“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’” – Erma Bombeck

While watching “Under The Tuscan Sun” yesterday with my daughter, a few thoughts crossed my mind about starting over. Life just doesn’t always work the way we want it to and Destiny has  had peculiar ways of testing my strength, faith, and emotional well-being lately. When left with no other choice but to assess and rebuild my life, ignoring the fact that everything that I considered a safe haven seems to have imploded and left me feeling as though I am standing in the middle of a thunderstorm, I turn to Zen and feel a need for a thorough emotional de-cluttering.

lake38a
Soul-cleansing (Lake Dümmer, Lower Saxony, Germany) ©MTHerzog

I have reached a point where my needs no longer consist of fulfilling ambitions of grandeur, but of sharing, giving, and making myself my top priority for the first time ever, no longer bogged down by duty and responsibility to others, but with carte blanche to re-write my future. It is scary as hell, but my spiritual mentors have taught me not to dwell on the past or the could have beens, but to embrace the resilient nature of my being and move forward by approaching the situation in another light.

How do I deal with road bumps? Tantrums or running simply make matters worse, but the occasional good cry is soul-cleansing. Contemplative action, digging deep within myself to search for courage and self-awareness that I wasn’t consciously aware existed within me are my daily challenges, but there is no denying that my soul drifts out of the tunnel of doubt. What didn’t work out today, or what is too painful to handle today will look and feel differently tomorrow if I allow myself to undergo a spiritual paradigm shift. It is a matter of finding that balance between reason and passion, not necessarily compromising, but learning to take steps in the right direction.

Midlife is no longer about that instant gratification that got many of us into trouble. It is about fulfillment and serenity, bending in a different direction; affirmation of whom and what I love; gratitude for the elements that keep me going; validating the my life treasures; and affirming what I can no longer afford:

  • To let the world go unseen. – Travel and exploration are my way of showing my gratitude to Creation.  It doesn’t always have to be an exotic or complicated trip, sometimes explorations in your own backyard with a camera changes your entire perspective on things.
  • To obsess about my weight. – I am what I am and have what I have. Basta. I am flexible, active, can walk the distance, and lift the weights. I love, share, see, write, rejoice, pray, and mourn – what do kilos on my bones have to do with any of these traits?
  • To turn my back on my roots. – It has always puzzled me how people can migrate to other countries and undergo complete transformations, willingly forgetting their cultural heritage and the importance of keeping it alive for the next generation. You see this often in families of mixed cultural heritage, and I often mourn the death of a mother tongue or cultural tradition that snips away the roots one at a time. Regardless of the years I have lived outside of the Philippines, the blood that runs through my veins is not affected by the country that may call home at a particular point in time or a passport. Midlife makes me wonder – have I done enough to pass on my cultural values to my daughter? The food we eat reflects how strongly attached we are to our roots, being able to eat from the heart, not out of obligation, thus making these foods true soul food.
  • To keep my emotions hidden – life is too short to carry unnecessary burdens with us. If there is something on your mind or heart, say it, speak up, put a voice to the thoughts, but always with respect for the other and without compromising your own principles. This has been the hardest lesson to learn over the years and I struggle with it every day.

The rebellion that should have taken place when I was 16 is taking place at 50 instead, as I break free and learn how to spread my wings.