Sunday, January 4, 2015

You Can't Go Back

During this time each year most people do the same thing to some degree - think about the past and look ahead to the future. We revisit the last year and reflect on the things we did, what happened to us, what went wrong, what went right, and the choices we made. Then we decide what we want to do differently in the new year, the changes we want to make, and the things we want to accomplish - we make our New Year's resolutions. Many people have the same resolutions year after year...lose weight, make more money, quit smoking, exercise, spend more time with family. I said many of the same things over the years, but after Eddie's death my resolutions changed drastically. My first goal was to simply survive from one day to the next (which is basically all I did during the first year); the next was to get my life back on track (although I'm not sure what "back on track" actually is); then I wanted to make my house and my life mine rather than ours (I did that by redecorating and getting involved with new groups of friends); with a lot of prodding I then promised to turn my blog into a book and get it published (which I did); and last year I resolved to let go of anger and regrets (I'm still working on that one).

I don't feel the need to make any of the same resolutions now after my mother's death that I did after Eddie's. I miss her and wish she were still here, but I'm doing more than just surviving this time, and I don't have any anger or regrets. So when anyone has asked I've simply said all I want this year is to be happy. Achieving that happiness though is going to involve making decisions (not resolutions). While I don't have to make those decisions today - I don't officially retire until the end of May - it's not too soon to start thinking about them. No one is forcing me to retire at the end of this school year, but that's one decision that has already been made. A friend told me I would know when  the time was right, and even though I have loved what I've done for 30 years, I know without any doubt it's time to move on to something else. There are plenty of options for what to do after I retire...private tutoring, a part-time job, work at the college level teaching a class or supervising student teachers, going back to school to become a counselor, continuing my writing, possibly speaking to groups about my experiences...I don't intend to sit around doing nothing and being bored! My biggest decision isn't what I'm going to do but rather where I want to be when I do it.

I've thought and talked a lot about moving back "home" after I retire. Kenny Chesney's song I Go Back describes how I feel about certain reminders of growing up in Hazlehurst..."I go back to the feel of a fifty yard line...I go back to the smell of an old gym floor...I go back to a pew, preacher, and a choir and the smell of Sunday chicken after church...I go back to watching summer fade to fall, growin up too fast and I do recall wishin time would stop right in its tracks..." These are all very old memories though. I know I can't literally "go back" to the life I had there before. Of course some of the same people and places are still there - I have dear friends I love to visit and places I enjoy going back to. I know life there now would be very different...but can't different can also mean better? Who knows!

I talked with someone recently about this decision, and their advice was simply "just follow your heart." If only it were that easy! It's hard to follow your heart when part of it wants one thing and part of it wants something else. Right now I don't know how to choose between the two, and thankfully I don't have to yet. I still have time to weigh my options before making a choice, and even then no decision is carved in stone. Unlike the past which cannot be erased the future is always a clean slate.

"It doesn't matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions." ~Jim Rohn

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