I am embarking on my last year in my forties but really my 50th year on the earth. Yep, 50- and while this seems like it should be some kind of milestone I just feel like why put that kinda pressure on it.
I have reflected on the decades of my life recently and it has me distilling the decades down into what role has been most influential. These roles have defined me much of my life and do hold some interesting labeling that can be easily relatable. Often the most clear way of understanding someone is by "what they do" as in work. My experience is filled with blessings, community, love, hardship & pain (just like everyone) but I am clear that my blessings far outweigh my hardship. So, here I will try and share how I came to art, making & creativity as my new destination.
I spent my 20's living and breathing Nursing. I dove in to some incredibly painful situations. I ran toward others pain and vowed to stop it. I was the rescuer extraordinaire. I really did not have the maturity to understand most of it but I showed up anyway. There are so many stories of valiant behavior and bravery that I saw in the patients I am in awe that I was part of it.
I held a small , still born infant in a closet at work with 3 other nurses because we wanted this little baby to feel warm when it's mother, who had stage 4 cervical cancer, diagnosed at delivery, could say goodbye as she awaited chemotherapy. We sang and hummed with this baby, made off color jokes & bonded in a way that still shows me true friendship.
I had wheelchair races with a 19 year old patient (I was 23 so we were very close in age) who had all of her bowel removed in her teens because she had a large benign tumor and she was now tied to long term care and hospitals because she was unable to eat food and needed her nutrition via IV. She & I also watched Jean Claude Van Damme movies because she loved him & I loved her for her grit, fragility and sadness. I was not with her when she died but I was with her the day before frantically trying to "save" her. It was a heartbreaking lesson in what "save" means.
There are so many stories of grit, honesty, pain & suffering. I loved and fell in love with hundreds of patients for their heroic stories and their willingness to share what they knew and what they didn't. I can feel their presence as I write this. It was literally life on a crash course to burning away delusion. As their bodies faded the life that was within each of these people shown like the sun. It really was an honor and privilege to be there & learn some clear lessons so young. Not that it wasn't hard and challenging. I had plenty of complaints but the years have worn away all the rough edges and I now feel just wholehearted thankfulness that I was there.
I spent my 30's as a mother. Finding that love this big existed was beautiful. Finding commitment this big was hard. Finding life through the eyes of children again was joyful. Finding the village that helped raise my kids was a gift (shout out to our Estes family!). Finding out that I literally know nothing was shocking. Parenting is an evolutionary process. One that I am truly still navigating with decency mixed with failure. This was life completely mundane. I often still miss sitting on the couch breastfeeding. Just to be forced to sit down & tune into life at it's most basic. It was an all consuming learning phase. I met my vulnerability when I had 3 hours of sleep in 3 days and my kids were screaming. This was the dig deep phase that burned away delusion especially when you hear your 2 year old sing "the shit is bananas b-a-n-a-n-a-s"... You laugh (which I did) or you cry either way is totally OK.
I spent my 40's in self discovery, art, parenting, nursing & nonprofit development work. This is the time that creating jewelry became a passion. Full disclosure is that I have LOVED fashion, jewelry, shoes, purses forever. My Gran Gran was a true fashionista. She had incredible taste & she spent most of her life in retail. Gran was glamour. I remember creating fingernails out of playdoh just to have glamorous nails like Gran. So, it wasn't a huge stretch to imagine me making jewelry with beads and loving it. After I moved to Oregon I was able to take metal smithing classes, metal clay classes and stone setting classes. It was a revelation to bring what was in my imagination into something solid. It was a gift to myself to see the possibilities and bring it forth. I think creating jewelry has taught me to listen to that little voice within that whispers about making. That little voice seems louder now. The creative river ebbs and flows and I am liking the new parts of this river I am discovering.
So, here I am now. The tail end of my 40's running this little business. Hoping to make something that is full of meaning, craftsmanship & grit. I wonder what I will say about my 50's. I think I will say I had the life experiences, the whole heart, the empathy & confidence to do this. This is the time. I vow to live my 50's as big and loud as they can be. Because it's time to fill out all the edges in color and maybe even push out the lines. All the while accepting this adventure wherever it lands.
Here's to another ride around the sun, sprinkling sparklies as I go AND hoping to help you sprinkle your sparklies as well.