This is Forty

I turned forty about an hour ago.

Minutes before that, I completed the last act of my 30th year – I turned in all the assignments for the advanced standing section of my coaching certification.

The process was more self-reflective than I imagined it would be. Much of the work I’ve already done. In fact, I went through my blog archives as part of the process of examining many of the “life review” questions I was asked about my childhood and relationships.

I can’t think of a better way to set the tone for the next ten years of my life. I spent the entirety of my 30s working at my current job. It was simultaneously a time of significant change and personal growth in some areas, and a time of stagnation and demoralization in others.

As part of the process, I was asked to idealize what my life as a coach would look like in one year, at three years, at five years, and at ten years.

It amazed me how achievable each one of those dreams is. How within my grasp it all is.

I can do this. I really can do this.

I keep thinking of where I was ten years ago. I wanted a big party for my 30th, and I always loved themed parties. My partner at the time (not yet husband) organized a 60s cocktail themed party at my brother and sister-in-law’s house. It was during the time that Mad Men was all the rage. I bought a pink cocktail dress, got my hair swept up into a beehive up-do, and perfected my cat-eyeliner by tediously studying youtube videos for techniques.

It was the night that the old-school bartender gave me a sampling of all the classic cocktails and I discovered that I love bourbon the most. To this day, a Blanton’s Old Fashioned is my jam.

I was anxious and hopeful that Tony would propose to me that night. Everybody was. He made a speech. We all waited for it. I think he knew that and intentionally decided to wait, just to fuck with us.

It happened a few months later, while he and I were alone on vacation in London.

That night of my 30th birthday party, my brother had just arrived home from his first trip to China. He and his wife had been trying to conceive. My niece will turn ten in nine months.

My brother reminded me that I was ten years off from his prediction – “One day, you’ll turn 40 and decide to write a book. It’ll be a bestseller and you’ll be set for life.”

My future husband laughed. He’d written a best seller. Before he died, he would have written two best sellers.

We were not set for life.

A year later I was married.

Three years later I was widowed.

A year after that, I was here…writing. I found you all, or you found me. I’m not sure which of us is the chicken or the egg.

I spent the second half my thirties undergoing the most challenging and rewarding personal growth spurt I may ever experience. I was confronted with the consequences of 35 years of unhealthy relationship habits and addictions to external validation, codependency, and labels.

Three years ago, the work paid off. I successfully established a relationship with myself that I had previously taken for granted. I have spent the past three years loving myself unconditionally – and in the process, I’ve learned to love and be loved without fear.

These past three years have been, without a doubt, the best of my life. And I know there’s even better to come.

At this point, an hour and 22 minutes into my 4th decade of existence. I’ve successfully completed the first big milestone of the next big step in my ongoing journey. I’m engaged and enthusiastic to continue with the in-person training for the coaching certification next week.

On Monday, I’ll be featured on one of my favorite podcasts – multiamory – as a guest interview on the topic of poly + mono relationships. I’ve had my first paying client (though as I am not yet certified, I asked instead that he donate to a fundraiser I was running for my metamour).

I’m creating a business plan. I’m setting goals. I’m meeting deadlines. I’m networking. I’m investing my time into this dream, and I haven’t felt that excited about anything (other than sex and star trek) in a really long time.

Every time I have a fear, or a doubt, or that little voice of risk aversion in my head that asks me if this is the right thing…. if I should be moving away from a steady career I’ve put 20 years into to start something risky and new…

I think about the woman who had a Mad Men themed birthday party, hoping her boyfriend would propose, who had no idea that less than four years later – every expectation, every plan, and every dream she’d ever had would get thrown out the window.

It’s time for my new dreams to come true.

This is forty. This is when it happens.

I can’t fucking wait to see where this decade takes me.

Advertisements

Question 16: Do you have any concerns or worries about your community or your community involvement?

The title of this post is the next question in the 50+ page “life review” that I am completing as part of my coaching certification program.

What a loaded question. Since it’s not one of the ones with the radio dial buttons for “yes” or “no,” I think it’s time to put into words the whirlwind of thoughts that I have been having on the subject.

Yes I have concerns and worries about my community, both the local and the online one. I’ve been asking myself a lot these past months why, when I’ve identified some distasteful (to me) elements possessed by the culture of these two separate but connected communities, I opt to step back in retreat over stepping up to make a difference.

I think I’ve figured it out. It’s like that old lightbulb joke – about how many therapists it takes to change a lightbulb?

Just one, but the lightbulb has to want to change.

I think the community wants to change in the way that I want to lose weight. Like magic, and overnight, without actually having to sacrifice anything it enjoys or put in any long term effort into the hard work and sweat it’s going to take to build a new set of habits.

The community likes to say that it is inclusive the way I like to order a salad when I eat with people, but take a spoon to a jar of nutella when nobody’s watching.

I think the community leaders are those who once felt like they could make a difference – like they could either reinforce what they loved about it, and/or make changes to help create a better environment for themselves and the ones they care about.

Problem is that once they succeed, they think their work is finished. Just like I thought I was all set when I lost 80lbs and thought that I’d never have to wear anything larger than a size 12 again.

I was wrong.

In order for the community to be better, it has to never feel like it already is.

Yeah, I have concerns about the community.

But I don’t think I’m necessarily any better than anybody else who ever thought they could make a difference, succeeded in making a difference, and then stopped asking “what more needs to be done?”

I’d love to think that I am immune to the corruption and complacency that power and popularity seem to have on so many of our recognized leaders. In politics, in religion, in workplaces, and even in sex positive, polyamorous, and queer communities – we see people who had the best intentions get sidetracked by greed or become intentionally blind to the experiences of others.

How do I know I’d be any different?

I was reminded of something I learned in school – about George Washington and how he had said something upon the completion of his second term that led to a 150 years of Presidents that move aside after 2 terms before an actual constitutional amendment was made to enforce it.

I went to look it up and ended up on a page full of quotes about term limits…some of which seemed similar in theme to the aforementioned whirlwind of thoughts in my head:

The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it. — T.B. Macaulay

You will always find those who think they know your duty better than you know it. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

If the way to do good to my country were to render myself popular, I could easily do it. But extravagant popularity is not the road to public advantage. –John Adams

I don’t think my concerns over community are new or unique, and I don’t think that they’ll never be addressed, nor do I think I am powerless to address them.

I think when the community is ready, it will seek out the types of leaders and organizers it needs to make those changes. And I hope it never stops trying to be better.

A New Chapter Begins

Hey y’all 🙂
 
An update on me. I *have* been very quiet, not just here, but on most social media lately. My relationship is stellar. Everything there continues to be fantasmical and the most rewarding and fulfilling relationship I have ever experienced in my (near) 40 years.
 
On the work side, though – things have gotten pretty gnarly. I have worked for this organization for 11 years, and in many ways, I think they still view me as the 20-something year old that first started there. The place is terribly mismanaged, as well – but they make up for this with excellent pay and great benefits.
 
Make up for it. Heh. That’s like saying that an abusive partner makes up for it by paying all the bills and providing shelter.
 
About a year ago, I was ready to walk away. I did research on what it would take to become a life coach and start my own business doing something that brings me a lot of joy and fulfillment.
 
But they sensed I was ready to leave and gave me a raise and my fear of being out on my own without the steady income and health insurance made me back away from the idea.
 
I recently attended a workshop where it became very, very apparent to me that I am holding myself back from making a change out of fear of the unknown. Out of thinking that I might have to significantly change my very comfortable lifestyle because I’m not sure if I’m cut out for self-employment.
 
And, in part because there’s a little voice in my head that asks “Why do you feel like you have anything more/different to offer than anybody else who is already doing it?”
 
The idea of becoming a life coach surfaced again, and I did some research into what it takes to become certified. It’s an investment – both in time and finances. And if I take this on, I have to see it through – I have to at least *try* to make the investment pay off.
 
The course begins in late July. By January, I will be fully certified.
 
If I can hang in there with this job until then, I can handle the financial investment *and* start working on building up my own business while maintaining a steady income and health insurance.
 
Everything that happens after that is unknown.
 
And it’s scary.
 
And it’s time.

Continuing Education: A Delicate Rant

Yesterday, Ferrett tweeted “#wip I think the worst thing a person can do to someone is to overlook how they’ve changed.”

#wip “I think the worst thing a person can do to someone is to overlook how they’ve changed.”

— Ferrett Steinmetz (@ferretthimself) February 16, 2016

It was a timely message because I’d been affected by recently learning that there is someone out there making assumptions about my character without really knowing me. Worse, this person (and I don’t know who it is, nor do I want to know) hinted at having some sort of credibility because they read some of my blogs once and maybe talked to me a few times so, they knew me.

Now, I’m the first to tell you that what inconsequential people think about me is inconsequential to me. But they were talking to someone I do care about, and trying to imply something negative about me that I don’t believe is true.

Anymore.

Also, (because I’m hormonal right now and things that normally don’t piss me off are pissing me off), I had a damned good reason for being that way in the past.

I don’t want to get into details here, so I’m gonna go with a metaphor.

Let us suppose that I got into a car accident two years ago and injured my leg. Because of this injury, I limp for a long time. Anyone who met me could visibly see the limp as I did not try to mask it. In fact, ’cause it’s me – I regularly blogged about my experience in the accident and my struggles with the pain in my leg.

But I go to physical therapy. I work on strengthening the muscles in my leg, and though once in a while I might get a bit of sciatica, I manage quite well at walking without limping after two years.

And then a good friend of mine asks me to join their team for a 5K charity run. I’m not a huge fan of sports and running, but it’s for a good cause and I decide it’s worth my time and energy to train for this event. I’m committed to this challenge and I’m training every day without complaint.

Another teammate is discussing my participation with a friend of theirs (who isn’t running in the 5K at all, by the way). My teammate is asked, “Wait. Phi? I know Phi. Doesn’t she limp like a motherfucker and hate exercise?”

Now, was it the “worst” thing a person could do? To negate nearly a year of self-work to overcome my totally-reasonable limp? To actively attempt to devalue or cause my friend and teammate to question my participation on their team? To suggest that because mystery person met me a few times and saw me walking funny six months ago that they know me?

Maybe not the worst thing. But it’s a rude thing and a bothersome thing. I spent most of the day yesterday trying to remember that someone’s misrepresented opinions about me are not my problem.

And I’ll get back there. I’m almost there, actually. But I won’t pretend that I didn’t spend a solid couple hours of my day yesterday feeling very put-off by it.

I’m reminded of the concept of “continuing education.” A doctor can go to medical school and become Board Certified, and an insurance agent can get their license to practice insurance sales; but, in order to maintain their good standing in their field they are required to participate in a minimum number of hours of continuing education, or they lose the right to practice under the guise of being “licensed” or “certified.”

Someone who was my friend two years ago or six months ago that has not had any meaningful conversation with me in the last three months doesn’t get to claim that they “know” me anymore. At least, not in the sense of being able to make a qualified judgment on my character, my motivations, or my qualifications to run in a 5K (that’s still a metaphor). A lot has changed in that time.

So, I mean, I don’t know. Do I have to lay down a disclaimer here? I wasn’t feeling great yesterday. My mood was sour and I’m mostly over that, and today I’m also feeling a little bit on edge emotionally (probably because of imminent bleeding).

But three weeks from now, if you go around telling someone that I’m a sourpuss moody bitch and you know this because you read this blog, I’m gonna fucking cut you.

Got it?