The Quest for a Valuable Life: Making Sense of Your Worth
“Work defines you. Then you have to define yourself.”
- My friend, Jeff - on what he learned during retirement
I'm standing here in a moment that I've imagined for years and years: truly free to choose what comes next. I want the next actions to be fulfilling, profound, forward-moving, not reruns of the past.
To shake things up this year, to get some new ideas flowing...
I stopped working.
I stopped the Empowered Women Circle.
I took a mini-retirement, even practiced saying the words “I’m retired” out loud, just to see what emotions, feelings, insights would arise.
I traveled to Colorado and surprised my dad for this 68th birthday.
I went DC, to the Cape, to Boston, to Munich, to France, to Sweden, to Berlin.
I hiked the Alps.
Ate croissants in Paris. (The only place worth eating a croissant.)
Took my basket to the markets.
Sucked sweet juices from peaches in Provence.
I bumped up against my edge.
Had two panic attacks.
Went on with my life.
Walked the streets of Prenzlauer Berg with my husband.
Sipped Ingwer and Pfefferminze tea in hundreds of cafes.
I sent my son care packages.
Bumped up against more edges.
And I wrote. ‘Cause I always write.
And I asked my Women’s Circle, ‘what makes me valuable?’
What is a valuable way to spend my time?
What don't I know about value?
What do I consider valuable that isn't, and vice versa?
What does valuable really mean?
How can I be valuable?
Now, I kept on butting my head against rote answers (dug from the past, younger versions of Elizabeth) such as…
Valuable means stroking and coddling, pitching, and selling, doing, grunting, fetching.
Valuable means making money, then more money, buying a house, then buying a bigger house.
Valuable means taking care of your parents, buying your friend’s meals and airplane tickets.
But, Danya, the wise woman that she is, shot right back with her own answer; the question to end all further questioning on the topic:
“Your expression is joy and love; you are a joy beam. Isn’t that enough?” she asked.
Yes, thank you Danya, I believe it is.
So after all that, I’m following a dream…a valuable, un-valuable dream: You see, ever since a family road trip in 1990 I’ve wanted to be a published novelist.
In 2016, it’s more challenging than ever to publish with a big traditional house. You must have a platform: a fan-base, proof that the work is commercially viable, blah, blah, blah.
With the Internet, as you know, it’s easier than ever to self-publish! Artists all over the world are creating for the passion, the joy, and the valuable, un-valuable self-fulfillment of birthing their art into the world.
To follow my un-valuable curiosities.
To write. ‘Cause I always write.
And to share! (Because sharing is a joy.)
…I’ve created my own “Barnes & Noble” right here at elizabethbartasius.com.
I’m currently working on completing a memoir novel about a granny, a mole, a monkey muse, an expired IUD,and a ‘strangled’ writer making the leap.
I can’t wait to share Elegant Out with you as it’s been ‘in the works’ for a few years, ever since that day in a New Orleans bath shop picking out rubber duckies for my BFF’s baby shower.
You and your friends can pre-register to get your FREE copy!
In the meantime, if you find yourself wondering what you are worth. I repeat Danya’s question:
Why do you have to be valuable?
And, I ask you…
What does your valuable un-valuable life look like?