I used to be a little more concerned with what other people thought of me than I would have liked to admit 😉
But it seems that the times they are a changin’. Like significantly. Really very significantly.
They’ve been changing for a very long time now. I would guesstimate my evolution in this arena started 15 years ago. Just before I turned 40 years old.
While sitting with a very close friend/mentor of mine over a cup of tea in her garden she looked me purposefully in the eyes and said, “Diane, turning 40 is a truly transformational time in a woman’s life. Somehow you ‘come into your own’. You find you no longer care much about what other people think of you or your choices. You like yourself more. And what other people think just isn’t as important as it once was.”
She was spot on with this advice. And I’ve never forgotten it. Actually, I’ve held tight to just about all of the ‘Charlotte wisdom’ I was so fortunate to receive throughout the time of my mentor/mentee relationship with this extremely extraordinary woman.
It is certainly true that one of the phrases that became a central tenet in my life throughout my 40’s was, “I’m OK with that.” Had Charlotte still been part of the weave of my life throughout that time she would have been quite proud!
At 44 years old I lost a job of 17 years as a result of an injustice fueled by two women who proclaimed to be my friends. Faced with a job loss, and the realization that I had welcomed frenemies into my home and treated them like family, I had to choose how I would respond to that unfortunate turn of events. My response was, “I’m OK with that.”
After all, better to uncover a frenemy than not. And that alone is something to hold great appreciation for!
But that loss offered more than just one blessing in disguise. It prompted me to launch my first entrepreneurial venture. I did it on a shoestring budget and still achieved great success!
That business still remains very close to my heart. It afforded me the opportunity to live life on my own terms. It is the very thing that freed me from the ‘daily grind’. The ‘9 to 5’. It made it so that the work that I did every day supported my own dreams and desires. As opposed to supporting the dreams and desires of others.
Later, when I wanted to travel across the country in an attempt to come to terms with the innate feeling that I belonged somewhere besides the little area of our country which I had always known as home, I sold off all my belongings and went gypsy style. I took only some clothes, some toiletries, and my most treasured books. This meant closing the doors to my business which at that point had grown to a lovely brick and mortar shop!
There was only 2 people in my life. Yes. Two is the count. Who supported this decision. But I went ahead and followed my heart regardless of the opinion of others.
Today when I look back on this choice and think of the people who should have stood behind me but didn’t, I say, “I’m OK with that.”
It was the best damn decision I ever made. My life has exponentially improved as a direct result of that entire experience. I am changed forever. And cannot even begin to imagine living life trapped in the hopeless cycle of unmet expectations I existed in up until that point.
After 4 years of living out among the incredibly amazing natural wonders of the redwood forests and the pacific northwest’s lost coast I found myself with a strong desire to ‘hit the road again’.
It meant leaving behind many people, places, and things I had begun to love dearly. I had started to build a life on the west coast. I was gathering things for my home (very domestic diva like), taking classes, creating routines, and just in general settling into the culture of the area.
But my inner intuition knew that it was time for me to leave. I’m not sure how to explain this feeling. It’s similar to the one you get at the end of a dinner party. Bit by bit people start filtering out. Goodbyes are said. You’ve already helped the hostess with much of the clean up. You’ve had a great time. There is part of you that wants to linger. But you know it’s time to go. There are things to do in the morning. And you have to get home and get some rest before you get up and start a new day. So you say your goodbyes and head home with some pretty fond memories tucked in your back pocket.
Well that’s how I felt. Like it was time to say my goodbyes and leave with a pocket packed full of fond memories.
So I sold my big ‘ol truck and bought an economy car to travel back across the country in. I cleared out my townhouse. And I started the long road trip back to the east coast. I felt a slight melancholy over having left. And I felt a bold, new excitement at the idea of forging a new path in a place that was completely unkown to me. All I really knew for sure was I had made the decision to go from one place to another without much of a plan, once again those who couldn’t understand such a decision were unable to just let go of their expectations of my life (which is weird as all hell when you really think about it) and I could very easily say, “I’m OK with that.”
Getting to my new home in northern Maine was much harder than I anticipated. But that’s another story entirely. I made it. Here I am.
Life has been rather eventful since I arrived. And often difficult. Settling into a small town is not as simple (or comical) as it is so often portrayed in movies.
BUT I am glad to be here. And find myself growing fonder of the people and the culture in this beautiful place every day.
It is completely different than that which I’ve experienced before. Sometimes better. Sometimes worse.
I am welcomed by most. Genuinely liked by many. And there are, of course, those who don’t care for me much. I am a ‘person from away’ as the locals say.
“I’m OK with that!”
I intend to ‘keep on keepin’ on’ as the bohemian populations used to say in the 70’s. And I intend to never lose sight of the fact that there is very little in this world which happens that leaves one with the inability to say, “I’m OK with that.”
As a matter of fact, in the big scheme of things no matter how tragic an event is, it remains a matter of fostering your own good mental health to bring yourself around to the place where you can say, “I’m OK with that.”
The alternative sucks. And who wants that?!?!
Not this woman. That’s for sure.
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