“She’s living my life,” I thought as I sat on the sour cherry colored sofa in her sunny second floor flat. She was absolutely positively living my life and it looked good on her. It fit her. She kind of had a glow- my glow. “The family I nanny for is just a really great family.” I nodded, “My life,” I thought. “Their kids really teach me so much. I am hoping to start at the hospital soon too. Just a couple hours a week to start. Then my program will start in the fall.” I smiled. I sipped my water and took in all my life. I mean her life, in.
“I put my loans in forbearance.” I think I slightly gasped, and my eyes extended themselves beyond their sockets. “That was really hard but I needed to. I needed to pause. I have never given myself that permission, that grace to pause. I needed to care for me. I have been going and going and making this work and that work and pouring out. I love all of that and have been really blessed but I was tired and I needed to pause. I needed to pull back, let go, walk away, step down, slow down.” I nodded. “It’s not easy but it’s been such a good decision for me. I like the time and space I have for me.” I gulped.
“I just prayed and kept thinking about how much you reminded us of how important it is to listen to ourselves, our bodies, and really care for ourselves. There’s so much that you said that with prayer really helped me quit my job and make these changes.”
“What did I say again?,” I was tempted to ask.
“And I don’t regret it.” I told you-she has my life. Well….kind of.
No I don’t desire to be a nanny. I can’t say I’m excited to work in a hospital part time or full time. Honestly, given that the last time I was in a hospital the person died, I’m cool with no hospitals for a good bit. I loathe my student loans but have no desire to delay repayment by putting them in forbearance. Not interested in any of that. Despite being accepted into a PhD program and contemplating another, I get a smidge queezy considering doing a program this fall. Just a smidge. I don’t beam at the thought of more school like she does. My eyes don’t quite twinkle, my speech doesn’t speed up, the corners of my mouth don’t curl upwards, my feet don’t subconsciously swing with joy.
However, I do have that desire to boldly move towards the life I believe I was created to live. Here’s the deal- she went to undergrad to study communication and upon graduation left Missouri for Chicago to work at a great PR firm. It wasn’t for her. She went back to school for a Masters in Counseling and moved again, to the Greater Philadelphia Area, which is how we crossed paths. As graduation neared she knew counseling wasn’t quite it either. She worked a couple of mental health non profit gigs, served in her church and community, dated, got engaged, got unengaged, applied for a new job and didn’t get it because one of her references took too long to respond to the company that really wanted to hire her, even got accused of mismanagement of funds from two employers ago and had to hire an attorney who wanted her to settle- she wouldn’t settle because there was no need, she didn’t do anything. The legal process drained her time, energy, finances. Yet, as we sat in the unusual warmth of a sunny February Sunday afternoon, in her second floor cozy corner of the world, she was still making it. Emphasis on making it. She hemorrhaged contentment, joy, and hope. She had my life.
Actually, she has her life. As in she is owning her life. Like she is not leaving it to whim, to ideals of well intended family and friends, archetypes of women in magazines or on commercials in between Say Yes to the Dress or How To Get Away with Murder. She is owning her journey, the curved pieces that bring hope and causes her to smile and the pieces with jagged edges that tempt her to cower and her eyes to well with tears.
That’s the life I am pursuing, the unusual rented, non mortgaged, no one needs to die and will it to me kind of life. The one that I own and don’t feel ashamed of, borderline crazy for, drained or depressed by, or haven’t reconfigured to fit the figures of me others have chosen to create. That’s the life I am talking about when I say she has my life. That’s the life I want more of us- friends, mothers, wives, widows, students, lovers, entrepreneurs, to imagine, craft, pursue, go after relentlessly, and own. Yes ladies, own your life, every last bit that has happened, is happening, and you’re striving to make happen. Be well!