Just watched 'Eat, Pray, Love'. I was the only person I knew who found the book to be a story of extreme self-absorption of the type that not many of us can indulge in. Watching the movie, though, made me realize how similar our quests actually were. While I'm not recovering from a lost love, I AM seeking to understand what my next step in life will be.
In January, I closed my business of four years; an elegant little shop that allowed me to immerse myself in all things beautiful; challenge myself with what I am capable of; and to meet some wonderful women doing so. It was a labour of love and one I feel blessed to have been able to pursue. But, for many reasons, I decided to close.
I'm doing my best not to stress over what I should now be doing. My husband is encouraging me to take my time in this - to enjoy the transition. Certainly I'm enjoying our ability to spend time together again. Running a business, while personally rewarding, was a large impediment to our relationship. How could someone working six or seven days a week and out many evenings (and who talked about the business incessantly) be fully engaged in anything other than the business?
The joys I experienced as a business owner were all MY joys. The new friends I've made through the business are MY friends. All of it was MY experience; not ours.
So, how is it that we are told we can 'have it all'? We can be wives, mothers, career women, attentive friends ... And we can be good at all of it, too. This was the message of my youth, the generation that followed the ground-breaking feminists.
Well, I now get it. No one, male or female, can have it all. At least not all at one time. Our lives are journeys with emphasis on different things throughout.
When our children are young, the family is healthier when at least one parent is fully engaged in their daily lives. In our family, it was primarily my role while my husband traveled for his career. I was excited when my children reached an age that I could return to school. The business was a natural next step in this exploration of 'having it all'.
What I didn't realize during the combined years of school and entrepreneurship was that I was developing me but diminishing my relationships. Everyone around me; my husband; my children and grandchildren; my parents; my friends; seemed to compromise their needs while I was busy pursuing my wants. Of course, they didn't voice this - they were all proud of what I was doing.
Having to schedule time (around events in the shop) for the birth of my twin grandsons helped me to see how difficult life was getting.
How, then, is it possible to explore our capabilities without jeopardizing the most important facets of our lives - the people we love? This question deserves discussion. I plan to bring it up often to hear the experiences and perspectives of others.