Become the Exception

My next birthday I will turn 60. Hard to believe that I came into this world so long ago, though apparently, I didn’t want to: I was a breech birth (sorry Mom). Soon I’ll be eligible to collect a pension and receive all sorts of discounts.  So I am supposed to be winding down my life and live comfortably in retirement. Only, that’s not what I want to do.  I want to be one of the ‘exceptions’ that comes into my own as I enter my golden years.  Fair warning, I am not planning on slowly fading out of this life by preparing for the next!

I have been doing a lot of reassessment of my life and where I want it to go.  What do I like? What do I see myself doing? Where do I see myself doing it? The type of questions that I answered back 40 years ago when it was suggested that I would make a great teacher (I spent many years involved one way or another with education) or mortician (oh yeah…like that was really going to happen!) I just want to know where I want to go in the next chapter of my life.

I have never been known to follow the regular path. I have been an exception to the rule.  As a teen, I complained that my younger brother didn’t have as many responsibilities as I did when I was his age. My father would look down at me and tell me it was because I was an ‘exceptional child’.  I really didn’t appreciate his response then, but I guess I was. Throughout life I gravitated to various positions, not really having a full-time career since I left teaching elementary school at 28. Lots of contract work, freelance, seasonal business and now settled in the south as a landlord and B&B owner in a country where I had to learn a new language and culture.

What I have been discovering in the past few weeks of investigation is that I can choose to be an exception to the rule. I can forge ahead and create new pathways for myself rather than follow well trod path of others of retirement age. Recovery had taught me that if I want to fulfill my dreams, then I had better work for them and not expect them to arrive at my door. I have some longevity in the family and I don’t want to spend the next 30 to 40 years twiddling my thumbs waiting for the grim reaper. I want to be the exception.

I am working on the next phase. I am working on my writing. I will continue to question and seek new answers because that’s what an exception does. I want to be the guy that the devil worries about when I awaken in the morning and I want to die sliding into home plate in a well used body. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happen if I’m sitting in a rocking chair watching Netflix all day long.

There are exceptions to every rule in life. Some kids make it out of the ghetto. Some horses with lousy odds win the race. Some ‘seniors’ begin a new career late in life.

Dare to try. Change beliefs. Step out of the comfort zone. Be the exception because, as far as I know, this is the only life we get; I intend to really live it.

Where will your road take you?

Keep on Trudging

One of the primary reasons people stay in even life-threatening addictions is because they know the outcomes of their behavior. The human brain really likes being able to predict the future. Thus, people want their lives to be predictable even if what is predictable is absolutely painful and horrible and regretful.  Benjamin Hardy

As the saying goes, ‘better the hell you know than the hell you don’t’.

Stepping out of one’s comfort zone is difficult. It means change and change is always emotional. Somewhere along the line most of us developed a resistance to change. Trying something different removes the predictability in our lives and introduces the unknown and with the unknown comes the catastrophe mentality that it will turn out bad: it’s going to be a disaster we think. And we expect the worst possible outcome.

Taking that first step requires us to overcome fears: fear of the unknown, fear of what others might say about us, fear about the outcome, fear about our own abilities are a few of those fears. But the alternative to taking that next step? It’s staying where we are: if nothing changes, nothing changed. However, once you’ve done it, once you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone, you’ve expanded that very zone and made it part of your experience upon which you can draw strength. Now you can say to yourself, ‘I’ve gone skydiving,’ or ‘I’ve written a book’. You know what it’s about and that experience brings some stability back into your life.

Adventures only happen to the adventurous.  Benjamin Hardy

boulder cascade creek environment

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Staying in one spot might be fine if you’re a rock. At least you give the moss a spot to grow. But that’s not the path of people. We are meant to move, to grow and to inspire and we can’t do that if we are stuck in one place. We must move forward, take that step into the unknown, face our uncertainties and fears. It’s all part of the adventure of life. Tryinsomething new and taking risks

There’s a saying that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Another way of saying it is that we will survive everything until we don’t. And guess what? You have survived everyone of the catastrophes in your life so far because they weren’t catastrophes, only unfounded fears. I like to say that it’s not the end of the world until it’s the end of the world. It’s not just surviving, it’s growing and thriving. If I look at life as an adventure then I have adventure. I just can’t stay where I am and expect to change. I can’t be like the water in a stagnant pond, I have to flow and move in order to stay fresh and renew myself.

I want to grow. I want to expand. I want to learn.

Decisions

I’ve often asked myself and been asked: “What is the right decision to make here? What do I do?” Since I have been in recovery I know, in some cases, what the right decision is for me. I opt for whatever will keep me happy joyous and free in recovery. That’s an easy decision for me. But there are so many other decisions that can be made and which are just as life changing and not as easy to make. Because, let’s face it, important decisions change the path of our life.

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Where am I going live? What is the next step in my career? Is this the person I want to have a relationship with? Do I get a dog? Buy a new car? Is this the right time to take a vacation?  Do I do a home renovation or do I move? Should I try this new thing? Is this the daily routine I want to continue with? Am I okay with myself or do I start a diet plan? Do I join a gym or go it alone? What is the next step I am to take in my journey?????

I have come to learn that there is no right answer, nor is there a wrong answer. Wherever I go, there I am. Whatever I do, that’s what I’m doing. Sometimes I’ve made a snap decision and it works out well. Other times I have dwelt on the decision and things didn’t go as I expected them to go. And I am learning that there is no perfect answer. It’s not where we are that seems to matter. It’s that we’re moving and not static. It really is the journey we take, not where we end up. Some of the stops along that journey can be great and others I would have prefered to have passed through without a glance out the window.

There are a few things that do ensure that the decisions I make are more to my liking. I can talk to a trusted friend, mentor or sponsor before making the decision. I can meditate on it and ask for spiritual guidance from my Higher Power as I understand it. I can do a list of pros and cons. I like to do the rocking chair test: years from now if I’m sitting on the porch in my rocking chair is this something that is going to matter to me? Will I regret having taken or not taken that path? As time goes on in the process it becomes easier to know, at a gut level, if this is the right decision for me now.

Every decision, every choice will alter where I am going in life. And that’s okay. There isn’t a wrong place to be, only experiences to gather. Trust the process of life, remembering that I will make it through whatever happens, until I don’t.

Enjoy the moment and take the next step, whatever it might be.