I got a notice the other day. I had not blogged for 90 days. Ninety days? Really? Had it been that long? Ninety days is how long we had to wait before our divorce could become final. We ended up waiting a few days more as the paperwork went through. But that’s what I thought about when I got the e-mail. Ninety days. Three months. A summer gone. A third of a pregnancy. An end of a marriage.
Which I can admit is part of why I haven’t been blogging. The emotion of the final paperwork caught me by surprise. I knew the day was coming, but seeing the divorce so clearly spelled out and officially signed made everything more real. And I started thinking—how do we measure our lives? A friend posted pictures of flowers and a cake—she and her husband were celebrating their 30th anniversary. We measure and celebrate our lives by recognizing our commitments to each other. But on our 30th, my ex and I knew it would be the last anniversary. We celebrated with our kids instead of as a couple. Because our kids are a huge way that we measure our lives. And while this December will feel strange as the “anniversary” date comes and passes, the Universe has handed me an interesting twist. The birthday of the dog that I adopted is the same date as my “wedding day”. Now I have something else to celebrate.
If I step back and think about how I measure my life—my kids come in at the top of my “accomplishments”. They are their own unique individuals, but I believe that I have helped to positively influence them; at least I hope I have. My work is measured by the students I interact with and the patients that I help. If I can provide some tools, some encouragement, and assist my patients in finding their authentic voices, I measure satisfaction in our work together. I measure my life through my writing. When I do that I need to remind myself that even though these 90 days flew by and I didn’t get a blog posted, that slip up doesn’t measure me as a person. I came across a blog recently. It talked about failure as success. If we learn from our failure, that is a success. We can’t always succeed. But if we never fail, then we are not trying for enough challenges in our lives. Only if we push ourselves to discover our limits, will we find how far we can actually go. I am learning now how to live in my own house. How to rediscover myself. My ex has also had the chance to be reinvented. From a failure comes successes.
• How do you measure life? Blog about that. What do you think is important? Make a list; take 5 minutes to free write about what you feel is important. Now read through what you wrote and journal about how those items are manifesting themselves in your life. If family is important, are you working to spend time together? Friendship? Have you called a friend? Written? Met for lunch? Write to discover what is important and then make sure that you are including it in your life.
• Journal about milestones—birthdays, anniversaries, etc. What stands out for you as important markers in your life? Why? Write to understand how they have helped shape you. Are you holding onto markers in your life that are now holding you back? We may have qualities that defined us before, but that we don’t need to carry around anymore. For many of the clients I work with their eating disorders offered them a way to cope in the past, but now their eating disorders are holding them back.
• Journal about past failures. What happened? How did you feel? What did you learn from that failure? How did it change you? Can you turn this into a success as you move ahead in life?
• Journal about your dreams? Where do you hope to be in a year? Five years? Ten? Look at your life; are you on the path that will help you get to where you want to go? Are you unhappy with aspects of your life? Write to discover what’s bothering you? Be specific so that you can understand how to recraft those parts of your life. If nothing changes, nothing changes. If you are feeling stuck, think about what needs to change for you to be able to measure more satisfaction.
Go on now—Write On!
Martha Peaslee Levine, MD