I have no idea. Do you?
Who of us does? Here's a small moment of honesty. I have to try every day to shake thinking about people and life, especially myself, in black-and-white terms. It's like a knee-jerk reaction. Maybe it's the way I was raised. Maybe it's in my Puritan genes. MAYbe there's a need in this world for it and I haven't figured out where to put this "gift".
The reason I bring this up is because I want to write from my gut about what I am REALLY doing. But I worry about the language; it's need to be softened, to not sound angry.
I'm not angry, I'm determined. But towards what?
I am determined to lose the weight I added in the last 5 years. My goal is to lose 30 pounds and be at the most 140 18 months later. It's only been one month and I've lost 10. But I've never had to lose weight before, so I have no idea if it will work. All the judgments float around my head...I won't bore you and list them all out, but I hear them. Loudly. The "bottom" line? I am aging. I will never be an athlete. But I can choose to not let appetites rule me. This has been a new norm for me for the first time ever in the last five years. In that, I am determined to change and lose the weight in the meantime.
This is HUGE! No pun intended. I live among rural women. They are one of two things, for the most part. Hard-working, as in the dirt with farm animals and homesteading, or they give up on their appearance after a certain age. We, which is a gift, don't have to compete as older women with city fashion for our day to day lives. But here's the problem. I LIKE to look good. In a non-athletic sort of way. I put on sunscreen every day. I think about the colors I wear. I like to wear makeup if I feel like there's a reason. But as a 45-year old, I have to also think about the weight I'm putting on. I never had to think about it before 40. After 40, I let crises call me to crave. This cannot continue, especially as I...oh, god...enter menopause.
I CAN'T believe I just wrote that word on my blog. My mother's New England sensibilities would have me whisper it. But can I just say that entering that potential time of life with a daughter who hasn't even yet begun womanhood is terrifying?
Did I just write THAT?
Here's the real deal. To watch one's daughter blossom into all the yumminess of young adulthood when my last remnants are fading away is just hard. Her dad can barely take his heart off of her. In all the best ways. She has energy, vitality, youthfulness. It's a part of adolescence that I skipped, that didn't feel noticed or celebrated.
And the emotions to navigate these years of teens continue towards me like waves. I am a surfer. I catch some and ride well, but more often fear drowning. I can't give up the hope of the potential moment of perfect balance, so I keep trying to surf.
Here's what I'm doing. I have a new job. I make a miniscule amount of money. But since I have miniscule experience, it's not that surprising. I have spent the money long before it shows up in the bank. I have three teens, two dogs, and one husband I (can struggle to) enjoy. We celebrate 21 years tomorrow. He is my rock. But the mystery has been far surpassed by parenthood and a shared bathroom. We are united. And we are the parents children would say about, "They...what??? I can't imagine..." My point is...aging is just hard for me. I want the romance, mystery, unpredictability, and drama. But not at the cost of starting over. Not at the cost of breaking the hearts of the three children or the heart of the man I made them with. Step-by-step.
Step-by-step, I am faithful. Step-by-step, I start back to the workforce. Step-by-step, I watch these children I have nurtured SO diligently come of age and not know what life with them will look like. Step-by-step, I work to be okay with that. Step-by-step I imagine dreams beyond a happy family. Step-by-step, I commit to losing that 30 pounds. Step-by-step I STILL wonder if I will ever make a bigger difference in this world, while being faithful to the "little" opportunities that show up in my daily path.
Step-by-step, I ask what God I still believe in.
Is it the God of my children's youth group whose number one goal is purity and discipline? (No.) Is it the God I grew up with who attended church and practiced the sacraments weekly? (Still deciding, but hanging on by a thread.) Is it the God who never seemed to grab my husband of 21-years heart? (A complete mystery.) I've pretty much decided it's not the god of my fundamentalist/Puritanism/Pentecostal, "He requires all/I surrender all" background. But if I REALLY give up attendance, the liturgy, TITHING...what the "HELL" will happen to those I love, including myself?
WHAT am I DOing? I am working now. I am raising three teens, albeit without formulas after many years of formulaic attempts. I am nurturing friendships, including with my man of 21 years. I am working for a paycheck and the people's whose eyes I look into every day, answering an unpredictable phone and being open to whomever walks into our office. I am committed to caring for and loving my newly beloved co-workers.
And I continue to ask what my role might be as a writer and creative.
What are YOU doing?
Are you finding it as challenging as me?
I still want an online presence. I still "should" write a book. I still wish I had some incredible idea that would catapult me to something beyond ordinary living in a small town which would mean a strong speaking schedule. But in my culture/church, maybe that I've never gotten that far is because of my gender, not my talent. Lord, have mercy.
Part of what I'm doing is still deciding: What is true, even though my immediate nature wants to say, I KNOW!