I struggled for many years, chastising myself for not knowing “my passion” in life. I married somewhat young, at twenty-three. I had children right away; two fabulous daughters. The locus of my own life resided in all aspects of artistic creativity from an early age —music, theatre, writing, art. So when I married and had the privilege of staying home and raising my daughters, I didn’t give it a second thought.
And yet there was always a gnawing sense of anxiety within me; a sense that I wasn’t living my optimal creative life. Or that I simply wasn’t fulfilling what I was “meant to do,” whatever that really means. I went back to school and got a Masters and a Doctorate in Theatre when the kids were young, juggling the roles of mom and student rather expertly. Studying and preparing while the kids were in pre-school and setting schoolwork aside when they were home. I opted to write academic articles rather than perform in or direct plays, so I could have control over my time and be home in the evenings.
So I had two distinct channels of creativity during this time in my life. Intellectual creativity demanded by pursuing a graduate degree and hands-on creativity my children provided for me.
Our family was a bundle of creativity and I forged into activities with my daughters with gusto and intensity. We were avid book readers and every birthday party was designed around a favorite book character. Arthur the Aardvark, Francis the Badger, Baby Blue Cat, Frog and Toad. Or Peanuts. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
We devised games, drew posters, did face-painting, made crowns and jewelry. The parties comprised of themed treasure hunts with rhyming clues on strips of paper, Puppet Shows from a refrigerator-box stage, homemade piñatas made with glue-soaked strips of newspaper and coated with paint —so that the kids could actually crack it open without a parent needing to employ a chain saw. And bubbles. Always bubbles.
Homemade cakes matching the theme, with gum-drops, licorice, and other sweet decorative morsels.
Gift giving for the Birthday Girl became a game itself, where the children would sit in a circle with their gift in their laps and a soda bottle wrapped with birthday gift paper in the middle of the circle. The Birthday Girl took the first spin. Whomever the bottle pointed to got to give their gift. Everyone got to watch the unveiling of the present and then the gift-giver got to spin the bottle for the next one. As we all know, giving your gift and getting acknowledgment for it is a gift to the giver.
Now—a divorce and years in between—I have been brave for my own creativity and the creativity of my daughters in profoundly different ways. The eldest is married to her female partner and thriving after her wedding, getting a great new professional job, and buying her first home. The younger graduates from Business School after this final semester and is examining the options she sees spread before her.
I’ve created a profoundly different life for myself, with my own sense of creativity leading my way. This time I’m using it to forge a path for myself. I know, though, that delving into a creative life—however one defines it for themselves—has been a key in my life and in the lives of my children. Even though I spent years flogging myself for not having clarity about my passion in life, it’s infinity clear to me now: My passion at that time in my life was raising my children full-throttle, offering them a stable and supportive childhood.
We —all of us —come back to that foundation set early on over and over again during our lives. We rely on the expansiveness we feel when we’re supporting growth, listening, and creatively intuiting how to best value and support our children’s strengths and talents.
And when the time is right, we can offer the same to ourselves.
Former real estate agent turned life strategist, Felicia Bender Ph.D., facilitates her Redesign Your Life process with individual clients and groups. She is a vivacious speaker who gives seminars and teaches workshops and webinars to people interested in learning simple tools for designing their wildly optimal life. She holds a coaching certificate from Sue Frederick’s “I See Your Dream Job” Coaching System and bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Felicia is no stranger to remodeling a life. She spent many years as a wife and mother before she redesigned her life by earning a Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She’s a certified Pranic Healing practitioner and formerly worked with individual clients with this complimentary care modality. Subsequently, she redesigned her life once again, and began another segment of her career as a commercial and investment real estate agent. Her professional experience includes teaching at the University of Missouri-Columbia, facilitating energetic healing with individuals, directing and acting on stage and in films, and selling multimillion-dollar real estate investment property.
In addition to being a certified coach, Felicia is involved in the development of a new frozen food product, Snack Adventures, will hit the market in March 2012. She currently resides in Boulder, Colorado.