Reinventing my life started with a Self-care sabbatical! And it led to me finding my passion and purpose. But before we get to that, here’s a peek at the past for a little perspective.
A Peek At My Past
I was born into a household and community of bush medicine. The tiny village of approximately three hundred people where I grew up was a self-sufficient one. Nature gave us most of what we needed to make the best of our lives.
My grandmother is my original DIY idol. She concocted medicines from the plants around our home and did everything from reupholstery to sewing drapes and clothing, gardening, painting, crocheting, knitting, making straw hats, stuffed animals, and more. And yours truly got to learn how to do all of them. God only knows I’m appreciative. A girl can never be too skilled. But I digress.
My grandma’s medicinal DIY influence led to my love of the human body and my initial desire to become an ob-gyn. However, life led me down a very different path than what I had planned for myself earlier.
After migrating to the United States at 16, life became overwhelming as I was thrust into this unknown world, where I had to work and mostly fend for myself. Long story short, I met a man, fell in love, and had a baby at nineteen. As you would imagine, my already complex life became even more complicated.
Because my grandmother raised me, I had decided early on that I would raise my children, no matter what. And so my journey to motherhood began. I remember when my daughter was a few months old, I was sitting on the couch looking at the Oprah Winfrey show. Her guest was Cheryl Richardson. She asked Cheryl if she had to choose between herself and her children, who would she choose? And to the audience’s dismay, Cheryl responded, she’d choose herself. And honestly, my reaction was like most people in the audience. Shocked. Say what?
Cheryl’s response didn’t make sense because it was not what I’d learned. My model was to leave yourself undone and take care of your children. It’s what my grandmother did, and most of the women I knew. So, I archived that show in the back of my mind and carried on with what I knew.
Before Intentional Self-care
As time passed, I struggled with my relationship and professional life. But I persevered. At twenty-two, I began college, got an academic scholarship to attend New York University and did not look back. By twenty-six, I had earned a BA degree in Biomedical science, a minor in Chemistry, and an MS.Ed in Teaching and learning. And, my baby daddy (now husband) and I also purchased our first dream home. I was moving through life proving to folks that a teenage mother can make something of herself. I knew I could. However, I felt that I had to prove it. So having degrees, a home and cars were validating.
But something wasn’t quite right. Life trickled on. At thirty-two, I had my second child and continued my mundane routine; working, paying bills, going on vacations, and taking care of my nuclear family. We were living the working class “American dream.”
The years rolled by, and though I’d told myself I’d attend medical school once the kids got older, that never seemed possible. With two children thirteen years apart, how in the world was I going to make that happen? Perhaps it was experiencing perimenopause at thirty-eight that gave me a jolt. Or maybe it was the problems that arose in my marriage, or both. I can’t say for sure. All I know is that I felt undone. And I started to think of myself as a woman undone. I felt like I had unfinished business that I needed to take care of. So slowly but surely, I began reimagining my life.
My imagination ran with me as I began to visualize the possibilities. And as I allowed myself to go with the flow, the feeling of freedom to be truly me became an overwhelming desire. I did some checking in and began to tap into the creativity within. I started a bath and body business while working, and once that took off, my creative juices just kept flowing. And failing was an option because I knew that was how I would learn. I started and failed and started again, and again.
When the desire for more change became even more overwhelming at forty, I had an eat, pray, love moment and quit my job for a self-care sabbatical. Somewhere back in my thirty-eighth year, the conversation between Oprah Winfrey and Cheryl Richardson began replaying in my head. Who would I choose, my family or me? I choose me first. But I also chose them. I learned then that two things can be true. I could care for my self and I could care for my family. And that’s exactly what I did. And so my self-care sabbatical began to take shape.
After Intentional Self-care
In 2012, I resigned from my teaching job and jumped, knowing God and life would catch me. Having children was easy. Stepping into the unknown was scary. But I knew I had to move beyond fear. I promised myself to go slow and explore all the possibilities I envisioned for myself. I vowed to make self-care a priority, to be unapologetic about my care, to do something to nurture my body mind and spirit every day and to take great care of me and support others with love, goodness and grace. This vow would eventually become the vow for many women around the world who became a part of the Global Women’s Self-care Day community.
The decision to take a self-care sabbatical has been one of the best decisions of my life. I moved beyond fear and did what most are told to do in their twenties in my forties. I unlearned, learned, began healing, explored, tried, failed, succeeded, supported many, sowed seeds, and discovered my passions and purpose for this life.
Where I Am Now
Now at fifty, self-care is a priority. I’m still moving beyond fear and continuing to support myself and others with as much love, goodness, and grace as I can. My oldest daughter is thirty-one, and my youngest is eighteen and about to head to the UK for university. Yet again, I’m reimagining my life. This time, however, it’s as an empty nester. There’s so much more I desire to do. Becoming a better writer, maintaining this blog, passion projects I have in the works, traveling at home and abroad some more and maintaining my wellbeing during this perimenopause and postmenopausal years. Call me a late bloomer, call me what you will. What’s important to me is that I’m blooming.
It is never too late to chart a new course for yourself. Is medical school an option for me? No. I don’t want to go through that stress. Plus, at this point in my life, I have financial, personal, health, and professional goals that excite me way more than medical school. I guess you can say I’ll be doing in my fifties what most are told to do in their thirties. Stick around; we’ll see.
Age ain’t nothing but a number. Let your imagination run freely. Go with it and visualize what your life can be like. Be gentle with yourself. Move from a place of patience. Pursue life with urgency rather than desperation and embrace abundance instead of scarcity.
No one knows what the future holds. But moving past fear fuels love, love for self, others, and what you do. Where are you currently on your life journey? Share and comment below.