Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot of my life’s journey thus far. Perhaps it’s the time of year…a new year…or my age…the weather…upcoming life changes…or a combination of everything.
At 61, I sometimes just stop, caught by my reflection in the mirror; somedays wondering if I’m really 61; other days questioning if I’m really only 61. You see, it’s all about perspective…and as John Denver sang, some days are diamonds, some days are stone. But from where I sit, right here, right now, every single day is a blessing.
When I was growing up in a little fishing village on Brier Island, plunked right between the mighty Bay of Fundy, St Mary’s Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, never once did I doubt I’d be successful…in every societal relevant sense of the word. My mother has told me more times than I can count, for as far back as I can remember, how I thought I was better than everyone else. I remember her judgemental tone, the words, feeling like they’d taken physical form, stinging and striking my heart as they venomously slipped through her pinched lips.
I know now her words were a result of her own pain from never realizing her own dreams…but I didn’t know as a child, a teenager, a young mother, or a middle aged woman. But I know now. You must be careful of that…don’t allow someone with smashed dreams to smash yours….it takes courage, but you mustn’t allow it to happen.
Certainly I had never felt better than anyone else….in fact quite the opposite, but I knew in my heart that I was meant for more than what that little village could offer.
There have been times over the years, where when watching a movie, I’ll think…or say aloud…”Why did they do that?” to which my sweetheart responds, “Because it was in the script”….ahhhhhh, yes. The script.
Who knew how many plot twists and turns my life would take to bring me here? Not me! The end result…to this point…. has been the same; it’s just that it didn’t unfold exactly as I’d imagined.
Let me explain.
I always knew I would marry and have a son and a daughter. In fact, when I was pregnant with each child, so sure was I of their gender, a boy and girl respectively, I didn’t even pick out names for the other. People thought me mad, but I just knew. What I didn’t know was that I’d be married three times and have six children…two by choice biologically and four by choice through marriage. Yes….that’s right…three marriages! Sometimes it takes some of us a bit longer to get it right, but I never gave up on marriage.
I also always knew that I would go into business…of some sort. When I was young, I always fancied my role in business to be that of an international corporate lawyer….which by the way, is still percolating on the back burner. What I didn’t know was that I would own, or co-own, five …all very different…. business. I also didn’t know it would take me until the age of 43 to get over the failure of the first, and start another, and then another, and finally two more.
I always knew that I would earn a comfortable living. Me. Not the person I was married too. What I didn’t know was how, but in three of those businesses, with my husband as my partner and we did it together. The hard way.
I always knew I’d be happy and content. What I didn’t know was how many times I’d be unhappy; how many times I’d feel defeated; alone; deep unexplainable pain; rage; loss; and betrayal. I also didn’t know how many times I’d fall, but I always knew I’d get back up.
I didn’t know I would feel the loss and heartbreak of miscarriage. I never dreamt I’d feel the heartache of a marriage breakdown or the sting of betrayal and divorce. I couldn’t comprehend the palpable physical and spiritual pain that the death of those I loved could bring. I had no idea the embarrassment and worthlessness I would feel to have a business fail. I never saw the day coming where I’d be rolling pennies and scrubbing other people’s toilets to put food on my table. But I did.
I always knew I was a survivor. What I didn’t know was how all of these things that knocked me down, were the very things that forced me up…in fact raised me up…pushed me up; through the pain, the embarrassment, the heartache, the anger, the sorrow; to stand on higher ground, above it all to claim my life on MY terms. To help me understand what it takes to put one foot ahead of the other; to hold my head high; to feel pride in my accomplishments yes, but more so in my own strength and courage. But mostly to appreciate, and give thanks every single day of my life for all that I have: the family, the warm home, the good food, the security, the love, and the happiness.
We all need validation. The problem is that we look to other people rather than looking inside our own selves. Become your own validation. We can’t change other’s perceptions of us, so in order to find peace, truth and joy, we need to change our own perceptions of ourselves. Bare witness to your own life. Live your truth without excuses, but do no harm.
I’m not delusional. I know there will be more challenges ahead. There will be moments of darkness but I also know I’ll be ready. I’ve had a lot of practice. I’m far from finished on my journey, but now, after sixty one years, I just have better tools in my backpack as I continue the hike.