Emily Dickinson is one of my favourite poets, and her poem “I dwell in possibility” one of my favourite poems. Being a mom and having a career is not an easy row to hoe, but it is a path that is full of possibilities. Things change all the time, and, like the weather or a bad haircut, if you don’t like the way things are going right now, just wait five minutes.
Sometimes the choices that face us are tough ones. Our kids could use our presence at home right now; but if we hang in there at work, we might get a great assignment - or avoid the next round of lay-offs. Not an easy choice to make. But don’t mistake hard choices for no choices. Or the next choice for your last choice. Chances are pretty good that there will be more choices to make after this one.
And don’t feel that if the big choices are tough, that you have no room to wiggle. Small choices are good too. Is this the night to be conscientious and make dinner from scratch? Or is this the night to go with pizza and really enjoy it? Is this the Saturday night to spend with your partner, or with your girlfriends? Is this the day to throw on the sack dress that hides all lumps and bumps, or the day to put on your Spanx and that slightly more shapely skirt? Flats or heels? Any choice that buoys you up and carries you forward is an important one. These are the possibilities that add joy to our days. And if you have some joy in each and every day, you know what you have? A joy-filled life, that’s what. A pot of daffodils on your desk in February, a piece of dark chocolate, a Motown song on your Ipod – they are all the tiny building blocks that give us the resilience to face the bigger challenges when they come along.
Bigger than a pot of daffodils or a dose of Aretha Franklin are the people you choose to spend your time with. You only have a finite amount of time and energy, and what is left over after family and work is precious indeed. Are you going to spend it with friends who believe in great possibilities for you? Or people who only see the down-side of everything? People who celebrate your successes, or people who only want to hear about your failures? People who appreciate your support, or people who build themselves up by tearing you down? What feeds you and helps you handle the rest of your life with ease? I certainly prefer the folks that I look forward to seeing, enjoy while I am with, and feel energized when I leave them. Life is just too damned short for the other ones.
So – even though it is February, and it’s grey, and summer is far away, invest in a little joy. Read your kid an extra story. Give your partner an extra backrub – or ask for one. Buy yourself a trashy magazine or a classic work of literature. Think of the friend or sibling you treasure the most and call them up. Make a lunch date with your funniest friend. Dance in the living room. Sing in the shower. Dwell in possibility. You are doing the most important work in the world, you deserve joy, and you’re worth it.