If You Want to Conquer Fear …

If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy. ~ Dale Carnegie

I’ve had some interesting conversations over the past few months about how my life has changed. Most people seem to be impressed and / or inspired by what I’ve done. Which is funny, because in the doing of it I’ve felt none of what they seem to see. What I’ve mostly felt is nearly debilitating fear and overwhelming anxiety.

I’ve always thought I was unusual, and somehow lacking, for never going anywhere on my own up until now. I even went away to college with my best friend from high school. I’ve thought so much about this, and can’t find a time in my life where I went somewhere alone, and stayed there alone (driving somewhere alone to meet up with friends doesn’t count). I had a conversation with a woman recently who said she’s never been alone – she went from her parents’ house at 19 to her new husband’s, and has been with him ever since, and she’s not the only one who’s told me a life story like this. So, perhaps I’m not all that unusual in this, not flawed in the lack of some important personality trait.

I took a Dale Carnegie course way back in the late 1980’s, when I first started working and had to give presentations. I was incredibly shy and so nervous when I got up to speak in meetings, and my boss thought it would help me get more comfortable leading business meetings. It was excruciating, because I had to get up in front of the entire group and speak about different topics, some very personal and emotional. The group was much larger than any meeting I would have to run (over 100 people), and the entire experience was basically awful. I dreaded those classes all week, and couldn’t wait to get to the end of them. It made my smaller meetings slightly less stressful, but I never did (and still am not) comfortable speaking in front of groups. I did get better at it, and came to realize that it was only getting slightly easier with practice. With going out and doing it.

My boss also had all of us take the Myers-Briggs test, to see where our strengths and talents were. Everyone else (basically all the men) tested into personality types that were extroverted, rational – good for business professions. Me? I tested INFJ, and so far over on the “I” that it was kind of ridiculous. My suggested professions? Chef, florist, artist, writer. Luckily my boss was quite a creative and open-minded man, and didn’t hold this against me too much.

All this is to emphasize something about me and fear: I am afraid of so many things: going places where I know no one; traveling by myself; going to restaurants, movies, concerts by myself; talking to people I don’t know (I always feel stupid, and like I’m either interminably blathering or coming off as a snob because I don’t talk enough); an unknown future; instability of any kind in my life; financial instability; anything outside my comfort level (which has been incredibly narrow); change. Good grief, have I hated change – to the point that I’ve stayed in jobs, and relationships, for far longer than I should have because they were known and comfortable.

This past year and a half has been nothing but change on a massive scale, in just about every aspect of my life, and learning to be completely on my own. Moving from the east coast to the southwest, and not only doing it alone, but quite literally knowing not one soul here. Living in a completely new and foreign place, alone. Joining the local art association, alone. Joining the local continuing education association and going to their potluck dinner meeting, alone (and good grief, was that hard!!). Joining a local hiking group, alone.

And now I’ve made plans to face my fear of traveling alone head on: I’m going to Taos, alone, for a weekend. I have grand dreams of traveling more – of going back to Scotland, England, Ireland, and more. Of sitting on some exotic beach, with myself for company and all the time in the world to do whatever I want, or not. I love to travel (and didn’t do nearly enough while married). Now, if I want to go, I will more than likely go alone. If I do go with a friend or friends, that will be a lucky happenstance, but not something I can depend on (and surely not something I can base my travel plans on, if I hope to go anywhere). So Taos is the first baby step on this journey; as Carnegie said – go out and get busy.

I don’t mind driving alone. I’m all about road trips, and have never minded being in the car by myself, even when driving all day. But on all my previous road trips, there have been friends waiting at the other end. This time, there’s no one waiting. I’ll be going to restaurants, alone. I’m heading up for the Taos Wool Festival, so I’m going to that, alone (unless I happen to find out someone I know is going, which is possible but not what I’m basing my plans around).

I know now the fear will never go away, at least not for me. But I also know now that it’s up to me whether I let it stop me or not. I’m learning to embrace this part of me, but not let it control me, who I am, or what my life becomes. I think going out and getting busy doesn’t mean conquering fear, at least not for me. It means no longer allowing it to be any sort of controlling emotion in my life. It means saying, “Yeah, I’m scared. But I’m going to do it anyway” – to whatever causes me to feel afraid, or uncomfortable, or insecure.

Embrace it, and move on.

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To know what life is worth…

To know what life is worth you have to risk it once in a while. ~ Jean-Paul Baptiste

Wow, what an intense two weeks it’s been. I left my home, family, and friends on February 10, and headed West. Three and a half days of driving later, I arrived at my new home. I lived in the country before, but this makes where I used to live look like the suburbs.

I am OUT THERE. And I am alone. Except for my adorable puppy, but she doesn’t really talk back all that much. I was so lucky that my best friend was able to take off work to make the drive with me, and stay a few more days to help me start unpacking and get used to my new surroundings.

The day I took her to the airport and hugged her goodbye was one of the hardest in my memory. The only memories that exceed it are the moments when I hugged my college children for the last time before I left. That just about wrecked me.

After dropping off my friend, I ran some errands and picked up groceries for me and pup. Realizing that there was no one waiting for me, wondering where I was, why I was taking so long, was strange and sad. It definitely didn’t feel liberating. I arrived back from the airport after dropping my friend off to a silent , empty house. Alone. Gut wrenching. Truly.

I sat here wondering WTF HAVE I DONE?! Holy shit, I’ve made a collossal mistake and now I’m stuck here all alone. I had a good cry. I turned on Grace and Frankie to watch again, because the silence was just about killing me and I needed some noise, and something funny to get my mind off this terrible plight I’d put myself in. And then I got a text from my friend, and another from another friend. And then yet another friend facetimed me. I texted both my kids, and talked to my parents. Thank goodness for technology.

That first night was hard. I was scared. Every noise alarmed me. Luckily my room has a deadbolt, so I could lock myself in. Which didn’t help when pup had to get up in the middle of the night to pee, of course.

The next morning, things didn’t feel so bad. I miss my kids like crazy, but the truth is, they’re gone already. They’re off to college, on to their own lives. Of course, I used to be a drive away from both of them, and now I’m not. Knowing that is hard, and it sucks. But I guess we’ll manage.

I will have been on my own for one week tomorrow. It’s been a week spent unpacking, organizing, getting settled. Wearing myself out each day so I’ll sleep well each night, and not lie in bed fretting that I’ve made a mistake.

Things are looking up. I’m proud of myself – I did the scary thing I’ve never done before. I took – am taking – a huge risk. I would say my life up until now has been Risk Averse to the Max. I realized, Sunday evening, that I don’t think I’ve ever actually been completely alone anywhere, ever. I even went off to college with my best friend (who made the drive out here with me). I’ve never been further away from my parents and family than a relatively quick car ride.

Now that I’m in my mid-50’s I guess it’s about time I grow up and learn to depend on myself, by myself. Time to take the risk, dammit. The bottom line for me was that I knew I would regret not giving this move a try, and I knew I would always wonder “what if I had?” The answers to both of those questions are what drove me to step way, way out of my comfort zone. Time will tell how it works out, but at least I won’t regret not trying, and for once, not taking the risk.

So far, this week, I’ve learned how to work a pellet stove (yeah, I feel like a total city-chick). I’ve taken myself to the dump, the local coffee / breakfast place (but didn’t have the courage to actually stay and eat by myself … baby steps), made the trip into town for supplies, and hunkered down for snow that didn’t end up coming (I’m okay with that, this time). I’ve moved all my stuff here, ferrying it up the driveway when the moving truck couldn’t make it up the steep incline. And learned, when the local guys who were helping me unload didn’t run for the hills and instead stayed and dragged all my shit up in two pick up trucks, that there are truly kind and lovely people here in this remote neck of the woods.

I think I’ll be okay. But I need to get a shotgun. There are also mountain lions out there.

 

Unexpected Emotional Cesspool

Wow, it’s been quite an unanticipated emotional roller coaster since I moved out of my house on January 6. I’ve been sharing bits of my journey on my social media platforms, and my most recent post talked about this and my upcoming cross-country move  a little bit (basically as a reason for why my accounts have gone silent). I said something along the lines of calling this time I’m in my emotional cesspool because it’s been a quagmire of excitement and anxiety, exhilaration and fear, and unexpected mourning and grief.

I realized I have to embrace and really feel all of these emotions, no matter how uncomfortable or exhausting, in order to fully move forward. It’s not fun, but it is necessary. And I also realized that the definition of cesspool – an underground reservoir for liquid waste (such as household sewage) – really fits. I know I’m not alone in this, as one of my SM followers posted a comment that resonated with me on several levels. It was:

“You’ll never know how many women who read your posts are in painful , scary, confusing, and even dangerous situations. None of us has known how we would EVER get through it. But, we do, scars, lessons, strengthening and all. We need each other in those times to see glimpses of another’s courage, hopefulness, and success. So thank you on behalf of all of us who are on our own journeys, for your generosity and courage in sharing yours.”

Wow. It brought tears to my eyes to read this, and reading it again now, I’m tearing up yet again. (This is likely due in part to the fact that being in the place where I am, it doesn’t take much to make me cry. My emotions are like raw, exposed nerves and it doesn’t take much to set them off. But, to be honest, I’m a sensitive and emotional person in general. I cry at sappy movies. Heck, I cry at stupid TV commercials. It gives my kids no end of entertainment to look over at me to see if I’ve teared up over something.)

I started this blog as a way to work through my own sh*t, and for whatever reason it felt more “real” to be writing it in a public space. I’m writing it anonymously because I wanted the opportunity to be completely honest about my life and changes, but I don’t want anything I’ve written to hurt people, even my ex.

But, her comment is the other main reason I started this blog – to perhaps show others that we are never alone, or even all that unique, in what life throws at us. That it IS possible to make changes, no matter how scary change may be. For so many years I felt afraid and just stuck, and I felt all alone in this. I only talked to a few close friends about the details of my marriage. I felt like I was stuck. Rationally I *knew* I wasn’t the only one in an unhappy marriage, but I felt very alone.

I was afraid to be on my own, supporting myself, after so many years of not being the primary breadwinner. I was afraid of damaging my kids by splitting up their home. I was afraid my ex would make my life hell – he said he would many years ago, in a fit of anger, when I said I wasn’t happy and didn’t want to be married to him anymore. At that time, it scared the hell out of me because my kids were very little and I could not imagine putting them in such a situation, or splitting custody and not being there. So I backed down and soldiered on.

This time around, my kids are grown and off to college. I finally realized I had two choices – to stay where I was, content sometimes, miserable other times, probably more financially secure because we had two incomes. I could see my life stretch out before me – kids gone (because, of course, that’s what we do as parents, prepare our kids to leave us), just the two of us at home, the inevitable arguments, and the constant undercurrent of anxiety about when the next blow up would be. I could no longer do it, and the alternative of being on my own, wholly supporting myself (I’m a self-employed artist), splitting up our home, was terrifying, but I knew it was the direction I had to take.

Change is f*cking scary. But what lies on the other side of the fear of change and the unknown? We’ll never know until we confront it the fear, and walk through it.

I’m doing it. Some days kicking and screaming, others weeping and afraid, still others completely bogged down in grief. But yes, some days are with excitement and anticipation. Time will tell what’s on the other side for me, and for any of us finding that where we are doesn’t work, and has to change.

Courage is not the absence of fear …

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it. ~ Mark Twain

When I thought about courage, I always envisioned people being super brave, on the outside. I never really questioned how they might be feeling on the inside. I’m sure there are some people who ride off in the sunset on grand and crazy adventures without a qualm or question. I always thought they were the brave ones.

The ones nearly crippled by fear but doing the scary thing anyway? I’m not so sure I considered them courageous.

But you know what? These days I think the people who are terrified, and doing that scary thing in spite of it, have a shitload of courage. It’s easy to do the wild and crazy thing when you’re eager to do it, looking forward to the adventure with open arms; chomping at the bit, so to speak. It’s substantially more difficult to do that wild, crazy, or scary thing when your insides feel like jelly, when your inner voice is screaming “holy shit, WTF are you DOING?!” And everything in your being is crying out to stay where you’re safe and comfortable, where everything is known (the good and the bad).

That’s where I’ve been sitting for the past six months. Having made the decision to end my marriage, I’ve been in this place where part of me says, yes, it’s the right thing to do, everything will be fine, you’ll be fine, you’ll be able to support yourself, you won’t end up worse off than you are. Meanwhile, that obnoxious OTHER voice (I call it my Gremlin) pipes up at nearly every turn to push me back into my comfort zone. To make me stay where I am; to make me fear the unknown future, being on my own, supporting myself for the first time – by myself – in 22 years, questioning every decision I make. It’s incredibly exhausting.

But, I’m forging on. Telling the Gremlin to shut up and go away.

My divorce is now final. I moved out of the house I researched and helped design with my Dad (more on how unexpectedly gutwrenching THAT was another time), and moved in with a friend for the time being. Put 90% of my studio into storage until I get settled.

A few months ago, I made the monumental decision to move to New Mexico from my east coast home, friends and family. Another terrifying decision, but it came down to honestly answering two questions: if I don’t go, will I always wonder “what if?” (YES), and if I don’t go, will I forever regret not giving it a chance? (YES). The answers to those two questions gave me my answer: yes, I’m going to New Mexico. Leaving my kids at their east coast schools, leaving my parents, family, and friends. Leaving the community of which I’ve finally started to become a part. Making a giant change, and a terrifying risk into a completely unknown future.

But I’m doing it anyway. Maybe I’m courageous, or maybe I’m crazy. Time will tell. I’m telling myself I’m only moving for a year, because thinking beyond that is more than I can handle. I’m not really mastering my fear, I’m just doing the scary thing and being scared all at the same time.

I was supposed to move at the end of December, but things got a bit complicated and delayed. Now it’s looking like mid-February. I feel like I’m in a limbo between lives – old one is over, new one has yet to begin. It’s an uncomfortable place to be, and I feel like it’s making me mourn moving out of my house more than I would have, had I moved out and immediately on to New Mexico. But it’s also giving me more time here, to visit friends, breathe deep, try to plan and, or course, worry (and try not to worry).

Now that my divorce is final, I’m starting to feel lighter. Starting to hope that maybe life will be better. Feeling myself take deep breaths and feeling almost as though I’m coming back into myself. At the same time, strangely feeling very sad when I think about my ex living in our house all alone. I hope that we’ll both be happy, and find what neither of us could in our relationship.

 

I Was Happy Enough …

There’s this line in one of the early episodes of Grace & Frankie, where Robert (Martin Sheen) says to Grace (Jane Fonda), as he’s telling her that he’s leaving her for his partner, Sol (Sam Waterston), “Admit it, you weren’t happy.” And Grace says, “I was happy enough.”

Is “happy enough” good enough? For some people it probably is. For others, it’s just not. Is it selfish to say, “No, happy enough is not enough” ? That’s the question of the hour for me.

Some days I was happy enough in my relationship with my soon-to-be ex-husband. Many days I was entirely too far from happy enough. I was upset, sad, miserable, angry, deflated, exhausted, disgusted. Not happy – not anywhere close to it.

I realized a while back that I just couldn’t live the rest of my life “happy enough.” I couldn’t live knowing there would be another heated disagreement, more accusations and criticisms. That’s how my relationship worked – some days were just fine. And it could be like that for days, or weeks, or months – everything pretty peaceful and fine. And then, all of a sudden, my husband would come home and everything sucked for him. He’d pick fights, either with me or one of the kids. He’d criticize, and berate, and accuse, and need to have these long, drawn-out discussions for hours about everything that was wrong, all the issues I had (they were always my issues), all the ways I wasn’t proving that I loved him enough. Discussions that always left me exhausted and in tears. Until, all of a sudden, instead of being in tears, I was enraged.

I think that was the end for me. I’d reached the tipping point, and all that was left was admitting it wasn’t going to work. I wasn’t ready to do that for a long time.

Two years ago, I realized my kids were leaving. Both would be heading off to college and we’d be empty nesters. And while many couples look forward to getting to this point in life, I dreaded it. I didn’t want to be home without my kids. It was then that I really knew “happy enough” would never be good enough for me, and I’d have to be the one to pull the plug and call it The End. And I did that earlier this year.

I’m the selfish one. I’m the one who only cares about myself. I’m the quitter.

These are the words my husband uses to taunt me. I don’t think he realizes that I just don’t care; that I’ll own all of those without issue or guilt.

Because there’s a time when being selfish, caring about yourself, and quitting are the things you just have to do. When you realize happy enough isn’t good enough, and there’s no other choice to make but the one for yourself. The one for more. The one that takes you away from happy enough, and gives you the chance for completely, unequivocally, unapologetically happy.

Yes, I choose me.

Tell me, what it is you plan to do …

Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ~ Mary Oliver

I’ve been in a holding pattern for the last two weeks, since I found out I needed a biopsy to rule out breast cancer. All future plans were quite suddenly circling the drain, waiting for word on whether I’d be moving forward as I thought I would be, or taking a completely unexpected path down the road of literally fighting for my life.

Thankfully, I got the results back Monday afternoon, and all is well. No cancer; not even a sign of any pre-cancer potential. I didn’t realize how much I’d been holding my breath until I heard those words from my doctor. What a relief.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

— Mary Oliver

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? This line from Mary Oliver’s poem struck me the first time I read it, and has stuck with me for years. WHAT. IS. IT. YOU PLAN TO DO WITH YOUR ONE WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE?

Geez. It’s a simple question, but for me it comes with all sorts of pressure attached to it. Probably because I’ve felt like I was wasting my one wild and precious life. Not living it to the fullest. Not taking risks. Staying in a relationship that wasn’t healthy, wasn’t what I wanted or needed, and had no way of being what I wanted or needed. And then, two weeks ago, a significant smack upside the head.

DO SOMETHING with this wild and precious life, because who knows how long it will last.

My radiologist’s office made a mistake on my biopsy results, and included results for another patient in my report. Luckily I didn’t clue into it, but man was my doctor angry (that’s putting it mildly). There was one paragraph in my report stating that carcinoma was found, and surgery was recommended. I thought it was a reference to what *could* happen, and the reason for the biopsy. But, no. It was another woman’s results. Another woman who got the bad news I did not. Another woman who is now headed down that unexpected path of fighting to take her life back from cancer.

Last night, I got together with three very dear friends. One of them has a niece, B, who is 34 years old, and in the final stages of advanced lymphoma. None of the chemotherapy treatments have worked, so at this point they are just trying to make B as comfortable as possible, and hopefully strong enough that she can go home for a while. There is no hope for her; the cancer will take her. I’m so sad for her and her family; she is so young and it’s just not fair.

Thinking of both the woman whose results made it into my biopsy results in error, and B, makes me feel I must absolutely live my precious life as fully as I can. I need to care for this physical body of mine; keep it strong and healthy. I need to care for my spirit as well; I need to love myself. And I need to take responsibility for my life. No more coasting, no more excuses, no more rationalizing, no more wasting precious time.

I’m still not sure of what I’m doing. I have doubts, and questions, and reservations. I’m not clear about how I’ll support myself. I’m not sure where I’ll be living. I’m afraid of the unknown; afraid of making a mistake; afraid things will be worse than they are right now.

But I’m moving forward anyway. Because I really do want to make something of this wild and precious life that is mine. I am moving forward with clear biopsy results. already I’ve lived more life than my friend’s niece B ever will and have yet more time.

Every day is a gift. I have a responsibility not to squander it. Too many people don’t get tomorrow.

 

 

I Never Regret Anything. Because …

I never regret anything. Because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end. ~ Drew Barrymore

Not surprisingly, in the midst of such a huge upheaval of life, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future, what I will do, where I will be, who I will be. I’ve also been thinking about all the things I used to dream about, what I used to tell myself, the person I thought I was and wanted to be, how I envisioned my life unfolding, what was important to me, what I wanted for myself out of this life I’m in. So many things start rising to the surface; I suppose this is a normal part of such a giant life change.

One thing I can remember writing and thinking about when I was younger, over and over again, was how I wanted to live my life so I would have no regrets at the end of it. I wanted to see everything, experience everything, go everywhere. I wanted to be a shriveled old woman lying in my bed, thinking back on my full life with joy and satisfaction. I didn’t want to be laying there with regrets about roads not taken, choices not made, things not experienced. Now in “middle age” (my age may tell me that’s where I am, but my soul disagrees), I’ve realized it’s an impossible feat to have no regrets at all, but it’s probably not even the best plan for one’s life.

Regret is defined as “a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.” In that respect, it’s impossible to not have regrets. Each of us will always regret something we’ve done or said, we’ll be disappointed in ourselves for hurting someone else, for doing something thoughtless, for not being the best parent or partner or friend we can be. It’s human nature to be imperfect, so these sorts of regrets are inevitable. All we can do is our best to minimize the times we do or say something we’ll regret later. For me, this is “interactive” regret – how we interact with other people.

It’s not the “experiential” regret I wrote and thought about so much when I was younger. It’s not the kind of regret I’ve been struggling with for so many years, even perhaps up until this past weekend.

The kind of regret I’ve spent so much time pondering over the course of my life is the regret attached to not living life to the fullest, not experiencing – doing-going-seeing – everything I possibly could. I didn’t want to get to the end of this life and find myself regretting the chances I didn’t take, the opportunities I didn’t reach for, the doors I missed opening because I was banging against the closed one I thought I wanted. I wanted to be an adventurer and a risk-taker. I’ve always felt like I was neither, and that’s been a regret I’ve held within my soul for a very long time.

I didn’t take the chance to do that semester abroad in college. I didn’t quit my job and go back to school to get a Masters degree. I didn’t move to London for a year like I thought about doing, just for the heck of it. I didn’t move to Scotland like I dreamed about doing – moving there, getting a degree in Art History or English Literature, staying there on a student visa for a while. I didn’t take a year off between college and “real life” to travel and go on adventures and see the world. I didn’t go to art school. So many things I didn’t do, and I feel like I’ve allowed myself to be buried under these regrets for years.

BUT (and these are some big BUTS).

What’s keeping me from doing any of the above things now, or later? Just because I didn’t do any or all of the above things when I was younger doesn’t mean I can’t at some point, if I want to. Right?

And, the biggest BUT of all: do I regret coming to this point in my life, not having done all the things I thought about doing when I was younger? Do I regret not going to the more prestigious high school my parents originally wanted me to attend, which might have led to a more prestigious college, and potentially greater opportunities related to that? Do I regret spending so many years in a career I didn’t really enjoy? Do I regret feeling that perhaps I married the wrong person (as I’ve been told I did by that very person)? Do I regret spending all this time in a marriage that was so rocky, so up and down and fraught with fighting and hurt and disappointment on both sides? Do I regret that my life partner wasn’t what I’d dreamed of – a soul mate, with all the attached ideals of intimate connection, acceptance, celebration? Do I regret not having a nanny so I could stay in my career (which I didn’t actually like, but I was good at it), make more money and perhaps now have a substantial retirement fund that would allow me to not have to continue to work to support myself? Do I regret the chances and opportunities I didn’t take when I was younger because I wasn’t brave enough to take the risks?

No. I really, truly can’t regret any of it. And this is absolutely because of three big aspects of my life:

First, and most importantly, I can’t regret any of what’s come before because I would not have the amazing children I have, who astound me every day with the incredible people they’ve become. They wouldn’t be who they are had I not stayed married and kept our family together as long as I did. And if I hadn’t married the person I did, they wouldn’t even be here. Sure, I might have had other children that I would love, but I wouldn’t have THESE children. And they are so very special I’m truly dumbfounded sometimes that they came from me. They humble me with their awesomeness. Their existence is something I would never, ever change, not even in one tiny way.

Second, I would not be the person I’ve become, and I’m really quite okay with who I’ve become (except perhaps for the extra weight I’m carrying around at the moment ;-), but I’m working on that).

Third, I wouldn’t have the amazing friends I have. Each decision, from one of the earliest my parents allowed me to make, which was the high school I attended, has brought me the richest, and most wonderful friends. And I feel so lucky, because I have friends from each different phase of my life – high school, career, post-career, local. Again, I’m sure I’d have other friends if I’d made different decisions, but I wouldn’t have the friends I do. And I wouldn’t trade any of them.

So, when it boils down to the basics, I wouldn’t change any past decision, because each decision I made (even the non-decisions made by NOT deciding) brought me to this place, these children, who I am, the people I cherish, and the future before me.

Here’s the thing about “experiential” regrets. Unless you absolutely hate every single thing about your life now, it’s pointless to regret past decisions or directions. Because every decision, every fork in the road, has brought you to where you are now, with what you have now, in every facet of your life. Who knows the snowball effect even one different decision, no matter how small or inconsequential, might have made to where we each find ourselves now. It’s totally like “Back to the Future” and all the time travel movies and stories, where one small change made in the past changes everything that comes after.

For me, this has been truly liberating and a major shift in my attitude – for the better. Because it’s freed me from my past, freed me from obsessing (which I tend to do) about so many of the “what ifs” of past decisions. It’s freed me from spending too much time thinking about all the other “people” I might have become –  had I moved to London, or taken a year abroad, married a true soulmate … WHATEVER … it just doesn’t matter. Because if there’s even one thing I wouldn’t want to change about now (and clearly for me there’s more than one), then there’s NOTHING I could have changed, because every single step and decision, no matter how small, has brought me to where I am, who I am, and what I have now.

It’s that simple.

All there is is moving forward. Isn’t that beautiful?