For those who don’t know me, I can share that I took a chance on love again in my mid-fifties.
I surprised many (including myself) when I accepted a proposal ‘to start the journey to the rest of our lives together’ from a man who concealed a romantic heart behind a gruff persona and an intense career. I, too was intensely focused on my career, enjoying the single, entrepreneurial lifestyle with lots of long hours, travel and spontaneous self-indulgence. My home was a haven to recharge from my self-inflicted stressful life and to spend precious time with my family and friends.
I was so busy ‘being busy’ that I didn’t notice that anything was missing in my life. I thought I had it all and perhaps suffered from the “legend in my own mind” syndrome. I’d been practicing for this fiercely independent role since I left home at the age of sixteen.
Yes, I had married before and had significant relationships but I thought I was content to stay single for the rest of my life. I am blessed to have a beautiful blended family of biological and bonus children and grandchildren. I have deeply entrenched long term friendships. I already felt surrounded by love. There was no need to wonder how wonderful it could be to add more love.
Amid building a relationship with a new life partner, I sold my business of 20 years, my home and pretty much all my “stuff”. We married on January 1st and began the process of combining two very distinct lives into one brand new script.
This new script, the next chapter of my life, was set on a stage in a new country, in a new city and in his home. I went from 60 to zero in virtual seconds . . . 60 hour work weeks to zero. I was now “retired”. My new husband, aka my co-star and leading man in this exciting new role was my only connection to this new part in “Retired in Paradise”.
New relationship, new home, new culture, new doctor-dentist-hairdresser. New units of measure (ah, the convenience of metric calculations – just divide by 10!), new speed limits. I had to adapt quickly to new critters and earned my ‘Desert Girl’ badges for rattlesnake, cockroach and scorpion evasions rather quickly!
My friends laughed and said I changed everything all at once – even my hair style.
Truthfully, I did not give any thought to the compound effect of so many radical changes at one time. Amid wedded bliss and a life of leisure, I was feeling lost and vulnerable. I felt like a shadow of my former self and felt ashamed that I wasn’t feeling like a star.
Don’t worry! This “Encore Love” has a happy ending. There were many twists and turns in the plot and through these experiences, I figured out why I felt miscast in my new life.
I learned that transition and transformation are complex and that I needed a process to guide me through the evolution to the next and best me. I learned that there were many others like me struggling with how to adapt to change after decades of habit, familiarity and routine. It’s is difficult to let go of the security grip of who we were and what we did.
Change happens. That’s inevitable. Careers end, relationships change, friendships ebb and flow. Our bodies change and at times betray us. Significant people in our lives move on in their evolution. Transition affects our circles of influence and our communities. In my blog entitled Community, I discuss “As you journey through the phases and stages of your life, growth and change are easier and more rewarding when your community evolves with you. As you transition and transform, it may be necessary to seek out new communities to support you.”
The good news is there is lots of evidence of Encore Love. My advice to you is to begin by falling in love with yourself again and stand in the spotlight! You never know who is in the audience!