Living Without Regrets

Last November I traveled to Victoria, B.C. with one of my best girlfriends for a weekend away.  I love Canada and always enjoy a good weekend in Victoria, and this one was no exception.  While I have great food and music memories of the weekend along with a great story about walking 2 miles for a necklace, what has really stayed with from that weekend even 7 months later is a discussion my girlfriend and I had about regrets.

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As we wandered through the streets of Victoria, naturally I started to talk about Canadian TV shows that I liked (what can I say- I watch too much TV and I do love Canada…).  One of the shows I started to discuss is a show called Being Erica which follows the life of Erica Strange (I swear I am not making that name up) as she starts a very unusually type of therapy where she is able to travel back in time to relive and try to alter her regrets.  I know it sounds far fetched, but trust me, it’s actually a very well done show.

Later that night as we sat basking in live music at the Irish Pub, my friend referred back to our earlier discussion and asked me what some of my regrets were.  Honestly, I had a hard time trying to think of anything that wasn’t inconsequential.  Sure, maybe I could have tried out for one of our High School musicals or played sports growing up, but in terms of big regrets- I didn’t have any, not even my choice to not finish grad school.

This is not to say everything has always gone perfectly and I have always made the right choices in life.  I have suffered through the not so great internships and jobs and not always given my all when I could have.  I’m very shy at times when it comes to interacting with the opposite sex when I am attracted and it may have served me to act more boldly.  But overall, I don’t regret any of my experiences, because I have learned something from all of them.

I believe that with the right attitude you can live without regrets- it’s all about how you choose to look at the not so great experience and what you take away from them.  I’ve had plenty of not so great work experiences as well as dates, but each time I have learned more about myself through discovering what I don’t like and why.  This self knowledge that comes with reflecting on negative experiences makes them worth the discomfort and something that I would not wish away.

One of my favorite movies is Apollo 13 (you can laugh at me for this- but I think it is an incredibly well made movie.  The suspense is built so well that even though I know in the end everything is OK and they come home safe- when the radio crackles and you hear their voices come through… oh man, I cry every time.  Every single dang time.).  At the end of the movie when Tom Hanks is talking about their mission he says that NASA referred to it as “a successful failure”.  It succeeded because all three men came home safely, but it was a failure in that they never were able to land on the moon and complete their mission.

I love this idea of a successful failure, and it it the attitude with which I choose to approach my not so great experiences.  They are successful due to what I can learn through the trial, even though they may have been a failure in helping me reach a goal.  So, even though I have had several ups and downs in my life, I don’t have any major regrets, and I don’t believe I ever will.

Looking back on the path of Erica Strange, even though she was focused on her regrets, in the end I believe that by having the chance to relive them and re-examine them, she came to the same conclusion.  Maybe they were not really regrets after all, but turning points in her life, teaching her a bit more each time about who she really is and what is truly important.

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All the Single Ladies- a.k.a. My Valentine’s Playlist

Everyone has heard of the 5 stages of grief.  Well, I believe that there are also 5 stages of emotion that single women go through on Valentine’s Day.  And I truly believe it’s important to deeply feel each emotion, the good and the bad.  Acknowledge it, live it, and move forward.  We can tell ourselves to be strong, or we can live in despair; but I think it’s healthier to feel each deeply as they come and then find the balance somewhere between.

To aid in the process of moving through all 5 stages, I am providing a playlist of songs that I feel exemplify each stage.  OK ladies- here we go….

Stage 1: Wallowing– All by Myself, Celine Dion

Let’s face it- it is Valentine’s, so let’s start with the hard part and just wallow in the feeling of being alone.  There is absolutely no better song to aid a good single lady wallow than All by Myself, and we can all benefit from having our own Bridget Jones moment every now and then to emotionally cleans.  While there are many versions of this song, I have to recommend Celine.  Love her or hate her- there is no denying that the woman can SING.  When she lets loose on that long drawn out anymooooooooooorrrre-oooore…chills.  Whew- can someone please pass the wine?  I have some wallowing to do.

Stage 2: Frustration– Love Song for No One- John Mayer

Now that we’ve wallowed, it’s normal to get just a bit exasperated over our perpetually single state.  I know of no better refrain to express this feeling than- I’m tired of being alone, so hurry up and get here.  Ah yes- a love song for no one indeed.  John Mayer may not be the greatest person to look to when it comes to relationships, but he kind of nails it with his observations on how scary it can be to think that we have already met the person and didn’t know it- letting our chance slip away.  What if we did meet him in the sandbox and then watched him walk away?  Frustration complete.

Stage 3: Acknowledgment- I’ve Got This Friend- The Civil Wars

We’ve been sad, we’ve gotten angry, now we start to think a bit more rationally.  Maybe, just maybe, we have a part to play in this as well.  I know that personally, I’m very guarded with my heart.  I love how in this song they sing as if they are discussing a friend when really they are talking about themselves.  The Lyric about how she hides her heart away like it’s a little secret and it’s all she has to give- yeah, I can maybe relate to that.  They say the first step is acknowledging that you have a problem- I guess I can own up that it takes two so I can be ready if that right one comes along.

Stage 4: Hope- Haven’t Met You Yet, Michael Buble

Now that we are taking a more realistic look at our single status and thinking a bit more rationally, we can start to get a bit excited again.  Yeah, that’s it- I’m just holding out for the good one, the one I can give my heart to.  I just haven’t met him yet!  Also, the blaring trumpets in this song just make me feel better- there is still hope for us singletons!  Sing it, you beautiful Canadian, you!

Stage 5: Celebration- Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It), Beyonce

Ironically, now that we have worked ourselves from face down in our gigantic bowl of ice cream to feeling optimistically Mindyish (can someone give a shot out for The Mindy Project?), we can start to see that being single really isn’t all that bad.  In fact, it can be pretty great sometimes.  We don’t need a man- without one we are pretty damn amazing and can do whatever the hell we want to.  So let’s get our Beyonce moves on and feel like the fierce and fabulous ladies that we are!

Honorable Mentions-

Standing Right In Front Of You- Keith Urban: This song is for that person you always see and think, “what if?”

Nothing In My Way- Keane: Just for the line- For a lonely soul, you’re having such a nice time… feels appropriate sometimes.

Caravan- Van Morrison:  You can’t listen to this song and not just want to be happy and hang out with your friends.  All you need is the ladies, no man required!

Thank you for taking this musical journey with me.  Own your singleness, feel the stages, and have a fantastic Valentine’s!

Galentine’s Day: Celebrating the Love of Friendship Leslie Knope Style

One of the reasons I love Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation (and there are many), is the way she celebrates her friendships. Leslie has nothing but love for her best gal pal Ann Perkins and is constantly showing her that love in many, sometimes slightly concerning, ways.  To celebrate womankind overall, Leslie started Galentine’s Day.  On this day, February 13th, women celebrate each other and and the beautiful love that is friendship.

OK- so maybe Leslie goes a bit overboard and adds a slight creep factor with the soda can murals, but she does it for the right reasons-love of the women in her life.

I think the love that comes with true friendship is one of the best things in life.  I don’t know where I would be without the love and support of my best girls.  Other than my family, my girls have been a true constant in my life and have seen me through life’s highs and lows.  They have made me laugh out loud while in the midst of crying in despair, and they put up with all of my annoying quirks- like telling the same story over again because I love it so much.

Leslie Knope

Being a single woman in february can be hard.  When the world around us is constantly reminding us of everything that is romantic and perfect, and that we do not have a part in it.  But I think Valentine’s Day is missing out on some great marketing by only focusing on romantic love.  Our society in general places too narrow of a focus on the many different kinds of love that exist simultaneously in our lives.  Valentine’s should be used to celebrate every kind of love- think about the movie Love Actually and how amazing it was to see all varieties of love explored.  Sure we all want to be a part of the Colin Firth story line (because what woman in the world- gay or straight- does not want that beautiful face staring up at them on a balcony and declaring his love for you?), but what about looking at love Bill Nighy style and recognizing your love for your ugly manager/ best friend?  I want to celebrate that kind of love- and Galentine’s is a way to embrace that.

So, this February, I think it only right that I intentionally take time to let the true loves of my life know how much I love them.  Girls- this is for you- you know who you are, and you mean the world to me.  This month I celebrate you and recognize the greatness of Galentine’s Day.

You are the Ann Perkins to my Leslie Knope, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Leslie and Ann