I have a birthday coming up in about a week so I’ve begun my annual reflection on where my life has been and where it is going. This year it struck me that I could condense and expedite the process if I did it by decade. Much less introspective time!
I categorize my 20s as a decade of education, exploration and adventure. I traveled throughout the US and to Europe and Peru and completed 2 degrees during that span of time. They were good years, most of them, especially as I formed my most lasting friendship during that time.
My 3rd decade was one of stability (for the most part – those who know me well will not be surprised to hear that stability for me still meant changing jobs, moving to Hawaii for 3 years and then back to California!). I continued in my chosen career, moving steadily up the ladder to greater levels of responsibility and remuneration. I wrote my novel and for the most part stayed out of tumultuous relationships.
40s – Change, change, change – and changes degenerating into chaos towards the end of that decade! Not all the changes were bad – I adopted 3 of my 4 children during this decade and each adoption brought new challenges and trials but also new joys and delights. We moved from California to Colorado. New job, new schools, new friends, new climate! And then new medical issues with my youngest child that led to changing jobs and moving back to California. And then we somehow, through bad timing and worse luck, ended up in the handbasket on its descent to you know where! Ugh.
From the looks of things so far the word that comes to mind in connection with the big 5th decade is diminish. Nearly every aspect of my life seems to be diminishing. Granted some of these aspects began their reduction in the previous decade (diminishing employment, finances, etc.) but the shrinkage seems to be both continuing and, contrary as it sounds, increasing. My employment options are clearly decreasing. My world seems to be shrinking. Even the amount of sleep I get each night is reduced as aches and pains (pinched nerve in my neck, aching joints) and fluctuations in my internal temperature regularly rouse me. Living in a more northerly location at this time of year means less daylight, undoubtedly partly to blame for the lessening of optimism I’ve been experiencing. I know that the dark winter months ahead will be a struggle.
It’s a bit depressing, I think – if 50s are the diminishing decade what does that mean for the 60s? The antidote for introspection is action, I remind myself. And with a little action perhaps the bulk of this decade I’m in can be, slowly and steadily, turned around and made a decade of growth instead. Our little hobby farm endeavor can grow – baby goats, vegetables, honey from new beehives. The kids will grow (naturally) and with the opportunities available here for new experiences I hope they will branch out in many ways, growing more confident and creative, making more new friends. Our family connections will grow and strengthen. And possibly I will also find ways to grow (if nothing else to grow old gracefully ;-)), and new rewarding paths to follow.
In the meantime with those cold grey months ahead I’ve decided it’s a good time to order seed catalogs – like the D. Landreth Catalog (America’s oldest purveyors of heritage and classic seeds) – and plan our garden, time to look into getting a beehive kit and to read up on playing midwife to goats. It’s a good time to try my hand at some new skills – to learn to spin or sew as I huddle near the wood stove. And I will endeavor to look ahead to the new growth spring will inevitably bring and to find a way to create new opportunities for my family to grow and bloom as well.