Write down 2 key characteristics of your ideal job or volunteer work.
Creatively fulfilling and Independent.........I've been lucky enough to do both for the past 28 years but I've been in transition for the last few years. I've actually been thinking about this question a lot over the last year and I'm hoping to be back on track soon and moving ahead again. I once saw a documentary where they interviewed women who were 75+ years old. Most of them were extremely +. They asked them what the most difficult years in their lives were and it shocked me to hear them unanimously choose their forties (My difficult years, unfortunately, started at 45 and have stretched to 56 but things are looking up.) because, as one of them so wisely said, change is hard. Change is both unavoidable and somewhat essential in our lives but still painful. Suddenly realizing that we are no longer young and we'll never be young again can be earth shattering. This happened to me on my 45th birthday while I stood in a dark hotel room in Boston at 1AM staring out at the snow silently falling and I was thinking, my life is over. It certainly shook my foundation. I'd always been "the kid" with my family as the youngest child, with most of my friends, and with my colleagues in the arts community. On my 45th birthday, I suddenly realized that I was no longer "the kid." I probably hadn't been for a while but it took me that long to realize it. I'd been doing independent design for the gift wares industry for several years but that job had just ended. I was doing my first major arts and crafts show in years and it wasn't going well. In previous years, I'd always sold out my stock in the first day or two...not this time. In fact, I hadn't even gotten a nibble. The show promoter told me that people just didn't understand my work yet and it would take time. Considering the investment in money and time, I didn't feel as if I had the time to "acclimate to their tastes." I was also sitting directly across from my old self, a young, enthusiastic and obscenely happy girl who still hadn't been jaded by life and time. That one bad show and bad birthday should have catapulted me into a much needed change in my life but instead, it threw me into a tailspin. I struggled for a while trying to re-spark my enthusiasm for wood sculpture but it just didn't happen. I spent an unnecessarily large amount of money and time trying to find a medium that I did still enjoy. The point being, there wasn't one.....not at that time anyway. Without realizing it, I went on a search for myself instead. I acquired a horse and then horses and they became my inspiration. Now, a bit over ten years later, I'm finally realizing what that late night epiphany in Boston really meant. I realize now that my life is not over, I have plenty of life left to live, and I can write these last chapters of my life anyway I want. I've considered a lot of different paths over the past ten years. I thought of going back to school to study something entirely different. I've tried other mediums that I found enjoyable but I also found they didn't pay the bills. Finally, last year, a friend asked me, "What would it take for you to live the life you imagine?" I realized that it wouldn't take that much. I wanted to be creative, I wanted to work alone but I still wanted contact with humans occasionally, too. I also wanted to be 35 again but that's not happening so why not take those mid-thirties years when I was my happiest and infuse them with the wisdom that the last fifteen years have given me? Self knowledge is an amazing thing which really gives you a clearing vision of not only where you're going but how to make the trip successful. I may not quite be living the "life imagined" yet but I am beginning to see the path more clearly and I've regained some of my youthful enthusiasm and drive. I'm taking the steps now to assure that by this time next year, I will be living that life and I will be creatively fulfilled again. The difference will be, this time, my artistic vision will not be clouded or influenced by what every one else wants of it or me but only seen through my own eyes and heart. That is the blessing of age, we learn exactly who we are and we embrace that person. We are no longer afraid to express the real us or defend the real us or celebrate the real us. If acceptance has arrived, can happiness and fulfillment be far behind? I was thinking this morning how the best and worse times in our lives can often be the same times. I've always said that I may enjoy those times in my life when everything seems perfect and I'm content but I've never learned or grown from those times. The lessons and often the blessings are contained in the most difficult times in our lives, the times of change, the times of loss. Just this morning I heard a young woman speak who has Muscular Dystrophy and she called it a blessing. That was so strange to hear an illness described as a blessing but it made me realize that perception is all about perspective. Sometimes we have to have distance from an event or situation in order to see the blessings hidden there. It also made me realize that happiness is a decision.