Liz, 40 / be love live
What would your 30 something self tell your 20 something self if you could?
Well, let me start off by admitting that I am actually 40, so I’ve made it through my 20s and my 30s. And I am all the better for the amazing, beautiful journey that it has been! I’m going to try to do a little time traveling back to my 30 something year old brain, but just know that everything that I share from here on out is from a 40-year-old perspective. And, this 40-year-old perspective is oh so different from my 30-year-old perspective!
So many people are frightened of hitting the big 3-0. I was not one of them. However, I was freaked out, having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that I’d soon be leaving my 20s, unable to grasp the idea that I was going to be 30. A real adult, or so I thought. Still, I looked forward to turning 30. I was hoping that it would be “my decade”. And you know what? It totally was! (So far, at least!) In my 30s, I came into myself. I found the courage + strength to live life on my terms. I accepted and loved myself in ways that my 20 something self only dreamed of. I took the time to discover my own path, leaving the pressures and expectations of society behind.
I quit my stable job. Got divorced. Moved to Europe. And embarked on an incredibly freeing journey of learning to live an authentic life.
What do you wish you took more seriously in your 20’s?
Oh, how i wish I had taken my soul more seriously. I wish that I had listened to my intuition more and let the voices of others fall by the wayside. I have always been drawn to a life propelled and inspired by the inner world of our spirit. In my 20s, my heart and soul were all but screaming at me to just be true to myself, but I kept telling myself that my mystic, hermit ways made me a boring person. But, what I really wanted to do was simply enjoy the magic of being married to my husband, roaming the world together, living simply, having adventures, inspiring others through my words and pictures (not my husband’s dreams, mind you). I didn’t want a typical life – I craved something different. I craved the freedom of a gypsy soul.
But, I just couldn’t live like that. I was nowhere near secure enough to understand the seriousness of living life from your soul. I heard and felt the rumblings from within, but I just couldn’t set myself free quite yet.
What do you wish you took less seriously in your 20’s?
I wish that I had taken my expectations less seriously. I wanted to make everyone around me happy. I truly believed back then that, if everyone in my life was happy and content, then I would be. And, in some ways I was. Ignorance was bliss.
So, life in my 20s was a crazy balancing act. I felt the call to live life authentically, to be free to be me; and yet, I didn’t heed the call. Instead I felt self-induced pressure to be more “normal”. I went through roller-coaster periods of feeling blissfully happy with my marriage, my stable job, and my small town life. I even dreamed of starting a family. And then, after some time, the urge to wander + roam the world, the urge to pack it all up and become a desert hermit in order to give my soul the attention that it needed, took over. I teetered back and forth between these two extremes all throughout my 20s, certain that I had to choose one over the other.
Until I hit my 30s. And then, I began to truly listen. And I found, with lots of help from friends, mentors, counselors, and graduate professors, the courage to act. I didn’t have to choose between married life and a monastic, pilgrim’s life. I just had to choose my life.
Favorite memory from your 20’s?
I am going to answer this question stream-of-consciously because I cannot remember a specific memory. Or, rather, I can remember so many different moments.
All of the memories that are coming to mind have a few something in common: they involve travel. Like the time my ex-husband and I drove across the country in our silver Toyota Four Runner, sleeping in the back, exploring the vast, beautiful country from coast to coast. Standing in the Painted Desert, feeling connected to the entire Universe. Dipping my toes in the Pacific Ocean. Waking up on the Oregon coastline. Camping under the mountains in Glacier National Park. Photographing a buffalo in Yellowstone. Driving on two lane roads through barren, sky-filled South Dakota.
I am certain that this trip symbolized the freedom that I was so desperately seeking (not freedom from my life, but freedom from within).
Amazingly, I had the opportunity to make the coast to coast trip again about 5 years ago, when I was 35. This time, on my honeymoon with my Swedish wife. Wink.Wink.
In your early 20’s where did you think you would be (work, live etc) by 30?
In my early 20s, I thought that I would move to Europe and have a job that involved helping others. I desperately wanted to make a difference in the world – I knew that I was here to do that. And, I even more desperately wanted to live in Europe, perhaps even working as a retreat leader for people, while writing books and teaching classes. I could visit bakeries, walk everywhere, and travel the world. I ‘d live with the guy I’d met in Denmark as a young 21-year-old, and I was determined to find anything that would help me get to Denmark to live with him and share the European life that I had been dreaming of. I just knew that, even if it didn’t work out with him (and it didn’t), that I’d still find myself living somewhere different, working as a counselor/teacher/writer. Those were my dreams.
When that relationship ended, I saw my chance to move to Denmark fade away. But, I still felt passionate about travel and other cultures and making a difference. So, I thought I’d be a missionary. But, many people in my life didn’t think that was a safe/smart/good idea, so I decided to set all of those dreams aside and settle down – not at all what I dreamed that I would be doing at 30. But, exactly how I found myself living when I turned 30. Married. Stable job. Happy. Yet restless.
And where were you by 30? What did your life look like?
As I indicated in the previous question, my life was not the dreamy, romantic adventure I had hoped for. It was a good life, though. And, one that I now understand was necessary in order to do some more soul-searching.
At 30, I had been married for seven years to a good man. We lived in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina, in a beautiful cottage about 5 minutes from the church where I worked as a minister and counselor. I had followed through on my dream to work in a helping profession, and it was a job that allowed me to travel and explore, taking young people and other adults with me. It was beautiful, wonderful work – guiding and mentoring others on their own journey through life. Writing and teaching and sharing very special moments with others. I was honored to have this job that I loved.
Still, I wanted more. I yearned for more. I wanted to go to graduate school. And, perhaps, I wanted a family. And I still wanted to move to some place different to experience another way of life. But, I had no idea how to do any of those things. At 30 I was still dreaming, but not quite ready to let myself fulfill my own dreams.
Were you ever worried that it wouldn’t all fall into place?
Hell yes. Everything about my 20s felt panicky. Like I had to have “it” all figured out. Like there was some race I was running. Against who, I have no idea. I worked hard to make things happen, things that never did happen either because I got scared of following my heart when others didn’t agree or the stars just weren’t lined up right. But, I absolutely thought that things should be done when I thought they should be done. The 20s was a scary decade. A miscarriage, an unfaithful husband, and the inability to claim the life that I dreamed of made my dreams all feel impossible. So, perhaps the only thing I learned that I could control was deciding to help others – to put everyone else before me. I wanted to control. I was terrified of the unknown.
But, oh how I have learned to live differently in my 30s. I learned to love the unknown.
Life is a process that we create. We are active, and yet we just let it unfold. Most importantly, we must stay true to ourselves. Because, when we tap into our souls and live from them, then the life that unfolds before us may not look at all like what we planned, but is pretty much always way more beautiful + amazing than we ever could have imagined.
Yes, our days are numbered. And we are not guaranteed tomorrow. So, the best thing to do is to just be. To simply be present. Right here. Right now. To give it time. To stay true + open + aware. We are creating our own lives with every single moment. And, everything falls into place in its own time. We can’t understand or predict it, but we can trust and breathe and soak up the life that we live. And, in time, it all makes sense.
My 40-year-old self, tells my 20 something self to relax a bit. And my 40-year-old self tells my 30 something self to keep on discovering and listening and being.
What is the greatest gift about being a woman in your 30’s?
For me, the greatest gift of being in my 30s was claiming my life as my own. I learned to listen to my soul and to say “F*ck it!” to the expectations to be anything but who I truly am. And by learning to put being before doing, I found a deep level of inner peace that I had been searching for. From that peace, I took risks. I found courage. I changed my life.
I went to graduate school. I traveled to Europe again. I divorced my ex-husband. I quit my job. I sold my things. I took off to live in Denmark. I fell in love – with a woman. I re-married. I moved to Sweden. I left the church. I began writing. I found myself.
The greatest gift that I received in my 30s was freedom. The freedom to simply be me.
When you look out onto the horizon. What do you hope your life looks like at 40?
As you know by now, I have already crossed over this horizon; but I am a mere 40 something baby, since I just turned 40 a few months ago. I can say that, as a woman in my 30s, I did not have anything specific that I was aiming for by the time I turned 40. I was still coming into my own all the way up until then (and still am now). And I don’t make those kinds of plans anymore. I am much slower and much more in the present moment these days.
Not that I don’t have dreams and goals. Oh yes, I do. And they are out there on my 50 year old horizon. They inspire me and help to keep me aligned to my true self.
In my 40s, I hope to continue to evolve and transform. I hope to find even more peace. And I hope to begin to make a shift from learning (which I did in my thirties) to teaching and guiding. I want to continue to travel and write and photograph. I am currently writing my first book – a memoir that tells my story from my divorce to my 40th year. But my biggest, most practical goal hanging out there in the future is to shift all of this into a business. I’m not a business person at all, but I have to trust that things will unfold as time passes.
What’s a quote/ saying you try to live your life by?
My blog is titled “be|love|live” because these are the ways that I discovered how to live an authentic life in my 30s, how to be true to who I am and to make a difference in the world. So, I’ll leave you with my three of my favorite quotes:
BE: “At the center of your being, you have the answer. You know who you are and you know what you want.” – Lao Tau
LOVE: “You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” – Frederick Buechner
LIVE: “Following your bliss is not self-indulgent, but vital; your whole physical system knows that this is the way to be alive in this world and the way to give to the world the very best that you have to offer. There is a track just waiting for each of us and once on it, doors will open that were not open before and would not open for anyone else.” – Joseph Campbell
My 40-year-old self has learned a lot. And has a lot still to learn. Though I have advice for my 20 something + 30 something selves, I am thankful for how they have led me to exactly where I am right now. Do I wish I had known more back then? Maybe. But, maybe not. Because it’s all part of the beautiful journey of life.
And somewhere along the way I finally listened to my soul. I took one risk after another, afraid of losing it all at one time. But, I listened. And my soul sang for me. And here I am. Just me. There’s no use trying to be anything else. We all have been created to be exactly who we are, the challenge is to find the courage + the strength + the craziness to listen to that inner voice, telling us to just be…. well, us.
connect with the lovely Liz / blog / instagram: @belovelivephotography / facebook: Be Love Live