Article by Wendy McCance
What are you grateful for? I ask myself that question a lot. I have finally found a certain level of peace in my late 40’s that is unlike anything I have experienced until the last several months.
It’s an unbelievable way of living to be able to focus on what is instead of what isn’t. I used to live a life based on what I don’t have and drained myself chasing it. You grow up with a list of the things you want and when looking back, not much is centered around things that will bring peace and harmony to your life.
My list looked something like this:
1. Career as an interior designer.
2. Married by mid 20’s.
4. Big house in an affluent neighborhood.
5. Sports car.
6. Closet overflowing with clothing.
7. Write a book.
8. Live in Montana
Here’s how those dreams panned out:
1. Once I looked into interior design, I wasn’t happy with the amount of money I felt I would make and so I ditched the plan (still love decorating and I turned my back on a field I could have thrived creatively in).
2. I jumped into a marriage that wasn’t a good fit. The clock was ticking and I felt that if too many years passed I would never find anyone to marry (it was a stupid way to think).
3. I did have 3 children. It has been the best part of my life!
4. The big house in the affluent neighborhood finally happened in my mid 30’s. Unfortunately, several years later the economy crashed and the house was lost.
5. I had a great car once. It was a Mustang. I had it until my second child was born and then gave it up for practical reasons.
6. Not overflowing by today’s standards, but as a kid looking forward, I would have been satisfied with the way my closet looked.
7. Writing a book is still to be done. Back when I was young, I wanted to be the next Judy Blume. My biggest dream was to be a children’s author.
A a kid there was no internet and figuring out how to accomplish such a feat seemed nearly impossible. I didn’t begin truly writing until my 40’s.
8. Ah, living in Montana. The one place I felt I would live out my years. When I was little, our family lived in Montana for a few years. Near the end of second grade, we moved to Michigan. I always thought I would move back as soon as I was out of school. The (mistake) husband had a big family in Michigan and so we stayed.
So, what does it all mean anyway?
Well, first of all, I let a lot of dreams go because of fear. Instead of listening to my heart, I let fear rule my life for many years. Because of fear I made some horrible decisions that messed up my life for quite some time.
I followed the dreams that society lays out instead of following my own dreams. I was so concerned with getting married and when it should happen. I felt I wouldn’t be happy unless I had the clothes, car, home all bigger and better than what I really needed. I became wrapped up in going after material possessions.
I didn’t focus on my happiness. I was chasing money not a fulfilling life. I didn’t care if I had deep meaningful relationships, trips that would live with me for a lifetime, experiences that would strengthen who I was and add value to my life.
After all of these years and endless internal battles as I’ve dealt with numerous life-changing obstacles, it finally hit me. I now know what’s important and feel grateful every day.
What I am grateful for:
1. I am grateful to have such incredible relationships with each of my children. They are the light of my life and bring meaning to it each day.
2. My husband has been unbelievable. I might have made a mistake in my first marriage, but my second marriage handed me my soul mate. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not laughing or feel taken care of or enjoy my husband’s company. I really won the husband lottery and I’m so grateful to have him in my life.
3. I am finally in the career I was always meant to have. I’m a writer and love every minute of it.
4. I live in a home I am proud of. It’s in a safe community with good schools, beautiful homes, friendly neighbors and a tremendous amount of good activities for families.
5. I still have the same car I bought in 2003 and am fine with it. I have no car payment and it’s big enough to transport the whole family plus a few friends. That’s good enough for me!
6. I have enough clothes and shoes to make the average person very happy.
7. I know a book will be written some day. Hopefully several. At the moment, I am focusing on the kids who only have a few years left before they are all grown and on their own. I don’t want to miss a moment by being off writing in a back room of the house.
8. I still want to visit Montana, but I don’t think I want to deal with the cold winters. I have my eye on a few places I’d love to live and ideally I’d love to be near the mountains or the water, but we’ll see how all of that evolves.
I am so much happier living from a place of gratefulness. Each day feels happier and I don’t feel bogged down with worry. No longer do I feel inadequate for what I don’t have, but happy for what I do have.
The interesting thing that I have found is that once I let go of the feelings of not having enough, I was given more. More opportunities came my way, better relationships entered my life, and I felt at peace.
What are you grateful for? Have you asked yourself that question? Have you had the same experience where as you got older being grateful has changed your life for the better? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]