Tag Archive | choices

Life IS like a Box of Chocolates…

My favorite line from the movie Forrest Gump is “My Mama always says that life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

I’ve thought about that line many times in my life since the first time I’ve heard it. You really have no clue what you’re going to get. Things seldom turn out how you envision them to be. When you are at the age to begin to contemplate life, you begin with an innocent belief that life will be an amazing collection of slow motion magical moments. And then you grow up, and life actually happens. Rarely, if ever, is it all rainbows and puppies. Life is harder than we expect or imagine when we are young. We are always seeking our happy place yet seldom do we find it.

We feel entitled to happiness. We believe it is a gift that we are entitled to simply because we were born.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only entitlement we have is by our own choices. Each step that we take puts us on our own path. Forward, backward, left, or right. Sometimes we get to choose the direction we go in. But even then, our happiness isn’t guaranteed.

Because we don’t always know what life is going to throw at us, that we might want to choose to ride the good karma train… Just in case. If we treat someone poorly, perhaps life will reflect that choice. If we are good to others, then maybe goodness will find its way to us. Yet that doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen to good people and vice versa, or that people are absolutely good or bad. We have no control.

It’s like a box of chocolates.

We only have our decisions, our free will, and our limited ability and knowledge to choose.

I was abandoned at an early age and I have wondered countless times what would have happened to me if I hadn’t been. I wonder who I would be if my parents hadn’t decided to let me go. I don’t even know if they chose, or if the choice was made for them. But regardless, I still wonder…

Would I have still ended up here? Would I get to be married to my husband and have the exact same beautiful family? Would I be the same person? Would I even be here, in the United States? Would I be writing this blog? I’m certain that the answers to all of my questions would be a resounding “No!”

I’m completely certain that my life would have been astoundingly different. So I am thankful that they walked away from me because I can’t imagine my life turning out any other way. I love my family and my life beyond words and I feel that this was my… fate, although I don’t completely believe that fate exists. At least not the uncontrollable, whimsical, magical brand of fate that you find in movies and fairy tales.

It seems unromantic not to believe in fate. But I do believe that because of choices, our fate is often influenced. So while life is far from predictable, the circumstances and people that we choose for our lives can create another story altogether.

So I think about choices a lot. And Chocolate.

I have been defined by my own good or poor choices, and those of people around me. Other’s choices, regardless of motive or result, have shaped my life in ways that have rendered me helpless. While frustrating, the reality is, that I have to accept it. It’s like biting into that disgusting piece of red cream chocolate that I always try so desperately to avoid. Sometimes, it just happens. Sometimes, life just happens.

It adds a different dynamic to the assortment of chocolates as well as to me. As I get older, I realize that there is so much truth to that one simple line. We can’t predict what we will get in life. But we can choose our path, hope for the best, and choose wisely and with integrity along the way.

And when you bite into that red cream chocolate, you can either swallow it and move on, or spit it out and start all over. That choice is completely up to you!

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Holiday Reflection

The Holidays have always been a strange time of the year for me.

Some years they’ve made me happy and other’s they’ve made me sad. Every year, they cause me to reminisce about the past, both the bad times and the good. They make me want to be a better person. And they remind me that in a few short months, I’ll be another year older.

And getting another year older depresses the heck out of me, these days.

As I watch my boys, who were babies just yesterday and young men tomorrow, I realize that the immortality of my youth had faded away. Perhaps I am the last to realize this about myself, but I wish that I would have savored my youth just a little bit more. It’s not that I didn’t travel or do crazy things. It’s not that I didn’t have fun or that I have a lot of regrets.

I just didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have.

I didn’t bask in it every day. I was so busy getting somewhere in life and doing “something important” that I didn’t realize “Hey, I’m only 23,24, 25 etc.” or “I can eat whatever I want and not gain an ounce” or “Five hours sleep is more than enough!”

I was foolishly just living and not appreciating, not reveling.

I suppose I’m doing that now. Only it’s different. Only now, it’s not about me. Because I’m much older than 24, I can’t eat whatever I want, and I need at least six hours of sleep to even think about getting out of bed. Now I value my life through the lives of my children. And I’m watching them grow entirely too fast. Which means that I am also growing older, which I’m not ready for.

I want to grab the robes of Father Time and bring him to a screeching halt so that we can slow things down just a little bit. I’m not ready for my boys to be young men, and I’m not ready to be old, yet. After all, there is still so much that I want to do. Still so much that I need to do.

So I find myself reveling, now before it’s too late. I do it in the every day. I do it in the small moments, in the things that I used to walk right by. I find that I am more selfish in my priorities because I know that the time that I have is limited, and I know that my children won’t always be as in love with me as they are now.

I wish that I could slow things down and make life go just a little slower. But since I can’t, I’ll have to settle for squeezing every bit of joy that I can from the time that I have with the ones that I love. I’ll have to settle for trying to be patient, forgiving, and loving. And I’ll have to settle for seeing the small moments, the little miracles, hearing the tiny whispers, and appreciating every single bit of happiness. I’ll have to recognize my weaknesses and accept my failures, and move on because that is the best I can do.

At the age of 19, my incredible niece is a cancer survivor. I believe her life is special and that there is so much waiting for her. She has stared into the darkness and come out alive. I imagine that she is destined for something amazing and beautiful.

We can let life just fly by or we can embrace each moment. The Holidays remind me of that because they are a constant. They have always been the barometer I used to measure how much value my life had.

But now, they are the barometer I use to measure how much I value my life.

My husband has instilled in me a love of Charles Dickens, “Christmas Carol.” We watch it dozens of times over the holidays because it often hits close to home. It reminds us that we only have one chance at this life and that it is ours to cherish or to lose.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Thankful for This Life

I purposely didn’t post a blog on Thanksgiving about how thankful I was. Not because I thought I was above doing it. It’s because I wanted to give the concept of thankfulness a little more thought. I wanted to write something that didn’t sound trite and recycled. I wanted to express exactly how thankful I am.

The truth is, I AM extremely thankful for this life that I’ve been given, more than I can share.

So much so, that it sometimes feel more like fear or painful awareness than Thankfulness. I’ve been through some things in my life that I will never write about because they are just too horrible to revisit, and some things that I will never remember, that are probably equally so. For me to share my true thankfulness, I would have to share my entire life, which I won’t do. I believe that some things are meant to remain locked up deep inside, private and painful, to remind you of how fortunate you are to get to live.

The parts I share, through my writing, I only share because I know just how thankful I deserve to be.

My life has been a fabric of different thread, weaving in and out, bright and colorful, sometimes shameful, and often outright ugly. But each thread has meaning. Without one, there couldn’t be another, or another, or another, and then I would be nothing. Colorless, meaningless, without one stitch of gratitude within me. There have been many times that I have wished for that. But I realize that without it, I would cease to be what makes me who I am.

But life is hard. And there are moments when I want to pull my hair out and scream because I wish it was more. And then there are other times that I want to sit comatose, staring out of a window, because I wish it was less. More often, I feel that the true secret may be, just accepting what IS, which is something that I struggle with every single day. As a well-known, and well documented “control freak,” accepting that there are things outside of my control, has been the most brutal lesson of my entire life. It is the lesson that I believe is the key to understanding gratitude in its truest form.

I don’t think that I am there yet.

I still struggle too much with my life, with my path, with the threads that make me who I am. I look far too often at the road I’ve travelled instead of at the road ahead. And I’m still entirely too haunted, angry, and sad on a regular basis to live out this guise of thankfulness fully and truthfully every day.

But I’m trying.

I know where I need to go. I can see it, touch it, taste it. And some days I even achieve it, if not for the briefest of moments. Just sitting back, accepting, and appreciating what my life IS while acknowledging the path that I’ve taken to get there is truly being thankful. It’s not wishing that the thread were a different color, or woven a different way. It’s looking at the tapestry as a whole and understanding that true beauty is in the richness of each individual stitch. It’s loving each thread and not wishing that one had been different, or placed somewhere else.

I look forward to the day that I can look at my life that way, every day. I know in my mind that I have gotten here by decisions that I’ve made, and decisions that were made for me. I know that I am not a victim and that I choose how I view my life. And when it’s all said and done, that how I choose to view my life which will determine how I feel about it in the end.

With each passing day, it gets a little easier. And when I look into the eyes of my sweet, innocent, amazing children, is when I am the closest to feeling gratitude and life makes more sense. In the deepest place in my heart, I feel the glow of thankfulness and happiness every day. But I wanted to be honest so it didn’t sound as though I walk around on cloud nine, every day of my life.

Life is difficult, and we have to seek out the beauty that finds its way through the pain. And when we can do so, we can truly be more thankful.