Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fountain of Youth

Okay, I guess I am exaggerating a bit. But I do believe I have found out how to feel young, on the inside at least. Do work you love. Work that propels you out of bed in the morning. Work that feels more like breathing than working.

I have had many jobs in the past. None has been as gratifying as this one. Others have paid better.....way, way better. But each came with a price. For years, I went into a funk on Sunday night. Like clockwork, I would see my mood start to dip as Sunday began, and by Sunday night I was in a deep funk. Tomorrow meant going to work. To a job, or workplace that I would rather avoid.

Those jobs paid the bills. No doubt about that. I got to travel quite a lot in some of them. In some cases gaining airline miles that let me go on some nice trips. I made many friends, and learned a lot about so many differrent things. But each day felt like I was strapping a heavy weight on, dragging it through my day. It made me feel older on the inside.

Reality check here. I was recently mailed my AARP card in anticipation of my upcoming fiftieth birthday. I am not as young as I feel. But I do feel young inside. How young you feel colors everything about how you approach the world.

Part of youth is the newness of it all. So many things to explore and discover. Been there, done that, seen it may sound like an expression of youth. But the reality is that it is the youth trying on the cynicism of their elders. No one who is young wants to be young! I got some great advice about a decade ago as I approached my 40th birthday. A neighbor told me her secret to stay feeling young was to challenge herself to do something new, something scary, something she had never done before each year. There is something to be said for this approach to life.

I get out of bed each morning, propelled by the thoughts of work that needs to be done. I do not roll over and hide my head under the pillow, wondering if I could call in sick. Asking myself when I last took a "mental health" day. Sure, I am a moving a bit slower, yet there is still a bounce in my step.

I do not believe that you need to be an artist for this to happen. It is about doing in the work you are meant to do. Work that is life sustaining rather than draining. Work that does not feel like work. I have talked to, heard, or read about people in all walks of life who experience this. There was an 89 year old woman I saw on a PBS program who was still working each day as a stockbroker. She was sharp as a tack. Tell me that work can't be life sustaining.

Financially, this work has not been rewarding on any level. More like draining! There are aspects to doing this as a business that do feel like work. But the good parts propel me forward through the dull stuff. I am in the early stages of my business, and the sales are growing rapidly, but so are the expenses. I am fortunate enough to have a family who is supportive of my work. They like me happy more than having the extras in life. My kids would tell you they are the only kids on the planet who have not yet gone to Disneyland. The house needs so much work it scares me sometimes. But it really can wait. We have started replacing windows. Slowly. My kids are becoming bargain shoppers. And my daughter has started her own business.

I do wish I had the courage and the vision to do a long time ago what I am doing now. I have a second job as "mom" right now. It doesn't pay one cent, but it is time consuming. I could have gotten that second job and gone down this path sooner. I didn't. But at least I finally found my way here. Are you on the right path? Have you figured out which path that is for you? Or are you plotting your next mental health day?


Elaine said...

Its funny - I was born old. I always wanted to be young.

This year I turned 30 which to me has always been that magic number you were supposed to be different on the other side of.

Reality check - no difference. In fact, it's been a great couple weeks.

Judy said...

Happy Birthday Elaine! And yes it does get better. I think because we become clearer about who we are and where we are going.