I’m thrilled to welcome Patricia Mann, author of Is This All There Is and the newly released sequel, Is This What I Want? to close out the Age is Just a Number series. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did!
I recently discovered that not only is Patricia a fellow author with Booktrope and a friend of mine, she’s a sorority sister! Yes, we’re both sisters of Alpha Xi Delta. I enjoyed Patricia’s insightful post about learning to chase happiness instead of goals.
Turning forty-six last month left me wondering if it’s finally time to stop chasing the next big high. I’ve done so much, but none of it brought the kind of happiness or sense of fulfillment I anticipated. That’s okay, because I learned unexpected lessons and am now working to find pleasure in the little things that I once saw as too ordinary or boring.
At twenty-four, I had a master’s degree on the wall, a shiny new wedding ring on my finger, and two years of teaching at a university under my belt. I felt ready to take on the world. My long list of goals to accomplish before turning thirty included buying a house, launching a consulting career, and having my first child.
In case this seems like bragging, let me share a tiny bit of backstory. I was a troubled child and teen. I did not do well in school and did all sorts of unsavory things. My Type A personality disorder didn’t surface until I was almost twenty. Extremes have always been my strong suit.
I reached every goal I set out to achieve by the time I turned thirty, yet the night of my thirtieth birthday I found myself in a deep depression. Is This All There Is? I wondered. I have so much, I should be beside myself with bliss, I thought. But I wasn’t. So, like my son’s hamster, who runs around and around her little wheel, appearing to expect some grand treat to magically appear if she just keeps going, I decided to set new goals. In the next decade, I ran a marathon, had a second child, continued to teach while also starting my own consulting business, and began working on my first novel. Not surprisingly, the title of that novel would ultimately become Is This All There Is?.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew I was blessed to have a loving husband, wonderful kids, and a rewarding career. I tried not to take them for granted. But I always felt this gnawing pressure to do more, to take things up a notch. Looking back, I wish I had allowed for more time to stop and fully enjoy everything in my life. Like a true addict, each accomplishment immediately resulted in the need to go after something new, searching for that greater high. At forty-six, I think it’s time to break the cycle.
On my husband’s last birthday, his forty-fourth, I gave him a card with a simple message on the front in large, colorful letters. He put it in a spot where we’re both guaranteed to see it every day. I can now admit that the card was for both of us, maybe even more me than him. It reads: Do more of what makes you happy.
Wow. At forty-six, I’m forced to realize that I kind of had it wrong. Maybe it’s time to stop doing all the things I think I’m supposed to do. Maybe my need to over-achieve and impress people was actually fueled by a misguided desire to heal the shame of my shiftless youth. None of it worked. The recipe didn’t quite turn out right. Yet, I’m left with all the ingredients for a truly fulfilling life. Really high-quality ingredients, in fact. All I need is a new recipe.
I think I’ve done a pretty good job of meeting everyone else’s needs. Now I want to start honestly looking at how to better meet my own needs.
I have no big goals to achieve by the time I turn fifty. I mainly want to do more of what makes me happy. Having romantic dinners and laughing with my husband makes me really happy. Spending as much time as possible with my kids, listening to them talk about how they navigate the challenging teen years, playing games with them and watching funny shows together is pure joy for me. Cuddling and playing with our dogs is heaven. Work still makes me happy too, but I need to stop trying to prove myself and settle into feeling confident about what I have to offer. Having fun with friends makes me so happy. I need more time with my friends. Going to lunch with my mom is one of my favorite things to do. I’m often too busy and put it off for long periods. No more. Running with my dad is our special time together and it means the world to me. He would drop everything to go more often, all I’d have to do is ask.
Last but certainly not least, there is writing. I always wanted to write but didn’t find the courage to do it until later in life. If I am truly going to do more of what makes me happy, making more time to write is probably the biggest step I need to take. Not because of a deadline and not because I’m naïve enough to think it’s likely to result in money or fame, but because it makes me so, so, so very happy.
I suppose it’s up to me to keep adding to my list of what makes me happy on my own time, rather than making this post way too long. So I promise I will. I want you to promise me that you will too. Whatever age you are, it’s time for you to do this now. Say it out loud with me, okay? “I will do more of what makes me happy.”
My website: http://www.patriciamann.me
Facebook friend page: https://www.facebook.com/patricia.mann.969
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Patricia-Mann/325125214262516
Is This All There Is?
Is This What I Want?
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/is-this-what-i-want-patricia-mann/1120586709?ean=9781620155806 Author Bio: Patricia Mann is a university professor and consultant. She lives in California with her husband, their two kids, and two sweet, silly dogs.
How Do You Know (December 2nd)
What if you were approaching the end of your thirties and all of the life milestones you took for granted in your youth suddenly seemed out of reach? On the eve of her thirty-ninth birthday, Maggie Piper doesn’t look, act, or feel much different than she did at twenty-nine, but with her fortieth birthday speeding toward her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary “break” from her live-in boyfriend results in a “break-up,” Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn’t always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.