I had a client this week thank me for my wise counsel and said “Your children and grandchildren are so lucky – they must love to hear your stories and wisdom.” I just smiled. And explained to her that sometimes things are a little different with family. Any teacher can tell you stories from exasperated parents, where they have told their child something a million times to no avail, only to have the kid come home from school and announce that Mrs. XYZ said…and parrot back what the parent had been saying all along. It takes a willing and open mind and the messenger who is speaking a language that can be received by the listener in that instance.
Feeling very smug about that compliment, I returned to my life and was promptly “right sized”. For the past 5 years, I’d been in a steady decline, though, true to form, I might not have allowed anyone to see it. Those close to me had said things like “your light is not burning as brightly”. I knew they were right, but I was at a loss as how to change it. Gradually, through a series of events that forced my hand, I did start to come back into myself. It was a process. I tried everything, knowing that it was an inside-out job. And each step I took brought me a little closer to feeling like myself. The last piece was to be able to look in the mirror and see myself – not that dowdy old woman who had been there too long. Who would have thought that giving up my nightly ice cream would make a difference?
Fast forward to the past few months and here I am, back in the saddle, feeling good about myself and my life. Then the Universe says “Hold my beer – you think you’re DONE?” and comes up with all sorts of fun little reminders for me. The first was online dating: an exercise in testing every shred of self-confidence you possess. The next was going back to work and realizing that staring at a computer screen for 6 hours a day felt the equivalent of a 1970 photoshoot, with flashbulbs going off non-stop. The eye doctor said “it’s a natural part of aging”. And we are back…
There are a few qualities I possess for which I am immensely grateful. One of which is resilience and another the willingness to learn and grow. After a moment’s pity party, I did what I usually do: research. I start asking everyone I know who has been in a similar situation what they did, and from that, I start to plan my course of action. The lens choice for the cataract surgery (who knew you had a choice?!) seems a bit easier, requiring only a Facebook request and a couple of quick anecdotes. The dating one a bit more of a journey. But, just like the kid finally hearing the message that had been told to them a million times, I found my messenger. And, of course, it involves a story:
15 years ago, I was in grad school, and a year out of a divorce. I had tried online dating and had lousy results. I had sworn off of it and was feeling frustrated. A friend of mine in the class had also recently been divorced and told me how she had gone back online and had met someone. “You should try it again, Janet,” were her words of advice. Since she was the 3rd person who had told me this in a weekend, and I feel a message heard 3 times is a sign, I begrudgingly decided I’d try it. But this time would be different. I’d be completely honest about who I was, gray hair & all (a big deal back then), and I would not “scroll” – I’d let them come to me. And wouldn’t you know, I met a guy and it was a good relationship.
Fast forward 15 years: that relationship was over and I had tried online dating, with lousy results. I decided it was NOT for me, thank you very much. Then, of course, 3 people tell me about relationships that started due to online dating. Really? Again?? So, I think, “OK, fine… I’ll just reopen an app – but I’m not scrolling!” And who pops up but a guy who went to the same college and private boys’ high school as my last partner! Wow. (No – did not respond…too freaky). And, who else popped into my social media feed that day? My grad school friend, Vickie Falcone, who had given me that nudge all those years ago. Vickie is now a relationship coach (www.vickiefalcone.com) and was having a free webinar. I hemmed, hawed, and demurred but finally decided to sit in on it. She is wonderful, and what I realized was that I have been holding all sorts of limiting beliefs: about men, about aging, about me. Here’s me all these years: “Here Universe, I’m ready. I really want XYZ. Please help me.” And here is also me, in my head: “There are no good men out there. I’m too old. My good days are behind me. I’ll never lose weight.” And on and on. I can almost see the Spirit Guides up there throwing up their hands and saying “Well, does she want it or not?!”
Message received. I’m back…on the path. Making changes and working to find more positive intentions and beliefs. Grateful to be moving forward again and open to what is ahead. No, really, I am. (stay tuned)