I was sitting at a café recently in my hometown of Zumbrota, Minnesota, having lunch with one of my oldest and dearest friends. We are as opposite as two people can be, but our friendship has endured for 35+ years and is stronger than ever. Our lives have taken different paths but in our
early mid-50’s (ugh!) we find ourselves in the same boat facing the inevitability of major life changes around the corner…at the 50-something crossroads.
She is “normal“. She married her high school sweetheart and was a stay-at-home Mom who raised two amazing kids – always taking care of other people. I’ve always been a little “abnormal“, moving around, traveling the world, living on the edge – just trying to take care of myself. “A special kind of crazy”, according to her! But here we both are – at the 50-something crossroads.
What’s next? Life-clock is ticking! Life’s going so fast!
We’re nearing the end! Which door should I choose?
Her husband will retire in the next few years and they will move somewhere. Change is coming. My life is approaching a turning point too in the next few years. The difference is – she’s stressed, unsettled, a little worried about the big life-changing decisions coming up. She’s worried about making the best choices for herself and her family. I’m excited, energized, embracing the opportunity to change my life (yet again), which is easier because (selfishly) I have no one else to consider. (“Selfless” vs “Selfish” decisions.)
My life in Taiwan is amazing. It’s better than I could have imagined during my long walks on cool winter nights back in Florida, when I plotted my escape and planned my future. I didn’t know where I was going back then, just had a vague idea of what I wanted. I have a wonderful life here but I still embrace the adventure of change…
Maybe because I’ve done it before and have seen how incredible starting over can be?
Maybe because I’ve jumped off that cliff enough that I no longer fear it?
Maybe because, in the wise words of Natasha Bedingfield, “the rest is still unwritten”… and Taiwan likely isn’t my final chapter?
The Adventure of Change
Expand your comfort zone
The thought of stepping out of my comfort zone yet again excites me. Moving to Taiwan, learning to teach English, overcoming fears like public speaking, driving a scooter in rush hour traffic, starting a blog – all were way outside my comfort zone. I faced those fears, survived, and grew. My new life is now my comfort zone so change may be on the horizon.
Recently I was pondering the possibilities of what my life will be when I transition away from teaching. Maybe I’ll become a “digital nomad”, writing and doing whatever I can to make a living…maybe serving lattes at a random cafe somewhere in the world. And then I received the surprising (and unbelievable) news of a “cash infusion” resulting from a real estate transaction. Having a financial cushion makes change even more possible – and the possibilities are truly endless.
In the words of Liz Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) “…I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.”
During my recent trip to Minnesota, conversations with old friends often turned to the idea of downsizing and getting rid of “stuff” – becoming minimalist. I downsized and minimized when I left the US and it was so liberating! My life in Taiwan is simple and all of my “stuff” fits nicely into my 350 sq ft apartment. This simplicity also means the unexpected “cash infusion” will stretch further, change my life drastically, and free me from being tied to teaching…or serving lattes.
Regret avoidance – living my life and making choices so I’ll have fewer (or no) regrets later. Embracing change in the next few years is an effort to avoid getting too comfortable (lazy) in my current life to step outside of it. It’s a big world and if I stay in the same place, I may regret becoming too lazy to explore more of it.
I’m curious about the world, not just my little piece of it but the whole thing. The idea of moving on from Taiwan at some point is an effort to satisfy that innate curiosity – maybe Panama? Ecuador? Belize? Croatia? I’ll be throwing darts at a map of the world to see what sticks and that’s the exciting part!
The crazy adventure of change!
I’m so blessed with opportunities and I embrace the approach of the 50-something crossroads! The first thing on my list when I’m done teaching is a “retirement tour” beginning with _________. The destination is still “unwritten”, but maybe my “normal” friend will step out of her comfort zone and meet me there – and join me in embracing my “special kind of crazy”!
“Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten…”
My friend and I – like night and day – yet both our futures are unwritten. Kind of exciting!
Do you fear change or embrace it?