Sunday, January 31, 2016

Elevator buttons

I watched the movie Inception the other night. It still isn't my favorite, but since it only took me three viewings (over several years) to sort of get it, I'd probably watch it again.

At the end, my boyfriend asked, "So how many buttons are in your elevator?" I stared at him for a beat and he continued, "The buttons were regrets in life."

OK - I said I sort of got the movie.

I used to have a lot of regrets. I've regretted my contributions to my failed marriage. I've regretted dating men who ultimately hurt me (and some who just never seem to go away). I've regretted career choices, financial choices, and not sticking to a healthier lifestyle.

In the movie, the characters can use the elevator to visit moments they regret. This is presumably to try and relive, and possibly change, those moments (Though that makes little sense, because the elevator only appears in dreams. OK, it's possible I don't really understand this movie at all.)

But actually changing our regrettable moments isn't really possible, anyway - so maybe that's the point?

I came to the conclusion a few years ago that regrets were pointless. I can't go back to those moments and change anything. Honestly, if I could, I'm not even sure I would. There's no way to tell what else I would impact by making even the tiniest change. Why take that risk?

The truth is, life is nothing but a series of decisions strung together. Some good, some wonderful, and some regrettable. But even the worst choices can lead to a positive result.

Maybe I'm naive, or maybe I'm just fooling myself. But it seems to me that every choice - good or bad - is a chance to learn. What works, and what doesn't; who you are, and who you want to become. You learn what makes you happy, and where you want to be. Why would you regret all those lessons?

I have noticed that some of the worst things to happen in my life were preparing me for something so much better. At the time, of course, I couldn't know - and the pain or sadness felt like I'd made a huge mistake.

But knowing what I know now... Why would I regret anything that helped get me where I want to be?

Growing in my faith has taught me that there is a plan much larger than my own - and my regrettable moments are as much a part of that plan as everything else.

When you look at them that way, those moments aren't so bad, after all.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A jar full

I came across a post from last year in which I wrote a few "goals" (because resolutions never work for me) for 2015. Thought it would be fun to see how I did.

• Get a promotion (check - November 1)

• Earn a new designation (whoops)

• Travel to someplace I haven't been (check - a fun trip to Fenway Park in July and a lovely trip to Maine in August)

• Learn to make something in my crock pot (check - I made Buffalo Chicken Dip and chili for a party a few weeks ago)

• Add to my "Rememberlutions Jar" each day (check - not every day, but it's full)

• Self-publish a book (I started it, then  got distracted)

• Less searching and worrying (check - though this is a work in progress)

• More faith that things will work out on their own (check - also a work in progress)

• Napping - because napping is important (check)

• Make a few mistakes (check)

Make mistakes? I added that to a list of goals? The point was if you're not making mistakes, you're not trying anything new. I was telling myself to not be afraid of new people, places, or experiences, no matter how great the risk might seem.

For years, I've been afraid to trust anyone with my heart. I was afraid to let anyone in, because I'd been so hurt in the past. This was one mistake I wasn't willing to risk.

I thought the only way I'd ever let anyone in my life was on my terms - no compromise, no change. That way, I was in complete control and couldn't be hurt. No risk.

If you'd asked me last December if I was willing to set aside all my rules and deal breakers, let go of my worry, take a huge leap of faith, and let someone in - I would have said no.

But I did - and that one risk has brought more light, joy, happiness, and love to my life than I ever thought possible.

Now I'm looking forward to filling a jar for next year with even better adventures, places, and fun.

Here's to 2016 - and another jar full of mistakes!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Slammed doors

Since my family's favorite holiday traditions of nagging and guilt have already started, I wanted to share my thoughts on gratitude now - while I still feel somewhat friendly and sentimental.

If I've learned anything in the last few years, it's that blessings are everywhere, even if they aren't always obvious. Sometimes what seems like missed opportunity is actually redirection towards something so much better. Sometimes, God slams a door shut because we are not smart enough to close it on our own.

There was a time when I thought my life would never be good, because it could never be what I wanted. I tried feeling sorry for myself - turns out, that doesn't really work. So I set out to make the best of what I could with what I had left. It didn't work right away, and at times I got discouraged. What I came to realize was that time wasn't being wasted - it just takes a long time and a lot of patience to build an amazing life full of joy and hope.

When I think about where I was even a year ago, I realize that if I had gotten everything I thought I wanted, I would have missed out on something so much better.

Sometimes, the most painful lessons are the biggest blessings. We have to hurt to understand what we really need. We have to go through loss to find what really matters. We have to be forced to change to figure out what we were doing wrong. But once you accept those lessons and open your heart to the possibility that you don't know everything... wonderful, amazing things happen.

This year, when asked why I am thankful, my answer will be:

I am thankful that God helped me see what I was doing wrong. I am thankful that He gave me friends who could help me navigate the loss, and make the changes I needed. But most of all, I am so very thankful that He slammed that door shut.