Since the issue with Mick was dead and buried I used the session to deal with my other issue; that you may have thought I had forgotten about, my mid- life crisis. During a session I ran through all my options for a change in career like a road runner.
“Well I want to buy homes and renovate them and then sell them at a profit, I want to write novels, own more than one business and just make heaps of money and live comfortably at home,” my rambling continued, “I want to quit working day by day, nine to five and have a quality lifestyle,” I kept rambling. Terry sat there looking and listening intently.
“Do you have any idea how many hours wealthy people work. I have clients who are wealthy and they all have mental health or other physical health issues and all need to take medication. I don’t recommend that lifestyle at all,” she said. “You talked once about studying cooking in Italy. Is that still on your agenda?” she asked.
How would you do it?”
“Well, I can take leave at half pay and that would extend to six months. My management would need to approve the leave, but I don’t think it will be an issue.”
“What would you do in Italy?” Terry asked, smiling broadly.
“There is a course in Umbria that I could do for two months, it’s for beginners,” I said. “The school has opportunities for traineeships all through Italy, including Syracuse where my family is from; that means I could do my workplace training in Sicily near my family.”
“Well that sounds like a plan,” Terry replied looking straight at me waiting for a reaction.
“I don’t know why this is bugging me so much but I am scared that I will get into trouble and make mistakes. I also believe I should be thinking about my future and retirement as I am not that young anymore.”
Terry smiled again. “I have every faith that you will use your instincts and make the best decisions. You have already proven you have strong instincts and you are smart. It’s only for six months and you have the rest of your life to think about retirement. What do you think your future will be like if you don’t do this now?”
“I will have regrets,” I answered instantly, surprising myself.
“All the other stuff like renovating homes or owning businesses can be done later. But if you start these now you are stuck here. You may not be able to go to Italy for an extended period of time and you will never know how it may have turned out for you.”
I was sitting on the couch watching and listening to Terry speaking; knowing in my heart what was true. My decision was made. I was moving to Italy in 2014. A few months later my bags were packed, and after a twenty two hour flight, I had arrived in Italy.
“Are we ready?” the facilitator asked with a little frustration in her voice. She was behind and had a lot to get through, and the crowd kept talking.
“Yes,” the group answered.
“Pens poised ready to write?” the facilitator asked again insisting that we press forward.
Yes, the pen is ready to go. A tinge anxiety just settled in my throat. I looked around for the toilet sign but couldn’t see one nearby. Let’s start please and get this over and done with, I thought with my frustration increasing.
“Can we write with our opposite hand as it’s more spontaneous like a child?” a woman, doing way too many personal development workshops asked.
“No,” the facilitator said. I had a suspicion she was choosing her words carefully. “You have to write quick as I will fire the questions at you and there won’t be much time.”
Dah. Now let’s get on with it. Rolling my eyes I kept begging that this part of the workshop would end.
“Ok everyone, let’s start as we have a lot to get through in this workshop. First question: name three favourite smells?”
Chocolate, cooking smell in the home, smell of books. I wrote frantically. Smell of books where in the pippies did that one come from?
“Name three favourite activities?” The facilitator fired the second question.
Cooking, making up recipes and writing. My pen was writing as if it had a mind of its own. No stopping.
“Name three things that make you happy?”
Watching my recipes come to life, people loving my cooking and finishing a story I am writing. By this stage my writing was intelligible.
“Now look at your answers and look at what you have come up with mostly,” the facilitator said.
I looked at mine and saw three themes that were consistent throughout all my answers.
Cooking, food, and writing.
“They are your passions,” the facilitator said. “They are things that you should be thinking about and exploring as your passions or change of career.”
Cooking, food and writing.
I couldn’t believe it. There was nothing about social work or even with people. Hey relax I am not that crazy woman with the child hood writing hand. I know life is more real and that you don’t make decisions based on a forty minute workshop and a three question, answer- quickly questionnaire. But I started to think seriously about a change of career and the possibility of food and my other love writing. I had a writing project already underway. But I had no idea as to how I was going to pursue cooking. Where would I even start?
I left the workshop feeling excited but unsure about the future.
“You look beautiful Sonia, Happy Birthday.”
“Thank you,” I replied, to my family and friends as they entered the venue to celebrate my fortieth birthday.
The party took place at one of my favourite restaurants in St Kilda. The theme was cocktail; the room the party was held in was just off the main part of the restaurant with a perfect view of the river. Everyone made the effort to dress up in their cocktail dresses and suits. The band played my favourite music; creating an ambience of joy and fun. It was a summer evening and it was daylight outside as the party began.
After weeks of soul searching I decided that I loved turning forty. I was happy I reached it alive, well and with all my faculties intact. But I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that something was missing. I didn’t know what it was but all of a sudden I kept asking “what’s it all for?” By age forty my life consisted of getting up early, going to the gym, exercising, work, home and bed.
I had started to dabble with writing stories and cooking but I had no idea what that would be or how it would look. I also had no idea how I would go about a whole change of career. Then the travel bug had started to hit. I was longing to return to Italy, where my family of origin come from, but I didn’t want it to be a short trip. I yearned to return to live there for an extended period of time, to meet the people, live the culture and learn the language. I wanted a life changing experience but I had no idea how.