It’s hard to look forward and backward at the same time, I’ve noticed. It gives one a sense of dizziness and spinning, similar to that feeling of WAY to many cocktails.
10 years ago, I filled out my application for the Peace Corps and was going through the interview process to be placed in a Spanish-speaking country. I was so excited. This had been my plan for years. When I graduated from high school, I called the closest recruiting office and said, “Hi, I’m ready!”. They were pleasant and kindly informed me that the Peace Corps was looking for people with college degrees. I was very disappointed. But enrolled in a University, majoring in Cultural Anthropology.
I was finally on my way to being a Peace Corps volunteer, when I met him – my future ex-husband. He was tall, brilliant, good with kids and wanted to travel the world too (or so he said). He was one of the housemates in my newly formed community focused household. Within 2 months I went from a beautiful room with a skylight, to the basement floor and caring for his 2-year-old son. I was “in love” so it all seemed ok. My mom didn’t like him one bit. In fact, she wrote me a letter detailing his flaws, which was very uncharacteristic for her. I was very angry and said a lot of things about “how it was my life” and “I knew what I was doing”.
This time was very stressful. I started developing stomach problems. I didn’t know why but everything I ate made me feel sick. I went to various doctors without much success. Somewhere in this time, I made a decision. I would like to say that it was empowering and helped me to figure out what was going on but I didn’t. I gave in. I didn’t realize it at the time it was very “logical” but I decided that the Peace Corps was not for me right now. If I couldn’t eat anything in this country, how would I pass the medical test and do in another country with new foods. A cross roads I think.
The next several years included working for an international nonprofit, realizing I was allergic to gluten, getting married, severe behavioral problems with the stepson, 3 moves, 3 new beautiful babies, and 1 divorce, 0 Peace Corps.
Yes, I am disappointed that I didn’t make it to the Peace Corps AND my life is rich beyond measure. I have a choice. Since looking backward and forward at the same time makes me queasy. I choose. I choose forward. I choose to focus on the beauty that is in front of me. And let me tell you what, it is beautiful around here. If the feelings of disappointment come up, I recognize them, honor them and release them. Knowing that by focusing on moving forward, I can create more JOY than by looking at the past.
Here are a few things I have learned over the past several years to move you towards your greatest good…
1. Listen to your Mother or other people that love you. I don’t mean do what they say without giving it some thought. I mean really take the chance to listen, with your heart and reflect on what they are saying. They have your best interests at heart.
2. Never, ever give up on you. Sometimes in our lives we go through things that are hard. In my case, I felt beaten down. Emotionally, financially and spiritually. I didn’t realize at the time but I gave up my power. Perhaps, I thought that’s what you do as a woman when you get married, or perhaps my ex-husband played up his brilliant card making me feel less than. The point is who you are is intrinsically whole and beautiful. Put touchstones in place now so that if tough times come up, you have your zumba class, or mothers group or meditation time as a check in to remind you. If you start missing some of your regular touchstones, check yourself and have your friends remind you that you do these things for YOU, because you love it and you deserve it. Period.
3. Forgive yourself. Do I wish that the Peace Corps experience had worked out differently? Sure. I would have loved to experience that and yet, it didn’t happen. My work is in forgiving that 28 year old lovestruck girl, who was trying to replace past hurts. She choose a man that was not really available but looked really good on paper. I get to be gentle with her and hold her just like I would my daughter. She is just as beautiful.
4. Make a new reality. In my past, I had dreams and this is reality. I danced with my daughter in the kitchen and soothed her tears tonight. I hugged and hugged my 4 year old, he has the softest Angel skin. I joked with and taught my 7 year old how to be a respectful young man with a lot of love. This dream is my reality and I am so thankful.
5. Rebuild – It has been 10 years since the Peace Corps application days and 5 years since my divorce. What I have learned during this season is immeasurable. When I say that I am a totally different person it is not just because I am 100 pounds lighter, it is because I feel 100 pounds lighter. I am rebuilding my life and creating a rock solid foundation for me and my family. I get to choose what colors, music, smells, and people co-create this space.
6. EnJOY – There are so many magazines and self help books and positive quotes on facebook. All of these are good reminders to keep our focus towards the joy. But there comes a time when you have read enough, and it’s time to just enJOY. Dance with your kids, put your hands in the earth, call a loved one, and really enJOY your life.
With Joy and love,