let me fill you up, and therefore fill myself up. We are in this together.
From me to you, I wish you an amazing 2023 filled with good health and joy, as well as a year filled with working to fill your dreams and goals.
Much love all. Much love!
Beautiful words, beautiful truths and so much kindness! Kindness is always being part of who you are my dear friend and I am so gratefull to have felt it and witness it many times over. May we never be too grown-up to believe in all the dreams we have! A une Joyeuse Annee 2023! Love, Laure
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Laure! Thank you for reading and for commenting. I hope all is well. I would love to hear about all things YOU! Much love, Allison