Challenging the holding pattern – what if my best life is still ahead of me?

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. 
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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?


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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.

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Do you feel inspired and excited about the years ahead?


* A truly lovely book which I will be reviewing in July.

15 thoughts on “Challenging the holding pattern – what if my best life is still ahead of me?

  1. PipLincolne says:

    I truly believe the best is yet to come – the first part of our life can be spent treading water a bit – and then some of us put most of our energy into parenting cute people for a few years… But that’s just the beginning! There is HEAPS more to come!

  2. Beth at says:

    It’s a good point you raise; I feel that way specifically about my job. For a few years, I worked with an amazing leader in a fantastic team where everything just gelled. We had an awesome time while working hard and achieving some good stuff. It was an absolute pleasure to come in to work every day. When it all ended, I felt such a sense of loss and the feeling of “I still have another 30 years of work ahead of me. What if I never find that again?”

    • Robyna says:

      I am sure that you learned a great deal from that leader and from that team. I had a boss like that – and I know that wherever life leads me, I am going to take her example with me. Maybe it will be the same for you?

  3. Annette says:

    You’ve got this writing/reflection thing down. Pip’s words are a good catalyst for that aren’t they? I love this post. as Liz Gilbert says, onwards.

  4. hugzillablog says:

    Goodness me, this is such a wonderful post, and it has serious resonance with me right now. My life is exactly as you described: full of so many THINGS until the birth of my children and then what? Motherhood. While it is the beginning on one journey, it also feels like the end of so many things. It was this feeling of stagnation that led me to start Hugzilla blog. It was one small step to recovering that sense of freedom and the unknown again. I really love this post. You are have such an eloquent way of expressing these truths.

    • Robyna says:

      This comment made my day – thanks so much Huggzy – I predict there will be quite some big things in your future.

  5. Isabel says:

    Hi Robyna. I really enjoyed reading your post. I would love to learn to sail too! Thanks for writing this. I’m not a mum, but am thinking about it soon, and have this slight sense of impending doom like ‘will my life be over if I have a baby?’ Hearing about people like you makes me realise that it WON’T be. Different, maybe, but maybe even better? I think your writing style is already very good, by the way. xx Isabel

    • Robyna says:

      Being a mum is wonderful and I hope you get to experience it. Sometimes it feels like it closes some doors, but in reality it opens up so many different perspectives. You definitely don’t need to lose yourself in it – that’s what this blog is all about! Holding onto that identity when the little ones come along.

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