Part I: The symptoms
I wrote this reflection on my 57th birthday, May 12, 2019. It seemed like an appropriate day to think about my life so far, and what I want to it to look like moving forward. Fifty seven doesn’t fit comfortably yet. I’ll stumble over it for a few months before the right number immediately comes to mind – like writing last year on my checks throughout the month of January…
I don’t mind being 57; I don’t feel “old.” I’m grateful to have good health, vitality and a genuine curiosity about what my life holds for me in the years ahead. At a time when many of my peers are experiencing significant endings, like retirement and empty nests, I find myself “itching” to experience beginnings – some new, adventurous chapters in my life story. Nearing 60 and thinking about an exit strategy from the “purposeful, driven, passionate” part of my life? HELL NO! In fact, I finally feel like I have something to say and some experience and wisdom to back it up. Rather than fading into irrelevance, I’m ready, willing and able to finally BE relevant – to myself and to the world.
Yet here I sit, feeling adrift in my life. This is where the itch strikes. It’s been rising in me for many years. I’ve experienced it as a sensation of being stuck; restlessness; a yearning to be a bigger, better, bolder me; a longing to feel I’m living my authentic life, comfortably in my own skin – finally. I’m afflicted with this deeply-felt desire to change, grow, break out – and am uncertain what to do about it. How would I scratch that itch? How could I satisfy that irritating, nagging sense of dissatisfaction with my life?
Part II: The cure
I believe that when you approach a situation with a seeking mind, solutions become apparent to you. In my “itchy” state of personal despair, I happened upon Women on the Verge coaching with Kelly Carlin. Of course I didn’t jump right into the program sight unseen. I did considerable stalki… I mean, research, on my would-be teacher. I followed her on social media, combed through her website and began attending her Sunday Unplug meditation. It soon became apparent that indeed, she’s the real deal, with the education, experience and teacher mentality it takes to lead with competence and grace. Match those qualifications with the warmest, most sincere personality, and you have a trusted guide – and cheerleader – you feel you’ve known your whole life. This year-long course she designed to help women feeling as I did resonated clearly, completely, immediately with me – as if it were an elixir I needed to cure my ailment. Yes, it was time for me to stop feeling stuck and resigned to a state of vague longing for something more. Time to take a next step – or perhaps a leap – on the journey that is my life.
Pouring my guts into the application was intense. I just had to convey all these feelings to Kelly so she’d know how ideal a match I was for this program – and how desperately I needed her help scratching my itch! And if filling out the application was intense, clicking the “Submit” button was nearly heart-stopping. Gina isn’t a person who asks for help (read: Gina is a rugged individualist). Gina isn’t a person who bravely puts herself (and her sometimes fragile ego) on the line. Gina isn’t one to voluntarily take on a huge project (that will undoubtedly take time and energy away from more “pressing” issues). Yet Submit I did. When Kelly told me we’d be a good fit, I was nothing short of ecstatic! It felt like I’d been hired for my dream job!
On the cusp of digging into the Women on the Verge material, I am prepared to bare my soul and do this thing with all my heart. I’m not sure of where my bus is headed; just that I’m in the driver’s seat, ready to pull away from the station. Like being 57, this feeling is new; this process is new; this undertaking is new. I’ll grow into it – absorb it – and it won’t be new for long.
Come to think of it, new isn’t new to me. I’ve gotten through significant challenges in my roles of daughter and wife. I’ve navigated/orchestrated successful transformations in my personal and professional life. Currently my husband of 25 years is undergoing chemotherapy; our world is officially rocked, upended, unrecognizable as our own. Somehow, despite that, I’m continuing to put one foot in front of the other, step into caretaker/medical advocate role, keep my business and household running, practice self-care, and still dare to dream that there’s more to my life than my past and present tense. Regardless of how much is already on my plate, I absolutely know that this is the right time to commit to self-discovery, personal growth and meaningful change.
Here’s to – at long last – scratching that damned itch!
And here’s the official soundtrack to my Women on the Verge experience:
Please follow along on my journey of self-discovery!