When I was little, around third or fourth grade, I desperately wanted Reebok pump shoes. Imagine a black high top, with a little orange basketball on the tag that you could press to literally air up your shoes. For a wild haired tomboy who loved basketball, that was like the epitome of living large. That or Air Jordans, but I never even considered those. They seemed so far out of reach, and maybe a little less exciting than an inflatable shoe.
One time during those years, my buddy, Seth, caught me pretending to pump up my non-Reebok white shoes with a girly stonewash tag on the playground. I was so embarrassed. I just wanted those darn shoes, but I was never able to have them.
I’m fairly cautious with my money and always have been. I have long believed in hard work and delayed gratification, and that started during my formative years while growing up on a farm. As much as I decried it at the time, farm life probably shaped me and my destiny more than anything.
Years ago, as I was on some pathetic farce of a sob story about being an unloved middle child, leading a boring young life in a small town, and not having as much as I wanted growing up, my mother basically told to get over it (she absolutely didn’t say that) and that I should read a lot more quality literature (she did say that). If I’d read more memoirs about poverty laden children eating out of the trash and their drunken father lighting their Christmas tree and all its meager presents underneath it on fire (not speaking hypothetically, read “The Glass Castle,” it’s absolutely remarkable), I’d realize my childhood was a breeze.
As usual, she was right (I wonder how many times I’ll eventually say that on this blog?). Reading a lot of memoirs has reminded me that my childhood was very happy and full of plenty.
Maybe I didn’t have everything I wanted growing up, or while getting through my legal education, and even for many years thereafter as Sean and I struggled to gain our footing, yet I’ve always had what I need.
But work with me here – I know I often toss out things that go against what people quote themselves as saying on Instagram – sometimes it’s cool to have something you want, too.
Now excuse me while I knock your socks off – I’m going to talk about balance (and everyone who knows me, knew me once, met me, heard me, watched me … will laugh). Truly, coming from me who always seems to overdo it, in a lot of ways, I’m getting pretty good at finding balance and am getting even better with constant practice.
I no longer sit around and think that I may just drop dead. That’s not meant to be facetious, for over that first year, it worried me. But I was hit square in the face with life’s club of perspective, and that will guide me for the rest of my years.
My high school classmate and friend, Chelsea, died shortly after I was diagnosed with AE. She wrote quite a bit before her untimely passing, and I remember her once saying, “If you want a Pop-Tart, eat one.”
I could not agree more. Sometimes you just have to take a big ol’ bite out of life, because you want to. Maybe you don’t need to, but sometimes that’s the fun of it.
I doubt Chelsea was advocating for an exclusive diet of Pop-Tarts, but she was telling us to slow down, enjoy life, and give yourself some grace. She was telling us that life is short. And she was right.
While reflecting upon my life for over three years now in my recovery and writing, I challenged myself to understand why I’ve always driven myself so hard. I realized that I spent a lot of time doing things that I didn’t want to do. Some of my extreme habits helped me. Some harmed me. So in my new life, I strive to do things that I want to do, and don’t force myself into times, places, regiments, and people that just don’t feel right. And I try to balance that against a little voice in my head that has historically told me: give 110% no matter what and crush anyone in your path who tries to talk you out of it. And then do it again. Faster. Better.
Life is hard. We balance so much: time, energy, work, demands, children, partners, finances, grief, sleep, and more. And life isn’t fair. There is struggle. Sometimes we are stuck with what we don’t want. Take it from me, you control a lot less in your life than you believe you can will for yourself.
I find myself taking Chelsea’s advice a lot (although Celiac disease requires me to substitute Skittles, Hot Tamales, and M&M’s for Pop-Tarts). That and to watch a sunrise when you can. During my steroid infused days of recovery, I watched a lot of sunrises. For her and for me.
Make sure you find the balance in life between need and want. But sometimes, do something silly, impractical, tasty, weird, expensive, outlandish. Just because you want to. And then enjoy it.
This morning, I bought some shoes I’ve always wanted.
“I saw her today at the reception A glass of wine in her hand I knew she would meet her connection At her feet was her footloose man
“No, you can’t always get what you want You can’t always get what you want You can’t always get what you want But if you try sometime you find You get what you need” ~ You Can’t Always Get What You Want ~ by the Rolling Stones