Don’t Ignore the Universe
Look and Listen to the Cues That Beckon in Your Life and Follow Your Bliss
I’ve had extreme ups and downs in my life. Who hasn’t? However, I have always listened carefully to the cues of my life- those chances and opportunities that have come without visible guarantees. My family never had money, so it was a given that I would have to carve out my own life. As a child and an adolescent, I was considered to be mature beyond my years. I worried about my future like no one I ever knew. I spent my entire youth and career years planning and saving for a time when I wouldn’t have to worry about financial security. Most people my age only thought about their weekend party plans. Looking back, I know that I was gifted with the ability to absorb my truths at each stage of my life. Ironically, as I face retirement, I am younger and more free-spirited than I ever hoped to be in my youth. I’m excited to share the secrets of my successful life. As an extra bonus, I still have much in which to look forward because I am healthy, in shape, and better than ever. I have become the woman I always wanted to be when I didn’t quite believe in myself.
When it seems easier to stay at home and wonder ‘what if’…don’t. I was an entering freshman at Cal State University Fullerton when the opportunity to attend an orientation weekend in the mountains of Idyllwild presented itself. I was nervous to go alone, and didn’t want to leave the comfort of my known friends, but something in my soul urged me to go. While there, I met an incredible young man who introduced me to all my professors who let me hand-pick my classes prior to on-campus registration. That iconoclastic film major and his brilliant friends defined my college years; some of the best years of my life.
Speak up, even if your voice shakes. When I began to take my writing seriously, I attended many writing conferences up and down California hosted by the biggest names in the publishing world. Each conference begins with hundreds of eager writers in attendance to hear an anticipated keynote speech. Twice, I spoke up about my writing projects whenever the speaker opened the microphone to the audience. With my heart pounding out of my chest, I thought, “What do I have to lose?” In both of those instances, I met writers, editors and publishers who still continue to influence my work. After my comments, they found me.
When life isn’t what you expect, make it your own. Half-way through college, I lost the upscale waitress job that supported my apartment, my car insurance and my tuition. The boss unloaded any friends of his son’s ex-girlfriend (which included me) because she dumped his son for another young man. I had never lost anything I worked for up to that point. I was devastated. Within one week, I had secured two jobs not as lucrative as the waitress position, but I learned how to survive by the sweat of my own brow. One of those jobs, an aide in a school for severely Autistic children, set me on my path to become a teacher.
When others try to define you, remember that they aren’t living your life. Back when I saw romance through rose-colored glasses, I agreed to wander through Europe with a charming Swedish medical student. Two days into the trip, I knew our pairing was a disaster. He was a Socialist who hated the mere thought of the American way. I was as Democratic and American as apple pie. I was catapulted to a critical crossroad: let my self-esteem be eviscerated, and stay with the security of an experienced wilderness guide, or travel alone on foreign soil my way. The choice was obvious. That six-week sojourn on my own opened my eyes to a world that inspires me to this day. But even more important, I learned how to love myself.
Age is not an obstacle, it is an opportunity. Now that my working days are numbered, I am dabbling in my passions- writing, cultural studies, ancestry, art, history, dance, and perhaps, politics. Little bites are coming to me through social media, my travels, my women’s groups, and political events. It’s as if all of my hard-earned strengths are coalescing into one magical elixir that is bringing the world to me. It’s really true what they say about aging: like a fine wine, the best of who we are comes with the marinating of time and wisdom.