Do You Have Regrets?
My Reflections About: Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old, By Mike Spohr
Today I took a moment to go on Facebook and catch up with it. I am not too good about keeping up with it, though. My daughter-in-law, Andrea posted the link above called, “Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old”. It seemed so appropriate since I am 70 and I find myself reflecting from time to time.
After reading it, I thought I would comment on it. It may give my children and grandchildren some insight into my thoughts. (See #22) Fortunately, my regrets will never take the place of my dreams.
- Not traveling when you had the chance. I have traveled everywhere I have wanted to go. I’ve been to many states, especially on the East Coast of the USA. I’ve been to CA, Hawaii, IL, MI, & MO as well. I lived in Ponape, a territory in Micronesia. I have lived in many states: DE, FL, MA, NY, MD, VA, PA, CT. Now I am going to Ecuador. Yes, there are many places I have missed, but I don’t regret not having been there. I appreciate what I have done. I could hardly believe it when I was completing the slide show that I have lived in over 20 different places. There were about 5 places I didn’t have photos for. [carousel cats=5]
- Not learning a language. Oh yes, why didn’t I learn Spanish. Since Leo is from Venezuela, I took Spanish I when we first got married. He did not speak with me in Spanish and I couldn’t even get the kids to speak to me in Spanish. Everyone in the family was too busy learning English. The only one in our family that has a knack for languages is my daughter, Beth. She used to pick up Spanish in the neighborhood from her friends in Miami. I am listening to Pimsleur’s Spanish Tapes. They are good, but to be honest, I have not stayed with it too much. I get sidetracked easily. I have a feeling that the Spanish translator on my phone is going to keep me from really learning the language.
- 3. Staying in a bad relationship. I cannot be miserable for long, so I was the type to leave when I should. When it is a marriage, I believe one should do everything one can do to make it work. But it does take 2 to make that work and not everyone is always on the same page, so it is time to go.
- Forgoing sunscreen. Having grown up in FL, I ran around all the time without suntan lotion. (no sunscreen in those days). When I went to the beach, I would put on one application early in the day, but that’s it. I did lie in the sun as a teenager and young adult trying to get that great tan. I used fake suntan cream once as a kid and I was streaked orange. As I got older, I started hearing about the sun causing wrinkles, so that got me out of the sun. I do have many pre-cancers on my skin and go to the dermatologist regularly. I am a little worried about living in Ecuador at the beach. I will be diligent about sitting in the shade.
- Missing the chance to see your favorite musicians: I saw some, but it is nothing I regret missing. Not really my thing. I do love music, though. I am content with records (in the past), the radio, and music that I have transferred to the computer from my cds.
- Being scared to do things. The only thing that I am afraid to do are dangerous things or things I think are dangerous. I do hate to fly, but do it because I have no alternative.
- Kept up with physical fitness. Oh, Lord, this is a big one with me. It has not been that long that I finally bought into the need for physical fitness and health. I am overweight and have been since my 50’s. I could keep it off before that, but the battle is difficult for me now. I have been exercising to a Weight Watchers Exercise tape I have had for 10 years. Over the 10 years it has been on and off. I am on now and have been for a few years. Now if I can get the eating under control, I will be all set. I have read on other blogs that Americans lose weight because of all the fresh vegetable and walking everywhere in Ecuador. I am hoping that is the case.
- Letting yourself accept gender roles. Color me one of those people that will make you sad. I have pretty much accepted my role. I can’t say I am regretful about it. It just was that way. I am glad that young women have so many options open to them, now.
- Not quitting a bad job. That has not been a problem with me.
- Not trying harder in school. I wish I had tried harder in high school. Part of my problem was that I was not expected to go to college. My father even said there was no reason for women to go to college because they just get married. That was coming from a man that threw away his college education, while his sister did not go. She was a secretary of the Trust Dept. in a bank. Today she would have been the President of the bank. My father died while I was in high school and my mother saved the little money we had to send me to a state school (FSU). It wasn’t until my Junior Year in High School that a Science teacher inspired me to go to college.
- You didn’t think you were beautiful. I am not sure why, but I always thought I looked good enough. Not beautiful, but good enough. I wasn’t preoccupied with it at all. I did have a problem with being “shy”. I knew this bothered my mother. She put me in elocution lessons so I could get confidence speaking in front of others. She had me play the accordion when I was about 8 years old. I played the trumpet in Jr. High because she did in her youth. I took dance lessons. She made me feel like I wasn’t living up to her expectations of me. On one visit when I was in my 30’s she was making me feel inadequate again, and I remember saying to myself, is she crazy, I am a single parent raising 2 kids by myself, I have a great teaching job where I am respected and was recently made a Team Leader, I am a morally responsible human being. What is SHE thinking? Notice I thought it, but did not say it. I still consider myself shy in new situations, but when I know you, I am not shy.
- Being afraid to say I love You. This I feel is one of my biggest strengths. I love to tell my family that I love them, because I really do. I have always kissed and hugged my kids. I like affection, perhaps to the dismay of others. Leo, my husband, and I still hold hands, kiss and say I love you as soon as we wake, before we say good-night, when we see each other for the first time after work, and just for the heck of it at times in-between. Leo used to drop me off at school where I was teaching and we would kiss good-bye. Most of the time the kids who might be standing there would smile and ask, is that your husband? You could see that they were thrilled to see us still in love in our 60’s. My parents were affectionate towards us and with each other. My daughter-in-law, Andrea, thinks we’re a bit too much.
- Not listening to your parents’ advice. I pretty much did listen to my parents. Maybe I could have been a little more daring. I have a story about thinking my daughter, Beth, did not listen to any advice I gave. (And I gave lots of it). When she was about 13, I happened to overhear her giving advice to one of her friends. My mouth dropped open, because everything coming out of her mouth could have been coming from me. Wow, she was listening.
- Spending your youth self-absorbed. I do wish I was less absorbed as a child. My siblings were 10 and 11 years older than I, so I felt like I was an only child. I was spoiled-not with material things, but just getting my way and my parents put me first when I shouldn’t have been. For some reason, I never wanted too much really. I’ve never been much of a “wanter”. I look back and I am embarrassed that my mother bought me clothes at the best stores in Miami. (I didn’t know it then). She bought little for herself . I didn’t think of her as a person who dressed up. She mostly wore her uniform (beauticians wore white dresses long ago). When she was older and I was gone, she bought lots of clothes and shoes. She had shoes with tags still on them when she died. When I was in high school, my world was my friends and my life. I do regret that!!
- Caring too much about what others think. I am still in this rut at 70, but not as much as when I was younger. Sometimes, Leo will say, “You care too much about what people think.” But some of the things I do are because I am trying to be considerate of others, not thinking about what they will think of me. For example: I don’t drive in the left lane even if I am going the speed limit. I know people want to go over the speed limit in the left lane, so I don’t want to hold them up. Heck, I drive 70 (over the 65 limit) in the right lane and I don’t pass anyone and many pass me in the left lane. I won’t say who likes the left lane!
- Supporting others’ dreams over your own. I did not do this in my life except when I wanted to. I did a lot of supporting, but not when I did not want to. Once when my former husband said he wanted to go into the missions, I did not want to, so I said so. At 28, I did not want to go to a third world country with 2 children. We belonged to the Country Club, had friends, etc. and I was happy. He let it go. One day I had an epiphany, and I saw that all of that materialism made no sense, so now I was ready to go. From that point I got the paperwork going and followed through until we were bound for Ponape with the Jesuit Volunteer Corp. I loved every minute of it, but husband did not. Go figure. When I told my mother that we were going to Ponape, she said, “You would do anything for that man”. Guess she didn’t really know me. Leo, my current husband, had been talking about going to Central or South America to retire. I have not been on his bandwagon for several years. One day, I came around because it made sense to ME. Now I am going gung-ho doing all the paperwork and getting us there. Another dream I did jump on right away was selling our house and buying a boat to live aboard. It appealed to me right away even though it was Leo’s initial dream. Leo and I loved every minute we were on that boat, too. [carousel cats=6]
- Not moving fast enough. No regrets
- Holding grudges, especially with those you love. The only time I held a huge grudge way too long was when I divorced at 30. That was very counter-productive. I was just prolonging the misery. I wish I had realized that one person’s reality is NOT another person’s reality, especially when they do not share their reality with the other person. Everyone is pretty much what they are and it does not change. Just because you are different from each other and want different things doesn’t mean the other is at fault. Each person is entitled to be who they are, you just don’t have to share the life experience together. See #17 Move on. When I was younger, I held some little grudges here or there and learned quickly that I was the one suffering, so I learned to let it go.
- Not standing up for yourself. I don’t agree with the example in the article. It does not make sense to me to stand up for yourself with strangers or casual acquaintances. They are not worth it. I don’t care what they think. I do not give them power over me. When I do stand up for myself, it is with people I care about or work with. They need to know how I feel, because our relationship is important. People will not know how to treat you unless you tell them. I used to believe the Golden Rule, “Treat People the way you want to be treated”, but I have found that does not always work, because not everyone wants the same thing.
- Not volunteering enough. I agree one may regret not volunteering enough. Being a teacher, I have been big on volunteering. I hope that I will continue to volunteer in Ecuador. Online I saw a group of people volunteering to paint a school and one expat family in San Clemente has a Christmas Party for their Ecuadorian neighbor children every year. If I live near them, I would like to help them out if they need it, or maybe continue the tradition in another part of Ecuador. I have found that every time I do things to help others, I end up feeling like I came out feeling better than they did.
- Neglecting your teeth. I have been pretty good about this, since I saw my mother get dentures. I have to admit I hate the dentist, but I do go.
- Missing the chance to ask your grandparents questions before they die. Oh, this is my greatest regret. I even regret not asking my mother and father questions about their lives. (you know, too self-absorbed). As I became older, maybe 50’s, I found myself thinking, did my mom go through this, did she feel this way, and how did she handle this. What was her childhood like? Gosh, I never knew Agnes, I only knew mom. What a shame. Kids listen and remember those stories told and parents tell your stories. I was not a story teller. Not sure why since I love to write. My sister is one who always remembered stories and retold them. For some reason, I don’t remember things that much. I will tell stories if it comes up in conversation, but I don’t just come out with it. My daughter, Beth, remembers stories. She will come up with things from Ponape, but Sean and I can’t remember it. She was 4, he was 5 and I was 29. It must be a gift.
- Working too much. Not my regret, but I did work hard and sometimes long hours.
- Not learning how to cook one awesome meal. Can’t relate. I love to cook and used to read cookbooks and make the recipes. Now I still collect recipes on the Food Network and Pinterest and I am the type to always cook something new for company. I figure if I like the things in the recipe, I will like the dish. It has worked 99% of the time. All 4 of our children like to cook (1 girl and 3 boys).
- Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment. I seemed to enjoy moments in my life, so if you don’t you may regret it. Since I am an optimist, everything usually seems enjoyable. I wonder if one is born with positive or negative outlook on life.
- Failing to finish what you start. Boy do I understand this one. I regret all the books, plays, blog I started 7 years ago etc. that I started and did not finish. I’m 70 and who knows how long I will keep up with this blog. Time will tell. This is a big regret.
- Never mastering one awesome party trick. Have absolutely no regret about this one, I do not want to be the center of attention.
- Letting yourself be defined by cultural expectations. I grew up in FL and people did not discuss their cultural backgrounds. It was such a mixing pot. When I went to Lake Placid, NY to work one summer, I was first faced with the question, “What are you?” I had no idea what they wanted to know. I came to realize they wanted to know I was English. I cannot tell you how many people in the North of the US asked me that question. I realized that everyone had a big identification with their nationality, too. My former husband was Irish, proud of it and wanted everyone to know it. I couldn’t identify with the feeling because it was never a thing in my childhood. I am not sure if he had cultural expectations put on him. My paternal grandparents did come from England, but my father never talked much about it and my grandparents lived in RI. My maternal grandparents were born in FL. Their relatives from WAY back lived in the South, so no one knew where they were from. After my sister’s genealogical research, she found some relatives from Ireland although Smith seems like an English name, too.
- Refusing to let friendships run their course. Many friendships have run their course, but others even though I might talk to them on very rare occasions, it seems like we just talked to each other. I found that felling when I went to the 20th and 30th high school reunion.
- Not playing with your kids enough. I feel that I did play with them enough so I have no regrets. If I knew they didn’t feel the same way, I would feel regret big time.
- Never taking a big risk especially in love. I took all the risks I wanted to, so I have no regrets. I think that one would feel regret if they purposefully did not take the risk they wanted to take. I have greater problems taking risks with money. I have no regrets, though. I will live with my decisions.
- Not taking the time to develop contacts and network. This is a concept that I understood all too late in my life and I do have regrets. I was a teacher and stayed in my room and did not network with the leaders. I was friends with the teachers, but for the most part I was busy in my room doing my work. I did a lot of work behind the scenes. I did not notify the principal about all my great projects. When I was in FL, the other teachers told the principal about all the things I did that they might know about, so I did get some perks when I needed it. I noticed some teachers couldn’t wait to get to know him. I figured he was too busy to listen to what I was doing. He would find out when he observed me. I was often the behind the scenes catalyst to do something I wanted to do. I would get the ear of someone I knew could get the OK. We would work as a team. They would get the accolades, but at least I got to do what I wanted to do that I thought was educationally sound. (I guess this was my shyness rearing its ugly head).
- Worrying too much. As Alfred E. Newman used to say, “What? Me worry? Noooo.
- Getting caught up in needless drama. Been there done that. Regrets because it is a waste of time.
- Not spending enough time with loved ones. Regret. I have moved so much with both husbands. I have always been away from some part of my family. Right now we are in CT. One son is in MA. He and his family are 2 hours away, but our life and his life (he’s in the running the kids to their after school activities) just get caught up in the day-to-day living and time goes by before you realize it. I can’t say I like it, but I do realize how it goes. Two children live in FL and one in CA., so we see each other when we can. We try to stay in touch with telephones and Skype.
- Never performing in front of others. I have performed in front of others, so it is not one of my regrets. I wish I didn’t get so nervous, though. [carousel cats=7]
- Not being grateful sooner. I have actually been very grateful for my life and I do thank God for such a wonderful life. Where I am at fault is I am not sure I have let others know how much I appreciated them. (self-absorbed). My former in—laws are people that I wish I had shown more how grateful I was for them. I lived away from my family when I got married and my in-laws were wonderful to me. My in-laws treated me like one of the family and were very good to me. I hope they knew that I really loved them and appreciated them. I hope my children understand how much I love them and I am grateful for them. They are each very different, but special in their own way and I love each one of them so much and respect them immensely. I can’t imagine my life without them. I am so lucky to have them. They have had just as wonderful children and I know they feel lucky to have them and I am so fortunate to have such spectacular grandchildren-all 11 of them. I wish we had lived nearer to have a closer relationship, but I have a special place in my heart of each of them. [carousel cats=9]
This has been fun to think about and actually write it down.
What has been your greatest regret?