I am often amazed at the power of words, the impact of speech and the way an altered perspective can change everything.
Pip Lincolne was recently in Brisbane, chatting about her new book, Craft for the Soul*. I was lucky enough to meet her in person and listen to her talk. She spoke about how the book came about and how she came to write and teach full time. She shared so many amazing things. As I tweeted what resonated with me, a theme became apparent.
I kept harking back to one thing – maybe, just maybe, the best and most exciting days of my life are still in front of me?
To be very honest with you, it’s not how I have viewed life.
My teens, twenties and early thirties were full of all the THINGS. Getting into university. Graduating. Landing my first “real” job. Falling in love. Falling out of love. Moving out. Moving in together. Buying a house. Going overseas. Getting engaged. Getting married. Having babies.
The big milestones. The ones we celebrate with parties and rituals. The neon pins on life’s road map.
But what happens afterwards? Once the milestones are ticked off? Once the road map is no longer quite so clear? What opportunities exist beyond the edge of that map?
It’s such an old fashioned idea – that a woman’s opportunities contract and her relevance fades after she is married and has children. And in an unwitting way I have let the injustice of that idea constrain me. I have been angry about the doors that close to the point of being blinded to the doors that open.
Those doors may not be immediately apparent. They may require courage and self-belief to unlock. I might have to build those doors. I might need to go through them with no idea where they will lead. I might have to be patient. I will most certainly need to be gentler with my expectations. The next stage of the journey is sure to be a windier path than I am used to. And I need to be okay with that. With the gentle evolution of what comes next.
I believe those doors and paths exist for all of us. Whether age or children or disillusionment, a yearning for something more or plain old lady luck have brought us to a cross roads, there is always the possibility that our best life still lies ahead. How wonderful is that?
So far, so many metaphors. These are the adventures I want to take: write a book, participate in a poetry slam, learn how to sail, learn how to play the guitar, teach my sons how to sew, talk about something I am passionate about to a room full of people, make life a little bit more hopeful for those that have lost a child, pitch an article idea to a magazine, improve my writing, sew a vintage-style dress by hand.
After my middle son died, for a long time I felt like that the happiest days of my life were behind me. I wasn’t fearful of it or angry about it or even motivated to change it. I was quietly resigned to the fact that joy was no longer going to be a part of my life. But I was wrong. Time and distance allowed happiness back and I appreciated it in a new way. I am lighter and happier having known the weight of sadness. I have learned that life has a way of surprising you – that it is completely unpredictable.
I don’t know what the rest of my life will bring, but I am going to stop limiting my thinking about it. I am going stop viewing the early motherhood years as a holding pattern and start viewing them as an opportunity. I want to explore new things and be brave. To believe in my talents. To believe I have talents. To set foot on an unknown path and embrace wherever it takes me without fear.
Because the best years of my life are still ahead of me – if I choose it.
Do you feel inspired and excited about the years ahead?