Navigating loss, identity, and love in the “Chapter 3” of our lives.

First of all, let’s be grateful that we even made it to the Chapter Three of our lives. Not all of us are granted that status. By this stage of life, my loves, many of us have lost spouses, parents, pets, friends, or have even experienced the loss of a child.

Loss comes in other forms, as well: Loss through divorce, house fire, loss of a job due to covid, retirement, or “restructuring,” a.k.a. being replaced by a younger, less expensive (salary-wise) model. (Not fashion model, no. That’s the spousal department.)

We’re older and hopefully wiser. We’ve been around the block enough times to feel, well, dizzy! And, jumbled in with our various losses is the potential loss of our identity. Who are we, if not the caretaker of our loved ones, be they aging parents, ailing spouses, or terminally ill adult children who need help with the grandchildren?

We ask ourselves, What’s next? How do I begin this new chapter? I don’t know how to handle being in limbo. I’m so used to working a job or being busy serving others and sensing or asking them what they need or want.

I have so little practice taking time for myself and asking, “Hey, rock star! Me? Yes, you! What do you want? What have you set aside all these years? What’s a new idea that’s been waiting in the wings to be given center stage? What makes your heart area warm and fluttery…besides caring for others?”

Be the caretaker of you for five minutes…or longer, if you can stand it! Try this exercise. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to get off the couch…except for pen and paper.) What and who were you surrounded by growing up? What or who in that scenario do you want to keep, work through, or toss?

Make a list of both “good” and “bad.” (I put those words in quotes because once we depart this lovely planet, those qualifications no longer exist, I believe. Those are human determinations that we created. But that’s saved for another chapter, isn’t it?)

Ok, pen and paper ready? List what non-physical traits you inherited or were subconsciously influenced by in your childhood. What values were held by the adults around you? What shortcomings were in play?

Below is my list in no particular order: (names/roles were withheld to protect the not-so-innocent, but you should feel free to embellish your own list as you see fit. No one will read it…unless you post it on social media!)

Teaching/education
Book writing and creative writing
Theater
Love of animals
Love of children
Spirituality/psychic phenomena
Victimhood
Subservience
Strong work ethic
Creativity
Dance
Music (piano playing, singing, songwriting)
Avoidance of conflict
Abundance/money is “bad.”
Abundance/money is success.
Reverence for Nature
Quaker meeting
Atheism
Soft spoken parents
Mental health issues
Divorce

I’m sure there’s more, but making this list will help bring you back to your roots and who you are and how you feel about the influences of your upbringing.

End of Part I.

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