When I was 15 or so, I remember reading a magazine like Sassy or something (seriously dating myself here) with a story about setting your goals and creating vision boards. Since this was in the mid ‘90s and before Pinterest and The Secret, this was a totally new concept to me. I started keeping a hidden stash of little clips from magazines in sort of an analog Pinboard of everything from the hair I wanted to the ideal man I would marry to where I would live. Think of it like a visual version of MASH. I was going to move far, far away from my hometown and live in a MANSION-SIZED APARTMENT with a FOREIGN MAN and have THREE kids and drive an AWESOME CAR. The apartment would be a loft in London or San Francisco, of course, and the man would be mysterious and probably a writer that played guitar and wrote songs about me, but we wouldn’t have gotten married and had three kids until well after I was 30 and had graduated from art school and visited at least three continents on my world adventures. I would have gloriously thick and glossy hair down to my back, and be my perfect weight from all the organic bran muffins and tea we’d be eating (I’d read one of the teen models in YM favored them for breakfast). I’d drive a sweet convertible Karmann Ghia just like in So I Married an Axe-Murderer to go pick up paint for me to use in my art studio. I’d have three perfect baby girls.
This is not my life.
I have an amazing husband that I met at 20 and married at 23. We grew up 15 minutes from each other. We do not eat bran muffins for breakfast.
I dropped out of junior college twice after changing my proposed major three times and discovering a degree wasn’t necessary for me, and now have the best job in the world sitting behind a computer at my church.
I drive a nine-year-old hybrid SUV that fits the car seat of my adopted son and assorted stray dogs.
I live in a cozy one-bedroom apartment an hour from San Francisco, decorated with my photos and paintings and books and tufts of stray pet fur that needs vacuuming.
My hair often looks like I’ve been electrocuted. It’s fuzzy and soft and my baby boy loves to twist his fingers in the curls and use it as a curtain to hide his face when he’s scared.
My body has decided its ideal weight is measured by comfort, not pounds.
This is not a perfect life. It’s not an easy life. It’s an amazing life. It’s better than anything I could have ever planned out for myself.
This is not to say I haven’t worked toward my goals or just let things happen to me. My biggest challenge was letting go of this super rigid structure that I’d clung to and the resulting disappointment and bitterness when reality didn’t match up to fantasy. As long as I had this image in my head of what life was supposed to be, I treated my actual life and the people in it like my enemies. I blamed them, as though it was the fault of the bran muffins that I didn’t look like a model.
An embarrassing but prime example is how I’d get angry at Rocky for not doing what I thought Imaginary Euro Man would have done. Rocky is an an absolutely amazing father. He puts up with all my quite literal insanity. Euro Man doesn't even exist, and if he did, he would probably go brood in a coffee shop and write a song about how much I sucked instead of getting me ice cream and holding my hand through yet another panic attack. Sometimes I'm still amazed he's still here after all we've been through. And those three perfect girls wouldn't have had even half the personality and sweetness of my little brown-eyed handsome man.
THIS is my life, my gift from my Creator who created it just for me.
It's not anything I could find in a magazine or on Pinterest or what really anyone's idea of a traditional one would look like. Nothing about it is perfect. Not the people, not my home, and especially not me. But when you combine them all together, it somehow works. I don't always express the gratitude for it that I should, but I'm trying, because it's perfect for me.