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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Being a Teenager at 54 Day 16 Year 2


I have had the good fortune of having had inordinately clear vision about my path throughout my life.  I have held three, perfectly developed ideas of who I am.  These images were whole and tangible. I felt like all my efforts, my very being, was committed to living in the shoes of the Dawns I imagined.  Oddly, at 54, I find myself feeling more like a teenager than a woman just over fifty.  In my mind, I am stepping out toward something new. I am embarking on a new journey, one I had not planned or anticipated.  I am looking at A New Dawn.
The Dawn of my youth created hospitals in her red Flexible Flyer wagon.  My dolls received the best care I was able to deliver. I knew at the tender age of seven that, to be a better doctor, I would have to be receive an education. I applied myself. Through elementary school and high school, I was completely committed to becoming a physician.  I attended Mount Holyoke because, at the time, it was the college that had the highest number of graduates being accepted into medical school. For twelve years, I had my sights set on one thing.  Despite being in the top ten percent of my college class, I was wait-listed by the schools I wanted to attend. UMass Worcester was an option, but not one I wanted.  I chose to accept a job in a Biochemistry lab at UMass Amherst.  During the year I worked there, I also did an internship in a family care clinic nearby.  My intention was to reapply to schools after enriching my application.  An unexpected development occurred. I saw the toll that being a physician took on the families of the doctors I knew at the clinic. I could not find a doctor whom I could respect as a parent and spouse at the same time as valuing their medical acumen.  The physician for whom I was working would need a boat to get to the other side of the lines he crossed in his behavior toward me.  While I worked in the lab, I recalculated my path and recalibrated my dreams.  Within a period of months, I found a job in a financial consulting firm that specialized in healthcare. I used the money I saved for medical school to put toward the shell of a burned out house.  My fiance and I pooled our resources to build a home together. 

One of our favorite habits were our weekend rides.  We put our hearts and souls into building the house, but when we took a break, we would tour the backroads of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and New York.  Gradually, I started to form the vision of my ideal house.  I wanted to live on a mountain that would afford a breath-taking view.  I wanted to have a house in which I could have my own office.  We would have children and I would be a mother and a writer and I would live in a home filled with light, love and laughter.  That dream, that image, was laid down and reinforced even as my fiance and I moved forward with constructing our little house on an abandoned farm.  The dream sat with me, dormant, but ready.

Meanwhile, my career in corporate America progressed.  Even as I was engaged in working in a corporate setting during the day, I was writing textbooks on weekends and nights.  A shift in my interior world caused my desire to have children to grow in focus. I drew a line with my fiance; it was time for marriage if our children were to bear his name.  I was gratified with his choice -- we were married in six months.  He was the best thing to ever come into my life, and I was ecstatic to have our lives formally joined.  
The Dawn of my thirties was committed to motherhood.  I wanted children but, sadly, I had three miscarriages.  One of the specialists I saw told me that it was time to consider my options; adoption and surrogacy.  He said I would never be able to bear a child of my own.  I took issue with his opinion.  Even after I had yet another miscarriage, I did not falter in my intentions or vision of myself as a mother of three children of my own.  It was not an easy course, but I was truly blessed by the births of each of my children. With my husband's support, I chose to give up corporate work and do what writing I could while staying at home to raise our three children.  As they grew, my writing life started to grow.  I was fortunate to have the words to write about the sorrow and joy that had equal command upon my heart.  Still,  I carried the vision of that yellow house, on a mountain, with a spectacular view.  
Dawn of the Mountain View was given expression in 2005.  My husband and I built Better Home and Garden’s Home of the Year (1996).  We cleared about an acre and a half of the eleven acres we owned on the side of a mountain in western Massachusetts.  Our vista stretches across the Connecticut River Valley.  We are on the flight path of eagles and hawks and the occasional army cargo jet.  My spirit is lifted every time my gaze is cast upon the ever-changing scene.  The southeastern exposure floods the house with light.  We took advantage of that view by making the house almost entirely glass on that side.  The crowning aspect of the house is a testament to my husband’s skill as a carpenter, his intention as a builder and his determination in life.  He single-handedly built a deck that is fourteen feet wide by sixty feet long, eight feet off of the ground.  When stepping on that deck, it feels like one is suspended in air. I am as much on a deck as I am on a boat, with the air -- rather than water -- holding me aloft.  I am moved by his work and lifted by what it offers.  It is impossible to carry the mantle of worry when on the deck. Perspective is everything.
When health issues insinuated their way into my life, I rejected them. Regrettably, the deny-it-ignore-it-push-through it-all-engines-ahead approach didn't cut it.  Instead, I have had to turn around and face the problem.  Never easy.  While trying to assess my functionality, I have realized that, somehow, in the busy-ness of caring for hearth, home and kin, I overlooked one key thing. I failed to create an image of present-tense Dawn. So?  Life delivered challenges I did not anticipate.  Now it is up to me to take stock, think creatively, and invent my future.  That says teenager to me.  Seriously. So here I am, like, dude, being a teenager.  Whatever.
It is tremendously exciting to be at this juncture, knowing there are possibilities for my life that I have never imagined. Like most teenagers that I know, my life is unwritten.

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