It wasn’t the responsible thing to do. Moving to a new city without a J.O.B. And to add to my reckless behavior, looking for one wasn’t even my first order of business. Something else was.
Not scantily-clad on a pole as a way to earn some money in the meantime (at my age, that’s not so much an option). But, yes, at the gym, on the dance floor (with or without a partner), on the metro, in the elevator, on the sidewalk waiting to cross the street… House, Deep House, Drum and Bass, Disco, R&B, Jazz, anything Latin. It didn’t matter. As long as the music was thumping and I was going balls to the wall. It was a pretty significant departure from the highly responsible way I’d been conducting my life for the last, oh, 30 years or so.
But it was completely essential. My life depended on it.
You see, I had spent that time doing what I should do. Getting highly educated. Working my way up the ladder in corporate America. Buying a home with the primary criteria being the school district where it was located. Funneling my savings into accounts starting with 3 numbers (401, 529). My every decision, hell, almost my every thought was dominated by these objectives.
There was one problem, and it couldn’t be solved with money. Who the freak was I?
The thing is, What I Know For Sure is that if I had taken the conventional approach of starting my move to my new adopted home city with a job search, I would have looked for something in this same way I had been living: pushed by shoulds instead of pulled by my heart, gut and intuition, all working together with my analytical mind. I had to live a bit as who I was born to be, to give this girl a chance to remember her dancing feet and along with it her ability to make decisions from the inside out.
Now, if you ask me – do I regret living my life the ‘responsible’ way for so long? Hmm, that’s complicated. Being sensible all those years, socking away money and planning, was part of what made this next beautiful act possible. Also, for reasons that deserve another space and time to describe, I’ve never wanted anything more in my life than I had wanted to be a ‘good parent.’ I knew that not giving that responsibility (privilege, really!) my absolute best was not an option for me. However, I may have been somewhat misguided in terms of what this entailed. Now I realize that, in addition to giving my child emotional and material support, being ‘good’ at parenting would have included teaching by example what living an authentic life looks like. However, despite my mistakes, now there is a beautiful, enlightened, caring man roaming this earth who I absolutely cannot take credit for but who warms my heart and brings tears of gratitude to my eyes. Hopefully he will not need to spend as many hours in therapy as I did to figure sh*t out 😉
So what does my journey mean for you my friends?
If you’re an empty nester like me, I implore you! Don’t let the sun set on your life without finding or returning to your bliss. Hey, I get it! The demands of work and family that you’ve been engaged in for the last few decades so frequently have required that your dreams, goals and desires take a back seat to so many other considerations. It has been said that you can have everything in life, just not all at the same time. Guess what?! This is your time! I know you miss your kids. Sometimes you feel the emptiness in your home and heart. But just as your parental responsibilities transformed as your kids grew from diapers to diplomas, they are still evolving even now. If it’s been so long that you operated by first thinking of yourself that you can’t even work from that place, do it for your kids! The best gift you can give them at this point in your lives is a happy, fulfilled parent who’s got interesting stuff from their own lives to talk about when they come home.
And for the kiddos! If you’re just now embarking on your professional and life journey, first, I’m so excited for you! Although I understand the pressures you might be feeling to get everything right. There may be conflict between different voices, including your own, advising you on what you should do (there’s that sh-word again!) There is a lot of conflicting advice out there along the spectrum of following your passion vs. working your a** off along a conventional path. Regardless of what you choose, I do suggest one thing – always find at least a slice of time to do what makes you feel most alive. It’s more than just exercise, or entertainment, or whatever category your passion falls into. Its effects will spill over into the rest of your life. It will center you, comfort you and help assure that the life you’re living is truly yours.
So dance (or follow your jam) like your life depends on it. Because it does.