I can’t believe we are already saying goodbye to 2012…where did the time go? As I ponder how quickly the days have gone, I can hear the faint rantings of my parents saying, “Wait till you get older.” It was their way of telling me that life as an adult would be different – kind of hard to imagine that when you’re a kid, but now at midlife, it rings resoundingly true.
For weeks now, I’ve been musing about what to write as my last post for the year. Our world has given me plenty of material with which to comment on: tragedies, victories and the outright idiotic. And so it was that as I was trying to sort out what to write, I went about organizing my work space. I proceeded to compile a mix of assorted index cards and scraps of papers – things that I wrote notes on when there was no computer or writing tablet in sight – generally notes that inspire me, things that make me think…reflect.
I don’t think that is was coincidence or chance that as I was sorting through this stack, there was one in particular that made me stop. On the back of a receipt from the Dollar Tree store, I had scrawled this:
“Live the life you have imagined…simply become who you are…Be yourself – everyone else is taken.”*
No, there is no coincidence in coming across that note. The message to me was loud and clear… and what a wonderful message to start off the new year with!
If you think about it, much of our time is spent trying to live a life that someone else had imagined for us – usually our parents or caregivers. Or conversely, we try to measure up to what society says we “should” be – skinny, wealthy, fashionable, drive the right car, and so on… the list goes on in this arena, just take a look at what the magazines are selling.
For me, much of the childhood messages I got about what my dreams should be emphasized going to college and being a professional of some sort. I’m not sure that I ever entertained other dreams for my life – not because I didn’t have other things that I enjoyed and was good at, but because it seemed like a deviation from “the plan.”
But their dreams were not for naught – everything that I’ve become has brought me to this point. For that I am eternally grateful to them. I can understand the desire to see your offspring succeed, to do better than you did. But as an adult and midlifer, I can now choose to live what dreams I want to fulfill, to live the type of life that I want for myself… yes, we have choices!
It’s not a novel idea, but somehow, as adults we lose sight of the fact that we really can decide the direction of our lives – no longer constrained by the dreams of others. However, the path to doing so can prove to be more difficult or challenging. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to simply sit on the sidelines and go about life “as usual” or to play the victim when misfortune comes our way. But the real question is, “Are you really living or merely existing?” (Joel Osteen)
I had a girlfriend once, Bertha, who suffered terribly from the break-up of her 25 year marriage. Her ex-husband had an affair and ultimately left her in favor of his new love. Understandably, Bertha was devastated. But it’s been many years since and she’s still talking about her ex-: like how he had mistreated her, how she hoped he’d rot in hell, she still takes him to court to quibble over alimony issues, etc… you get the picture. Bertha is stuck in the past – emotionally frozen in time. Yet rather than seeing this event as an opportunity to grow from, she’s chosen to live in her past – in the meantime, she’s passed up opportunities to be in relationships with some very good men.
But we all have experiences like this with which to draw from… that one relationship that left you heartbroken, the death of a loved one, the loss of a friendship or job… or a dream. Whatever the event, we can decide as to how we will allow it to shape us: Will we be a better person for it? Stronger? Wiser? Even more loving? OR will the experience make us bitter? Hopeless? Angry? Insecure? With every experience – good or bad – we can use them as opportunities for either self-growth or _________.
And so, for this year and the many years to come, I am putting a new twist on my New Year’s resolutions. Rather than my traditional list of things “to do,” I’ll be looking at how I can simply live the life I’ve imagined and be the person I was always meant to be.
Happy New Year’s to you all!
*NOTE: I can’t recall when I wrote it down or who to give the statement credit to, although I think I saw it on a home décor sign at Hobby Lobby, lol, go figure