If on Christmas Day 2011, when I left New Zealand heart-a-breakin, you had told me that I would return in 3 years with all of my children (including a newish son-in-law), I would not have believed you. My bank account was busted. I had no idea what was ahead. Today is my birthday and Thanksgiving in the USA. We are celebrating all day!
The December issue of Esquire magazine has a feature called, “2013 Best + Brightest Second Acts” (p.131) and focuses on “the promise of the second act… it’s not a reinvention. It’s a reveal.” (p. 25) Nor is it a comeback. Rather a second act “has been within the person the whole time. The actor becomes the writer (Steve Martin). The comedian emerges as a painter--an an exceedingly good one, at that (Martin Mull, believe it or not)... They keep right on after something new, based on what they like doing and what they can do, rather than what they once did well enough. That’s the second act.”
I love this definition. As the creator of my own second act I am relishing the reveal. Today after a delightful day in the Sutter Bypass helping people connect the dots about salmon floodplain and an relatively unknown landscape, then coming home to ride my bike in the sunshine to mail packages to friends, then returning home to work, write and bake cookies with lemons Sarah Harriet gave me from her tree, I am so thankful for the turn in my life that affords me so many blessings.
The best part of the second act is that it can be followed by a third act and, God willing, a fourth act. Because unlike our physical bodies that stop growing and then begin to decay, there is no reason why we cannot keep revealing ourselves until the end. My friend Barry Bridgman is biking his last leg of his bicycle trek across Australia as I type--and he’s in his 3rd act. Hip hip hooray!
P.S. Took me a day or two to post this and so... today is my birthday. I am 51 now. This is also the start of the Thanksgiving holiday and I have so much to be thankful for: my friend Ray who called and sang me Happy Birthday, birthday loot from Cameon, Jim and UK Sarah, a day traveling with my Auntie J to my brother's house in Yucca Valley, making pies tonight with Heidi, and all of my friends and family whom I love. Oh and the silly things like Google customizing my Search to say Happy Birthday Julie. I hope your Thanksgiving holiday is as full of blessings as mine.
This is it! Today is day one of my life at 49 years of age. So far, so good. If you told me 2 weeks ago that I'd have still not heard anything about work and I'd be this chipper, I'd have thought you were crazy. I have reached a new place with the help of my friend Stephanie's visit and conversations with UK Sarah. And I am so happy and thankful to be spending my first birthday in New Zealand with more great friends. This morning I went to church at St Philips and then Beverly and Kate took me to Nosh for coffee. In a few moments, me and my apple pie are going to Deborah Cunningham's for a second Thanksgiving dinner with her American/Kiwi family. Heck, maybe while I'm there USC will beat UCLA in football. The sun is shining brightly: anything feels possible.
My current thoughts on redesigning my life have evolved and will continue to evolve. First, I am widening the possibilities for earning income to include consulting with people in the US and in NZ on housing issues, fundraising, and coaching. And I might still get a traditional job. I am going to continue to watch this unfold, and paddle like crazy!
I am also excited that I am within reach of my goal to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I took the challenge because I was not sure that I'd ever have the time to do it again, and to overcome some serious bad attitudes about writing. I have had so much fun! I don't know if my mystery novel will be of interest to anyone beside me, but what I learned in the process has been invaluable.
I am much more fit than I was a year ago. These Auckland hills are no big deal anymore. I crave Zumba. At the same time, my body is not the body I had at 30. (sigh) Plus, after one sunburn in 20 minutes, I am going to have to take the hole in the ozone over NZ seriously and be more vigilant. So my redesigned life has sunscreen and a hat!
I recently finished Jim Collins' latest book, Great by Choice. Lots of the leadership ideas have had an impact on me. I will finish my birthday post with these two:
- Big things can be accomplished if I can discipline myself to the daily 20 mile march. Get up and make progress to my goal everyday. Don't take a pass when there is bad weather (or attitude). This has definitely been true for the National Novel in a Month challenge.
- Make up my own SMaC for my life. These are specific, methodical and consistent rules for living. So for example, my goal is to live in alignment with my values and to enjoy life. My personal SMaC to do so is to never own a television again. That is not to say I will never watch tv again. I cannot live without Downton Abbey and rugby. For me owning a television means spending more time in front of it than I want to spare, and exposing myself to too many adverstisements. And that leads to wanting all sorts of things I do not need, or just the urge to go shopping. I am in the process of creating my SMaC and living with them. I will share more when I feel more confident that they work for me.
I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving Day. I helped the Yoders create one with some new NZ friends at their beach house in Glendowie. Getting there meant carrying everything--including a 4.5 kg turkey down a wicked steep path. We had a memorable time and as Beverly said, "It had a good vibe." (and she is about 70!)