Thoughts on Regrets

“We all do things we desperately wish we could undo. Those regrets just become part of who we are, along with everything else. To spend time trying to change that, well, it’s like chasing clouds.”

Libba Bray

Everybody has regrets.  We all live with the what-ifs, the should-have-beens and could-have-beens.  I’ve had my share and more. Most have faded away, others remain with me to this day.  The maxims suggest you live without regret.  I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time working that sentiment into daily life. If I deny those feeling, don’t I deny a part of me I don’t want to lose? I don’t want to live in the past, but how can I change my future if I don’t understand what molded my past?

I regret when my first tabby cat, Dandor, died trying to get to the bedroom to be with me. I was asleep and didn’t know until the next day. It was a natural death, don’t get me wrong, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.  Didn’t make my regret any easier. I regret that I wasn’t more self-away when I first met my ex because then he wouldn’t have been anything to me. I would have seen through his lies and been strong enough to say, ‘I deserve better.’

Regret. Regret. Regret. So many regrets in one lifetime. I treasure these regrets because they are the building blocks upon which my life has been constructed, stepping stones to a stronger and calmer and happier me.  That doesn’t mean I will never have another regret. I  know I will and trying to pretend otherwise is like turning a blind eye to reality.

My biggest regret now is that I didn’t keep the last promise I made to my Mother. When we put her in respite care while my Dad was in the hospital, I promised I would take her home. Every time I saw her, I promised.  She would cry and I would remind her of the promise and the tears would stop. When Dad got better, he realized he couldn’t care for her by himself any longer.  The result – leaving her where she didn’t want to be. Promise broken. Not my fault. Not anybody’s fault. It was what it was. A broken promise never to be mended. An ache of pain which will linger for a long time to come.

How do we survive the avalanche of regret? One step at a time.  One day at a time.  One moment at a time. Forgiving yourself is a lifetime project. No one conquers those pains in an hour or a day. Sometimes it takes the lifetime. We learn to crawl, then walk, and then run from the hurt behind.  Other times, we sit still and silent, letting the pain and regret settle deep inside us until we realized that, no matter how bad, the regret and the pain is not going to kill us.

The Little Prince On Essential Matters

“Grown-ups love figures… When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? ” Instead they demand “How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? ” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”

It seems to me knowing about butterflies, games, and the sound of somebody’s voice are much more important than knowing a weight, an age or even money.  Money doesn’t make friends, at least not the kind of friends I’d want. Frankly, I hate figures, whither it is a math problem or figuring out my checkbook.  Thank goodness for on-line banking so I no longer have to struggle monthly with the hell of balancing; I do much better checking my account daily and keeping the balance in my head.  That way, my math output is limited and that brings me happiness.

I am proud to say I never questioned my sons about their friend’s parents – unless it was to clarify in my mind I was thinking of the right persons. I never asked about weight or height.  I decided once another boy was not the appropriate friend and, covertly, gave my son’s regrets to his birthday party.  Realistically, my son was 7 or 8 and this boy cursed in ever sentence.  Not something I wanted my child around.

I don’t, however, remember asking about those essential matters.  What does essential mean?  According to the dictionary:

: extremely important and necessary

: very basic

We all know this.  The words isn’t unusual or vague.  But looking at the definition in black and white it struck me that essential matters are extremely important and yet very basic.  Food, clothes, shelter. A purposeful life and the ability to find happiness inside. Our health.  Family. Friends. Love. Peace.

It all boils down to balance.  Is my life balanced? Can I somehow find the fine line between my life, my work and my son’s still living at home.  Am I content in my work? Do I care about butterflies and voices and games?

Yes, yes, I believe I do.



Love Dare Round 2

Last Fall, I started the Love Dare. After the first couple days, however, I stopped, feeling I wasn’t giving it the proper attention.  I decided to start again later.  Now it is later.  A New Year to start anew.

That said, the Love Dare is back.  I am working this program for my sons, not a spouse.  Tomorrow I will be back to report on my success, or lack thereof.

Day 1: Love is patient
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your children at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It’s better to hold your tongue than to say something you’ll regret


Hello, Just A Little Mail For Your Box

My mother died this past October.  She had Parkinson’s for years and she was finally just ready to leave.  I found peace with her going before the fact so the pain inside was not as sharp as it might have been.  In fact, I felt a sense of relief that she was finally free of the prison of her body.  We knew the day was coming, had for years. It was just a matter of waiting for the right time.  There were times when I railed against the world for the cruel joke of making my mother, the woman who NEVER wanted to sit still (She was the housecleaning Queen) and NEVER wanted anybody to do anything for her, a prisoner in a jail of flesh and bone.

Before her death, I was cleaning out some boxes and came across many letters and notes she had sent me when I was away at college. Every week, at least two notes, often saying nothing more than ‘hello, just a little mail for your box’ or a note or two about what the cats were doing. By then, the disease had taken away her ability to write.  I realized I would never read anything again in her handwriting.  The letters took on a whole new meaning, lifelines to a time which would never return.  I kept as many as I could find, knowing one day I would want to look at her familiar hand-writing once again and remember.

Handwritten notes, cards, pictures, these are the things we should treasure instead of what money will we get from the will, which of her possessions would we like.  I don’t need, or want, her possessions to remember her.  I would rather look at my notes from college, the years of birthday cards, Christmas cards, cards for no reason at all. These are the notes from her heart to mine.

“Is this the reality you wanted?” ― Jonghyun

There are days I wonder about this question.  Is this reality the one I want?  Most times, my answer is a resounding no.  My perfect reality is to have enough money to stay home and write, for both sons to be well and truly on their way to independence (or already there), with the peace and quiet in my days to live the way I want, to contemplate and explore the worlds around me.

The reality I have is no retirement until/unless I inherit some money. a house payment which will last until I’m old, and sons that seem content to live in my house forever.  Between all this, I hardly find time to write.  It’s hard to write when I have little time to give to the characters tramping about in my head.  And I know – you make time for the things important to you.

I have spend years learning how to think abundance – more than – instead of lack  – less than.  I know the world gives back what I put in.  My mantra over the years has been ‘the money will be there.’  Hard to believe when I get paid and only have $30.00 to carry me for two weeks after bills and groceries.  But, somehow the money is always there.  A few years ago, I got a $500 bill with no way to pay.  The next day, I received a check for $500.00.  Like I said, the money is always there; it just takes belief.

Like many people, I have trouble with belief.  I fall into the trap of thinking in the future – where *will* I get the money to buy food – or the past – I never have enough money.  It’s hard to live in the moment, but the moment is the only place where I can achieve the reality I want. So while I still say no more often than yes, at least I am aware and working every day – every moment – on changing my own mind and find my own perfect reality.

What is your perfect reality and how close are you to finding that in your life?

Living In The Moment


“When we are mired in the relative world, never lifting our gaze to the mystery, our life is stunted, incomplete; we are filled with yearning for that paradise that is lost when, as young children, we replace it with words and ideas and abstractions – such as merit, such as past, present, and future – our direct, spontaneous experience of the thing itself, in the beauty and precision of this present moment.”
Peter Matthiessen

One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is to live in the moment.  It’s easy to get ‘mired in the relative world,’ caught in the mundane day-to-day living and forget the paradise from which we were expelled as we grew from children to adults.  Children live in the Now, no divide between the real and fantasy.  After all, children are the ones who believe by simply stepping into a forest, they enter another world.  Children believe in ghosts and fairies and Santa Claus. They believe in the goodness of the world because they have never been taught the bad.  I am, of course, speaking generally here as I know there are many children who are never allowed this kind of childhood.  Even these children often live in fantasy, believing – hoping – that the one who abuses them loves them.

I understand the need for ‘words and ideas and abstractions’.  We need these to survive in today’s world, but as Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes said, “I go to school, but I never learn what I want to know.”  Where do children learn love and kindness and compassion?  These traits are of the Now.  Nobody learns love or compassion or kindness in the past or the future.  And if they don’t learn these things as children, Now, where will they?

The world’s sadness comes from not living in the Now.  We expect children to grow and become responsible, to forget the magical world of childhood, instead learning geometry and history and government.  Important, yes, but why not art and theater and day dreaming, too?  The past is gone, never to be retrieved.  The future will never come.  All we have is each moment to exist in all the glory of the world, to come to know not only our own souls, but the soul of the world.

I believe we are all connected, deep down in our souls.  We are one, you and I and the mountains and rocks and trees and animals.  Science has gone a long way to proving this.  After all, we are all made from the same building blocks of the universe: us, nature, chairs, tables, the food we eat.  Children instinctively understand this.  As adults, we have forgotten.  We spend hours immortalizing vacations, children’s games, birthdays, Christmas, in photos instead of moving the camera from our vision to see the beauty now, moment to moment as it unfold.  We run from our emotions, hiding them to avoid the pain, pretending our lives are full and happy and whole.

I know my life is not full and happy and whole when I am living in the past or the future. So how do we remember to take each moment as it comes?

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” ― Allen Saunders

How true.  This was brought home to me the day before yesterday.  I had a nice evening all set in my mind.  First, I planned to sand two more shelves from the dresser I am going to paint, have some dinner with the cat who thinks she should rule the house (and tries to do so by picking on the other cats), and then start down my list of chores, doing my minimum of at least 5 for the day.  I love having a plan to follow.  I’d done the same the day before and it was such a peaceful evening, the kind of evening I don’t get very often.

Then when I got home at 4:00, my oldest told me he had to be at work by 5:00 which meant I had to go pick up his brother from college at 4:45.  Which meant I had to drop him at work, pick up my youngest, go home and then pick up the oldest from work at 10:00.  These are the problems of three people with three lives working out of one car.  So much for my hour of sanding.  I got maybe 15 minutes done.  It’s not that I resent picking up my son or that the other one works, I just don’t like my plans changed. I function best when I stick to the same schedule each day.  Most people might think this boring, but it keeps me level and sane.  And mostly productive.

I try to be spontaneous and, pre-planned, it works.  Which defies the logic of spontaneous, but there you go. You do what works.  Ask me to go to a movie three days in advance and I’m good; the afternoon of… forget it. And don’t ask me three days in advance and then cancel at the last moment.   That screws me up even more because suddenly I have a block of unscheduled time.  I wish I could be one of the care-free ones, going with the wind and flow, but that’s not me.  It took me years to accept I need a set schedule and to plan out my days to be the most productive and stable as possible.

Still, while I’m making my plans and setting my schedules, life goes on, making it’s own plans regardless of mine.  There is nothing I can do to halt or alter this process.  So the question is how to balance out a schedule and be free-floating.  The best I have accomplished is being free-floating on a loose schedule.  This works sometimes. Other times I have to tighten down and follow my schedule to the letter or I start to ‘turtle.”  To turtle means to withdraw inside and pull my invisible shell around me, shutting out the world.  Sort of like the ostrich putting it’s head in the sand but without said sand up your nose.

It’s a journey this learning how to balance between one thing or another.  Once I learn I can be either the ‘one thing’ one day and ‘another’ the next, I hope to relax my frantic scheduling.  And one day, I might even wait until afternoon to start the To-Do list.

The Love Dare

As some of you might have noticed, I haven’t done the Love Dare for several days.  The more I tried, the more I started to feel that I wasn’t doing the Dare justice.  I was responding to the wording of the actual Dare and doing that easily enough, but I started to wonder why I was doing these things.  What was the Dare attempting to show me?  Surely not that I could knock off a Dare a day just like another check on my To-Do List.

Maybe the Dares don’t translate well from SO to children, or maybe I just missed the point.  The point wasn’t, I decided, that I could easily check off each day on my list and feel good about having done so, but instead to think about the challenge, to take the words into my heart and ask my higher power for the understanding to guide my way, forgiveness for forgetting, and the strength to do the work needed to deepen and change my relationship to anybody with whom my relationship has gone astray.

So, I have decided I am going to start the Love Dare over.  This time, instead of just reading the actual ‘Dare’ and responding superficially, I am going to read the article that explains each day in detail.  The what and the why and the how. I am going to let the words live inside me.  I am going to approach each day with the deep-seated faith and knowledge that I can change my relationship with my sons while bringing deeper peace and understanding to my own soul in the process.

Then I will know that I have given everything I am to each and every day’s Dare and that, after all, is all one can give.