I love to spy on other people's lives. I watch "Wife Swap", "Nineteen Children and Counting", and I used to watch "Jon and Kate Plus 8". I know, I know. Believe me, I have heard it all from my hubby! But I am curious. I want to know what other people's lives look like. It started when I was little and reading "Little House on the Prairie" books and "Anne of Green Gables". I was fascinated with how other little girls lived. I really wanted to live back then, it sounded so fun. At some point, this curiosity morphed into a "the grass is greener on the other side" mentality. I began to feel everyone's lives must be so much better than mine.
I became a teacher and this feeling suddenly and drastically changed. I met children who ate only two meals a day, five days a week, the meals served at school. I met children who thought it was just the way it was to get whipped with an extension cord. I met children who were left at school for hours sitting in the cold because their mother picked up an extra shift at the strip joint and forgot to send someone to pick them up. I met children who lived with a mom who was drunk/high/or some combination every minute of every day. My students taught me that just because you may have a tough life, you don't have to hang your head and mope around. They taught me that we all have crosses to bear. They taught me to live my life with joy. But over time, the urge to look over the fence, came back.
My husband began his ministry as a "live-in" pastor about this time. I mean that we began living in the towns where he preached. He pastored several churches with middle income people like us and then upper income people. Through him, I met people who were devastated by depression. Through him, I met people who were grieving the loss of children/spouses. Through him, I met people who were struggling with financial issues. Through him, I met people who were struggling with health issues. The interesting thing I learned was that these issues knew no socio-economic boundaries. Everyone has problems. Everyone has issues. Everyone feels they have too much to handle. I finally learned the grass is not greener on the other side, it is just different.
You may be wondering what was so bad about my life that I was always looking. Well, that is just it, my life wasn't that bad. I grew up in a loving home, albeit it a conservative and patriarchal one. I went to college and met the man of my dreams. I had a career I loved. I did have health issues, but not enough to keep me from having fun and working. We didn't have a lot of money, but we had enough. it had nothing to do with my life, but everything to do with how I viewed life, how I lived life.
I kept looking ahead. When we have kids.......when you work full-time......when I can stay home with the kids......when our kids are gone......when we can retire.......when we go on vacation.....on and on. I never looked at the "now", where I was at that very moment in time. And you know the sad part? I missed things. I missed moments with my children because I was too preoccupied with the future. I had plenty of moments, but I know that I missed some because of my focus.
Learning to be present has and will be one of the hardest things for me to learn. I had to learn to still my mind and my thinking and take in my surroundings. I had to learn to appreciate what was in front of me, and not long for what was not. I had to learn peace. You know what I found along the way? Joy. Happiness. Rest.
I am not saying my life is rosy, you know that is a lie if you have read just a bit of my blog or my statuses on facebook. I have problems. I have LOADS of problems. But I have many, many things to be thankful for. I am living a slow life. I have longed to live like this for years and now I am doing it. I don't have a timecard anymore. I am my own boss. It is wonderful. I am married to my best friend who gets me even when I don't. He has been so patient with me all these years of "looking ahead and over the fence". He has taught me to breathe. I have a son whose smile literally takes my breath away. His eyes shine with kindness and generosity. He is almost a man and he has taught me how to play. I have a daughter whose inner strength brings me to my knees. I am in awe of her spirit and being. She is a young lady and she has taught me how to love.
So why do I still watch these shows if I am not looking over the fence? I think now it is just curiosity. I like seeing how others live their lives. How they run their homes. It is kind of like when I used to go and visit classrooms as a teacher. You never know when you might pick up a tip. But I think I also watch because, sometimes it is nice to remind yourself you really have it pretty good! (I mean, have you see some of those Wife Swaps???? and NINETEEN kids, come on???)