We are in the month of Elul, the last month of the Jewish calendar. As we prepare for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, we take time during Elul to reflect on the waning year and to prepare for the time of renewal that the High Holy Days bring.
As I reflect on the last year – and on the previous 30 years – I’m trying to use this as a road map for the coming year.
I don’t regret doing the things I did to give my children as wonderful a childhood as I could. And I am reaping the richness of doing so; my daughters are amazing individuals who live their lives with integrity, purpose, kindness and conviction. I stayed in my marriage because I thought that was best for my family and, even though the marriage has ended, I still believe that it was a good decision (btw – it’s taken almost a year of therapy to say that). I also benefited from my decision in many ways; I have a career I love, with colleagues I love, and have found ways to earn a reasonable living doing it. I developed a strength that I may not have developed in a different relationship – a strength that serves me well today.
Of course I have some regrets. I worry that the strength I nurtured will make it difficult for me to ever enter into a relationship with a real man. Not a real man as opposed to a fantasy man, of course, but a mature, responsible man with a genuine sense of self. I worry that my “guard” will be too hard to break down. But I’m starting to understand that that will take time – and the right person – to address.
My more immediate regret is that I subjugated myself in so many ways. And I see this same subjugation in many of my friends. Because we moms and wives put everyone else’s needs in front of our own, we forget who we are and ignore the things that nurture us.
In my own case, I’m talking about my creative energy. Over the last year I realized that my energy went into my family; making the best home I could with limited resources, giving my girls things like camp, and propping up my husband for thirty years. Again – I have no regrets. I made these choices as a free woman and I would do it all over again (although I do think that I would have ended the marriage five years ago, rather than working so hard to repair it at that point).
All the things that bother me about my home seem to stem from the lack of creative appearance. I want color, texture and inspirational surroundings. My wardrobe is the same – I want to wear what reflects on the outside what’s on the inside (rather than what, sadly, fits and is affordable). I want to entertain creatively and live creatively, too.
I’m going to start a creative journal – one in which I reflect each day how I’ve done something creative to enhance my home, my wardrobe and my social life. I think it may have to be unelectronic, because I’d like to use watercolors and ink, but I’ll try to scan pages where I can.
In closing, I quote the great American prophet, Tina Turner. Seriously – can you imagine anyone better to look to when transforming your life?
Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything . . . whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.