Sunday, January 23, 2011

2011 - The Year of Sweet Surrender

Thank you, Sarah McLachlan, for the phrase in my title. "Sweet Surrender" is what has been coming to me over and over as I look ahead to yet another New Year.

In years past, I've always sat there on New Year's Eve making all sorts of positive intentions and visualizing things I would like to see happen in the new year. And many years, things did indeed move and shake and change my life. But in the last 3 years, I have to honestly say that--with the exception of publishing my novel, which was a HUGE milestone and personal victory/dream come true for me--very little has "come true" or changed. In fact, I would have to say that for the last three years my life I have felt trapped in an unmovable glacier.

2010 wasn't the happiest of years for me. It was a year of loss. Coping with the loss of my late brother. Losing my business, because of the loss of full use of my right arm tendon. Loss of my savings, as I lived off them during a long period of unemployment. Then when I did land a temp job, I still didn't quite make enough to change my living arrangement, which I've felt "stuck" in for way too long. Loss of consistent and quality writing time. There were other minor losses and disappointments here and there, but they're not worth going into.

The three things that kept my spirits up this year...were my dearest loved ones, running the Air Force Half Marathon, and my hiking club--which was something I could always look forward to on several weekends out of the year.

So yeah...I will be very glad to see 2010 go. Arrivederci, baby!

And this year, rather than making resolutions or hopefully intending that this will happen and that will happen....I will just laugh and admit that I haven't a CLUE what's going to happen. I surrender. Not in a complacent way, but in a letting go kind of way. A "trusting that my Higher Power (who I call God) will shine a light" kind of way.

I'll accept the things I can't change, I'll put on my Big Girl Pants and change the things I can, and hopefully I'll have the wisdom to know the difference. And I will take ALL the divine inspiration I can possibly get. (Please and thank you)

Bring on 2011, I say. Bring it! (Makes me giggle and think of the guy in Spinal Tap..."Ours go to 11.")

I'm ready to move sweet surrender.


Midlife Awakenings

In the past couple of years, after sitting across the table from friends and acquaintances in cozy pubs over a good microbrew (or over a good latte in a coffeehouse), I have come to a huge realization. Oftentimes, there is no such thing as a Midlife Crisis. What I see are Midlife Awakenings.

Let’s back up a second…

Growing up, I remember adults tsk-tsking and shaking their heads as they listened to shocking news about other friends of theirs who had suddenly done some sort of monumental, sudden (and often unacceptable), change-up in their lives. “He’s finally gone off the deep end.” “I don’t know what’s got into her, all of a sudden.” “Don’t they know what this is doing to ____?” “She’s acting like a teenager.” “Doesn’t he know he’ll never make any money at that?” “Are they crazy?”

And always followed up with, “Maybe it’s some kind of midlife crisis.”

The stereotypical 45 year-old who buys a Harley for the first time in his life. The woman who gets a divorce after 30 years and moves in with someone else. The person who chucks their high-salaried corporate job and starts some little small business. These are just a few examples of what society has labeled “midlife crises.” (And admittedly, there are some who do make careless and foolish mistakes that they later regret because they did not think things through. But I’m not talking about them today. I’m talking about all the rest…)

Flash forward to when I myself become “middle-aged.” (Holy crap! Already??) A lot can happen to friends when you live in California for three years and then come back to re-join their lives-in-progress. Their children grow up. They turn a little grayer up top. They have suddenly realized that we only have about thirty to forty more years of life left (if we're lucky). And that is a serious, sobering thought.

What I see happening, is people start recognizing what means the most to them in life, and what doesn’t. What is slowly destroying them and robbing them of their soul, and what is more life giving and worthwhile. Some have been living a life that they thought would make them or others happy, but really they either hadn’t yet discovered their true bliss or talent or personality….or knew what it was all along, but suppressed it because their mate or their families did not approve. I myself had my “midlife awakening” kind of early when I quit my corporate job, moved across the country, and devoted most of my time to being a writer. It was there that I found my most peaceful, happy self.

This past summer, I attended my high school class reunion (25 years!) and I saw a bunch of 42-43 year olds who looked more beautiful and more content and more wise than I’d ever seen them in my life. They were finally comfortable in their own skin. They cared not if others approved or disapproved. The hardest part of parenting was over for most of them, and they were starting to live life for themselves again. Some (like me) had changed careers a few times and finally found their best niche. Things that used to be major issues once…we could now chuckle at.

Right now, some of my friends/acquaintances, both male and female, are going through (or have gone through) some serious transitions. The changes they want to make in their lives are not easy, because they will affect other lives, and maybe not in the best way. But I’ve never seen them so alive. I’ve watched them shed the final layers of what they were “supposed” to be all these years and uncover their true, authentic selves. They’re taking up crafts no one knew they could do. They’re starting to speak up for themselves more and express their desires when they always used to fade into the background and just go along with things. They’re realizing what living with passion is, for the first time in their lives. A couple of them are carefully, with utmost regard for their spouses, deciding how to leave a marriage that happened for all the wrong reasons. And while the huge changes they’re about to make will seem shocking, erratic, and unacceptable to a lot of people…what they will be doing is loving themselves more than they ever have before. Being the most whole and fulfilled people they can be, in the time they have left.

And I think this is a thing of beauty. It’s been hard watching them struggle…but it’s good to know (in the modified words of writer Anais Ninn) that the pain of staying locked in the bud has become greater than the pain of blooming.