After 27 years of active parenting, 28 years of marriage and 40 years of working (mostly in service to helping others feel better and connect with themselves) - I am taking a break...a midlife gap year (or two), to fill up, recharge and satisfy my appetite for adventure.
In September, I will not only be an empty nester, but I'll also be flying the coop myself. Our cottage by the sea will have a loving caretaker, a small amount of things will be kept in storage and I will be trading in keys for a backpack and hiking shoes. My soul longs to commune in old growth forests, to lay out in the outback under a star studded sky, to breathe in the majesty of rugged mountain ranges, to drench myself in the sounds of the jungle and to soak up the wisdom of those ancient ones who live the principles of a regenerative lifestyle.
Every ending brings the gift of new beginnings and each bring a blend of fear and excitement. I'm walking away from a 21 year career that has been financially stable with great benefits. It's a little scary to walk away from the security that that offers. I'll be travelling to the far reaches of the planet while my daughter dips her toes in her first year at University. Will she feel abandoned by my wanderlust? Will both kids get so used to me being physically absent from their lives that they won't want me around when I return? What if something awful happens to a family member and it takes me too long get back?
I have spent many years longing for the freedom to travel again. I spent the decade of my 20's working and travelling in different parts of the world. It was such an enriching, formative time. And now I have a window of time - while my daughter is in University, before my mum and step-dad need me around more and before potential grandchildren arrive - to go and explore the far flung places I didn't get to visit the first time around.
So many of us, especially women, get caught up in the day to day rhythms of motherhood and work (whether in the home or out in the world). As nurturers, we tend to put everyone else's needs before our own and after a couple of decades of that, we can start to lose pieces of ourselves...and wonder as the kids leave the nest, "what now?". It's a question I have explored deeply with many women; particularly a fabulous group of women who came to a retreat in Costa Rica that I co-led with a beloved friend and colleague.
If I think of my life in chapters, I think of Chapter 1 as my childhood and young adulthood (to about 29/30 yrs). Chapter 2 is from 30 to late 50's - that's when I was career focused, married and raising a family - a wonderful nesting phase. And now Chapter 3.... The ending of a marriage, motherhood as I have known it and career as I have known it. There is a wonderful blank canvas ahead and I am fortunate enough to have the tools and paints I need to paint this next chapter in ways that excite and delight me. It is time to reclaim the parts of myself that I have put on hold, time to do all of the things that make me feel alive - it's chapter 3, time to reclaim me.
How have you reclaimed the parts of yourself that you have suppressed or put on hold? Can you relate to this question "What Now?" What makes you come alive? What are you most curious about? How do you want to spend this next chapter of your life?