I can’t say I’m disappointed to see 2016 come to an end. This has been an incredibly tough year for my family and me. My husband of twenty years (the handsome man you see in deep contemplation above) was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. My daddy underwent cardiac surgery again. Hurricane Matthew tore apart the roof of my home. And, no small wake-up call, I turned fifty.
But I survived. To be honest, in retrospect, I think I have thrived, and you can do the same, regardless of the challenges you face. How? Follow my lead.
Facing health scares, financial loss, a natural disaster, and more, threw me into a tailspin—or twelve. Each of these awful events also caused me to look hard at what is important to me. And let me tell you, it isn’t material things. Don’t misunderstand me; I appreciate the security of my lovely little home, my dependable car, my paycheck. But I quickly learned that these things mean very little unless I am happy and content.
Turning fifty absolutely causes one to think about the fact that, in all likelihood, your life is at least half over. I realized—am still realizing—that now is the time to make changes that point me in the direction where I want to go, where I want to end up, what I want to accomplish. And since none of us knows our expiration date, we may be beyond the halfway point right now.
I realized I wasn’t happy with the three jobs I was working. Ten years of editing and ghostwriting, while enjoyable in the moment, left me feeling as though I was spinning my wheels, writing award-winning books for others instead of telling my own stories. Adjunct teaching left me feeling like my skills and education were not appreciated (read: low pay and no benefits). My sales job—the one I worked solely for health insurance—left me feeling undervalued, disrespected, even bullied, at times. In addition, it had been over a year since my family had been on vacation, or even enjoyed a long weekend together. No, I couldn’t simply quit work—I needed a paycheck more than ever—but I knew I had to take steps toward getting out of the situations in which I’d become mired.
I began to ask myself questions, keeping personal fulfillment in mind. What kind of job could I do that would help other people, yet still leave me with enough creative juices to write? If money were no object, what kind of work would I enjoy doing? And, since money is important to me, what could I do to ensure my family’s and my own financial stability? How could I change my weekly and daily routine to allow me to spend more time with my family? What hobbies bring me satisfaction, and how can I reintroduce them into my life?
Tough questions, indeed, but questions I began to ask myself daily. I wrote down these questions. I made lists of possible solutions. I prayed and meditated. I crunched numbers. I worked on these questions, and the more I thought about them, the more clearly I saw what steps I needed to take to make changes that would lead me where I wanted to be.
I made changes.
I spent four months completing a recertification class to return to a satisfying career path I’d once followed for many years, then left behind. I turned in a lengthy notice to leave my ghostwriting and editing job, which I’ve loved for years, but which keeps me from my own writing. Last week, I quit my “benefits” job; the one I disliked but stuck with simply for health insurance.
Monday I’ll begin a full-time job (with great benefits!) in a field I love—one that simultaneously fulfills me and helps other people. Soon I’ll be starting my final ghostwriting project, and when that one’s done, my writing time will be mine! All mine! And perhaps best of all, I now have weekends available to spend with my family, and vacations together definitely are in our future.
I’m not Superwoman. I’m not the best time manager, and I’m pitiful at remembering birthdays, phone numbers, and even names. But after facing some terrible, life-altering events, I took stock of what is important to me, and I made changes.
If I can ask and answer those difficult questions, so can you.
Don’t be afraid of introspection, and please, don’t wait for an illness or a natural disaster before examining your purpose in life and what it is that makes you happy. You may not be able to move away, or quit your job, or uproot your lifestyle today, but once you know exactly what it is that’s important to you, you absolutely can begin taking steps toward that goal—even if they’re baby steps.
Be truthful with yourself. Ask the hard questions. Face the tough answers. Because what you know—really know—about yourself and your goals—is more important than what anyone else thinks. This is your life. Check it!
Your happiness shines through your words. I was happy to be able to quit working and turn my time to writing. What a job. One job I was doing, I wrote a lot for someone else and they got the accolades, the awards, the recognition. I decided right then I’d be writing from then on for myself. I’ve loved every minute of it.
Hope you find peace and joy as you go forward in this new phase of your life. Take care of yourself and those who are important to you. Hugs from another WV girl. Barb
Thank you, Barbara! And congratulations on your successful self-reflection and the satisfying outcome to which it has led you! Here’s wishing you many more inspired days and words, from one Mountaineer to another! 🙂
So happy for you and the family Rhonda, and congratulations for chasing what makes you happy. Too often we sacrifice ourselves and our happiness for the almighty dollar. I hope everything works out and you guys go take that vacation. Maybe jet skis in the Keys if Randy is up for another beating.
Thanks for sharing our happiness, Joe!
“Too often we sacrifice ourselves and our happiness for the almighty dollar.” Such wisdom here!
Spring sounds like a great time for a trip, doesn’t it!
This is lovely and hopeful, and true, at least it is for me. I’ve had to come up with ways to keep going since Mother flew away, and your words and the truth behind them are great reminders that it is much more important to aim with intention, than just to aim. Well done, Rhonda!
Thank you, Liat! “. . . it is much more important to aim with intention, than just to aim. ” Excellent advice! Here’s to many bullseyes in our future!
Indeed! (clinking of two glasses).
What you just wrote is amazing, only knowing you for a short time I could tell that you are amazing as well as your eloquent writing skills and absolutely you should not be a ghost writer, you are truly an amazing writer, I would definitely buy your books,unfortunately we meet , when you were not at the happiest point in your life, but I hope to have a continued friendship with you, your article is spot on, everyone should take note!!
Thank you so much, Mary! It’s been a pleasure getting to know you!