— Suzanne, age 49
A: Suzanne, first let me say how much I admire the spirit you show in looking for the gifts and opportunities in your situation. You're right to view this time as an opportunity. I love your thought about reconciling your past, present and future. The best way I know to do that is to pay serious attention to all three of them. Dive into your past and understand what drove you, what made you passionate, what made you feel strong. Look for those same currents in your present situation. What have been the constant strengths that have stayed with you throughout your life? Although we do change and grow and develop new abilities and knowledge throughout our lives, our strengths and our core personalities remain remarkably consistent from a very young age. Once you have a good sense of what your strengths are, you know what to build on. Take the time to learn about what you want to do. Can you read books or articles related to your strengths? Can you take courses and learn new skills to help further them? As a creator, you most likely love to read and take stock of your own mind and record the insights that come to you. Take full advantage of those traits to help yourself build the future you want.
One last thing: You mention so many people in your family and clearly have a wonderful network to support you. Make sure to include that network in your deliberations. Involving family, friends and colleagues in the attempt to think things through is often beneficial for creators because it can keep them from going around and around in circles in their own minds.