I’ve been working on my current work in progress for a few weeks now. Part of this story has to do with two characters who knew each other once before (only briefly) and the way they’ve both changed (or not changed) in the intervening years since then and now. That part of the book prompted me to consider the ways in which my own life has changed. In the story, it’s been 8 years since my characters last saw each other, but 8 years seems like such a weird number for something like this, so I decided to go with 10 years.
In some ways, my life hasn’t changed at all. I’m still a mom, still live in the same small town, still love to read, and still love Johnny Depp.
But in other ways, my life has changed dramatically and sometimes rather unexpectedly. The changes may not seem major to an outsider, but to me, their significance is there.
A few of the changes:
- I’ve raised (and am still raising) 2 kids on my own. After my divorce, my ex-husband decided he didn’t want to be a dad in any way, shape or form. He walked away and never calls, writes, sends gifts, or pays child support. I’ve had support from family and friends, but as a parent, I’ve had to go it alone. And while I don’t want to brag, I think I’ve done a pretty good job.
- I’ve started homeschooling those 2 kids. This was a huge change in my life. Not that I don’t adore my kids and love spending time with them, but up until about 4 years ago, they were in public school. We were just like so many other families, rushing in the mornings, separated for most of the day, spending hours on homework, and trying to fit in homework, extracurriculars, and life in general around the long hours of school and work. Homeschooling changed my life, and that of my children, very dramatically. No more alarm clocks to jolt us out of sleep to start the day. No more hours of homework, rushing to fit in what needed to be done around school and homework and work. We became more relaxed, more focused, and happier – in general and with each other.
- I started working for myself (translation: I started writing). A little before the 10 year mark that I set for this post, I actually went to school to become a phlebotomist. While I actually enjoyed the job (strange, because I personally can’t stand needles when it comes to me getting stuck), the hours and where I had to work just didn’t work for me. That led me to work in office jobs, but then about 6 years ago, I got laid off from my last office job. That alone wasn’t enough to trigger the change, but when I broke my ankle that summer and couldn’t work for several months, that prompted me to start contemplating some changes. I needed to make money and support my kids, but I literally could not return to work, per my surgeon’s orders (yeah, I really broke my ankle badly. The sad part is, it happened in a really stupid way). It took a long time to reach the point where I was ready to publish, but that was the beginning of the journey to get to where I am now. So I must thank my former employer and my stupid dog that dug a hole in my backyard for being the impetuses to my change.
- I published 4 books. This actually happened in the last 3 years. I’ve published 3 novels, and 1 volume of poetry. I dreamed of being a published author from the time I was a child, and it took me until I was in my 30s to accomplish it, but I did it. That, to me, is something to be proud of, even if I hadn’t accomplished anything else in the last 10 years.
- I made some amazing friends. This one might sound weird. Making friends, to most people, isn’t a big change – especially when we’re talking about a period of 10 years. But I happen to be a major introvert, as I’ve mentioned before. I don’t do well in crowds, it takes me some time to open up to people, and when some breaks my trust, you can pretty safely assume that I won’t make that mistake with them again. So the friends I’ve made in recent years, the ones that are still around, are people that I adore. They make me laugh, make me think, motivate and encourage me. They are people that I trust with my thoughts, doubts, fears and joys, and who share theirs with me. They are people that I am proud to call friend.
It’s a short list of things to be proud of, but it’s my list. It’s a list that makes me feel better about what I have and haven’t done in the last decade, and it’s a list that keeps me grounded and remembering what’s really important. It’s also helping me figure out what I need to put on my list of “to do” things for the next decade of my life, in order to make the next 10 years as good as, or better than, the last 10.