photo by Maria Allred

 “There came a time when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” — Anais Nin, writer

I awoke this morning to the sound of author Harriet Lerner’s voice in my head.

“Every woman needs a life plan,” her voice was reminding me.

$_35I met Harriet in 1985 when her first book, The Dance of Anger, came out. At that time I was raising five daughters (Rose hadn’t been born yet) and wrote a weekly column for women in This Week Magazine in Portland, Oregon.

I interviewed Harriet about her book for my column and a sweet and brief friendship developed. Besides being an author, Harriet was a staff psychologist at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas and a wife and mother.

An important influence in my life, she offered ongoing motivation to my personal development as a woman through her books, lectures, and some precious personal time we had in Portland and Topeka. Much of my life was focused on our five darling daughters. Harriet helped me see I could be a priority too and that my voice was important both privately and publicly.

Honoring my selfhood, while mothering my then five daughters, was always a creative challenge.x_aa48b716 I went running at sun up while they still slept. I wrote my columns while they watched Sesame Street.

Now, six weeks shy of 62, I am realizing the narrative I had about this stage of life is pure fiction in real time. I am as busy and engaged with life as I was then, just in different ways. And, my potential feels as vital as ever. I have a vision of writing more books, mentoring my daughters, nurturing grandchildren, exploring the world and my place in it. Life can be a continual unfolding and fulfilling for each of us.

spring-blossom-trees-alley_tn2In the beautiful words of poet Emma Lou Thayne, “my arrival is as ongoing as prayer.” There is no arrival; there is only more opportunity to blossom in an ever-unfolding possibility.

So you might be wondering as you read, “When? How? Has she lost her mind?”

I used to believe I needed hours of uninterrupted prime time to write. Actually on the rare occasions those hours miraculously appear, I may find myself immobilized. The task is to ‘just start.’ I can put any string of words together and after five minutes of just writing anything that pops onto the page, I catch the wave of my own creativity.

Our challenge is to pick 30 minutes and start. You fill in the blank. What are your dreams? Are
there visions of art, crafts, pottery, education, writing, starting a business, learning to ski, trying Yoga, serving in a soup kitchen, volunteering in the schools, running for office?

Daughter's Sarah and Suzette completing a marathon

Daughter’s Sarah and Suzette completing a marathon

A marathon is accomplished one step at a time, a degree is obtained one class at a time, political office is won one vote at a time.

And as my older sister Brenda has taught me, there are many lives in a life!

As the last of her children were leaving home to start life on their own, she had an impression she needed to go back to college and get a degree in teaching. She and her husband and last daughter moved to Hawaii for the first leg of her continued education. Not only was she learning, she explored the islands in her down time with her now small family.


Sister, Brenda and daughter, Annie

Sadly her husband passed away shortly before she completed her degree. And thankfully, she had a life plan and was prepared. Most importantly, she had listened to and trusted her inner knowing.

When the last of my daughters were in high school, I felt an unexpected impression get graduate degree in counseling. My only experience with that field had been as a client! The idea was daunting financially, intellectually, and hardly seemed practical. There still was a lot to balance in life. But my husband and daughters encouraged me. And so I started with just one class. That class, taught by Professor Greg Crosby, changed my life. I knew I had found my next calling and threw myself with a passion into my preparation.


Daughter, Rose, selling goods at Pike Place Market

By the time my girls were starting college I was working and could assist them financially in carrying out their life plans—each plan unique. Some of the things they have done include helping run a farm-to-table restaurant (and working on the farm); teaching English in China; studying yoga in India; taking a road trip all around the United States; managing a quaint hotel on an island where whales could be seen from the porch; working in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the shadow of the Grand Tetons; becoming a mother; becoming a therapist . . .

And, I just have to also give my husband a shout out; he bravely changed careers and got his graduate degree in his fifties. He brings not only his training to his new counseling career, but a life-time of experience including helping to raise six girls! (It’s no small task to be the only boy in the house!) He and I share a practice.

Just listen! Just notice! Let your inner-knowing tell you the story of your longings and desire. Then trust! Follow up with pen to paper or fingers on screen . . . Create your next life plan!

Reader Challenge: What dreams would you like to bring to life? What potential do you have that could be nurtured? What is a small and practical step to begin?

Come join me on the journey to continually nurturing our potential! Feel free to post about this on my FB page, Creating a Life You Love.