What Now?

If you are anything like me, you have been tapped on the shoulder more than a few times by this question that begs the answer to “Where do you go when you get to the end of your dreams”?

Whether it’s posed after acquiring that hard earned PHD and not knowing what do to with it, or retiring after 35 years in the work force, she’s-a-coming after you with uncertainty riddled with fear.

Unless you are one of the lucky ones who knows that retirement will constitute volunteering for Hadassah, or that the next venture is working on the novel you’ve been writing in your head for 30 years. Maybe you quit your job at Sports Illustrated to get a degree in Psychology. You’ve got it all figured out. You’re wired up for your what’s next in life. Good for you.

For the multitudes who ponder “what the fuck do I do now?”, I can offer up words of encouragement.

Don’t despair. I can point you in the right direction.

Reach into the vault of ideas and passions from youth; loves, hopes, aspirations and half-baked ideas. Plans filed away in a folder, forgotten, boxed up to revisit in a future that seemed so far off it would never manifest into reality.  Who were you, what inspired you before life’s points of demarcation- (degrees, marriage, children, a litany of other accomplishments) became your adult identity? Who were you before a failed relationship, a job you’ve outgrown, bored with life, bored with yourself?

We don’t all have the resources, capacity or luxury to reinvent as astronauts, ballerinas and cowgirls- perhaps some passions and obsessions might be best remembered as childhood fancies. However, already as a wife and mother, I did become a cowgirl in my forties. And a martial artist. (My seven year-old son and Bruce Lee inspired this “better late than never” move). And an entrepreneur. I created a non-profit that helped many people and owned a successful tutoring business. I’m no stranger to the “what’s next?” genre of pondering.  

I sold my house in 2017 and the proceeds of the sale bought me some financial freedom and time. Now what? I asked myself. I thought of the things I’d like to do if I had the time and the money, or was willing to give up any comforts of my lifestyle.

In 2018 I made a master list, categorized by Work out, Relationships, Education and Well Being.  Then backed into it with bullet points of the stuff dreams are made of…take a cooking class in Spain, go back to school there, take writing classes and get some work published.

My list led me to walk the last portion of El Camino de Santiago where I was reminded of the fantasy I had at 20,  to live in Madrid and write in the writer’s neighborhood, El Barrio de las Letras.

Self- created purpose is empowering. It fuels my soul with creativity and courage.

Tomorrow I travel to Madrid to work on my book.

Please comment below. I’d love to hear with how you dealt with the question of What Now?

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