Second Act – and Again?
The year was 2002. I was 37 years old. I was the single mother of an 11-year-old daughter, living a a small town, three years into my ministry at a tiny elderly church. Much of the previous ten years of my life had been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs: giving birth, going through a nasty divorce, seminary, changing careers, moving to a new town. After so many changes in such a short time, you would think I would welcome the lull I found myself in. I didn’t. I was restless, almost bored. The big 4-0 was bearing down on me and there were still so many things I wanted out of life. I made a decision: by the time I turned 40, I was going to do something BIG. I didn’t know yet what that something would be. Maybe I would write a book, or run a marathon, or take a fabulous trip, or hike the Grand Canyon. It didn’t really matter at that moment. All I knew is that I didn’t want to still be in a lull when that milestone birthday arrived.
To say that I did something big before I turned 40 would be an understatement. In March of 2004, a year before my 40th birthday, I traveled to Guatemala with my daughter, Anna, and my father to meet my new 6 month old daughter. In October of that same year, Anna and I returned to Guatemala to claim my new 20 month old son. In the period of seven months, I doubled the size of my family!
I had always loved being a mother. I had wanted more children all along and had waited to meet the real Mr. Right so that I could have them. It became more and more apparent as the years ticked by and my age crept closer to 40 that it wasn’t going to happen, not in the way I had hoped. So I tackled it alone, and while many (including myself at times) thought I had lost my mind, I know I did exactly what I wanted and needed to do. It hasn’t been easy, being a single mother of three. Money is always tight. I can only be in one place at a time when sometimes I need to be in two or three places at once. I had to postpone some of my other dreams in order to raise the children, especially in their very young years. But it taught me that when you have a dream, if you really want it, you can achieve it. Sometimes you have to get creative. Always you have to make sacrifices. But it CAN be done.
And here I am today – 47 years old. I am three years into my latest ministry at a church in Charleston, SC. Anna just finished her sophomore year of college and the little ones are about to finish 2nd and 3rd grades. I am feeling a little restless. Not bored, mind you. I think that word left my life permanently when the kids came home from Guatemala. But I’m definitely restless. There are still so many things I want out of life, so many dreams I’ve yet to realize. My 50th birthday is right around the corner, so I’m here to make a proclamation: by the time I turn 50, I’m going to do something else (something different this time) that is BIG. I’m not exactly sure what it will be yet, but a have a couple of ideas to explore.
After years of dreaming of being a writer, I’m almost ready to claim it – you know, like, out loud. I started a blog back in 2004 (before my 40th birthday) and have grown through it and with it over the years. Last year I was bold enough to enroll in not one, but two writing workshops. In January of this year, I joined a writing group and have enjoyed the interaction and encouragement I’ve received there. I’ve found a new friend, an amazing writer, who is great at both encouraging me and holding me accountable. This blog that I’ve kept on the down-low slowly is being discovered by local friends and church members. That hasn’t killed me yet, so maybe it’s time to take it to the next level.
I’ve also begun running again. Running has been for me an on-again, off-again love/hate relationship. I used to do it because I thought I wanted to be skinny again. More recently, however, my motivation has changed. For a number of years now, my brother has battled the effects of MS. I get so angry with that disease! Twice, in 2007 and 2008, I’ve walked in the MS Challenge Walk – 50 miles in a three day span.That’s not much when you consider the enormity of the disease, but it was all I knew to do. Then in 2009, my sister died of cancer. These things together, combined with the little aches, pains, and weight gain that has accompanied my own aging, has made me realize that being skinny is the most ridiculous reason in the world to exercise. Building a stronger body is such a smarter reason. Maybe it’s time to take this to the next level as well.
I’m not exactly sure what my next BIG thing will be, but I’m exploring my options every day. Life is too short and too precious to miss out on even one little bit of the possibilities it holds. I know that dreams can come true – if you work for them and make the sacrifices. I can’t wait to see what comes next!