A New Chapter of Your Life

Your life is a book. It’s your story. You write it every day.

Did you know that? Have you taken control of the author or narrator’s role to move your own character through their story arch?

Sometimes I forget that the things I do are the result of my own decisions. Sometimes I get angry or bored or frustrated with my life.

We all are responsible for checking into our story once in a while. How is it going? Are you following your outline? Have you made an outline at all? Or are you going with the flow – that too is a method of story creation. Going with the flow is a decision you made.

The biggest show of your personal power is in making the decision to let someone else take the reins of your story. Many people do this when they get married. They decide to follow their spouse or to do things that make their spouse happy. They decide to put off their own adventures for the benefit of the family unit, for example.

I stayed 8 years in a job I planned to have for 3. I forgot to make a new decision. Because of that, my story was controlled by others. I forgot I was the author.

I took my story back.

It was time for a new chapter. I increased my education, got a different job, and found a good spouse to share my life with.

Then, I took a break. I left my life on autopilot for a few years. Then I made a new decision. I traveled, I changed jobs again, I wrote poetry books and published them.

I get restless, then I get tired. So the plot of my story ebbs and flows. But I try to remember that I am the main character.

You are the main character in your story.

Sometimes, I feel trapped in the plot I’ve set for myself. “She was born into a family with troubles, raised herself from beneath their humbling words, grew into an intelligent, purposeful woman who learned to speak her mind. She grew older and began teaching others how they, too, had the power to take control of their lives.” It’s a good, basic plot.

I didn’t include a year of traveling the plains of Africa or learning to sail a boat or skydiving or learning how to build a car or mastering a chocolate soufflé. But perhaps that will all be in the rewrite. A chapter can always be added in somewhere. For now, those things have not happened and are not really planned.

But when I lived in “Chapter 1, The Shy Child”, I didn’t know I would one day learn I had issues like Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which would limit me in some ways. I didn’t know my high school friends would abandon me when I needed them most.

“Chapter 2, Smarter Than They Knew” was about me getting into college, and getting better grades than my father expected of me. It was followed quickly by “Chapter 3, Recovering From Rape” and “Chapter 4, Learning to Be Sober”.

By now, I’m pretty far into my book. Maybe we’ll call it, “Chapter 19, Midlife Crisis”. I don’t know what I’m doing. But I know I was in a chapter yesterday that I didn’t want to be in. So what can I do? Turn the page, pick up a pen, and start writing Chapter 20.

What is this chapter about? Is it about quitting the corporate world, selling my house, and wandering the world like Kung Fu? Is it about moving up the corporate ladder, making bank, and planning to retire early? Is it about traveling, or gardening, or opening a pet store?

I’ve had a lot of interesting chapters.

There was one about living in Arizona, and one about living in Vermont. There was one about an abusive husband that ended with me moving back in with my mom. There was even a chapter of kinky stuff, because every good story has some action!

But this chapter… what should it be? Right now, I think I’m in “The Unnumbered Chapter, The Search for a Plot.”

What about you? Are you in the begining of a new chapter, or at the end of one? Do you know what your next chapter will be about?

I once had a professor that made us write our own obituaries. It’s a good practice. I had forgotten about it until just now, actually. What do you want your obituary to say? Stand up at your imaginary funeral and say a few words about what you will have accomplished. What will your legacy be?

“She traveled. She learned something new every few years. She helped people. She …”

There are some things that I would like to have in there that no longer fit in my plotline. I wanted to me a limnologist – a person who studies still water, like ponds. I could do it now, if I wanted to. But … I don’t know that I am willing to get a whole new lab science masters degree. It’d be like suddenly deciding to become a doctor. Do I have that in me with my current brain and energy levels?

I wanted to be an investigative reporter, too. But frankly, I no longer have the drive. I’m not old, but I’m not young anymore either – and that is ok. I made choices about chapters 8-13 and I cant go back in time and change them. That part of my story is written. So what decisions are reasonable now?

What are you thinking about now? What choices are in front of you?

What will your next chapter be called?

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