When I started college (many years ago) a wise man pointed out that many thought college was for learning to live, when in actuality it was about living. Someone special reminded me of that last night. Life, no matter where you are in it, is about living, not waiting to live.
I guess I should backtrack a little. The conversation, at that point, was about life. He said he wanted to live it. A lightbulb went off, and I said I did too, that I felt like I hadn’t really been, I was in a holding pattern for far too many years. I’ve been a single mom for 14 years and recently both of my kids have gone away to school. Everything I had I gave to those kids for so many years I felt like now it was my time. It hasn’t been an easy trek, but it’s been worthwhile. Or at least I hope it has. I took care of my father when he was sick, I took care of my kids on my own for so many years, I moved us across the country, I helped us rebuild our lives when Hurricane Harvey rocked the foundations. And I’ve been surviving rather than living, rather than thriving.
So my kids went to different parts of the country and now I need to figure out what I want to do next. It’s my time. I’ve done a lot of things while raising them, often for them or others. I want to see what I can accomplish now that I am my day-to-day focus. I know what I am capable of, and there are no limits. It’s time to figure out what else has been holding me back, and finally reach for the stars. It’s time to shed the tethers that have been holding me back and go for my dreams.
There’s where the heart of the issue lies. It has been so long since I’ve put myself first that I don’t know what my dreams are. When did I stop dreaming, choosing to live a life planned out in order to have some security, instead of remembering how much I’ve always wanted to do? When, and why, did I let the pain and heartache of the ugliness of life hold me back from truly living?
After the past almost 2 years of a global pandemic, in which I played it safe and stayed home (I do love working from home) I was still hesitant to get back out there, even though my once full house is now filled only with myself and a couple of beloved pets. Then I fell, breaking my ankle. This brought even my small human in-person interactions to a halt since I was reduced to ordering for delivery everything I need. Halfway through my recovery, it was deemed I needed surgery. Pure agony is the best way to describe the first week of that recovery. And then work got me out of the house for a week, fully present and in-person with real, live people, unmasked for the first time in a long time (everyone either had a negative test or was vaxxed). And it was beautiful. But it also reminded me of how much more I wanted, as did the conversation with the beloved friend.
I will say, I did start to do something for myself, since I’ve started to learn Russian using an app. Once upon a time I so greatly wanted to learn Russian, but plans changed and it’s been many years since I thought about it. So now I’m learning Russian, with no plans or expectations about what I’ll do with the new skill except for the good feeling of utilizing parts of my brain that have been left alone for far too long. Part of that was spurred on by hearing about the interesting classes my kids are taking and how it made me realize how much I’ve always loved learning and I took the small, easy, riskless step of starting to learn a new language.
So while I still have a long way to go in my recovery (won’t be dancing or riding horses or anything else very physical for a long while), I don’t plan to wait for that physical recovery to move forward with starting to live more, until I’m living fully.
Stay tuned. I’m a work in progress and can’t wait to see where life takes me (and brings me, since I’m open to all possibilities)!