My favorite books, movies, and magazine articles are slice-of-life stories of folks who, in their mid to golden years, transform their lives. Somehow, despite the odds, they find the courage to admit that what they have been doing isn't working any more, stop doing it, and try something different. The ugly duckling becomes a swan.
I insist on a happy ending. Whether it's fiction or nonfiction--or my own life. However, I'm not dead yet. So I haven't really reached THE END. But I just finished another chapter (the ending was inconclusive). And I'm starting another.
John and his kids have a place of their own now. It's a long story, but the short version is that it has been really stressful for everyone sharing such close quarters--seven family members, two dogs, and 50-odd piano students and their families. With John still unemployed, a bigger house simply isn't an option. So last week, he signed a lease on an apartment near the mall. I don't see this as a failure; as my friend Marcia pointed out, "the Brady Bunch wouldn't have survived without a huge house, fenced yard, millionaire architect dad, and a full-time housekeeper!!"
The kids returned from New York yesterday; John had their beds set up in their new rooms, so they actually spent their first night back in Georgia at the apartment. They will be in and out of my house today and tomorrow, packing and moving the rest of their belongings. The plan is to muddle through the next twelve months and then regroup. It's going to be interesting to see where we all are, and how we all feel, a year from now.
Since John and I made this decision, I have felt a great sense of relief. I knew I couldn't maintain the frantic pace I was keeping. I am going to miss John--I miss him already!--but I'm not going to miss the craziness.
In the meantime, I have confidence that I can successfully manage what I have left:
1. My children. Casey is hoping to be accepted into the joint enrollment program at Gwinnett Junior College this fall, and Nathan is going to start public school as an eighth grader. The only thing we haven't figured out is how we're going to get where we need to go with only one car.
2. My business. I have 50 students on my fall schedule. That's a lot of piano students. But it's status quo for me. And for the coming year I was able to schedule them all Monday through Thursday. It helps having a weekday "off" for errands and appointments and chores.
3. My home. At ages 17 and 13, Casey and Nathan are pretty self-sufficient. They know how to cook and do laundry, and for the most part they clean up after themselves. And now that I have my waiting room back--my business will be totally separate from the rest of my home again--I actually took the plunge and ordered some new living room furniture--a sofa and a love seat and a coffee table. It wasn't expensive and it isn't the ultimate but it's going to be a huge improvement over what I have, hand-me-downs from my brother and his wife shortly after my divorce eight years ago. I just got the call confirming delivery on Friday between 10 and 2. I am very excited!!
I have big plans for the next few months.
1. I am going to sell off most of what's left of my library; I am listing books on my website, www.normanjamesacademy.com, and auctioning the rare volumes on ebay under my seller name, sand_in_my_shoes_2007.
2. I am creating a line of jewelry. I am sharing a booth with a friend at a show in September; whatever doesn't sell there will go up on my etsy site under the seller name sandinmyshoes2007.
3. I am writing a novel! I have done a lot of work-associated writing over the years; I love writing, but all I have ever written is nonfiction, although I have LOTS of stories to tell. Finally, last spring, I took an online fiction-writing class, "Fundamentals of Fiction Writing," and it was great. With my teacher's encouragement, I signed up for another one, this one called "Focus on the Novel." By the end of the 14-week session, I should have my book completely outlined and the first 10,000 words on paper. New York Times Bestseller list, here I come!
To conclude, I have a great quote from John Eldredge:
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
I am going for it!