How many times did I hear this phrase or ones similar to it: Time flies, Stop and smell the roses, You’ll miss these days, The days are long but the years are short etc. Of course like most people under 40, I just smiled and went on about my life.
I knew my children would grow up. I knew they would need me less and less each year. I was aware as some point in my life I knew I would become an empty nester. Even with all the warnings, I never saw it coming. One day I was making lunches, hauling children to activities, listening to angsty teenagers call from college, wanting an ear but no advice. And for me the empty nester situation had an added layer called divorce. I didn’t see that coming either.
How many times have I thought if I could just do that over? I was much too focused on appearances and what other people thought, to listen to my children as well as I could have. I lost my temper when I grew short of patience. Longing for those days when my children were young and my marriage before it was destroyed by my ex-husband, comes to me in waves. The waves come less often and are not a intense as they once were.
I have allowed myself to heal. A broken heart and regrets take time to get better and to not be painful 24/7. With counseling, a renewed faith in God and his faithfulness, I am so much better. And I do my best to enjoy each day for what it has to offer. I even have an opportunity to be a better caregiver as I have been the nanny to three young children for the past 6.5 years. I’ve mellowed over the years.
I am still growing and changing. Still searching for the motivation to pursue things that brought me joy in the past like writing, sewing, photography lessons, learning a foreign language. When I had all sorts of time, I wasted it. Now I work 10 plus hours a day, coming home exhausted, it has been a struggle but I found a book called Best Year Yet, A Journal for Becoming your Best self by Chronicle books. One of my problems was and still is I can’t think of anything to do beyond what I’ve already done. This book gives me different activities to do focusing on general areas most people would like to improve. I’ve completed January and February activities and I moved onto March. It’s not always easy, I find excuses but having an actual list has encouraged me to push forward.
Not sure how it became 2023. Time really does fly and I should have listened to those who knew and slowed down.
Webster’s definition (directly copied from Webster’s dictionary).
Simple Definition of cheat : to break a rule or law usually to gain an advantage at something
: to take something from (someone) by lying or breaking a rule
: to prevent (someone) from having something that he or she deserves or was expecting to get
Hear the word cheat and some very vivid images come to mind; an unfaithful spouse, a scam artist, a dieter eating a candy bar, a student who didn’t study but many of us would say we don’t cheat. We might even say we’ve never cheated but upon closer introspection I think most of us would find we cheat everyday.
Whether it’s driving a little over the speed limit, forgetting to signal when we turn, saying we did something like take out the garbage when we actually haven’t done it yet. Or what about cheating our children of precious connection? That’s one of my biggest gripes. It never fails, I always see parents talking on their phones or playing with a tablet and completely ignoring their children. When we give our focus to unimportant things we are denying our children of what they deserve, an engaged and interactive parent. See definition #3-prevent someone from having something he/she deserves. We cheat.
Human beings crave connection. We aren’t meant to live without emotional connection to other human beings. Close personal relationships help protect against depression. But close, meaningful connections don’t happen without time and effort. We spend the most time on the things, people, experiences we value. Like the bible says, “where your treasure is (what in your life you deem important-it doesn’t have to be money) so will your heart be.
If tomorrow you had to make a list in order of where you spend your time and place your focus what would it look like? I’m not advocating quitting a job. But don’t cheat yourself and those you love out of a deep connection by being distracted and focused on the temporary things life has to offer.
Hmm, wouldn’t it be nice if I had only made one mistake but I’ve made many. From small ones to big ones, the mistakes that linger the longest are the ones from which I fail to learn something.
Mistakes if accepted, pondered and if necessary ask for forgiveness are really life lessons. How else would we learn some of life’s most important lessons if not from making mistakes.
I used to beat myself up relentlessly over mistakes. A soul can only take that for so long before it wants to give up. Slowly with the love and patience of my family, I have started to realize I can learn a lot from what happened to me and find my faith and joy again. Without those mistakes, I might not have turned back to God.
Since my divorce I’ve learned it was obvious to everyone else, including my children, I was miserable. I was unhappy. I was sad. Obvious to everyone else except to me. Obvious to those close to me but not to my ex-husband. The two people who should have seen the obvious didn’t see it or recognize it.
Sometimes you can be blind to the most important things in life which are obvious to everyone else. So if a friend seems obviously unhappy, sad, frustrated, rejected etc. ask her what’s up. Tell her you are there to listen without judgment and will give no advice unless requested. What’s the old saying? It’s as plain on the nose on your face. Well maybe it isn’t.
Miniature: small, tiny, little, replica of something larger
How do I create the life I want? How do I rebuild a new foundation without using the same faulty stones?
I begin with one small, miniature step towards the future. The steps, the choices, the vision need not be grand. It can begin by being a smaller replica of what I had before. And as the days go by and the vision grows, it will evolve from miniature to slightly larger until it has grown as beautiful as my dream.
Miniature doesn’t mean less than. It gives me the opportunity to adjust, grow and bloom a little bit at a time. While my life isn’t what I’d like, dreaming and seeing a small, miniature glimpse into the future gives me hope.
A mustard seed is small, miniature compared to other plant seeds. But what is compared to a mustard seed? Faith and if my faith is only the size of a mustard seed, I can tell a tree to uproot and go plant itself in the sea. The tree will obey me.
Most people wouldn’t use the word jeopardize on any regular basis. It infers peril, danger, loss. However I think we all make choices and decisions which jeopardize our health, happiness, family, jobs, security, faith etc. we just make the choices so quickly and typically we don’t think it will matter in the long run, but even choice we make or fail to make shapes our lives and impacts others.
My ex-husband chose to look at porn. He chose to go to strip clubs and erotic massage parlors. He didn’t make them all at once. It was one small decision to click on a link. One more choice to walk in a club because he was far from home. A decision to purchase sex because it wasn’t intercourse so it didn’t count. I believe if all of his choices had been piled up and placed before him before he had actually made them, he would have understood how much he would jeopardize. And what none of us realize is we place into jeopardy not just own happiness but the happiness of others.
What happens to the daughters who learn their father was wanted for being a sexual predator? Did he know he was jeopardizing his daughters’ ability to trust men when he made his choices? Did I realize I was jeopardizing my own security by standing by an untrustworthy man? Of course not.
None of us spend much time considering how our small daily choices impact our lives and the lives of others.
How do you rebuild your life? How do you take those first scary steps towards an unknown destination? You would think age would grant you clarity and maybe it does for some people. For me, with no clear destination I had in my youth, the rebuilding process is proving to be slow and difficult.
One step is all I can take, one step at a time. I must remind myself God can see my entire journey and He is the builder. God has faith I can rebuild my life.
He reminds me just because a husband, a wife, a family appears happy doesn’t make it true. Many people live false and unhappy lives on the inside while proclaiming joy and happiness on the outside. And as Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
I must accept I can change the past. I only have the ability to do something today. My life can be rebuilt. It may not look the same or feel the same but it will still be beautiful.
Flourish is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary to mean: to grow or developsuccessfully, to move something in yourhand in order to make peoplelook at it:a big, noticeablemovement. They also have a list of related words or phrases. So many times we lock ourselves into a definition and forget it can have a broader meaning. I think I do that with my life. I can lock myself into a life which I believe is destined to be boring, uninspiring, empty and half-lived. So using some of their related words and phrases (in blue) I will write with a flourish about my new life.
That is a photo of a victorinox Swiss army knife. Approximately 130 years ago, Karl Eisener made the first Swiss army knife. Little has changed over the years. It provides you with the simple tools you need in everyday life and in a moment of need. Millions of people worldwide carry the little knife. It is an all-purpose tool. I wish there was an all purpose tool for dealing with everyday life and the challenges some of us face.
I won’t ramble on about the economic disparity in the world. I know it exists and I also know even in my current situation, I have it 1000% better than most people, at least the material sense of survival. But time and time again, some of the most economically successful countries don’t rank high on happiness tests. We’ve not had to face the simple question, how will I survive for so long, we lose focus. We chase after things which are temporary and will not last. Accumulations of wealth may make you comfortable, but it will never fill the void left in your heart.
I worry now about basic survival. Will I be able to pay my rent? Buy food? Afford healthcare? I also worry about the hole left in my heart. Will I ever find God again? Will someone ever love me again? Will I ever belong in a community again? My children believe my complaints about my lifestyle change and loss of material wealth is shallow. They don’t understand it is not the “things” I miss. I miss what those things represent safety, security, home, love and a life I built with a man who promised God and my own father he would take care of me until death do us part. He lied.
I am focused on survival. Focused on not letting my depression get the best of me. I am navigating an uncharted territory (for me) as a single, middle-aged woman who doesn’t like the idea of spending possibly 30 or 40 years alone. I want a life partner. I am trying to find a way to financially support myself. Every day right now is a survival test for me and I understand I am lucky these are my problems because there are far more serious survival challenges in the world faced daily by people just like me.
But you have to admit, wouldn’t it be nice to have a tool, like the victorinox Swiss Army knife for life.