Saturday, January 26, 2013

Life is Too Short

I was coming home from a weekend trip recently and couldn't find any decent stations on the radio.  I put in several CD's that I had in the car and listened to them while I drove.  They were all older CD's, so I'd heard them dozens of times before.  This time though the words to several of the songs caught my attention, and I really listened to them for the first time.  Three in particular seemed to be sending me a message ... I Breathe In, I Breathe Out by Chris Cagle, Days Like These by Jason Aldean, and Tim McGraw's My Next Thirty Years

Chris Cagle's song describes perfectly how I lived for a long time after Eddie's death ... "Until this world stops turning round and my heart believes that you've gone, I breathe in and breathe out, put one foot in front of the other, take one day at a time ..."  I'm not sure at what point I stopped living this way.  I just know that I did.  It hasn't been easy, but going on with my life isn't the daily struggle that it once was.  I breathe easier now and don't think about every move before I make it.  I make plans days, weeks, even months in advance and look forward to them.  I'm gradually starting to enjoy life again, and what's even more important is I'm accepting that it's okay for me to!  I actually believe now it's what Eddie would have wanted.

I know from my own experience the words to Days Like These are truer than most people realize ... "Life is short."  Because I know this I've decided I should take more of that song to heart ... "Life is short, let's go live it, ain't no time for wasting time, days like these they go by way too fast, days like these you wanna make them last."  I've always been a very serious, cautious, responsible, schedule-oriented person.  I've always done what was expected of me and tried to please others before myself.  While I don't intend to become selfish, careless, or irresponsible, I am making an attempt to live a happier, more relaxed life.  I want to laugh more, travel more, have fun, and maybe even do things on a the spur of the moment once in a while (although that last one may prove to be difficult for me).

At 51 years old many people may not think they have 30 years of life left.  But with the longevity on my mother's side (my grandmother is 97 and going strong) I truly believe I'll be around for at least that much longer!  With that in mind I'm going to apply My Next Thirty Years to my future ... "Now it's time to focus in on where I go from here ... My next thirty years I'm gonna have some fun ... Cry a little less, laugh a little more ... Figure out just what I'm doing here ... "  I don't know for sure what I'm going to do with the rest of my life, and I may not know exactly how much time I have left, but I do know that despite how I felt four years ago my life isn't over.  I plan to make the most of my future and not have any regrets ... "My next thirty years will be the best years of my life ..."

"As you grow older, you'll find the only things you regret are the things you didn't do." ~Zachary Scott 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Don't Hold On Too Tightly

I expect to get advice and receive inspiration from counselors, preachers, poems, books and quotes from famous people. I don't usually expect to get it from television shows though, but that's exactly what happened recently. While watching a rerun of Law and Order - not exactly a show where you expect anything profound or inspirational - I heard something that made me stop and think. A woman visiting her husband's killer in prison told him she had to find a way to forgive him for what he had done, because if she continued to fixate on him and what he took away from her she would slowly lose herself. That statement at the conclusion of the show made me examine what I'm doing and how I've handled things since Eddie died. I know I've made great strides in moving forward with my life. I love my family and my job, and they both keep me very busy. I finished my specialist's degree which was a huge relief and an accomplishment that I'm proud of. I enjoy spending time with my friends and am thankful that I've reconnected with some old friends and even made some new ones. I made it through this last holiday season with the least amount of sadness I've felt since Eddie's death. On the outside all of these are good, positive things and signs of moving forward.

But now I think it's time for me to focus on moving forward from the inside. While I don't believe I've fixated on or been obsessed with Eddie's death, I do know his alcoholism and subsequent suicide had a profound effect on how I think and feel. I love and care about my family, friends, and children at school. I experience feelings just like everyone else. I'm happy when good things happen, and I hurt because of the bad. But at the same time I recognize that my heart has become somewhat hardened over the years as a result of what I've been through. I'm guarded and careful about who I open up to and how much I share with others. I've been completely closed to the idea of any real relationship with someone new - because I don't want to allow myself to be hurt again and because a part of me is still connected to Eddie. It's been almost four years since he died, but I'm just beginning to see that I'm still holding on to the bad times that I experienced both before and after his death. Like the David Gates and Bread song, Everything I Own, says "Nobody else could ever know the part of me that can't let go."

The longer I hold on to the negative though, the more of myself I gradually lose. It's time to find a way to get rid of the bad memories while still keeping the good ones. I don't know yet how I will accomplish this; I just know it's time to start trying. After the episode of Law and Order, I took out several photo albums and spent a couple of hours looking at old pictures. I tried to focus on the happy times - birthday parties, vacations, ballgames, graduations. I made a conscience effort to look for pictures with everyone smiling and having a good time. I didn't cry while looking at any of these, and I felt a tiny sense of peace afterwards. It wasn't much, but maybe it was a beginning to softening my heart and opening myself up to new possibilities.

"What we feel, think, and do this moment influences both our present and the future in ways we may never know. Begin. Start right where you are. Consider your possibilities and find inspiration ... to add more meaning and zest to your life." ~Alexandra Stoddard