The gift of a year

My friend Lisa’s husband started it.

For her fiftieth birthday, he gave her the gift of year. A year without the need to do paid work, or take on new family projects; a year in which to explore who she would like to become in the world for this next part of her life. Lisa’s family isn’t rich, so this offer was a gift made of sacrifice, one she accepted gratefully and took seriously.  I learned a lot about how to turn intentionally fifty as I watched as Lisa deliberately, confusedly, impatiently and enthusiastically trying on new identities like clothing and jewels.

Lisa has a great sense of adventure in the area of vocation: she’s a dancer, educator and artist by training, and once she told me that she learned to juggle when she was a cook for a clown camp. So I watched with fascination as she discarded some old work identities that she had outgrown, and handed down to others social roles that no longer fit her but still had lots of life in them.  She redefined the role of home and the meaning of work in her world.

Starting from scratch, she became a yoga teacher; then she started her own business, helping folks who are Not The Usual Suspects to gain strength and wellness through yoga. She refreshed an old love to become a masterful landscape gardener, and she brings home the bacon – OK, brings home the tomatoes – as a grower of food. She’s moved her time and attention from mothering a young adult daughter to daughter-ing an aging father from afar.  And all the while, she has let her sassy red hair grow out curly, silver and long.

Witnessing Lisa’s transformation makes me ask myself: What would I do with the gift of a year to decide how I want to spend the next passage of my life?

What would you do?

And what if we already have that year, starting now?

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  • Renee  On September 24, 2010 at 3:37 am

    Well the first thing I would do is find my passport!

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