This is the first day I've been in my home office in weeks.
Holiday break is officially over, my youngest son is back in college, unpacking his dorm as I write. The girls are back in school, husband is back to the university, the holiday decorations are long packed away, the house reordered for life after holiday, and the snow is melting.
It is a Friday and a perfect moment, in this second Friday of the new year, to stop and ponder the What-Ifs.
My thoughts on the What-Ifs are likely triggered by officially entering 2014 and my Jubilee Year. Reaching an almost 5th decade and looking back, we sometimes take a moment to daydream.
If I hadn't listened to my then-fiancé and taken the post graduate opportunity in Minnesota, I would probably be stressed and overworked, not the mother of two little girls, probably not married, and definitely not sitting in my home office writing on a Friday. I would have fully absorbed the lifestyle and demands of that high level salary that was being offered as we turned the calendar page to another century and decade. I had a hard earned MBA and really, the option to go anywhere in the country.
If I hadn't left my corporate position when I did, a decade ago, I would have still had my children at home but would have stressed so much during my youngest daughter's rare illness. I left when I was pregnant with her, assuming my departure from the corporate life would be just a year until she was born and with the same wonderful woman who cared for her older sister. Her rare illness had other options and while she is now in recession, I believe a lot of that is because I was accessible and available.
If I had still been in my corporate life, I never would have had the opportunity to see the other side, to connect with the wonderful women of Mocha Moms, Inc. I also never would have been able to lend my talent and expertise to so many non-profits and community organizations. My world expanded instead of decreased.
If I had still worked, we probably would never have moved across state and never would have sold the house at a loss, that I do ponder as I sit in this townhouse, half the size of my 5 bedroom home. What I traded in acres and room, I gained in access and opportunity to explore my craft and be present in the lives of my family.
If I hadn't moved across state, I never would have been as deeply involved in my new community, never would have joined a writing group, never would have mentored so many young people, never would have started a non-profit, never would have ushered my son through his performing arts classes to a full scholarship, and never would have written my children's book that is currently being edited. Whew.
If I hadn't put that last box of my corporate belongings in my green van and driven away, I never would have had the opportunity to become an adjunct professor and teach marketing and management. I think about the projects and learning my students engaged in because I was their professor.
If I hadn't taught at three universities, I never would have considered pursuing the PhD and never would have entered my vitae to be invited to the PhD Conference. If that hadn't happened, I never would have been in Chicago a year ago with other like minded people of color considering academia as a career move. I never would have met the future sisters in the academy and never would have congratulated one of us who was enrolled in her PhD program nine months later.
If I hadn't moved here and finally had my daughter in remission and all the kids in school full time, never would have taken the poetry and historical fiction classes I was able to take through the MOOC platform. If I hadn't done that, I never would have "met" the young writer whose book I reviewed, never would have gained a community of writers and poets, and never would have known about the literary journal where I submitted my poetry. My world expanded.
If I hadn't left my corporate life, I never would be sitting here writing my 500th entry in this blog, never would have started doing book reviews, never would have written so much poetry, and never would have had my articles and commentary published.
If I hadn't been so involved in the community, I never would have met so many wonderful people and through that, never would have researched and spoke on the topic of private prisons.
If I hadn't taken a chance and remarried, I certainly wouldn't have had my two and only lovely daughters, wouldn't have that husband who gives his last dime to make sure his family has what he needs, and likely wouldn't have traveled to some of the places we did dare to venture in the past decade.
Life is full of choices and those choices produce outcomes, some good, some bad, all uniquely our's. We all have a set of "what ifs" and can take a moment to appreciate the journey we have taken as opposed to mourning the things we left behind. Sure, I would have a big title and lots of money by now, but I wouldn't have the richness of watching my daughter's practice in the middle of the afternoon, spending the entire holiday break with the only concern being if I should bake cookies or make soup with the kids in their pajamas. I appreciate how much my world has expanded and the people that have entered my life tent because my what ifs included making a very different choice.
Take a moment to ponder your what ifs and if they are not what you want, ponder another one, like I am, "what if I find an iMac on ebay and illustrate my book myself instead of trying to hire one with my coffee money and what if I then self-published that book and used my connections to get it in the local bookstore and what if that opened up an opportunity for me to create it as a series and then and then and then." Sometimes dreaming in the what-ifs is pretty cool.
Perfect thing for a first Friday.