List the best choices you have made in your life so far:
Let’s keep in mind that I am 65 years old…probably at least two-thirds of the way through my life. Many things that were wonderful choices at the time…and for a very long time…have come to be less sensible in the long run. I am going to try to answer this from the perspective of the person I was – full of wide-eyed innocence and intense hopefulness – when I made those choices…annotated.
- Going to college. I was not the best student in high school. I was married, with children, before I decided to go to college. It opened my eyes, expanded my mind, showed me whole worlds I never knew existed, and gave me the chance to prove to myself that I was, in fact, both smart and capable. *In hindsight, and purely from an economic and security standpoint, there are many courses of study I could have pursued that would have probably served me better than the fine arts.
- Studying art. Having said that, let me be clear: art has enriched my life in a thousand ways. *Still, it was not – for me – a good fiscal decision.
- Moving to Beaver Island. Away from Lapeer, where I’d spent my whole life so far; away from family and friends who loved and supported me. I moved to an only vaguely familiar, remote place, where I had to make friends, find work, get my daughters into school and other activities, and create a brand new way of living. *My idea of what life would be like on Beaver Island was based on things like the essays of E.B.White from his farm in Maine, the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and ten years of family vacations there. In many ways, it has been wonderful. Still, it’s much lonelier than I ever imagined it would be.
- Becoming a waitress. Who would have thought that taking a menial labor job in a small bar and restaurant on Beaver Island would count as a good choice? Not me! It turns out, though, that it was one of my best. I learned that I was really good at waiting tables: I was more coordinated than I ever imagined, able to make any “special” sound delicious, balance trays, juggle many tasks at once, add long columns of numbers quickly and correctly, manage large groups of not-always-agreeable people and – most importantly – do it all with a smile, and without panicking. I made some of the best friends of my life. I collected many of my favorite stories. *The sad truth is, no matter how willing, waiting table is a job that one does, eventually, age out of.
- Having children. I wonder, if we could see ahead to the pain of childbirth…the sleepless nights…the worry, if any of us would ever have children. Then, terrible twos, sibling rivalry, the angst of the teen-years. The inevitable sadness, disappointment and pain that comes from loving someone – with a mind of their own – with all your heart. If I had known…I might have missed out on one of my life’s biggest joys: having children. Despite the wisdom hindsight has to offer, having my daughters was one of the happiest choices of my life.