A pivotal event in a person's journey is the changing of roles in life--when you have defined yourself for a long time and then the definition suddenly changes. In my life one of those moments was the emptying of my nest. The sudden quiet of a childless home can be deafening, and for me, the silence truly accentuated my unaccompanied jaunt.
Even before I was a mother, it was what I had always dreamed of becoming. When my dream became a reality, I loved being a stay-at-home mom, even in spite of the sleepless nights and constant worry. As my child grew I knew that he would one day be off on his own adventures, but even though I accepted that I never realized just how profoundly the change would impact my life.
What I didn't realize was that I had defined a lot of who I was in raising my child. The role was rewarding--I guided him, soothed his hurts, and enjoyed his presence. I reveled in it. I also had numerous hobbies I enjoyed, and now I would have plenty of time to devote to them. Then why was it so difficult? I loved writing, taking photographs, making scrapbooks, refinishing items and sewing, but somehow I couldn't start anything. Instead I would clean and organize my house, trying in vain to find the perfect balance of function and beauty. I thought that if I had everything in its place, neat and tidy, then my emotions and my life would also become neat and organized.
The trouble was I could never achieve that perfection just by cleaning and rearranging the things in my house.
Instead it only prevented me from finding a new purpose. I didn't know where to start because I didn't know who I was. Floundering for awhile, I just tried to make it through the days. It all came to a head on one momentous day--my forty-fifth birthday. My husband was out of town traveling, my son was at college, and everyone else in my life was involved in their own lives. I was alone.
About this time an acquaintance started to become more of a close friend, a woman I respected and admired. As we began taking walks, she helped me to reevaluate my life. I could control the way I responded to my loneliness. I didn't need to be a victim, I could embrace my newfound freedom.
I just needed a good place to start. We'd acquired my mother's piano a short time before, and it occurred to me that although I thought I couldn't learn music when I was younger, I could try to learn anyway. I had always wanted to be able to play an instrument. Now instead of waiting for someone else at lessons, I could start some of my own. I was surprised that I actually enjoyed practicing. Whether I was good or not didn't matter, it was the process of learning a new skill that mattered.
By conquering a challenge that I never thought I could, new possibilities opened up to me. What else had I told myself I couldn't do that I actually could? The next challenge awaited, redefining myself to myself was now the goal. I have always written stories, some on paper, some only in my head. Even so, I couldn't call myself a writer, not to myself and certainly not to anyone else. One day I decided I would stop judging myself or my stories, I would just write. Two months later I had a completed manuscript! It would need some editing and polishing, but it was finished. It no longer mattered to me whether anyone else liked the story or thought it was a worthy story to tell.
The process of writing the story changed me. Not only did I prove to myself that I could do it, but I was able to sort through my own feelings and thoughts through the trials and tribulations of my characters.
Now, I am in charge of where my jaunt will take me.