If I were to choose a theme for me this year, it would have to be that I allowed inspiration to take a front seat in my life. Have I ever done that before? Maybe a few scattered times, but then there always seemed to be an interruption. Sometimes within my control, sometimes not. Life happens when you are living life. But now, as a grown-up (and by that, I mean past the age of 45), I really have discovered how to tap into my potential. Right now, I would say I am growing a tree of professions and it has three big thick branches, my novels, teaching writing, and being in the financial industry.
I can say that my novel is published because it’s true. I really did it. It feels pretty good, this potential tapping thing. I can remember what a voracious reader I was as an adolescent. Romance, classics, horror, espionage…I read it all and adored getting lost in a story. It was a hobby, perhaps an escape, and I always had an aspiration to write something grand but different. It took a long time to find the right story and then a long time to build the skill to tell it with honor. I don’t think my grandfather really knew the priceless inheritance he gave me when he handed me my ancestor’s story. It was important to him to preserve our family history and to pass it to me because he knew I cared about it. I’m sure he didn’t imagine me turning it into this novel and subsequent three-book series that is enjoyed by many (so far!). But I can hear him, like an angel on my shoulder, cheering me on. I think about my ancestor Robert and his bravery and tenacity and how those qualities were so prevalent in my grandfather. I think they are in me as well (thanks Grandpa!) and so the inheritance continues its travels through the generations. The second novel in the series is almost done, and then there will be the third. I am an author. I am writing books. It is a dream I never thought attainable. My life has moved in such a positive direction in the last twelve months and the anticipation for what is next is like an open field waiting for lightning to strike.
I promise I am not going to start this article by saying things like, what a terrible year this has been! Will this ever end? Isn’t there anyone who can reboot 2020, turn it off, and back on again? No, I am not going there. Instead, I am going to ask you to close your eyes and visualize a busy highway in the evening. I know this may seem a little strange, but just go with me on this one.
It is nighttime, and all the lanes are filled, but traffic is flowing nicely. There is a plethora of red and white lights that are glowing like twinkling stars. It is quiet but for the sound of a gentle wind.
Now think back to a time when you have felt stress. Maybe it was something small like you got into the shower and realized you have no shampoo, you were late for work, or you have teenage children. Perhaps it was more significant and life-altering like the death of a loved one or the breakup of a marriage.
How are the highway and your stress connected? Well, when you feel stress, whether it is big or small, your body goes to work by releasing hormones and starting processes to help you manage. These natural chemicals and neurotransmitters are jolted into action as if they got a green traffic light. It happens when you feel things like annoyance, happiness, excitement, sadness, or anger. When you feel these emotions, you may notice that your heart starts pounding, maybe you get a stomach or headache, you sweat, or your face turns red. These real symptoms are the result of your natural response systems, and guess what? You can affect the outcome, to make the good better, and lessen the bad.
This month, as we begin the Fall season, I am reflecting upon my relationships, specifically the friendships I have built over my lifetime and certainly those I have been lucky enough to form in the last year or so. When we are young, our peers help us learn how to play, how to behave in groups and most importantly, little by little, how to be trustworthy and how to trust others. Trust is an essential and defining element of any relationship. Without it, there is not much substance, not for me anyway. I can chuckle a little as I write this because for some reason, when I think of my early years and adolescence and the concept of trust, there seems to be a lot of memories of boys throwing sand at me in the sandbox, pushing me into pools or chasing me down a rocky beach. I’m sure I am not the only one with these recollections of childhood. Tell me, were you the pusher or the pushee?
All fun and games aside, let’s get back to the subject at hand. Why do I feel that friendships are an integral part of my ever-evolving self? Because I have learned so much from them throughout my lifetime, especially from those mistakes and missteps as a young and maturing human. Perhaps there was a time that I threw the sand? Of course, I have plenty of moments I wish I could reframe or redo. But really, I shouldn’t, right? Because all those moments have helped me become a better person, friend, partner and most important of all, a better mother.
I find as I spend time on social media and in the digital world that there is such a mix of messaging. We humans have a gift to be kind and wonderful to each other, or in quite a contrast, to be cruel and unforgiving. But we all have a choice, don’t we? We can allow that negativity, like a pollution of the soul, to penetrate our daily lives, or we can rise up and above all that. This is the most valuable addition to my psyche in the last year. Recognizing the importance of surrounding myself with people who lift me up and encourage my success both personally and professionally. I’m not sure I can explain why it seemed to take me so long to make this a focus, but I can say that this new epiphany has been like having a wave of optimism wash over my life. It has been wonderful in the most positive of ways. I feel like I can take on the world, and I have the amazing and talented family and friends in my life to thank for that.