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Everything must go

Great news, everyone: the northern hemisphere is tipping towards the sun!

I’m not exactly sure why, but the beginning of spring has always felt like more of a new year for me then January 1. There’s something about seeing things bloom and hearing the birds after a cold, dark winter. Now is the time for:

  • Spring cleaning
  • Tarot and oracle cards
  • DIY home projects
  • New intentions
  • Plants and herbs
  • Hiking and being outdoors
  • Blogging

Let’s start with blogging. I fell off the face of the earth for a while but I’ve been doing a lot while I’ve been away.

I’m working more regularly on a novel I started in January (1976) (maybe not that long ago), but I am also still working on the memoir, switching back and forth between the two.

I started a certification course (more to come later).

I’ve been knitting, sewing, and being a general grandma (minus the knitting and sewing).

I’ve been reading. SO MUCH READING. Reading is the only time everything is possible.

And I’ve decided that everything must go!

Let me explain…

At 55, I have a good life and a mostly happy outlook on the future of the world. Maybe I’m perpetually anxious and maybe I have accumulated a list of semi-reasonable fears: failing air conditioners, the IRS, and airbag recalls. And maybe I am always running from a fresh crisis, or running smack dab into one. But overall, I have a good life and a mostly happy outlook on the future of the world.

But then there’s …

My dad.

He was healthy, kept active, ate a balanced diet, drank moderately, didn’t smoke. He was retired and built a home at the base of a splendid mountain. He worked part time at a championship golf course that welcomed such players from in-the-day like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino (literally, welcomed them onto the lush green fairways, and in the middle of winter – there are photos). My dad spent hours with his 4-year-old granddaughter feeding ducks at the zoo. This man had hardly any stress in his life. He was healthy, till he wasn’t.

One Tuesday his doctor diagnosed him with cancer. Six months later, on a Saturday, we buried him. He was 56.

I’m turning 56 this year and this factor begs the question, what am I doing with my one precious life?

That question leads to a few others (like you didn’t know I was going to say that!). I’m not trying to be dramatic, nor am I a semi-morbid freak, and I don’t need anyone talking me down from impending doomsday thoughts. But I am looking for clarity about this thing called life. So, here I go. Attempting to clarify.

Question 1: Am I experiencing life the way I want to experience it, or am I experiencing it the way everyone else is? “This is how you do life because it’s what you’re supposed to do because everyone is doing it so don’t do it any different” and that way is to work at a job no less than 40 hours per week and pay taxes and have health insurance and contribute to a 401K and work at this job for a minimum of 25 years but then retire from that job and go get another job because after all, you’re only 50 (maybe 55 or 60) and you are too young to retire so go get another job where you’ll have to start at the very bottom, or go get a mindless job that keeps you busy and supplements that retirement income but is a total waste of time, or, heck, maybe stay at the original job past 25 years even though you are no longer challenged by it, satisfied with it, inspired by it but you should consider staying there because the alternatives are less inspiring…

Work toward retirement, but don’t you dare retire.

Question 2: Have I done “the thing,” the one provocative thing that is awesome, surreal, soul-changing and gives me the unforgettable experience that shakes up my life? I think there is something bold that sits in the back of everyone’s mind – or on some bucket list or in a journal. Maybe you thought of it when you were a kid, playing astronaut or rockstar in the backyard and no one told you to stop it. No one called it unrealistic. But then suddenly you turned 18 and college became Plan B. And, now, when you think back to “that thing” you say to yourself, no, it’s too risky.

Now you live your life for the weekend because the lawn isn’t going to mow itself.

Question 3: If I die tomorrow, will today be the best last day ever, or will it be a stressful, anxious, robotic, made-out-of-habit last day? I’ve always been one for habit – or, depending on the thing I’ve sometimes called it tradition and I’m someone that enjoys tradition, like showering at night, coffee every morning, parking in the 5th row at Target, skipping the bottom two stairs. But all of a sudden, I’m unsettled with coasting through life on autopilot. While running on autopilot frees me up to think about other things, at the same time, it’s giving me a sense of drift and degradation to my sense of purpose.

Going through the motions of life doesn’t mean you’re alive.

So… everything must go:

  • Old habits
  • Old perspectives
  • Old rules
  • Old information
  • Old clothes

At 55-almost-56, I’m looking at my life and the glittery opportunity to define the way I live without the influence of everyone around me or societal standards – that’s the hard part. I mean, why not live bountifully not bleakly, and without guidelines? If my plane were to go down today, why can’t my last meal be dried mangos and Gardettos? Imagine this: your DAILY meal plan is a “last meal” dream. That’s deep.

Pizza and a cupcake, anyone?

So let me sum up the awesomeness of this post in three bullets:

  • I’ve been unhappy with my career for a long time – so I’m ditching it completely. I will never again let an algorithm dictate what I write. I quit marketing (I QUIT MARKETING) and I am taking ownership of my words. I’m writing for a grassroots movement that is fierce in its mission – and doesn’t give one iota about keywords or search engine optimization.
  • My “one provocative thing” is that I want to experience life on a Buddhist monastery – as a monastic, not as a visitor. While the ultimate experience is 30 days in India, two weeks in Mississippi is easier to plan right now. For the record, the reservation was originally made for India but evidently getting a first-time passport must be done in person, and the appointment isn’t for months.
  • The last few weeks have been an amalgamation of bittersweet nostalgia, newness, celebrations, birthdays, and overall, a journey of figuring out what I need and don’t need in my life. I’ve been reintroducing myself to, well, myself. And through it all, I’ve realized I’m a fiery little thing. No wonder I’m in this headspace!!

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