Why now?

Why is now a good time to pursue your dreams?

lifeguard tower near body of water
Photo by Sasha Martynov on Pexels.com

I was working on a story this morning and decided to set the main character in 2060 when she is 90 looking back a little bit on her own life, but mostly being a spectator into her son’s lives as middle aged white men in the future, which I think will present some new difficulties.   I just turned 48 on Monday, and in doing my “calculations” realized that I’m only 42 years away from 90 – if I even live that long.  Not trying to be pessimistic here, but my life may be more than half way over.

I’ve dreamt about being a “writer,” whatever that means, for most of my life.  I actually wrote creatively when I was a kid.  I still have a journal of poetry that I wrote in middle school.  But, all of that stopped in junior high, as it does for most kids.  For me, it wasn’t just the typical public school imposed implosion of creativity.  My parents were going through and ugly divorce and my realization that I really wasn’t that important to them drove me to seek approval from everyone I came in contact with.  Approval seeking isn’t exactly a recipe for creativity – that whole killing your babies thing.

Flash forward 35 years. I’m almost 50 and not as approval seeking, although it is quite the habit to break.  My kids are grown and almost flown.  The husband has his own stuff to think about, and I’m in a place that allows me to make some significant career changes.  The universe is calling me out — time to stop dreaming and start writing.  Take action.  It’s like running.  You can’t run long distance if you are actually thinking about running.

So, it’s now or never …………..

 

Trying Too Hard in the Face of Change

Even though it is my last year as a teacher, this year has been hands down my best, most enjoyable year.  I really think it is because I set a goal to stop trying so hard.  I know it sounds like I’m being a slacker, but in reality I have been more productive and effective than ever.  Guess its good to leave on an up year.   I realize now, that when I initially found out about our move to Florida I started “trying too hard” again.  I immediately started looking for another job, thought about a career change, and stressed over leaving our youngest so far away at college,  among other things.  I realize now that much of our situation is out of my control.  Yes – I could fly out for interviews before we get settled, I could sign up to take that real estate class now, but all of that would just create extra, unnecessary anxiety.  Instead, I need to focus on the immediate to do’s and take things one step at a time.  Right now my two areas of focus are my son and the end of his senior year – graduation parties, prom, etc.,  and selling our current house.   The next step will be downsizing and packing.  Those are pretty big items.  Here are some tips on how to stop “trying so hard” and go with the flow.

pexels-photo-279415.jpegBe positive

Focus on what you are gaining, instead of losing.  I have tendency to catastrophize by imagining every possible bad outcome.  In a way, this could manifest bad things to happen.  We tend to experience what we expect to experience.  Focusing on the negative will yield negative results because we are so focused on finding the negative stuff that we ignore or don’t notice the positive.   When I notice that my thinking is sprinkled with negative words like “never” – as in “I’ll never find a job, ” or “I’ll never make new friends,” I will literally write out the phrases and edit them to a more positive slant.  Instead of saying “I’ll never be happy, ” say, “I choose to be happy, ” or “happiness is not required 100% of the time and that is okay — I will definitely have moments of happiness.”

Keep a good to do list.

There may be a lot to do when faced with a big life change.  Whether it is a kid going off to college, relocation, or divorce, change requires action.  According to the APA in “Six Myths about Stress,” planning and prioritizing help us cope with stress.  They key is “working on simple problems first, solving them, and then going on to more complex difficulties.”  I keep a spiral notebook and put the day and date on the top line.  Then I list everything I need to do – but the secret is that I make a page for each day of the week and spread out my to do’s.  For me, this helps me relax because I am not confronted with a huge list everyday.  It also works great for procrastination.  If I don’t accomplish something on one day, I still cross it off the list and move it to the next day.  After about three days of this, I will just get the task done because I am tired of writing it down day after day.

 

 

Courage and Change: Or How to Handle an Abandoned Nest

When my husband received a new job offer in Florida I had mixed feelings.  I was excited, but also sad, and surprisingly angry.  I have watched friends move in and out of our town with spouses that are transferred, but I never realized how much uncertainty they faced.  My husband, Tom has a job and knows people already — a platform of sorts to jump from.   I, on the other hand will be recreating my life from scratch. The list of changes was initially overwhelming.  We would not only send our youngest child off to college this summer but would also relocate from my hometown in Texas to Florida, leaving behind friends, family, my teaching career, and an incredible support network of friends.  It was a recipe for an identity crisis.  Below is a list of issues I have had to deal with and what I learned.  If you are going through something similar, I hope this helps, but know that no matter the path you take, there are no good or bad decisions — just good stories.

pexels-photo-974042.jpeg

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
― Brené Brown

Telling your kids that  you are moving to a new town

This was not as hard as I expected it to be.  Our oldest child was very supportive – he has his own life now as a junior in college and looks forward to visiting us by the beach.  Our youngest child; however, is in an entirely different situation.  He was very concerned that he would never see his friends again.  In honor of his concerns, we have decided to allow him to stay with friends for part of the summer and fly out to spend the end of the summer with us.  I am fortunate that my mother lives in our old town and can be a soft place for him to land if needed.  She has also agreed to keep his car in her driveway while he is with us in Florida …. but more on logistics later.  Respect your children’s reactions and try to accommodate them as much as possible.  My boys are sad about losing their childhood home, but they understand.  They are both on the cusp of creating their own lives.  If anyone can understand our jump into the unknown, it’s our children.  We are all in it together.  They really want us all to tatoo the coordinates of our home on our  bodies, but that might be something I pass on .

Telling your extended family….

This also was harder in my imagination than in reality.  I worried so much about my mother and sister’s reactions that when we went to mom’s to tell her I had butterflies in my stomach.  But, she was great about it.  Somehow I forgot that my 79 year old mother had been a Marine Corps wife for 25 years and has lived all over the world.  She did not seem concerned much at all and was quite supportive.  My tips — take your significant other with you and have him or her break the news.  My husband is not as emotionally vested as I am with my mother and I think that in and of itself is reassuring.  Assure your family that you will come back often and go ahead and book a few trips.  My mother actually seemed happy that now I would have to spend the night with her and have more concentrated time.  We really don’t see each other that often as it is.  She is looking forward to having my undivided attention.  And my sister — well, she is awesome.  She immediately put herself in my position.  This, after all, could happen to her too.

Resigning from your job.

I am a high school teacher and I work at my son’s school.  In addition to that, I teach a fairly specialized class.  I felt that by resigning I was not living up to my commitment to the school and my principal — but guess what?? Everyone is replaceable.  It took them all of two weeks to find another teacher, sign him up for training, and move on.  No hard feelings.  Ok – maybe it was a little hard for me to see how easily they can move on, but it does give me perspective on the unecessary emotional attachment I have placed on my career.  Let it go.

Logisitics

Honestly, I still have no idea how this will all work out.  We bought a house before our current house sold.  We need to launch our child to college gracefully, while he might be living with friends.  The list goes on.  At first, I was freaked out about everything, but I realize now that life always, and I mean ALWAYS, has a way of working itself out.