No Regrets

No Regrets

In my line of work, you experience death. We go on the death watch journey with a family as someone’s loved one goes into a decline. Or it’s an unexpected shock- and we must be the calm in their tumultuous storm of shock and grief.

I have answered the phone when someone calls with the news. I have sat and listened as a family sits and waits for their appointment with clergy to plan the funeral. And what I hear over and over again is:

Don’t waste a moment.

Tell everyone you love them.

Hug often.

Fill your days with things that bring you joy.

In a week that in our biz is filled with more tedious busy-ness and mind-numbing details than is the norm, it’s easy to forget those wise words. But this week was the perfect time for me to repeat the sage advice like a mantra as I drove to work each day.

For my children- they are ready to leap to the next adventure. Perhaps my concerns have some merit, but this is the time to fly. I have few regrets, but can look back and wonder how my life would have turned out if I had boldly picked choice A over choice B.

For myself- I’ve already started 2017 with a bang. Our radical lifestyle change has reaped many blessings and giving both of us an appreciation for another chance to turn the page and start something new.

As the grieving widower sat speaking quietly to us with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes,

We had a great life, but the last ten years was more than we were promised. And we did everything she wanted to do, and had no regrets. We loved, we played and we lived every moment.

©annettealaine2017

The Long Journey Home

The Long Journey Home

The first few months of 2017 have been quite eventful. The decision to sell the house and downsize has been accomplished.

Although my mind was made up to move forward and finally shed myself of this last piece of my past life, the emotions and memories it triggered were somewhat surprising.

I knew the sweet memories would flow as I packed up and sorted through my kid’s stuff- childhood memorabilia that brought good memories flooding back. Taking them to the pool, fixing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for picnics in the front yard, doll strollers and razor scooters, deflated basketballs and footballs that were used up.

Each closet, drawer or cupboard contained something from the past- bath toys, notes, legos and books. Watching my older sons sort and purge was like watching them grow up all over again. Their faces lit up in recognition as they uncovered some artifact, a memory recalled, then the item was packed into a storage bin, or placed in a pile to be given away.

The final week after moving out was sorting through the attic. The place we put all of the stuff we aren’t ready to part with just yet. If I thought sorting through the garage was a trip through the past, the attic was the place where broken dreams reside.

There were the usual holiday decorations, and the forgotten baby paraphernalia, along with a bin filled with nuggets saved from high school and college days- an unexpected treasure box for me to sift through later.

But, there were a number of boxes filled with personal items from the ex- left up in the attic to molder for the past ten years. I did not intend to open them, but they got wet in a sudden rainstorm. Sifting through the damp articles from his teen/young adult years, I realized I don’t know this person- and perhaps I never did.

I read some of his words, and my own, when we went on a weekend to try to salvage our relationship many years before we finally divorced. I heard the pain of my loneliness in my journal from that time. As I read some of his writing that weekend I recalled how disconnected he was from his wife and son.  Work has always been at the top of his priority list. And that never changed.

This house is the last tie we share. But it was never his house. We were relocated to different cities four times due to his job. This was the only move that was my choice. I wanted this house for my kids, and myself. A place chosen because it was a neighborhood filled with families and kids. . A place that felt like my own for the first time in our marriage. A place to call home.

And the dream was sustained for a while longer.  The house served its purpose.  My kids are filled with great memories, but the marriage did not survive. So I’ve packed up and moved on to a new dream,  leaving the past behind.

©annettealaine2017

 

Postscript: I’ve been writing and re-writing this piece for a number of days. I hesitated to write about my ex, out of respect for my children. But, in order to bring the last ten years to a close, this final act of shedding the past is significant to all of us. For my kids, the selling of a childhood home is a definitive end to childhood.  For me, it’s the last shackle to the past, a place and time that has influenced my writing for many years. Thank you to my husband for opening my world and filling it with so much love.

As We Plan Our Escape

Come with me and escape~ Rupert Holmes

Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.~ Herman Hesseimgres-1

We are in the final stages of the great escape from suburbia. Seven years ago, I remarried and we lived together with kids and a cat in my four bedroom, three bath house deep in the suburbs.

We dreamed of finding a place of our own- not mine or his, no memories of the past, just a fresh start for a new life.

Jobs, rebounding kids and life in general put our dream on hold for a few years. But our time has arrived. Step one was getting the house on the market. Second was finding a place to live. Third was waiting for the timing to work in our favor. We got our contract and put the deposit on our new place three weeks ago.

Now the clock ticks down as we work through the hard part- downsizing. Forty plus years of stuff to sort through. And we do all this while working full-time. Days off are filled with purging and packing. Every room filled with this somewhat controlled chaos.

There have been a few days when I’ve been overwhelmed by the enormity of this task. After years of moving (twenty-one times since I was a kid), I traveled pretty light. Each move was a time to re-assess some of the stuff we had accumulated. My shredder is working overtime, removing volumes of paper that I don’t need. I divide up knick-knacks and other goodies to the  kids, cajole friends to adopt my books, as we  create our piles: purge ( to charity), store, move.

I’m discovering how easy it is to let go of the very things I swore I’d never part with- realizing the once important items no longer hold any sentimental value. What I have learned is that my memories are my most precious asset. I don’t need a figurine to recall a great time from my past. And in divesting myself of so much stuff, my load is lightened. I won’t drag the baggage of the past into my future.

A few more weeks, thank goodness, to continue to sift through the piles. We are ruthless with ourselves and our stuff. If it serves no purpose- either physically or emotionally- it’s gone.

We have planned our escape from the past and look forward to many adventures in our new home.   imgres-3

©annettealaine2017

 

Change is in the Air

I’m glad I could burrow deep within myself today. I was off- no need to make small talk and pretend this day was business as usual.

I should have spent the day packing more boxes for our move in February. Instead I sat in the quiet house. I read, I drank my tea and I pondered the world.

As an introvert, I seek to avoid drawing attention to myself. I am comfortable stating my thoughts and opinions in relation to my job, but I have always kept most of my personal opinions about religion and politics to myself.

If we become close, and I learn to trust you, I will open up, but I’m not  joiner. I don’t sign up for marches and protests. But that is changing- because I no longer feel I have the privilege to ignore what’s happening in this world.

I say world, because friends abroad have told me their own stories about injustice, ignorance and intolerance.

I think everyone is created by the Divine equal in every way. I don’t believe Eve was an afterthought. I believe through the study of world governments and religions that we all believe in the goodness of our fellow human and that our planet requires careful stewardship.

I believe in good and evil, but I believe there are shades of gray in almost every situation. I believe people are basically decent, but our greatest weakness is our inability to keep power from corrupting our souls.

I believe we were put here to make a small difference, but to do no harm. I believe the struggle is real between selflessness and selfishness. And I believe we all have a plank in our eye that keeps us from helping the other guy.

I hope the greatest gifts that come in the next four years is to care deeply enough about what happens in our country and our world. That the decades of political apathy is replaced with a new activism. And my greatest hope is that the patriarchy that has had all the power for centuries, will finally yield to a new world order. It’s past time.

©annettealaine2017

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Moving On

2017 begins with a bang!

I’m finally selling my house.

I’m distracted, harried, hurried, and harassed.

The clock is ticking louder, faster, marking the time- what little time I have left-to reduce my gargantuan footprint.

Downsizing is difficult. Downsizing is liberating. Downsizing is bittersweet.

So I pack up the past: three piles to separate fourteen years into manageable groups.

Move- Store- Purge

The future has arrived, and I’m ready for new adventures.images

©annettealaine2017

First of Fifty-five Adventures

This morning, husband and I went on a hike to the Teddy Roosevelt Area of Timucuan National Preserve in north of Jacksonville.

This was day one of my fifty-five adventures: my birthday began with a bang.

IMG_2478.JPG Timucuan was named for the Native American tribes who once roamed this part of Florida. The hammock and its trails are filled with live oaks, cedar, pine and saw palmettos.

IMG_2458.JPGWillie Browne and his family lived on this land for over close to one hundred years. Willie lived in a small cabin that is no longer standing (but the foundation is still there.)

The trail takes you around through the woods and along the salt marsh. We saw pileated wood peckers, snowy egrets, and other shore birds.IMG_2466.JPG

The first of many  adventures!

©annettealaine2016

 

Fifty-five Things

Tomorrow is the day. The day that comes once a year whether I want it to arrive, or not.

The day that gives me a new number to practice for the next twelve months. No, it’s not New Year’s, it’s my birthday.

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This year is one of those numbers that gets you thinking. I’m halfway through another decade and I want to mark it in some way. I’ve decided to jot down fifty-five things to do this coming year.

So far I have only twenty.  I want to try some new things, go on some short adventures. Do some things I’ve never done before.

So help me out. Give me some suggestions. Maybe it’s someplace you’ve gone, some new idea you had, or maybe it’s something you think I should try.

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Add your ideas to the comments section below. I will publish my list when I gather fifty-five.

@annettealaine2016