Friday, July 9, 2010

100 Things I like in 100 Days

I realized recently that I made a mistake in my life's plans. Mainly, I didn't make a life plan. I merrily hopped along from one thing to the next doing what I thought was right and what I thought I was good at.

Journalism school was great until I graduated and realized journalists made crummy wages. That would have been a good thing to think about before I spent four years of my life getting that degree. However, my thinking is no education is wasted even if gainful employment is not forthcoming.

So I immediately enrolled in nursing school. Nurses were making 2 1/2 times what journalists made back then. I was proud of my realism, happy to know I could get a job anywhere and support myself if need be. I heard many times from my mother "you must be self-sufficient,you should never depend on a man to take care of you. You could get divorced, he could die and then where would you be?" Okay, lesson learned Mom. Interestingly, my dad refused to marry my mom until she had graduated with a skill where she could support herself and his reasons were the same. He really was a smart man.

Nursing was a decision I never regretted. I spent most of my career in critical care so the stress was constant. Burnout eventually happens to most nurses and I was no exception. But I would never do it differently. Nursing led me to many lifelong friends and led me to my husband and allowed me a very flexible schedule when my children were young. That is a lot of bang for the nursing school buck. Luckily, when the burnout was full-blown, I was able to quit working and concentrate on my family and that's another decision I will never regret.

So enter my "design" years where I jumped in with both feet and not much knowledge and decided to design needlework samplers. How ridiculous was I to start a business based on the assumption that just because I love needlework that I could offer up something other people would want to do? Well it wasn't ridiculous and I've had a good ride with designing. It's been one of the happiest and most rewarding things I've ever done. That doesn't mean I'm good at it, just that I've enjoyed it and am thankful for many of the people I've met online and off because of it. So no regrets from me with that chapter of my life.

What I do regret is my optimistic outlook that once my kids were gone I would sail smoothly through the empty nest because I have so many things I love to do. I have never lacked for a creative outlet,I always have some project in one or more mediums going, I have piles of books that must be read, I have friends to see, places to go and people to meet.

To my horror, I realized empty nest was going to be a little harder than I thought. Had I known then what I know now, I would have had a job lined up to keep me busier. Depression leads to loss of interest in things you normally love. I had a lousy four or five months of that but good friends and family have been saving graces to my mental health. But I still want to figure out what to do between the end of being a stay-at-home mom and well...the rest of my life.

My friend, Nancy, suggested I do a collage like a friend of hers did. This involves the process of thinking about and writing down 100 things you love or want to do or whatever makes you happy. It can be anything from nice underwear to climbing Mt. Everest. After figuring out what makes you happy, the next step is getting poster board and cutting out pictures to make a collage.

Up to the point of cutting out pictures to glue onto poster board I was getting into this idea. But the words "poster board and collage" reminded me of a little incident where I was into making collages as a teen. I was busy being creative and cutting pictures out of my Seventeen magazines and pasting them onto poster board and lettering or cutting out words to go with the pictures. I thought my artwork was very inventive until my mother got a view of one of them and hid it in the back of my closet so my dad wouldn't see it. Her thoughts were I was "learning" a little too much from my boyfriend and my dad wouldn't have approved. She was right but to her credit she just hid the most offending creation and didn't throw it out. I can still visualize her eyes bugging out.

Pasting and gluing and collaging are not in my repertoire of a fun activity anymore so I'm going to do this project in the virtual medium right here on my blog which has been woefully neglected for quite some time. Does anyone want to join me? If so, leave a note or email me and I'll check on your progress and ideas as I go along.

I'm off to figure out what my first post will be. Maybe it will be the start of what the next half of my life will be.

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