Tuesday, June 16, 2009

No Regrets

I remember the first time I received a "real" regrets RSVP. It was one word, short and simple, to the point, no excuses made, no explanations offered. It was signed by the person sending the note and simply read: REGRETS.

I think life is kind of that way too, our regrets should be made by us, personally, not someone else, and they should be real, simple, without excuse and more often than not, without explanation.

I regret not attending many events in my life, some I didn't even remember to send an RSVP, some I simply forgot about, some I didn't know until the last minute whether or not I would be available. In most cases, I would have loved to have been there. So REGRETS is the perfect response. I regret that I couldn't have been there.

I regret some choices I have made, some moments when I lacked patience, some actions I took, and some actions I did not take. I was once told that we need to not look back at our 'regrets' and beat ourselves up for things we wish we had done differently, because in reality unless we are truly a bad person, at the moment we made that choice or took that action, we were making the best decision and doing the best that we could within the reality and circumstances of that moment and time in our life.

I think for the most part that is correct. I am human and I can think of a few choices and actions that I have taken along the way that I was very conscious of and pretty darn ignorant of the warning signals that I should have been paying attention to. But then again, maybe that was because of my emotional state at the time, which brings me right back to doing the best we could at that moment in those circumstances.

I think if I have any regrets they would be for any action or choice that I made that affected my children in a negative way, or someone else's children and family in a negative way. In retrospect, that means I should probably be doubled over in regret. However, doubled over or not, even the choices that I have made in the past (that I might question now) have had mixed results. I know that I was prayerful and contemplative in most decisions. I also know that I could have been more prayerful and contempative. I know that I can be spontaneous and knee-jerk at times too, but I have always felt that even those quick decisions were prompted by an urgent prompting - whether by mother's instincts, karma, the Holy Ghost, or simply that nagging feeling you sometimes get in your gut. I have made very few major decisions in my life that have not been contemplated and reviewed and tossed out at least once before finally settled upon. Have I made mistakes? Absolutely. Some huge mistakes, lots of small ones. I hope I have learned from them.

I have, for the most part, followed my gut, my heart and those quiet whisperings. It's easy to look back and second guess myself when I realize the struggles my choices caused, but then again, how often do we feel prompted to take a certain (maybe longer) route while driving, or not go on a much anticipated trip, or not do something without any understanding of 'why'? - but we listen and we follow the prompting and feel a certain peace that possibly we avoided some unknown hurdle or bump in life. And we never really know what, or why. We can't regret those decisions, those detours, or those changes in life plans. We simply have to follow our heart, our gut and those quiet whisperings.

I know this. I don't regret love. And I don't regret loving anyone that I have in my life, even if things didn't turn out as I had hoped, and too often they didn't.

And I don't regret having children, six of them in fact, seven including Katrina. I don't regret anything about being a Mom. Sometimes it was a struggle that required energy, patience, money and time that I didn't have as a single, or divorced, or dating and working Mom, but it was worth it. If I have any real regret, it is that I didn't or couldn't spend more time with my children when they were young. I was busy serving on the school board, serving in the church, decorating houses, shopping, juggling money, dating, and making a living and then later, trying to replace their Dad - not for them, but for me. I remember each of my children clearly as young toddlers, from Karynn to Kalen, and some days I wish I could just wrap those innocent babes in my arms and hug them tight. I know I did, a lot, but I wish I could do it all over again. That is my one regret. There wasn't enough time.

But I don't regret the personal sacrifices I have made along life's path, they have brought blessings and joy beyond description.

And I don't regret my gypsy-nature which has filled my life with experiences I will never forget. This craziness has taken me down roads and highways I might never have seen and introduced me to people I might never have met. It has also caused upheaval in my children's lives at times, but also given them experiences that they would not have had any other way. The ying and the yang of life. We can't always know why things happen.

I don't regret my LDS conversion and raising my children within the church. I am very proud of both. I don't regret giving them their free agency to make choices along the way. I may regret not being a better example to them at times, but I have done the best that I could considering the circumstances I have been in, and today I am at peace with who I am for the first time in decades. I love the church. I love my children. I love me. I love my own brand of spirituality. I am OK, and I think my kids are too - each one in their own place in life, with their own challenges and triumphs and spiritual touch stones.

I don't regret much, but not regretting does not rule out the possibility of hope. I hope for many things.

I hope for joy for my children, and their children... I hope they will make correct choices. I hope they will listen to their gut, to their heart, to those quiet whispers. I hope they will pay attention to what's important. I hope they will learn from my mistakes and not have to personally experience some difficult things that I have experienced as a result of my poor decisions. I hope they will work to make their marriages strong and spend lots of wonderful, fun time with their children. I hope they will make good financial decisions with their partners. I hope they will be patient and understanding when their kids make choices that might not be exactly as hoped for. I hope they will love unconditionally. I hope they will know how to forgive, and do so - without regret, without hesitation, without conditions.

I hope for more laughter in my life. I hope for continued love in my life. I hope for health and peace and love, and less pain and intolerance and prejudice and anger and war and illness in the world.

I hope for things that are good. "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, I seek after these things." (Articles of Faith)

Life is too short for regrets. We make mistakes, and we learn from them, correct where we can, apologize when possible, forgive always, and move on. If not, we cling to something that is not positive and waste precious hours, days and years, and tons of energy that could have been used for good.

Life is not too short for hope. Hope is what often gets us through the tough times. Hope is not being naive or having blind faith in something unknown. Hope has its roots in a reverence for the human spirit and the goodness of mankind, combined with the natural and eternal laws that affect our every moment, and the benevolance of God.

This life has little room for negativity. Negativity will suck the life out of us.

Hope breathes new life into sorrow and despair. Hope gives us a reason to go on when we can't even see where we are going.

This life is a learning experience. This is a testing ground. This isn't a dress rehearsal. This is real. This is our shot. This is life.

And, there will be a final exam, a day of reckoning, a come-uppance, a moment of perfect clarity and recollection, the day we will know who we really are because of what we have really done and been. No rose-colored glasses, no feigned ignorance, no rationalization, no hiding.

REGRETS...on that day, at that moment?

I think not. We will all have our day in court, so to speak, whether it be through an honest introspective self-evaluation or eye-to-eye with someone much greater than ourselves.

So: Live well. Laugh often. Love much.

Without regret. With hope.

Hope springs eternal.

And eternity is not a place for regrets, it is a place of joy.

I am filled with joy and contentment. I hope for an eternity filled with love and laughter, family and friends.

Regrets? I don't think so. I can't go there, I simply don't have time. So...


“There is nothing more real than a man’s character and values. The track record of what he has actually done is far more real than anything he says, however elegantly he says it.” —Thomas Sowell

Tim McGraw "Live Like You Were Dying"

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