Me in Matera, Italy

Saturday, 14 April 2012

White Picket Fence

I wonder how many people are actually living the life they dreamed of.

When I was a young girl, I dreamed of living in a white trimmed red house with a white picket fence.  I dreamed of a beautiful wedding with a big white dress and many bridesmaids.  I dreamed of a loving husband and lots of children.  Based on the dreams of a young girl, I am absolutely not living the life I expected.  In fact, not even one of these dreams have become my reality.  So I'm left to wonder ... what ever happened to the white picket fence?

Life is full of challenges and I have been surprised many times, not knowing what was around the corner waiting for me.  But it's through these challenges that I developed strength in character and determination.  If everything came easily, I wouldn't have to learn how to adapt, be creative and how critical it is to just keep going.

The biggest surprise for me has been the tremendous amount of loss experienced in a person's lifetime ... and I haven't even lived that long yet.  What I've learned about grief is that it can be overwhelming and consuming; it's like waves.  There are quiet calm periods; there are times when the waves are steady and persistent; and other times you can be surprised with a large wave that will simply knock you off your feet.  I have found that it is very difficult to manage grief and not let it take over my life; to recognize that it is a part of my life but not my entire life.  Easier said than done.  I'm still learning.

The white picket fence that had painted in my minds-eye as a young girl is not important to me today.  I don't know when that happened, when my priorities changed but I do somehow feel a sense of loss that absolutely NONE of my childhood dreams have been realized.  But there are also some really fabulous aspects of life that I never contemplated as a child. 

The greatest joys in my life have been found in the places I least expected: my daughter's smile, the reflection of the moon, a friend's understanding, the quiet of the morning, the warmth of a sunny day, or the beauty of a sunset.

Tis true, life has turned out nothing like what I expected.  Life is much more difficult, much more complex and yet so much more rewarding than the superficial life I imagined.

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