Monday, January 17, 2011

Where will you wake up today?

Getting "older" in our society isn't all bad. Really. There are some great insights that come with age, especially if we are paying attention to our lives.

Let's see....

A few years ago I looked around and decided that what I was doing for a living probably wasn't making much difference to the teenagers I was teaching. In fact, I wasn't sure I WAS teaching most days, considering the silliness that those in power have decided to insert into education. And for a teacher to face herself in the mirror and grapple with that demon is heart wrenching.

I had no one at home who could pat me on the back and say, "Honey, if you want to quit and take some time to find something else, it will be OK. I'll take care of everything for us." And since teaching was my second career, I didn't have enough years to walk away with those great retirement benefits many folks hold out for as they spend every waking minute counting the minutes until their company gives them a party and waves good-bye.

I own a small house, a car, I need to eat and stay warm/cool depending on the season. I'm a basic kind of person, but the basics sure do feel good, don't they?

When I was younger, I would not have had the courage to walk out the door of that school with no benefits, no salary, and no back-up person at home to carry the slack. When I was younger, my self-image was so weak that I couldn't handle anyone thinking I was a bit crazy for taking an action that had so many negatives.  But I did it at age 55, and the feeling of strength in myself was incredible. I walked out without any job and I went home to regroup. I did get advice from someone important to me on a way to provide some income until I found out what I wanted to do when I grew up. ( Houses provide more than a roof when some extra cash is needed, I learned.)

I think that comes with age for many of us. Especially women, perhaps. (I can't speak for men and won't even try. We'll go there another day, I promise.) We have enough experience at life to know our limits and those limits grow as we age. Today I am self-employed, doing what I love, and make a living for myself in the midst of the worse recession in years.

There are other things, of course. I now dare to leave the house without make-up and sometimes my socks don't match.  I've taught my daughter if someone judges us on those kinds of things, that person needs to get a life. I've also taught her to trust herself a bit more than I ever did at her age, and to take chances sometimes. Doing what everyone else thinks you should do should be of no concern to you. Listen to advice, yes. Then chart your course, call forth your reserves of strength, and follow the yearnings of your heart.

The only life you have is the one you woke up with today. Age has taught me to cherish the days I have left and I vow to follow my own advice.


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