Yesterday, I was out for breakfast with one of my newest, yet closest friends. We have regular ‘dates’, but sometimes they get shifted around due to other schedules. We are ok with it, and sometimes it allows us the opportunity to do something different and fun. We missed our regular Friday night get-together because of a work Christmas party. Instead, we opted for Saturday morning breakfast at a popular little restaurant in town.
We did our usual chatting, catching up on the last couple of weeks. Then she stopped and noticed something about me. She said how she can see me with short hair when we are older and showing more grey. She commented on us still getting together when we are old friends.
The thought of having old friends has always been elusive to me. I have been the type to move every twelve years or less, but knowing I will be here, in this location, for far longer it finally dawned on me: I can have old friends here. I have never given myself permission to look that far ahead in relationships because none of them, except for my absolute best friend 2000km away, has ever lasted the distances. Old friends. Greying, aging, and still there for each other kind of old friends.
This innocent comment that I am sure she had no idea of its impact, was in fact, the best gift I could have been given.
What does it mean to live a meaningful life? Does it mean success in respect to financial gain? Success in a career? A happy family?
Perhaps the definition is different for everyone. We are all driven by different desires and needs. Some feel the need to have a prominent career and work long hours. This may give a sense of fulfillment to that individual, and if it does, that is great. None of us are made the same.
Growing up, we are conditioned from an early age to think about what we want to be when we grow up. How you will make your living is supposed to be the biggest part of being an adult, and we tend to get lost in this concept. We are defined by our jobs. By our titles. When we meet new people, that is inevitably one question that comes up early in the conversation…so, what do you do…and of course we rattle off what we do to make ends meet.
But we are so much more than that. We are not just our jobs. What is it that you will reflect back on and see that your life had meaning? Will you look back and say wow, I made a lot of money and be happy with that? Or will you say wow, I made a lot of money, but I never had time with my loved ones or to do the things I had always wanted to do?
Millenials coming into the workforce have the idea that their time off is equally as important as the time they spend at work. They appear to value their personal time more than GenXers do. At least here in North America…Europeans have had a different philosophy for many years, one to be admired I believe.
A meaningful life to me means that I have left this world better than I found it. That I have touched the lives and hearts of others in even a small way. I find that I can do that in my career, but I also spend my personal time to do more of that. I enjoy my family time and give myself to my children with all my heart. I enjoy my time with my friends, and do what I can to make their happiness a priority too; because when they are happy, so am I. I volunteer. I have my own groups that I belong to that bring me joy as well.
I don’t want to feel that I have spent all my time at work without putting in at least equal the effort to make the rest of my life matter as well. How do you make your life meaningful? Is there something special that you do? Please comment if you would like to share.
Heritage locations that showcase how life used to be lived can be a great reminder of just how far we have come. It’s also a reminder of how much simpler life used to be. People didn’t have computers, smart phones, or even robotics to help do their jobs. They used good old muscle power.
I spent the day at one of these such sites this week. I like to visit places like this alone and truly immerse myself in the sense of what it was truly like at that time. Why? Because I hope that the reminder will help me to appreciate what we have now. Also, to remind me that we don’t need everything we have in this modern life we live. It helps reinforce my minimalistic lifestyle and appreciate what I have and use daily even more.
We live a good life. We don’t plow the fields with a horse drawn plow anymore. Most of us don’t even have a need to grow our own food, so if we do, it is more of a hobby than a necessity. Imagine the wonder that our ancestors would have had if they were told that growing food would become a hobby!
We are beyond fortunate. We are spoiled with having immediate gratification. Taking time to remember this perspective is grounding. I am grateful for the reminder.
We all get into a funk from time to time, don’t we? I did this week. I had some changes occur in my life and I know I wasn’t responding to them in the most positive way. I knew they were coming, it wasn’t as if I was blindsided. I knew. I was just…sad. Sad for the changes because it wasn’t what I was wanting or looking for or even hoping on.
But it happened anyway.
Sometimes change can be difficult, particularly when we do not embrace it. It is ok. We are all allowed to be a little sad, or a little depressed, or in that funk. I think the most important thing to remember is that when we do, we should acknowledge those feelings. Let them be present. Sit with them for a while, then let them pass on their merry way. Without sadness, we do not know happiness. Without the storm, we can’t recognize the calm.
Don’t be sad that it’s over, smile because it happened. Who said that? Dr. Seuss perhaps. It is a good mantra. I will try to not be sad that it is over. I am smiling because it happened. I am pleased to have experienced it all and created the connections I did. Some things are in our lives for a purpose, no matter how short the period is. They are all significant in creating us who we are.
Onwards and upwards.
There are days where I have so many topics that I want to write about, and there are others where I sit at my computer with white page syndrome. I have nothing. Nothing wants to come out. Nothing wants to be told. Nothing is tearing at the seams, dying to be sent out to the world.
Today, there is much that I could tell you. So many things have happened this week. It’s been a week of trials. Of endings and of beginnings. It has been a week of reconnections and of goodbyes. Tears and smiles.
But at the end, sitting here on a Sunday morning with my coffee and keyboard, it has been a week ending in peace.
There are times where that roller coaster of life takes you up and down at immeasurable speed. It can flip you upside down when you’re not prepared for it, and it can take you through corners where you feel like you just might fall off the rails. But at the end, it always gently coasts you to a stop at the end of the ride.
That has been my week this week. Sometimes it feels like the whole month or maybe the year has been that way. Maybe life in general is a roller coaster ride. What it does for me is it helps me to reset. It helps me to see that even if at one moment, I am in that seat, upside down and hanging onto the harness for dear life, that it will come back to being right side up, and I will gently roll back to the point where I need to be before the ride starts all over again.
The other day I went to visit my doctor. As usual, he asked how I was doing and if I was seeing anyone. My doctor likes to keep tabs on me since he knew the issues that occurred before and during the divorce. He always asks how my children are coping as well.
Am I seeing anyone? No, not really. But do I want to be? Well, that got me to thinking. Then the next day I read a brief article on the benefits of being single. That got me thinking even more. There are a lot of benefits to being single. You are the only one spending your income, so you choose where it goes. You decide if you use a credit card for a high-cost item or if you decide to save up before purchasing it. You decide how to pay off debt (like divorce debt), and how you allot your dollars. You decide how to decorate your home. Are you a minimalist or do you like to fill your home with things? Your choice. You decide if you want a pet, and if so, what kind? Do you want to travel? Where do you want to go?
Here’s the best one. You become utterly and solely you. When in a relationship, partners tend to pick up on certain pieces of the other partner’s personality. Quirks, sayings, behaviours. These things tend to blend. The dominant personality tends to overshadow the less dominant personality. You essentially become the same person. However, when you choose a life of being single, you know that who you are is simply you. And that is a good feeling.
Spring is here, relatively speaking. There is still snow melting, but the days are longer, and the sun is feeling warmer as it peeks through my windows. It’s a time for regeneration. Spring cleaning has already begun in my house, although I find it rather unfair to call it spring cleaning since I attempt a deep clean every season, and often get ahead of myself when I am waiting for spring to arrive.
Spring is that time of year where I feel like second chances are possible. Perhaps it is a time to rekindle a friendship that didn’t weather through the winter very well. Or it can be a time to reinvent my style at home, redecorate or rearrange the furniture. Maybe a time to reinvent myself just a little bit.
Spring brings me happiness. I love the green grasses that start peeking out. My first tulips that seem to be in a hurry to show their faces to the world. I love the Easter feel of renewal; the pastel colors and fresh beginnings. I love that the bikes can come out of storage and wake up from their sleepy six months of snow inhibiting activity. There are more people out walking their dogs, and you can see neighbors that have been hibernating for months just as we have.
In just a few short days, April will be here. With April brings a concentrated writing camp that I am looking forward to participating in. This is just another piece of my personal growth, and I am very much looking forward to it. It is one more way I plan to grow this year. I hope you will enjoy your spring as much as I intend to enjoy mine, and I hope you find ways to grow yourself.
There is something spiritual about having friends who are like-minded. Ones that can finish your sentences just because they know exactly what you want to say, or ones that can read you in an instance and just know that all you need at that exact moment is a hug. Until I experienced it, I did not know it existed just like that, and it amazes me how quickly that bond can develop. It’s as if something was lined up in the stars to make it all happen. Sometimes it makes me miss my beautiful, dearest soul sister even more because we have that same bond even with two thousand miles between us, but to feel it almost every day is a blessing.
There is something to be said in sharing each others joys and sorrows. The pains and celebrations. The unspoken words and language that can be said only with that look in one’s eyes. This is the joy I had been missing all of my married life. I am grateful for my new beginning. My freedom from that controlling, manipulative man I now call my ex. My free spirit that was once just a ghost in a dream has been given permission to come out to play, and she has found more soul sisters to be with.
And I am, for the first time in a truly long time, happy.
I have had a week where I was able to spend time doing the things I enjoy. There were still things that needed to get done, like take the little ones to school and make dinner, but I did these things in a way that I preferred.
We walked to school, which is a convenient 5 minute walk. We brought the dog both ways. We didn’t need to use before and after school care this week, and that made a huge difference in how much time we had to do things together and the free time they had without having homework or meal time. Our days suddenly gained a lot of time.
We made meals that were fun and delicious with organic whole foods that were deliciously vegetarian. Dinner became a joy instead of a chore.
It’s amazing how the simple things take on more enjoyment when you have time. Less stuff means less to clean. Less to own means less to owe. This gives way to freedom. The less you need to work to pay the bills for the stuff you need to clean. Seems pretty straightforward, no? With less, you can do more of what you love.