[7.5 minute read]
The words of wisdom I’m sharing with you, my readers have come to me through a health scare, bereavement and a desire for my children to live their best lives.
Life is not a Dress Rehearsal
If you lack confidence, or are a people pleaser (like me) you have to shake yourself up with this mantra, otherwise you’ll keep out of the limelight, waiting in the wings and let the louder, more brash people take your turn. Opportunities can pass you by because you feel apprehensive about taking a leap / making that change.
Risk is scary, new places, people and experiences can feel overwhelming, but if you don’t force yourself to experience these you’ll always wonder what they would have been like and you won’t grow. As a curious toddler or primary (elementary) pupil you are forced to try new things all the time. You integrate with new people and embrace fresh ideas and concepts. This doesn’t hurt you, instead it enriches you. Remind yourself of that when going to foreign places or meeting strangers. Embrace every opportunity, each will shape you, you’ll learn from every one (even the discovery that you don’t like it!)
It’s true that ‘Time Waits for No Man’. If you waste or defer the opportunity to experience something, that door may close and you may never be in a position to try again. I’m not advocating doing things which are dangerous – risking health or your financial security – but calculate the risk. Should you really wimp out / let this pass you by?
As a parent I let many experiences and opportunities slide saying my time was better spent with my children, but ask yourself if this is the truth or an excuse? Sometimes our children enjoy boasting about us: the races we have run, challenges we have faced, places we’ve visited and people we’ve rubbed shoulders with. Much of parenting is providing a strong supportive background for your kids, but you don’t want to become part of the background surely!
I like to encourage young, up-and-coming people around me to capitalise on their skills and talents. I know well how praise boosts confidence, putting wind under their wings, which helps these fledglings fly. I wish I had recognised my talents sooner and pressed to include them in my career path. Society puts a high value on youth and attractiveness, but at the stage in life when they are in bountiful supply, many young people don’t have the self-belief to utilise them. Let’s actively encourage and build up the young people we know so they cash in on these traits before they dissipate. As a middle-aged woman I’ve felt ‘invisibility’ and ‘irrelevance’ creeping up on me; although I strive hard to rise above this, some social norms are hard to fight.
The phrase ‘Tiger Mother’ does not truly apply to me, although I am fiercely proud of my offspring. Instead I have let them grow and develop at their own pace and in directions which suit their personality and skill set. However, I don’t want to let them ‘settle’. I want assurance that they’ve done their best in any endeavour; presenting the most shiny, polished version of themselves or their work to any challenge was set (homework, project, exam, prom, interview). This way, whatever the result or outcome, both they and I could be satisfied that they had given their very best. Boys have a tendency to coast, while girls can strive and burn themselves out too soon, so I’ve needed to temper those attitudes.
While was busy applying my mantra to my child-rearing, suddenly in my mid 40s I was blindsided by a life-threatening illness. My first source of distress was not wanting to leave them, I needed to know “what happens next?” in future chapters of their lives. Later thoughts were “I’ve hardly done anything” and “I haven’t been anywhere!”
Fate was kind to me, an operation has meant that I’m still here with my family. I have been given more time, so I don’t intend to waste it. I hope you can see why (despite my occasional anxiety) I don’t allow myself to duck out of doing something which scares me, why I embrace new experiences, new people and places with such enthusiasm.
Writing had only been a childhood dream until that health scare, but during my recuperation I started a novel. It’s nowhere near finished, in fact it’s shelved because I find shorter pieces more my speed. Putting stories or posts on my blog or a writing platform (such as Bellesa or FrolicMe) means they see the light of day – no procrastination from me about publication. I have a story in print now, thanks to the Eroticon anthology ‘Discovery’. Next I’ve promised myself I’ll self publish a collection of my short stories.
Sharing images of myself on my blog is scary (Mr Churchgate barely approves, shuddering to think what our children’s take would be). It has, however, helped my confidence a lot – people say such appreciative things which kicks ‘middle aged invisibility’ in the arse! I’ve even come to terms with my scar (which of course saved my life). I think you’ll see more of me and my selfie stick.
I was at a funeral very recently, a memorial to celebrate a young life lived to the fullest. Every goal was strategically tackled and attained. A raft of admiring colleagues came to pay tribute to a marvellous team player while we, the close family, mourned the loss of this bright source of light and love from our lives. Everyone present will miss the way this person touched their lives, but nobody could say that it was a life wasted – cut short, yes – but lived to the fullest.
So to sum up dear friends, Carpe Diem / Seize the Moment, because:
Life is not a Dress Rehearsal
This piece is also submitted for #wickedwednesday. The prompt this week is ‘Lucky’ which is appropriate as I count myself very lucky to still be here, living my best life.