Becoming an adult, and particularly becoming an older adult, has freed me from most of the mental authoritarianism. When I got out into the real world (my first post-college job was in the State Street Bank Building in Boston – big city love!) I came to appreciate the variety of human experience, and gradually to trust my own decisions.
Last week I got a an email from my friend Suzanne Carillo. It included this wisdom:
Remember, you alone get to choose what matters and what doesn’t. The meaning of everything in your life has precisely the meaning you give it.
Yes! We get to decide! What a revolutionary concept for everyone, and especially for those of us raised in a strict and religious home. And even though I’m 62, and left home at 18, the early programming has been deeply embedded. The vestigial guilt and fear still want to have some power, but now the (usually) quiet revolution is taking over. We get to decide!
Here’s a real-life example of how freeing it is to choose: I decided to cut back my volunteering hours at the thrift. Three of my dear friends have left, and it’s not as joyful as it once was. I still swing by to help on Friday afternoons, and we support the Humane Society financially. But when the joy left, I had a talk with myself and said “just because you’ve been doing this for years doesn’t commit you to do it forever.”
I get to choose what’s next for volunteering: maybe Hospice, or the Women’s Center, or NOW, or the League of Women Voters, or something I don’t even know about yet.
Style-wise, I’m giving myself permission to dress in my favorite pieces every day, and to buy better stuff. After thrifting for years – and I’m not done! – I’m also looking at high-quality clothing that costs a few more donuts. Smaller and better is my wardrobe goal. If yours is bigger and better, that’s all good too. You get to choose.
Stay fabulous and enjoy the revolution, xox,
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That is a very freeing piece of wisdom that Suzanne passed along. I feel that for all of my life, the things that really mattered to me were not the things that mattered to the majority of those people around me. Likewise, the idea of getting married, having children, owning my own home, never resonated with me. Now that I’m in my late 50’s, I find that I am asking myself, what is important to me at the age I am now,
Even in our 60’s many of us are seeking our own truth and wriggling out of the costumes we never felt comfortable in. Real empowerment is hard won even when we’re entitled to our share.
amen to this. The r/evolution is never over. xo
Same here, Patti. They tought us to trust someone else – outside of us – something that they believed that was bigger than us! And only because they were taught to believe the same old thing, generation after generation. Doesn’t even matter what that “bigger thing” was – religion, society, culture itself, or family… something was more important than that precious voice inside each of us. So we learned to be quiet, obedient, and … frustrated. As we grow, we peel off those layers, one by one, to get to the core of our precious inner selves, and we get to learn to trust that inner voice that’s always there and ready to guide us. Thank you for sharing your experience with us! I had a similar one a few years ago, only it really was something very personal what I’ve built from scratch and what was blossoming, only … my joy has left! It was one of the hardest decisions of my life, and I only now come to peace with it.
This really moves me: “something was more important than that precious voice inside each of us.” Let’s keep that voice strong. And the joy – that’s the key, yes? xo
I love this!!! I was thinking the same thing as far as choosing new ways to get in shape. I thought about trying dif things, but not with the idea that I’d stick forever, but just get an introduction to for fun. Like maybe tennis this summer or join a gym! You don’t have to commit for life!
sounds like fun! go for it, xox
So true, Patti! Yes – we do get to choose how to spend our time! And you are right – when the joy leaves, it’s time to move on! Thanks for that great reminder. Sometimes we have to let go of one thing to be open for what’s next.
thank you Cathy, so true about being open for what comes next. xo
what an inspiring post, and what a piece of wisdom from Suzanne. I love that you encourage us to be conscious of our own education, and how social expectatives could put pressure on our decissions. It’s so freeing to make your own decissions without guilt!
Thank you Sra! Getting a bit older frees us from many expectations; why not start young? xox
Ahhh yes, such sage wisdom Patti! It is all about the power to choose, and so freeing once we realize that!
Thanks, Kellyann, you’re so right. xo
Hell yes to this! It happens to be exactly what I need to hear today so thank you for that. But also the older I get the more I think that you should do what you do out of love and for the joy of the thing itself because doing things out of guilt or obligation just leads to resentment and that will always sabotage your efforts anyway.
Yes, so true Karen. Thanks for your wise words, xo
As someone who grew up in a similar culture, I relate to this in so many ways. Thank you for the wise words and needed reminders that our own authority is of value.
Great turn of phrase: “our own authority”. Thanks, Sherry. xo
You go, girl! We need more like this. And Suzanne puts it well about all the guilt. And pressure.
And remember, if we don’t choose, somebody else will do it for us.
Well said, TOF! Thanks for coming by, xo
It is such a freeing statement.
I’m delighted this resonated with you. I know it did with me.
I think as women we carry around so much guilt about not being perfect, not being good enough, not feeling we are doing enough. Freeing ourselves from those self imposed chains makes life so much more enjoyable.
Thanks for sending the message; it has for sure resonated with me. Guilt be gone! xox