Love and Choices

13239029_10209299243580885_6529252908657338580_nTime is marching on a little too quickly these days.  It’s nearly summer and I hardly remember spring, except for my middle daughter’s wedding, the highlight. She and her fiance chose to have a small, private wedding which took place outdoors. It was beautiful and special and a perfect reflection of their love for each other. My daughter’s mother-in-law captured all of it on  video, including the sisters’ speeches which made my heart swell nearly as much as the ceremony did. I’m waiting to receive  the link to this video to share with family and friends who were not in attendance.

And speaking of missing family members, when we first heard of their desire for a very small wedding, I felt a twinge of disappointment. What about all our loved ones who would not be there? But I think we’ve raised our children to “think outside the box” when it’s right for them, and this was one of those times. So in time, I usually feel a sense of relief when they exercise this right. I like to know they are doing what they think is right for them.

One thing I’ve learned from parenthood is how little I know. We can love them a lot and listen to them a lot and guide them, but ultimately it is encouraging our kids to follow their own inner guidance that is the true task of parenthood.

My youngest daughter told me that some of the best words I ever said to her were these:

I don’t know.

It’s your life to live.  What do you think? 

She said it left her with a sense of empowerment and excitement about her own life.

It’s a good reminder. I’m just a parent. Our children are each on their own unique journeys. I don’t want to play God with that.

I love you  and I don’t know.  A suitable parenting mantra, I think.

And the  one and only piece of advice I recall ever giving my daughters about love was this:

Choose someone who loves you a lot.

Life throws enough curve balls and challenges. Your love life doesn’t have to be one of them.

***

Tomorrow is fifty days before my fiftieth birthday, which has inspired me to write exactly that post, tomorrow.(50 Days ’til 50). I considered a series, posting each day leading up to this birthday, but alas need to spend the time editing my memoir which I promised myself would be much more polished by the big 5-0.

Always having to make choices with time; such is life. But getting older makes me increasingly aware of this- that I am in fact making a choice at any given moment.   I guess conscious choosing  is a byproduct of adulting. Maybe that’s all life really is; one choice after the next. Even when things happen to us, we still get to choose, what now?

See you tomorrow!

P.S. *Please visit the site of Sarabeth Matilsky, a most adventurous mom of four. In her latest letter, she takes us through the decision to sell her home and travel with her family, and  details  the massive clearing out that took place.  In a very short amount of time, she got rid of 95% of her family’s possessions. Bam. Now that is how you get it done:  www.lifeisapalindrome.com

Midlife and Miracles

I’ve decided to begin my New Year’s resolutions early this year. The idea of a fresh year and new possibilities thrills me each and every January. What I really love about this time are the miracles we get to create. What better month to prepare for miracles than December?

Miracles are the epitome of Christmas. Sure there is the festivity, the giving and unwrapping; family time and holiday music and the possibility of glistening snow. The joy! But the spirit of Christmas, at least for me, is also about the magic I feel when I put love and clarity and moving forward, being better, at the top of my agenda. It is an internal thing.

I love mid-life for the opportunities that come with the wisdom of hindsight and experience. I like the deeper appreciation of time that is cultivated when you realize it is not endless. I love this stage of life for the self-knowledge; when you finally really know yourself- strengths, weaknesses, desires and aversions, you are better able to create an increasingly authentic life.

It becomes so obvious that choices are being made continuously, in every moment, and that self-effacy is a damn good path to personal freedom. I mean, when we look at where we are today, though there were some things out of our control, don’t we mostly recognize a series of choices that brought us here?

Once we’re at midlife, there is no excuse for our choices to be shots in the dark. The consequence to each and every one, big and small, is a lot clearer in the light of experience.

So I’m creating my list of resolutions, or goals, or call- them-what- you- will, early. I want to have built up some momentum by the time Christmas is here, so that the great spirit of the holiday, of life itself, can find an open vessel in me. I want to breathe in the magic, so I’m meeting it halfway. If all goes well, I will be able to greet the first day of January with the confidence that my resolutions are already sticking, that my goals will be met.

I may appear to be doing less this year- less shopping, less baking, maybe even less decorating. But I know what I want, this month and in the year ahead, and it won’t come wrapped or delivered to my doorstop. It’ll be a gift, a miracle, that I invite because I know what I need to do and what I need to not do, and alas I know the difference, without question.

I know which goals or dreams are outdated and which ones are meant for now. With midlife, the ego has shrunk enough to learn from mistakes while the heart has swelled enough to forgive them. If we are good this year, whatever that means for us, we really will get what we want. I believe that. It probably won’t be easy. In fact, it may be very difficult, depending on what it is.

So Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Heck, Happy almost New Year. Soon we will have 365 new days of new moments, each one full of potential. Here’s to midlife and to miracles. They are one and the same.

 

Choices, choices everywhere

I have so many topics that I want to write about that I’ve avoided focusing on just one. Sitting down to write a post means having to choose what to write about, and my mind has been swimming with too many ideas. I write down the subject matters as they come to me, keeping a list, but usually one topic of the other will come to the forefront. But lately they are all there, eager for my attention like a classroom full of raised hands waving wildly. “Pick me, pick me” each topic seems to call out, so I pick none.

I only want one at a time.   Choices are good, but too many are overwhelming and can dilute the experience of the one thing. I once worked with a woman who told me she always bought her clothes at the same store because otherwise there would be too many choices to make. One store! All of her clothes. That’s how she simplified her shopping issues. 2014-09-19 11.09.25

I recently traveled to the San Francisco area and was struck by the beauty, the vastness and the farms at the ocean’s edge, south of the city.  Every time I go somewhere new or even just read about it, I wonder what it would be like to live there. There are so many different choices that I occasionally wonder if I am missing out on all the ones I didn’t pick. I don’t just want to see different places; I want to settle in. I want to live there, a lifetime in each place. But I don’t want to leave where I am. I’ve heard it said that you can live far or you can live deep. I want both. I want to live deep but in several different places, and all without actually leaving my current home. Impossible.  Alas, we all have to choose.

Upon returning from this California trip, I went to my high school reunion. I grew up just one town over from where I live now.  Most of my husband’s and my family members live within an hour from us. Our roots are here. Our children are here. I love New England. I can go to the ocean, mountains, or city all within an easy drive. I love my state. I love most of our seasons. In the winters though, I find myself dreaming of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and the Carolinas.

Family, roots, circumstances and practicality have all kept me where I am, and that’s probably a good thing. Who knows, indulging that little bit of gypsy or curiosity or whatever it is may have made me feel ungrounded or displaced.  Maybe visiting places when the opportunity arises is the way to go, at least for now and maybe forever. Like the woman who shops for clothes in just one store, there is something to be said for narrowing our choices about some things. Maybe where we live is simply a minor detail of life and how we live is what really counts.

*Please feel free to request a topic on simplifying. Knowing what readers want is helpful in narrowing down the choices!