Now that my children are self sufficient and well established in their careers, a new chapter has begun in my life. I’m in a place I was hoping to find, after much work: happiness in ordinary daily life. The road that led me here was not easy, but necessity, trial and error were good teachers.
There were periods of uncertainty, want and risk that I faced alone as a single working mother. Confronted by perplexing choices that I knew would have far-reaching ramifications for my family, I learned to ask myself certain questions during decision-making processes, such as: (1) If my daughter were in my shoes and I were older, what would I advise her to do or hope she would do? (2) Where will the choices I’m making now likely lead us? (3) What do I need to know more about and how can I learn it? (4) Where and how do I want us to be living in five years? (5) What can I do today to move us in that direction? (6) What changes would I like to see in myself in six months?
In response to these and other questions, surprising advice came to me, when I was honest with myself. Over time I came to trust the source of that advice and to accept that something in me knew the right thing to do, if I could or would just listen. Listening takes time and a conducive environment, which I didn’t have until I took measures to create them.
I learned to carve out the solitude for creative thinking in my crazy busy life. While the kids were growing up I felt perpetually short on time, money and peace of mind. At times I felt like a ping pong ball being swatted from one urgent demand to the next, without any time to process all the stimuli and events of each day. During the workweek I started setting the alarm an hour earlier than usual.
I’d roll out of bed, make a beverage and sit down in the living room to begin the day in silence. The peace this gave me was well worth the initial loss of sleep, and I cam to rely on it as a refuge. I read. I made lists. I contemplated problems. I asked myself questions. And I learned to listen to that still, small voice within—and discovered that an entire universe of help was available.
To be continued…