Never would I have thought — never in my most unrealistic and off-the-chart dreams — that I would declare myself semi-retired at 49 years of age. Born and raised in the South, mere miles from New Orleans, my early years and socialization in a middle-class community demonstrated to me that the aged were the hardest of all the workers living within the community. They knew what it took to succeed. There was a formula for success. Education gets the job; the job gains you financial stability to become a consumer; you prosper while experiencing the daily grind of life...and then you die. And if you're blessed, you'll have done a job that changed the community for the better.
But this little girl turned interior designer, writer and future global traveler, and she turned a blind eye to such an ordered way to success. What the American Dream deemed as successful, my heart and soul failed to deliver. After a 10-year stint in the U.S. Air Force and another 15 years doing business as an interior designer in the residential construction field, my American Dream slowly evolved into my own personal vision.
At 49 years old, I've decided to go back to being foolish. And yes, I'm hungry — hungry to know more about our glorious world and foolish enough to use my God-given talents and skills to get the knowledge. Who knew that my teen years of reading historical fiction would still influence me? That the National Geographic magazines given to me by my father's co-worker would be the impetus for my insatiable curiosity about world cultures?Or that my jobs in the Air Force would solidify my interest in science, technology and global issues.
Here's a direct quote from Steve Job's Commencement speech at Stanford University: "Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards."
All that I have done and experienced in my life have prepared me for this moment in time. So, where do I go? What do I do now that I've grown up? Now that my eyes are older, wiser and fully open! My answer: travel and learn. During active duty in the military I've already visited England and France; Spain and Corsica; even Germany, but now it will be different. Today, when I visit the cathedrals and museums, I'll see more than the obvious. I'll understand the meanings, the symbolism and the mythology. While in Africa exploring the pyramids, I'll comprehend the technology and the religion of the Egyptians. And in Israel, I'll truly see the "center" of the world.
The Southern ways of gentility and community are uppermost and oh, so important to who I am, the very essence of me. And my plan for the years ahead? Simply put — to live well, stay healthy and explore the world community just as if I was still living in the South. With grace, joy and a welcoming smile. But eventually satisfying the hunger and curing the foolishness!