Living a Life of No Regrets
Living your truth
I’ve just finished listening to Miriam Margolyes autobiography, This Much Is True. It made me laugh out loud at times. Some bits of it were really poignant and sad too, as she talked about being very proud of her Jewish heritage. What I particularly loved about it was her ‘no fucks given’ attitude. She seems to really enjoy life and relishes friendship.
I get the feeling that she very much lives her truth and is passionate about things that really matter to her. And despite playing characters throughout her career, I suspect she would not subscribe to putting an act on to please others. She tells some very funny, naughty stories about her antics and seems to have no regrets. A great role model for us all.
The trappings of societal norms
I have one regret that I’m thinking about quite a bit at the moment. It’s about not travelling when I was younger and much more mobile than I am these days. I always said I wanted to go to Australia when I was in my early twenties, but life got in the way. (Besides which I never had any money but that’s besides the point.)
Instead of backpacking and seeing the world, my life went like this:
Secure a place on a government funded scheme to set myself up in business.
Rubbish at business so need a part time job to pay rent.
Secure part time job as a designer (akin to finding rocking horse shit) on rubbish pay.
Feel very lucky to be working in design industry when most of my peers weren’t.
Secure better part time job as a designer slightly better pay
Secure part time lecturing job in design, relatively very good pay
Make hay while the sun shines – do not save money to go travelling.
End up in long term relationship, move in together.
Need surgery and end up in hospital for over 3 months.
Secure full time lecturing job, great annual leave, great salary, great pension
Get a mortgage, get married, have a child…etc.
Before I knew it, I fell into the societal norms and all the trappings. I had settled down. There was something about the comfort and security of it all that felt like it was what *should* happen. I was already way behind my younger sister who’d joined the police force, was onto owning her second home and had twins, not long after I’d got my first full time, salaried job. She was ahead of me in the adulting stakes. I was still out partying and going to nightclubs and had second hand, make do furniture. I was still a bit ‘studenty’. Whereas her house was like the pages of the Next directory.
Life is too short
I’m thinking about the travel thing quite a lot at the moment as my boy is in Australia living his best life. He worked part time all the way through university and saved up his money. (He’s far better with money than I ever was until my 40’s!) Despite partying and enjoying his time as a student, as well as working, he achieved a BSc Hons in Human Biology and then MSc in Pharmacology. I feel very proud of him. He left here 8th January and has travelled to various places in Oz, all up the Gold Coast, to the Whitsunday Islands and the Crocodile Dundee area of the Northern Territories and basically had a 5-month holiday. The photos are stunning. He’s just started a job doing bar work at Mt Buller, which is a ski resort (In Australia! Who knew?) and will probably be there until the end of the season in Sept. His plans are to top up his bank account and then who knows where he’ll go next? I’m missing him but I’m also glad to have helped him get his wings. The wings I never grew.
So, where does all that leave me now? I still want to see the world but I’m much less mobile than I was. Do I wait until I retire and risk my mobility being even worse? Life is too short to wait. Tomorrow isn’t a given and we all know it never comes. Technically I could run my business from anywhere with Wi-Fi, but do I even want to? What about the husband? What does he want? I need to consider his situation, responsibilities, and feelings. There needs to be compromises. It’s not so easy as packing a suitcase and booking the next flight, as much as I’d like to think it is.
I created a business I love in my 50's
The truth is, that while I have spent my 50’s creating a business that I love, it is now time to start thinking about other stuff. It is time to dream a bit. What do I want my life to look like in my 60’s and beyond?
I talk a lot about us being our authentic selves. About expressing our individuality and having boundaries and being comfortable in our own skin. I reckon I’ve got all that side of things nailed and that is why I find it easy to help others walk their own path. When I look back, I can see where I have learned the lessons, the experiences I’ve been through have all led me to this point. I was living a fairly miserable existence, depressed and felt trapped for a long time and didn’t realise I could change things. I was dancing to other people’s tunes and not making myself happy. I now know better. When you know better you do better.
In the spirit of Miriam and not living a life of regrets it’s important for me now to get clarity on where I’m heading. I usually do a bit of journalling when I’m in this phase. (Remember the blog about the letters?) How about you? Do you have clarity about where you are heading? Are you ambitious? Do have hopes and dreams or are you a ‘bimbler’? Just drifting and bimbling along, seeing where life takes you? Of course, you could also say this is living in the moment -taking life one day at a time, enjoying the ride, no planned direction.
Dreaming helps create clarity
To journal effectively and dream a little, I find it useful to have prompts. I’m not really someone who has a 5 year or 10-year plan. Here are a few that might be useful to you too if any of what I’ve written resonates.
If time and money were no object what would make your heart sing?
Where would you live? What country? What kind of dwelling? City or countryside? What would you see through the windows? What will you hear when you wake up in the morning? What is the décor like? Minimalist and tidy or cluttered curiosities full of treasured memories?
How do you spend your time? How does your ideal day shape up? Lazy morning, out to meet friends for brunch? Yoga in the garden? Working or not working? What hobbies would you have? Are you alone or in company?
How would you like to be feeling on a daily basis? What emotions would you like to experience? What would you be doing to create these feelings? What things (large or small) would help you?
What do you need in your life for it to feel meaningful and to fill your cup? Do those things currently exist? What can you do to fulfil those needs?
These few questions might be enough to get you started. If you’re not living your best life right now and the answers to these questions are far removed from reality, what can you do to get the goal posts a little closer together? It might be that you just start saying no a bit more often, stop people pleasing and do things more on your terms. Maybe you could be more Miriam, speak your truth and live without regrets.
Gratitude will help you from A-B
Oh, and finally, the main thing to remember as you are thinking about this dream life is to not start beating yourself up because you aren’t already living it. Have gratitude and work on how you can make the changes to get from A, where you are now, to B, where you want to be. You have the power.
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