I was divorced 9 years ago today.
Anniversaries are interesting milestones. They can be celebratory, melancholy or just a barometer with which to gauge the course of our lives. Upon waking this morning and realizing what had occurred 9 years ago today, I discovered that I was experiencing all these emotions at the same time.
Nine years ago I decided to be the "Captain" of my own life. I would no longer simply be a passenger carried along in a life that did not feel authentically my own. It was a difficult decision that had been a long time coming. At the time, I had absolutely no idea what the future would look like, but I imagined a path for myself and set upon it. If these past years have taught me anything, it is that many times, New Beginnings do not look anything like you think they will!
The period right after my divorce was frightening but exciting. The world was mine for the taking, and all I had to do was figure out where I wanted to exist in that world. The interesting thing is that at that time, the life I imagined for myself had not yet evolved into the path I was truly meant to lead. I still had so much to learn, so much to experience, in order to take my New Beginning and figure out what to do with it. In the midst of all of this self-exploration, I needed to raise my children, deal with health issues and figure it all out on my own. Daunting doesn't even begin to describe it.
So, you may ask what have I learned from this process? The list is long! First, I learned it is HARD. While there has never been a moment of regret with regard to the ending of my marriage, starting over in mid-life is a real challenge. The toll it took on me mentally and physically was real. The toll it took on my children was heart wrenching. Watching my ex emotionally and financially walk away from my children was soul crushing. In spite of all of this, there was ME. While broken, I was simultaneously empowered. Having to figure it all out on your own is trying, but it helped me to learn what I was made of. I was by no means Fearless at all times, but I definitely constantly strived for it. I learned that I am strong, resourceful, resilient and that I am unique. My idea of life did not align with the life I had been living, and although I allowed myself to be carried away into that life for 21 years, it was as if I was just discovering who I was for the first time.
Loneliness affords you the amazing opportunity to learn that you are good company, and forces you to figure out how you want to present yourself to to the world and what you want to get out of it. I discovered I love travel. I always knew that I really enjoyed travel, but I discovered something more. I LOVE to travel. I love the airport. I love the packing. I love waking up somewhere different with an excitement of what the day will bring. I love to sit on the plane, listen to music and just BE with my own thoughts. I love adventure! I mean I REALLY love adventure. Challenging myself makes me feel alive. Doing things that make me uncomfortable makes ME very comfortable. This was such a revelation! In my marriage I felt small, when I found myself alone, suddenly I was big, bold and open! I am an awesome first date. This isn't a commentary on how fabulous I am, far from it. I discovered that I enjoy the idea of meeting someone new, getting to know about them and sharing a little about myself as well. While dating can be a challenge, there is something exciting about the promise of meeting a stranger and potentially finding a real connection with that person.
Another concept that my New Beginnings has really tuned me into is Gratitude. I've never considered myself to be an entitled or ungrateful person, and I have never lived my life in that manner. However, I don't think my sense of gratitude was as astute as it is now. I have found gratitude in the most unlikely places, most importantly within myself. I am grateful for my own strength, for my ability to maintain a positive attitude in the midst of adversity and in my ability to adapt to change. Without having found these qualities within myself through being on my own, I would not know what gifts I have to share with myself and the world around me. I am profoundly aware of the effect of being grateful in my life for kindness that others show to me, along with simple things like a beautiful day or a perfectly delicious cupcake. I used to believe that gratitude was about what you received externally and have learned that it is really internal and projected on my little world only by me. It is mine to control. What an enormous lesson to have learned!
Does my life look like I thought it would when I began this journey nine years ago? Definitely not! I have created an entirely new life for myself including a new home, a move halfway across the country, a new job, new friends, new loves, new priorities, new passions, new adventures, new volunteerism, new travels and a completely different outlook on life. I am a work in progress, and while I am proud of myself for the strides I have made in many areas of my life, there is still much more to learn.
My New Beginnings continue each day, as I open my eyes and open myself to the possibilities that lay ahead for me that day. I AM the pilot for my life, and I plan to SOAR Fearlessly!
Wishing you all a beautiful flight too!!