May I Have This Dance?

2 Jul

Recently, I attended the wedding of my best friend’s son. I’m not sure where else this might happen, but in our part of the country, there is a moment in most receptions that the DJ or singer for the band asks for all married couples to come to the dance floor for a dance. During the dance, the couples are asked to leave the floor depending upon how long they’ve been married. Of course, the newlyweds are the first to vacate the floor, and then the rest of the couples are called out at various intervals. At this particular wedding, the dance floor was filled with married couples. A few couples left at 5, 10, 15 and 20 years, but when my husband and I left the dance floor when they called for everyone under 25 years to leave, over half of the couples were still left. Several left after 30, 35, 40 and 45 years were called, but there were still four couples left after 50 years. The final couple, who also happened to be the grandparents of the groom, has been married 58 years.

I couldn’t help but think what great role models for marriage this young couple has. Then I thought about all the people in this world who don’t have role models like this. I happen to be one of them. My parents said they loved each other, but they didn’t get along. I was born 10 months after my parents married, and I never remember feeling like they were a happy couple. Yes, they had their happy moments, but I never felt like theirs was a marriage that I wanted to emulate. Unfortunately, I did. My first marriage was very much like my parents’ marriage. We could never quite sync up. I felt abused and like I could never be good enough. It wasn’t until I was told I was no longer attractive at 5 ft. 7 in. and 140 pounds that I realized my marriage was in trouble. A week later, after I had lost seven pounds, my then husband commented how good a friend of mine looked because she looked like she had lost weight. I was devastated. I had done the very thing he’d asked me to do, and he didn’t even notice. That was when I knew my marriage was over, and although it might sound like a small thing, it was the culmination of too many small things over several years, and it was time for me to move on. I knew I would never be good enough no matter what I did. It took some weeks of counseling to work up the courage to leave, but I did it. I tell this story because I married again, and it has been wonderful for 23 years. I know what it is to be in the wrong marriage, and I fault no one for walking away from an unhealthy relationship, but to be at a wedding with that many people still married after all that time seemed extraordinary to me. I don’t know all of their stories, but I do know the stories of the grandparents who were the last ones dancing. I know they are older than they look, which is amazing to me because I know they were children in Eastern Europe during World War II. I know their stories, and although they are not mine to tell, I will share that no child should have to live through what either of them did. The most incredible fact, though, is that they have lived a beautiful life since. They raised three boys. They have traveled, and they still volunteer. They are such an inspiration to me, and I find it difficult to complain about my own life whenever I think of them as children.

In some way, they are the reason I am sitting at the keyboard today because this could be a week of self-pity. This week we found out our son needs surgery. For most it would be no big deal, but this is a person for whom a broken bone or needing stitches or even getting the flu can be life threatening. It adds stress, but life is always filled with choices. I could sit on the couch eating chips and/or ice cream while I think about how unfair life is, or I could do something productive that will help me feel better at the end of the day. I chose the latter. I started with calling in an accident claim because someone hit my son’s car this weekend. The good news is that no one was in the car when it was hit and the person who hit him came to the door to tell me. It is inconvenient, but it will be fairly simple to fix and then we can move on with minimal inconvenience. There is so much I could be doing, like every other person I know. I could work in the yard. I could clean the house. I could do laundry, but instead I am sitting at the keyboard because it helps me think and helps me clear my head.

Lately, I have been facing some of the emotional demons that come with setting new goals. I know some people don’t set them because they don’t want to be disappointed. I know some people find it difficult to get started; some find it difficult to follow through, and some get so scared of both failing and succeeding that they shut down from the overwhelm. I’ve experienced every single one of these, but I’ve learned with each goal, that the journey is always worth it. It can be harrowing some days and blissful on others. I’ve found that when we align with our highest purpose, life seems to open up in ways we never expected. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have challenges, but the challenges don’t derail you as much. You realize that no one became successful without some challenges. Nearly everyone knows about someone who overcame great obstacles to be successful. The list is endless; Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Jim Carrey, Steve Jobs and the list goes on. Now, I don’t aspire to have the kind of fame any of those people have, but I do want to make a significant impact with my life. Parenting is one of the ways I’ve made a contribution, and I truly want to help others make that same type of contribution as well. I also want to keep writing books and teaching courses, so I have to keep growing and writing and learning so that I can help others. It’s scary to keep stepping out of my comfort zone, and some days it’s downright frustrating, but those steps out of the comfort zone are helping me to become the person I aspire to be, although I mess it up frequently.

Yes, I mess up. I let days go by without writing or working on any of the other creative endeavors I’ve started. I get frustrated with myself or my family members, and sometimes I react badly rather than respond like the calm, cool and collected person I aspire to be. Some days the undone housework calls louder than the creativity, and sometimes the events of life do the same. This weekend, though, I realized that I have 100 days until my next book launch. It is a schedule that can change a bit, but there is so much to do between now and then. I’m working with a team of amazing people, but most of the work has to come from me. I recently joined a writer’s accountability group, and I’m excited to learn from them. I belong to a private creativity salon, and I am delighted and inspired by them daily. I have goals and dreams beyond anything I could have dreamed when I was younger, but I also have moments that stop me in my tracks, and I am reminded that this journey we call life is rarely a straight line. It is filled with hills and valleys and twists and turns and just when we think we’ve got it figured out, it feels like someone changes the rules. So what’s a girl to do? Well, today I’m putting one foot in front of the other and choosing to do what will make me feel better at the end of the day. I’m choosing to work my way through a to-do list that will make life better. I also put the kettle on and had a lovely cup of tea. It didn’t fix everything, but some days you just do the best you can. Right now doing my best means taking extra care to eat healthier, walk daily and get adequate sleep so that I can write most days and still keep up with the rest of my life. Our tentative date to launch a book about having an easier holiday season is October 4th. I’ll be starting a Facebook group for that soon with a working title of Happiest Holidays with a countdown and lots of extras along the way. Next Thursday, I’m due to debut my online course called Mom Mastery. It’s a four week course designed to help moms create a more peaceful and stress free life, so there’s much to do, and I’m loving life as much as possible while I am helping others to do the same. It’s a life I love and one I wouldn’t trade for anything. I hope you’ll come along and join in the fun wherever it suits you, and if none of it does, I hope you’ll continue to hang out with me here. If you know my life, you know it’s rarely boring, and my motto is almost always, the more the merrier. For those in the US, have a spectacular holiday weekend. For those in other parts of the world, I still wish you a wonderful weekend. It just won’t be quite as long as ours. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

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2 Responses to “May I Have This Dance?”

  1. Kim July 2, 2016 at 12:55 am #

    You’re such an inspiration!

  2. Paleo/Primal Ireland (@PaleoIrish) July 2, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

    Such a beautiful post Karen, thank you for sharing, once again, so honestly and bravely direct from the heart. It is amazing to know couples who have remained married and even more importantly, remained loving, after a lifetime together.
    I am lucky, my parents were such a couple with my Dad being particularly romantic, such a good inspiration for me and perhaps why it took me so long to find someone whom I was comfortable sharing my life with. I was never going to settle just in order to be settled.
    I’m glad that you have this couple in your life, to me this is a sure sign that you are doing good work, you have attracted good people into your life.

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