I’ve got about 8 months until I turn the dreaded 50. I am clinging onto 49 desperately, trying to savor the sweet taste of each day left in my 40s. I find myself spending a great deal of time, too much time really, thinking over choices I’ve made in my life. I go through days where I feel this gnawing, yet barely audible, hum of doubt vibrating within me, and then I push it aside. Waking the next morning, if I am quiet, I can hear it again. Distracting myself, I can avoid it for a time, yet there is a part of me that is fully aware of its existence.
There are so many things in my life for which I am extremely grateful. I enjoy so many blessings, including my amazing grown children, wonderful friends who make me laugh every day, and a loving and supportive family. I can keep myself busy with work, and coffee dates with friends, a good hike on a gorgeous fall day in AZ… but that hum does not go away. There are questions I ask myself that seem to be screaming inside of my skull. I cannot avoid the doubts I have, the things I may have missed, and the time I may have lost. Then, I heard a song by The Eagles that I had never heard before… and I was brought to tears.
“So you live day to day and you dream about tomorrow, and the hours go by like minutes and the shadows come to stay. So you take a little something, to make them go away. I could have done so many things, if I could only stop my mind… from wondering what I left behind, and from worrying about this wasted time.“
Living with regret that I am unable to regain time that has passed is just NOT the way I want to live my life. I make a tiny bit of progress each day with that, but it isn’t always easy if I am being completely honest. So I do what I can to appreciate what I have and spend my time in the present.
As the song goes on to say, “And maybe someday we will find, that it wasn’t really wasted time.”
Much of life is spent waiting… Waiting for payday… Waiting for the weekend… Waiting for a sunny day (Okay, well that really doesn’t apply since I live in Arizona)! Days go by, weeks, months, and even years. Letting time just slip away, waiting for something and missing a life that is right in front of me. Friendships overlooked, mountains not hiked, laughter unheard… because I am waiting for something bigger and better, something that I believe will make life complete.
Why is it that there are some lessons in life that I have to keep learning and relearning? Just when I think I have it all figured out, I go and forget. I spend time alone, watching mindless TV. I sit on my bed writing, staring out of my window at the gorgeous day unfolding beyond the blinds. I tend to forget how beautiful these mountains are that I so desperately wanted to surround myself with. I forget how heavenly the fall mornings here in Arizona can be. I forget to run the path near my home, while listening to the sounds coming from the soccer fields nearby that bring me back to when my kids were young.
So, for today, I will try to relearn the lesson I learned many times before. Today, I will meet up with some friends for coffee. I will then take my daughter out shopping, as she requested, and then enjoy a nice dinner out. Tomorrow, I will do more of the same. Hell, I may even call a friend and ask them to join me for lunch. So today, there will be no waiting. Today, I will go out and Feel Life!
Upon returning from a visit back home to Chicago for the holidays, I was left with a severe case of woulda, shoulda, coulda. I enjoyed a full week of daily visits with old and new friends, family, and all of my favorite Chicago pizzerias and hot dog joints. To say that leaving again was difficult is quite the understatement. At the end of this particular visit, in addition to feeling sad to say goodbye, I also experienced an incredible case of the what-ifs.
What if I had not moved away? Would things be different in my life? Could I have found a happiness that I have yet to experience in my new surroundings in Arizona? Would my relationships be different? Better?
The first few days back in sunny Arizona proved to be exactly the way I felt the last time I came back after a visit home… It was a bumpy re-entry! Homesickness, loneliness, and self-pity set in. Yes, I’m almost embarrassed to admit those feelings because I honestly do love my new home, the weather, and my chance to get back in the classroom teaching. I have also made so many new friends out here, found new hobbies that I love (West Coast Swing Dancing and hiking!), and have settled in quite nicely.
None of those things seemed to matter, however, when homesickness and loneliness began to take over. I found myself wondering what could have been. I slipped back into that pattern of wishing for things I did not have, instead of appreciating the wonderful things I DO have.
When I take even the smallest step back, and open my eyes wide, I can clearly see that I can’t stress the could haves, because if it should have, it would have. It is as simple as that.
So for today, I choose to have faith that whatever is meant to be, will be – and that brings me peace.
For me, the holidays have, in recent years, been filled with a bit of trepidation and anxiety. All of the pressure involved for me includes trying to feel the spirit of the season while trying to get everything done that is necessary.
During the last few years of my mother’s life, she expressed this same feeling of holiday anxiety. She complained about putting up decorations, and getting all of her shopping done. So, one year I bought her a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, and told her that it really can be simple if only you want it that way. We put so much pressure on ourselves (YES, we do that – no one does it to us)!
However, I have not followed those words of advice until recently. This year, I decided to keep it simple. I put up a few special decorations to make my home feel festive, but did not drag the tree out of storage (mainly because my kitten would probably pull it down:)). I figured that I will be leaving to visit Chicago on Christmas Day, so why bother.
Simplifying the holidays has really lightened my load. I chose to find ways to spend time with friends and family instead of buying gifts while money is tight. I am praying, and am fairly certain, they will understand. This eliminates the financial pressure, but I am also finding that it is way more enjoyable to spend a day with a friend versus the few moments of joy in opening costly gifts. The joy I will experience while spending the holidays in Chicago visiting everyone far surpasses any joy from gift giving/receiving.
My students laughed at first when they saw the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree that I displayed on my classroom desk. However, when I told them the story behind it and showed them the Charlie Brown Christmas video, they understood. Simple can be SO much better, so much more meaningful, and bring so much more joy.