Throughout my childhood, I was rarely exposed to anything bad or scary or negative. Sure, my dad could be a little intimidating when he had his disciplinarian hat on, but that isn’t what I think about when I reminisce about my young life.
I never actually heard my mom swear until she said the word barf when I was in third grade—I know, it’s not a swear word, but I thought it was at the time. No one in my family did or said mean things to each other (with the exception of some fights between my sister and me—but we didn’t mean it). We didn’t yell a lot, and my parents were never involved in any drama. Nobody gossiped, there were no crises, and we did lots of Full House-esque things (sans the cheesy music) like play board games together.
At the time, I often thought my life was boring. My friends’ lives just seemed more fancy and exciting.
As I grew up, I started to get along really well with my sister, and things got even better. Nowadays, especially at this time of year, I’m reminded of how things were back when Jen was 20 and I was 18. The springs/summers of 1996 and 1997 were the beginning of our lives as grown-ups together. She had a black lab, Maddie, who always rode in the front passenger seat of her robin’s egg blue Ford Tempo with the automatic seatbelt buckled. When I was along for the ride, Maddie sat in the back—we would go and get ice cream (a kiddie cone for the dog), and just drive around town listening for specific Top 40 hits and talking (she usually talked more than I did). Jen’s boyfriend, Steve, was always hard at work at the Mobil gas station, which is why I was allowed to tag along with her—I proudly played second fiddle.
Many years later, I reflect on those times probably more often than is normal. Partly because I can’t make new memories with my sister, so I have to rely on old ones to feel close to her. Also because I often reach for my family’s feeling of calm moral stability to keep my current decisions black and white. Reflecting on my history is like asking an old wise man for advice, “What is the right thing to do?” …Ok, do that.
We live our lives in stories, and then we tell our stories, and re-live and re-tell them. Sometimes they change along the way, and often they change us and influence who we become. We plan our next moves in life by contemplating options and filtering them through our memory bank of past experiences. Some of the most important revelations I witness when I’m wellness coaching involve people reflecting on how their past influences their present. Once influences are identified, improvements can be made. Sure, it may be a little messier than that, but the connection is there.
We can improve our stories, make meaning out of our experiences, and evolve in new and different ways.
When I reflect on my early life and relationships with my family, it helps me strip away much of the chatter, interference, and gray areas clouding my decisions and outlook on life. It just takes a quick reflection of my values, and suddenly, the right choices become wonderfully clear.
I’m craving simplification lately; the simplicity that existed throughout my childhood.
Simple pleasures from this week:
What do you crave from your past? Can you bring it forward into your life now? I’m liking my theme of simplifying and enjoying simple pleasures. I think I’ll just carry those forward 🙂
Enjoy your weekend, Friends!