Emerging

In a few weeks, I'll be forty-three. Turning forty-three doesn't sound very exciting. Certainly not as auspicious as turning "the Big 4-0." But it actually is an important time in life.This is the year I finally emerge from my cocoon.

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One of the most important stages in life is between the years of 34 and 43. (I go over this in detail in my Y.O.U. consultations.) It's a time in a person's life when he or she is in a cocoon-like state. There's a whole lot going on in this personal metamorphosis,  physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In an ideal scenario, one reaches the end of that time (around 43), ready to take all that they have learned about life, themselves, and their optimal environment, and emerges forward into their true self/calling/purpose.

That's not to say that you haven't racked up a ton of knowledge by your 30's. But knowledge is one thing... and wisdom is another. Thinking we've got it all figured out before 40 is a trap we catch ourselves in. But we have this expectation that we should have our shit together by then, because, well... we just should!

But if we're honest, we really don't have it figured out. We're just trying to keep it all together. And those nagging questions bring on feelings of shame if we aren't told the truth. Thankfully, right before my 40th birthday, I met some people that alerted me this metamorphic stage and responded to my confusion with:

"You're right on time."

That was a relief. That gave me the freedom to pull back from my own expectations of myself and figure some stuff out. I allowed myself to not have it all together at 40 and let life happen for the next few years as I decided what I wanted to do with my life. 

What Do I Want To Be When I Grown Up?

You might think that figuring out what you want to be at forty-three is silly. Shouldn't I have done that a long time ago? I ask myself this all the time. In my moments of self-doubt and bouts of depression, I beat myself up for not having a better response to "What do you do?" I want to say something responsible, and I feel like the things that make me happy sound flaky.

This, of course, is the fault of my parents. (Hey! If you can't blame your parents...)

I think back to all the fun I had in "irresponsible" jobs that my mom and dad shamed me out of. Who in their right mind thinks that a waitress is anything like a hooker? Just my completely intrusive parents who wanted to say that their daughter was doing ANYTHING other than waiting tables. They didn't care that I was enjoying the hospitality industry or that I had more free time to spend on the beach with my kids.

I think back to all the "responsible" careers I optimistically entered into only to feel walls closing in around me within a year, but staying, against my better judgment because I had a stupid five year plan and I had to freaking stick to the mother-freaking plan. Plus, I had that car payment... and the kids needed insurance... and I couldn't go back to waiting tables because my dad died thinking I was a hooker.

I eventually had to grow up and stop blaming my mom and dad.

That's when I hit the reset button.

Do-Over

I quit my last "responsible" job and vowed never to work in a cubicle or gray walled office ever again. I met a pilot and made him marry me and we had babies and I got to be a mom. Not that I hadn't already been a mom for 12 years already, but I hadn't really been able to enjoy my kids for years because of those stupid five year plans.

For most of the last 11 years, I've been able to be a mom first and do some other work to help pay the bills. I've been pulled in different directions, following waves of fun and opportunity. Most of it was good. I've also had the chance to do some personal exploration, learning about my true self and what I need to thrive, and for that I am incredibly grateful. 

It's Not a Mid-Life Crisis

When I talk to people about this time in life and my personal experiences, I sometimes get a wink and a nod and a "it's your mid-life crisis" as a way to explain my behavior. I love it when people say that. *sarcasm*

First of all, I'm planning to live to be like, a hundred and forty, so my "mid-life" isn't happening for like another 25 years or so. Second, and this is the part where I sometimes lose people, is there's no crisis when you're trying to figure out who you are. That's a GOOD thing! Can you imagine if we all lead the lives we were created for? In the cities that made our hearts sing? Doing the things that brought joy and happiness to us and everyone we met? How awesome would this world be? How is it a crisis to spend time understanding yourself? 

I realize that our world doesn't allow for much navel gazing. That's why I always enjoy giving people the results to their Y.O.U. assessment. It's like the Owner's Manual they never got for themselves. The assessment takes ten minutes, and my consultation is about 40 minutes, so in less than an hour, I can help a fellow traveler get back on course on this path of life. These assessments are also a great way to understand our relationships with spouses and children. Understanding ourselves and others leads to empathy and empathy leads to a life that's just a little sweeter. Hence the reason I named my practice "Live the Sweet Life." 

Clever, huh?

The Next Chapter

So yeah. I'll be forty-three soon... emerging into the next amazing chapter in life. I have a year of adventures planned. Actually, it's more outlined than planned. Nothing is set completely in stone. No need to get caught up in those five year plans again. No matter where I go or what I do, though, one thing is sure: I'll have my handy dandy Y.O.U. results to guide me.

Learn more about the Y.O.U. Assessment at Live the Sweet Life.

The Invitation

It was 1999. Such a long time ago. Y2K loomed over us like the Mayan Calendar. I had just left my corporate job and returned to school to, as one professor put it, "chase a little piece of paper." I had not yet met my husband, so weekends when my oldest two daughters were at their dad's house were a time of solitude and introspection.

And wild partying.

During the moments of introspection, I would wonder what it was I should be doing. What was the life I should be living? How or when would I ever be really truly successful? Those days, I spent a lot of time at bookstores and coffee shops... pondering.

It was fabulously exciting, I swear.

On one particular day, I wandered into a bookstore to see if there were any books that were calling to me. Seriously. That's how I shopped for books. I think the booksellers thought I was trying to steal something the way I fingered the bindings, waiting for that feeling.

Coo coo...

One book did call to me that day. You might say it invited me to read it. The book was aptly called "The Invitation," written by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

Oriah. Mountain. Dreamer.

Coming from someone who adopted the name "Sugar," I immediately dug her name. The cover bore the first few lines of the poem the book was named after. Intrigued, I opened it up to read more. Inside was a testimonial from Dr. Wayne Dyer saying that Oriah's words "pierced my shell and pricked at my soul. An invitation to the ultimate dance." I had just discovered Dr. Dyer (you gotta love those all day PBS marathons) so I was sold.

Since that day, a lot has happened. I opened myself up to a different way of thinking, a different perspective on life and success. And then I closed up again out of fear. I went back to fitting in and people pleasing. But the book found me once more. There on the cover were the words. The Invitation. With a little more determination, I set out to live differently. Little by little, I worked at releasing conformity and became comfortable being my true self. And as it is with onions when you peel the layers away, there were lots of tears. And lots of goodbyes.

It was NOT easy. But it was worth it.

Someone posted a picture today. It was an open palm with the words, "They tell you to be yourself & then they judge you." I left a comment saying, "That's when you find other theys." I know "theys" isn't a word, but you get what I mean, right? That's what happens when you become your true self, which is probably the fear that holds us back from being who we really are. But the truth is, there are plenty of amazing people on the other side of your decision to change, waiting to accept the real you and cherish every quirky bit of you.

I want to share with you the poem that started me on my personal adventure of self discovery. The journey that came with many tears and goodbyes... and many new faces and more laughter and joy.

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting you heart's longing. It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it's not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "Yes!"

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the core, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

~Oriah Mountain Dreamer

I invite you to be... YOU.