One More Thing…

It figures, I decide I’m not going to write in my blog and then all these ideas for posts start popping into my head.  Good thing it’s my blog where I get to change my mind I suppose.  I imagine I should not have been so final on the blog but it felt done at the moment, that I needed a break, a hiatus but well, here I am again.  However, I do want to take my posts into a more positive direction. 

Wednesday night was teh honors ceremony for my graduating college class.  Being 46, of course I was one of the five oldest students receiving honors awards which at first made me a bit uncomfortable but when I saw I wasn’t the only older student there, I relaxed and focused on the ceremony.  When my oldest daughter graduated college in 2014, I remember sitting in the enormous hall watching all these young people get their degrees.  At the time, I felt a sense of envy that they had their whole lives ahead of them but mostly I think I felt disappointed in myself for not finishing college.  

As I was waiting for the ceremony to conclude as I was one of the first up to receive my award, I thought back to that day and how I felt.  Here was another group of young people with their whole lives ahead of them and me half-way through my life (if I am fortunate of course).  This time however, I did not feel envy or a sense of quiet sadness about my own life.  I didn’t sit and think of the dreams I thought I had lost out on or had given up too soon.  No, over the past few years, I have sorted out this and that over my life and have embraced what my life is today rather than worry about the past so much. 

What I did notice was that I didn’t envy these kids because I had worked hard for years to be where I am today.  Not that I didn’t make a few wrong turns (ahem two bad marriage choices) and make some mistakes but I kept going.  I turned my victim mentality into a mentality of action. I had to make my life what I wanted it to be or at least try.  Though someone who is 80 may look at me and see someone who is a bit foolish because they have lived almost twice my lifetime, I embrace the life wisdom I’ve learned over the years.  Though people always try to tell you things, sometimes we have to be stubborn and bull-headed where we have to just get knocked around on our own.  

Wouldn’t it be great if we had that wisdom in our early 20’s?  But maybe it would make us play things too safe.  I took risks in my 20’s that I’m hesitant to take today which in essence means my life story wouldn’t be so rich and colorful.  I’d been downright boring.  I suppose each decade or period in our life has a purpose.  I would not want to go back to being in my early 20’s except for being in better physical shape or not having quite the health concerns you have when your older, but this is probably the trade off for having wisdom.  Not that I don’t still do stupid things or make mistakes but usually they are much more minor than before.  

I like the age I am now.   I am comfortable being 46, I own my age and am not afraid to tell people how old I am nor do I lie about my age.  I would not want to go back and start over again at 20 or so.  I still have work to do on myself, but you know what? I actually like who I am.  Sure, I have days where I feel fat and ugly (I swear it’s hormonal) but mostly, I’m comfortable in my own skin.  I’m not going to apologize for who I am as a person anymore as I’ve spent enough of my life doing so.  If someone doesn’t like something about me, well then that’s their business.  Life is too short to worry about it.  

My husband and I were recently talking before he bought his new (to him) car last week.  We had been weighing the pros and cons of buying a new car, the financial aspect and so on.  His current car, a 2013 Malibu, already had over 90k miles on it and while it was nice, it wasn’t really what he wanted to be driving.  He had recently finished a year long grueling training program for his new job.  A good chunk of the last year had been spent away from home doing training seminar after training seminar because his job is highly regulated and very specific where it requires, well at least a year of training.  When he completed the training, he got a significant and well-deserved raise as his reward for completing this difficult year. 

As we mulled it over, we both decided he should go buy what he really wanted and had been wanting since we met eight years ago.  A Cadillac.  A one-year certified model would cost us almost the same as a new car like his Malibu anyway and though his gas mileage would drop some costing us more in gas, he would have all wheel drive which would be safer for his over 1 hour commute to work.  But most of all, it was something he really wanted and well you only live once right?  YOLO bitches…  While it felt like bit of an extravagance, it makes him happy and that’s all that matters. He’s worked hard for years, going to college, working jobs until he has reached this salary point in his life that affords him nice things.  

So no, I don’t want to start all over again.  We have a very comfortable life and we can do most of the things we enjoy.  While we aren’t wealthy, we are very fortunate.  For me, I always have to stop my “survival” mode of thinking after years of barely scraping by, in other words, I tend to be cheap.   I am also finding out that my goals and the things I enjoy have changed with time.  We both have agreed, we need to enjoy ourselves more.  

Who knows how many days we have left on this earth?  Might as well buy the Cadillac  if you can.  

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Time for Change…

The quandary with being mid-life is that you’ve lived a lot of years but also you (hopefully) have a lot of years ahead of you.  You also realize though that you don’t have your entire life in front of you either and that your days must start counting for more.  I think this is sometimes called a mid-life crisis but I think for most people it’s just a time to really stop and check the path they are on.  Stop running on autopilot, step back and say, is this the life I want? Is this what I should be spending my precious time doing?  It’s a self-check moreso usually than a crisis.  I have yet to want to buy a sports car, get a really young husband and well, I guess the female version to the combover is to dress and try to look like a teenager to the point you look ridiculous.  I think a lot of older women are not accepting looking like little old ladies and that’s great but you have to do it with finesse and style, not copy your 16-year old daughter.  

Yesterday, a young girl in our community died days after her attempt at suicide.  Thousands of people had been praying for her and her family but it was not enough to bring upon a miracle.  This girl is part of my family doctor’s family, his two older sons graduated with my daughters and since he’s been my doctor for ages, his kids essentially grew up with mine.  Not that we were close, they didn’t invite me over for dinner but in a small community like ours, everyone knows everything and you interact through many different channels.  

I can remember her as a baby, toddler, young girl and a teenager.  She was a beautiful sweet girl with seemingly everything a girl could want at least from the outside but yet this tragedy occurred.  Of course the rumor mill is running rampant with why she may have done it, but the only person that truly knows is gone.  People will judge her parents and make assumptions but the real truth is, this could happen in anyone’s family.   So sit down and focus on what is your life.  Say a prayer of peace and comfort for the family instead of stirring up the gossip. 

Suicide is the one thing, unless you’ve been on the verge of committing it yourself, it’s easy to stand there and say “how could she do this?” Essentially for many different reasons, you come to a point where everything feels hopeless and you feel the only way out, the only way for peace is death.  This could be from a mental cause such as depression, chemical imbalance in your brain, drugs (both prescription and illegal) and so on.  The Cherokee Indians had a saying that roughly was “Do not judge a man without walking in his moccasins” or the more modern “walk a mile in his/her shoes”.  Have some empathy, don’t just stand there and judge.  Try to see what it might have been from someone’s view. 

In my mid 30’s, I had a bought of depression so bad that I would wake up and then curse the fact I hadn’t died in my sleep.  It scared me enough to get treatment which was prescribed by this very Doctor.  He gave me Zoloft and finally that urge to die subsided.  It’s not always “just in your head”, mental illness many times is physiological and not just psychological.    You can’t “snap out of” depression.  It’s like telling someone with a broken leg to just think positive and it will heal.  Yeah it may heal but maybe not heal right. You may walk with a limp the rest of your life because it needed set.  You get the idea.

On the news yesterday that this girl passed away, I was sitting there thinking about my life.  Yesterday was also the two-year anniversary of my mom’s death.  I was feeling reflective anyway but this tragic news pushed me even deeper into thought.  The last few years especially, I have had time to work on myself, things that happened to me years ago and their effect on me today was forefront in my life.  If you read my blog consistently, you know I’ve talked about self-esteem issues, body image, mid-life, grief and a whole host of topics that are relevant to me as well as many other people’s lives.  The greatest complement I have received from my writing is when someone thanks me for being candid enough to write about a hard subject because they feel less alone and I’ve helped them in some small way. 

The thing about death is that it reminds you to live.  I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few years working out my grief, working out issues from years ago because I either pushed it down or I simply didn’t have time for myself.  This is the first time in my life since I was a teenager that I have been able to really focus on myself because I was no longer actively taking care of someone else.  Having all this time to think was both good and bad.  Just the other day I wrote something about a traumatic experience that happened when I was 14.  It was one of those times where I started writing it in my head first and I needed to get it down on “paper”.  When I told a friend about it, they said why do you keep reliving this stuff?  Me being me, I was annoyed at first with what they said.  I am a stubborn learner at time and yesterday it finally clicked with me what they were trying to tell me.  

Yes I could use my traumatic experience to reach others and help someone else but by doing so, I was keeping the past in the present.   The beauty of youth is you don’t have years of the past to ruminate on.  You live each day looking to just that day and sometimes toward the future.  I try to be mindful of each day and live in the present but I tend to be all over the board.  I have no clue what I want in my future to be other than a happy, healthy family, be able to live comfortably, finish my degree and publish a book.  I don’t have the fiery, motivated goals of my youth and sometimes that bothers me.  I have no idea why, maybe because I feel like I am not “doing enough”.  It seems even more imperative now at the age of 46 that I should be “reaching for some big dream” before it’s too late.  

As I sat there alone thinking about my mom and this young girl’s life being cut too short, I realized I need to live for today and stop worrying so much about the future or achieving some great thing.  I simply need to follow my heart and stop worrying so damned much.  I need to let go of the past, I have worked hard to get where I am today and be the person I’ve become.  I’m proud of the person I am today even if I’m not always proud of my past life.  I’ve made many mistakes, my life was a train wreck when I was younger but so what?  As the 1000 memes going around social media say,  you get a new start every day or something to that effect.  Really all I need is a change in focus and attitude.  It’s that simple. 

In the effort to live each day to the fullest and live in the present, I’ve decided to suspend my blog for the time being.  I need some time to refocus myself and just live my life by embracing each day as a new opportunity.  Focus on spending time with the people that I love the most and make me the happiest rather than putting energy into those relationships that do not add much if anything to my life.  I am going to let go of the “should of’s” as well.  I should do this, be this or achieve this.  This is a lot of white noise that confuses me and makes it difficult for me to enjoy life.  In essence, I’m going to hit the “reset” button and start new again.   Maybe I will pick up my blog again with a different goal in my writing.  We will see.  

Go live for today, do what makes you happy and don’t look back.  Find your passion, take a chance and live your dreams.  There is never going to be the perfect day for it, do it today, start today.  Live for today, you have no guarantee there is a tomorrow.  Be prepared to fail and hear “no” many times over, but don’t give up.  The one difference between the people who achieve their dreams and the ones who don’t is usually the fact they didn’t give up and not because they nailed it right from the start.  

So in conclusion, this blog has been a wonderful journey which forced me to get myself and my writing out in the public eye.  I am grateful to all that have read it, who have commented on it and who might miss it just a little bit.  I am going to focus on my dream of publishing a novel.  Wish me luck!  Or better yet, wish me tenacity to stick it out and get over or around all the challenges I will face (mostly being too self-critical of my writing – ha…).  Deep breath and first steps…