I am excited about an upcoming road trip to visit the rural homesteads of my grandparents in the late 19th Century. I plan to visit museums, comb through resources in the local libraries and take detailed notes of the old surviving buildings and the surrounding countryside. I want to immerse myself in their lives, imagine them settling in small isolated communities in Oklahoma and New Mexico and envision my grandmother traveling by wagon with her five children from New Mexico to Nebraska after my grandfather died. What was it like to be a widow crippled by rheumatoid arthritis, without a pension, social security or any means of support with five children to raise? From where did she draw her courage, her strength and her sense of humor?
I have mentioned my writing in prior blogs. I have written and published professionally but I have never done creative writing. Some years ago when I reached a retirement age and took early retirement from a corporate position, I dreamed about writing the story of my grandparents. But the financial planning for my “retirement”, defined for me as that time when I no longer earned an income, required that I continue working and saving for the future. So I didn’t just retire, I established my consulting practice, Bev Scott Consulting, and then added another practice, The 3rd Act.
I have often denied that I am retired and in our discussions about The 3rd Act, I am clear that I have been in my third act since I left my corporate position. Why? Because I deliberately chose to have more balance in my life, to take only that work that engaged and challenged me and to have more time with friends and family. I designed a third act for me that offered me income and rewarding work with time to pursue other pleasures. However, I was not able to carve out the time or create the committed motivation to launch a major project which would require new learning and new skills.
Earlier this year, I felt the call to begin the journey to write the historical novel based on the lives of my grandparents. It is a major project requiring genealogy research, attending workshops to learn about writing fiction, reading history about the West, studying the writing style and structure of other successful historical fiction writers and taking the beginning steps of writing stories about the lives of my grandmother, grandfather and the life of his first wife. I have joined a writing group and continue to learn so much from our discussions as well as their feedback and encouragement.
I have created the time for this project and I am now highly motivated and engaged. It is truly a case of being in “the flow” , the balance of the competence with the challenge of new learning as Csikszentmihalyi writes in his book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience”. Also see his TED talk: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on flow . Such a flow state is wonderful for the second scene of my third act when activities related to my professional career no longer engage me with passion and enthusiasm and yet I want to continue to make a contribution and to do something meaningful.
My grandmother has given me inspiration from her courage and strength as well as her sense of humor, as I have begun my own journey in this new creative endeavor. So in a few days, I set off on another part of the journey to learn more about my grandparents lives, the challenges they faced and met and imagine how the country and historical time in which they lived influenced and shaped their actions. The spirit of my grandmother will go with me.
Do you have a story to tell? Or a project you have been putting off? I would love to hear about it.