One Boy’s Life & Mine

John Winchurch - Sea Cadets - Wales (Double-click to enlarge)

If you look, you can see my husband in this photograph watching with eyes that are no longer a boy’s, but not quite a man’s yet either.

Growing up in Wales he had the benefit of living half a mile from the harbor in Tenby where he sailed the boat he built with his younger brother’s help. They were both Sea Cadets and for a while John thought he’d join the Royal Navy when he was older. His father talked him into waiting. ‘ Go to University first,’ he said,’ you can always join the Navy afterwards.’

By going to the University at Cardiff, John chose a different path than the one he imagined as a boy and although he never joined the Navy, he still loves the sea. He doesn’t look back the way I tend to and he doesn’t waste energy on regret. Most of my life, I’ve learned by observation and his way looks more peaceful than the route I usually take.

I’ve spent years reading books on letting go, forgiving yourself, and moving on, but living side by side with such a peaceful loving man, I find myself absorbing his natural way of living more in the moment. While I am not wholly a woman without worry and likely never will be, I can see myself changing as my tendency to cast wistful glances of regret over my shoulder at the past, slips away a bit more each day.

It’s funny how the decisions in our life seem to stack up like dominos with those made years earlier affecting the path we find ourselves on later. Fifty years after this photograph was taken and when the time was right, John’s path converged with mine.

I think about that when I look back at decisions I’ve made in my life, especially the ones that I’ve wished I could undo, but one thing done differently and it would all be different.

Can you find my future in the photograph …

An Update From The Edge

Where do I begin …

Let me first say how moved I have been by the messages of support and encouragement I have received since my last post. I have had weepy moments reading and rereading your kind words and your suggestions as to how I might find some peace have been a great help to me. As I’ve managed to move through panic and a mix of other palpitation inducing emotions, I find I am learning some unexpected lessons in letting go.

I spent time yesterday with two close friends who have been helping me enormously with some of the logistical issues I’m dealing with now. Their kindness, and generosity of time and resources have been such a gift to me and their support has made it possible me to move away from a temporary ‘ Chicken Little ‘ mentality that made me feel a bit crazy last week.

As important as their physical support has been, I also had two separate conversations with them that were illuminating and likely to be life changing. You know how people can say something over and over and you think you’ve heard it, well bless them both for their tenacity and willingness to keep repeating themselves because it finally got through my filter. By filter, I mean the voice in my head that wants to qualify, justify, or explain, instead of considering a different possibility.

This time, I think got it and I’m not sure that would have been possible with being so wide open emotionally from the unrelated issue I alluded to in my previous post.

Despite being in such a scary place of uncertainty last week I am managing well now day by day and doing what I need to wrap things up so I can go home to Cornwall and John. I have had so many offers of help and support so many that I am deliberately not naming names here for fear I might accidentally leave someone out.

To all of you who’ve left me such kind messages, I thank you. You helped me leap to the next place which turned out to be a better one. Not all the issues are resolved here, but I do feel better about what comes next.


Remembering Without Regret


At 18, On A Weekend Pass Between Basic & AIT Training (Letting My Hair Down)

I am generally not bothered by birthdays. I tend to see getting older as just a different set of opportunities and I haven’t been worried in any significant way about the proximity of 50 as I turn 49 in a few weeks, but something shifted this morning.

Yesterday, I spent a good deal of the day scanning slides and old photographs into the computer. These images captured moments from my army days or just before and I was reminded how very young I really was then. I can’t believe how much responsibility the military gave a woman barely old enough to vote, someone whose parents still wanted her in by midnight when she was already 18. Going from grumbling about a midnight curfew, to rushing down to the motor pool on alert at 3:00 am before getting my M-16 rifle from the Arms Room was a shift of substantial proportions.

Sometimes I forget how significant that time period that was when I think back to the decisions that led me to where I am now. Looking back at those photographs, I see a young woman… still a girl in many ways, jumping into the water with barely a look to see how deep the level or even a pause to test the temperature. I’ve always been someone ready to take a chance, but seeing all the people and places in pictures yesterday made me go back to memories I’d packed away..many of them shut away in a small box of slides I’ve been moving from place to place over the years. I found myself reflecting with sadness at times about some of the decisions I’ve made over the last 30 years and I am amazed how easy it can be for both regret and gratitude to share the same space.

It’s good you don’t know everything when you’re 18, but I do wish I’d had a better understanding of one thing back then. It’s a simple concept that took me years to get…that a moment lost is really gone forever. I still struggle with letting go of worry about the future and even worse…looking back at things I wish I’d done differently. It sounds trite and we hear it all the time, this talk of living in the moment, being present in your own life, but it is a common theme and one which has been illuminated by a variety of quotes for hundreds of years. I’ll leave you with the one that makes the most sense to me this morning. If you have one you’d like to share, I hope you’ll take a minute to leave it in a comment.

We crucify ourselves between two thieves: regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow.

~Fulton Oursler