Wondering what we’re racing for…

I’ve had this feeling lately like I’m racing toward a stop sign.

I when I was pregnant with my first child I decided that I’d never rush things; that I’d never wish away any stage in order to get to the next.  I chose to not wish “if only they were out of diapers” or “if only they were in school.”  I’ve noticed lately that I’ve let that commitment slip somewhat. I’ve been focused on what will happen when our kids have flown the nest and my husband and I have only ourselves to be concerned with on a daily basis.

I don’t think this was selfish, but more of a way of embracing the changes in life and encouraging our grown children to build lives of their own.

My mom said something recently to me – that there were years, many of them, where she only existed.

Wow. Those words had such a big impact on me. Sorrow for her, love, empathy too and then I began to reflect. Am I just existing, waiting for some future state? Am I so carefully navigating stress and complicated family issues – tip toeing to cause the least reactions – that I am not actively living or appreciating?

Am I in rush to get to some future state? I can’t ignore that the future state I seek will be closer to the end of life. Reality hits. What am I racing for? Have I forgotten to appreciate what is and not rush or hurry to what is next?

So many moments of life are so challenging. Pain and struggle, conflict, anger, judgment – there’s so much that causes us stress.  Allowing ourselves to get mired in it though, that’s a choice. I’ve tried so hard to always find the joy, to remain hopeful and to open my heart to love.

Joy is such a rare commodity if you think of it. How often do we let ourselves feel that exquisite emotion? How often do we just give in to joy without tainting it with worry or negativity? It’s tough to do but so precious and a gift really, sharing joy with family – that’s a goal I also embrace.

I’m hoping I’ll manage to dig in my heals and remember to live for today, appreciate yesterday and have hope for tomorrow.

Me and My Guy
Me and My Guy

Believing in tomorrow while appreciating today

This year our family has been through unemployment, health issues, an end of a relationship, financial troubles, new jobs, new pressures and new challenges. We are surviving and in some cases flourishing. Believing there are better things in store, hanging on to hope, however fine the thread, and having faith is what tethers me and keeps me from spinning into desperation.  That’s not to say my toes have not dipped into the waters of overwhelming sorrow and nagging worry, sometimes I’ve been up to my neck in it! Ever present is that tether of hope that I rely on to believe tomorrow can be a better day and that my kids will find the strength to cope and rise above the harsh tides that splash up against them.

Today, on this first day of 2016, I am reminded that this New Year brings 365 opportunities. Opportunities are what we make of them. Ahead of us there are 365 opportunities to simply have a good day, to be kind, to seek joy, to set goals, to achieve, to love, to “do over,” to live, to do whatever it is that feeds our souls.

Yet, one thought slapping me in the face as I got up today was the fact that this year I turn 50. An age I certainly don’t feel, and don’t feel ready to embrace, and yet, the grey hairs I fight to conceal prove I’ve certainly earned it. Why fear 50? Why dread this number? It is a privilege not afforded to all. Instead of dreading turning 50 I want to frame it as an opportunity, a privilege and an adventure.

Perhaps, instead of worrying about whether or not we’ll ever afford to retire, whether or not our adult children will move bravely and independently into satisfying, fulfilling futures, perhaps I should embrace each day as the gift it is. And while every yesterday has held beauty, treasure, lessons, and much love, and while I am filled with gratitude for the many happy memories of my babies as they grew into adults, I’m content with my role as their mom and have few regrets. I’m grateful I was a young mom who grew up with my kids, played with them, learned with them and encouraged them.

Instead of lamenting my age, I’m grateful for what was, what is and what will be. What a privilege to walk alongside my kids in this life, to know them and to love them.

tree tips, sky beyond
The sky beyond the branches

When they struggle and experience pain I wish there was anything I could do to take it from them but always knowing it is not mine to take.  I can love and support and believe in them and their ability to handle that which tries them.  I believe in their tomorrows and hope for the best for them.  And while I sometimes feel sad that I’m already turning 50 I’m grateful for the years ahead and I’m thinking about  the 365 opportunities 2016 has gifted me.

I’m thinking – hope is a powerful tether that can stretch as thin as a hair and yet remain strong when anything else would just snap and disconnect. Yes, hope is what binds our past, our present and what lies ahead – it’s a promise worth believing in.

So, HOPE, continue to be my lifeline and to remind me the story is not over. Tomorrow brings another precious gift, a brand new opportunity.