I have been so encouraged to have so many people respond in various ways to my recent posts. I am saddened that so many of my sweet friends share these feelings of frustration, of failure, of purposelessness. But at the same time, I am encouraged by the knowledge that I am not alone and that none of you are alone. It’s so much scarier when I think that everyone else has it all figured out and I am the only one who’s missed it. I may not know exactly what the reason for all of this is, but it seems pretty clear that if so many of us experience this at some time in our lives, there must be something we are supposed to learn through the process.
A few weeks ago I had a phone conversation with my mom where I despairingly told her, “I don’t like where I am and what I am doing with my life right now, but honestly, there’s nothing else that I specifically want to do either. I can think of plenty of things I wouldn’t mind doing, but not a single one that really excites me.”
She said to me, “You’ve told yourself no so many times and you have tired yourself out so much that you’ve stopped dreaming altogether.” Astute observation, Mother. Touche.
On one level, I am very much a dreamer. At least, I’ve always had a vibrant imagination. Watching the summer Olympics when I was 8 or so, I was convinced I would become an Olympic gymnast. I took tumbling lessons. I even competed in tumbling meets. I remember the meet where I finally took home the gold. I stood alone on the platform, medal hanging proundly around my neck, my purple leotard showing off my muscular physique. If only I’d known, the reason I was standing there alone was because I had been the only tumbler competing in my divison, my purple leotard made me look like a giant grape, and the only part of my physique that was being shown off was a little too much of my butt as the leotard worked it’s way farther and farther up it. Same song different verse with being an actress, Miss America, a singer, Anne of Green Gables, a soccer player, poet, princess, even (really) a marine biologist.
Despite the fact that my pursuit of most of these ambitions ended poorly, I was never discouraged from moving on to the next thing. As I grew up however, another side of me developed, a side that is intensely practical. A side that says, “You can’t.” Oddly enough, it doesn’t apply to other people, only to myself. If my husband or a friend suggests that they want to visit Mars or make a movie or own an elephant my response is genuinely, “You should totally do that!” But if I want to do anything that seems the least bit impractical, my response is, “I can’t.” I want to travel Europe, but I can’t. I want to write a novel, but I can’t. I want to learn to bake like a pastry chef, but I can’t. Too much time, too much money, I’m not talented enough, there are more important things for me to do, I’m to selfish…and on and on and on.
At the end of the conversation with my mom she gave me some advice. “When you think of things that you like or want, even just things you want for today, write them down. Then practice saying yes to things you can say yes to.” Although we had that conversation several weeks ago, I haven’t actually done that, but I have been thinking about it and I’ve been thinking about where it’s coming from.
My mother is probably the most selfless person I have ever known, in spite of having lived a fairly difficult life. She was married at 18 and had my brother days before she turned 20. She has been a mother for all of her adult life, and an amazing one at that. She gave up many dreams in order to give us ours. And now, for the first time in her adult life, she is finding the freedom to pursue her own. Instead of continuing to tell herself all the things she can’t do, she has started to say, “Why not?” and it has opened up the world for her. This spring, she started taking classes at the local communtiy college, working towards getting her Bachelor’s degree. She’s started talking about a Master’s in Social Work somewehre down the line. I admire her so much and am so excited for all that she’s discovering.
So, I say all of that to say…maybe she has a point. Maybe I should learn to enjoy and to cherish all that is and can be “yes” in my life instead of wallowing in what is “no.” Or worse yet, speaking no where it doesn’t even need to be spoken. So…these are things I want today:
To cuddle with my husband
To take a hot bath while reading a book
A new nightgown–Nightgowns make me feel pretty.
To watch Anastasia
Soup bowls for the soup I’m making for dinner
So…I bought 4 cheap soup bowls from Target. When I get home from work I plan to spend at least 30 minutes sitting on the couch talking to Jonathan and cuddling with him. Before I go to sleep tonight I am going to take a bath. I am going to make a plan to watch Anastasia (rented from the library) in the next few days. And tomorrow I am shopping for a (cheap!) nightgown that makes me feel pretty.
Your turn to make a list. Things you want today. Please share. 🙂