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Monday, January 15, 2007

What Now?

Have you ever reached a place in your life where you stop, look around, and wonder:

What now?

Sometimes those moments represent major turning points in your life. Other times, they are mini-moments. They need to be recognized, contemplated, soothed, and then usually you can move on. Usually…

I’m having a confluence of “What now?” moments. Anyone who stepped back and looked at my life over the last 10 years or so would be pretty impressed with the speed at which I’ve been living life.

Three examples:

Mama Wa Wile is now Mama Wa Wile Na Tatu. Jaden and Rowan turned three last Monday. It feels both like the three shortest years and the three longest years of my life. The decision to have a child, the race to get pregnant, the worries and joys of a twin pregnancy, and then the craziness of the early days and the toddler years (which although are not over yet, have certainly changed with the introduction of full sentences) – it all passes through my memory like a giant whirl. The sleep deprivation has resulted in a giant black hole in my brain.

So they are three years old. The worst of the craziness is behind us – at least until they turn 13. So now what?

I’ve been in Tanzania for 8 months. From the first (and only) interview I had for this job (in early December 2005) things started moving quickly. I left my job of 13 years. I negotiated terms for a new job. I traveled out to Tanzania to arrange my life. I ran home to pack it all up. I came back out with toddlers and mother in tow. I was asked to save a project. It is saved. (Well sort of, but although people like to give me credit for that it wasn’t really me.) I went back to the US for 10 days in September to wrap up my old job. I had family and friends visit for safari, beach, etc. I went back to the US for 12 days in December – and it was really like a visit – not going home.

So I’m in Tanzania. I’m not going anywhere for at least another year and a half. So now what?

I’m turning 39 on Wednesday. My youth was mostly fun and harmlessly experimental. My early and mid-career was filled with adventurous travel, exotic locations, an occasional celebrity, and wonderful, wonderful friends. I got degreed. I embraced my 20s, I embraced my 30s. I’ve never felt that age was something that needed to limit me or push me. (Well… perhaps with the exception of my ovaries. But let’s face it, those are shutting down now, too – making the three vials of “just in case” sperm still sitting on ice at the doctor’s office inconsequential.)

So I’ve done a lot, studied a lot, and seen a lot. I’ve developed meaningful adult relationships. I’ve reproduced. I’m 39. So now what?

Those of you that know me well know that I’ve never been good at uncertainty. Since I was a teenager – maybe even before – everything has been well planned, like an army preparing for war. (And not under the leadership of George W. Bush. Rather like one of those more successful WWII generals who I can’t seem to name at the moment.)

But for the first time in my life I honestly can’t tell you what next.

And that is making me uncomfortable.

One of my best friends, David Letiecq, introduced me to the concept of mindfulness several years ago during his journey into Buddhism. He told me that when I was surrounded with too many inputs I should try to sit still and be mindful and that maybe the answer or the next step would come to me from the Universe.

So that’s what I did. I’ve used the opportunities provided by New Years Revelations and down time at home to sit still and be mindful. And I think I actually got a message from “the Universe” addressing the “now what” problem.

The message was…

You just need to fucking chill out.

(BTW, fucking was emphasized - by the Universe - for those of you who don't like it when I curse.)


In other news... I'm still taking your blog suggestions - see the entry below.


Blogger Ruth said...

According to my mother, one stops having these unsettling "now what?!" moments after turning 60, if that's any comfort. Of course that could just be forgetfulness setting in...

I have been enjoying your blog!

2:08 PM  
Blogger Georgia said...

nice photo Hally - I'm sure I recognise that geeza from somewhere!
By the way, I'm so with you on the "what now" - I'm pretty much having the same thoughts over here!

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

Happy New Year, Hally!

I know what you mean. Even if we are living completely different lives -maybe you'll be comforted by the fact that so many of us are running around wondering about what's next.

I think that there's a lot of truth in the theory that if we stop searching for the answer to that, we'll get out of the habit-trail lifestyles that we've all become way too familiar with.

I love reading your blog -and I LOVE seeing all of your photos! Wow, I can't be the first to say that they're mini-Susan and Eddie/Robbies can I? I am so glad that you're all so happy.


5:31 AM  
Anonymous Becky said...

Funny, even before I got to the revelation of your Message from the Universe, I thought to myself "well now she can just live in the moment" after all that planning to get somewhere. you're there, just enjoy it!
ps as a pop cultural ignoramus, i have to check- is that Bono?

6:53 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Ooh, is this some sort of bday time midlife crisis? I like Letiecq's advice. Not that I'm good at stillness or quiet or meditation or anything...maybe you need me to draw you some runes?

Happy happy bday, oh Queen. xxoo

6:12 PM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

Here via mom101 to wish you a happy birthday. :) You know Bono, you have twin 3 year-olds, and you're in Tanzania? I am in awe.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Lisse said...

Got here via Kristen at Motherhood Uncensored.

OK, wow. What an interesting life!
I'm not sure the "now what" ever goes away, but the answers sometimes aren't as big as they used to be. And that's okay.

P.S. Loved your post-election post.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Lisse said...

Oh, and Happy Birthday!

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

I found your blog through Mom101 and just read the entire thing. I would love to see more pictures of anything. My niece spent a month in J'Burg the summer of 2005 studying lion DNA. She is now a biology teacher at a private elementary school in Florida. While in So Africa she went to a cheetah preserve owned or run by Howard Buffet. I loaned her my digital camera & she kept a blog - it was wonderful to hear about all she did every day and see pictures too.

3:53 AM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

Re your 12/21 post

When people ask me to do something that I don’t want to do (loan them money, solicit my neighbors for donations, have a Tupperware party, etc.) my standard answer (in a very pleasant happy voice) is, “I am so flattered that you would think of me, thank you so much. I don’t (solicit donations, make loans, have home parties, etc) but I am so very happy (not) that you thought of me. And again, thank you for asking.” Then walk away, or if a phone request, “Have a nice day, good-bye.”

Do not offer a reason as you will be inviting an argument. You simply do not do _________.

You might want to try this with your household staff. Once you say yes to anyone, you become known as a soft touch and the requests never stop.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Jill Urbane, The Mentor Mom said...

I'm here via mom101 as well. Happy birthday! I just turned 40. I hear what you are saying about that question. For me the answer was to stop looking ahead so much and start looking more at the here and now. I spent so much time trying to secure the future for my family, I wasn't connecting with them on the level that I wanted. I know many wouldn't believe it, but getting older is great (okay, except for the aching bones).

I'm glad "the universe" answered your question. It is wise and all knowing isn't it :) Happy birthday again!

5:01 AM  
Blogger suburban dyke said...

BONO....I am so jealous! Happy Birthday to you and the kids....Sorry we can't come. Who was the most interesting person you ever met and why?

3:51 AM  

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