Alright, I have been seriously Missing in Action for a while here. Life events have intervened and writing has taken a major hit.
But I’m back, and I’m going to discipline myself to write regularly, and with purpose. Hopefully there will be a post once a week. There is a book that is almost ready to be e-published.
So what’s been going on to cause such a hiatus? Major life changes– and yes, that is even possible at 60.
In 1980 I moved to the DC area shortly after college to begin my career. It was a wonderful career. Some of it was spent overseas. In 1992 I married SJ after a whirlwind long-distance relationship, sold my home, quit my job, and moved to his home state of Texas. There we had a life that included a lovely home, a great church, friends, good jobs, three beautiful yet challenging kids, struggles to acclimate to a new place/climate, reinvention of my career, and lots of struggles that are detailed in earlier blogs.
For over 20 years SJ heard loud and clear how much I missed the seasons, the northeast, where I was born and raised and spent life up until my early 30s. I missed my close friends who lived up this way. I’d wistfully talk about “someday” returning. And to my delight, SJ made good on this. We sold our home, downsized our belongings, said goodbye to neighbors, family, and newly launching kids, and moved to a small apartment near DC. We had a blast and were the ultimate tourists. I reconnected with some old friends and colleagues from the 80s, and yoga became a passion. We dove into a seeker church and I became very involved in the women’s group, leading studies, and mentoring. We planned it to be just a two-year trial “staycation,” from where we’d do reconnaissance on the “forever home.” These past 2 years have been fabulous, a blessing, a dream come true.
Last summer during our reconnaissance travels we stumbled upon an area we liked in the northwestern corner of Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley. We especially liked the forest of trees at the back of a particular lot, a lake beyond, and the mountains in the near distance. Surrounding us was a more rural landscape dotted with quaint and historic small towns. By September we’d put our money down and started planning for a dream house to be built by the spring. By late April, we had moved in, and haven’t
stopped loving it. Minutes away is the entrance to Shenandoah National Park, where we’ve already started the first of many, many hikes. It is one of my favorite places in the world, and my love for it just expands each time we’re there. We have a list of ways we’ll volunteer, give back, and become part of this community, which has a rich history.
Around every corner is yet another pastoral delight of vivid green fields or apple orchards, stunning mountains that seem to change daily depending on the weather, and quaint old country churches. Just now as I write on my back deck, a mother deer and her beautiful speckled fawn meandered by. It constantly takes my breath away, and this isn’t my first rodeo (I’ve been to over 40 countries and all
50 states, seen and done a lot). It’s “small town” and people are nice and friendly and genuinely caring. After the formalities of purchasing and building a home, most of our transactions are on a handshake and verbal agreements; no down payments requested. I’ve mustered enough neighbors to join an agricultural coop that will deliver us fresh produce boxes weekly (just pulled my cherry pie out of the oven made from farm-fresh cherries I patiently stemmed and pitted). Sourcing farm eggs and other grass-fed meats, anxious to move to a diet full of farm-fresh products. Today I detoured through some apple orchards a stone’s throw away, enjoying the cool breezes of a brisk and sunny June day in the northeast (it’s clocking in 90s and 100s in Texas by now). I love that I have to slip a jacket on some mornings. I can’t wait to kayak down (up?) the Shenandoah and in our local lake.
We’re not quite in West Virginia, but this is almost heaven… Blue Ridge mountains and Shenandoah River included.
Blessed doesn’t’ even begin to describe this. There were so many paths I started down in
my life that could have led to despair and destruction. Some nearly did. I thought my marriage was over just a short 6-7 years ago. And sure, there is the RA, the aging body that doesn’t as nimbly skip up the steeper hiking trails and is sore for days after. There was that time at 19 that I ran away from home and thought I wanted to marry a man considerably older than me. What might otherwise seem a disastrous waste of a year taught me so much. There were some truly destructive relationships in my 20s from which I wasn’t sure I’d ever escape unscathed. But I emerged, wiser.
At the age of 60, I am in a position to consider the question of “if I could, would I do anything differently?” And for as many gaffs and mistakes I’ve made in my life, I have to say for the most part I wouldn’t change much. Each mistake and difficult path tested and refined me, and most importantly gave me lessons I could choose to learn, or ignore. To one extent or another I could always acknowledge God’s hand, and trust that he had some purpose even in the worst pain. I would have loved to have better understood how to be a more respectful and surrendered wife and recoup those desolate wilderness years; and I would have perhaps not expected a spouse to read my mind about any number of things, and especially intimacy. I would have more often spoken in love, been angry less (quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry), forgiven more, and loved more selflessly. A positive outlook takes effort and work, but it is well worth it.
My wish for all of you in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s? That you live life to its fullest and don’t let people dissuade you from your dreams. If you can dream it, you can do it. This doesn’t mean you can change people, but you can change yourself. It doesn’t mean you sit back and wait for dreams to “happen.” With whatever gifts and talents you are given, you will work hard at any labor with all your heart, as if working for the Lord (this carries a promise of reward Colossians 3:23-25). Stay in prayer, read scripture, seek God’s guidance, hang around with people who live their faith, work hard, give back, be KIND, and just LOVE. Try not to judge others, stay humble, and worry about your own deeds and soul (and not everyone else’s).
Above all, hang in there and have faith that God has a plan beyond your dreams. Have faith.