I spent four days last week on the road at the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon. I have gone to this conference many times, but rarely have I come away feeling so inspired. The workshops I took, the connections I made, and the friends I spent time with all gave me new energy for my work. There were hundreds of us at the Doubletree Hotel. Many were parents or grandparents. Many were married. Many had jobs doing other things besides writing. But I didn’t see any of that. There were no family groups to make me feel left out. No kid-centric conversations. For those four days, we were all writers. Nobody felt left out or different; we all shared a passion for words and books, from the high school kid who writes about rock stars to the 80-year-old writing a murder mystery.
I can go to events like the conference because I don’t have anyone except my dog to take care of. A phone call brings my trusted dog-sitter, and I’m free to go. If I had children, it would be more difficult. Not impossible, but tricky. When my husband was ill, I had a hard time getting away even to run a few errands. What I’m saying is being on your own is not all bad.
Most parents wait until their kids are grown to follow their own dreams. A lot of people who want to write don’t start until retirement. But you and I can do it now. Whatever your passion is, dive into it. Following your passion for whatever interests you can take your mind off your lack of children, put you together with people who share that passion, and give you a new purpose for your life. I know many of you wanted to be parents and wrapped your lives around that dream, but sometimes we have to find a new dream. If it’s something you and your partner can share, all the better. My motorcycle-riding cousin and his wife come to mind.
Maybe you’re still trying to figure out whether or not you’ll have children. But why not find something you love to do while you’re figuring it out?
As you may know, I’ve been transitioning from my old Childless by Marriage blog site to this new one. The last few posts have been published at both www.childlessbymarriageblog.com and www.childlessbymarriage.blogspot.com. An unfortunate side-effect is that the comments I receive on one site do not appear on the other. I don’t know how to remedy this except to share the most interesting comments in my posts.
So, in response to last week’s Maybe It’s Time to Reassess, about finding things to be grateful for, Anonymous wrote:
I agree, we all should count our blessings. To get through a grief period this year, I started keeping a diary and forced myself to write down at least one thing per day, that I was grateful for. After 6 months, it really turned my attitude around. Now I can fill up a page of things I am grateful for, even though my career did not turn out as planned, and I did not have children. Here are a few things I’m grateful about today: 1) I slept the entire night without waking up or having hot flashes; 2)my husband’s hug before he left for work; 3) the weather is beautiful and cooler like we are entering Fall; 4) my sisters, my niece, and still having my mom in my life; 5) my boss took the day off and I can feel at peace at my job; and 6) my bunny is happy and excited every time he sees me. All this and it’s only 8:39 a.m. Can’t wait to see what else happens throughout the day that makes me feel blessed.
I am grateful for all of you.