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That Age-Old Question

This is me. I took this picture while in Phoenix, AZ in April of 2021. Believe it or not, I was sitting on a bench, next to a bubbling fountain, palm trees overhead, sunshine massaging my bare legs, and nothing but 83 degree heat to warm my tired soul. And the #1 thought circling through my brain this day... 'What do I want to do with my life?'. To be straight up honest with you, I did entertain thoughts of just staying right there where I was, sitting on that warm bench in Phoenix and sending for all of my belongings in Oregon. Mind you, I was just a short walk from the high-rise hotel we were staying at that offered an outdoor pool and hot tub, umbrella covered loungers, room service, as well as an adjoining restaurant (who wouldn't want to send for their belongings?!)... but it was in those quiet moments while lounging on this bench that it occurred to me full-force and in a very undiluted way, that I had no idea [zero, zilch] what I wanted to do with my life. And that's when the beating myself senseless began. 'You just turned 52 years old, ya moron!'. 'How can you be old enough to have grown children and grandchildren and still not have a career?'. 'What the hell are you waiting for, dimwit?'. 'Why can't you be smart enough, pretty enough, sexy enough, courageous enough to fall in love already?'. 'How many friggin times have you promised yourself that you were gonna take a class on how to take a descent selfie?'. Ugh! I must have spent (or rather wasted) 40 or more minutes of my life that day caught in that ever-familiar boxing ring with myself as my opponent. When I finally admitted defeat and slowly made my way back to the hotel, I tossed off any ounce of desire to send for my belongings in Oregon. I threw away all desire (no matter how small) to start over... to try something new... to put myself out there to fall in love... to take a new step in any direction. I. Simply. Just. Gave. Up.

Fast forward to now [an entire 9 months later]. Imagine... I am sitting on my sofa greeting a new morning complete with blue skies and sunshine (in January even), my journal laid open in my lap, and the words I write are, 'Lord, why do I come to this exact place every day? I ask myself, What do I want to do... Where do I want to be... Who do I want to become? Every. Single. Day. Ugh!'. Nine whole months of living and not a whole hell of a lot has changed. Sure... the scenery of my life looks a lot different, even if its mostly behind the scenes stuff, like I am now employed and no longer dependent on long term disability. I sadly lost my companion Baby and have since adopted sister kittens Vivian and Cheddar Moon. I suffered some great losses that nearly shattered my heart... but I survived them. I have shifted from wearing a M/L to mostly a L... and from a size 10 to mostly a size 12 (buggers!). And all trace of salon enhanced highlights are now grown out and my natural hair color (including natural gray) has taken its place. That may not sound like much of a list, but I gotta tell ya, it took every ounce of energy and muscle I possessed to walk through those things. Each and every one. But as difficult as each of those things were to me physically, socially, emotionally, financially, and spiritually--they still did not answer that age-old question of 'What do I want to do with my life?'.

While journaling, an interesting thought bubbled up. It went a little something like this... 'Today the blue sky and sunshine makes me miss my mobile-- having my own front porch and yard. This weather makes me want to pack a lunch and drive the mountain pass stopping to see the waterfalls along the way. This weather makes me want to hop on an airplane and see the girls in person before the sun goes down. As much as I missed seasons while living in Southern Cali-- now I miss perpetual sunshine. I need to find my Equator'. Ta-Da! There it is!... I NEED TO FIND MY EQUATOR.

Equator (for you WordNerds); circle of latitude; divides Earth into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres; an imaginary line located at 0 degrees latitude; stable daytime temperature throughout the year; in Latin: make equal; the terms summer, autumn, winter and spring do not generally apply; average annual temperatures are around 88 degrees during the afternoon and 73 degrees around sunrise; there are about 200 rainy days per year and average annual sunshine hours are around 2,000 [thank you Wikipedia for that mind picture of utopia!].

With this little revelation of wanting--or rather needing to find my equator, a truth dawned on me. We all, each and every one of us, are trying to find our own Equator. We all want to have a career we love, a special someone to share our life and our home with, and to be surrounded by good friends, great food, and soul-moving music. We all want our days to be filled to the brim with love, laughter, and memory-making moments. We all, every one of us, want plenty of money in our pocket, in our bank account, and tucked securely away for our retirement. Each and every one of us wants to wake up with a heartfelt smile on our lips and to go to sleep at night with a satisfied sigh. Put that way, it sounds so simple and within our grasp... but it really isn't. Life is not easy. Hearts do get broken. Food can & will make you fat. People will never fail to disappoint you. Traumatic things happen no matter how hard you try to outrun them. Your body does give up on you. Money does runs out sometimes a hell of a lot faster than we are prepared for. And grief... well it effects everyone and holds no favorites. As of today, at this very moment, as published by the United States Census Bureau... there are exactly 332,463,629 humans in the United States (and you can visually watch the numbers roll over). Not one single person alive today is immune to the human condition. We will all spend our lives trying to find our own equator. How close are you to finding yours?

I do feel it important to add that even though it can sometimes feel like the odds are stacked against us... life can also be pretty freaking fantastic! Fresh starts. New beginnings. Good food. Great people. Love. Laughter. Hugs. Furry friends. Twinkle lights. Music. Chocolate. Sand between your toes. Healing. Hope. Agh... life can be good! But what happens when you find yourself stuck in that ooey-gooey (and not the good ooey-gooey) place where you become convinced that 332,463,628 other humans have found their own equator... but you may never find yours? It is easy to find yourself as the 1 standing solo against the 332,463,628 others who you believe have figured out the answer on how to find their own equator. But I am going to let you in on a little secret... we all (all 332,463,629 of us) are trying to find our own equator. We were all born with this little nudging inside of us that propels us forward, always seeking a deeper meaning to life, always needing to understand our purpose for being on this grand planet at this moment in time. Some of those moments are spent with the sun shining down on our faces, our pockets bulging with the spoils of a successful harvest, and the birds chirp-chirping in the background of our seemingly perfect existence... and then we blink (which takes place in a millisecond of time) and a thunderous storm has rolled in without warning knocking over our relationships like bowling pins, wiping out every shred of our livelihood, and rattling our inner courage to the core. Life just happens like that. Even scripture tells us, 'For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust' [Matthew 5:45 KJV]. We all, each and every one of us, get to enjoy the sun shining warmly down on us and the cold wet rain relentlessly pounding us to a pulp. That's just life. The second you get comfortable with one level of living a new season ushers itself right in.

So how do you find your equator in this ever-changing, ever-topsy-turvy existence? You don't give up. It's as hard... and as simple as that! If 332,463,628 humans are standing on a bridge ready to jump does that mean that I need to jump too? Hell no! I might be the 1 human able to convince the other 332,463,628 humans that the sun is coming and to not let the hammering rain convince you to give up. Even on your darkest day when it feels like the sun will never come out again... it will! Life will get better. Your days will get easier. And your equator is drawing closer. Today could just be the day that you say 'Yes' to a new job opportunity. Today could be the day that a new love walks into your life. Today could be the day that you become an in-law or a new grandparent. Today could be the day that you choose to embrace the life you live. Today could be the day that your Budget moving truck crosses state lines. Today could be the day that you find your voice and walk away from a relationship that has been sucking the life out of you for far too long. Today could be the day that you finally have the courage to put out that last cigarette or to put down that bottle. Today could be the day that you hear something spoken by a complete stranger that causes you to set your feet on a new path in life. Today could be the day for miracles to materialize in your life. Today could be that day! If not today... it could be tomorrow! Or the day after that! Don't give up when you are standing in the cold, wet, hammering rain. Lord knows I spent much of my youth soaked clean through like a drowned rat by the Willamette Valley rain. Funny thing is, there are sunshiny days in my life where all my soul longs for is to be soaked clean through by a good rain storm. I actually miss it--even when the sun is shining the brightest. Those rainy days are what grew me up... and continue to. And I imagine those rainy days are growing you up too.

Be grateful for those rainy days and embrace those days that the sun comes out. AND... keep trying to find your equator. Get familiar with it. Paint a picture of what your equator looks and feels like to you. Get intimate with it. Find joy in the process. In all of the 332,463,629 (and counting) humans that exist, no one has the exact same equator as you! We all have our own equator that we are trying to find. Isn't that exciting?! So maybe you, like me, are on the cusp of turning 53 and still don't know the answer to what you want to do with your life. That is okay... and dare I say very normal. Life is all about finding the answers along the way. I might feel and convince myself that 53 years-old is too far past finding a new career, a new love, and a new home... but God might look down from above, rubbing his hands together with excitement, knowing that all of those things--and so much more, will pour into my life the very second I turn 53, 7 months & 15 days old. Wouldn't it be a shame to give up right before your miracle happens? I don't know about you, but I don't want to. I want to be ready with bells on! And I hope you do too! God has such good things coming... don't let a little rain dampen your excitement. Get ready to receive your miracle!

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