Defining Greatness… A Look Back At 40

This piece was originally written in 2013 and just sat on my computer unread by anyone. A lot has changed for me since then, no doubt, but the key points about change and the definition of greatness are still very much relevant.
At age 29, I was a married, new mother staying at home on extended maternity leave. At the time, I had this idea for a television show geared toward both mothers and children and was half-heartedly pitching it to different people and networks.
My friend, Christine, and I had gone shopping one afternoon when our conversation turned to my current endeavors. Feeling exasperated with the process, I turned to Christine and said, “I just feel like I’m destined for greatness. Don’t you ever just feel like there is something more out there for you?”
She turned to me and quite plainly said, “Doesn’t that really depend on how you define ‘greatness’?”
And just yesterday, it hit me like a ton of bricks — Christine was right. My definition was all wrong.
I was looking for greatness in what I thought was missing, and not in what I already had. This is what I already have:
  • I am 40.
  • I am a single.
  • I am the mother of two boys (and two cats).
  • I hold a full-time job.
But these are my new definitions:
  • I achieved greatness at 40 (and expect it to only get greater).
  • I am happily single, but open to the possibility of love.
  • I am doing a bang-up job of being a single mother of two GREAT boys (and two cats).
  • I am successful and well-respected in what I do for work and love doing it.
So yeah, I feel good. But it took me a while to get here… Forty years, three months and 16 days, to be exact.
I haven’t sat down to write in years – YEARS – so that’s saying something right there.
I’m writing about this now, not just to share with others that it’s possible to achieve greatness just by recognizing that you may already be there but to remind myself of the same.
Because I know that one day (and hopefully not soon) I may begin to feel suffocated by the little details again.
So how did I get here?
Truth is, I don’t know. It’s been a series of events since my 40th birthday actually.
  • Birthday party, love of friends and family
  • Countless dates and boyfriends
  • Kids opening up about issues
  • Memorial Day BBQsBig changes at work
  • Feeling of family when family isn’t around
But where have I been?
  • Low self esteem, self-doubt
  • Tragedy
  • Divorce
Back when my marriage started to go south, I started to write about it, the way I’m writing about this now. I tried to explain away the problems my husband and I were having, largely blaming the issues on being married to someone who worked a midnight shift.
I called it, “Married to the Shift.”
Well, several years and countless computers later, that unfinished masterpiece is now gone. I’m happy about that. Because even as I think about it now, it made a lot of excuses where there shouldn’t have been.
And what I realized was that “married to the shift” was really about being married to life and the constant changes that it brings.
So yes, my marriage to the shift did indeed start with a certificate, but not the one I thought.
It started with my birth certificate.

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