Priestess of Bacchus, John Collier
My summer has not gone as planned. None of my plans have come to fruition. Sigh . . . It reinforces the old adage, “Want to make the gods laugh? Make plans!” My internal hopes and dreams about crossing into a new stage of life—the entirely empty nest—were revealed to be complete illusions. What I thought it would be like, how I would feel about it, and how I would blossom into an even more authentic version of me evaporated like a mirage. For the few short months that it seemed to be manifesting, I found myself to be a bundle of contradictions. I have had two children move out, and I anticipated that the third leaving would not be much different. Ha!
I was shocked by my feelings of emptiness and loss. Where were the much-anticipated joys of freedom? Even Sam, the dog, seemed depressed with the silence. I looked at my husband and thought, this is it? Are we stuck with just one another now? Eeeeeek! I’m kinda sure he felt the same way. We’ve grown into very different people who might be “happier” with someone else. But there are so many factors involved in a 30+ year marriage, late-life finances, health issues, retirement, and so on, and so on . . . My youngest left home to start a new life in another state, and within six months, those dreams and plans fell apart. Having her come home is a good thing, much better than starting life in a bad marriage far from friends and family. But, it has been costly psychologically, energetically, and financially for everyone. Emotional upheaval has reigned supreme; our hopes and plans were blasted into the air like so much confetti from a cannon, now blown away by the winds of unexpected change and heartbreak.
In the end, it comes down to love. Love is all that matters. Love is all that lasts. That’s it. Yes.
AND . . . the living of this deep mother-love, family love, is damned hard. This—keeping everyone in the life raft during the storm—kind of love is exhausting work. It’s not the easy love of late-night romantic dinners, or the fulfillment of a dream, or the doing of that something, or traveling, or whatever easy and wonderful things we equate with love and happiness.
The Tempest- Miranda. J W. Waterhouse
We’re in the middle of love's deepest territory. It’s messy and painful because of what I’m learning about myself, and because of what I’m learning about everyone else. It’s heartbreaking to see and feel our dysfunctional family dynamic rear its ugly green head again. It’s exhausting to try to know and understand; when to support, when to back off, when to give tough love with boundaries, when anything is enough when my lens is distorting my understanding of everyone's needs and private struggles, when I’m tilting into imbalance, and need to retreat into some self-care. This is it. This is life. This is the messy side of love and family. I'm beginning to understand why the elderly are tired. I know the wheel of life will turn eventually, and things will calm down. We have another wedding coming up in November, which promises to be a joy-filled reunion of sorts, love
filled for everyone. I’m looking forward to it. Phase two of “My summer has not gone as planned” includes getting Covid after avoiding it for 2.5 years. I’m very grateful for the vaccines I got (I had to stop at two for medical reasons) and the new antiviral tablets, Paxlovid, which did a great job shortening my illness! So far, no rebound. Phase three of “My summer has not gone as planned” was when the air conditioning broke just as I was diagnosed with Covid on a Saturday, so no one could get out to fix it until the following week, with temperatures over 100. OY! But thankfully, my hubby Tim got a couple of portable units, and we made do with them and a few fans. We need an entirely new system. We settled for a new blower motor. Phase four of “My summer has not gone as planned” was the discovery of termites in the corner of our home where we need to remodel a bathroom. Perhaps that’s partly why the tile is falling off the shower walls. Oy Oy! Phase five of “My summer has not gone as planned” was realizing how much extra work one more dog is for a household. Returning from AZ with our daughter is her year-old, adorable handful of a pup, whose sensitive tummy has made for outrageously disgusting daily cleanup issues, multiple dog food changes, home dog food cooking, and experimental feeding solutions. We are getting closer, but the problem is not solved yet. As I am writing this email, I just got a call from our vet; the other dog has cancer again and has to have another lump removed. Oy! Oy! Oy! “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” Actually, thanks for asking; the play is amazing! It’s about life with all its ups and downs and getting dragged through the underworld before being invited to a feast with the gods on Olympus. I cried, laughed, and was moved beyond words. The writing was spectacular, and the parts were perfectly cast. Especially the overwrought mother role.
The Globe Theatre, London. Photo by Maschinenjunge Shakespeare did say it best, "All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man/woman in his/her time plays many parts. . . " (As You Like It) Despite all the roles I'm playing, and whatever comes next, I know I’m lucky. I’m one of the most fortunate women on the planet. I’m privileged, have a roof over my head (though perhaps bug infested?), have food in the fridge, and my family is healthy, for the most part. I’m well educated and have built a business dedicated to helping women reclaim their lives for themselves after 45, inspiring them to create their most authentic lives. Recreating ourselves, reclaiming our lives, and grabbing our Regency years for all their worth—doesn't mean we won’t have hard times. It means developing new ways to contend with the hard, sad, lonely, and heartbreaking times. It’s about amplifying our ability to tap back into the greater whole, to see the universal in our personal experiences, to feel connected to and part of the Great Story of life, in good times and in bad. It’s our willingness to be in the mess, to be dragged through the underworld and allow it to fertilize our soul in equal measure, along with the joys and the heights of love, happiness, and gratitude. I’m grateful to be back coaching, writing, and working in the office. Drop me a line in the comments below, and let me know how you’re doing. Which side of the wheel are you clinging to this week, month, or moment? Remember, the wheel is always in motion. Namaste,