Do you remember when you were a kid and were allowed to celebrate “backwards day?" You know, when you wore your clothes backwards and reversed the order of routine things in your day like dinner (you started with dessert!). This past New Year's Day I experience somewhat of a backwards day myself only not in the traditional sense of the term.
Most people awake on January 1 full of hope, promise and the resolutions of the year to come. But for the first time in my life I thought of the year in reverse. When I awoke that morning, I laid staring at the ceiling contemplating the progress of the year past. I think for me what spurred these thoughts was that a good friend of mine had recently lost her 17-year-old son in a tragic car accident. In an effort to deal with her grief she began writing a blog. In her New Year's Eve post she wrote some very profound words. She talked about how the majority of people look forward to a year ending and starting a new year fresh. In the past she was one of those people. But this year she did not want the year to end because for most of the prior year she had her son. For her starting a new year meant facing the future without him.
I began to assess in my mind what changes the prior year had brought for me both negative and positive. Luckily for me the negative changes were minimal and not anything close to what my friend was experiencing. But also not so luckily for me I realized it didn’t bring much positive change to speak of either. Why was that?
Initially, like everyone else, I had planned for a year filled with great change; boosting my career, getting more fit, better controlling my finances and even changing my residence. Yet when I looked back on the year that had passed, none of those positive changes had come to fruition. A full 365 days gone by and I was right where I started. I was angry with myself. I knew that I was the only one to blame for my lack of progress. I had initiated no change. I may have had good intentions with many of the things on my list but I did not follow through. Was I capable? Absolutely! Did I stick with the changes and see them through? Not at all. Change is difficult. But nothing worth it is ever easy.
One of the biggest items on my list for several years has been making the commitment to sell my house. When I got divorced, I told myself that I would stay for three years. My kids had been dealing with enough change and I wanted to give them stability where I could. Three years, I felt, would be sufficient time to do just that. It's seven years later and I still have the same address. The kids are older now (17 and 19) and have pretty much given me their blessing on the move. They see that the maintenance is just overwhelming and they know to sell the house would ease so much stress for me. It’s a great family home but at their ages they don’t play in the yard anymore and are rarely home themselves. I’ve often said its time to let another young family enjoy it and raise their kids here. Still, I have had some hang up about selling it. Yes, there are so many great memories here. We moved in to the house 10 days before my youngest was born so the house has seen a lot of happiness. Though, there are also some difficult memories, primarily centered around an unhappy marriage and a long, painful divorce. When I really dug deep I realized a lot of my wavering had to do with the uncertainty of what comes next. Without a clear cut direction of where I want to go, and where I will live I am reluctant.
I have always done things with cause and in the expected order in my life. I went to college, got a job, got married and had babies. I did things that were logical. I always thought that I would be selling my house when there was a reason that made sense; my son was graduating, I had found another place that I loved, I was making a career move that warranted it—something. To sell it and let the cards fall where they may was putting the cart before the horse, something I am not accustomed to, nor comfortable with. Its funny, I have often joked that I would sell the house in a heartbeat if someone knocked on my door and offered me the right price. I’ve since realized that this is akin to packing your bags and sitting along the side of the road, expecting the destination to come to you. Life does not always play out in a tidy, little box. Sometimes you have to live outside that box and take a leap of faith. I don’t want to wake up next New Year's Day and say I did nothing to enact change in my life…AGAIN. It’s just not going to happen. I’ve contacted a realtor and am beginning the process of getting my house ready to sell. I have NO idea where I will land at that point. It scares me, backwards always has. I am looking at it as an adventure, though, which at the same time excites me.
I have never made a move like this alone. I went from my parent’s house, to my marital house, to staying in the house for the sake of my children as difficult as that has been. When I sell the house I will choose for the first time in my life where I want to go on my own and that is a wonderful feeling. I am moving forward with the faith that it will all fall into place…for the first time in my life!
In the meantime, I am spending more time spent sitting in each room, looking out every window to imprint the view in my memory and reflecting back on all of the memories, looking forward to the new view my future will unveil.