I was having that mid-fifties feeling of running out of time when I quit my job last year and returned to school as a full time student. Now I am hoping that I didn't start this new path too late. I've known since I was a kid that all I wanted to do was write. I always had this fascination and deep connection to writing. I was a constant reader and even now am usually part way through at least three books at a time. But this whole stop dead in the path and hop over to another is really disconcerting. I know this is the right path. I know this was the right choice. I worry that I won't get to enjoy it all to its fullest in whatever time I have left.
I take comfort in realizing that there is a large group of women writers out there that raised their families and took care of their responsibilities and came back to writing like I did. It appears to be a menopausal urge to be true to ourselves which creates this phenomena. It is so hard to change our lives. This goes for both men and women, but especially women because we have a tendency toward making most of our decisions based on how that decision will effect the other people in our relationships.
I started rummaging through my shelf of numerous self help books this morning and found two books by Dr. Christiane Northrup: Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause. If you've never heard Dr. Northrup speak or read any of her books, I highly recommend them. She has something to fit whatever circumstance you are experiencing. These are wonderfully uplifting and encouraging books about how woman respond to the world around them. The books transcend circumstance and cut to the heart of things. She doesn't soften it and she doesn't hold back.
Dr. Northrup sees this menopausal time in our lives as a time for self-healing, a time to heal our past and also a time to get back to who we are and what will make us happy. To see ourselves, as our own woman; aside from who we are in relation to those around us. I started reading her books when I suddenly one day started to cry at everything. Happy things. Sad things. Melancholy things. Funny things. Even stupid things. My few days of PMS a month turned into raging PMDD. My ultimate overwhelming sadness merged into sleepless nights, hot flashes and the most awful mood swings I had ever experienced. Welcome to the peri-menopause picnic! So if you are just experiencing this, hang on tight, the ride gets even bumpier. I was sad about everything. Sad about things I hadn't thought about in years. In the middle of this my mother passed away of small-cell lung cancer and I plunged into a sadness that I don't even have the words to describe. The only thing that kept coming up, like one of those little buoy things in the middle of this dark ocean of sadness was a desire to go back to school and write again.
According to Dr. Northrup this was all wonderful! My life was giving me a chance to set it straight! Get back on track! Reach my pinnacle of fulfillment! One day, frustrated by not knowing how to listen to these wonderful messages my brain was sending, I threw these books onto a dusty corner of a bookshelf. Reading her cheery uplifting books just made me sadder and madder because I couldn't see how to get there.
Eventually though, the things I had read poked through. I realized that this wasn't a phase or my hormones talking. This was my brain telling me, loudly and clearly, what I needed to do to be happy. But instead of saying "Oh, I get it" I just sat in a corner and wished my life was different. Until one day it just seemed so clear. The only way to change, was simply, to change. I had to DO something. I had to push even one aspect into motion. One little change was all it would take to send me in another direction. I needed to take a class, or, even just take out my old poems and stories and read them. I could try a rewrite or even write something new. This was all I needed to do to change my perspective; to see that the road I wanted to be on was right of me all along.
But, since I rarely do anything easily, I instead, quit my job and went back to school full-time to finish my degree. I learned one thing really quickly. The world doesn't like when you change your path. Things start to go wrong all around you to force you back to the status quo. Stupid things went wrong in the house; leaks and moaning appliances, the dryer broke, people got sick, the economy tanked. But I had changed direction and was moving forward, and its hard. I keep second guessing my decisions. I wished I was still that 20 year old that could stay up all night and work two jobs, and write, and still have my hair done, nails manicured, and make-up applied impeccably. I wished I could still be all things to all people; still do everything, do it well, and be perky and well rested. But I can't do it all. Realistically, I probably never could.
But I do know I can do this one thing really, really well. I can write. And my artistic soul is braver than ever and reaching out to new horizons. My practical soul keeps screaming, "What are you doing? You have no job! You have no 401K! What if all the appliances break? What if a tree falls on the house? What if the roof falls in?" Well, practical little soul, my creative little soul says "If the roof falls in, please rush in to rescue the computer, all of the new poetry for grad school is on there."