2020 …A new year, a new decade, a new chapter–more like a new book… or as I tend to think about it… the beginning of my third act.
There are many gifts that come with the luxury of being able to retire, many of them are daunting due to the unfamiliar landscape of the “unknown.” For the first time in my life, there is no blueprint, no natural path to follow. So… NOW WHAT?
While I am grateful to have the enthusiasm, desire, motivation, good health and TIME to now pursue new challenges, the fact that there are literally endless choices has me feeling a bit like I’m on a frenetic pace of different paths and rhythms… ALL the time. I know this will sound like I’m nuts (shocker), but these days I feel like I’m in constant shifting motion and emotion… I wake up with the feeling of a slow melodic waltz, then quickly shift to a two-step, then to a polka, a quick step, an adagio, a foxtrot, etc…. all in the course of a few hours. It’s an ever-changing discourse of life’s rhythms that fluctuate with each new contemplation of my 3rd Act options.
On any given time of the day I mentally ping pong from ….I could write another book. I can continue pursuing speaking gigs. I can develop my Success Summits with my sagacious good friend Jill Hicks (I had to use a big word because she always gives me crap about my love for new words ?). I can get an agent and do a deep plunge into getting my Urban Nutcracker and my theatre show TRASH produced. Bobby and I, for the first time in our marriage, can move out of LA–out of California–we can literally move anywhere in the entire world!!!
Maybe I just want to open my dream of a Yarn ~ Book & Coffee shop… all things I love and that are soothing to my soul. I know that I also want to continue studying French so that I can at least be conversational, and get back to being proficient on the piano. I also want to expand my culinary skills, and make time to support ALL of the sports at UCLA. I’m also committed to teaching a masters course at UCLA this Spring on the subject of Transformational Coaching—talk about daunting! No wonder I’m so exhausted.
I’m literally sitting here shaking my head… I know exactly why I’m constantly thinking of and pursing new options. It’s a clear and constant thought that I’ve had since being diagnosed with cancer 5 years ago… there is so much I want to experience and accomplish before my expiration date. I often chat with God and revisit the fact that I’m not afraid of death, Life is just so much fun and there are so many things I want to do before I die or no longer have the capacity to do them. I seriously need to chill out a bit. But then what if I miss some amazing new opportunity while I’m chilling with my knitting, coffee and good book? (Yes I’ve mastered being able to do all three at the same time… ? ? ? This is a classic metaphor of my life.)
For now… for the prelude of my third act, I’ve decided it’s OK to dabble in every shiny new thought that comes to mind or opportunity that presents itself. The part I really need to work on is enjoying the moment, the task at hand, staying present, instead of mentally multi-tasking to figure out what my next step should be. I have found that this mental aerobic class is not only exhausting but it is an unhealthy substitute for the all important practice of peace of mind, calm.
A few key positive life choices I’ve made have shown immediate positive repercussions. I’ve committed to working out so that I can stay as strong as possible for as long as possible. I’ve changed my diet, cutting way back on red meat, (a bit hard when I’m married to a master griller). I’ve given up alcohol–yes even good wine–because as I continue to learn Sugar is poison and feeds every disease not just cancer. The noticeable upside of this is that I wake up with much more energy and clarity… and my muffin top has significantly reduced ? true.
As important if not more important than the muffin top is that I have become really good at “letting go” of negativity, of ruminating on things that personally piss me off, of daily annoyances, of the need to be right–even of the need to be heard. It’s not that I’ve cut people out of my life or avoid potential difficult situations, I’ve just embraced the reality that we all have baggage we’re working through so when someone does or says something hurtful or annoying, I can empathize with where they’re at without the need to make the situation better or make it “right.” After all, we’re all at different phases in our life and should be able to move through the process of our personal journeys at our own pace.
I’m not sure if I will ever feel like I’m on another path with a clear blueprint as I experienced these past 60 years, but I do know that with every new contemplation of shiny new opportunities, I don’t need to have the crystal ball or playbook on how to achieve the goal. I just need to take a firm bold step in the direction of my vision. Pause, assess, recalibrate, breathe… and then take another step. Yes the unknown is scary, but that’s what makes Life so exhilarating. It starts with one firm step steeped in confidence and gratitude.