*Preface: As I write this, I feel all of my 40 years. I took off on my bike to find a quiet place to write and my knees are super achy from my (very rare these days) morning run + 3 days of gardening (yes, I was delighted to spend my May long weekend at home playing in dirt and plants). Also, I had to choose a place to write that was close enough to home that I could get back for when, inevitably, I have to pee (I’m partly blaming childbirth on this one!)
A new Decade.
I like the sound of that.
It’s not that my 30s were terrible. There were some definite highlights:
I gave birth to my 2nd child, Moxie and have immensely enjoyed spending this past decade with her and her older brother, Rain.
I traveled. I had developed the desire to travel (alone) when I was 26 and spent almost 3 months with my backpack throughout Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. In my 30s, I explored more of the region in Costa Rica (10 day adventure tour) and Nicaragua (a week of scuba diving on my favourite place in the world, Little Corn Island). I embarked on a supa-dupa-triple-fun solo road trip throughout the Maritimes and landed in Fredericton at my besties Beth and Joe’s wedding. Speaking of road-trips, I drove the kids from Mississauga across Canada to Vancouver Island and then down to Seattle. We met up with great friends and a family along the way. (Kim, Dottie, Tim, Joel, Andrew, Leanne, Carmanah, Tuna, guard dogs, chickens, and Jill – thanks for opening your homes and hearts to us) It was a trip of a lifetime!
I distinctly remember turning 30 (which I guess I should, it’s only been 10 years..and 40’s not *that* old..). I was 7 months pregnant and living a life that fit me like a beautiful wool turtleneck. It looked so perfect from the outside but inside it felt uncomfortable and constricting. It didn’t fit and it was unraveling.
Two years later, I was a single mom. I had made a decision to leave 95% of all my friends and belongings so that I could start again.
If my previous life had been a sweater, this new phase was like running around topless. It felt free and terrifying and yet I was suddenly quite comfortable in my own skin.
I had no idea what I was doing and I made a ridiculous amount of mistakes (daily).
But I was doing it. On my own. With my kids. We were a team. We were Team Adventurers!
Just as things were becoming familiar and comfortable, we lost their father to suicide. This shifted all of our journeys in life. It still does.
Last year, I started dating K and we quickly decided to join families in Peterborough. The kids and I needed a change and I liked the idea of what Peterborough had to offer as a small, artsy community (confession: The first time I ever visited Peterborough was when K and I signed our lease. I tend to move through life on gut feelings.) So I quit my job and we rented a gorgeous house near the water within walking distance to downtown and easily adapted to our new surroundings.
We all felt completely at home in Ptbo, but combining families is apparently more difficult that I had thought and by the end of 2015, I was a single mom again. Only this time, I was in a new community, had no job, and was recovering from open hernia surgery.
This is when I start running around looking for that sweater again.
Thankfully, I didn’t find it.
And thankfully, I am surrounded by amazing friends and family (old and new). You all deserve gold stars in supportive friendmanship.
Since then, I have gained employment (though my contract is up next month, if anyone has any leads…), purchased our home (thanks for your help Mom and Dad), and started dating K again. .. only slower.
The kids are thriving and I am in love with showing them small community ways of life (I was raised in a community of 2,600 so Ptbo is more in line with my roots).
Life is good.
This is exactly how I want to start my 40s.
Now I feel like I should offer some sort of old age wisdom…… Or is that what you do when you turn 50?
Let me share some of the things I’ve learned (the hard way), particularly in my 30s.
- Break up with word “should”. Do not believe that you should have to act, think, feel, dress a certain way. If that sweater doesn’t fit, take it off. And don’t get caught up in what should or shouldn’t happen. Trust me, they happen. Or they don’t. That’s just it.
- You are only responsible for your own happiness. Be kind. Be respectful. Be responsible for your actions. But don’t obsess over the happiness of others. You are not responsible for the happiness of your friends, colleagues, random people you meet on the street, your family and not even your kids. Happiness is an inside gig and they will have to figure it out on their own. Just as you will have to do the same. Do what makes you happy.
- Enjoy your own company. Yearn for it. Make it a priority. Make friends with the voice inside your head. She’s pretty dang cool. And this voice will stay with you and keep you company for the rest of your days.
“If I get old I’m living easy
Find a nice old country home.
Let the land do what she wants to
Leave her wild and overgrown.
And when I’m sure my days are numbered,
Find a nice place in the fields.
And thank that little voice inside my head
For such great company.”
~Elliott Brood, If I get Old
- Be real with yourself. Life is not perfect nor does it have to look that way. It’s messy and gorgeous and
sometimesa lot of the time, it’s really fucking hard. Experience every emotion unapologetically. And don’t trust people who are always telling you to smile.
- Lastly, make goals. And as cheese bread as it sounds, write them down. This is where I struggle. I can think of hundreds of things I want to do but putting it to paper scares the bejeebers out of me. I used to think that it was because I had commitment issues. (I even wrote about them: http://commuterlit.com/2012/05/monday-the-empty-space/) And maybe that’s partly true. I have also blamed my limited attention span – squirrel!! But I think I’m most afraid of fucking up. What if I never get to check it off the list? What if I fail? I mean, I guess I could write new/revised goals…but what would my journal think?? *Sigh… My goal for my 40s is to write down my goals.
So that’s it – thanks for being part of my new decade celebration – let’s go for a drink sometime! But for now….. I have to pee!!!