I have always done things the hard way. I’m not sure exactly why. Perhaps, at an early age, it was conveyed to me that I wasn’t worthy of ease. Maybe a more difficult path was somehow placed before me and I came to understand that that was the only way. Somehow, it became second nature – familiar and comfortable.
As a young student, I chose challenging classes beyond what was required. In college, I pursued leadership roles that took up so much time and energy that I often completed independent study courses – that normally needed an entire semester of preparation – in a single night. I wasn’t happy being a reporter, but became the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper. Planning committees were not enough, so I became president of the dorm and secretary of my class.
When it came time to deliver my babies, I set my unwavering sights on natural childbirth, accepting no pain medication. Sleepless nights and colic did not derail my intentions to successfully breastfeed babies who would not receive formula or cereal before six months. When I divorced, there was no thought of alimony and little child support. I willingly gave up my stay-at-home mom status and, later, my retirement, to return to the workforce – and a career that was demanding, both physically and emotionally, and didn’t pay well.
After childbearing, my friends were taking aerobics classes. I did, too, and I became an instructor. But, I also studied Tae Kwon Do at the same time.
Even my choice in a car isn’t easy. I drive a manual transmission (always have) and have no automatic locks – I still crank my windows up and down.
When I turn my attention to leisure, I am consistent. While everyone else was taking up the ukulele, the musical instrument I decided to learn in my short-lived retirement was the violin. When I grew tired of reading books, I wrote one of my own. When the offering of local Meet-up groups didn’t suit me, I organized one myself. I truly believe that I was given the confidence to do these things by the experiences I had previously. When you’re not afraid of trying, nothing is out of reach.
Sometimes, I reflect and think about how things might have been different. When my marriages ended, I could have fought harder to stay in my home. But I needed to find my independence and buying – and later selling – my own house was cathartic. I have no regrets. Taking the difficult road has resulted in my being more fully engaged in my life. It has given me skills with which to deal with tough times and loss. I have a strong sense of self reliance. I do not fracture easily under the weight of everyday trials and tribulations. Or, if I do, the comeback is stronger than the setback. I am practical, realistic and honest (some would say, to a fault).
It helps that I have been incredibly blessed: Good health, hard working parents, loving children, supportive friends and a functioning mind.
Now that I am growing older, I have made some concessions that were initially uncomfortable, but have turned out to be good decisions. I no longer have the pressures, nor the responsibilities, of owning property. I have weekly ‘lawn cowboys’ to keep things looking nice in the yard and central air conditioning to make me comfy inside.
I’m learning that taking the easy road has its advantages, like more time for learning new things or seeking new adventures. Instead of household chores, I am more available for new creative pursuits. Just last week, for example, Amazon delivered a brand new pair of adult-sized tap shoes!
I’ll never be the next Fred Astaire. But, who knows? Maybe my next car will have power windows!
“I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way”