Some moments are so firmly imprinted in your memory that when you call them up, decades later, they feel as recent as something that happened a few years ago. One of those moments for me happened when I was a new college freshman; full of optimism, ready for all kinds of possibilities, dreaming of what I could do and be.
There were a lot of conversations with new friends. We were all standing together on the frontier of undiscovered country. Could anything be more exhilarating? One evening, after sharing some of our dreams and aspirations, I turned to my soon to be best friend and said, “Let’s promise each other we’ll never settle. Let’s promise that we’ll always go for what we want, and not settle for something less.”
In that moment, we committed to ourselves, and to each other. She went on to single-mindedly pursue her course of studies, began her post-college career, and create a life that has been original, creative, and full of living.
Despite my optimism, I was already plagued with self-doubts and misgivings about trusting my desires. That fueled the fears lurking behind everything I considered doing. Instead of keeping my promise to go for what I really wanted, I began to settle and compromise.
I settled through the next four decades.
I spent years living on the fringes of my authentic life. If you’d asked what I really wanted to be doing, I would have told you it was all about being creative; as a writer, a designer, a problem solver, an organizer, an idea generator, an innovator…
I did a lot of things. I worked in specialty retail. I tried direct sales. I’ve worked in a bookstore, and a library. And even though each of those gave me a way to dip into my creativity, none of them were the creative life I longed for.
The other common thread in everything I tried was the possibility of connecting heart to heart with the people I served. Every life is a story in the making, chapter by chapter, with an unexpected plot twist guaranteed to be waiting on the next page.
That love of personal stories, combined with an instinct for heart healing and nurturing, led to life coaching. Not only was it a livelihood that felt like a fit, it allowed me to work from home and be with my young children. But, Dear Reader, it was a long way from the creative life I had always imagined living.
Eventually, this kind of dissonance in life becomes insupportable. Something breaks. It will be your health, your relationships, your quality of life, or your livelihood. It will be something. For me, it was the work. One day, I just quit. I shut it all down and stepped away. I let the soil I’d been trying to till for so long go fallow.
If you know anything about growing things, you know that soil needs time to replenish itself in order to produce plentifully. And it helps if you aren’t trying to grow something that’s ill-suited to the soil you keep putting it in.
I think of life as being circular. We all come back eventually to where we started. We come back to what we know. The clues and essence of our authenticity are to be found there, in our beginnings. For me, it’s always been the drive to create. What is it for you? What is it that’s true for you, no matter what?
So I came full circle. I was that person who had a secret identity as a creative; a secret I kept for most of my life. I don’t really know why it took me so long to give myself over fully to the creative life. Fear is the most likely culprit. All kinds of phantom beliefs of what would or wouldn’t happen if I came clean.
Now, as a woman with several decades of life behind me, my children out on their own, my mom I took care of no longer in this world, I am unencumbered. I find myself no longer interested in the inauthenticities that used to fill my days.
I want what I Really Want. Not what’s just enough, or will get me by, or what I’m willing to tolerate as a mediocre life. I want the full-on creative life.
And I want to share what I’m creating with you, my beautiful friend. I want to celebrate with you as you create your own version of a well-lived life. This is mine. What’s yours?
We all begin where we begin; and there’s no progress without beginning. I’m going all in. I hope you will too.