March 7, 2014
Categories: Culture, Self

my friend in her kitchen

Over the next several weeks while I’m focusing on my book, I’ll be offering questions meant to cultivate community-wide discussion. You can check out Conversation #1 (which was awesome) here. Your voice is valuable, much appreciate and a gift to many!

Community-Wide Conversation #2

Q: What do you wish you had known before you _____? (Got married, became a mother, pursued your profession, went to college, got into debt, bought chickens, whatever you’re feeling.)

The purpose of this question is to honor the wisdom born not of expertise but experience, and emphasize the value of shared reflection and retrospection.

Staying focused and sending love,

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30 Comments

  1. that i would end up being my biggest critic, that perfection was an airbrushed lie, and that a lack of self-love was only going to feed those twin beasts.

    i also wish people hadn’t told me how strong i was…too much pressure to *always* be strong, or at least put on a good show. you know, because everyone was watching. right?

    Reply

  2. To trust my instincts instead of doctors and big companies. To read every label. To let my kids be kids as long as possible, instead of forcing them into the mold set out for “their age group”. To use every opportunity to learn, especially as a parent. To speak positively about myself and others to attract positive.

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  3. I completely agree with the comment above; I too have suffered from trying to be perfect and “strong”. I wish I had learned earlier to speak my truth, to not be afraid to ask for help, and, especially to have understood how very important rest is to my immune system and my psychological health as well.

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  4. MrsDashwood

    I wish I was coached more on how to balance my life before I went off into the world. Learning to say no or to just accept a simple compliment, pampering myself, keeping a close circle of girlfriends, practice and routines, knowing when to ask for help, and how to eat seasonally to avoid processed foods.

    Knowing how much I love to do it all lead me to a path of “imbalanced” for a few years and it was incredibly hard to fix because unless it became really serious it wasn’t going to be caught by any of the mainstream docs I went to see. Know yourself and when things are not going well learn how to stop everything and find that balance.

    I am teaching my daughters balance in a variety of ways. They’ll take their own paths in life but hopefully this will keep them stronger mentally and physically.

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  5. How difficult parenting is. I am very happy I went to college first and had some life experience before having a child. It is the hardest role of my life, and nothing I learned in college prepared me for any of it.

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  6. I wish I knew how easy scary things would be so I would have ventured a bit more in my younger — child-free — days than I actually did. I also wish I would have known how little family support I would get as a mother. I thought grandparents would seriously come out of the woodwork to dote on my daughters and they haven’t. At all. And we’re at a point where we have to find adoptive grandparents for special events at school and in the community. Perhaps this answers the question: What saddens you most? : ) Anyway, I am very new to reading your blog. I am a fan. I just wish I had more time to read and comment … but running my own blog/business and mothering leaves little time. I think we’d get along great over a cuppa though … :)

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  7. I wish I had known how to not take anything personally, how to love and accept myself and others, how to find more inner and outer resources when my daughter needed more than it felt like I could possibly give. I wish I had known how many expectations there are of mothers in our society, how powerful these expectations are, and how to survive them!

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  8. I wish that my mother would tell me (notice, not just anyone, and just had but would still tell me):

    1) that my body would change and it would never be perfect and its ok because my worth is not on the way I look.
    2) that its ok t hate my job sometimes and I don’t have to pretend that I have it all together
    3) that I would have a complete identity crisis, be filled with anxiety and doubt myself everyday and that its normal.
    4) that I need to smile more
    5) that she loves me

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  9. I wish I’d been taught how to quiet the chatter, and to learn to really listen to my own heart. And to then follow it! and not be held back with worrying about others, of pleasing, of being judged or scolded or ignored – really, I wish I’d been told that in the end, in the beginning, every single day, we are our only judges, so make it matter! That goes for everything from education, love, career, and most especially parenting. I hope to pass on this freedom to my own child….don’t we all.

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  10. Peg Runnels

    I wish someone had told me that thinking about and writing a vision for what I want would be very powerful. Not that I expect to get everything, but to have that clarity about what I would like in a perfect world and to hold that image helps create it.

    I wish someone had told me that developing an “internal locus of control” means believing that I have power to direct my thoughts and act on them. So many people believe that life just happens to them and there is not much they can do.

    Reply

  11. I wish I had known that I am (and we all are) inherently worthy of love before I got the opposite hammered into my beliefs and behaviors…that all must meet certain expectations in order to earn love. I wish I had known that listening to my heart and intuition would help me find my way before I surrendered power to others’ opinions about what was best for me. I wish I had known that there is love and magic in every moment if you stay present before I learned an million and one ways to distract myself and to live in the past and future. But I’m glad to now know that the things I didn’t and don’t know are presented over and over until they’re known and that a soul’s journey is looooong with lots of time for learning.

    Reply

  12. I wish someone had said:
    Don’t settle*
    Be patient*
    Be free and then be free-er than free*
    Wait for true love*
    Listen to your inner self and take that waaaay
    More seriously than what other people say*
    Practice kindness ALWAYS*
    It’s ok to let others (and your kids) see you make
    Mistakes*
    Learn something from every mistake you make*
    Read voraciously*
    Judging people is a waste of time*

    Reply

  13. Wish I had known to:
    * Look for a man who I knew would treat my kiddos and I well, not just the one who stuck around
    * Not make early adult decisions based on the fears of my parents
    * Start therapy sooner
    * Choose a career (and husband) that allowed the freedom to roam that I so crave
    * Understand that birth is the easy part, parenting is HARD, the most challenging, beautiful, bittersweet thing I have ever done

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  14. I wish I had realized how much I wanted to raise my kids near my own family before I spent a decade settling down 1,000 miles away from them (starting with going very far away for college). In light of that, I am very grateful for my husband’s family who live nearby and my own family who are willing to visit often in spite of the cost and effort.

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  15. I wish someone had told me that I didn’t have to work so hard all the time. Yes, it got me through my studies, through years of office work, but it has taken until parenthood to learn how essential it is also to rest, and to be prepared to accept ‘OK’, ‘getting by’ and ‘that’ll do for today’.

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  16. 1. That I have plenty of time. That taking time to figure out who I am and what I want is not wasted time.
    2. That life is breathtakingly short–which is why it is imperative to take the time to figure out what you want from it. So you don’t waste time waiting for ____ to change/be over so you can start doing what you really want.
    3. Opportunities–for everything: work, love, adventure, security–are abundant. Don’t operate from a mindset of scarcity. Be open and aware and things will come.

    Reply

  17. Dear Beth,
    One of things I wish someone had said to me is that it’s okay to show affection publically to my husband. Even now that I’m in my 50′s, I struggle with displaying affection outside my home and sometimes even when we’re home alone. I realize how much I’ve missed out on and in my own subtle way, I try to teach my daughters how important affection can be in their own relationships. And, most importantly… I’m trying to chip away at my own inhibitions.

    Reply

  18. It’s OK to not be OK. Sometimes you need to sit in that uncomfortable space and figure out the next step. You don’t have to have it all together. There might come a day when you need help. And that, too, is OK.

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  19. that heading straight to college and debt was not the only way to get out of the house. That I had been better prepared to be on my own, used to making my own decisions and sorting out the concesquences before leaving the house. That my childhood had not wired me to believe a boycrazy, prince charming hunt would bring ultimate happiness and life accomplishment when completed. In short, I wish I had been told that being alone was okay, neccessary for growth, something to make time for in all seasons of life, and the only way to keep connected with my heart.

    Reply

  20. I wish I had learned to take good care of myself at an very early age. How vital and non-negotiable that is. That to take good care of myself means each and every day taking time…
    …to eat good food, at least three times ,
    …to drink as much clean water as my body needs,
    …to move under the sky each day, thirty minutes or more,
    …for good sleep often, even if it looks like being lazy.
    That it is of the same importance…
    …to ask no more of myself than my best, which sometimes is mere showing up,
    …to connect each day at least ten minutes to a person I love.
    And what it takes to feed and heal my soul – even in the deepest crisis:
    In the words of Thomas Moore “…the ordinary arts we practice every day at home…” and
    as Neil Gaiman said: “… when things get tough, this is what you should do: make good art.”
    So these days, when I feel like in the darkest part of the tunnel, I do not fill the dishwasher. But instead wash the dishes by hand; and while they dry on the rack, I work with paper and color or yarns or whatever until my soul smiles again.
    I´m deeply grateful to you, Beth, for handing me and showing me the use of many of the most precious tools, which are now in my toolbox to get me through my hardest times. Thank you so much!

    Reply

  21. I think that people, especially women in our lives do try to tell us things but I think it would be more fitting to say I wish I LISTENED to the following advice before becoming a wife, mother, teacher, seeker:

    1. to take even more risks before having a family – to realize the time you DO have to spend on the growth of your own soul and future

    2. To study what YOU want – don’t choose based on other people’s opinions

    3. Don’t chose a partner with the thought of changing them – even a little (it’s not fair to you or them)

    4. to take care of your health – eat right, exercise now because it is harder after babies!

    5. When you become a mother – slow down and take lots of pictures of them —- with YOU. No matter how you think you ‘look’

    And I know it is cliche – but to love yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin…realizing that everyone around you struggles with this one too!

    Reply

  22. Hi Beth. Good question. I wish that I knew that it was OK to be introverted. I’ve spent a lot of time ‘pushing’ myself into the world, and believing that my discomfort in prolonged intense interpersonal and social interactions would eventually wane with maturity. I’m a social worker, and always dreamed of working my way into positions of power in order to demand changes in society! Only, after 8 years of social work, I’ve realized that the romantic version of myself is not realistic, and it’s OK not to want that anymore. I wish I had known that it is OK, and even desirable, to be someone on the sidelines, changing the world in those subtle, gentle ways that don’t make headlines, but help make my community that much more livable.

    Reply

  23. I know that whatever they would have told me…I wouldn’t have listened or heard anyway. I’m totally grateful that I’ve had to learn to be kind to myself, that beauty is everywhere, and that I have no time….and all the time in the world. There are moments when I feel the universe aligning and reflecting myself back to me. In those moments, I realize that I have been….an asshole, too stressed, highly critical, not present….and that is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing on this trip. Blessing to you from another beth. xoxoxo

    Reply

  24. I wish someone had told me and taught me about friendships with other women, and how important they are when you’re a mother. My husband is my best friend, and he’s a great one, but I wish I had a girlfriend that I could share everything with.

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  25. Thank you Beth for this cathartic exercise. Reading everyone else’s comments has been a great experience! I wish I had learned to express my emotions freely and without reserve. I wish I had learned that it’s okay to be angry and cranky sometimes. I wish I had learned that I have every right to leave and question an uncomfortable situation. I wish I had been told that I didn’t have to do things that made me uncomfortable. I wish I had learned to say no. I wish I had learned to accept feelings of embarrassment and vulnerability, and that these things are not worth the effort it takes to avoid them or keep them hidden. I wish I had learned to be in tune with/ listen to my body and be intuitive to it’s needs. I wish I had learned to stand up for myself. I wish I had learned that no one has the right you make you feel inferior. I wish I had been told to be self-aware, but not self-conscious; caring, but not codependent. I wish someone had told me it was okay to eat whatever I want; that my body, not society, would show me the way. I wish someone had told me I didn’t need perfect grades; that my health should always be my first priority. I wish someone had told me that bullies existed, that people would try to fool or take advantage of me; and that their actions reflected their own personal existence, and that their actions did not reflect something wrong with me. A lot of these things I’m still trying to teach myself.

    Reply

  26. I wish someone would have told me that the things that brought me the greatest joy when I was a child – for me, it was making art – would be the thing that would bring me the most joy and peace as an adult… and that I should go ahead and pursue those dreams full-force, even if a tempting job in business were thrown my way. *sigh* It’s taken quite a long time to realize I should have stuck with art all along, no matter if it meant being poorer for a while, or forever.

    I also wish someone would have told me to allow myself the time to focus on stabilizing my mind and emotions through the right perspective-widening practice for me before have children, and to have those children with someone else who had also done their work thoroughly. *sigh* Now, instead I’m in the trenches of a challenging relationship with self and partner with a gorgeous toddler asking me to be more, give more, right now. All good, but advice I wished I’d either received or heeded (because I can’t imagine I didn’t hear it at least once).

    Good question! Great discussion! Thank you for your beautiful, thoughtful and engaging blog. I’m so fond of you as a writer, a mother, a woman, a human. :)

    Reply

  27. I wish someone had taught me how to evaluatr good friends but more importantly I wish I had learned earlier before my divorce what having a good healthy marriage was. The wisdom to know what compatible really means and like others have said to hold out and not feel like you are on the marriage, white picket fence and babies by 33 train. But the greatest gify I am lesrning is its ok to tell my kids like them I will make mistakes in life and you have to admit them, brush them off and keep going. Also laughter… it really can heal a soul and we don’t often allow ourselves to be silly with our loved ones.

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  28. I wish I had known how much love hurts. Before becoming a mother, I never knew love could hurt this much! My babies! Looking at them, hurts. Their smile, hurts. Their eyes–so pure, so innocent, so close to the divine and perfect–looking deeply into my eyes, into my soul. .. it hurts! The fear of anything bad ever happening to them, hurts. The thought of losing them or watching them suffer, hurts. Puts me in a frozen state of terror actually! I never knew I could be vulnerable! I don’t think you can ever imagine how intense it could be until you become a mother. It scares me. My whole life, I felt as though there is nothing in the world that could defeat me… now, just the thought of them, brings me to my knees in prayer, and I feel certain that if I were to lose them, I could never survive.

    Reply

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