Monday, August 06, 2007

What do I have to show for my 47 years?

I'm 47. Many times this past year I've felt the tugs of age. This year, I've come to realize that there are not as many years in store ahead of me as there are now behind me. I've had cause to reflect over my lifetime of goals and desires, to assess how I've done, what I've accomplished.

When I dream big, there are three things I keep returning to.

I want to be a writer. Not just any writer—I want to write novels. I've wanted to be a writer since I was 11, when my friends and I wrote stories during recess. Since that time, I have had ideas for at least 50 books (mostly YA) that I think would be great. I have outlines for about 20 of them in my drawer. I've written a few pages, even a couple of scenes, for some. But mostly, they sit in my drawer, waiting.

When I can't sleep, I design businesses. I have a dream to someday own a huge conglomerate of interconnected companies and to hire people I know and trust for a decent wage; to hire single or divorced mothers and pay them a salary they could actually live on; to fund ideas and projects and other businesses for people who have great ideas, but no financing. I have business plans and flow charts and job descriptions and mission statements for over a dozen different companies—all committed to making a difference in the world and blessing the lives of as many people as possible. Those business plans sit in my drawer beside my unwritten novels.

I also design houses. I don't want to own my house, I want a house of my own. One that is ergonomically designed to fit my lifestyle and my personality. One with enough space inside to breathe and create, and a yard filled with beautiful growing things that soothe my soul. I have as many house plans as I have business plans. They, too, sit in my drawer. Waiting.

Sometimes I look at my life of unfulfilled dreams and my drawer of unrealized plans, and I wonder what happened. Why haven't I accomplished any of these dreams that fill my heart nearly to bursting with desire? Why are they still as far from my reach as they were the day they first began to sprout in my mind? Where have my 47 years gone?

I was feeling the melancholy of these thoughts at church yesterday as I was reviewing the notes in my steno pad instead of listening to the lesson. I flipped though the 10 pages of new ideas, the six business plans, the two house plans and the book idea that had consumed my Saturday. All good. All solid. All possible. And yet, I couldn't help but wonder if I would ever actualize those plans, or if they'd end up in the drawer with all the others.

Again, I asked myself, where have my 47 years gone?

As I pondered that question, the teacher of the class recited this poetic stanza by Anne Campbell:
You are the trip I did not take;
You are the pearls I cannot buy;
You are my blue Italian lake;
You are my piece of foreign sky.

("To My Child," quoted in Charles L. Wallis, ed., The Treasure Chest [1965], 54.)

That is what I did instead.

I raised my children. And I can say to them with a perfectly congruent and peaceful heart:
You are the book I did not write;
You are the business I did not start;
You are my home that's filled with love;
You are the peace within my heart.

It wasn't quite fair, trading in my hopes and dreams for my four children. No, not fair at all.

I ended up with the much better end of the deal.


Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

Karlene, your blog today is really beautiful. Please remember that there are seasons in our lives. There is a season to be a child. There is a season to be a teenager and young adult. There is a season to be a wife and mother. But never forget, there is also a season to pursue your dreams. It is NEVER too late. I can promise you that. I published my first book at 40 and see nothing ahead but hard word and success. Will it be easy? Heavens no, but it will be worth it.

Hang in there. Pull out those manuscripts, dust them off and update them. Do the same with everything else.

Karlene, you and I are so much alike it is scary. Business plans and all.

Sandra said...

Did you see the news report about the lady in Australia that just got her masters degree? She is 94! It's not too late. Especially now that your most important work is at it's next stage.

Anonymous said...

i'm work, i look really silly but i love you mom!

xoxox mel

Stephanie said...

Beautiful thoughts Karlene. I feel the same way.

G. Parker said...

Get the feeling we all feel that way? Good blog. I had to you realize we are the same age? My bday is in October, and I'll be 47... what a number.

Jen said...

I agree about seasons...there was a wonderful conference talk about not needing to sing every verse of our life's song at once.

I have so many good friends who went back to school after their kids were nearly done (or done) with HS, and they are doing so much good in the "outside" world in addition to the work they've done in blessing their own families.

And, having postponed the dreams a bit, you will be ready to pursue them with a different maturity than if you'd gone all for it at age 19 or 20.

I think you will get there yet!

Tristi Pinkston said...

I just have to ditto what everyone else has said. We have to take things in our lives one at a time. You've put your children first, and as evidenced in the comment above, that was definitely the right choice. And 47 is not old! It's so way not old. You've got so many wonderful, fabulous years ahead of you, and your children will be right there with you to cheer on your success.

Kenna said...

Steve just asked why I sniffed (he's sometimes way too observant... I know I shouldn't complain about that) so I read this out loud to him and couldn't even get the words out. I love you and thank you. Because you are such an amazing woman, AND because I am one of the books you never wrote, I have never for one second of my life doubted your love for me.

Celine Dion's "Come To Me" always reminds me of you:

"And those seven seas you sail, and the winding road you roam... let my heart be your beacon home"

You've always been my beacon home AND, 50 is the new 30.

megan said...


So right after I got done reading this Sis. Hodson called and I had to lie and tell her that my allergies were acting up.

Sniffle, sniffle.

I love you Mommy! I can't find words that will be able to even come close to tell you how much. Thank you for everything!

Much love.


P.S. You're my beacon home too. (:

G. Parker said...

Much deeper thoughts than I had at 47. I'm looking at 50 in two months, and it's kind of scary. What have I done? Not much. I've had 7 children and managed to not kill them, so I guess that's
thanks for the thoughts. I am a little bit like you...I think of businesses that would benefit the LDS people and those seeking work. Remember my bookstore idea? sigh. Have a good one!!