The most amazing thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago.
I got engaged to my incredible partner, the man I love with my heart and soul, and I can honestly say…
I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.
But the journey to my happiness wasn’t simple …
… more like far from it.
Let’s just say I took the scenic route.
I might even go as far as to say it was quite the hike to happiness.
OK, maybe hike is too strong of a word?
On a side note, just so that we’re crystal clear: those who truly know me know that hiking isn’t exactly my strong suit.
Actually, it’s not even a weak suit.
OK, it’s no suit at all.
I don’t hike.
But maybe that’s the charm of it all and the lesson that I was supposed to learn
I needed to go through life’s experiences to get me to where I needed to be.
Which is right here, right now where I am today.
I remember the last time I was engaged, it was a little after my 22nd birthday. I sat at my Michigan State University
I mean honestly, what 22-year-old does?
In my experience, not too many.
I had about as much life experience as a day-old snail.
But that’s not all.
The worst part was that I actually thought I knew so much about life, when in fact I’m not sure I knew anything.
I mean sure, I knew about being in love and taking care of my own self in college.
I knew how to cook and do laundry and study and some other basics.
Ya know, the day-to-day stuff…
But nobody really teaches you about marriage and the obstacles that may approach, or what it feels like to be a mom or dad or wife or husband, or to balance life or death, and kids and work and problems and parents and whatever else gets thrown at your windshield … and on and on and on.
There is no booklet or instructions on how to troubleshoot though life or how to overcome the things that want to level you.
These days, Siri helps with everything.
“Hey Siri, how do you treat a burn? Try a little aloe.
Hey Siri, how do you fix a faucet? Try replacing the seat washer held by a brass screw. (I looked this one up and I’m still not even sure what it means, but it does sound good.)
But Siri has no remedy for the real events of life — the ones solely paved by having to go right through them.
But that’s the beauty about life. The big joke on all of us.
The younger you are, the smarter you think you are. And finally when you are indeed actually smart enough to know, and do know a lot about a lot, you’re kinda tired and aging and not sure if you have enough energy to even brush your teeth, let alone execute all the info and experiences you now have wisely hidden under your belt — securing the waistline of pants that are several inches wider than when you were 22.
But you know what they say, man makes a plan and G-d laughs.
And boy did he … a few times, to be exact.
And It’s these lessons and teachings that I want to share with my readers.
Life and experience have taught me so much throughout the years.
Experiences shared that I hope will help many along their way.
Ya know, kind of spreading the love, as they say.
Lesson No. 1: There’s no shame in not knowing.
No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying, “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect; far from it. It just makes you neurotic as you try to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.
We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainty, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally.
Or a lot.
We learn as we go, that’s life. Besides —nobody likes a know-it-all.
A little vulnerability makes you human, approachable and oh-so-much-more relatable. Don’t try to figure out the future. It will present itself when ready.
Psychic readings don’t count — or fortune-tellers, or mediums or energy readers or magic eight balls.
It’s OK not to know what tomorrow has in store.
Lesson No. 2: Love is more than a feeling; It’s a choice.
That burst of initial excitement, pulse-quickening love and passion can grow into everlasting love if properly cultivated. Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful, to just be nice.
Relationships take work.
Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard, but it is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in any given relationship. When given the choice, properly assess what you have before you make any shoot-from-the-hip decisions.
This ain’t the wild, wild west, folks.
Certain people we let go in haste cannot be duplicated. Some decisions we make cannot be reversed.
And if you can’t make a wise choice by yourself, surround yourself with good people or professionals whose decision-making skills you respect.
Let those people help and guide, not the ones who are unhappy and looking for a comrade in misery.
Lesson No. 3: Perspective is a beautiful thing.
Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do-or-die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing. The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted but didn’t get.
Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now.
It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go and move on. Search for the good and practice gratitude every day.
As my father used to say, “You can forget what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you.”
And if you are open to learning, you will learn a lot.
As I now embark on a new road in my life, the experiences I have gone through —the highs, the lows, the dark times —they have all shaped me into the woman I am today.
And I wouldn’t trade one moment.
It is through these times that…
I learned who my real friends are, ( THE HARD WAY) I learned what I need and don’t need in my life, (the hard way) I learned exactly what traits I need in a partner along with what characteristics don’t work for me long-term. (you guessed it… the hard way)
Most of all, I learned about myself.
My road to happiness definitely required packing an extra couple lunches along the way, or two, or three… but wow, was it worth the wait.
It might just be worth your wait, as well…
Happy and healthy new year.