Epiphanies, Miracles, and Other Such Nonsense

One might ask (as I am sure many did) just what I was thinking when I quit my job mid-pandemic, decimated my life savings on a trip to far north Queensland via Darwin, arrived home three months later and promptly enrolled at Deakin University. Surely signing up to a lifetime of debt would be the last thing on my mind at 47 and unemployed. If that weren’t enough, I lost my rental and couldn’t afford another (thank you pandemic), and I am now living in my elderly mother’s spare room. In hindsight, I wasn’t.

I wasn’t thinking at all. 

I called it my ‘Begin Again’ tour (complete with Begin Again tattoo); my youngest daughter called it a mid-life crisis. My eldest offered to help in any way she could and my middle child … well, she’s the middle child. If you have more than two kids, you will understand. My non-thinking mid-life crisis, however, cannot be attributed to a brain-snap of stress and frustration. Nor was it the result of having nothing better to do with my life and a desperate reach for anything at all to fill the void. It wasn’t a rash deflective decision, like maxing out your credit card whilst your life is spiralling out of control. Neither was it a critically assessed life plan devised to enhance my career. It was—or rather I was—acting on a message from the universe.

Now, I know what you might be thinking, please don’t roll your eyes. Would it help if I used the word epiphany? The word epiphany rather than ‘the universe’ has certainly made my daughters more comfortable with some of my more recent life choices. Possibly because they are too young to know what one might entail, but that’s beside the point. Even my youngest daughter has recognised that university could be a helpful solution to my mid-life crisis. I duly thanked her for her contribution to my wellbeing and assured her, she was wrong. There was no crisis. 

If it makes any difference at all to my credibility, or lack thereof, it was my second major epiphany in six months. 

My first epiphany happened twelve months ago whilst I was managing a newly established medical clinic through a pandemic. I was designated an ‘essential worker’. This meant that as a single parent, I was able to hold onto my rental and not end up in a shelter. I didn’t have to live in my car or sleep on someone’s floor. I wasn’t trying to scrape together enough money for a storage unit like the exorbitant number of women in my age bracket experiencing our current homeless pandemic.

I was lucky.

Given that I was an essential worker, my mindset needed adjusting to cope. There was no room for fear. I had to show up. Put up. Shut up and be the last one standing on most days. My role became largely about managing the fear in others as I was the only employee with grown children and therefore not required to homeschool. I was relied upon to support the GP, the patients, their concerned family and friends, my colleagues and the sudden and exhaustive list of patients and employees needing access to mental health services. 

I also had three daughters and three out of my four sisters experiencing COVID under far more distressing circumstances than I, and I found myself rotating phone calls between all six. So, what does one do when besieged by fear and confusion? To listen was all I could offer long distance and so, I meditated. I meditated, and I meditated some more and as a result, what got me through supporting my tribe on the rollercoaster of COVID, was my state of mind. Instead of crumpling under the weight of juggling ever increasing balls of lead, they dissipated into the thin air of incense burning.  

Until one long weekend in June 2021 the universe told me to, LEAVE. It wasn’t an, ‘I think you should leave’ experience, or a flippant, ‘just leave, grab a holiday’ feeling. It was a serious, full-bodied Tempranillo-imported-from-Spain succour that permeated every cell in my body epiphany. 

LEAVE!

So, I quit my job on the Monday, waited for the borders to open, and booked a flight to see my daughter in Queensland. Because of COVID, I had to go via Darwin. Leaving, like enrolling at Deakin, wasn’t a conscious decision that needed making. I was simply acting on what my subconscious or the universe was directing me to do at the time. The reasons will become clearer (I’m sure) as I continue to place my trust in something larger than me.

Which, on reflection (apologies as I digress) brings me to Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. As much as I enjoyed her journey for the escapism, I always thought that story was a bit of a ‘wank’. Why? Because, who gets to do that? In what universe does someone get to throw caution to the wind when a relationship breaks down, and eat, prey, love themselves around the world? Because I can tell you, when my relationship finished, my focus was on managing three little girls—one with an illness—and a mortgage. I was too damn busy trying to drag my exhausted, sad, sack-of-shit self out of the foetal position to slather vegemite on toast and attempt a shower. 

It has taken me until now to get it. I get that it’s all in the timing, and when the timing is right the universe delivers the messages and presents the opportunities. The timing was right for Elizabeth Gilbert, but it was also much more than that. It took courage to do what she did after what she had been through. Leaving takes courage. Turning your life upside down and starting over or on a new trajectory, not knowing how you are going to pay the rent, the car loan or any of those other things that keep us bound and living our lives in fear, takes tremendous courage. 

Which leads me to my second (in six months) epiphany—enrolling at Deakin. Having lived my life in the cycle of survival as a single parent for the last twenty years, the universe was reminding me of the dreams I’d once discarded. It was asking me to take a chance. It was reminding me that I had nothing to lose if I did. If you are still reading this, I can give you one more tip about courage. Trying to enrol in university at 47 was akin to learning how to read the Melway at sixteen (a paper version of Maps on your iPhone for my younger audience) and still not reaching your destination. That is, however, until the kind passer-by or police officer (who thinks you are stalking the neighbourhood you cannot find your way out of) points you in the right direction, and having arrived at your destination, you find an overly complicated maze to which a Melway or a helpful stranger cannot help. I believe Deakin University may refer to this maze as DeakinSync, and it is quite simply the equivalent of Alice in Wonderland falling down a succession of rabbit holes, without the aid of potions or a golden key.

If, however, you have completed both those tasks without touching a drop of alcohol or throwing your laptop against a wall—that, my friend, is courage. Sitting in my first class brought moments of elation that contained themselves to the perpetual smile on my face. I was doing something for me. Me. No other. The only person I had to show up for on Monday morning and every morning after that was myself. Following the call to action my epiphanies elicited was a reward for having the courage to break ‘survival cycle’ and begin life again on my terms. Believe me when I say from here, you can absolutely achieve anything and everything you put your curious mind and open heart to. If you should find the courage to surrender to the things you cannot control, you will most certainly experience your daily dose of ordinary miracles. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that thinking we can dictate our lives is an illusion. Managing the greatness and wonder of our lives to the best of our ability however, starts with listening to the universe or, if you prefer the word intuition, roll with that. What I am saying is, don’t overthink it. 

Embrace courage like a long-lost lover, take it by the hand, keep it by your side. Get the fuck out of your own way and just do it. 
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