I turned 42 today. For most people it's not a big deal. Once they passed 40 they try not to think about their age to much until they hit 45 or 50. But for me 42 seems like bigger issue than 40 was. Maybe because I expected 40 to be a big deal and it wasn't. Maybe because I don't emotional connect with things when I should (a life long anomaly for me). I don't know the reason but what ever that reason is, 42 is the answer.
As I look back through the mist that is my life it's easy to see the mountains I failed to climb. Like never finding the time to get my Bachelor's degree, so my career options are limited to working for myself or minimum wage jobs - regardless of how much I know.
It's harder to see through the mist and recognize the things I survived. Maybe it's because I feel odd talking about what I've done right. Maybe because the expectation is that I should be getting it right so there should be no praise for what I should be doing. Whatever the reason I've decided to try to see through the fog and find the things that remind me what I have accomplished.
I married young. Looking back I wonder if we were too young, but we made it work. We've been together for 25 years this June, married for 22. Yes, I was a June bride. Not my first choice but it worked out. He's been with me through the good and bad. He taught me not to fear having feelings, and in return I taught him patience. (Mostly because his options were learn patience or kill me. <smirk>)
He loves me and I love him.
I have two kids who I'm proud of. My oldest is a lot like his father. Physically and mentally. He attends college and works a full time job. I'm always told what a great kid he is by those who figure out that we are related.
My younger son has PTSD from several bullying incidents but he's managed to turn his life around into something positive. He made the honor roll this term - a first for him. And I couldn't be prouder.
My work history is varied. I've owned and successfully run several businesses over the years. When I wasn't working for myself I spent time work for others. Often in minimum wage and thankless jobs, where I had the opportunity to understand the differences between working in a large corporation and a small business. While there is little to no recognition for the things that I have learned, I am fairly well rounded when it comes to business. Over the years I have learned that I work best when I can feel like I'm part of the team. Not "just the secretary" or "the person who will do the work (so we don't have to)" but actually part of a group that wants to accomplish their goals. While I'm currently working in a position that has some great co-workers, I'm still struggling to find something that will meet all of my needs as an employee.
At one time I made a hobby that I cherished into a business. It was successful for a while. But then I became over worked with the constant demands for free work and pressure to make enough to live on. I felt undervalued and unappreciated. I was loosing my love for my art. I closed the studio to regroup and refocus. After walking away for a while I was able to refocus some of my energy into several projects that I had been wanting to complete. I reopened the studio with my new projects in mind. Some of the were stopped before they really got started. others I'm saving for another day. But there are a few that I'm now able to devote my attention to because while my photography is still a business, it's not my main income anymore. I've regained my love of work.
This one may surprise some of you. 20 plus years ago, when I first moved to the reservation I tried everything to fit in. I tried to take classes so that I could teach my children. I tried to participate in the cultural activities so that I would understand their perspective. I tried to remember that I was an outsider in their world. I tried. Unfortunately those attempts accomplished nothing. I was rejected at every turn. When I came to class I was asked to leave, I wasn't Native. When I went to events I was asked where my husband was, because I wasn't allowed in the building without him. When I volunteered I was told keep my mouth shut and do what I was told. I didn't get a say, I didn't get a choice. Do what your told, sit down and shut up. And be thankful for the privilege of being allowed to be there at all. Even with doing all of these things I was labeled as bitch. A problem person that needed to be removed and kept down.
This may not sound positive but it was. The openly racist comments taught me how to sympathize with those who are victims of racism. The name calling and rudeness taught me to hold my head up in the face of those who would rather see me crumble. The constant discrimination and attempts to belittle me have taught me that their hatred has nothing to do with me and my actions - but is a reflection of them and their own insecurities. I have become stronger because of their choice to exclude me rather than include me.
Where I used to bow in submission I now argue - which is why I'm labeled as I am. Where I used to turn the other cheek I now stand my ground - knowing that they can't drag me down unless I let them. Where I used to desire their acceptance I now know that I make my own happiness - not to spite them, but because I will not allow their hatred to effect me.
My blog has always been about business. Even when I try to add personal touches my own tendency for privacy and desire to not inadvertently hurt others keeps me from being to personal. But this year I want to try an experiment based on my previous post about Realty v. Believably. This blog is about to get a lot more personal. A real look into my real life. There will still be some business posts and photography. But this will become - for the next year - more of a diary. I know I will loose some readers but I really want to try this experiment and see where it goes. This isn't about being vindictive or catty. It's about my life. My real life.