The “third chapter” is something I speak about often in my health and wellness practice, and that is inspired by MY journey into my own new chapter in life. People generally question the phrase, but upon learning the meaning, are often left feeling enlightened and refreshed. So, today, I’m going to explain the “third chapter” in much detail, in effort to get you thinking about where YOUR life is headed!
In my mind, and in my practice, the third chapter is a chapter of life that is focused on YOU. Chapter one was our childhood and formative years of growing and schooling, and starting our path in life. Chapter two, for many, is the years we spend focused on others, whether it be family, marriage, career, relationships, community, or other outside forces that require our time, effort, and focus. Chapter 3…well, Chapter 3 begins that moment we realize that “self” deserves the same amount of time, energy, effort, and focus that we have given to others-it’s time for “ME”.
This can happen at different times for different people, of course. For some, it may be when they become empty nesters, for others, it may be when they shift from being an employee to a business owner, or even retirement. It may happen after a divorce, or when you send you children to full time school or college, or it may simply happen when you have a the deep realization that you have to reclaim “who you are”. Our time is often filled with schedules, calendars, projects, and people that need or demand our full attention, and after years, even decades of this, realizing that YOU deserve and need to give that same attention to YOU, is a changing moment.
For me, it happened in early 2020. While the world around me became quiet in pandemic, I “locked” myself down at our beach vacation home for what I believed would be a few weeks. After a few weeks of binging all the TV I’d missed in the 25 years of raising 4 kids, I turned off the TV and allowed myself to sit in silence. I walked the waterways, sat on my porch and listened to the waves, and realized-I had not had a silent mind in decades. I spent my childhood in chaos and dysfunction, my 20’s healing from the result of that-while pursuing college, work, and adulthood. My 30’s were spent becoming a mom, dealing with a failed marriage, and endless homeschooling, activities, and all that goes with raising children. I entered my 40’s as a single mom, working, educating my soon to be teenagers, literally waking up each day to check off a long list of to do’s before falling into bed, exhausted at 3am. A decade of my life flew by in a flurry of football games, soccer practices, laundry, meal planning, and even completing a degree and remarrying, and then, one by one, I graduated my children from a lifetime of home education.
Friends congratulated me as I posted pictures of each child, in purple cap and gown, smiling in my front yard as I handed them their diploma, and then proclaimed, “This has been your life!! What WILL you do now???”
At first, I was unsure. I traveled the country a bit, calling it the “ultimate fieldtrip” as I invited my now adult children to Dallas, Memphis, New Orleans, and Atlanta. My youngest son and I road tripped to games and stadiums all over, as I visited places and people from my past. I went back to school and became a certified health and wellness coach, I started a business, I helped make the dream of owning a beach house a reality, and I relaxed-or so I thought.
It was in that beach house, in April of 2020, that having a quiet mind for perhaps the first time EVER, led me to realize-this is MY time. The question was, what would I do for MYSELF?
As a certified coach, with a degree in nutrition and wellness, I knew that very first thing I needed to do was make sure I was as healthy as possible-that, after all, is the foundation for a happy and healthy life! I had suffered from terrible symptoms of leaky gut that had left me undiagnosed and ill for several years. I also had spent some time self-medicating myself with crappy food and wine as lockdowns took over the country, and it had me feeling and looking not so great. I set out to get my health in check, clean up my diet (again!), and cure, finally, my gut issues. Within a few weeks, I felt like a new person! My energy was high, my skin was clear, and I’d dropped some extra pounds. I was walking miles and miles each day, began doing yoga and Pilates, and set new Fitbit goals.
As my energy grew, and my head became clearer, I started to think about things I could do to keep myself occupied, on my island, during pandemic, mostly alone. Within a few weeks, I had rediscovered journaling, reading books that were not texts(!), and even filled my house with art supplies-a talent and hobby I had left long forgotten in my youth. My days belonged to ME; my schedule was MINE, for the first time in a very long time. I was finally taking care of ME. I did the things that were important to me, the things that brought me joy, and the things I had abandoned to take care of everyone else. It was a period of incredible growth, and incredible peace. As family started to join me more often at the beach, they found a new person awaited them; A person who was full of energy, completely at peace, very calm, and very active and engaged in life. I was able to focus more on them and be completely in the moment, because I had grounded myself, made myself important, and had so much more focus, energy and clarity. This, THIS, was the beginning of my chapter three!
As I began to talk to friends, clients, and online followers about this “new chapter” theory, I heard so many stories about the things other’s had “lost” or “forgotten” as they navigated the second chapter of their lives. People had stopped reading for fun, they had given up hobbies, dropped sports and activities, even lost connections with friends because they were just SO busy with all of the responsibilities and schedules in their lives. Many asked, “Where do I start?”
To that, I respond-you have to quiet the mind for just a bit, and listen to your self. I often suggest meditating, or even journaling, to those that enjoy writing, or even making lists of things that they use to enjoy, things they loved to do, things they took part in, but had now gathered dust. One friend journaled a bit and realized that she needed to make a huge move in her life. Another journaled and soon decided to switch careers, giving her more time for activities she wanted to do. One client proclaimed loudly in our third session, “You know what????? Talking care of myself is NOT selfish!!! I know that now!” She planned a personal weekend “recharging” getaway for her self to gain clarity on the idea. Some found the answer in a new exercise program. Several contacted me for advice and guidance on cleaning up their diets to gain more energy. All of them found something new (or forgotten) to bringing them almost instant joy.
This third chapter is not selfish, it is not removing yourself from those that need you-it is simply about making YOUR SELF as important. You deserve to give your self the same love and attention that you’ve been giving everyone, and everything, else. And when you do that-you will also find that your calmer mind, and higher energy levels allow you to be there-not only for your self, but for others.
My third chapter is just beginning. After years of lugging snacks to kids sporting events, and cheering them on from the stands, I am now the athlete on the bike trails, on my kayak on the Intracoastal Waterways, and doing yoga on my back deck. Instead of dropping kids at practices and art classes, it’s ME signed up for Pilates class, and the art supplies are mine! (And very organized, I might add!) I have reclaimed my life, and the joy I have found is simply spreading to everyone around me. The calm and peace I have discovered has enveloped my entire family, and expanded to many of my friends. And, I have taken that joy, that clarity, and all of my education and skills, and placed them into a business that, hopefully, will inspire other to do the same.
If you are inspired to explore your “third chapter”, I’d love to talk to you! Whether it’s getting your health in order, cleaning up your diet, reducing the stress, or finding clarity as to “what’s next”, I’m excited to speak with you!
If you are curious about journaling to find out more about yourself: your dreams, finding clarity, rediscovering “you”, and building healthy life changing habits, Please drop me an email to get updated on my new journal program being released soon! As always-I do not use emails for spam-I only send a few each year when something really awesome is happening!