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It’s funny the phases with go through in life.

As I’m approaching my fiftieth year on this earth, I find myself reflecting on the phases of my life that I thought would go on forever, but as I look back they flew by in an instant.

I can honestly say I have no regrets.  I’ve learned so much in my life and I have come to appreciate the process that is life.  The trials, the tribulations, the joys, the sorrows… they have all helped me grow to the person I am today.

I’d like to say that I have it all together, but the truth is, I’m still learning.  Age doesn’t determine your success.  Life is a continuing saga of lesson after lesson.

My most recent issue is my kids are grown and independent and needing me less.  I’m realizing that everything I gave up to raise them has been worthwhile, but now it’s a time to come back to me.  Only, I don’t know who “me” is anymore.

It seems like yesterday I was working in Corporate America, doing the 40 hr/wk grind.  I have worked some sort of job since 6th grade, when I was throwing papers after school.  I never went to college, so every moment of work was working my way closer to the top.  The top of what, I have no idea, but I knew with each job, I had more responsibility and in that alone, I felt successful.

By the time I got married and we were pregnant, I knew I wouldn’t be able to leave my baby with a stranger, so we made the decision to let me stay home and raise our daughter (soon to be daughters).

The adjustment was harder than I thought.  Becoming a mom turns your world on its head.  You are dealing with things you were never trained for, and the job is 24/7.  As much as I wanted to rely on the hubs, he was working to support the family, so the stress on both of us was great, and neither of us were truly prepared for the headwinds coming our way.  We were both faced with a huge learning curve on totally different levels.

As years went on, and we added a second, it was harder, then easier.  We learned to juggle more and somehow we made it through.  We celebrated every little milestone starting with a full nights sleep all the way through the graduation of our first daughter.

Wow, that was a fast trip.  For moments that seemed like they would last forever, and times we didn’t think we’d make it as a couple from all the stress…we sat watching our oldest do her final walk and throw her graduation cap in the air.  Where did the time go…

True, we have another following behind her…but at this point, the independence of both girls has left us kind of staring at each other with all but an introduction to each other, and a scratching of the head asking, “What do we do now?”

Hubs has his job that has kept him busy.  And I have had a photography business that has grown over the years.  But there is still this crazy void that we weren’t altogether ready to deal with – just yet.

Hubs is lucky, because he’s always had his band to occupy the extra time.  He’s playing more now than he has in recent years and I’m happy for him as well as super proud.  I love his dedication to music.  But there are times I look in the mirror at myself and wonder, “What about you?”  And can I just tell you….that’s a real scary question when you thought you had more time to figure it all out.  To be honest…I didn’t have any answers.  And it scared the hell out of me.

I am blessed to be surrounded by fabulous women.  If I can give ANY advice to any women raising small children it’s this; “BUILD YOUR VILLAGE and CULTIVATE YOUR FRIENDSHIPS”.  I am SO thankful for the reach of amazing women in my circle.  Moms of dancers; Moms of school friends; Moms who are my clients…I love them ALL!

Just today, I reached out (in desperation) to a dance mom friend that I adore.  I started taking singing lessons a few years ago for fun, and as I have progressed, my teacher told me I need to sing in front of people (because my bathroom mirror wasn’t giving me good enough feedback).  I remember discussing this with my teacher and as we talked, and one friend came to mind.  Someone I can trust, and someone I knew that would support me, because this was totally up her alley.  Poor girl heard me screaming like a goat in our hotel room one year in an attempt to sing, way back when we were at competition together.  I trusted her then and I trust her now.

When I called, she didn’t hesitate to offer support.  And when we met, it was an emotional roller coaster.  Excitement, fear, trepidation, focus, courage and in the end…joy.  PURE JOY!!!

I drove home tonight, emotionally drained, but reflecting back on so many things.

Life is a total journey of growth and getting knocked down and picking yourself back up. Life really never is a constant of being happy, or being sad.  It’s a mixed bag of doubt and fear most of our days.  The only constant in life is questioning ourselves and our values and our place in this world.

In the past months, I feel like I’m grasping at straws trying to figure out who I am anymore, or what I’m supposed to be.  It’s kind of awful.  But when I have days like today where I knew exactly who I could call, and she didn’t hesitate, it made me realize that we all really do have a place in this world.  We just need to trust in the process of our own lives and not be afraid to take a leap of faith.

This afternoon truly filled my heart.  I’m so thankful to my friend for giving me her time to help me through and let me cry so I could come out the other side and feel joy in this strange time of trying to reinvent myself (yet again).

Don’t underestimate the power of your friendships.  Don’t underestimate the importance of the village you create to help you through tough times.

We are never alone in this world.  You truly only have to ask and people will be there for you.  But remember, the trip is faster than you think.  Don’t be caught with your pants down.  Do your best to plan ahead and be thankful for those in your life!!  And know in the end….You’ll be just fine!!!