My cousin and best friend lost her precious, 11 year-old lab this past week. It’s been an extremely difficult time for the family since his death, obviously. Kula was the epitome of man’s best friend: gentle, sweet, and always smiling. His passing has made me stop and think about life and the choices we make.
Let’s face it, when we adopt an animal, we do so with the knowledge that we will (hopefully) outlive that pet. So why are we willing to take on the responsibility that comes with a furry family member when we know that we must eventually say goodbye to them? Because. Because the joy always outweighs the sorrow.
All this deep thinking has made me look back at the year that just ended. Can you even believe that 2017 is over?! I decided that I will not make any New Year’s Resolutions this year. I can never keep them anyway! Instead, I am going look at the things, good and bad, that I accept in my life.
So, without further ado, here is my top 5 list of things that I DO NOT regret, but choose to embrace!
1. My pets. Animals can be a pain. No surprise there. We have 3 cats and a dog, and all 4 of them get into plenty of trouble! I know there are people out there who will think we are crazy for having that many animals under one roof, but I don’t care. Do things get destroyed? Occasionally. Our greyhound is still in the puppy stage, and she loves to grab my daughter’s toys and take them back to her bed. If we aren’t careful, she can tear them up. Two of our cats will sometimes scratch our rugs. We keep scratching posts around the house to keep that from happening, but they still sometimes scratch things they aren’t supposed to scratch.
Would life be easier without the animals? Definitely! Would we have less on our plates if we didn’t have to take care of them? Yep! More money if it weren’t for the vet visits? Oh yes!
But here’s the thing. Without our four-legged babies, there would be less fun in our house. There would be less joy, and less love. My cousin put it best: she said that sometimes when she came home from work, the kids could be grumpy or occupied, but Kula ALWAYS ran to greet her with his tail wagging. And that’s the truth of the matter. Most animals will always be happy to see you. It doesn’t matter the circumstances, they are going to greet you as if they haven’t seen you in years. Now that’s love!
2. My relationships. I believe the old adage is true: people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Not everyone we meet is going to stay with us for the long haul. We hope our family will, but let’s be honest, sometimes family relations deteriorate too. Spouses divorce, siblings may stop speaking to each other. Maybe your best friend since kindergarten moves across country and you lose touch. Or perhaps you are a stay-at-home mom who has trouble maintaining friendships with your old girlfriends because you have children and they do not. Those friends are still bar-hopping while you are at home singing lullabies. It’s not that any fight as happened between you and your friends, it’s just hard for you to relate to each other anymore…
Do we regret failed relationships? Well, yes, on some level I think everyone wishes things could be different anytime a relationship falls apart. However, I have decided that instead of focusing on the negative, the chaos that a broken tie can often bring, I will focus on the positive. I truly believe that God places people in our lives right at the time we need them most. They are there for different reasons depending on our circumstances. Some people teach us lessons, others provide comfort in a time of need. Even bad relationships can help us become stronger people. We learn what we want and need from others. We also can discover the recipe for a loving relationship by learning what not to do to someone we love.
3. My down time. I am an introvert by nature. I love being out and about with people, and I enjoy a party every now and then. But to really recharge my battery, I need my quiet time. It is absolutely essential to my mental health, and I make sure that I take some down time every day, no matter how busy I am
It can be hard for me to find a little me time. My daughter does not nap (I discuss sleeping woes in this post). She does not even begin to get tired until around 8:30 or 9. Even then, it can take awhile, like sometimes almost an hour, to put her to bed. By the time she’s in dreamland, my husband and I are usually ready to call it a night ourselves. We fight it when we can, and we try to make it another hour or so after Bella goes to sleep. I need the quiet time, and WE need the together time. We don’t take many date nights, so a couple quiet hours together at night are essential for us.
I still need some down time every now and then just to myself. Sometimes I will get up early for a cup of coffee before Bella gets up. Other times my amazing hubby will tell me to go out and shop while he takes care of our little one. Those moments alone help me to be a better wife and mother. I can de-stress a bit and come back ready to face whatever comes my way!
4. Family Trips. This might sound like a strange one, but hear me out. I have often heard it said that one of the biggest regrets people have at the end of their life is working too much, or not spending enough time with family. That’s definitely true of some people I know, but that is not a regret that I have. We make sure to take lots of trips together as a family.
I work part-time, which is a huge blessing because I get to spend a lot of time at home with my little girl. But my husband has a demanding job, so we treasure all the time we have together. We find that nothing helps us slow down more than a family trip. When we are away together as a family, we tend to focus on the little things more. We turn off our devices and just enjoy being together in a different setting. While we do take big trips, we often will go away for a couple nights just to get away.
We have taken short trips to Pigeon Forge, the beach, and Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg is one of our favorite places to visit. You can read about our favorite things to do in Williamsurg here.
No matter how busy we are, we take time to travel together as a family. I want our daughter to have great memories of us visiting unique places.
5. Choosing dream job over practical one. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Corporate Communication. I chose this major because I felt that it was “safe.” I’m not sure it really is anymore, but I knew I could get a job in an office with this major, and I specialized in media writing, so all the better.
There’s only one problem. I did not like the major, did not enjoy my classes, and basically I have never used the degree. As soon as I graduated, I went on to graduate school to get my master’s degree in history, and am now all-but-dissertation in the field as well.
History is not a big money-making specialty. Yes, you can make really good money, especially if you get an advanced degree in the field, but it is not guaranteed. I chose history because I spent a decade working at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library as an interpreter and I loved it. I love the stories, and I want to share the stories of those who are no longer here to tell their own tales.
I am very blessed to have a good job as a part-time professor, but I chose this field simply because I love history. I decided to place my love for history above my desire for a high-paying job. I will never regret that.
Money is important, don’t get me wrong. You have to be able to live and thrive. I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to teach a subject I love to college students. If I teach them just one thing that they didn’t know before they joined my class, then I’m happy (but hopefully they’ll learn a lot)! One of my best days as a professor was when a student came to me and told me that they loved my class so much, they had decided to major in history. Now that made my day!
On this New Year’s Day, instead of sitting down and writing a few pie-in-the-sky resolutions that will be hard to keep, take time to think about your life over the past 365 days. Do you have regrets? We all do. Now, how can you turn those regrets into opportunities, and embrace the new year?
I would love to know about some of your “acceptances.” Please leave comments below!
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