As this year closes, like for many others, it is time for reflection on whether life is going in the “right direction”. My first instinctive response is to say “Yes but”. Having got a lot clearer about my life’s goals, I am impatient, and realistically at my age, I don’t have all the time to get there. But softly, softly, press the pause button.
Most of you know that is just a few years ago that I lost everything that was important in my life in quick succession; my husband to brain cancer, my company to fraud, and my own breast cancer. If there was ever a trio of life events destined to break my spirit, that was it. While I was never suicidal, I thought it perfectly reasonable to think that life in heaven would be easier than the one I was left with; one surely not of my choosing.
In my recent appearance on PBS TV I spoke of the process of rebuilding my life again from scratch. But now I will share my progress in 2018. Yes, there is surely more to go, but there has been more progress than I would be prone to think.
I have discovered that one of my joys comes from sharing life stories on the stage. I have grown as a storyteller, telling both inspirational stories and comic ones. Yes, I love the performance aspect of storytelling, but it is also immensely satisfying to move audiences to tears or laughter while delivering an underlying message about life’s lessons learned. At the beginning of 2018, I would have never predicted that I would have given rousing live performances on multiple stages including The Moth and PBS television. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself somewhat incredulously to believe these performances really did occur.
As many of you know, in the last couple of years, I discovered a passion for dancing after a whole lifetime of thinking that I had two left feet. To me, dancing is the body’s expression of moving to music at its deepest soul level. I am still very much on the early stages of my dancing journey, but in November I did compete for the first time, and to my astonishment, did not come in last, but garnered numerous high placements. Perhaps most meaningful of all, was a couple of weeks ago when a young woman came up to me after a demonstration waltz, with visible tears in her eyes, to say how she was moved by the beauty and grace of my dance. It never occurred to me that my dancing could move people in the same way as my stories can. I am still absorbing that one.
My road back to physical health has been a long one but I realized recently that I felt fitter, lighter and healthier than in decades. I truly have been reversing the aging process. I credit my Pilates practice over the last 9 years for this transformation and a very patient teacher who kept the faith when mine was faltering. Now I sit here at the end of 2018, studying anatomy for the first time in my life and due to take my first National Pilates teacher certification exams early 2019. A year ago this possibility was not on my radar. But through my search to give my life more structure, purpose and helping others improve their health, which I did through my former business, I realized that the answer for me was right under my nose. Hence becoming a Pilates teacher and helping others achieve a new level of wellness.
As I have been making visible progress on these strands of my life, there is one which is noticeably absent. I have been widowed for over seven years, and in no way did I contemplate being alone for so long. When Herman was alive the joy in my life was built in. Now I have to make a conscious decision to create it each day, sometimes pulling myself up by my bootstraps, especially after being awake during the night, when loneliness threatens to overwhelm me. Then my heart aches for a life when I was so well loved. But as morning comes, I remember how I have been touched by those people in my life who have genuinely welcomed me into their homes on the holidays, saving me from the anticipated horror of being alone. And I tell myself that my next life partner will appear when the time is right and his delay in making his appearance just means that there have been other things that needed accomplishing before I was “relationship ready”.
I share all this with you as I know so many of you go through hard times and are impatient to come out the other side at warp speed. I have learned compassion for myself and others on this journey we call life. Look back on this year and you will see how far you have come, more than you think.
Hold onto the promise of the unanticipated joys which lie ahead. I wish you joy and peace in 2019.