The end of the year always gives me a pause to reflect on my life and where I am, even if there’s really no time for things like that. I’ve been weighing out a few “life options” with my husband and friends and last week I realized I needed to let go of a dream that I once had: one of working as a National Park Ranger. I’ve held onto this dream for most of the past 9 years in one form or another. But reality has sunk in after volunteering for a location National Park site and I realize I just really, really hate government bureaucracy. I see what it does, doesn’t do, and how it completely shadows all the love and glisteny fun of being a ranger. It’s a dream I need to let go because it no longer fits.
I authored a book this year and I’m in a good job, but amongst all that I still manage to dream and think about “what’s next in life?” or “what do I want to be when I grow up?” Do we ever really figure that out, or do we just go where our life leads us? Who is actually living the life they dreamed of? I spoke with a friend a decade older than me last week and she’s still asking the same questions – I’m glad I’m not the only one.
Life has been leading me down a path, one I’ve allowed, and I’ve been waiting for certain doors to open and close and while I’ve been pro-active about some things in my life (like my book), I’ve been more complacent and reactive to other things in my life. I’ve had to take some difficult and hard looks and what I am doing to get me where want to be and what I’m doing out of obligation, a need to give back, and what I’ve simply been letting hold me back.
I’ve been part of the widowed community for over 6 years now and I’ve become very involved in it. After a conversation with another widow, she said something that made me realize the thing I had been unwilling to face: that I need to step away from the widowed community. It is holding me back. I’m at the point now that watching others grieve is keeping me in a place I longer need to be. I’ve made some amazing friends on this journey, and while I’ll continue those friendships, I need to disconnected and disengage with the communities in which I am reading and hearing about grief 24/7. It reminds me of the life I had, the life that was so painful, the life I am so glad I have moved past. I know I will always honor the loss of my first husband, that dates will still trigger, that my book is a constant reminder of our life together, but I need to begin putting that daily reminder behind me. I need to be in the present.
That means re-configuring my dreams a little bit: I always thought my next book would be a collection of the “best of” widow blogs that I wrote because it would essentially be “easy”. It made sense. It no longer does. My future screams of 2 things that are most important to me in my professional life: travel and nature. Grief no longer fits.
I’ve been tossing around no less than 3 book ideas and I figured I would start with the easiest. Hah. I made you laugh, right? But I can’t. I can’t keep myself in that dark place, that place that has pulled me back for 6 long years. I want to find light and pleasure and peace and passion in my next week. I want to write something that inspires me, pulls me forward, and gives me hope even if it goes nowhere.
The great thing is, that the 2 other book ideas I have are centered around a theme I adore: nature, and if I start with smaller one, I think it’ll help me launch the larger project! It’s actually exciting to think about these projects, to feel invigorated by these ideas.
It’s really scary to go to a new place, a place that doesn’t include being held back by the odd comfort that is my grief. It’s scary to chase happiness instead of these 6 years of normal that I’ve known so intimately. Happiness and freedom feels scary but I’m excited for the challenge.