Time to Start Over Again

04/20/2015 11:11 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

I have a spring in my walk as I soak up the emerging buds and light green sheen cloaking dormant trees and shrubs; the promise of new life emerges. And I muse, isn't life all about starting over again and again?

Every time I meet an unexpected, even shocking change to the illusion of my predictable life I initially panic, but intuitively know I'm facing an opportunity to create. It's a starting over point.

I know I'm not so different from most other lesbians. I started out straight- isn't that how we are all labeled from day one? Maybe I carried this idea further than many others, but I believed I was straight for at least thirty years of my life...until I fell in love with a woman. Since I had no idea how it feels to be a lesbian, I had to craft my own vision of this new identity. It seemed the obvious, but formidable first step was to leave my heterosexual marriage. Should I wear flannel shirts? Join a softball team? Remove all make-up? Shed my few dresses? I was an awkward observer in a foreign land.

My creation gradually fell into place. I discovered my new self was merely a more open, more real and more expressive version of what was hidden inside me from the beginning. In a surprisingly short amount of time I fell in love and created a happy family life with a wonderful woman and my two precious daughters.

When Judy, my partner of 31 years, died and left me alone in my mid-sixties, I knew I was facing yet another new start. How will I handle this? I am too young to be widowed, I thought, and I am too old to start over. I had to learn how to live as a single lesbian.

Of necessity, I became more outgoing and more independent. I developed new interests --writing for fun, meditation for survival, yoga, taking in the arts and traveling to new places. Most of my best friends became people who never even knew me as part of a couple. I entered the realm of online matchmaking. My initial attempts at dating were unconscious steps to move back to my old identity. I thought happiness was elusive if I remained uncoupled. That motivation changed as I moved through my grief.

Now I'm dating to enhance my new life as a wiser, more experienced single lesbian. What will the new me in this realm ultimately be? The search for a partner, or quite-simply for happiness can often be frustrating and painful. Such seeking eventually requires an adjustment.

I've let go of old ideas of how a relationship is supposed to look. It may not be with one significant person. I may not want to live full-time with a partner. I may not live in just one place. Or I may. The lessons of my Buddhist-oriented meditation practice help me to accept, even embrace, the reality of uncertainty. Not knowing creates so many possibilities. I've had more dating experiences than I ever expected. And I'm finally learning that my happiness doesn't depend on a particular outcome. Finding joy or peacefulness is sometimes as simple as walking outdoors with a spring in my step, noticing the rebirth of spring, breathing the promise of change in the air.