It’s Thursday and I’m Crafting my Life! Today is the last day of 2009, which means that tomorrow will be a whole new decade. Today I am talking about what the last 10 years brought me, and looking forward to where I’d like to be when 2020 dawns.
(I know that technically decades start on the 1s, but the days when the odometer rolls from 9 to 0 are the big ones. 1999 to 2000 was far more exciting than 2000 to 2001, and so I choose to perpetuate the myth, with apologies to the more precise among us.)
I will admit, I frequently feel discouraged as I work to re-create my life. The progress feels slow, or possibly even non-existent. I declared that I wanted to write, and it took me months to submit two articles for publication. The first was rejected, as most are, and I still haven’t heard back on the second. I have ideas about what I want to do, but it’s difficult to carve out time while I care for a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old bent on self-destruction. It frequently feels like I’m drifting and directionless, and I worry that I made a terrible mistake in giving up daycare and trying to chart a new course instead of just hunting down the first engineering job I could find.
But then I stopped for a minute, and remembered where I was 10 years ago. On this day in 1999 I was a single university student, working on my thesis. I had been dating my high school boyfriend for 8 1/2 years, and I was way, way more than ready to get married. I lived alone and had no car, opting for a more frugal lifestyle so that I could live within the salary I earned in my practicum jobs. I was not, in any way, unhappy, and my life was pretty good all things considered, but my existence was geared very much towards the future. Finishing school, getting married, embarking on ‘real life’.
That very New Year’s Eve Jon proposed to me. If the world ended due to Y2K, he said, he wanted to be with me. It was cheesy but cute. In the next decade I finished my thesis and graduated, we got married and got our first apartment, and I got a ‘real job’ and bought a brand-spanking-new Honda. We moved further out to the suburbs and bought a house. We adopted our cat, Dorothy, and had a couple of babies. I remained in my real job for 9 years, until I got notice of my lay-off. With money in the bank and a severance package, I decided to take some time away from that career and see if I could create a new one.
This is where I am now. When I look back on my life this way, things look much better to me. I set out to create something, and I succeeded. Now I’m starting again, but not from square zero. I have experience that will stand me in good stead. I have resources that I’ve accumulated, and a family that is cheering me on. Of course things are slow-moving, I am doing something totally new and I am doing it at home with my kids. If you had told me in 1999 that this is where I would be in 10 years, I would not have been sad. I would have looked forward gladly, knowing what lay in store.
This raises the question for me of where I want to be in another 10 years. What do I hope my life will look like on New Year’s Eve, 2019? It’s a good question, and I’m not sure I have a concrete picture. But I do hope for a few things. I hope that I am making a living income as a writer and maybe a workshop leader. I would like to help others to craft their own lives, having successfully crafted my own. I want a house on the water with chickens in the back yard, and I want to belong to a choir and do yoga. And I would like my adolescent children to go easy on me.
We all feel lost sometimes, unsure of what to do next or what we even really want out of our lives. That’s probably OK. As I’ve found, at times like this it can really help to take stock of what you’ve accomplished. It’s renewed my sense of perspective, and reminded me that I am maybe not so bad at achieving my goals after all.
Speaking of goals and life-crafting, I have an idea for the Crafting my Life series that I will try out starting in January. Over the course of the month I will follow a particular theme each Thursday – January’s will be ‘What do I want, and how can I get it?’ Then, on the last Thursday of the month I will include a widget so that you can link up any posts you’ve written on the theme. It’s a way that we can join forces as we all work to create our lives together, build community and cheer each other on. What do you think? Does this sound like something you’d be interested in? Let me know!