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Did I Peak Early?

19 Comments 11 June 2010

Me & a Friend in college

I was at the pool today living what I like to refer to as my “Big Life” (the one with adult responsibilities!)  That is the life that my best friend and I speak of when we speak of our children, our house cleaning (or in my case, the lack of!), my marriage, her divorce, my job (I work as a Private Investigator in my Big Life), and all of the other things that consume the twenty-four hours and thirty-two minutes of every day of my life.

While I was there, swimming with MH, my youngest daughter, I ran into an old college girlfriend.  She is a couple of years younger than me and we began talking about our Big Lives and catching up on all that has transpired in the last two decades.  As she was introducing me to her friend she began by telling the gal that “Jorja was our sorority president back in college.”  I had a good chuckle and told her that I had recently been told that my pinnacle of leadership, President of Alpha Delta Pi at Samford University, 1989, was just that, my pinnacle.

I was having coffee, yes, in my Starbucks, and I was lamenting the fact that a girl who had been my peer back in college and served as my treasurer was now the story of modern day success.  She is brilliant, beautiful, married, the picture of motherhood and has not only one, but a couple of highly visible and successful jobs.  As I was bemoaning the fact that I was the one who had run the place back in the day and now she is the queen of it all, a friend shot a little snarky remark and said, “It’s okay, you peaked early!”

You peaked early.  Not exactly what a forty-something woman wants to hear, but definitely something to think through.  I have thought about that phrase so many times since then and it came racing back to mind today as I was introduced as the ADPi President of old.  Did I really reach any and all potential that I had back in college?  Had all of the hopes and dreams that I had ended in my youth?

As I look back over the last couple of decades and am honest about my Big Life, there are great disappointments.  I didn’t go to law school as I had planned, I got married and became a minister’s wife instead.  Plan B was to pursue a Master’s of Education at the university where my husband worked with college students.  However, the longer I pursued education the greater the pressure around me grew from other wives in the ministry to participate more fully in the ministry that they were giving all of their Big Lives to, all of the time.  I quit just 18 hours shy of my degree.  I started my own niche business and grew it to tremendous success.  However, eventually it complicated my Big Life and I sold it.  The profit was good, however, I wonder what would have happened had I franchised the idea instead of sold it.  The list goes on and on.

These are the things that have pushed me to where I stand today.  I love my Big Life and everyone in it, but I have peaks to climb and I am sure they will love to climb them with me.  So, here I sit in front of this computer because I am a writer.  I did not peak early.  I may have had a brief, pre-peak, but I am putting it in writing today, right now…right here in the middle of my Big Life…I have not peaked…the peak is yet to come and I can’t wait to see the world from the top.

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19 Comments so far

  1. Whitney says:

    The only people who peak early are those who live in the past. You, my friend, do not have time to live in the past because you, too, are brilliant, beautiful, happily married, and the picture of motherhood, with children who love you dearly. Climb your next mountain. Stake your next claim. And know the only one you must please is the Lord.

    • Jorja says:

      Whit, you are a love! I am flattered that you read this. Thanks for the lovely words of encouragement…I will climb it, it may be slow going, but I am climbing! Love you!

  2. Silver says:

    Must be something in the air. Thoughts like this have been running through my head as well. Nicely articulated.

    • Jorja says:

      Silver, Hey there, thanks for stopping by and reading. I have enjoyed getting to know a bit about you from reading a few of your posts. Looking forward to NYC. I appreciate the encouragement. Glad to know I am not the only one who is looking for the summit!

  3. Jamie says:

    Jorja, you are living the real life, your Big Life, is the impact you are making on those that live in your home every day. You were the star at SU, my hero and someone who seemed to understand folks and their struggles, even before a word was spoken. You are still that today and I sit in awe of what you handle daily. I think all of us who are stay at home mom’s, think we could have done more, but at what price? I would love to open a children’s book store some day, will it happen? Maybe, maybe not. What will my children remember, when I am gone? I hope that I helped them be all that and will keep them out of the therapist chair. You rock, Jamie Tuning Mullins

    • Jorja says:

      Jamie, Jamie, Jamie…I still want to give you a huge hug and a big “face to face” squish! The risk of a blog like this is of course that you can’t say it all. I am well aware of my impact on my children, it is by far my highest and greatest joy. However, when I am writing about my experience, and it is uniquely that, mine…I am writing about how I laid down my passions and pursuing my gifts even in the midst of the early years of raising my children. I am a firm believer that having a life that nurtures my soul is not mutually exclusive to being fully committed to my family. What I have seen over the last two decades in my own life and the lives of countless women is the idea that being self-less has been confused with the equivalent of being less of self. I have come to a different point of view and attempted to express that view with this blog. I know my children, now 15, 13 and 10 have seen me give my life to them, but I also want them to see a mother who has a life outside of being a mother. A woman that God created uniquely with gifts and talents to reflect Him and His glory to a world in and outside of her home. I especially want this for my daughter. Life is not always what we expect it to be and there a many women who wanted nothing more than to be married, raise children and have lives in their homes. However, many of them, my dear friends, have found themselves in mid-life without a spouse to support them due to a painful divorce or unexpected death and the lack of a life outside of motherhood has left them wondering. So, don’t misread my comments about my “Big Life” to mean that I don’t value it, life has just lead me to believe that it is not the sum of all that I am. Love you girl! (& p.s. – I am pretty sure that therapy is inevitable for mine…I just hope that I am not scarring them too badly! 😉 )

  4. Lori Hendrix says:

    You are definitely peaking now. I am so enjoying your blog that I am sharing it with my Louisville friends. I am even abandoning my daily reading and/or supplementing it with your stuff. Cynthia Insko and I are both followers. You rock girly. Thanks for being you…being authentic…and saying it all so well. Love. Love. Love.

    • Jorja says:

      Lori, thank you, thank you, thank you! So grateful to have such stellar women like you and Cynthia hanging around my blog! You made my weekend, hell, you made my month! Love you so!

  5. Judy Helfand says:

    Hi Jorja,
    I really enjoyed reading your post today. You know why? I was able to learn a lot about you. As I was reading this, I kept thinking “is this the same woman who just a few days ago talked about tagging her middle school while drinking with her tenth grade buddies?”

    Now I know you had a successful college career, you started your own business and successfully sold it for a profit, you are happily married, you have three wonderful children, you are a private investigator…and you have dreams (goals).

    If you and I had gone to high school together and suddenly ran into each other one day 20 years later, you might say to me “are you in politics or science?” And I would have to say “neither”. You see, I was the Student Body President and all of the awards that I won in high school were science related, including receiving an Honorable Mention as a Ford Future Scientist of America!

    You like to talk about peaking and climbing peaks…since I gave up backpacking years ago, I prefer to just talk about paths and roads. Sometimes they are winding roads and sometimes we choose or have to take detours, but the interesting thing about life is that you can be like a perennial, blossoming slightly different each spring.

    Hopefully, along the way you leave trail markers (cairns) for your children, your friends, your readers…and remember the best view is not always from the top of the mountain. I know this because most of my life I have lived in valleys: Sweetwater Valley, San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, Mt Washington Valley, and Tucson (completely surrounded by mountain ranges).

    Mountains may inspire us, but the valleys are created by rivers and streams…they give us life.

    P.S. I would love to post this to my new blog. Let me know if that is OK.

    • Jorja says:

      Judy, What an encouraging response! This is what I mean by you being so thoughtful! You can post this anywhere you want to post it dear! I hope you are okay with me quoting you on my next post! Your comments about being a perennial are fantastic! Love it and you! Thanks so much for sharing yourself and your wisdom!

  6. amy says:

    what you said here:
    “I am a firm believer that having a life that nurtures my soul is not mutually exclusive to being fully committed to my family. What I have seen over the last two decades in my own life and the lives of countless women is the idea that being self-less has been confused with the equivalent of being less of self. I have come to a different point of view….I also want them (my children) to see a mother who has a life outside of being a mother. A woman that God created uniquely with gifts and talents to reflect Him and His glory to a world in and outside of her home. I especially want this for my daughter.”
    is so what has been stirring in my heart and soul. trying to figure out how to flesh that out in the midst of day to day life seems to be the challenging part for me. how exactly does the rubber meet the road? how do we sacrifice neither our children for the alter of “life outside of motherhood” or our own passions for motherhood? i don’t have answers, just lots of questions.

  7. Emily carder says:

    If anyone really thinks that being the president
    of a college sorority is “peaking” then that’s
    just pathetic. In my opinion, the things
    in our lives that would be considered at the
    pinnacle are the simple, unseen,
    unselfish daily acts of love toward others.

    • Jorja says:

      Emily, hey my Hawaii girl! Of course she was teasing when she proclaimed I had peaked early, but it was good for a laugh! I hope you are settling in and finding everything well on the island…i’ll be over for a visit soon! 😉

  8. Hey, you’re still a youngster with lots of adventures to come!

    My Mom & Dad just fulfilled one of their life-long dreams of launching a conservation education center on an open space preserve at the nice young age of 75 and 80, respectively. (

    You’re a wonderful writer and I enjoyed reading some of your posts. Keep up the good work!


  9. ASJ says:

    I guess I’ll have to join the club of those having thoughts of peaking too early.
    But I won’t dwell on those thoughts because there’s still a lot of life left and I want to be “present” for it. As a matter of fact, I’m still looking forward to many wonderful life adventures ahead. And Jorja, I’ll bet you are, too. (I’ll continue to look forward to your Third Tribe Forum posts.)
    Take care,

    • Jorja says:

      Alberta, appreciate you coming over to read a bit. I really enjoyed seeing your art. No, I am certain that I haven’t peaked, if there really is such a thing as peaking! I think, in reality, life is more of a continuing towards something…a constant evolution. But I loved the comment! Thanks!

  10. Charlene says:

    I love your site. Being a divorced mother of two, I can’t agree more that women are the greatest life-givers of society. The inequality between men and women which is stil inherent today truly frustrates me. And what frustrates me more is that often, women have as you mentioned lost their ways as other responsibilities set in. Today, I’m still going strong and I believe the role I play, the role a woman plays is equally as important as do a man. I’m just wondering if there is another blog out there just like yours, stressing on the importance of man 🙂
    Love your work.

    • Jorja says:

      charlene, thanks for your encouragement! i have lots of friends who are single mothers and they are my heroes! rock on girl!


  1. You’re A Valley Girl “For Sure” | Living Beyond the Pale - 12. Jun, 2010

    […] Here is a part of what Judy had to say in response to Did I Peak Early?: […]

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“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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