About a year ago, my very brave and organized friend Elizabeth made herself a "40 by 40 list"--a list of 40 things she wanted to accomplish by the time she turned 40 years old. I watched with interested as she eagerly attacked her list, checking off her items with enthusiasm. I had to admit, she made it look like fun. It seemed like a neat idea and I contemplated doing it myself, but frankly, I thought I was far "too busy" for something fanciful like that.
In the past six months, however, my life has been rocked in ways that I never could have expected. At age 64, my father nearly had a heart attack. His life was saved only by chewing an aspirin. He underwent emergency triple bypass surgery as our family waited at the hospital. Thankfully, he is alive today and healthier than he has ever been.
Less than two months after that, though, my husband's employment changed, and we had to leave the home of my heart under very difficult and sudden circumstances. Not a day goes by that I don't long to go back. I like our new home just fine, but I also long for what we have lost.
In September, my 23-year-old cousin passed away unexpectedly under tragic circumstances. Our family is still reeling from the loss.
What have I learned? My friends, life is short. Time is fleeting.
While still reeling from all of those shockwaves in my life, I attended a wedding reception for some dear friends from college. While there, I got to catch up with many friends that I hadn't seen in 10 years or more. This, of course, led to the inevitable question, "So what are you doing now?"
I got halfway to my master's degree, but then I stopped working on it because we couldn't afford it anymore.
I was teaching, and I was good at it, but I had to quit because my migraines got too bad.
I was a librarian, and I loved it, but I had to quit because we moved.
I lived in a place I loved and was passionate about, but then we had to leave.
So now we're here, and I drive my kids to their activities, and I spend all day cleaning up messes and doing laundry and dishes and unpacking boxes.
So yeah, that's what I'm doing now.
Don't get me wrong. I love my family above all else. And I do cherish this time with them, especially with my youngest, Aiden. I never thought that I'd be able to be at home with him, so this time with him is extra precious. But I do wish there was a balance; I need an identity of my own outside of just taking care of my kids, outside of unpacking boxes, outside of my house.
I was talking to my very wise friend Kristin about this, and she said that when she was faced with this struggle before, her solution was to reinvent the question. When she was first married and looking for a job and her husband's co-workers would ask, "Oh, so what do you do?" she would reply, "Right now, I'm training for a marathon." Nothing permanent, but also interesting and a topic of conversation that would interest the other party... and also an identity that Kristin herself could grasp on to.
So.... what am I doing these days? Well, I'm tackling a list of 40 dreams that I want to accomplish by the time I'm 40 years old. I've realized that time passes us by far too quickly. We don't get all the opportunities that we might hope for. So for the next 4 years, I am going to force myself to make those opportunities.
Some items on this list represent things that I have wanted to do for a long time. Others represent dreams that have crept in within just the past few months. Others are things that I don't necessarily *want* to do, but I know are good for me and that I would never do otherwise. And a few are challenges that have been extended to me by my loved ones (family and close friends) when they learned about my 40x40 challenge.
I plan to post my progress and stories of my adventures and foibles here regularly, so come follow along on this journey with me!