I entered 2016 intent on discovering twelve new things to embrace and learn with the cadence of one a month. The first several months of year, I took on writing and building a stronger voice. After four months of focusing on business writing - which I am still doing on a weekly basis - I needed to hit the pause button. I found myself learning, and yet, with a third of the year complete, I needed to change gears.
Professionally, I've had a good year so far. Personally, it's been a little rockier. I realized just how much as I sat on the beach Saturday, overhearing a conversation between two married women. They were loud, and it was impossible not to key in on their conversation. Sitting in their beach chairs, they sat complaining. About their their husbands. Their children. Their lives in general. I lay on my towel, trying to hard to focus on the music playing rather than their negativity. And yet, the comment that got me close to standing up and telling them to zip it was when one woman said, "I wish I was single again...life would be so much easier." Girlfriend, pleeeaaaasssseeee.
For me, being single does not represent freedom. It can often represent loneliness. Of course, there are side benefits, such as making financial decisions on your own and not having to compromise on dinner choices or vacation destinations. But for someone like me who thrives in being part of a team, it kind of sucks.
My daughters are now teenagers, and spend much of their time with their own activities and their friends. This is as it should be. My job is to give them the tools to become independent women; but to do so means to give them their space. I'm increasingly aware the incredible bond we've formed over the years will be tested in the coming years as they sprout their wings. And with that, it's also painfully clear that in just a few short years, it will be just me left.
Which brings me to May's challenge. I decided to put down five year roots.
When I got divorced, my instinct was to run. I wanted out of Andover, away from the home we had built and raised the kids in and all that surrounded it. I wanted a fresh start, and yet, I had two daughters desperate for the stability of their friends and school as our little family navigated our new normal. So I took one simple step. I moved out of our family home into a new space, far more appropriate for the three of us.
It's a lovely place, but far from my dream home. It's smaller, but it was brand new and allowed the kids to attend their same schools. It was a bit of change for me, and minimal damage for them. And yet, somehow, in the almost two years that I've been there, it's never truly felt like home.
Everywhere I've lived previously, I took pride in decorating, and adding those special touches that make a house a home. This time, I spent my time and energy ensuring my daughters could create their own special rooms, knowing how important their private spaces would become to them as they entered their teens. To walk into their rooms every night is to smile and appreciate their unique personalities. Each has filled their space with the elements that make them, them.
And yet, the rest of the house was largely ignored . I sold nearly every stitch of non-kid furniture when I moved. I wanted a fresh start in every possible sense. Unfortunately, I was so busy, I suppose I subconsciously said, "f*ck it." In other words, in my mind, the house was a place to sleep and eat for seven years until my younger daughter went to college. I suppose that in my head, to invest in making it special was to emotionally give up. To "put down roots" and make it mine was to say, "I'm happy with this choice, and I'm giving up. This is my future." And then I realized that was really stupid.
For the month of May, I embraced that I don't ever give up. I'm "stuck" in this house for another five years now. How silly of me not to make it a place I am proud to live for the time that we are there. In other words, I've come to realize that it's ok to be satisfied with something for a period of time, while still looking ahead to the future.
So I'm getting some help from a friend with a keen eye for design. Together we purchased new furniture, rugs, lighting. We are partnering on the selection of the perfect shade to paint the walls. I'm giving up control to let her add those small little elements like baskets and frames to give the place warmth. We are turning this little house into a home.
It's been a fun project, and fun to see it come together. Rather than resent the house for being a temporary place to sleep for a few years, I'm changing my mindset to become one of embracing that this is a home filled with love...and it's pretty too.
May has been about understanding that committing to something, even if it's just temporary, doesn't equal complacency or settling. In this case, it's about making the best of a situation and understanding this is just another life transition. I'll look forward to moving to a place that suits ME when the girls move out. Until then, I'll make this the best place it can be.