At this point in August, the nests are starting to empty as college students go off to school. Vacations are winding down. So now what? With the house quieter, our thoughts can turn to our own lives. Who are we outside of the role of parent? We may not even know the answer to that question, or even know where to begin to find the answer. Yet now is our time to discover ourselves.
This last year we returned to Rome, where ancient ruins coexist with roads, museums, and restaurants, the chaos of modern life. Turn a corner in Rome, and history rises up, sometimes unexpectedly, offering some treasure of an ancient and magnificent civilization. This time, having already seen many major sites on a previous trip, we went to the Domus Romane. Beneath the Palazzo Valentini, built in the 16th century and now home to governmental offices are the ruins of a home from the 2nd or 3rd century. We toured the museum on glass walkways that allowed us to peer into the past and into the former glory of the property, complete with mosaics in marvelous condition.
Our lives may look much like that. On the surface we have our jobs, our homes, our “stuff,” and it may all look pretty good. We just sometimes forget that we have deeper levels just waiting for excavation. Once we dig a little deeper, we may get very excited about what we find–and at midlife, we may feel the need, the urgency, to do so.
As someone who always planned to write a book “some day,” I struggled with how to get started. I had no ideas. I just knew I wanted to write. In the summer of 1997 I discovered Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and started to work the program she provides. Within three weeks I wrote my first short story, and I haven’t looked back. I have published one book, edited two others, and am completing two novels that I plan to e-publish. I have other novels in various stages of development, just waiting for me to get to them.
Not only did I connect with my writing life, but I also learned to quilt, played with photos, videos, and audio recordings, went back to school, took yoga teacher training, and started a garden, just to name a few. My husband and I travel as much as possible in our hunger to see the world. In short, I unearthed a wild cacophony of creativity that continues to insist on bursting forth. Even at 52, I am still making new discoveries. I recently, for example, became curious about medicinal herbs and am starting to learn more about them.
What dreams live inside of you that have gone unlived? Yes, parenting is noble, as is grandparenting. We all have a desire to make a difference in our families, and perhaps even the world, by giving. But what makes you tick? What matters to you as a person? What longings live inside that demand expressing? Further, once you’ve identified those longings, what do you do?
If you have had a secret desire to change careers, what would it take to do so? Even taking a class or two at night or online can help you move toward developing new skills. If your nest still isn’t empty, you can study alongside your children still at home, and they can watch you do your work, providing an invaluable example for them to follow. I grew up with parents who were readers, and as I observed them in the evenings, noses burrowed into books, I gained value from their example.
Whatever it is, you’re not too old. You may not make the Olympic team, but what about the Senior Olympics? Or, you may want to try your hand at a half marathon or lengthy charity bike rides. You may not build a major corporation, but do you have a small business idea worth exploring? Is it time to take that drawing class?
Maybe you have dreams but need to clear some financial dead wood first. What resources can you find, such as books by Suze Orman or Jerrold Mundis, to help you? What about Debtors’ Anonymous? Having lived through and overcome some financial nightmares, I know that financial problems can be solved, and sometimes more quickly than we might think.
This week, make a commitment to do something for yourself and your dream. It can be a baby step. Some people who start writing, start with a paragraph a day, and that can be enough to create a small spark of satisfaction and fulfillment that opens up a new world for you. What is your dream? How can you get there? Unsure? Let me hear from you.