It’s been three years since I told a friend, “Hey, Julia Child didn’t become Julia Child until she was 49. There is still time to follow your dream.” Yes, I was encouraging a friend, but I was also giving myself time. I’d just turned forty and had plenty of dreams of my own, but because of time constraints, fear and family I wasn’t pursuing the ones that really brought me joy. Instead I was spending my time trying to be what others in my community wanted or expected me to be. I volunteered at school, made meals for the homeless, helped with my son’s sport teams and my daughter’s choir and drama. I got involved in charity work and social engagements that usually left me asking myself, “What am I doing here?” I did what was expected of a typical Midwestern mother and housewife. The problem was I didn’t enjoy what I was doing. It’s not that I didn’t want to be involved or helpful, but doing those things didn’t bring me joy. I ignored the voice that kept telling me what truly makes me happy. It was easier to do what everyone else was doing rather than do what I loved. There was risk involved in living my own life. I risked stepping outside my comfort zone. I risked disappointing friends or family that may not approve or understand. But the alternative was losing touch with my joy, my dreams and God’s plan for me. What really makes me happy is exploring the outdoors, reading and writing. I am just starting to truly enjoy my life again. God gave me a gift in relocating to the West Coast. I can start over and spend time doing the things I was meant to do rather than the things others expect me to do. I’m taking time to write, explore new places and learn new things. I think Julia Child’s path is a good example for all women. Follow your passion and listen to the voice that’s telling you what truly makes you happy. Life is a series of stages, not one long journey. Life is also short; don’t waste it letting society define you or your dreams.