Sunday, March 18, 2018

I'm 51. What Can I Do?

I've been thinking a lot lately about age. And women. And what we can do, when we can do it.

And really...who can stop us?

Maybe you need a bit of inspiration. Or a reminder that not only does life not end at fifty, but maybe it starts again at 51.

Last year I turned into a hermit.


I didn't write. I didn't travel. I didn't participate. I was tired. I was overwhelmed. I was discouraged.

But I made it through that year. And I watched my kids--both of my adorable kids--make the transition into a new life, new schools, with open hearts and so much courage it humbles me. They had to tackle challenges, which they did. They got over some incredibly tough bumps. And they changed their lives for the better.

And I thought...okay, they did this. I can do this. I can break out of this shell and find the courage to get back into the world.

So I decided to dip a toe back into the waters of the outside world, and I applied to be a speaker at a conference. It was safe for me. A conference I've done plenty of times before, with people who know me. It's about 10 minutes from my house.

It was safe.

And guess what?

I failed.

I was rejected.

At first I didn't know what to do. This was my first attempt at getting back into the swing of things. My safe option. And I was rejected? Was the universe trying to tell me something? That I waited too long? I was too old, out-of-the-trendy loop? I had nothing left to offer?

I ruminated about this and percolated and struggled with it, and I finally came to a pretty important decision.

I think the universe was trying to tell me something.

No more playing it safe.

If you're gonna break out of that shell, break the fuck out of the shell.

All the way out.

Try something new, something different, something big.

Meet new people. Give new talks. Travel. Have an adventure.

That first rejection gave me the courage to try for EVERYTHING. Because, honestly, what did I have to lose?

So what if I got more rejections?

And I did. I got more rejections.

But you know what else? I got some fantastic opportunities, better than I ever imagined.

I'm traveling to Pittsburgh and Florida and Atlanta and Toronto. I'm talking about craft and writing and self-care and writing journeys. Things that matter to me.

I'm giving a talk to high school kids about the publishing industry.

My daughter is coming with me to Florida.

I've never been to Atlanta or Toronto. In addition to meeting new people and authors I admire, I get to meet on-line friends IN REAL LIFE. Meet face-to-face with folks who have supported me for years on-line.

That's pretty freakin' huge.

And for the first time in 25 years, I'm taking a class.

An art class.

I was nervous the first night. My print wasn't great. It was okay. But...I did it. I showed up, I participated, I tried something new.

Finally, I decided that this book I've been wrestling with is something bigger than I realized.

It's literary fiction. Is it scary to try something I've never done, break a personal writing mold for myself that is so hard that some days I am totally dumbfounded by this entire process?

Yeah, it's scary. But also exhilarating. 

Bottom line is that I believe I can do it.

I can do anything.

I can start something new at 51, and I will succeed.

I am not afraid of rejection. Or wrinkles. Or gray hair.

I embrace my decades of experience and know my wisdom will guide me through anything I choose to tackle in my life.

Eventually I'll get to the new flower business. And maybe that horror novel that is banging around my head.

I'm not gonna lie. There are days I want--desperately---to crawl back into that shell. It's safe in there, and quiet. And I can turn invisible if I need to.

But if I don't kick my own butt at 51, when will it happen?

And as I look back over my life, filled with all kinds of stuff, good and bad--I realize this was a good lesson to learn. At 51. 

You can play it safe, or you can be willing to try new things, to fail, to push, to experience.

Suddenly this year feels different. So much different than the last year. I'm not so tired. I'm not discouraged. The failures slide right off, and I'm onto the next thing.

I wasn't ready for this at 20. Or 30, or 40. And clearly not at 50.

But at 51, I can do this.

I'm 51. What can I do?


Love to all,