Special Edition: My 50th Birthday
When I awoke this morning, the calendar revealed a new day, my 50th Birthday!
I started this blog 2 years ago, in November of 2017. In my earliest posts, I shared my intention to take a sabbatical to travel with my family. My goal-date was November 11, 2019 – my 50th Birthday.
We made it! I pause and let it all sink in.
This didn’t happen by accident. I didn’t just wake up one day in Spain. I have saved and planned for almost 3 years to make this happen.
I am a financial planner by trade and I suppose that has helped. Through the years, I have developed a mental framework for how to play offense and defense, financially speaking. I have set and achieved other goals, so why not throw in a sabbatical savings spreadsheet?
I have also watched my income go up as I gained professional knowledge and experience. Since my husband and I come from such modest means, we chose to just keep living “normal” and make wise use of the excess. That discipline has led to the achievement of an amazing life goal!
That is why we plan, why we save and invest. It isn’t for the money itself, but for what we can accomplish with our mastery of it.
I suppose I should be posting celebratory selfies on Facebook, but I’m not. This isn’t a vacation, and I don’t really want to put myself out there like that. I’m on sabbatical, and such active self-promotion sounds like work.
Just believe me when I say that it took a heck-of-a-lot to get here.
In hindsight, it wasn’t just the saving or the sacrifice, the details, the de-junking, or the hundreds of tasks to be accomplished. Although yes, all of that was required.
From the seemingly small decision to make a big change, came The Resistance.
Resistance is where the greatest battle was fought.
Some of the Resistance was from within. There were days, weeks and even months of living with a painful, lonely, internal struggle. I grieved what I was leaving behind. I was fearful of what was to come.
I dredged up past failures, insecurities, rejection, feelings of guilt and unworthiness. What did any of that have to do with saving for a sabbatical? It didn’t make any sense logically, but this internal resistance was real.
Some of the Resistance was from without. At the risk of seeming paranoid, there were exhausting days when I felt the Universe was conspiring against me and was fighting the life-shift that I wanted to make. Something “out there” didn’t want this to happen and was testing me to see if I would give up.
Unexpected medical bills, household repairs and replacements, and challenges with our kids all hit in a compressed period of time. Life was getting expensive, financially and emotionally, and we hadn’t even gotten on the plane yet.
Leaving behind our employers, kids’ schools, home, family and friends was also rough. There was nothing in our cultural, professional, or social circles that normalized the idea of a midlife career sabbatical.
Why would any normal, healthy, well-functioning adult subject herself to this? Quite simply, the dream and the prize were so compelling that I was willing to do whatever it took.
After almost 3 years, we had jumped enough of those internal and external hurdles. By then, we couldn’t have stopped the forward momentum if we had wanted to. It had taken on a life of its own.
I felt as though the outcome had been known since the beginning of time, even though yes, we had chosen it. I am neither a philosopher nor a theologian and I realize this may sound woo-woo. But this is what it felt like to fight and win against such strong internal and external Resistance.
Nothing about this was easy, and I made countless decisions over a 3-year period to remain in alignment with this really big goal. As humans, we have a choice and that power of choice is profound.
So today is my 50th Birthday. I am grateful for my life and for a quiet lunch of Paella Valenciana at a beachfront restaurant on the Mediterranean. Family and friends back home are suffering through a cold front that brought early winter snow. We walked off our lunch in a light jacket, while basking in the peace, quiet and sunshine.
I am thinking of all the wonderful people in my life, of my home, neighborhood, and our kids’ schools. We have a really good life and I am so grateful.
Apart from paella and flamenco, beaches and sangria, I sense that I am also here for some deep inner work. Taking time to do nothing, to sit and listen, to self-care, and to enjoy time with my husband and kids, is the “work” at hand.
I tend to resist Rest, of course. I want to be productive and to accomplish something during my sabbatical. But what if Rest is productive, that doing nothing is really doing something deep? Perhaps there is wisdom in life’s quiet, unseen places and it is ok to hang out there for a time. Rest can sow the seeds for whatever is to come in the next 50 years.
Or maybe not. Maybe there doesn’t have to be a reason or a purpose for everything. Maybe it’s okay to just rest and enjoy our lives for the sake of rest and enjoyment.
Happy 50th Birthday to Me!
Also, hurray for my blog, which is LIVE again, as of today. For the backstory on the prior blog shutdown, click here.