Not Quite A Mermaid Yet

My brother-in-law and husband working towards their diving certification

“We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.” ~Helen Keller

This weekend, I learned a few things about myself.

First of all, I learned I am not yet ready to be a mermaid. The dive class Friday night went well for the most part, with my biggest stress coming when we were told we needed to sit underwater with our regulator in our mouth but no mask over our face. This was nearly impossible for me. I’m a fair swimmer, but not a great one. My first experience of swimming was being forced off a diving board into the deep end of a YMCA pool when I was 9. It did not go well. I swallowed a mouthful of chlorinated water, surfaced choking, and decided swimming was not my thing. I eventually learned to swim well enough. And while I passed the 10 minute float test with zero trouble, I remain a 54 year old who jumps into a pool holding her nose. I can swim underwater only if I exhale bubbles from my nose. So, yeah. Sitting on the bottom of a pool with air bubbles rising up from my respirator and hitting my nose was not my thing. I freaked out, inhaled more water up my nose and went home dejected. Still, I rallied and tried scuba class again on Saturday. I had no problem clearing my ears or learning to achieve neutral buoyancy. I loved swimming around underwater at 13 feet and diving for toys. But when it came time to take off my mask, hold it in my hands, swim around, then put it back on, I knew I was finished. I left the class early and alone. I will not be scuba certifying until I get my confidence issues resolved. My mermaid days lie ahead somewhere. Perhaps after a summer of swimming and some private lessons.

On the positive side of this unfortunate discovery, however, is the reality that when I realized I was not ready to meet this challenge at this time I was able to be honest with myself, tell the instructor I was out, and forgive myself for needing a little more time to prepare. I can’t be angry with myself for needing to learn to be a mouth breather. I can be proud of myself for recognizing my limits and being willing to step away until I can make progress with my swimming. This is big step forward for me. Even as it was a disappointment not to be ready to complete the scuba class, it was a growth opportunity I managed. Does it suck not to have achieved this goal as I planned? Sure. But I wasn’t ready. And I’m wise enough now to understand that “not right now” does not mean “not ever.”

Overall, the weekend was a mixed bag. It is difficult for me to admit defeat, even if it is temporary, but I am grateful I was able to acknowledge my current limits and step away. I will get my water issues sorted. I just need to trust the growth process and keep moving towards my goal. Someday I will pass my scuba certification and the accomplishment will be even sweeter for the time I spent working towards my goal.

Don’t Mess With The Senate

First day of 8th grade

When our youngest was in 8th grade, his teacher told me he thought Luke had a good shot of becoming his class valedictorian. I thought it was sort of a crazy thing to say to a parent, but I took it to heart because Mr. Beckwith was a no-nonsense, honors literature teacher with high expectations. He was not the type to throw around undeserved praise. At the continuation ceremony, each homeroom teacher spoke briefly about their students. Mr. Beckwith said this about Luke:

“We call him The Senate. That is what he liked to be called*. But unlike the Senate that the adults are accustomed to, Luke works really, really hard. He is a diligent, quiet leader, but don’t let that fool you. He has a powerful, powerful voice in class. And his work ethic, I can’t stress this enough, it sets the bar for everyone around him. He raises the level of excellence by just walking into a room. It’s pretty profound. Luke, you will be missed but never forgotten.”

As a parent, I was blown away by Mr. Beckwith’s words of praise and by his assertion of where Luke might be able to take his high school career. When we left the ceremony, I told Luke what Mr. Beckwith had shared with me about being valedictorian. Luke’s eyes lit up. In that moment, I immediately regretted my words. Luke is a formidable person who sees a challenge and makes it a goal. He’s like a border collie with a job: get out of his way and watch how quickly and efficiently he lines everything up and puts it away. Like Mr. Beckwith, I knew well how hard Luke works, and I wondered if I had just doomed him to a difficult and decidedly un-fun high school career.

Luke started freshman year with honors English and social studies. Sophomore year he added honors math and science. Already a student ambassador, Luke joined Student Senate. He was inducted into the National Honor Society and became an officer for that. By senior year, he was Lead Ambassador, NHS president, and a leader on the cross-country team in addition to maintaining straight As in all his honors and elective classes. I regularly asked him if he wanted t have friends over. He regularly declined. My worst fears were realized. He was working too hard, I thought. I told him repeatedly he could try giving 90% sometimes instead of 110%. My words went in one ear and out the other.

Last Friday, the dean of the high school announced the senior awards. When he was about to name the valedictorian, he noted there were two this year and said he would announce them in alphabetical order. I held my breath since our last name begins with W and I know Luke is the last kid in his class alphabetically. The dean named the first student and went through his academic and community achievements. Then he named the second valedictorian. It was Luke. Although Luke had carefully been monitoring his progress towards his goal and thought he had a good shot at it, you never know until the fat lady sings, right? He scanned the room for us, looked right at his father and I, and waved, just like he did when he was on stage for the Christmas program when he was in kindergarten. He was beaming. He’d done it. He’d locked his gaze on his goals, rounded them up, and escorted them, one by one, into the pen until he saw the gate close behind them. Mr. Wood later announced that Luke was also voted Senior of the Year by the teachers because, of course, he was.

I recount this story about our upward climbing Luke not to brag or because I had anything to do with his accomplishments (other than being his chauffeur). I tell this story because 9 years ago, I sat in my kitchen and wept after I heard a dyslexia specialist quizzing Luke and realized my 3rd grader skipped letters in a recitation of the alphabet, couldn’t name the days of the week in order, or name even half of the twelve months of the year. I cried because before she left she told me Luke needed to go to a special school. She told me his dyslexia was severe, and he was years behind other students. Years. He would likely never read well. Looking back now, though, I know I shouldn’t have worried. That specialist knew a lot of things, but she didn’t know Luke. She didn’t understand the power of The Senate.

(*Luke liked to be called The Senate in 8th grade because of his love of Star Wars. It was a joke he made once with his classmates and it stuck. He’s as powerful as Palpatine, but he has no desire to join the Senate.)

Calm Down

I saw this yesterday and appreciated it so much I had to post it to Facebook, and I rarely post anything to Facebook other than links to my blog posts because my blog posts cover most of what is happening in my life anyway. But I thought this bit was brilliant. Brilliant not just because it was amusing but because it was honest.

Thank you, Tom Papa, for your wisdom.

It’s kind of crazy how much time some people are willing to devote to their careers. Their jobs come before family. Their jobs come before their health, their friends, their home. And for what? Money? A title? Some imagined (or real but not incredibly significant) career legacy? So few people land where Steve Job, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos did. Those men have made their mark on our lifetimes, but how long those marks will last remains to be seen. Who from the annals of history do we recall? The great philosophers — Socrates, Plato, Aristotle? Genghis Khan? Caesar? Napoleon? Consider the number human lives lived during the same period that these men lived and how few of those lives had a significant, lasting impact on the world, the dissemination of their genes into the proverbial pool, notwithstanding. Most of us will live quiet lives, so why do we stress ourselves out with long hours and dedication to work when ultimately our significance in this life will remain inside a small circle of personal influence. How much time do we lose in that circle by pawing for things that don’t really matter in our life’s grand scheme? Did we learn nothing from the 1974 Harry Chapin hit Cats in the Cradle?

It’s something to think about. I think most people know the most important things in life can’t be bought. It’s too bad so many of us don’t live that way.

It’s Time For Live Music Again

After years of streaming concerts, it seems bands are ready to trek back out again for shows. Some musicians returned to the scene last year, but this year it seems there is an explosion of bands hitting the road after too long of a hiatus from their livelihoods. This is fantastic news for me. I’ve already got six shows on my calendar for 2022 and I expect that number to increase as I see what else is coming down the pike. I am looking forward to making up for the year and a half I lost to Covid-19.

This morning, out of sheer curiosity, I did my best sleuthing to determine how many bands I’ve seen over the years. I started seeing concerts in 1983. My first show was The Police when I was 15 years old. I’ve conjectured since then how many concerts I’ve been to, but it’s all been speculation. I stopped saving tickets stubs decades ago, so the list I was working on this morning was recreated out of the few stubs I kept, my Facebook and Instagram feeds, my Apple calendar, and my iTunes account. I’m sure I missed some, but this is what I came up with:

These aren’t all separate shows, as some of the bands were co-headliners or opening acts for other artists and some bands were seen at festivals. The numbers in parentheses denote the number of times I’ve seen that band live. It’s a little embarrassing, for example, how many times I’ve seen Sting in concert. I can say for sure, however, that he was the headliner at all those shows so that helps me better estimate how many actual concerts I have attended. I made a guess once that it was around 100 shows. Looking at my list and digging through my memory, I think it’s safe to say I’ve actually seen closer to 120 shows, and it may be more since I just realized I’ve actually seen U2 three times. I shudder to think how much money I’ve spent on these shows, especially when you consider ticket prices with fees these days, but in most cases I wouldn’t take my money back for the experience. There have only been a handful of shows for which I would like a refund of time and money.

My friend Heather and I at a very rainy Decemberists show at Red Rocks on my 47th birthday

Because concert going is one of my hobbies, I’ve turned my sons into concert goers too. Joe’s first show was Imagine Dragons at Red Rocks when he was 8. Luke’s first show (also seen when he was 8) was the Foo Fighters at Red Rocks. We love seeing concerts as a family, which has become costly for the four of us. Nonetheless, we’ll be seeing Spoon in May and The Decemberists in August together. Steve and I are flying to Pasadena for the Cruel World Festival on May 14th too so we can see 80’s bands. I will get to pretend I’m 16 again. All the bands will be showing their age and reminding us, in fact, we are not 16, but I’m looking forward to seeing Blondie, Devo, Violent Femmes, and Public Image Ltd. I also purchased tickets to see The National twice this summer and we’re going to Red Rocks to see The War on Drugs for the first time as well. Have I mentioned I’m excited to get back to shows?

I know stupid Covid isn’t done with us yet. I’m vaccinated and boosted, but I know I will be risking exposure to coronavirus by inserting myself into large crowds. I do not care. Being a music fan is as much a part of my identity as being a mom is. Some people live for sporting events, others for the theater. While I enjoy attending those things too, concerts are my happy place. I’m ready to get back at it. I’m overdue.

TOWANDA!

“I too am not a bit tamed. I too am untranslatable. I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” ~Walt Whitman

I’ve been implying here for years (literally years, there are archives of proof) that I am going to get my shit together. Yes, indeed, I’ve proclaimed. My poop is nearly in a group. Nearly. Like it’s so close I can almost gather it in with a poop scoop. I’ve said these things time and time again. Truth is, though, I really am there now. For real. All those years with the training wheels on, getting closer to the growth I was craving and then pulling back in fear before finding a nugget of courage to continue forward again, they’ve created a muscle memory of being brave, of putting myself out there, of pushing the boundaries of my history, and of finding my voice. All those things are far easier for me now than they were seven years ago when I started this journey. I know my worth. I know what I am and what I am not. I’m willing to walk away from people and situations that are toxic to a healthy mindset. I am done playing games. I’m finished living my life to make others comfortable. I’m choosing me now.

I found this shop on Etsy that creates these cute little rocks. You choose your word and a color from their selection and they make it for you. I originally just wanted a couple that read “TOWANDA!” from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, but then I decided this was an opportunity to set my intentions. Small tokens with actions words to remind me what I want to do, how I want to live intentionally, in whatever time I have left in this life. I didn’t choose love because that seemed too obvious. Instead, I chose words that asked me to go beyond my comfort zone. I chose words I’ve struggled to live in the first part of my life. I chose dare, believe, dream, relax, stretch, practice, create, and shine to be my words. These words represent growth. These are my new core values. This is the future I want and am prepared to enact. TOWANDA is my rallying cry, my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

Loki Is A Trickster And A Delight

The shade, though

We brought our newest family member home on September 26th when he was 8 weeks old. We’re now beginning our 21st week with our little mischief-maker. We’ve spent the past five months figuring him out and trying to get him adjusted to our life here. We’ve taken him to puppy socialization classes where he excelled at holding his own against dogs far taller and heavier than he is. We tried him at puppy training classes at Petsmart, only to be foiled by two very small, very barky, very distracting miniature schnauzers that made it impossible to hear the dog trainer and practice commands. We finally went back to the trainer who ran the puppy socialization classes, Lynn, and signed up for Delightful Dog class. Loki had a real affinity for Lynn, so we knew this might be the person who could help us get him on track (although we already thought he was a delightful dog).

Loki paying attention to Lynn’s pointers

Fortunately for us, there were only four puppers in the class including Loki. With fewer doggy distractions (and no excessive barkers), we were in it to win it. Lynn gave us plenty of wonderful tips for positive training. It’s all about treats and clear messaging for positive behaviors and lots of patience. Loki came to class already proficient in Watch Me, Touch, and Sit, plus a couple fun commands we worked on just for giggles, Spin (self-explanatory) and Boop (he has to put his nose through the hole of a donut toy). Our first real challenge with him was Down, which is hard to teach a dog who only has six inches of ground clearance. He thinks he’s already pretty far down and doesn’t see why we want him to lower himself. Lynn showed us how we could sit on the ground and lure Loki under our bent knees, which would force him onto his belly to get underneath for the treat. Once his belly hit the ground, we let out an emphatic “yes” and gave him a reward. It took about five minutes of this before he figured out that Down meant flat on his belly. Over the course of a couple weeks, we got him to the point where we can say Down and point to the floor and he drops onto his belly. Such a good boy.

Loki loooooves treats

We were still working on Stay and Come when time for the class final arrived. I was nervous on the way to class. I told Loki not to embarrass us during his test, but I knew he probably would, at least a little bit. Lynn did a great job of not making any of us, dogs or humans, feel anxious once we arrived. Loki blew through Watch Me, Touch, and Sit like a champ. Then he showed Lynn that he had learned Down. Loki did pretty well with Leave It, ignoring the treats in my open palm in front of his face. He did an okay job with Stay, but when it came to Come things went off the rails. With his leash off and other dogs and humans nearby, it was a Loki free-for-all. Despite my treats and emphatic cries of “Loki, COME,” he was what you would expect from a corgi named Loki…all mischief and tricks. But, that’s okay. He’s an adolescent corgi. We can keep working on it. He will get there eventually. He’s a smart little guy who loves treats and has patient parents who want to see him succeed.

The Graduate

When all the dogs had cycled through the exam material, Lynn played “Pomp and Circumstance” and handed out diplomas, with tacit acknowledgment from all the pet parents there is still plenty of work to be done. For us, it’s going to be many more walks to perfect loose leash walking, along with time focusing on Come and Stay. I would also like him to learn Place and Wait. And I will never stop teaching him tricks. If I taught him to use Inside Voice, I’m pretty sure I can follow that up with Crawl, Stretch, Shake, and a few others. Teaching a dog to behave is hard work. Teaching a dog to be cute is fun work. We’re proud of our little graduate. He only got a B- on his final exam because of the disaster with the Come command, but he gets an A from us for making us laugh every damn day. Good job, little Loki.

Bucket List Item #4: Take A Welding Class

Luke and the elephant table

When we learned that our sons’ small, specialized high school had a welding shop and a ceramics studio, we were excited. I had long wanted to learn how to weld. I figured that until I could get my hands on a MIG welder, maybe the boys could take classes and learn. And they did. They took welding in summer sessions and made some really awesome items that are now our treasures. One summer, Luke fabricated this cool, elephant table for our outdoor space.

When we went to our gala fundraiser at Denver Academy and they auctioned off a four-hour welding class with the school’s material arts teacher, we knew we would have to bid on and win that item some time in the six years we would be at the school. After several years of being severely outbid, in 2019 we finally did it. We won a lesson. Life got in the way, however, and our gift certificate (with a one year expiration) did not get used. Thanks, Covid-19. This year, out of curiosity, I messaged the teacher and inquired if he might still be willing to let us have our lesson. He enthusiastically replied that he would love to do it. We were thrilled. So, yesterday morning we had our class.

Never looked better

We arrived at 9 a.m. with a huge Americano for our teacher because an apple will only get you so far at that time on a Saturday morning. He geared us up with safety goggles, ear plugs, gloves, and welding jackets, and we started with the plasma cutter. Loved that. I’m not sure there is anything more satisfying than watching the sparks fly as you rip through metal like it’s butter. After we’d liberated some small shapes with the plasma cutter, he taught us about the MIG welder and we worked on our welding skills. It was difficult for me to get the right speed, but I did eventually figure it out. We practiced welding random, found-pieces of metal from his shop. Then we went on to learn how to use the angle grinder to polish our metal pieces. That was pretty damn satisfying. Not gonna lie.

After learning the tools, we had about two hours to figure out what we wanted to build to take home. We had to design it, cut the metal, weld it, polish it, and determine how to hang in our limited time frame. Kris, the teacher, had a metal frame in his shop that someone had already created. He told us we were welcome to use it if we wanted. We decided to design a mountain scene that we could put inside the open frame. We did some planning drawings and got right to work. Steve cut the pieces with the plasma cutter while I used the angle grinder to polish the pieces he cut. With his job finished, Steve started welding our mountains to the frame. About that time, our son, Luke, showed up and he helped me speed up the grinding process. I had a lot of pieces to work on.

In the end, Kris helped us put a couple rubber stops on the back of the frame so the art piece would not cause damage to any surface it is mounted on. I have to say the whole process was a blast. It’s important to keep trying new things, to keep creating and taking risks, and to keep reaching for things you think might be your thing. And it’s best to do these things with people you love and work well with, so you can end up with something like this:

Not too bad for first time metal fabricators – Moonrise Over Mountains

Ever so grateful to Denver Academy and Kris Fritzsche for everything!

Escape From Reality: The Me-Time Tour

One of my happy places

To get their needs met, most people require a little “me” time. This looks different for everyone. For some, it might include time with friends. For some, it might require solitude. Others might find their peace through travel. For me, it often requires a little of both of the last two items. I am midway through my Escape From Reality: The Me-Time Tour. I have taken this particular tour once before. I’m staying in Boulder, where I attended the University of Colorado approximately four hundred years ago. At the foot of the Flatirons lies Chautauqua, a park, auditorium, dining hall, and collection of quaint cottages where people are welcome to relax, experience culture and nature, and simply enjoy a quieter pace. How is it going, you ask? Writing time on the sofa with a cozy blanket is how it is going. In other words, I am relaxed for the first time in over a month.

Very meta this photo of me writing this blog

The cottages at Chautauqua offer everything a writer needs…solitude, beautiful surroundings, quiet, comfort, and no television. There is WiFi because it is helpful, especially if you are a writer, but other than that the distractions are minimal unless you count the squirrels running across the roof. Time here allows me to unwind, silence the noise in my brain, and determine where I need to place more attention when I return home and what I need to jettison to usher in a calmer, steadier existence. The last time I visited here was September 2020 after full-time lockdown with my family had me frazzled.

I suppose I could get the same calming results if I stayed at a hotel, but this place holds special memories for me. I love hiking in the Flatirons. I love the park here. And, seriously, how cute are these little cottages? In a place like this, approximately 420 square feet, I am reminded of how little I need to be comfortable and relaxed. Our home is massive compared to this space, but I could totally live in one of these cottages and be content. Not sure where my husband would live. He might need to be in the cottage next door because I am well beyond the days of happily sharing a full-size bed with another human being.

Cozy place for resting, requisite stuffed dog already in place

I had three main objectives when I came here. First, I wanted to have enough time to write some extra blog posts. Writing every day can prove challenging. It isn’t that I can’t find something to say each day. Heaven knows there is enough insanity in my head to spill onto pages for days and days. It’s just that sometimes the days get away from me, and I don’t like having to resort to a photo-and-haiku post (although those can be fun too) because I have run out of time to function as a rational person. So having a few extra posts stashed for days when I simply cannot has become crucial. Second, I wanted to work on a vision board. I’ve been trying to figure out where other people’s wishes for my life end and where mine begin. To live intentionally in a direction that makes sense for me, that is my goal. I figured creating a visual reminder for myself, a map of sorts, might help keep me on my own best track. Finally, I wanted to do some journaling and planning. I wanted to check in with myself and determine what my priorities are right now. I know I need to set up some boundaries in my life so I can keep my tank from running on empty. I also need to diffuse some mental land mines others have left for me. But getting to the bottom of problems like these requires ample time without distractions, and I am not getting that right now at home.

Old school journaling

I have been feeling for months as if I was coming to a tipping point, a point from which I would either springboard forward into a period of exponential personal growth or slump back into my lockdown hole of mindlessness and go back to full-time life on the Animal Crossing island. I want to go forward so badly, but first I need to dig deep and find the courage to do it. And that is what this weekend is about, self-reflection and goal setting. It is about making a plan for growth and pointing myself in the right direction. I’m thinking I need two weekends like this a year. Maybe three. Possibly four, but no more than five. I think. That’s reasonable, right?

You Can Only Go Wrong In Life If You Sell Yourself Short

Our youngest has always been a big-picture, future-focused thinker. As a child, he would draw scenes on pages of printer paper and then tape them to the wall to create an epic battle scene or an entire city. At seven he famously told us that he was ready to “get a wife, have some kids, and just get on with his life.” So it didn’t really surprise me much today when he mentioned during an admitted students day at Reed College that he first learned about Reed in 8th grade. I did not know this. I first learned about Reed College when our oldest was entering his junior year and I found it listed among schools in the book Colleges That Change Lives. It was that book that prompted me to suggest a trip to tour four colleges in the Pacific northwest in one trip. As we toured Reed, both Joe and I knew immediately it was not the place for him. We both agreed, however, that it might be a great fit for Luke. As he headed into senior year, Luke told us that Reed was his top choice school.

As I learned more about Reed, I got a little nervous. Reed has a reputation for being a highly rigorous college. One article I found online claimed that Reed is among the top ten most challenging colleges in the US, along with Harvard, Columbia, the University of Chicago, and MIT. Among the social sciences and humanities, Reed produces the second most PhD candidates in the country. They produce the third most PhD candidates in the sciences and math. It’s a tough school. I began to wonder if it was the right choice for Luke. While he is intellectually curious and hard working, he also has anxiety. My concern kicked in. I told Luke these things, and I think it stressed him out too. So he switched his top choices to a couple other schools, including Whitman College where his brother is a sophomore.

Still, we encouraged him to apply to Reed anyway. Of the colleges he applied to, it had one of the lowest acceptance rates, so we called it a “reach” school. He applied Early Action and received his acceptance email in late December while we were on vacation. When we returned home, his official acceptance letter was waiting for him along with their welcome gift, a book, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. For our dyslexic son who has worked so hard to become a prolific reader, it seemed like a sign. So we came to Portland for an official tour so he has all the necessary information when May 1st rolls around and he needs to sign on the dotted line for the college of his choice.

As we sat through the presentations today and walked around campus on the tour, I could see Luke’s interest and excitement. I have to admit that I started to get excited about Reed too. It’s a different type of liberal arts college. For starters, while students receive letter grades for their work, they are not shown those grades. Instead, professors give qualitative feedback on papers. In their required freshman course, Humanities 110, students meet with their professor for a paper conference where their work is discussed with them one-on-one. It’s through this type of feedback that Reed is able to encourage student growth. There is no “teaching to the test” at this institution. There are no collegiate athletics and no Greek system. Students are required to complete some physical education credits, but these can be obtained through classes like bowling or archery. It’s a school for students who like to sit around and discuss who had better ideas, Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle. They have a yearly conference that lasts for a week where students teach hands-on classes on any topic they choose. In short, it’s a school for eggheads who enjoy learning for the sake of learning. And it’s safe to say Luke is that egghead.

At one point today, I found myself thinking about what advice I wanted to give Luke about his tough choice ahead. How does he decide which school will be the right one? Does he go with a still challenging but safer bet or does he push his boundaries and see where his drive will take him (even if it brings him more stress in the short-term)? While thinking about it, I became teary eyed. When I was choosing a college for myself, I went with the safe bet. I chose the closest school with the best academics where I had a chance of being accepted. I sold myself short. I got bogged down by the cost of college and the introvert terror of being somewhere new and not knowing a single soul. I let fear make my choice, and I’ve spent the rest of my life wishing I’d been brave enough to take a chance on myself. So, I told Luke tonight over fries at Red Robin that he can’t go wrong with any of the schools he applied to. They are all wonderful institutions with many positives to offer. Then I told him to believe in himself and pick a place where his big-picture, future-focused mind will be challenged to reach the heights he dreams of. You can always choose an easier path if the harder one you start down becomes unbearable, but it’s difficult to convince yourself to reach for something bigger when you’ve already made yourself believe you aren’t capable of more. You can go with your gut or with your imagination. Your imagination will always take you further.

Books for the required Humanities 110 at Reed College

Lessons From The Midnight Library

So, I’ve just finished The Midnight Library. I’m still trying to process it. In some ways, it reminds me of one of my all-time favorite books, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, although I don’t believe it is the same caliber of literature. That said, this book definitely had an impact on me. Perhaps it’s because of the work I’ve been doing in therapy. Perhaps I was just open to the messages contained therein. In any case, it was a good read for my current state of mind and the point of life I am at, the point where my children are gone and it’s time to put myself first again.

Without giving away any of the plot, I can say the story will give you some bold ideas to consider. Are you living your life in the direction of your dreams or someone else’s? What is holding you back? Are there alternate realities for the life you are living? Do you consider the lives you have touched and the people you have affected? What makes life worth living? Is the goal of life success and, if so, how do you measure that? Are your regrets holding you back? Are they even worth relitigating?

Here are a selection of quotes from the book that resonated with me:


“You don’t have to understand life. You just have to live it.”

“It’s not the lives we regret not living that are the real problem. It is the regret itself. It’s the regret that makes us shrivel and wither and feel like our own and other people’s worst enemy.”

“A person was like a city. You couldn’t let a few less desirable parts put you off the whole. There may be bits you don’t like, a few dodgy side streets and suburbs, but the good stuff makes it worthwhile.”

“Regrets don’t leave. They weren’t mosquito bites. They itch for ever.”

“There is no rejection. There is only redirection.”

“But there is no life where you can be in a state of sheer happiness forever. And imagining there is just breeds more unhappiness in the life you’re in.”

“The prison wasn’t the place but the perspective.”

All of these quotes (and many others) got me thinking about my own journey and the things I’ve allowed to hold me back. Choices I didn’t make. Paths I didn’t take. People I let go too soon. People I didn’t let go soon enough. Times I sold myself short out of fear. Times I let others tell me what I couldn’t do. And it is fine to consider all these things, just as long as the consideration doesn’t keep you from action.

I think my biggest takeaway from the book is that I need to be more intentional. I have spent an awful lot of time making excuses for things I haven’t done rather than taking concrete steps to accomplish them. It’s time for a vision board. I need to do some soul searching about this next phase in my life, to build on the work I’ve done in therapy and make concrete plans to attack some of the things I’ve been afraid of. And perhaps along the way to accomplishing some long-ignored goals I will unearth the life I have held regrets about not yet living.