When my mom turned 40, she was delighted to find herself pregnant with the second child she always wanted. She knew this meant a big change in her life, and so she decided to embrace it. She went back to graduate school while my sister was a baby and toddler, and after a few years had her PhD. She went on to teach social work to college students for the next 25 years, eventually becoming the head of her department before retiring a few years ago.
I’ll be 40 next year, and it seems as though my life is heading down a new track, too. During my twenties, I pursued several careers that didn’t quite fit. During my thirties, I stayed home with my kids. Now my kids are all in elementary school, and I’m ready to focus on me again. This time I’m all in.
When I started this blog four years ago, I had a lot to learn and I knew it. I wondered, too, whether I could learn what I needed to—I was afraid that maybe I just didn’t have what it takes.
Now, a lot feels different. I just counted, and in the last three months I’ve written 37 posts. In the four years before that I wrote 64.
Some switch seems to have been flipped at the beginning of this summer. One big part of it has to do with my schedule: my kids are bigger now. This is huge. It’s really hard to get much done when your free time is doled out in 10 minute increments.
But there’s been another change as well, a more gradual one that has to do with my confidence. Those 101 posts have helped me feel more comfortable putting myself out there (that squirmy vulnerable feeling, hitting publish and then covering my head with my arms). I think my writing’s improved, too; at the very least I delete a lot more now, which has to mean something.
So what comes next? This is the question that has been on my mind so much lately. I’m trying to push forward even though I don’t really know what the future holds, or even what my firm goals are. Here are the two strongest ideas now:
Books: Some of the features I’ve added to my blog might one day make interesting books, which I could publish myself. (Doesn’t Beneath the Trees Press have a nice ring to it?) In particular I’m thinking of the love your home, love your life, love yourself feature. But a book of dessert recipes would be fun, too. I haven’t given up on my fiction book, but I also haven’t worked on it since 2012, when I sort of hit a wall of suckiness. I want to come back to it again someday; maybe I just need more confidence.
Products: Some of you know I was one of the owners of a small handbag company some years ago. That experience taught me a lot, and I’ve never really lost my desire to make beautiful things. When I started that company, I didn’t think of myself as a creative person. This time around, though, I’m excited to be the designer.
I have been doing a lot of thinking about what sorts of things I would create. On one hand, our world already has an excess of things. But I also know that objects can hold an emotional value beyond pure function, whether it’s because they are tied to a memory, arouse a sensation, or just bring a smile. I would only want to create things that could really be special to someone—when you think about your home and your belongings, the items you truly treasure, the stuff you would really miss.
The first product I’m working on is a series of tiny paintings. I cut the wood myself the other day! My dad taught me. I should have taken a picture of myself in the safety goggles and headphone-looking things. Next time!
I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to sell these paintings—Etsy? an e-commerce site? a fair before the holidays? I am excited to get started though, and to make something from start to finish. These little paintings have been in my head for so long now, it will be so rewarding to see them out in the real world.
I have a lot of work to do, but even that is a wonderful feeling, in a strange way. I’ve clocked so many boring hours in my life, doing something I didn’t really want to do for someone else, that to be here, to be doing this, pursuing my dreams, well, as cheesy as it sounds, it’s a dream come true.
(One last thing. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, but THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading this blog! If you happened to watch that clip of Ira Glass last week, you heard him say how helpful it is to have others waiting for your work, holding you accountable. That’s what you have done for me the last four years, as well as talking to me about my writing and continuing the conversation through emails, comments, and in-person chats, and it has really meant the world to me. THANK YOU!!!)
© Amy Daniewicz